Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snowy Time in Northeastern Colorado

January 3 to 5, 2015

Richard Stevens:

January 3

Bryan Ehlmann and I held our own two man Christmas Count today at Crook (Logan County).  An official count was also being conducted.  We wanted to see how many birds we would miss.

As it turned out, it was a fantastic day in spite of high winds and snow late in the day.

At Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area we found Eastern Towhee (great find), Northern Cardinals, Eastern Screech-Owls (3), Eastern Bluebirds (6), Field Sparrow (1), Harris's Sparrow (1), and White-throated Sparrow (2).

On nearby private lands: a red Fox Sparrow, Eastern Screech-Owls and Lapland Longspurs.

Our birding day ended with a cold windy hike at the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.  Tracks of a Greater Prairie-Chicken were found in the snow; later, we scoped the field and watched the bird through falling snow.

January 4

Bryan and I drove through Julesburg (Sedgwick) today.  We got a late start waiting for the weather to  "clear" after yesterday's snowstorm and high winds.

A male Northern Cardinal was across the street from the Julesburg Elementary School. 

A walk down 2nd street in Ovid found a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the northern end of Ovid Woods and a male Northern Cardinal farther south.  The Purple Finch continued at local feeders (first observed on 12/29).

Before sunset, we found two Long-eared Owls at the Red Lion Wildlife Area/Jumbo Reservoir windbreak.  We parked at Sedgwick County Road 2 and watched the fields to the south of Jumbo Reservoir.  A Short-eared Owl flew back and forth several times just after sunset.  Later an Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings played around Jumbo Reservoir.

January 5

The Red-bellied Woodpecker was relocated at the north end of Ovid Woods (Sedgwick).  We missed the Northern Cardinal in the woods; perhaps it was the one we found west of the bridge at Julesburg Wildlife Area. The Purple Finch that has been visited feeders in Ovid, continues.

A walk around the Ovid Sewage Ponds and S. Platte River found a Harris's Sparrow and two White-throated Sparrows.

Bryan Ehlmann and I started back from Julesburg late in the morning.  High winds along I76 caused us to return to Denver instead of detouring to some of the birding areas along the route (like Prewitt Reservoir or Jackson Reservoir).

A brief drive through the Campgrounds at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) found a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  The lake itself was frozen.

After dropping Bryan off, I drove over to the DIA Owl Loop hoping for photos of a Snow Bunting or Short-eared Owl.

I sat along Quency Street at 0.3 miles north of 96th avenue for about 50 minutes watching flocks of Horned Larks fly back and forth across the road.  They would land out of sight below the hill just west of the fence line.  On the east side, they would disappear into the tall cut grasses.  Eventually I was able to see the white wings of a Snow Bunting.  Unfortunately, it offered no photo opportunities.

About 10 minutes before sunset, I continued north and east along the Owl Loop.  On my second pass, I detoured south down Queensburg Street.  From the gravel parking area south of the Frontier Maintenance Shed, just north of the entrance to the airport, I scanned the fields to the west.  A Short-eared Owl flew about 100 yards to the west! 

No additional Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  I was not able to find any Lapland Longspurs this trip.

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