Monday, July 30, 2018

Return to Reynolds Park

July 30, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Another superb summer day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached only 77 degrees in Evergreen.  Winds were 3-4 mph.

Dennis & Jean Phillips and I arrived at Reynolds Park (Jefferson) about an hour and a half before sunrise.

Again, a Common Poorwill called northwest of the larger parking area.

We walked Foxton Road and then back along the Songbird trail without hearing any Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We were about 200 yards up the Oxen Draw Trail when a Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recording.  The owl was quite a ways east of the trail.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was again heard just north (downhill) of the intersection of Oxen Draw, Eagle's View & Raven's Roost trail.

Continuing south up Eagle's View trail Jean spotted a Dusky Grouse in the woods just west of the trail.  No additional Dusky Grouse were found today.

We continued to the top and circled back to the Raven's Roost Trail and then down to the Elkhorn Trail.  A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was encountered about 400 yards south of the old service road (not well defined with overgrowth now).

Other birds observed included Pygmy Nuthatches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, two Red Crossbills (near clearing at the top), Townsend's Solitaire, House Wrens and a Virginia's Warbler (willows along Foxton).

I drove the DIA Owl Loop on the way home.  Burrowing Owls continue along Gun Club Road south of 112th avenue and Trussville Road & 114th avenue.

Raptors seen included three Red-tailed Hawks, two Ferruginous Hawks, a Prairie Falcon, one Swainson's Hawk and an American Kestrel.

Trip to Mt. Evans

July 29, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached a mild 79 degrees in Littleton.  Winds were 14-15 mph with gusts to 21 mph.  Obviously it was much colder and windier at Mt. Evans.

Dennis & Jean Phillips and I went to Mt Evans an hour before sunrise.  I never want to return to Denver by way of Interstate 70 after noon on a Sunday.   Traffic returning from the mountains can be ridiculous. 

Nine Barrow's Goldeneyes swam around the far side of Echo Lake at the bottom of the Mt. Evans road.

We scoped the hills from the pullover east of the Summit Lake parking area and found a White-tailed Ptarmigan walking around east of the road.

Then a walk to the northwest corner of Summit Lake found two Brown-capped Rosy Finches circling overhead.  They landed on the grassy, rocky hillside several times.

A walk down the south side of the Echo Lake Campgrounds heard and then found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming on a Pine just east of the Captain Trail.

After returning to Denver, I went down to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  An Eastern Phoebe was bobbing its tail high in a cottonwood behind (east) of the restroom at Plum Creek Delta.

I heard an Indigo Bunting long before getting a brief glimpse as it switched cottonwoods.

Walking around the picnic grounds and then north to the water's edge did not turn up the Summer Tanager reported yesterday.

The afternoon was spent watching the hummingbirds visit my feeders back at home.  In previous years, we would get one or two the whole summer/fall.

This year has been fantastic.  We have seen up to seven hummingbirds at one time.  Two male & two female Calliope Hummingbirds have been regulars for five days now.

Conservatively, the count is one male & seven+ Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, one male and two female Rufous Hummingbirds, two female Black-chinned Hummingbirds, and the two male and two female Calliope Hummingbirds.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Jackson Reservoir and Pawnee National Grasslands area

July 28, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Winds were calm most of today in Fort Morgan.  We did measure gusts of 22 mph after 4:00 pm.

Dennis & Jean Phillips (Mission Viejo) and I drove to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  A Long-eared Owl was a lifebird.  We found two of them near the Pelican Campgrounds.

American Robins were the majority bird today.  We did relocate two Marbled Godwits on the north shore.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull flew by several times.

The best bird however was a male Blackburnian Warbler.  It was found below the southwest corner of the dam.  We were actually searching for an Eastern Screech-Owl, which was not found.

Forty McCown's Longspurs and two Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found along CR 4, north of Jackson Reservoir.

We continued north in an unsuccessful search for Mountain Plovers in Weld County.  

Crow Valley Campground had an Orchard Oriole, Bullock's Orioles, Common Nighthawks, Common Poorwill, Brown Thrasher and House Wrens.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening at Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld).  We did not entice the Black Rail, if still around, to call.

Coal Canyon Open Space to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

July 27, 2018

Richard Stevens:

My cell phone was kept near in case the Rivoli's Hummingbird returned to Aurora.

Temperatures reached 85 degrees today.  Winds were 9-10 mph most of the day.  Afternoon gusts reached 33 mph when the thunderstorm rolled in about 3:00 pm.

Birding centered on the west side of Denver.  The Barn Owls were still at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  

Next, I headed to Coal Canyon Open Space.  It was a little late to search for the Baird's Sparrow last reported east of Plainview Road on 7/22.  The Dickcissel in the same area was also not around.

