Saturday, August 9, 2014

Trip to the Eastern Plains

August 7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and my first stop of the day was a great one.  An empidonax flycatcher was perched near the northeast corner of Last Chance Rest Stop when we stopped.  It called twice and revealed that it was an Alder Flycatcher!

Many birds flew around this oasis of shade from the late morning sun.  The best was a Northern Waterthrush.  Others included a Brown Thrasher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and lingering House Wrens.

Our trek continued east to Bonny Reservoir and Area.  We enjoyed walks under the cottonwoods where it was pleasant and "cool".  With water levels down to a small fraction of what the reservoir used to be, mosquito populations appear to be significantly lower.

On the northern side, Foster's Grove to Highway 385, we found a male Northern Cardinal at the Campgrounds and a Great Crested Flycatcher (calling) several hundred yards to the west.  An Eastern Screech-Owl was enticed to come out of his nesting hole with a little help from a recording.

On the southern side of Bonny, a walk along the closed road added a male Red-bellied Woodpecker and male Baltimore Oriole to our trip list.  It is getting late to see any adult male Orioles and he made a good highlight to our day.

At Hale, we found four Eastern Bluebirds hawking insects along the Republican River.  An hour search/walk along the River did not find any Cuckoos (Yellow-billed Cuckoos nested earlier east of CR LL.5.  A dozen years ago, a Black-billed Cuckoo pair nested in the tall cottonwoods.  I have not heard of any since (but look every time I am in the area).

On the way to Hale Ponds, we caught two Dickcissels singing from the fence line along Yuma County Road 4.

Five Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found around the Hale Ponds.  We also found two Yellow-billed Cuckoos, which would have been missed if they had not been calling.  It took quite a while to see one of them even after knowing which tree he was perched.

At dusk, we enticed a Common Poorwill to respond to our recording (played at the southwest corner of Hale Ponds).  Would have preferred a Whip-poor-will, one cannot always be choosy.  No Short-eared Owls flew around the hills south of Hale Ponds (as they sometimes will do).

Misses: we did not find any Long-eared Owls at Bonny or Hale this trip.  The Hale windbreak has taken quite a beating from weather and age.  It is not as thick as once was.

After dark, we walked Hale Ponds and the Republican River and found/heard at least two Eastern Screech-Owls.

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