Sunday, July 17, 2016

Western Slope Continued

July 12-15, 2016

July 12

We rested most of Tuesday.  Drove back to Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose) in the afternoon.  Two Dusky Grouse were found along the South Rim Drive between the Visitor's Center and the western end of the road.

Northern Pygmy-Owls responded to our recordings at 200 yards from the western end of the South Rim Drive and at the western end of Warner Point.  We did not see either owl this evening.

July 13-14

July 13

Today we made the drive along Engineer Pass Road to Engineer Pass and Lake City.  Along the trip, the road goes through Ouray and Hinsdale Counties.

No owls were found this year.  We did check at last year's GPS Waypoints.  American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found in Hinsdale (1) and Ouray (2) Counties.  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches were found near Engineer Pass (Hinsdale).

The scenery along the road is fantastic and worth the drive.  I do recommend a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

July 14

We headed back west today and took Cinnamon Pass Road to the Animas Forks Cutoff.  Last year, Bryan Ehlmann and I made the strenuous four mile hike to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan for our Hinsdale list.  We opted to skip it this year.

Our first highlight of the day was a Grace's Warbler fluttering about Mill Creek Campground (Hinsdale).

Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found during a walk around Burrows Park Town site (Hinsdale).

Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled overhead at Cinnamon Pass.

Owling was a bust again tonight.  Winds were 14+ mph.  Stops at last year's GPS waypoints were quiet.  No owls were enticed to call at the Animas Forks Ghost Town.

July 15

We walked around Animas Forks Ghost Town.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was the only interesting bird this morning.  Although Pine Grosbeaks should not be called uninteresting.

We returned to Silverton (San Juan) by way of CR 2.   Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was added to our trip list at Eureka Gulch Road (San Juan).

After several days of driving and little walking, we decided to hike up Minnie Gulch Road (San Juan).  A male White-tailed Ptarmigan made the highlight of our day!

Again, no owls were found :-(

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Western Slope Birding

June 27-July 11, 2016

We set out on our annual western slope bird breeding surveys today.  Lack of computer access, internet access and energy has delayed the updating of my blog.

Since much time has passed, memory of weather is vague.  This account is mainly for a record of our wanderings.  It has been hot up in the mountains; however, not as hot as down on the Colorado plains.

June 27

We drove up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County).  Pleasant 50 degrees and 10 mph winds made for an enjoyable day.

Eventually we found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan up the Rosalie Trail.  Several "Timberline" Brewer's Sparrows sang from the willows.  We also found White-throated Sparrows, a MacGillivray's Warbler, two Fox Sparrows (slate colored) and a Prairie Falcon (flyover). 

Male and female American Three-toed Woodpeckers were encountered around Duck Lake (Clear Creek).

After dusk, we heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl calling near the Whiteside Campgrounds (Park County).

June 28

We could not relocate the Mountain Plovers at the High Creek Fen Preserve (Park).  However, Mountain Plovers were found at two locations (Park CR 15 and another undisclosed spot where there was a nest with two eggs!)

Nothing uncommon was found at Eleven Mile Reservoir, Spinney Mountain Reservoir or Antero Reservoir (Park) and we headed to Michigan Creek Road (on the way to Georgia pass).

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found drumming at the traditional location along Michigan Creek Road.  We walked up the road the last hour of daylight in search of Dusky Grouse; without success. 

After dark, a Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings back near the Three-toed Woodpecker spot.

We detoured to Weston Pass (Park).  No Boreal Owls could be enticed to call at the Campgrounds or during four spots back toward Highway 285.

June 29

We wandered around Buena Vista (Chaffee) this morning.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was found along North Pleasant Avenue, just north of Brookdale.

Another Lewis's Woodpecker and a Pinyon Jay were around the Ice Lake at the north end of town.

We checked on the locations where Western Screech-Owls were found in 2007-2010.  None was found.  Whether they abandoned Buena Vista is yet to be determined.

A drive up Cottonwood Pass to the gate (closed in winter) found half a dozen Gray Jays and an American Three-toed Woodpecker near the gate.

Back east, Juniper Titmice and Bushtits were observed at the Buena Vista Overlook.

A flock of eight Pinyon Jays was seen just north of the parking area for Ruby Mountain.

Nothing uncommon was found in Salida.  Bill Kaempfer's great birding spot along the Little Arkansas River (Chaffee) was quiet today.

After dark, we heard one or two Northern Saw-whet Owls on the BLM Land north of the Buena Vista Overlook (Chaffee)!  Note: the calling owls were too close together to determine if there was one or two.

