Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ending Our Summer Mountain Birding Trip

August 1-4, 2014

Richard Stevens:

August 1

Bryan and I returned to Big Green Mountain Falls (Gunnison).  Plans had changed because of predicted inclement weather or we would not have backtracked.  A Black Swift was found flying around this isolated/out of the way Waterfall.  It is a beautiful spot to visit!

Williamson's and Red-naped Sapsuckers flew around Silver Jack Campgrounds.  A search for Hooded Warblers came up empty.  They successfully nested here in 2013.

Cowboy Lake added a female and two young Dusky Grouse and another pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers to our trip list.  A Boreal Owl was the only owl heard tonight.  Our "owl listening stations" did not pick up any owl sounds.

August 2

Today we headed to Kebler Pass by way of Crawford.  A friend had heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo on his ranch along Highway 133 about a month or so ago.  Bryan and I were not able to find it.  He also had several Purple Martins fly over a week ago; there was no sign of them today.

We detoured to McClure Pass before heading down Kebler Pass (Gunnison).  Purple Martins had nested below the pass in previous years.  None was found today.  A detour to the road to Marble found a dozen Band-tailed Pigeons; no Purple Martin flew around the waterfall below Chair Mountain.  News of road damage on Schofield Pass encouraged us to skip driving it this trip (White-tailed Ptarmigan found in the past, 4-wheel drive vehicle a must under "good conditions").

Success for Purple Martins was better on Kebler Pass.  We relocated the Purple Martin found a week or so ago by Dennis Garrison.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was west of the old cemetery.

We ended our birding day by setting up our "owl listening stations" and having a barbecue on Ohio Pass.  One station picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl calling!

August 3

Before leaving Gunnison County, Bryan and I drove down Gunnison County Road 38.  Ten Gunnison Sage-Grouse were 1/2 mile or so north of the intersection with CR 38a.

A drive around Buena Vista (Chaffee) found three Lewis's Woodpeckers.  One at S. Railroad Street and Marquette Avenue and two at Four Elk Creek at Wagon Trail Road.  The Williamson's Sapsucker reported along CR 307 by Jeff Witters on 8/1 was not relocated.

Unfortunately, the news of the Black-throated Gray Warbler at the Salida Ball Fields did not reach us until we passed through town.

A stop at Trout Creek Pass (Park County) found our first American Three-toed Woodpecker of the day!

Antero Reservoir was slow.  The couple of shorebirds were too far away to identify.  The Common Loon found by Steve Mlodinow on 6/8 was still there.

Our birding day ended up Georgia Pass Road (Park County).  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at his usual spot (4.1 miles west past the Michigan Creek Campgrounds).

Our three "owl listening stations" were set up along Michigan Creek Road and we continued to Georgia Pass. 

We hiked about 1.5 miles northwest of Michigan Creek Road (CR 54) along the trail past Michigan Lake.  Several super highlights included a White-winged Crossbill near Michigan Lake and two White-tailed Ptarmigan at 0.6 miles above the Lake!

After dark, we found a Flammulated Owl near a GPS waypoint taken last year.  Our "owl listening stations" picked up two Northern Pygmy-Owls (between the American Three-toed Woodpecker location and the trail to Michigan Lake).

August 4

Bryan and I chose to attempt relocating birds previously reported by David Suddjian on Lost Park (Park County).  We could not find the Lewis's Woodpeckers and Williamson's Sapsuckers along Forest Road 211.  The Lewis's Woodpecker would have been a superb find for Park County (first county bird for both of us).

We did relocate one of the American Three-toed Woodpeckers along Forest Road 431.

With little success, we decided to hike up Twin Cone trail off Kenosha Pass.  A Dusky Grouse ran across the road at 0.3 miles east of Highway 285.  We found our Williamson's Sapsucker in the Aspen Grove where the road/trail turns from south to east.

An Ovenbird sang with the marsh about 200 yards after the turn to the east!  This is a well-defined trail; we were comfortable returning in the dark.  Flammulated Owls were heard between the cabin area and the closed gate near Kenosha Pass.

Our "owl listening stations" picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl at the Campgrounds.  No Boreal Owls would respond to our recordings.

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