Thursday, November 3, 2016

Trip to the Mountains; Park, Pueblo & Fremont Counties

November 1-3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The weather has been fantastic the last three days.  70s & 60s, winds mostly less than 8 mph.  Walking the Fremont County Roads under a sliver of the moon was quite enjoyable, in spite of our lack of Spotted Owls.

November 1

I left Denver around 2:00 am and made stops at five locations where Northern Pygmy-Owls have been reported in the past in Park County.  Eventually, Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at two of the stops (all previously reported by David Suddjian; CR 68, south of CR 70 & Forest Road 543, south of Forest Road 550).

At sunrise, I scoped Eleven Mile Reservoir (Park) first from the eastern end and worked back west.  A Common Loon was just off the marina store.  A Short-eared Owl flew around the southeast corner.

Six Surf Scoters swam and flew around north of the island near the day use area just east of the fork in the main road (splits into one-way roads heading east).

A Black Scoter and another Common Loon swam around the western end of the reservoir.  A highlight was a Vesper Sparrow, which seemed to be late in its migration (near the fork in the road).

Misses: the Red Phalarope and Thayer's Gull seen 10/30.

The majority birds were American Coots, with a few Western Grebes, Horned Grebes and Eared Grebes also there.

At nearby Spinney Mountain Reservoir (8 miles to the west) three Surf Scoters were in the western half of the lake.  A Red-throated Loon was in the same vicinity.

Misses: the two Black Scoters, White-winged Scoter seen 10/30.

I took highway 9 south from Hartsel to Canon City.  Along the drive, two Pinyon Jays were seen in Pueblo County at 12 miles south of Hartsel.  Another two Pinyon Jays were in Fremont County around the first house south of the County Line.

Four additional Pinyon Jays were seen in Fremont County before I reached Highway 50.

A stop at Tunnel Drive (west side of Canon City) found a Canyon Towhee and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows.  The sparrows were on the rocky cliff east of the first wooden information sign uphill of the parking area.

Three additional detours were made on my way to Pueblo Reservoir.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was in a friend's yard in Canon City.  A Greater Roadrunner crossed Fremont County Line Road 123 at approximately 0.4 miles east of CR 67.

Thirty minutes at Brush Hollow Wildlife Area found a Juniper Titmouse, several Bushtits and a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker (below southwest corner of the dam).

The Black-legged Kittiwake was swimming just a few feet off the southeastern shore at Pueblo Reservoir when I arrived!

A Curve-billed Thrasher was found at the south marina overflow parking area.  I photographed a Canyon Towhee in the same area.

Scoping the lake from the sailboard launch area (northeast side of the reservoir), I found three Surf Scoters.  They were swimming toward the Juniper Breaks Campgrounds.

When I drove to the Campgrounds trying for a photo, I found a Red-necked Grebe perhaps 10 yards off the north shore.

The West Fishing Road area was quite interesting also.  A Pacific Loon and three Bonaparte's Gulls swam in the very northeastern cove.  Two additional Surf Scoters were observed south of the restrooms.

I returned to the Burger King in Pueblo to eat and wait for birding partners Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons.

After dark were went searching for Spotted Owls in Fremont County.  None was found.  Consolation: two Northern Saw-whet Owls at separate spots.

November 2, 2016

After owling most of the night, we started our birding day late morning.  We relocated the two Rufous-crowned Sparrows found yesterday.  Next, we checked the many Parks & the Abbey in Canon City; our target bird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was not found.

A walk along the Arkansas Riverwalk between Sells Pond and Raynolds found one Black Phoebe.  Misses: any Eastern Phoebes.

After dinner and sunset, we headed up Phantom Canyon Road in search of Spotted Owls.  Again, none was found this night.  Perhaps next time will be more successful?

We did find a Northern Saw-whet Owl along Phantom Canyon Road (CR 67) and a Northern Pygmy-Owl at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area.

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