Sunday, October 22, 2017

Walk-In-Area Bird Surveys

October 17-20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn joined me to finish the fall Walk-In-Area bird counts.

October 17

Temperatures today reached 78 degrees.  Winds were only 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph (just a few times).

We visited the three Wildlife Areas in Lincoln County and enjoyed some good success.

Hugo Wildlife Area had a Harris's Sparrow pop out at the riparian area.  Jacob spotted a flock of longspurs, which turned out to be six Chestnut-collared Longspurs.  With nothing else unusual, we continued to Kinney Lake Wildlife Area.

The highlight of the day was a sulky wren.  It did not look right for a House Wren.  We spent a half hour coaxing the Sedge Wren out of the brush!  It was a first county bird for both of us!

Our birding day ended at Karval Reservoir Wildlife Area.  A flock of sparrows around the lake contained sixteen White-crowned Sparrows and a beautiful Field Sparrow.  After sunset, we spotted a Short-eared Owl flying over the fields to the southwest.

October 18

Temperatures were warm today, reaching 83 degrees.  Winds were a moderate 7-8 mph.  We did measure gusts to 21 mph, not conducive to finding shy birds.

Our birding today centered on the Walk-In-Area(s) Lincoln County Road 17 & CR E.  Areas below Lincoln CR A are in Crowley County.  We walked around about six hours and found few birds.  A dry creek bed we believed to be Dead Horse Creek cuts through the eastern section of the Walk-In-Area.  Most of the WIA is covered in grasses of various lengths.  Several "springs" are located on the property.

The highlight of our day was one Sprague's Pipit in the "Flats" southwest of CR 17 & CR F, Lincoln County.  We ran into several small flocks of McCown's Longspurs (18 total); however, could not pick out any Chestnut-collared or Lapland Longspurs.

Another fourteen McCown's Longspurs and two Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found south of Lincoln CR A and in Crowley County.

The last two hours of daylight were spent driving the Lincoln County Roads east of Highway 71.  Nothing uncommon was added to our day list.  A spot where Short-eared Owls have been recorded twice in the past ten years was not productive this evening.

October 19

The day was quite different from yesterday.  Temperatures only reached 58 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  Jacob and I started our day about two hours before sunrise.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called from north of camping spot at the northern Hale Pond.  We then drove to Highway 385 and walked the Republican River to Foster's Grove.

Highlights were two Eastern Screech-Owls west of Fosters Grove.  Other birds encountered included twenty two Wild Turkeys, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, one House Wren and one Long-eared Owl.  We observed a meadowlark a long time before deciding it was a Western Meadowlark whose call sounded like an Eastern Meadowlark.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken popped up over the hill northeast of the ranger's home, and then disappeared before we could walk to the top.

Returning to LL.5 and Yuma CR 4, one pipit walked around Pipit Hill.  It was a Sprague's Pipit!  We then walked the Republican River from LL.5 to the Kansas Border.  Birds found included one Eastern Bluebird, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, one House Wren, one Harris's Sparrow and a Field Sparrow.  A Winter Wren was around the cattails at Hale Ponds.

Today was our last planned shot this fall to find migrating songbirds (especially warblers).  Unfortunately, none was found.

In the afternoon, we drove to Wray to take an 85 year old friend to dinner.  Two male Northern Cardinals and a White-throated Sparrow were in her yard.  We checked Wray City Park and the Hospital for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, found none.

October 20

It warmed up to 81 degrees today.  High winds again hit the eastern plains.  Anemometer readings were 14-15 mph with winds gusts to 32 mph.

Jacob and I explored the Fox Ranch area of Yuma in the morning.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was west of Yuma County Road 9 at approximately 0.8 miles south of the ranch entrance.  A Harris's Sparrow and Field Sparrow were found around Yuma County U and the North Fork of the Republican River.  Overall, it was not a "birdy" day.  Most likely this was due to the high winds.

We drove some of the Yuma and Washington County roads without finding any uncommon birds. Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington) was devoid of birds.  The old I70 Bennett Rest Stop was quiet.  Fields between Bennett and Prospect Valley contained few birds except for Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons.

We stopped at a friend's ranch near Prospect Valley and relocated the pair of Long-eared Owls that had nested on his property (Weld County).  It looks like they will stay for a second winter.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop on our way home.

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