Saturday, August 22, 2015

Birding Southeast of Denver/Aurora

August 21, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I enjoyed this late summer day mostly in Elbert County.  It was warmer than yesterday (low 80s); winds were 8 mph or less.  Skies were hazy due to smoke from the California wildfires.

We departed Denver/Aurora by way of the Jewell-Yale Loop (Arapahoe).  Four Loggerhead Shrikes and two dozen Western Kingbirds remained along East Yale.  We took Quincy Road (Arapahoe CR 30 to CR 137 (Kiowa-Bennett Road), then south to Kiowa.  Several Sage Thrashers and a Common Nighthawk were along CR 137 (Arapahoe).

Only one Dickcissel was found along Elbert Road (at 4.1 miles south of Kiowa & Hwy 86).  A Long-billed Curlew wandering the same field was quite a surprise.

A Long-eared Owl was found on a friend's ranch farther south.  Bob had mentioned hearing a Poorwill at dusk and we planned to return before sunset.

Heading back north, no uncommon birds were found around Kiowa.  A detour to the Highway 86 ponds (Elbert) east of Kiowa found none of the birds reported on Monday.  A Sora was unexpected. 

We drove some of the unpaved Elbert Roads in search of additional Long-billed Curlews, a Mountain Plover or whatever; without success.

Then once again turned north and east toward Elizabeth (Elbert).  A stop at the Cemetery was quite fortunate.  A Cassin's Vireo was observed while we looked at a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers.  An interesting drumming (not right for a Downy Woodpecker) turned out to be a Red-headed Woodpecker!

Additional travels down unpaved county Roads south of Elizabeth added two Eastern Kingbirds, many Western Kingbirds (no Cassin's Kingbirds), two Sage Thrashers, Grasshopper Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow and Prairie Falcon.

Our route CR 5 to CR 98 to Elbert Road was uneventful.  We continued to my friend's ranch, picked up Bob who took us to several ranches where Long-eared Owls and Eastern Screech-Owls have nested.  Unfortunately, neither was around today.

Back at Bob's ranch, sure enough a Common Poorwill was enticed to respond to our recordings.  A flyby Short-eared Owl was an added bonus.

We drove through the western side of Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas) on the trip home.  No owls called tonight.

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