Friday, August 30, 2013

Boulder County Birding

August 29, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I hiked up Skunk Canyon Trail (Boulder County) about four hours before sunrise.  Winds were calm, temperatures in the low 60s!  It was quite a pleasant walk after the 95+ degree temperatures of yesterday.

The woods were filled with bird sounds and challenged our hearing skills.  We were sure of Chipping Sparrows, Pine Siskins, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Highlights were a Flammulated Owl & Northern Pygmy-Owl!  A second Flammulated Owl was caught on our "owl listening stations"!

After sunrise, we headed up to Lyons and Rabbit Mountain Open Space hoping to find the possible Buff-breasted Flycatcher reported twice in the past few weeks.  Unfortunately, we could not find any "empidonax species".

We did not find any Say's Phoebes either.  Not that a Say's Phoebe could be mistaken for an "empidonax" flycatcher.

Later, we headed south and stopped at Panama Reservoir # 1.  The Caspian Terns did not appear to be around; the Semipalmated Plover (Floyd, 8/28) was still there.

The Red-necked Phalaropes (Floyd, 8/28) were still on Little Gaynor Lake.

As temperatures rose, we stopped at Teller Lakes Trailhead off Valmont.  Regrettably, no Dickcissels were found along the northern trail.  Nothing uncommon was observed when we walked the southern trails either.

Just after noon, temperatures reached the low 90s.  We decided to end our birding for the day.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jefferson County Foothills

August 28, 2013

Rebecca Kosten:

Richard and I went to Cheesman Reservoir early this morning to beat the afternoon heat. Our target bird was the Acorn Woodpecker photographed by Jean Langel on 8/18.

It would have been a new county bird for both us if it was found. After spending a couple of hours at the "woodpecker hot spot" we only found a Lewis's Woodpecker and two Red-headed Woodpeckers. We also missed the Nashville Warbler reported farther down the road.

We stopped at Staunton State Park and hiked around Colorado's newest State Park.  There were plenty of common foothills birds but nothing rare.  A Flammulated Owl was recently reported here, seen during the day.  Unfortunately, we did not find any owls.  The day was warming up rapidly.  It was close to 90 degrees by noon.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Searching for Mountain Birds

August 27, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Peter Ferguson, Tom Graham and I started out at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) about an hour before sunrise.  A Common Poorwill called north of the road while we stood at the western parking area.

Unfortunately, no Northern Pygmy-Owls called around the same parking area and we hiked up the Elkhorn Trail to Raven's Roost, then to the top of the park.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker drummed along Raven's Roost just south of the service road.  While a Dusky Grouse crossed our path at 300 yards south of the old service road.

We did not run into an American Three-toed Woodpecker until our return down the mountain.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was along the Oxen Draw Trail, just north of the intersection with Eagle's View/Raven's Roost Trails.

Plenty of additional birds were around to entertain us.  Three species of Nuthatches, Red Crossbills (near clear at the top), Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers, Pine Siskins buzzed about, Western Wood-pewees and a Cordilleran Flycatcher.

Temperatures were much cooler than the predicted 90+ degrees back in Denver; we decided to head up higher to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek). 

It took about two hours before we found our target bird.  An adult White-tailed Ptarmigan was about 30 yards over the mountain (south of the 603 trail Summit) that is south-southeast of the main parking area.

A few additional birds perked our interest.  Two "timberline" Brewer's Sparrows called with the tops of the mountain willows.  There plenty of rumblings that the Brewer's Sparrow will be split into two species (the one nesting in the mountains & the plains Brewer's Sparrow).

A Prairie Falcon zoomed through the valley below us!  White-crowned Sparrows and a few Wilson's Warblers were also found.

We ended our birding day at Kenosha Pass.  Regrettably, no owls called tonight.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Visit to Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County

This morning Rebecca and I went to Rocky Mountain Arsenal hoping to find some of the birds the Jerry Petrosky found on 8/23. The Dunlin that Dave Rhodes found on 8/25 was found in a closed area with no public access.

The only uncommon bird we found was a Cassin's Vireo north of 6th Avenue in the thick riparian area just west of the irrigation ditch along 6th (ditch is just west of area where 6th changes from paved road to gravel).

