Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rapid Trip to Eastern Colorado

April 17-18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Some European birders had the bad fortune to bird in Colorado during a week where we received more snow than any time this winter and early spring.  They missed many of their target birds, spending several days in motels in small Colorado towns like Walden & Craig.

Fortunately, I was not and did not commit to joining them on their trek.  Feeling a little guilty, I accompanied them on their last two days.

April 17

Six European birders and I headed to the Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek along Yuma County Road 45 at midnight.  Eventually we watched nine males perform their mating dances.

We had over 350 miles to cover and stopped only a few times.

Two Long-eared Owls were found along Yuma CR 3 (Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area, Kit Carson).  A troupe of 14 Wild Turkeys crossed the road nearby.

We had to detour to Lake Hasty Campgrounds at John Martin Reservoir (Bent).  The Brown Pelican was where it was advertized.  The possible Iceland Gull on John Martin Reservoir was not found.

We arrived at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) about an hour before sunset.  Rufous-crowned Sparrows and an Eastern Phoebe were found before dark.  Shortly after dark, a Western Screech-Owl called from the Campgrounds area.

April 18

Our birding day started at a Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek where two males appeared just before sunrise.

Again, time was a problem (too little as my birding companions had to be at DIA Airport in Denver by 4:00 pm.  A quick stop at the field north of the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek found two Cassin's Sparrows as well as Vesper, Brewer's, one Clay-colored, Song, White-crowned and Lark Sparrows.

We rushed back to Denver; I dropped them off at DIA. 

With a few hours of daylight remaining, I thought I would try to hit Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Northern Parula) and Belmar Historic Park (Vermilion Flycatcher).

Dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers flew around Prospect Lake and Tabor Lake.  My unsuccessful search for the Northern Parula took so long that the trip to Belmar Historic Park was abandoned.

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