Friday, January 19, 2018

Foothills Owling and Birding

January 8-9, 2018

Richard Stevens:

January 8

Bob Shane and I headed into the foothills for some owling and other birds.  The temperature only reached 44 degrees today.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph (one gust measured 30 mph).

We hiked South Foxton Road from Reynolds Park (Jefferson) about an hour before sunrise.  In Minnesota, we called it a "nippy" morning (Bob called it damn cold)!

A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard calling along the Songbird trail about 30 minutes before sunrise.  The Songbird trail parallels Foxton Road.

After the sun hit Reynolds Park, we hiked the Oxen Draw to Eagle's View to Raven's Roost Loop.  The forest woke up with songs of Pine Siskins, Red-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches, Townsend's Solitaires, Robins and Flickers.

Highlights included our target birds.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed on pines just downhill of the three Trail intersection.  On the return leg, a Dusky Grouse was found along Raven's Roost trail.

Two American Dippers were found along the South Platte River as we drove to Pine Valley Ranch (Jefferson).  No additional Three-toed Woodpeckers or Northern Pygmy-Owls were found around Pine Lake.  We chose not to climb the switchbacks to the top of the park, which offers a better location for Three-toed Woodpeckers.

At Grant, we drove up Geneva Road (Guanella Pass Road).  One White-tailed Ptarmigan was spotted when we scoped the eastern hillside above the Lake at the Summit (Clear Creek)!

We rolled into Victor (Teller) in early afternoon.  Only about 40 Rosy Finches were hanging around.  Fortunately, we observed at least one of each species.

Most of the night was spent searching for Spotted Owls in Phantom Canyon.  Regrettably, none was found.

January 9

Bob and I detoured to Pueblo this morning.  We had to see the Pueblo Reservoir Snowy Owl!  A major factor and the plan changer were blizzard warnings to Gunnison.  We decided to search for Gunnison Sage-Grouse at another time.  As it turned out, the weather in the mountains did not improve during Robert's stay and we never turned around.

Temperatures were warmer than the foothills of yesterday with a high of 69 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

After a couple of hours of sleep, Bob and I scoped the Pueblo Reservoir south marina tires and found many birders and one Snowy Owl!  We also saw one Glaucous Gull, one Lesser Black-backed Gull and the winter resident Great Black-backed Gull.  The only other interesting bird for us in the area was the Prairie Warbler.  The warbler cooperated nicely; it only took 10 minutes to see him!

With Gunnison trip out due to weather, we headed toward Colorado Springs (El Paso).  The Broadmoor birds seemed to stay around all day so we made a detour to the Hanover Road area.

The detour was a great choice.  The Greater Roadrunner was found along South Meridian Road south of Hanover Road.  We also picked up a Ladder-backed Woodpecker on the way to the Hanover Fire Station where a Curve-billed Thrasher appeared not bothered by our presence.

Finally, we headed to the Broadmoor Area.  Two birders from New Mexico had the Red-breasted Sapsucker in their sights when we arrived at 13 Mirada Road.  The male Varied Thrush was walking around a clearing between pullovers #3 & #4 along Cheyenne Mountain Road.

We were exhausted by the time Denver was reached!

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