At least eight Western Wood-pewees, two Loggerhead Shrikes and one Bullock's Oriole were counted.  Raptors included Red-tailed Hawks, Swainson's Hawks, a Ferruginous Hawk and a Great Horned Owl.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Final Try For the Pileated Woodpecker, Larimer County

August 25, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Four of us, searched Chambers Lake and north to Wyoming for a Pileated Woodpecker reported 8/23/2013 at Chambers Lake (Larimer County).  Again, we were not successful; the bird remains elusive.

We started by circling Chambers Lake again and then "hop skipped" up Laramie River Road.  The technique was to drop us off at various locations (one at a time) and the most northern birder who leave the car (with keys) and continue farther north.  When the most southern birder reached the car, he would go past the others, drop the car off, and continue north.  It is quite an effective way to cover more ground (keeping in touch by radios).

Some of the locations surveyed included: Half Creek Road, Skyline Road & Campgrounds, Lily Pond Lake,

After joining back up, we drove Stub Creek Road (CR 190) and drove to Browns Park Campgrounds.  Yet another American Three-toed Woodpecker was added to our trip list.

Hohnholtz Lakes Campgrounds was not anymore successful.

We hope that another birder will run into the Pileated Woodpecker and get a photo!

It was raining again this evening, no owling, glad to be back in Denver.

Laramie River Road and a Pileated Woodpecker, Larimer County

August 24, 2013

Richard Stevens:

We received a message that two Missouri birders had seen a Pileated Woodpecker along the southwest side of Chambers Lake (Larimer County) yesterday.  Our plans to conduct bird surveys up Zimmerman Lake trail were scrubbed and our day was spent in search of this elusive Colorado bird.

There have been at least two previous reports of Pileated Woodpecker in Colorado.  Both were single birder sightings and therefore have not been accepted as State Records.

Long story short, we (Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons & I) did not find the darn thing.

We circled Chambers Lake running into three American Three-toed Woodpeckers, no Pileated Woodpecker.

Bryan and I drove up the Green Ridge Jeep trail (passed Lost Lake and Laramie Lake) and continued to Twin Lakes.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was around Lost Lake.  Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was seen at the western Twin Lake.

Meanwhile Jacob and Ray hiked up the Barnes Meadow Reservoir trail.  They also ran across an American Three-toed Woodpecker and a Dusky Grouse.

Later we all drove to Tunnel Campgrounds.  While some interesting birds were found, no Pileated Woodpecker.  We did see two American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Townsend's Warblers and a Calliope Hummingbird.

In the past, Magnificent Hummingbirds had been found on three occasions in July and early August.  It would have been a nice consolation prize but was not to be.

At dusk, a Dusky Grouse crossed Laramie River Road (0.1 miles south of the Campgrounds).

A thunderstorm ended any chance for successful owling.

Buffalo Pass Road, Routt/Jackson Counties

August 23, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and my goal today was to conduct bird surveys along Buffalo Pass Road (Routt CR 38) east of Steamboat Springs.

We enjoyed a good day of birding, eventually locating seven American Three-toed Woodpeckers at four locations.  Two at Granite Campgrounds at Fish Creek Reservoir, the others along Buffalo Pass Road, west of the Summit.

Two male White-winged Crossbills were observed flying over Buffalo Pass Road (at 0.6 miles west of the Summit).

A flock of 10-12 Red Crossbills were found when we drove to Summit Lake (Jackson County).  The short 0.7-mile hike to George Lake found our target bird (White-tailed Ptarmigan).  We dropped over to Routt County hoping to find a Ptarmigan in the County also; without success.

After dark, we found a Flammulated Owl in Routt County (near Forest Road 306).  No Boreal Owls showed up on our "owl listening stations".

Owling along Jackson County Road 24 on our return to Gould was not successful (it rained most of the trip).

Colorado State Forest and Jackson County

August 21-22, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky joined us today (8/21) and we drove Jackson County Road 26b thirty minutes before sunrise.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were observed west of the road (just as it climbs uphill from CR 26).

Upon returning to Walden, we scoped Delaney Butte Lakes Wildlife Area & Lake John Wildlife Area.  A few shorebirds were seen along the west side South Delaney Lake.  These included four Marbled Godwits, two Willets, two American Avocets, four Baird's Sandpipers and a Least Sandpiper.

Lake John Wildlife Area was quite slow.  The Red-necked Grebe reported from 7/10 to 7/12 was not around.

