Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pre-Tour for Gallinaceous Birds

March 9, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed east to complete our pre-tour inspection of the gallinaceous birds sites around Colorado.  Greater Prairie-Chickens, Lesser Prairie-Chickens, Northern Bobwhite, and Scaled Quail were our targets this trip.

Weather was pleasant for late winter.  Temperatures in the high 40s; winds were less than 10 mph.

We stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) on our way out of town.  It was our last chance to observe the gulls that have been wintering here (ice cover is disappearing and many of the gulls are scattering to other reservoirs).

Several hundred gulls stood on the shrinking ice shelf.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was among hundreds of Ring-billed, dozens of Herring and dozens of California Gulls.  There was no sign of the Glaucous Gull or Mew Gull reported recently.

We passed by Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) on the trip east (required backtrack because of forgotten equipment).  A quick hike down to the windbreaks along Ponds 6 to 8 found seven Long-eared Owls.  The recently reported Greater Scaup was not found (only ponds 5 through 8 were checked).

No Burrowing Owls are at the Prospect Valley Prairie Dog town (Weld County).  No Long-eared Owls were found at Bennett (Arapahoe County).  Bennett Rest Stop had few birds.  Few birds were visiting the Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington County).

Rainbow Park in Wray had few birds; however, we observed a pair of Rusty Blackbirds along the Republican River when we walked back to the Sandhiller Motel.  We had noticed a Great Horned Owl in the tall cottonwoods north of the River and west of highway 385.

Our birding day ended with a drive down Yuma County Road 45.  Two Greater Prairie-Chickens displayed on the lek.  Several others were heard north of CR 45 (over hills, not observed).

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