Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Leaf Peeping" and A Few Birds

September 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I planned to do some "leaf peeping" today and chose to drive up Highway 285.  For Colorado, the yellow Aspens among the evergreens are impressive.  Still I miss the many reds, oranges, and yellows of Minnesota.

We stopped at the western Campgrounds at Kenosha Pass (Park County) to stretch our legs.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker gave away his position while drumming on a stag.

A walk across Hwy 285 found a Williamson's Sapsucker in the Aspens.  A male Wilson's Warbler fluttered about some willows.

Great views of Lost Park and South Park can be seen from the south side of the Pass.  And yes, South Park is real; Fairplay is where the creators of South Park went to High School.

Next, we dropped down the north side of the pass and turned up Guanella Pass Road at Grant.

Superb views of the 14,000-foot mountains, Bierstadt and Mt Evans can be seen from the parking area at the top of Guanella Pass.

We sat next to a restroom to shelter us from the wind (only 20+ mph, slow for up here) and scoped the Hillside to the southeast.  Rebecca managed to put her scope onto a White-tailed Ptarmigan!   It beat the strenuous hike to the 603/Rosalie trail intersection.

We did walk to the willows below the parking area and found a singing Brewer's Sparrow.  It sounds different from the Brewer's Sparrows on the Plains and is referred to Timberline Brewer's Sparrow.  Perhaps someday to be a new species (according to Dr. James Rising).

A stop at Guanella Pass Campgrounds found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming on one of his favorite snags.  I find him there 2/3 of my stops.  A pair of Pine Grosbeaks circled overhead and stopped briefly on top of a Lodgepole Pine.

At dusk, we drove back toward Grant and listened for Owls.  The "owl listening stations" I set up at Burning Bear Campgrounds picked up the contact call of a Northern Pygmy-Owl!

No further "owl action" was encountered until we reached Whiteside Campgrounds.  We played owl recordings and saw a small owl fly into the camp.  A brief look with a spotlight found it to be a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

No additional owls were found at Kenosha Pass (Park) or Reynolds Park (Jefferson).

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