Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Wet Trip to Park and Chaffee Counties

June 9-12, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started a four day trip to Park and Chaffee Counties.  Owls were high priority as target birds.  Stormy weather put a damper on that.

June 9
Weather was interesting on this trip.  Afternoon showers put a damper on owling.  I have never experienced great success searching for owls after a late evening thunderstorm (they seemed to be the norm this week).

Having taken GPS waypoints on owls in the Manitou Experimental Forest and the west side of Pikes Peak a few weeks ago, we turned our attention to Lake George and west today.  The habitat between Lake George and Eleven Mile Reservoir appears to be a good one for Northern Saw-whet Owls.  Northern Pygmy-Owls should prefer the riparian areas along Highways 24 and 285.  No owls were found this night.

The highlight of our day was a flyby Purple Martin at Tarryall Reservoir (Park County).  We had no idea where it was headed or if it is nesting in the area.

June 10, 2014

We continued heading west after a couple of hours of sleep.  The three Park County Reservoirs added few birds to our trip list.  A Common Loon (Mlodinow, 6/8) was still on Antero Reservoir.

Buffalo Creek Campgrounds added a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers to our trip list.  Surely, they are nesting in the nearby Aspens.

Rough and Tumbling Creek was slow (below northwest side of Buffalo Peaks).  A couple of male Red Crossbills fed on the evergreens.  Birding was slow and we expected to find few/no owls in the area and continued to Buena Vista.

Lewis's Woodpeckers were found at two locations in Buena Vista (Chaffee County).  They wander around town, west of Highway 24.

The plan was to go owling along the trails to Mt. Yale and Mt. Antero this night; so we drove up Cottonwood Pass (one of three or four in the State, this one in Chaffee County).

Several Gray Jays were observed as we headed up the pass.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was around the parking area for the Mt. Yale trail!

Another thunderstorm came through the area about an hour before sunset.  As predicted, owling was a bust.  Neither of us or our three "owl listening stations" picked up a calling owl.  We hiked up a mile or so of Mt. Yale Trail and then 2.5 miles up the Mt. Antero Trail; without success.

June 11, 2014

Most of the night was spent owling and we tried to catch up our missed sleep most of the morning and early afternoon.  Later in the afternoon, we drove up the road to Ruby Mountain (Chaffee).

Half a dozen Pinyon Jays flew around the parking area for Ruby Mountain.  They probably nest in the area. 

We continued to the BLM Land north of Salida and set up our "owling stations".  While we did not encounter any owls this night (after another thunderstorm), one of our wet owling stations did hear a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Note: we did not hear about the potential Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at the Chalk Creek Campgrounds until late in the afternoon.  It was a priority to check it out the next day.

June 12, 2014

First thing after getting up, we drove to the Chalk Creek Campgrounds.  Regrettably, there was no Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in view.  Later we heard that the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was not only seen on the water but also in the nearby trees.  Perhaps it is attempting to nest or has a mate on a nest?  We hope to examine that closer next week.

We backtracked into Gunnison County by way of Cottonwood Pass today.  Taylor Park Reservoir produced a Barrow's Goldeneye sighting.  Several Red Crossbills flew around the northeastern end of the lake.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed at the Lake View Campgrounds.  Another afternoon thunderstorm.  It is getting old.  Owling was unsuccessful this night.  We decided to return to Denver and hope for better weather later into next week.

We did go owling and checked six of the Campgrounds in Taylor Canyon.  The Pothole Reservoirs north of Taylor Park Reservoir were not accessible as the roads were quite wet and muddy.

Our "owling stations" set up along Cottonwood Pass did not "hear" any owls this night.

No comments: