Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trip to the High Mountains

September 19-22, 2016

Richard Stevens:

September 19

Terry Michaels and I headed to the high country to do some owling.  No owls were found around Estes Park (Larimer) during the three hours before sunrise.

We stopped at Medicine Bow Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park early in the morning.  Four White-tailed Ptarmigan were found below the main trail heading north from the pullover.

Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches were observed flying overhead during our hike.

Terry climbed up Rock Cut trail searching for additional White-tailed Ptarmigan while I sat at the Lava Cliffs pullover.  One Brown-capped Rosy Finch flew around the Lava Cliffs while no Ptarmigan were moving around the Rock Cut.

After dark, Terry and I stopped at several pullovers to do some owling.  Winds were calm which is quite strange for Rocky Mountain National Park.

A Boreal Owl along Hidden Valley Road was the only owl found in the main park.

It was such a fantastic night; we decided to hike the Cow Creek trail, which is not accessed, from the main road.

The decision was a great one.  We eventually ran into a Northern Pygmy-Owl (near the stairs at the three-trail intersection) and two Flammulated Owls south of Cow Creek and the trail intersections.

September 20

Terry Michaels and I got a late start today.  Eventually we relocated the male American Three-toed Woodpecker across highway 14 from the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  The American Three-toed Woodpecker at Ranger Lakes was also relocated.

A few hummingbirds mostly Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and one Rufous Hummingbird were found in Gould.

A drive into the Colorado State Forest found an American Three-toed Woodpecker along Ruby Jewell Road.  The only owl heard tonight was a Boreal Owl up RJR at 2.0 miles from the main State Forest Road.

September 21

At first light, Terry Michaels and I drove around Lake John Wildlife Area.  The highlight was sighting three Greater Sage-Grouse walking along the entrance road.

Next Terry Michaels and I drove the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge self-driving tour.

The previously reported Mountain Plover was not relocated; however, two Greater Sage-Grouse were a fair consolation.

At least two Rough-legged Hawks were on the Refuge.  They have been recorded nesting here.  A few stay in Jackson County year round.

Our next stop was the Teller City Ghost Town.  A walk around the self-guiding tour added a male American Three-toed Woodpecker to our day list.  The woodpecker was at the northwest corner of the walk.

With my limited "temporary" mobility, we could not hike up Baker Pass (Jackson) to look for Ptarmigan. 

After dark, we located (heard only) two Boreal Owls (one at the trailhead, one along Forest Road 728 (Jack Creek).

We stopped to pick up our "owl listening stations" set up along Forest Road 728 and at the Teller City Campgrounds and Ghost Town.

One of the three stations picked up a Northern Pygmy Owl contact call along Forest Road 728.

September 22

After another late start (having stayed up most of last night), Terry and I headed toward Denver and home.  The skies last night were clear and calm.  An unbelievable number of stars and 3/4 moon lit up the sky.  Every couple of minutes a satellite or debris streaked across the sky!

The Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail (Larimer) is not too steep and we decided to give it a try (with my limited mobility and breathing).

We probably took twice as long as earlier hikes, but did make it to the lake.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were encountered along the way.  One near the fork in the trail, the other within 100 yards of the Lake.

Misses: no Crossbills, Red or White-winged observed this trip.

We reached Stove Prairie Road near dusk and searched for Common Poorwills; without success.

Stops at five previously locations of Flammulated Owls found only one along Pennock Pass Road.

No owls were found at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area or the "castle" farther south down the road.

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