Saturday, August 22, 2015

Eastern Meadowlark & Five Owl Day

August 22, 2015

Richard Stevens

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoy the beautiful summer day birding in Boulder, Weld and Adams Counties.  Temperatures barely reached the 90s; winds were calm.

About 30 minutes after sunrise, we walked the east-west trail north of McIntosh Lake (Boulder).  The Eastern Meadowlark was heard calling upon our arrival.  We temporarily were sidetracked by an Ash-throated Flycatcher fluttering about in the short bushes just west of the first line of taller trees west of Airport Road.  It was my first Boulder County Ash-throated Flycatcher sighting!

After taking a few photos, the Eastern Meadowlark became the center of our attention.  The meadowlark was on the ground about 10 yards south of the trail (at 15 yards east of the trail heading to the museum along Hwy 66).

Eventually the meadowlark flew over our heads and landed 20 yards north of the trail and 10 yards west of the fence heading north from the second grove of trees west of Airport Road.  It fanned its tail as it landed, allowing great views of the white tail feathers!  The white covered four feathers on each side of the tail.  While not my first Boulder County Eastern Meadowlark sighting, if the species is later split, it could be.

A Bald Eagle was perched in the second tree west of Airport Road when we returned to our car.  Photos to come in a day or two on the Colorado Birding Society's website:

Time was 9:00 am when we left McIntosh Lake; we decided to drive through St. Vrain State Park (Weld) and Firestone Gravel Pits (Weld) in search of the previously reported Little Blue Heron and Caspian Tern(s).  Neither was found.

After an early lunch in Greeley (Weld), we searched for shorebirds in the Lower Latham Reservoir/Loloff Reservoir areas.  Nothing uncommon was found and we continued south.

A detour to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) found few interesting birds.  One Long-eared Owl was found in the windbreak just west of Pond 7!

Our next target was the four reports of Barn Owls in Adams & Denver Counties.  A stop at 56th Avenue and Buckley Road, then hiking the dirt track heading south, found a Barn Owl in the scattered trees over the hill (not visible from 56th avenue).

When we circled south to Green Valley Road and 44th avenue (badly in need of gas), a Barn Owl was observed flying in the southeast of the intersection.  It could not have been the same Owl; we would have beaten it to the intersection.

After gassing up at 44th avenue and Tower Road, we turned back north to drive the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) just before sunset.  As our luck was fantastic today, a Short-eared Owl was hovering over the field 200 yards southeast of the prairie dog town (3.4 miles east of 96th avenue and Tower Road).

Eventually we counted seven Burrowing Owls between the above prairie dog town and the intersection of 114th avenue and Trussville.

We just could not let our four species owl day end.  A Great Horned Owl had to be at Barr Lake (Adams).  Sure enough, when we stopped along the road near mile 8.0 in the park, a Great Horned Owl was heard calling.  We put a scope on it and ended with a five-owl species day!

Great day, hope yours was too!

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