Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Trip to Southeastern Colorado

February 9-13, 2016

We received a report of a calling Barred Owl in Baca County and eventually planned to search for it.

February 9

Heading down I70, Terry Michaels and I detoured around Arriba, Colorado (Lincoln).  While we did not find the huge flocks of longspurs (3 species), we did encounter at least two of each species (Lapland Longspurs, many; McCown's Longspurs & Chestnut-collared Longspurs).

Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) was slow.  A Swamp Sparrow below the dam was our highlight.  We continued east.

At dusk, we heard Eastern Screech-Owls calling at Hale Ponds (Yuma).  Later we drove Yuma CR 3 and heard another Eastern Screech-Owl on the north side of Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area.

February 10

The usual suspects were found this morning at Hale Ponds (Yuma).  Five Red-bellied Woodpeckers and six Eastern Bluebirds.

We skipped returning to the north side of Bonny Reservoir; however, a walk below the Bonny Reservoir Dam found the highlight of the day.  A Common Redpoll fluttered along the Republican River, eventually ending up next to the Hale Store!

On the drive south to Lamar, we stopped at the many Kiowa County Reservoirs.  Nothing uncommon was found (Upper Queens, Lower Queens, Neenoshe Reservoir, and Neesopah Reservoir.

Tempel Grove (Bent) was very quiet.  Although we did find a late or early Hermit Thrush along the ditch.  No way to know if it stayed all winter or was part of an early spring migration.

February 11

Lamar Community College (Prowers) was a different story.  We found another late/early Hermit Thrush, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal.

The previously reported Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was at the north end of nearby Willow Creek Park.

Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) had another Red-bellied Woodpecker & a Ladder-backed Woodpecker!  Several Wild Turkeys walked around the southeastern end.  The resident Barn Owls could not be found today.

We drove through Pasture G (Baca) which is known for nesting Mountain Plovers, migrating Long-billed Curlews and nesting Burrowing Owls.  None was around today.

After sunset, we found a Western Screech-Owl at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).

February 12

Western Screech-Owls had again called an hour before sunrise.

A walk around Baca County Road M, Cottonwood Canyon was a delight this morning.  A pair of Rusty Blackbirds was along the creek, west of the Campgrounds.

A Winter Wren (90 percent sure, it did not make a noise to clinch the ID) was in the draw south of the Campgrounds.

Rufous-crowned Sparrows were in their usual location about 1.4 miles east of the Campgrounds at Carrizo Creek.

A Barn Owl was found under the bridge at Baca County Road 7!

We finally made it to my friend's ranch.  A walk around the property for several hours did not turn up the Barred Owl.  My friend listened to recordings and said he was 100 percent sure of his ID.  He had not heard it since February 10.

February 13

Terry and I walked around for another two hours (three hours before sunrise).  No Barred Owl was heard.  If my friend hears it again, we will return.

A stop at Picture Canyon (Baca) added two Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a Northern Mockingbird and Curve-billed Thrasher to our trip list.

A Barn Owl and two White-throated Sparrows were found at Burchfield Wildlife Area (Baca).

We stopped by the field north of the entrance to the old Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek off Baca County Road G.

An early Vesper Sparrow was found loosely associated with White-crowned Sparrows. 

Our first Burrowing Owl of 2016 was found along CR G, approximately 0.3 miles east of the Lek entrance.

Terry was not feeling well and we decided to head back to Denver early.  Of course, we had to be back anyway for tomorrow (Valentine's Day).

Our only stop on the way back to Denver was Lake Henry (Otero).  Nothing uncommon was found.

Back in Denver.........

I swung by the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) with an hour of daylight left.  Few birds moved about the National Wildlife Refuge.  Most other cars/people appeared more interesting in the bison and Bald Eagles.

While standing around with fellow birder Don Beltz, eleven Bald Eagles came into roost for the night.

Six were on the ice at Lower Derby Lake; five went to the roosting trees about 50 yards east of the Lake.

My search for black footed ferrets was not successful.  If I remember correctly, 30+ have been reintroduced to the arsenal.  The goal is to cull the prairie dog population.

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