Note: "ammodramus" has been reorganized with the 59th supplement of the AOU checklist.  Baird's Sparrow (Centronyx bairdii ), Le Conte's Sparrow (Ammospiza leconteii), Nelson's Sparrow (Ammospiza nelsoni) with Grasshopper Sparrow the only "ammodramus" Ammodramus savannarum)

I continued north on Plainview Road and saw an "ammodramus" sparrow fly from a rock to the ditch near the road.  While searching for the sparrow, I heard a Dickcissel calling north of the road.

The spot was after Plainview turned from north to west (north of the pullover at bend wooden fence, Baird's Sparrow spot).  Look for wooden signpost without a sign and metal post with yellow and white triangles.

The "ammodramus" sparrow turned out to be a real "ammodramus".  A Grasshopper Sparrow was observed walking along the ditch on the south side of the road!

The thunderstorm rolled in around 3:00 pm and further birding in the area was impossible.

On the way home, I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The rain had stopped by 4:30 pm.  Many birds moved around.

While I scoping the cottonwoods at the cement bridge around mile two of the wildlife bridge, the Red-headed Woodpecker flew to a cottonwood near the cattail marsh, west side of the road.  Nice find by Dave King on 7/21!

A flock of sixty+ male Lark Buntings flew back and forth over the road at mile 4.5.  A Cassin's Kingbird hawked bugs at mile 5.0.  Another Cassin's Kingbird was found a mile 9.5.

One Burrowing Owl was out at the prairie dog village south end of the Rattlesnake Hill parking area.

Rains started again and winds picked up to 24+ mph; I headed for home.

My birding day ended by watching our five hummingbird feeders.  It has been a good summer.  Traditionally we see two or three hummingbirds the whole summer.  This year I have seen seven or so Broad-tailed, two Calliope, one Rufous and one Black-chinned Hummingbirds (all females).

Remembering that I have seldom been home and Rebecca is in Texas this month, who knows how many additional birds have flown by?  I put out feeders when I saw a male Rufous and male Broad-tailed Hummingbirds while I was moving the lawn on 7/23.

Rivoli's Hummingbird in Arapahoe County!

July 26, 2018

Richard Stevens:

DIA Owl Loop, late afternoon: temperatures were 82 degrees; winds 9-10 mph with gusts to 22 mph

I planned to catch-up on chores and rest today.  Around noon, I received a rare bird report from the CoBus website.  Sandy (she wishes no birders to visit) had a large hummingbird visit her Aurora feeders. 

I rushed over and we watched her feeders for about 40 minutes when a large hummingbird arrived.  It had a long white stripe behind the eye, a long bill, green back and greenish spots underneath.  It was a juvenile Rivoli's Hummingbird!

A Rivoli's Hummingbird is distinguished from a Blue-throated Hummingbird by its long bill (short on BLUH), lack of rufous on rump, lack of large black tail and greenish spotted underparts (uniform gray on BLUH).

Unfortunately, it only visited the feeder once in the afternoon.  I did get one photo of the hummingbird hovering at the feeders.  This will surely become a first Arapahoe County record!

I wandered around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) on the way home.  Burrowing Owls continued along Gun Club Road and Trussville & 114th Avenue.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Reynolds Park, Jefferson County

July 25, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Winds were a strong 16-17 mph at Reynolds Park in the morning.  Afternoon temperature reached a pleasant 80 degrees.  Afternoon storms quenched any birding opportunities.

Illinois birder Jake Johnstone and I drove up to Reynolds Park (Jefferson).  He had a plane to catch in the afternoon; the trip was a short one.

A Common Poorwill responded to a recording played at the larger (western) parking area.  I called from somewhere on the hillside to the northwest.  We never saw it.

A hike up the Oxen Draw trail found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming about 500 yards south of the parking area.  Regrettably, no owls were encountered.

Time did not allow a hike of the whole Oxen Draw, Eagle's View and Raven's Roost Loop.  Instead, we returned to the parking area and hiked the Songbird trail to 1000 yards up Raven's Roost trail.  No Dusky Grouse were found; however, a male Williamson's Sapsucker searched for food about 100 yards south (uphill) of the old service road.

A Ferruginous Hawk stood on one of the tall light poles along Pena Blvd.  A last lifebird for Jake as we approached the airport!

Eastern Adams & Arapahoe Counties

July 24, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I was glad to be home.  The predicted weather front arrived in full force in the late afternoon.  I had not seen such winds and rainfall in such a short time.  The mountains had been hit earlier in the day.

Before the storm, temperatures reached 90 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph.

I decided to drive around eastern Adams & Arapahoe Counties this morning.  

No Mountain Plover were encountered on the trek.  Three Burrowing Owls continue along 160th avenue at 0.5 miles west of Yellow Jacket Road (Adams).