The rest of our birding day was spent in the Colorado State Forest (see Jerry Petrosky's email to "cobirders".

Jerry Petrosky: "Last night we hiked into the Colorado State Forest from the end of Michigan River Road. Boreal Owls were heard at two locations along the South Fork of the Canadian River.

We returned to Ruby Jewell Road, listening for Boreal, and Flammulated Owls early this morning. Unfortunately, none was found. An American Three-toed Woodpecker was up Ruby Jewell Road about 0.2 miles east of Michigan River Road."

Stevens: After Jerry left for Denver, Bryan and I drove Jackson County Road 21B.  Sean Walters reported a White-winged Crossbill 0.8 miles south of Gould on 7/21.  Regrettably, none was found today.

We retired early to prepare for an early start tomorrow.

Teller City and Baker Pass, Jackson County

August 20, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Too many days sleeping in a tent or car, Bryan and I headed to Gould early this morning.  After a few hours of sleep, we drove into Walden for supplies and a warm meal.

A quick stop at Walden Reservoir found few interesting birds.  A pair of Caspian Terns was flying around the northwest corner.  I had not heard whether they had nested here this summer?

Our next stop was the Teller City Ghost Town.  If one has not visited, it is quite interesting along the self-guided hike among the old silver mining town.  A few of the old buildings are still standing.

In addition, we happened upon a male American Three-toed Woodpecker at the northeast end.  We set up "owl listening stations" and headed to the Jack Creek trailhead (end of Jackson County Road 21 EE).

Definitely, our highlight this day was along the hike to Baker Pass (one of the last four Colorado Highest 300 Passes that I had not climbed).  Scurrying across our path, granite colored bird gave us great looks!  Not many birders have recorded a White-tailed Ptarmigan here!!!  We were right along the Continental Divide (GPS waypoint showed that the bird was in Jackson County by 20 feet or so; 40.24171 105.55403).

Later we drove to the end of Forest Road 758 and waited until dark.  A Boreal Owl called along Jack Creek somewhere along the north to south section (40.24077 105.56148).

Our "owl listening stations" picked up two Northern Pygmy-Owls close to Teller City.

Gore Pass, Grand County

August 19, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Our goal today was Gore Pass (Grand County).  A quick stop at Wolford Mountain Recreation did not find many birds.  Only a few Mallards and Gadwall swam around.  Back on 7/14/1999, a Red-throated Loon was spotted (stayed around until at least 9/12).  The highlight today was a lone Long-billed Curlew.

Afternoon birding along Gore Pass was quite interesting.  American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found along Sheep Creek (2), Gore Creek (3) and Rock Creek (1).

There were too many highlights to just pick out one.  A pair of White-winged Crossbills was found along Highway 134 (between Sheep Creek Road [CR 143] and Blacktail Creek Campgrounds.

While driving the Gore Creek Loop [CR 243] we almost ran over a Dusky Grouse.  We drove up to some unnamed lakes off Forest Road 242 and found American Pipits.  On the way back to CR 243, we found a Northern Pygmy-Owl (again thinking that Northern Saw-whet Owls were more likely).

Radium Wildlife Area, Grand County

August 18, 2013

Richard Stevens

Local knowledge is always great to come across.  A rancher near Radium (Grand County) took us to his property and showed us the highlight of the day.  A Barn Owl was found in one of his abandoned buildings.  He said that a pair had at least two young this year.  We also were supplied with successes and failures of the past five years!

Two Grasshopper Sparrows were also a surprise!  This could be a first county record (will have to check upon returning to Denver).  At least one photo came out well enough for verification!

Radium Wildlife Area (Grand) was a gem.  This is a huge Wildlife Area that does not see many birders.  Additional visits would be highly recommended and fruitful.  We added a Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend's Warbler and Plumbeous Vireo to our day list.

We hung around until dark and did some owling.  We expected Northern Saw-whet Owls; only a Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rained Stopped; Finally Some Owling Success

August 15-16, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Owling after the rain stopped.

The morning was spent returning to Derby Mesa Road, Eagle County.  They explored the jeep road that led to McMillan Lake and made it just into Routt County before turning around 2.5 miles short.  Recorded an American Three-toed Woodpecker in Routt County.

Thursday night, rains stopped early afternoon.  They set up their "owl listening stations" along Eagle County Roads 45 (Strubi Road) & 47 (Luark Road).  While they did not see any owls this night, two Northern Saw-whet Owls were captured on their recordings. 

