Sunday, October 11, 2015

Search for Sprague's Pipits

October 8-10, 2015

Richard Stevens:

October 8th

A couple of nice birds including a Northern Parula were discovered yesterday at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) by Van Remsen.  Terry Michaels and I decided to arrive at the Wildlife Area about 60 minutes before sunrise.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard calling north of the Platte River when we walked sections 6 East to 7 East.

Terry and I hiked Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area to the western end, then turned around and ended up at the eastern end.  We avoided the 7 mile hike back to Hwy 55 when Roger picked us up.

Eventually we relocated a Broad-winged Hawk, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and two Grasshopper Sparrows.  Unfortunately, the Northern Parula could not be found.

Several additional "new sightings" included a Blue-headed Vireo and Eastern Phoebe.  However, the highlight to be sure was a first year male Williamson's Sapsucker.  As far as we knew, this is a first Logan County sighting.

In the afternoon, the three of us traveled Logan & Sedgwick County Roads in search of Sprague's Pipits; without success.

No Greater Prairie-Chickens were found when we hiked the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area the last hour of daylight.  Shortly after dusk, we heard two Eastern Screech-Owls at Roger's ranch.

October 9th

Terry Michaels and I embarked on our birding day with another drive along the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Again, no Greater Prairie-Chickens were encountered.

Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan) was slow; we tried our luck at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  An Eastern Screech-Owl called from the woods at the northeastern-middle section of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan).

Birding at Jumbo Reservoir was quite good.  We found both a Black-bellied Plover and American Golden-Plover along the shore.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull, which has been around since at least July 24, 2015, flew across the middle of the lake.  More importantly, while scoping the lake we observed a Jaeger chasing gulls. 

Unfortunately, it was too far away to identify.  When we hurried to the northeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir, the Jaeger could not be relocated.  One Common Loon swam around the middle of the lake.

A check of Little Jumbo reservoir and Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan) did not find the Jaeger.  Where it flew remained a mystery.  One minute it was there, the next it was gone.

A stop at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) did not find any uncommon birds.  Ovid Woods and Ovid Sewage Ponds were quiet.  Only White-crowned Sparrows were found during those stops.

We drove the Sedgwick County Roads north of Highway 138 searching for Sprague's Pipits; again without success.  Several previous locations of years past were void of birds.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found at Sedgwick Cemetery.  Then we sat the last hour of daylight scoping Sedgwick Draw (just north of the Cemetery).  Ten minutes after sunset, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying down the draw (north to south).

An Eastern Screech-Owl was later found just east of Sedgwick Draw!

Weather today: high temperature was around 73 degrees.  Winds were 15 mph with gusts to 21 mph (by noon).

October 10th

Terry and I returned to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) hoping to find the Jaeger species found yesterday.  It was not around.  The Black-bellied Plover and Lesser Black-backed Gull were still there.

A singing Eastern Meadowlark northeast of the main Campgrounds was a nice consolation!

We spent the next five hours driving to previous locations of Sprague's Pipits; none was found.

We also checked a marsh on private property where I had photographed a Sharp-tailed Sparrow on 10/11/2000.  Then another private ranch where Roger Danka, Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten had found one on 10/23/2001.  Neither site produced a sighting today.  The habitat had remained close to what it was in 2000 & 2001.

We turned toward Denver in early afternoon. Our only stop on the way home was Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan).  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was relocated north of the pond.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl did not call.

Weather today: temperatures reached 84 degrees; winds were up to 16  mph.  It was not a helpful day for birding.

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