Sunday, November 29, 2015

Colorado Eastern Plains Trip

November 23-25, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the eastern plains for three days.  Weather was fair, partly sunny skies, temperatures in the 50s.  It did get cold at night.

November 23

We drove up I76 skipping some nice birding spots (Jackson Reservoir, Prewitt Reservoir).  Our first stop at sunrise was Sterling Reservoir.  We found a Barn Owl and relocated the White-winged Scoter reported the day before.

Much time was spent at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  Highlights were a Winter Wren and Harris's Sparrow.  Resident birds spotted included 24+ Eastern Bluebirds, 2 Northern Cardinals, 7 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Field Sparrow and 2 Long-eared Owls.  Eastern Screech-Owls called at two locations.  A late Orange-crowned Warbler and Hermit Thrush were  somewhat a surprise.

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  The previously reported Black Scoter was a Sedgwick County highlight!  Ten Greater White-fronted Geese, two Ross's Geese and 25+ Bonaparte's Gulls were also found.

No Short-eared Owls appeared after sunset.

November 24

Our birding day started at the town of Ovid (Sedgwick County) today.  Definite highlight was a Purple Finch in the southern Ovid Woods.  It eventually flew into town where we could not relocate it.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker and White-winged Dove were at the northern Ovid Woods.

A short walk over to the Ovid Sewage Ponds added a Harris's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow to our day list!

A second highlight of the day occurred when we headed south to Holyoke.  A Rusty Blackbird walked along the canal along the south side of Holyoke Fishing Pond.

The other birding spots usually visited in Holyoke (Cemetery, Washington Golf Course pond, City Park) had few birds.

About 30 minutes before sunset, we drove Yuma County Road 45 in search of Greater Prairie-Chickens.  None was found today.  A Short-eared Owl was observed flying east of the intersection of CR 45 & CR PP.

November 25, 2015

Earlier in the morning, a walk around Sandsage Wildlife Area (Yuma) found a Harris's Sparrow and Eastern Screech-Owl.

Another Harris's Sparrow and Northern Cardinal were encountered at Wray Fishing Unit.

Before heading back to Denver, Bryan and I spent the morning birding Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).

About an hour before sunrise, an Eastern Screech-Owl called north of Hale Ponds.  Two hours earlier, we found an Eastern Screech-Owl along the Republican River at 600 yards east of Highway 385.

A Northern Cardinal and two Long-eared Owls were found around Foster's Grove Campgrounds.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found along the gated road on the south side of the old reservoir.  Another Long-eared Owl was also in the area!

We worked our way back toward Kansas and found another Red-bellied Woodpecker below the Bonny Reservoir dam (near Hale).  Four Eastern Bluebirds were also here (sometimes referred to Pipit Hill area).

An attempt to see the Eastern Screech-Owl that called north of Hale Ponds early in the morning was not successful.  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were in the general area.

Two highlights of the day were the result.  A red form of Fox Sparrow popped up from the brush near the only ranch house south of CR 4 (just southwest of Hale Ponds)! 

A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found at an undisclosed location.  I hope that it was stay around for our Christmas Count!

We stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) on the drive home.  No owls were found this evening.

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