Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Finishing the 2016 Boreal Owl Survey

August 1-4, 2016

Terry Michaels accompanied me for the finish of my 2016 Boreal Owl survey.  The eight nesting boxes that had not yet been checked this year required some long distance hiking.

August 1

We swung through Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) on the drive up to the Colorado State Forest.  We enjoyed much success on the grasslands area.

At least three of the sixteen Mountain Plovers along CR 100 (11.5 miles east of CR 77) were still walking around!  Another two Mountain Plovers were relocated at the Pawnee Buttes location.

Two Burrowing Owls were also at the CR 100 spot.

Continuing west, we relocated a juvenile Mountain Plover which most likely was from the nest we had monitored most of the summer.

A walk through the field southeast of Highway 85 and Weld CR 114 relocated a male Chestnut-collared Longspur.  A permit is required to hike this field (we have a five year permit).  Two additional Chestnut-collared Longspurs were along CR 45, between CR 122 & CR 114.

Once at Cameron Pass we heard two Boreal Owls northwest of the summit pullover.

August 2

After catching a few hours of sleep, Terry and I decided to drive the self-guiding tour at the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson).  Two Greater Sage-Grouse and a Willet were our prize for getting up early.

A search for Burrowing Owls along the road between Rand and Gould was not successful this year.  Maybe last year's sightings/nesting was a one-time occurrence.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found along the self-guided walk at Teller City Ghost Town (Jackson).  No owls were found this day.

At sunset, we headed up Ruby Jewell Road from Jackson County Road 41 in the Colorado State Forest.  Eventually we found a Flammulated Owl and one Boreal Owl within 3 miles of the trailhead.

Later we relocated two Boreal Owls at Cameron Pass and another at Ranger Lakes.  Winds were still this night; skies were cloudless.  This seldom happens up there.  A pin dropping could have been heard.  The forest was filled with bird sounds!

August 3

Terry and I returned to the Colorado State Forest today.  Winds were 10+ mph, gusts to 18 mph.  These are not great conditions to hear the soft calling Boreal Owls.

One of the nesting boxes was put near tree line at Montgomery Pass.  A 3.4 mile rather strenuous hike is required to reach this box and six additional boxes are passed on the trek.  Unfortunately, all seven boxes were empty.

In early afternoon, our second trek up Grass Creek required 10-mile round trip hike.  This trail is relatively flat compared to the morning hike.  Regrettably, all eight boxes were empty of owls.  Box number five did have a squirrel.

At the end of the day and our 16.8 hiking miles we were exhausted.  The good news, my survey is complete for 2016.

August 4
We started our day with a drive around the Greater Sage-Grouse leks at Jackson County Road 26.  None was found.

After breakfast in Walden, we inspected Walden Reservoir and vicinity.  Over 100 California Gulls were there.  Waders were represented by 12 Snowy Egrets and 2 White-faced Ibis.  No shorebirds other than Killdeer were found. 

We could see no terns. 

A Clark's Nutcracker was along the west side of Delaney Buttes Wildlife Area.  While we were trying to get a photograph, a Greater Sage-Grouse jumped out of a sagebrush and got our hearts moving!

Lake Johns Wildlife Area was slow.  I believe that Caspian Terns had nested here on July, 2005.  No terns were around today.

The biggest surprise was a lone Black-necked Stilt.  (After checking records, they had been found here in past years).  Other birds observed included a Peregrine Falcon and Rufous Hummingbird!

An hour before sunset we drove north up Jackson County Road 7.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse wandered along the road at 9.6 miles north of CR 12W.

July 31, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) about an hour before sunset.

A Sage Thrasher was along 128th avenue, west of Trussville.

Boreal Owls were relocated:
(2) southwest corner of Trussville & 114th avenue
(6) gun club road, south of 112th avenue
(4) 3rd creek and W. Cargo Road

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

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