Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Looking At the End of Spring Migration on the Eastern Plains

June 7-9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed to the Eastern Plains to catch the end of this Springs bird migration.

June 7

Sleep, who needs it.  Terry Michaels and I headed eastern ward to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).  We enjoyed a terrific birding day.  The best bird was a Black-throated Green Warbler at Hale Ponds.

Other birds were just as exciting three Yellow-billed Cuckoos, two Baltimore Orioles two singing Great Crested Flycatchers a Bell's Vireo all at Hale Ponds.

Another Great Crested Flycatcher was found at the Hale intersection (CR 4 & LL.5) while we searched for additional cuckoos in the tall cottonwoods.  It has been since 7/9/2005 since a Black-billed Cuckoo was found here.  I photographed one here on 6/4/1994.  None was found today.

We walked along the north side of Bonny Reservoir (Highway 385 to east of Foster's Grove Campgrounds) and found another Great Crested Flycatcher, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Baltimore Oriole.  The highlight however was a singing and calling Eastern Meadowlark (first reported by Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons back on May 29.

Two Long-eared Owls, another Baltimore Oriole and two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found along the south side of the Republican River.

We returned to Hale Ponds at dusk and heard a Common Poorwill and Eastern Screech-Owl.  Nothing responded to an Eastern Whip-Poor-will recording.  I have found them within 10 miles of the nearby Colorado/Kansas border.

Finally, we stopped back at Hwy 385 and CR 3.  Three Eastern Screech-Owls were heard within a mile of the intersection! 

Temperatures reached 79 degrees today.  Winds were 8+mph with gusts to 26 mph.  The wind did not aid our birding.

June 8

Terry & I sat near the Yuma County 45 Lek just before sunrise.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens appeared this morning. 

Temperatures reached 82 degrees later in the day.  Anemometer readings were 6-7 mph in the morning; they reached 14mph with gusts to 23 mph in the afternoon.

We visited briefly several birding areas around Wray (Yuma) and then continued north to Holyoke.  Birds recorded: at Wray Fishing Unit: Northern Cardinal & Eastern Phoebe; at Stalker Pond: Baltimore Oriole; at Sandsage Wildlife Area: nothing uncommon.

We enjoyed better success around Holyoke (Phillips).  The highlight of the day was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (singing and good views) at the Holyoke Fishing Pond!

An American Redstart fluttered around the Holyoke City Park. 

A long hike around Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area found only a male Baltimore Oriole.  The pond has been dry for years now.  Our Phillips County shorebird spot is no more.

We wandered around Phillips and Sedgwick Counties searching for such rare sightings as Eastern Meadowlarks and "ammodramus" sparrows.  My only Colorado Sharp-tailed Sparrow sighting was at a private ranch in Sedgwick County on 10/11/2000.  Dan Bridges was the first to suggest this location and offer access!

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening at dusk.  Winds were quite horrible any birds would have been blown to Holyoke.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard calling from the north side of the reservoir (Logan County).

June 9

Terry Michaels and I spent the day hiking fourteen miles at Tamarack Ranch WLA (Logan).  First, we drove Highway 138 from Jumbo Reservoir to Crook.  Our target bird, an Upland Sandpiper was spotted just west of Crook.

Temperatures reached only 61 degrees today.  Winds were 3-4 mph with an afternoon gust to 15 mph.  What a nice change from previous days!

A drive up CR 95 south of I76 did not find any Greater Prairie-Chickens or Sharp-tailed Grouse at previous locations. 

Then we parked at the north side of the Platte River at Hwy 55, first walked the western sections of the Wildlife Area and continued east to CR 93.  It was a long but successful day.

Highlights included: Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Bell's Vireos, Great Crested Flycatchers, eleven Red-bellied Woodpeckers, four Baltimore Orioles, two Field Sparrows, two Northern Cardinals, a Green Heron and Eastern Screech-Owls at two spots.

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