Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Back In the Mountains

July 2-7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

July 2
I headed back to the northwest mountains and birded along the way.

The Eastern Wood-Pewee was along the Poudre River Trail, north of Spring Creek (Larimer).

The rest of the daylight hours were spent with a pleasant hike to Zimmerman Lakes (Larimer).  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers worked the trees just south of where the trail splits into a loop. 

A pair of White-winged Crossbills was found at the northeastern end of the lake.  They were not with the flock of 14 Red Crossbills encountered as I hiked to the lake.  A colorful pair of Pine Grosbeaks also flew about the north side of Zimmerman Lake.

I reached Cameron Pass at dusk.  No Boreal Owls called tonight.  None was heard as I hiked the road down to the Crags Campgrounds.  Winds were rather strong tonight (which did not aid in any success).  The Ranger Lakes Boreal Owl also did not call.

Wilson's Snipes whinnied along Highway 14 when I stopped at the various pullovers east of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

Note: Bryan & Sue Ehlmann birded Black Mountain today (north of Craig).  They enjoyed a great day which included a White-winged Crossbill and two Purple Martins (Mlodinow, 6/24; 40.757558,-107.361718) during daylight.  After dark, they found a Northern Pygmy-Owl (Mlodinow, 6/24; 40.7477772,-107.3582268) and Flammulated Owl.

July 3
Our plans had been to drive Buffalo Pass Road to the Summit, search for Three-toed Woodpecker, White-winged Crossbills and go owling.  As far as we could tell, Buffalo Pass Road was still closed.  Instead, we decided to meet along the Colorado River Road at McCoy.

Bryan and Sue came down Highway 131 from Steamboat Springs and I cut over Gore Pass Road north of Kremmling.  A couple of my stops along Gore Pass Road (Hwy 134) found a total of three American Three-toed Woodpeckers (Grand County).  A flock of Red Crossbills appeared to be accompanied by a White-winged Crossbill; however, I did not get a good look and left the bird unidentified.  Some Red Crossbills do show minor white wingbars.

Our troupe then continued south down Colorado River Road to Burns, then north again to Eagle County Roads 45 (Strubi Road) and CR 47 (Luark Road).  Last year we enjoyed success owling along these roads.

CR 47 was quiet; we turned around and took CR 45 as far as we could drive, then hiked into Routt County.  We hoped to reach an unnamed State Trust Land that few birders visit.  We did not make it.

Along the CR 45 drive, we set up (hid) our three "owl listening stations" at gps waypoints that were successful for owls last year.

A 4-wheel Jeep is definitely necessary for this trek.  Eventually we found (heard) a Northern Saw-whet Owl in Routt County.  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers was encountered along our hike also.

Our owl listening stations picked up a second calling Northern Saw-whet Owl.

July 4
We continued owling into the morning.  Caught a few hours of sleep and continued west to Derby Mesa Road in Eagle County.  We hoped to make it to McMillan Lake, which we failed to reach last year.  Lousy roads again prevented us from that goal.  Late summer or early fall (before snows) would probably be best to tackle this road.

Last year we barely were able to make it to Crescent Lake (Garfield County).  This year our goal was just to reach Emerald Lake (Eagle County).  Emerald Lake is too low to find White-tailed Ptarmigan; we did find a total of five American Three-toed Woodpeckers (Eagle County).

Rain forced us to give up on plans to do any owling and we continued toward Dotsero and Coffee Pot Road (Eagle County).  Then we continued up Coffee pot Road to Heart Lake.

July 5
We spent the night at Heart Lake and explored Heart Lake and Bison Lake during the day.  Three or four Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Bison Lake (Garfield County).  Heart Lake was slow. 

We backtracked down Coffee Pot Road and found Purple Martins at two locations close to where they were found in 2013.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found near one of the locations.

In the afternoon, we went back north and arrived at White Owl Lake an hour before sunset.  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers was encountered along the White Owl Trail.

After dark, we heard a Boreal Owl around the lake and a Flammulated Owl farther down the White Owl Trail.

July 6
After a few hours of sleep, we went back down to Coffee Pot Road and picked up our three owl listening stations.  We tried something different by wrapping the stations in plastic bags.  Unfortunately, wind blew the bags enough to cause much interference.  One station did pick up a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Misses: We did not find any Dusky Grouse or White-winged Crossbills since entering Eagle and/or Garfield County.

Forecast was for more rain.  We decided to head back to Colorado River Road and north to Sweetwater Lake (Garfield) and Dotsero Wildlife Area (Eagle).

Two Purple Martins were found along 151 Road (Garfield).

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found during a hike along Hack Lake Creek.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called within 400 yards of a gps waypoint taken in 2013.

Owling for the most part was a bust.

July 7
Family issues and a recall appointment for my car brought me once again back to Denver. Temperatures reached 100 degrees in Denver.  It was not much cooler in the mountains.  I did not make any stops.  The slow traffic along Frisco to Denver did not help in dealing with the heat.  I mis-calculated and never should have driven I70 at 5:00 pm. 

Only one detour (stop) was made on the way home.  I detoured west to Hanging Lake (Garfield County).  While climbing toward the top, I saw a Black Swift fly through the canyon.

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