Burrowing Owls would eventually also relocated along Arapahoe CR 30 (0.2 miles east of CR 149), along Arapahoe CR 129 (0.7 miles south of Orchard Road), and Gun Club Road (0.4 miles south of Colfax and the Toll Road).

A walk around Richmil Ranch Open Space (Arapahoe) relocated two Cassin's Kingbirds and three Northern Mockingbirds.   I could not relocate the Red-headed Woodpecker and Eastern Screech-Owl found last month.

A photograph of what I thought was a female Black-headed Grosbeak upon further inspection later turned out to be a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

The storm approaching over the mountain forced a retreat home.

DIA Owl Loop

July 23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry and I returned to Denver early this morning.  With inclement weather predicted for the next week, owling conditions appeared poor.

Before go home for some welcomed sleep, I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver Counties).

Burrowing Owls were relocated:
Gun Club Road, south of 112th avenue (10)
West Cargo Street & Third Creek (2)
Trussville Road & 114th (southwest corner) (4)
120th Avenue prairie dog town (2)

I stopped at the Oil Office complex, the only building down Gun Club Road.  A Barn Owl flew out of the pines right along Gun Club and landed in pines behind the radio tower to the east

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak reported two days ago was not relocated.

Nothing uncommon was found at nearby Barr Lake (Adams).  Two Barn Owls are again using the owl nesting boxes.

Finish of Our Western Slope Bird Breeding Survey July 18-7/23/2018

July 18-23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry and I finished out western slope breeding survey.  Inclement weather did cut our trip short by a week.  NOTE:  monsoons came; it rained everyday since July 22.

To skip the weather patterns in the mountain, temperatures ranged into the high 80s during the day.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 20+ in afternoons.

July 18

Our birding day started at Garfield Creek Wildlife Area (Garfield County).  The habitat has riparian area, sagebrush, pinon-juniper, oak brush, open meadows and coniferous forest.  There is quite a variety for one Wildlife Area.

Brewer's Sparrows were everywhere.  We also encountered two Sage Thrashers, a Juniper Titmouse, a "rare" Black-throated Sparrow, and a Sagebrush Sparrow.  Highlight was a Dusky Grouse.

Next, we headed up Coffee Pot Road (Garfield).  The day was spent exploring Bison, Heart and Deep Lakes.  We made it as far north at Triangle Mountain.  After dark, we camped at White Owl Lake.  NOTE: a 4-wheel vehicle is a must for much of our final birding days.

On the drive up Coffee Pot Road, we stopped at locations visited in previous years (previous GPS waypoint locations).  Five Williamson's Sapsuckers, two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a flock of 14 Red Crossbills were observed.  No White-winged Crossbills were found this trip.

Our two "owl listening stations" were set up between the turnoff for White Owl Lake and the three lakes to the north.

A Barrow's Goldeneye was on Bison Lake.  While another was found on Heart Lake.  The usual mountain suspects were encountered.  Nothing uncommon was detected.

Triangle Mountain added four Purple Martins (two locations), six American Three-toed Woodpeckers (four locations) and a Dusky Grouse.

Later we had recorded a Boreal Owl at Heart Lake and a Flammulated Owl along Forest Road 601.  No owls were found in real time at the lake trio.  Two Boreal Owls were heard only at White Owl Lake.

July 19

A walk around White Owl Lake in the morning found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers (an adult male feeding a young male).

On the trip back to I70, we ran into Purple Martins at two locations (same locations as 2017 & 2013), five American Three-toed Woodpeckers (spread over three stops) and a Dusky Grouse.

Misses: White-winged Crossbills appeared difficult to find this summer.  No Northern Saw-whet Owls were run across.

We then drove up the Colorado River Road and detoured to Sweetwater Lake and Hack Lake.  Four Purple Martins were found with a hike along Forest Road 151 (again close to previous GPS waypoints).  This road definitely requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

A flock of four Pinyon Jays flew around Sweetwater Lake.  Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was found.  Purple Martin nesting trees found last year appeared not to be used this year.  A Slate-colored Fox Sparrow popped out of the willows.

Hack Lake added another American Three-toed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Warbling Vireos and Calliope Hummingbird to our day list.  After dark, a Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings.

Returning to Sweetwater Lake after dark, we heard another Northern Pygmy-Owl and not much else.

July 20

Today we drove up South Derby Creek Road (Forest Road 613) off the Colorado River Road.  We birded Emerald, Still Waters and Crescent Lakes and continued to Sheep Mountain.

White-tailed Ptarmigan probably live on Sheep Mountain unfortunately neither of us was up to the climb.

One American Three-toed Woodpecker, two Band-tailed Pigeons, a Pine Grosbeak pair, Red Crossbills (no White-winged Crossbill) were found just west of Still Waters Lake (Garfield).

