Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Looking for Sage Thrashers and Sparrows

September 22, 2015

Richard Stevens:

While Bryan Ehlmann and I are waiting for a storm to come to the eastern plains and slow down migration, today Rebecca Kosten and Sue Ehlmann joined us.  We went out looking for some target birds for two out of state birders.

Winds were 12+ mph; temperature reached the low 80s.

We started at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  Sage Thrashers were found:
1. two along the western road in the Bison enclosure
2. one about 300 yards up (northward) the Locust trail
3. two north of the Bluestem trail parking area; many Vesper Sparrows were here, no Clay-colored Sparrows.

Next, we exited Rocky Mountain Arsenal and drove 56th avenue east to Hudson Road, then south on Hudson Road to I70.  At 1.5 miles north of 26th avenue, we found a flock of birds, which included four Say's Phoebes, several White-crowned Sparrows, and a Clay-colored Sparrow.  The area was 0.2 miles north of the first house encountered on the east side of Hudson Road.

Once we reached the service road on the north side of I70, we turned west, south across the bridge, east to Powhaton Road, then south to East Jewell Road.

Two Sage Thrashers were on the east side of S. Powhaton Road at 0.2 miles north of E. Jewell.  We then turned east on Jewell to Smith Road.  Two Sage Thrashers were just south of the ranch house at the corner of Jewell & Smith Roads.

Continuing south on Smith Road, it makes a left hand turn onto East Yale Road.  Just before the first house on the north side of Yale, we found three Sage Thrashers.  Just east of this same house, we found a flock of eight Brewer's Sparrows accompanied by a Clay-colored Sparrow!

We continued east to CR 97, then north to CR 18 (E. Jewell) back west to Powhaton Road.  A lone Burrowing Owl was in the prairie dog town just west of the Paintball entrance road.

With only an hour before sunset, we decided to sit near Jewell Avenue and Powhaton Road.  Rebecca and Bryan parked at Smith Road & Jewell after dropping Sue and I off just west of Jewell & Powhaton Road.

We had both sides of Murphy Creek covered.  Our target bird was a Short-eared Owl.  I have seen Barn Owls fly around the ranch house just southwest of Gun Club and Jewell Roads; none did tonight.

About 10 minutes after sunset, Sue called out, Short-eared Owl.  A Short-eared Owl was flying over the field southwest/behind the ranch house.  We radioed Bryan and Sue and all were able to see the Short-eared Owl hunt, albeit, quite far away (northeast of DADS trash dump).

I would suggest Smith Road and East Yale Avenue for Sage Thrashers and sparrows.  It is about 30 minutes from Iliff Avenue & I225, then 30 minutes to drive to CR 97.

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