Friday, they explored up Antelope Creek; Eagle County Road 37 to Routt County Road 1.  Their best bird was two Northern Pygmy-Owls calling along the Antelope Creek Forest Road.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Derby Mesa Loop

August 13-14, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

After returning to the Colorado River Road, the guys drove north to the Derby Mesa Loop in Eagle County.  Bird surveys in northwestern Eagle County are limited or lacking.

They goal was to drive as far as possible up Deer Park (Deer Creek) and get back into Garfield County to Crescent Lake (10,758 feet) about nine miles from Derby Mesa Road.  A thunderstorm stopped them at Emerald Lake (9598 feet) in Eagle County (approximately 1.7 miles short of Garfield County, note county line is not well defined in this area).

No owls this night.  They encountered a Northern Goshawk around the lake.  Stops along the trip up found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and several flocks of Band-tailed Pigeons.  Red Crossbills were found, but no White-winged Crossbills. 

They had to use one of their two spare tires.  This trip is strongly not recommended without 4 wheel drive, spare tires, good supplies and experience in the back country.

The next morning they continued into Garfield County past Still Waters Lake and to Crescent Lake.  Beautiful scenery, not many birders have made it this far!  Sheep Mountain about 1.6 miles to northeast.  While it would be nice to find White-tailed Ptarmigan on its slopes, they were not into the 2000 foot climb.

They recorded an American Three-toed Woodpecker along the jeep trail just west of Still Waters.  Band-tailed Pigeons, Red Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins all in Garfield County.

No rain?  They recorded a Flammulated Owl around Emerald Lake, Eagle County.  A better "prize" was a Boreal Owl north of Still Waters Lake, Garfield County.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rain Continues Flat Tops Wilderness Area

August 11-12, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcripts of telephone call:

Rain continues to be the story of the guys' owling trip to Garfield County.  They stayed at Sweetwater Lake, Garfield County one night and Hack Lake the second.

Highlights at Sweetwater were a Barrow's Goldeneye and Purple Martins (151 road).  The winch on their jeep came in handy a second time this trip as the top of 151 road was almost impassable.

The weather looked better Monday and they hiked up to Hack Lake in Garfield County.  Unfortunately, a storm blew in after dark.  No owls, the highlight were a pair of White-winged Crossbills on the hike to the lake.

Three American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a family of four Dusky Grouse were also seen.  They were surprised when a male Calliope Hummingbird came to visit the feeder they had put out.

On the hike out on the 13th, they found a Northern Pygmy-Owl along Hack Creek!

Deeper Into Flat Tops Wilderness Area

August 9-10, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcripts of telephone call:

Afternoon thunderstorms have made finding owls almost impossible.  Ehlmann and Stevens continue to hike the Flat Tops Wilderness area conducting bird surveys.

They ventured deeper into the Wilderness Area exploring around Bison Lake, Heart Lake and Deep Lake.

A trip around Triangle Mountain continued to Indian and Shepherd Lakes.  Purple Martins were run into twice, American Three-toed Woodpecker count was seven, White-tailed Ptarmigan were found twice, Dusky Grouse three times.

Owl count was only one Boreal Owl and one Flammulated Owl.  Their "owl listening stations" could not be deployed because of rain.  The one flaw, the stations are not water friendly.  An attempt to cover with plastic did not work.  The stations stayed dry, but water falling on the plastic covered any night sounds.

The winch on the front of the jeep came in handy, as they had to pull themselves out of mud the second afternoon.

Continuing Bird Surveys Along Coffee Pot Road

August 8, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcripts of telephone call:

Today Ehlmann and Stevens relocated the Purple Martins along Coffee Pot Road, Garfield County.  Their "owl listening stations" picked up two Northern Saw-whet Owls!

Owling was limited as late thunderstorms continued to hit the area every afternoon.

Coffee Pot Road, Garfield County

August 6-7, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcripts of telephone call:

Over the last two days, Ehlmann and Stevens searched for White-winged Crossbills etc during the day and owls at night.  They have constructed what they call "owl listening stations" which record night sounds.  Fancy and rather expensive software analyses the CDs, cuts out non-owl noises, and reduces the overall listening time to just minutes of owl sounds.

