Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Long Day In Clear Creek & Park County

May 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I left on a fantastic adventure this morning.  We enjoyed a break in the weather and visited Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) between snowstorms (yesterday and tomorrow).  Skies were partly cloudy at the Summit.  Temperatures in the low 40s; winds were 26 mph with gusts to 51 mph.  Fortunately, winds were slower once we returned below tree line.

Note: roads are treacherous, recent snow made a 4-wheel jeep a must for us to get close enough for a long hike to the top.

It was a four+ mile round trip to the Summit of Guanella Pass (Clear Creek) (by way of Grant).  The trek was well worthwhile when we observed thirty one White-tailed Ptarmigan below the east side of Rosalie Peak.

Afterwards we went to the Campgrounds and scoped the area with binoculars.  One American Three-toed Woodpecker, two pairs of Pine Grosbeaks and a flock of eight Red Crossbills were found.

Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was later found in the pines along Guanella Pass Road, just south of the turnoff to Duck Lake.

After dropping down off the pass we set up several of our "owl listening stations" at the campgrounds along the Pass Road.  This is a great time of year to find owls as they are calling in search of mates.

We then hiked toward Handcart and Heil Valley Campgrounds.  Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered along Park County Road 60.  No owls were found here; we had better fortune back on Guanella Pass Road (Park CR 62)

Eventually we found three Northern Saw-whet Owls (two at Whiteside Campgrounds and one just north of Grant) and two Northern Pygmy-Owls (Geneva Park & Burning Bear Campgrounds).

Our target was a Flammulated Owl; none was found.  They are most likely back in Colorado.  Regrettably, most roads leading to their territories are closed due to snow.

We detoured to Kenosha Pass (Park), however, did not find any owls.  Flammulated Owls have been found in the area; however usually several miles from highway 285.  Access was snow covered.

Our final stop of the long day/evening/night was Reynolds Park (Jefferson).  We heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl south of the parking area.  Later found a Northern Pygmy-Owl along Songbird Trail.

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