Tuesday, February 4, 2014

White-tailed Ptarmigan and Rusty Blackbird Searches

February 3, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Ryan Purefoy, James Lee, and I took advantage of a nice winter day and headed into the mountains.  We found three species of Rosy Finches in Summit County and six Barrow's Goldeneyes at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County).

Then we drove up Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  We enjoyed one of the faster attempts at finding White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Two Ptarmigan were seen along the ridge running north from the first (and large) pullover on the west side of highway 6, south side of the Pass.

My average success rate time is around 2 hours.  Many times, we have spent 4-6 hours searching.  I enjoyed this attempt much and was quite grateful.

After dropping the Missouri birders off at their hotel, I passed Barr Lake State Park (Adams County) on the way home and therefore stopped.  A walk along the canal below the Dam was quite successful (under partly sunny skies and temperatures in the high 30s).

A Rusty Blackbird walked the western shore, just south of the road across the canal (south of blind 6).

I continued south on the east side of the canal (which allowed for better viewing of the canal shores).  No additional Rusty Blackbirds were found to the end of the tree line (two had been reported around blind # 4).

Returning to the western side of the canal, I heard a Rusty Blackbird call in the cattails around blind # 5.  Another Rusty Blackbird was heard just north of blind 6 (closer to blind 7).  The shore here is wide and muddy, where one might expect a Rusty Blackbird to hunt for food.

Four Song Sparrows were also observed along this trek.  It is also a good idea to look closely at the thicker bushes along the canal.  Today a Long-eared Owl was well hidden in the thick bushes near blind # 5.

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