During the days, they found Purple Martins at two locations along Coffee Pot Road.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered along the White Owl Lake Trail.

After dark, two Boreal Owls were found around White Owl Lake.  A Flammulated Owl was also found lower on the trail.

Heading Toward Garfield County

August 5, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcripts of telephone call:

Bryan Ehlmann and Richard Stevens detoured up Mt Evans on their way toward Glenwood Springs, Garfield County.

They watched two Brown-capped Rosy Finches flying around the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  No Ptarmigan were seen around Summit Lake or the top of Mt. Evans.

Afternoon thunderstorms put the brakes on any owling in Clear Creek County after dark.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Birding Mt Evans and Reynolds Park

August 3, 2013

Richard Stevens:

I accompanied six birders up to Mt. Evans (Clear Creek County) to search for Ptarmigan and Rosy Finches.  Several of them wanted to see the view from the top of Mt. Evans first.  This turned out to be quite fortuitous.

While taking in the view, I found a White-tailed Ptarmigan walking below the western ridge at the top.  Lucky encounter as sightseeing is a touristy thing and I seldom go along with it.  In addition, we did not have to spend "hours" walking the fields east of Summit Lake (where I usually find Ptarmigan after a long hike).

The short walk to the northwest corner of Summit Lake found 3 Brown-capped Rosy Finches on the grassy and rocky hillside above the lake.

Broad-tailed & Rufous Hummingbirds were flying around the Echo Lodge.  Regrettably, no Calliope Hummingbirds were among the horde.

We could not find American Three-toed Woodpeckers at Echo Lake Campgrounds and decided to take the back roads over Squaw Pass to Jefferson County.

I chose Reynolds Park as it offered opportunities to see both Three-toed Woodpeckers and Dusky Grouse.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker was working the trees near the Old Service Road and north of Raven's Roost & Elkhorn Trails.

Unfortunately, a torrential downpour interrupted our search and we had to abandon further attempts to find Three-toed Woodpeckers, Dusky Grouse or Northern Pygmy-Owls.

Driving Through Adams and Arapahoe Counties

August 2, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I drove through the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County) and Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on our way to do chores this afternoon.

At least four Burrowing Owls were 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue (Adams).

Water levels are low at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Only a few Killdeer took advantage of the growing mudflats.

Most of the gulls were on the southwestern sand spit.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the southwest marina sand spit. We could not find the Bonaparte's Gull that has lingered for months now.

Wandering Around West of Denver

July 31, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Burrowing Owls were relocated along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) early in the morning at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue. No Short-eared Owls appeared this morning.

I relocated a male WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER (Breitsch, 3/31) at the Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson County) group picnic area.

Again afternoon thunderstorms ruined by plans for owling (around Evergreen).  My only stop (Lair 'O Bear Park) was a bust.

Possible First State Record, Mottled Duck

July 30, 2013

Richard Stevens:

(Cannot pass up a possible first Colorado State Record)!

Rebecca and I returned to Denver after the better part of a month and continued to Jackson Reservoir.

The potential Mottled Duck was partly hidden in the northeast corner of the Morgan CR 2 pond at Andrick.

While looking for shorebirds at Jackson Wildlife area (Whimbrel, Snowy Plover, etc.) we found an Upland Sandpiper along CR 4.

It was south of 4 at 0.4 miles after the pavement ends (coming from Hwy 144).

Heading Toward Denver

July 29, 2013

Richard Stevens:

I could not resist a drive up to the Campgrounds below Mount of the Holy Cross (Eagle).  Our first plan had been the New Castle-Buford Road (Garfield).  Rains and high winds changed those plans.  The road can be quite unbearable the higher one drives.  We will try to return there in a week or so.

The Mt Holy Cross Road is always interesting.  We encountered Dusky Grouse along the road twice!  Two Purple Martins were found at a previous nesting site (2008) along Homestake Creek.

Flammulated Owls were eventually found at four locations (two by our owling listening stations, it was not raining and we were able to put them out!).  All four locations were near GPS waypoints taken in past years (have to love GPS).

A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording (again not far from a GPS waypoint taken back in 2010.

The Campgrounds below the mountain are primitive however offer a fantastic view!

Northern Uncompahgre Plateau, Mesa County

July 28, 2013

Richard Stevens:

We wandered around the Mesa County section of the Uncompahgre Plateau today (late start after owling most of the night).

