Sunday, January 24, 2016

Southeast Colorado Trip

January 19-21, 2016

Terry Michaels and I made a swing to the southeast Colorado.  Temperatures barely reached 40 degrees during the trip.  Winds were wild at times.  Several times, we measured 14 mph, gusts to 23 mph.

January 19

Our first stop was Fountain Creek Regional Park (El Paso County).  After a 30 minute wait, the Purple Finch appeared at the Visitor's Center feeders.

Below the Visitor's Center, we found two Virginia Rails at the Rice's Pond footbridge.  It took another 45 minutes to relocate the Winter Wren between Rice's Pond and marker 18.

Two Yellow-rumped Warblers were just about all we encountered.

Big Johnson Reservoir (El Paso) did not add any interesting birds to our trip list.

An hour was spent trying unsuccessfully to relocate the Acorn Woodpecker in the Willow Circle neighborhood of Colorado Springs.

Clear Springs Ranch was quiet also.

A drive down Hanover Road relocated a Curve-billed Thrasher.  At dusk, we observed a Short-eared Owl near the Squirrel Creek Road pond.

Neither of us was tired and we made the long trip down to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca County).

January 20

We arrived at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) shortly after midnight and were welcomed by a calling Western Screech-Owl.

After a few hours sleep and a wait for the day to warm up a bit, we hiked around Cottonwood Canyon.

Highlights included a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker up the draw south of the Campgrounds.  Another male and female Ladder-backed Woodpecker were found up the draw going southwest of the fork in CR M (southern road goes toward Carrizo Mountain).  A flock of 60+ Cedar Waxwings was also here.

We missed the Barn Owl that sometimes is under the bridge at CR M & CR 7.  On the drive there, we found two Rufous-crowned Sparrows at 1.4 miles east of the Campgrounds. 

Several Canyon Towhees were scattered along the hillside.  Small flocks of Chihuahuan Ravens flew overhead.  A Bewick's Wren and Spotted Towhee were in the evergreens back at the Campgrounds.

Eventually we departed Cottonwood Canyon and drove to Carrizo Picnic Area.  A Greater Roadrunner ran across CR M just west of the entrance.  A pair of Bewick's Wren fluttered about Carrizo Creek at the picnic area.

We detoured to a ranch in Furnish Canyon to check on my friend and any uncommon birds.  Bob had not seen any uncommon birds recently; we said our goodbyes and headed out to Picture Canyon. 

A  Northern Mockingbird was along CR 7, just before reaching CR M.

Terry and I hiked down Picture Canyon to the pictographs.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was running around the rocky short cliff near the iron gate area (if one is familiar with the area).

Half a dozen American Kestrels and Western Meadowlarks were encountered on the walk back to our car.  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow hopped up from the short rocky cliffs just south of the parking area.

Two Greater Roadrunners ran across the road just before we reached CR 19.  While not uncommon, seeing Greater Roadrunner is always exciting.  Try searching for them for hours without a sighting.

We ended our birding day at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  A Hermit Thrush was the most surprising bird.  It beat the singing Brown Thrasher as the highlight of our stop.

Two Chihuahuan Ravens were observed circling overhead.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker were not really a surprise.  While a Barn Owl was found "hiding" in one of the crevasses in the tall red cliffs.

Another Greater Roadrunner was observed running across the road when we drove toward Highway 287.

We decided to skip Lamar guessing the few uncommon birds would be around this time of year.  Our trek continued toward Wray.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was found at Hale Ponds (Yuma) as we continued toward Wray.  None was found at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area in a 20 minute stop.

January 21

After a few hours of sleep, Terry and I drove to Yuma CR 45 in search of Greater Prairie-Chickens.  None was found and we detoured over to the Kitzmiller Ranch.  Success, a Greater Prairie-Chicken was perched on the fence post just outside the ranch's entrance!

We stopped at two homes to check on our friends and their birds.  Recording the sightings, we saw an eastern Fox Sparrow and two male Northern Cardinals at private yard #3 and a pair of Northern Cardinals at private yard # 1.

Beverly mentioned that a friend had a "strange owl" in her backyard and suggested that we drive over and identify it for him.  The owl turned out to be a Northern Saw-whet Owl!  His yard is now designated as Yuma County private yard #9!

Terry needed to get home and we turned west, back to Denver.

After dropping Terry off, I decided to check on an owl report from Barr Lake (Adams).

Eventually I would find three Long-eared Owls in the shelterbelt at the entrance.  They were northeast of the ranger's office.

A flock of sparrows included 10-12 American Tree Sparrows, a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos and a White-throated Sparrow.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) this evening.

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