June 30

We birded along Highway 285 today.  Drives up Chaffee County Roads 184 and 250 did not find any Grace's Warblers.  CR 250 was the more interesting road.  We encountered 2 Black-throated Gray Warblers and Gray Flycatcher and several Evening Grosbeaks.

A check of the fields where an Eastern Meadowlarks were found in Chaffee County did not turn up any today.
CR 210 (6/24/2006); Poncho Springs (7/22/2007); CR 156 (6/10/2009)

A detour to Monarch Pass found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers at the pullover near the top (Chaffee) and another 0.1 miles farther west (Gunnison).

No owls were heard after dark.  I have search many years for owls on Monarch Pass back to Poncho Springs; without success.  The territory is vast; surely, owls are nesting here?

July 1

We turned East today and drove into Fremont County.  One of my favorite camping spots in Colorado is the Coaldale area.  Birding is superb and the wild flowers Hayden Creek (below Bushnell Mountain) are numerous, colorful and breath taking. 

Walking up Fremont CR 6 is intoxicating with the smells of Wild Plum, Chokecherries and other mountain bushes and flowers.  It one of a few places where I have found Hemlock growing in Colorado!

Eventually we found three American Three-toed Woodpeckers (at the Hayden Campgrounds, Coaldale Campgrounds and the gravel fire road heading south from the Hayden Campgrounds.

A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was around Coaldale Campgrounds.  Both Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Grosbeaks flew about both Campgrounds (along Hayden Creek).

Warbling Vireos were observed on their nests.  Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, 2 Rufous Hummingbirds and a Calliope Hummingbird were found at feeders along CR 6.

Other birds found were a Juniper Titmouse, Hermit Thrushes, Swainson's Thrushes, a Veery, a Canyon Wren, House Wrens abound, Pine Siskins, a Plumbeous Vireo, American Robins, etc.

After dark, we found two Northern Saw-whet Owls up the previously mentioned gravel fire road.

July 2

We returned to Chaffee County today and drove up Marshall Pass, which allows an entry into Gunnison County.

Marshall Pass follows Grays Creek in Chaffee County and Poncho Creek and Marshall Creek in Gunnison County.  It is an interesting drive, well worth birding, however, a 4-wheel vehicle might be recommended for any side trips/detours off the main path.

Our bird count included 2 American Three-toed Woodpeckers, 4 Williamson's Sapsuckers, 2 Purple Martins, a Gray Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Plumbeous Vireos, Warbling Vireos, various thrushes, etc.

After dark, we found Flammulated Owls at two locations (Chaffee County) from previous years GPS waypoints. 

We also found in Saguache County: 2 American Three-toed Woodpeckers, 2 Williamson's Sapsuckers, a Purple Martin, and another Flammulated Owl.

A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found around O'Haver Lake (Chaffee).

July 3

About an hour before sunrise, we drove down Gunnison County Road 38.  A female and 3 young Gunnison Sage-Grouse were along side of CR 38 approximately 0.7 miles north of CR 38a.

No additional grouse were found on the drive about 2 miles across County Line into Saguache County.

We hiked the Neversink Trail (Gunnison) in search of Least Flycatchers; without success.  One Veery was found.

Nothing unusual was found at Blue Mesa Reservoir (Gunnison) and we continued to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose County).

A Pinyon Jay was observed flying by the East Portal Campgrounds. 

We had to wait for an adult female and five young Dusky Grouse to cross the South Rim Road at 1.2 miles west of the entrance kiosk. 

Other birds encountered included Spotted Towhees, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, many White-throated Swifts and Pine Siskins.

About an hour before sunset, we hiked to the west end of Warner Point (west end of the South Rim Road).  Ten minutes after sunset, a Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings.

July 4

Once again, we drove the roads south of Gunnison about an hour before sunrise.  Today we found 2 Gunnison Sage-Grouse along CR 32.  Thanks to Glenn Walbek for the heads up.  Regrettably, we could not find the Northern Parula that Glenn had seen on 6/27.  One Gray Flycatcher was found.

We continued to CR 38 and relocated five Gunnison Sage-Grouse in the similar area of yesterday's sighting.

No woodpeckers were found at the Gunnison Cemetery today (sometimes Lewis's Woodpeckers are found there).

We stopped at three private ranches in Gunnison County where Yellow-billed Cuckoos had been found in the past.  One Yellow-billed Cuckoo was heard at private ranch #4.  (Ranches #1 & #3 came up empty).

A Western Screech-Owl was observed at private ranch #3.  Two other (previous) locations did not have any reports in 2016.

Nothing uncommon was found along CR 887 (Waunita Hot Springs) an hour before sunset.

Happy July Fourth!