Passerines encountered included Grace's Warblers, a Golden-crowned Kinglet (rare?), Nashville Warbler (rare?), Townsend's Warblers (2).

After dark, we found a couple of Flammulated Owls and a Northern Saw-whet Owl (all caught on our "owl listening stations".

See "Colorado Field Notes" for description of our "owl listening stations".

Divide Road, Ouray to Montrose County

July 26-27, 2013

Richard Stevens:

We were joined by Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and Bryan & Sue Ehlmann for the trip up the Uncompahgre Plateau (Divide Road).  Over the next two days we recorded:

Flammulated Owls (3 locations; Ouray & Montrose Counties (Windy Point)
The Ouray location was a GPS waypoint first taken in June, 2004.

Common Poorwill (2 locations including Windy Point)
Lewis's Woodpecker (2 birds; near Iron Springs Campgrounds, Montrose County)
Purple Martin (3 locations)
American Three-toed Woodpecker (4 locations; Ouray & Montrose Counties)
Williamson's Sapsucker (twice)
Grace's Warblers (many)
Dusky Grouse (3, near Moore Mesa, Montrose County)
Northern Goshawk (Pryor Creek, Ouray County)

San Juan County Birding Today

July 24-25, 2013

Richard Stevens:

July 24

A pair of Gray Jays, Pine Grosbeaks, four Red Crossbills and a Lincoln's Sparrow was at Red Mountain Pass (Ouray) as we headed toward Black Bear Pass.

A Black Swift was seen flying near Bullion King Lake (San Juan).  Our target bird, White-tailed Ptarmigan was missed.  In addition, we wanted to test our 4-wheel drive skills on this road.

The highlight of the day was two White-tailed Ptarmigan at Black Bear Pass.  They were in San Juan County!

The road at Black Bear Mine gets quite tricky.  Again, know your 4-wheel drive skills before attempting. 

We saw a couple of Black Swifts fly over Bridal Veil Falls (San Juan County) when we arrived there.

July 25

Today we rested in Montrose County.  A plan to go owling was crushed by another rain storm.  The wet weather is getting old.

West Into San Miguel County

July 22-23, 2013

Richard Stevens:

July 22

Today was our first venture in San Miguel County.  We enjoyed a trip up Yankee Boy Basin Road.  Highlights were three Black Swifts and an American Three-toed Woodpecker.

Fox Sparrows were encountered near the Mt Sneffel's trailhead.  Neither of us had any desire to climb the mountain (again, done a dozen years ago).

A Rufous Hummingbird flew about the Sneffels Ghost Town.

Imogene Pass was uneventful.  Two Black Swifts were flying over Bridal Veil Falls when we came to Telluride (San Miguel).

July 23

We spent an interesting and successful day in San Miguel County today.

Black Swifts were seen flying over Ophir Pass Road at two locations. A female and two young Dusky Grouse were found at Ophir.  Broad-tailed, Rufous and a Calliope Hummingbird were also seen here.

One of my favorite detours is to the Alta Ghost Town and Alta Lakes.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found along the Lake Trail.  After dark, a Boreal Owl was enticed to call back to us!

A 4-Wheel Drive Challenge, Engineer Pass

July 21, 2013

Richard Stevens:

A better challenge today, we drove to Ouray by way of Engineer Pass (the last five miles are a doozy).

Our first detour, Nellie Creek Trail is a major 4 wheel drive road/trail.  About 0.3 miles up the trail we found an adult female and fledgling American Three-toed Woodpecker.

Whitmore Falls did not add a Black Swift to our Hinsdale County trip list.

Another detour, North Fork Cutoff to Cinnamon Pass Road and back was uneventful.

Our arrival at Poughkeepsie Gulch Road was too early for owling.

A pair of Brown-capped Rosy Finches surprised us about four miles outside of Ouray (Ouray County).

We did not want to drive the worse five miles after dark and gave up on owling (besides, it rained of course).

Friends Birding Back In Denver, Rocky Mountain Arsenal

July 20, 2013

Richard Stevens:

An email sent to "cobirders" listserve by some close friends:

"Sue Ehlmann: Hello cobirders,

7/20, Bryan and I rode our bikes around the outside of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams). There is now a nice 20-mile bike trail around the outside of the Arsenal. I will have to say that it started to warm around noon.

Along the eastern side, Buckley Road, we found five total Burrowing Owls in both Adams and Denver Counties. The Northern Mockingbirds are again nesting just inside the arsenal. We also saw a Rock Wren, Sage Thrasher, Grasshopper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow.

From the north side we found another two Burrowing Owls. One along the western side and finally two along the southern end.

Two Bison were close to the fence at the northwest corner.

If we missed a bird, it was Lark Buntings.

A target of our trip was an Upland Sandpiper reported on Friday just north of the old Eagle Watch bunker along Buckley Road. We could not find it.

It was a fun ride, in spite of the rising temperatures.

Good Birding!"

San Luis Valley to the San Juan Mountains

July 17-20, 2013

Wednesday we rested most of the morning.  I did some research for future articles for "Colorado Field Notes" (at the newspaper office and the library).

We headed to Alamosa in the afternoon, looked briefly for Sage Sparrows around Fort Garland (Costilla County) and continued to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

A stop at Zapata Falls found one Black Swift (Alamosa).

No owls were found after dark at the National Park.  Raven flying near the entrance could have been a Chihuahuan Raven; we could not confirm it.

Thursday morning we searched for thrashers (Bendire's Thrasher?) around Forest Roads 660/659 before temperatures rose; without success.  We did find Sage Thrashers and one Curve-billed Thrasher.

A Black Swift was found on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass (Mineral).  Owling was a bust.  We passed much superb habitat for owls, I just have not enjoyed much success there.  We rested in Lake City for the night.

The next two days we based out of Lake City (Hinsdale County).  Birding was not as successful as hoped.  I should mention that a high clearance vehicle is a must for this trip.  On and off rains made the already bad roads quite a challenge at times.

Friday: Cinnamon Pass Road was our challenge today.  Nothing interesting was at Lake San Christobal (Hinsdale).  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at the Burrows Park Town Site (Hinsdale).

Mill Creek and Williams Creek Campgrounds added little to our trip list.

Once over Cinnamon Pass we entered San Juan County.  However, no uncommon birds were found.  We returned to Lake City in the late afternoon.  Stopping and playing various owl recordings did not find a one (again thunderstorms may have influenced our success).

Early Saturday morning we drove up Slumgullion Pass (Hinsdale).  Things got interesting when we heard two Boreal Owls.  Long after sunrise, we ran into two small flocks of White-winged Crossbills (4 and 3 birds).

Twice in the past ten years we had also added a Long-eared Owl (not this trip).

Back in Lake City (Hinsdale) the highlight of the day as we found a Rose-breasted Grosbeak coming to a feeder!

We skipped owling tonight and rested!

Wet Mountains to Westcliffe

July 16, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Last night, we camped up Wet Mountains in Custer County.  A Common Poorwill called before dusk.  No owls but another rainstorm came in the afternoon.

Highlights included American Three-toed Woodpeckers at two locations.  Most of the hummingbirds encountered were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.  We did see two Rufous Hummingbirds!

In the afternoon, we walked around DeWeese Reservoir (Custer County).  Lesser Goldfinches, Pine Siskins and three species of nuthatches were found.  A Northern Waterthrush walked around below the dam.

Another rainstorm and owling was a bust.  I did not want to expose our "owl listening stations" to the wet weather.  We did walk around Grape Creek without hearing an owl.

North of San Isabel Lake, Pueblo County Hiking

July 14-15, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Afternoons were still plagued by rainstorms.  The storms stopped about 6:00 pm (sunset still around 8:30 pm) and we set up a couple of "owl listening stations".

A hike up the St Charles trail at dusk found a Flammulated Owl responding to our recordings (played about a mile up the trail).

Two Northern Saw-whet Owls called (were caught on the listening stations) along the South Creek Trail.

Early Monday morning, we enticed another Flammulated Owl to call at the Davenport Campgrounds.

The rest of the uneventful day was spent around San Isabel Lake.

End of a Dude Ranch Visit

July 12-14, 2013

Richard Stevens:

I lead several bird trips around Las Animas and western Baca Counties.  Each afternoon was hit with a thunderstorm.  This did not aid in any owling plans.

No additional Hepatic Tanagers were found.  Cassin's Kingbirds were quite common.  A couple of Curve-billed Thrashers and Gray Vireos were the highlights.

We said goodbye to our "dude ranch" friends Sunday morning and headed to Custer County.