Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Most Enjoyable Day Driving the Roads in Arapahoe, Elbert and Douglas Counties

June 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed a superb day of birding before the afternoon heat.  We explored eastern Arapahoe County, south into Elbert County and returned by way of Douglas County.

At 5:00am when we left home, the temperature was in the low 60s.  Winds were mild until late afternoon when 12+ mph winds brought hot winds.

We drove to Strasburg and headed south on Strasburg Road (Arapahoe CR 157).  Two Dickcissel were heard when we stopped approximately 0.5 miles south of I70.

Another two Dickcissel were found along CR 14, east of CR 157.  Several additional birds were seen and heard when we drove south down Flandin Court (which may be someone's driveway although listed as a county road).

Continuing south we detoured west at CR 30 (Quincy Road), took a quick photo of the Burrowing Owl east of CR 149 and then returned east.

CR 30 dead ends at Bradbury Road (Arapahoe CR 173).  One of the two reported Cassin's Sparrows was on a fence post near the entrance to the Arapahoe County Open Space.

Unfortunately, it flew before we could get a photo.  The bird circled overhead for the next 15 minutes or so and then landed about 20 yards into the property. 

There is no public access to the Open Space.  We stayed around for 30 minutes listening to the bird songs in the cool morning.  Western Meadowlarks, Lark Buntings, Red-winged Blackbirds and a couple of Song Sparrows filled the air with their songs.

Then we turned west, drove down CR 161 and turned east at CR 42.  We stopped at one of my favorite "sweet spots", the cut hill approximately 1.0 miles east of CR 161.

A Northern Mockingbird sang the whole time during our 30 minute stay.  Eventually a second Northern Mockingbird appeared.  A pair of Cassin's Kingbirds also called.  Western Kingbirds were just down the road.

We explored the gravel county road and worked our way west to Kiowa-Bennett Road.  More than a dozen Cassin's Kingbirds and nine Loggerhead Shrikes were encountered.

At Kiowa-Bennett Road, we turned south hoping to find somewhere to eat Breakfast in Kiowa.  At Kiowa we detoured south down Elbert Road to the electric building located 4.1 miles south of Hwy 86.

Two Dickcissels were on telephone wires when we arrived.  We may have heard an additional two birds before returning to Kiowa and going west to Elizabeth.

Breakfast, unfortunately was at the Subway in the Elizabeth Walmart.  Hello Angie, if you knew where you lived, we would have stopped by and said Hi.  She donates some of her great photos to "Colorado Field Notes".

We circled Castlewood Canyon State Park by way of Hwy 83 and Lake Gulch Road.  Both Mountain and Western Bluebirds are using bluebird boxes along Lake Gulch Road.

At least four males and a female Bobolink were observed in the field south of the Winkler Ranch entrance (Douglas County).  We stopped at Hwy 86 and Castlewood Canyon Road.  The short walk down to the bridge found an Eastern Phoebe catching bugs and flying to a nest.  We did see a second Eastern Phoebe north of the bridge.

We detoured the City of Parker by way of back roads and stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A Say's Phoebe was the most interesting bird there.

Burrowing Owls were found at Third Creek & West Cargo Road and at the corner of Trussville and 114th avenue.  I had stopped and washed the SUV near Southland Mall so did not drive the gravel Gun Club Road to check on the Burrowing Owls a mile south of 112th avenue.

It was getting hot; we rushed home for cool digs and a barbecue!

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