Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Return to Douglas and Elbert Counties

June 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove down to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas) about two hours before sunrise.  The wind was calm and skies were clear.  The thousands of shining stars make the trip a pleasure whether target birds are found or not.

The woods along Castlewood Canyon Road were filled with bird songs.  We heard a Least Flycatcher long before it was light enough to see any birds.  Unfortunately, no Northern Saw-whet Owls called this night/morning.

A couple of Elk walked the hillside across from the Winkler Ranch (located a few miles south of Castlewood Canyon State Park).  Five male Bobolink called, probably trying to get the attention of the two females that we observed.

Bluebirds flew about and several appeared to be taking advantage of the nesting boxes along Castlewood Canyon Road.  Ultimately, we found three species of bluebirds.  Half a dozen Mountain Bluebirds, four Western Bluebirds and one Eastern Bluebird fluttered about Castlewood Canyon Road.

Other birds observed from Castlewood Canyon State Park to Lake Gulch Road included many Vesper Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow, a Grasshopper Sparrow (heard only), Song Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat, Western Wood-pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Spotted Towhees and a Gray Catbird.

Back at the park, we hiked the Creek Bottom Trail from the Falls Spur to the Dam Ruins.  A Prairie Warbler attempted nesting along this trail in 2002 and 2008.  We found a Least Flycatcher (near where one was heard early in the morning). 

We also found an American Redstart across Cherry Creek along the Rim Rock Trail (most likely the one found by Bob Andrews a few days earlier).  Perhaps it is attempting to find a mate (or has) and nest?

A walk along the Creek Bottom Trail from the Homestead Trail to Creek Bottom Trail found one of the few Ovenbirds in the park.  We looked closely at the Turkey Vultures flying overhead.  A Black Vulture was in the mix in July 2009.  A pair of Golden Eagles also flew down the canyon!

Our trip continued east.  We stopped at a friend's home along Highway 86 to say Hi!  She has a male Northern Cardinal again in her yard.  However, it did not visit her feeders during our stay.

No Dickcissels were found along Elbert Road today (4.1 miles south of highway 86).  We continued to another friend's ranch for the last part of our birding day.

Four Dickcissels and a pair of Bobolink were around his alfalfa fields and wet meadow.  We hope to confirm that one or both species nest here this summer (would be nice record)!

Common Poorwill have been observed on his property in the past.  In 2002, we found a nest and one egg.  In 2011, we observed an adult and young.  Common Poorwills were also recorded in 2000 and 2008.  Finding a nesting site is quite difficult and was a great find for us in 2002 & 2011!  Regrettably, none was found today.

Short-eared Owls have been observed in the past flying over the cattail marsh.  This evening, one quickly flew by about 5 minutes before sunset!

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