Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mt. Evans (Clear Creek County) to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams/Denver)

August 23, 2015

Richard Stevens:

We returned to Mt. Evans (Clear Creek) today in search of its specialties.  Three Brown-capped Rosy Finches were observed flying around and on the rocks at the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  Several American Pipits walked the northern shore.

It took four of us almost 2.5 hours to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Two birds were finally spotted about 600 yards east-northeast of the Summit Lake parking lot.  Our trip to the top for them had been unsuccessful.

Down at Echo Lake at least four of the Barrow's Goldeneyes were swimming in and out of the weeds at the northeast corner.  American Three-toed Woodpeckers were missed along the eastern side; however, several Lincoln's Sparrows and a Green-tailed Towhee were there.

We had to walk 40-60 yards down the Captain Mountain trail before hearing the distinctive drumming of a Three-toed Woodpecker.  Eventually, a male flew across the trail and continued working the trees toward the research center to the south.

After dropping my companions off, I picked up Rebecca and Sue Ehlmann.  They dropped me off at 88th avenue and Buckley Road.  I walked the four miles south to 56th avenue while they drove to the airport to pick up Bryan.

It had been awhile since I made this hike, just too busy.  Temperatures may have reached 80 degrees; however, there was coolness in the air.  Winds measured less than 3 mph.  The solitude, no cars or people made the walk quite pleasant!

Burrowing Owls (5) were spread across both Denver & Adams Counties.  Other birds found included a Rock Wren, two Say's Phoebes and sparrows (Grasshopper (1), Brewer's (1), many Lark, a few Song and some Chipping).

I surprised by the numbers: five Western Wood-pewees (high?) and only one Western Kingbird (low?).

Two hours of my 4.5 hour trek were spent along the detour First Creek from Buckley to the east side of the new light rail tracks.  This hike is one of many favorite birding spots that others seldom visit.  First Creek has much water with all the rain this summer.  I am hoping for some interesting migration sightings in a few weeks.

Yesterday's sightings of Barn Owls south of Buckley had to be luck that they were out hunting.  The sighting at 56th and Buckley yesterday was interesting in that a Red-tailed Hawk had dove toward the ground after something.  The Barn Owl came out of the trees and dove at the Red-tailed Hawk.  The Hawk lost and departed; the Barn Owl captured a mouse!

My theory is that the shacks/horse stalls at 56th avenue, just east of the Light Rail tracks are attracting many mice.  The Barn Owls are discovered that and return most evenings in search of a meal. 

Nevertheless, where do they spend the day?  Unfortunately, the tall cottonwoods still are thick with leaves.  Any chance of sneaking up on an owl is quite low.  As I passed under Pena Blvd, a Barn Owl flew out of the trees south of the dirt track I was walking, no chance for a photo.

Misses: Northern Mockingbird nested a couple of years ago just north of First Creek.  None was seen today.  Great Horned Owls nested almost every year for a decade; I found none today.

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