July 5

We birded along Highway 135 from Gunnison to Almont, then CR 742 to Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison) today.  Our goal was to return after dark and do some major owling at the various Campgrounds and picnic areas.

A planned detour to Miller Ranch Wildlife Area was deleted when I checked on restrictions.  I had forgotten that the Wildlife Area is only open September 1 to February 28. 

Gunnison Sage-Grouse have been found there the past three winters.  Surely, they nest on the property?

Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were spotted on Taylor Park Reservoir.  Across CR 742 from Taylor Park, we found 2 American Three-toed Woodpeckers, 4 Band-tailed Pigeons and a Veery at the Lake View Campgrounds.

Owling was productive and great this night.  Eventually we found
Northern Pygmy-Owls (3, over 2 locations)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1)
Flammulated Owl (2, over 2 locations)

On the way to Montrose, we drove the South Rim Road in Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park.  Two Common Poorwills were on the road.  Northern Pygmy-Owls were heard near the Visitor's Center and 200 yards east of the west end of the drive.

July 6

We added a new Montrose County bird to our lists when the Neotropic Cormorant was relocated at Chipeta Lake Wildlife Area south Montrose.

Ridgway Reservoir (Ouray) was slow birding.  Four Black Swifts were observed flying over Box Canyon Falls during a brief stop in Ouray.

Highlights of a stop at Coal Bank Pass (San Juan) were an American Three-toed Woodpecker, 2 Williamson's Sapsuckers, Olive-sided Flycatcher, a pair of Pine Grosbeaks and Cassin's Finches.

A Dusky Grouse perched in an Aspen Tree near Purgatory Ski Area (La Plata).  Unfortunately, no owls were found tonight.

July 7

Yellow Jacket Canyon (Montezuma County) had our focus today.  Our bird count included 3 Lucy's Warblers, Yellow Warblers, a Summer Tanager, Gray Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, 3 Gray Vireos, Blue Grosbeak, and half a dozen Black-throated Sparrows.

The highlight besides the Lucy's Warbler was a male Scott's Oriole!  We also heard quite briefly a Western Screech-Owl.

July 8

Today was a day of rest, during some touristy things.  We did walk around the Huck Finn Pond area in Durango.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was relocated; however, no Black Phoebes could be found.

Later in the afternoon, we drove up to Lake Haviland.  Highlights included 2 Grace's Warblers (which stayed high in the trees) near the Campgrounds.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker, Hammond's Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatchers, and Osprey were also found.

No owls made a sound tonight.

July 9

We backtracked again today and headed to Mancos (Montezuma).  A two hour search for Yellow-billed Cuckoos was not successful.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was our only consolation.  The Black Phoebes were also missing.

A check of the "infamous" Bradford Bridge" (Montezuma) did not find any rare birds or Black Phoebes for that matter.  The Black Phoebes at Narraguinnep reservoir were also not found.

Slick Rock (San Miguel) had a Gray Flycatcher.  The post office (now defunct) once had feeders visited by many hummingbirds. 

On 6/24/1999, I videotaped a Bendire's Thrasher nearby.  Only a couple of Curve-billed Thrashers were found today.  Kathleen Schofield found a Bendire's Thrasher nearby on 6/21/1994.

We hiked up a mile of Big Gypsum Canyon were a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was found in 1994.  Nothing uncommon was found today (many what we called horse flies though).

Our drive was times to arrive in Nucla (Montrose) a couple of hours before sunset.  We walked around the small town listening for Yellow-billed Cuckoos and looking up for Black Swifts; neither appeared.

Only Common Nighthawks showed up at the Nucla Sewer Ponds this evening.

July 10-11

Two days and nights on the Uncompahgre Plateau (Montrose/Mesa Counties) added the following to our trip list:

Montrose County:
Dusky Grouse (2, 2 locations)
Common Poorwill (2+)
Flammulated Owl (4, 2 locations)
American Three-toed Woodpecker (3, 2 locations)
Williamson's Sapsucker (male)
Lewis's Woodpecker (2)
Olive-sided Flycatcher (1)
Grace's Warblers (2)

Mesa County
Dusky Grouse (2, 1 location)
Northern Goshawk (2, 2 locations)
Common Poorwill (2+)
Flammulated Owl (2, 2 Locations)
American Three-toed Woodpecker (2, 2 locations)
Williamson's Sapsucker (2 pair, 2 Locations)
Lewis's Woodpecker (2)
Purple Martin (2)
Grace's Warblers (5, 2 locations)

Big misses:  Boreal Owls (previous GPS waypoints, 7/26/2007), Northern Saw-whet Owls (2007, 2011), Northern Pygmy-Owls (2001)