Sunday, October 9, 2016

Owling Trip Into the Foothills

September 27-30, 2016

Richard Stevens

September 27

Terry Michaels and I started a couple of days owling trip in the foothills.

On the way we stopped at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) to search for Ovenbirds.  While no Ovenbirds were found, a Cassin's Vireo and Least Flycatcher we discovered during a hike along the Creekside trail.

Our next stop was Rampart Range Road and Highway 67.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was along Hwy 67 at 50 yards east of Rampart Range Road.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker was another 60 yards east.

Terry and I met Dave King and Doug Marks and walked both Hwy 67 and Rampart Range road for a mile or so.  Eventually we found two Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We set up our "owl listening stations" and attracted two Northern Saw-whet Owls to them!

Shortly after 2:00 am, we attracted a third Northern Saw-whet Owl while setting up our campsite along Rampart Range Road (Douglas).  Dave and Doug had continued to Michigan Creek Road in Park County.

September 28, 2016

Terry and I hiked several hours in the Manitou Experimental Forest (Teller).  We found three American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Williamson's Sapsuckers and a flock of 4-5 Band-tailed Pigeons.

At Manitou lake Campgrounds (Teller), we encountered another American Three-toed Woodpecker and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers. 

Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was found along Forest Road 782.  Nothing uncommon was found at Manitou Lake itself.

After dark, we set up out "owl listening stations" at the Campgrounds and returned to the Experimental Forest.  Before the night was over, we saw (1) heard another Flammulated Owl and picked up another Northern Saw-whet Owl.

No owls were found along Forest Road 782 (a traditional Flammulated Owl haunt).  A Northern Pygmy-Owl briefly called at the Campgrounds.

September 29, 2016

Terry and I found few birds and nothing uncommon at the three major Park County Reservoirs (Antero, Eleven Mile & Spinney Mountain). 

A walk around Trout Creek Pass (Park) found yet another American Three-toed Woodpecker for our trip list.

Dave King and Doug Marks rejoined us in Buena Vista.  They had a good stay last night at Michigan Creek Road with an American Three-toed Woodpecker sighting, a Dusky Grouse and two Northern Pygmy-Owls (within a mile of the traditional Three-toed Woodpecker camping site).

We found two Lewis's Woodpeckers in Buena Vista, ten Pinyon Jays at Ice Lake and a Long-eared Owl at a Buena Vista private yard.

After dark we set up our "owl listening stations", (see "Colorado Field Notes" for construction details).  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls were attracted to our sit in BLM Land north of the Buena Vista Overlook.

Another Northern Saw-whet Owl came to the "owl listening stations" along Chaffee County Road 315.  Yet another was seen at Chaffee CR 301.

September 30, 2016

After a late start, the four of us searched Chaffee County Road 250 for Grace's Warblers; without success.  We did run into a Black-throated Gray Warbler which probably also nested in the area.

After sunset, we set up our three "owl listening stations".  One Northern Saw-whet Owl came to the station that we attended.  Both of the other two unattended stations each picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

We headed back to Denver to avoid the weekend traffic.

NOTE:  In regard to the attended and unattended "owl listening stations", in our experience migrating Northern Saw-whet Owls will be attracted to the recordings.  However, they almost never make a sound (or at least we have not heard them).

On the other hand, in fall/winter Northern Pygmy-Owls are not continuously vocal, they will however make short contact calls.  These can be picked up by the "owl listening stations".

No telling how many if any Northern Saw-whet Owls are around the unattended "owl listening stations".

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