Crescent Lake added two additional American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Pine Grosbeaks, a Fox Sparrow and Band-tailed Pigeons to our day.  After dark, we thought a Long-eared Owl called?

Best bird of the day was a Boreal Owl calling at Still Waters Lake (near previous GPS waypoint, Garfield County).  A Flammulated Owl responded to our recording at Emerald Lake (Eagle County).

We were finished with Garfield County and headed toward Mt Holy Cross area.  Although many days could be spent at any of the locations, we only could stay for a few hours.

July 21

Terry and I listened for owls around the Campgrounds below Mt. Holy Cross (Eagle County).  Only two Great Horned Owls were detected this morning.  In previous years, Northern Pygmy-Owls, Flammulated Owls and a Boreal Owl have been recorded along Forest Road 707.

After sunrise, we found MacGillivray's Warbler, Wilson's Warblers, a Virginia's Warbler, Slate-colored Fox Sparrow, and Wilson's Warblers.  Willow Flycatchers, Cordilleran Flycatchers and a Dusky Flycatcher were all recorded.  The riparian area below the Campgrounds is quite picturesque.

Neither of us desired to climb Mt. Holy Cross.  I had done that many years ago in the 90s and did catch a White-tailed Ptarmigan sighting.

A female Dusky Grouse and three young crossed Forest Road 707 when we drove back to highway 24.

Two Purple Martins were using a nesting tree that I had found along Homestake Creek (Forest Road 703) in 2008 & 2013.

After dark, we found three Flammulated Owls (separate locations along Forest Road 703).  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings play at a GPS waypoint marked in 2013 & 2010.

July 22

Early in the morning, a Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings at Gold Park Campgrounds.  

A hike up Forest Road 759 along French Creek added a Dusky Grouse to our day list.  Several Hermit Thrushes sang in the cool morning air.  I decided to skip the long hike to Cleveland Lake; instead, we returned to 703 and went up Forest Road 704 (Missouri Creek).

Daylight: two American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Hermit Thrushes, Red Crossbills (no White-winged Crossbills), Cordilleran Flycatchers, Dusky Flycatcher, many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, one Rufous Hummingbird, and a Williamson's Sapsucker were found.

After dark, two Flammulated Owls along Forest Road 704 and Northern Pygmy-Owl Forest Road 703 were heard.  

July 23

We camped near the A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary (Summit) trailhead and headed up the trail several hours before sunrise.  It is only about 1/2 mile to the Sanctuary.

Our "owl listening stations" were set up along the trail.  Neither picked up any owl activity.  Bird activity at the sanctuary was another story.  Fox Sparrows, MacGillivray's Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Pine Siskins were all singing.

In spite of being tired, we hiked up the Ptarmigan trail.  Fortunately, we only had to hike about 3/4 a mile before spotting our target bird; a female White-tailed Ptarmigan was not quite hidden in the granite rocks.

On the walk back to our car, we found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers along the east side of the trail!

Storms were looming to the west and we continued back to Denver.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Western Slope Continued July 13 to 17, 2018

July 13 to 17, 2018

Richard Stevens:

July 13

Delta: temperature high of 98 degrees, winds were calm and hot

Birded around Delta in the morning before heading to Escalante Canyon (Delta).

Nothing uncommon found at Sweitzer Lake.  No Western Screech-Owls found at Confluence Park or G Road.  No Burrowing Owls either seen at their usual location along highway 50.

Six Chukars walked the field along Escalante Road just north of the Gunnison River.  One Black Phoebe hawked insects along Escalante Creek downstream of Pinnacle Rock.

On the drive to Utah, we eventually saw Juniper Titmouse, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Rock Wren, Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Western Wood-pewee, Gray Vireo, Plumbeous Vireo, Blue Grosbeak and Northern Mockingbird.

A Least Flycatcher was a nice find, as were two Lewis's Woodpeckers.

Owling after dark added three Northern Saw-whet Owls, two Northern Pygmy-Owls and a screeching Barn Owl.

July 14

Paonia: temperatures reached 97 degrees, again winds were calm and hot

Our target bird besides owls was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in Delta County.  In that, we did not experience success.  We checked previous successful locations from Delta to Paonia.  A consolation was a Least Flycatcher.

Birding around Paonia added a Lewis's Woodpecker and Northern Pygmy-Owl to our day.  

Rufous Hummingbirds and a Calliope Hummingbird were found in Hotchkiss (no Yellow-billed Cuckoos).

Both McCluskey Wildlife Area and Crawford State Parks added Purple Martins to our day bird list.  Two Band-tailed Pigeons and two Olive-sided Flycatchers were encountered south of McCluskey.

On the way to the north rim of the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park area, two Gunnison Sage-Grouse crossed Black Canyon Road.

No owls were heard this night.

July 15

Hotchkiss: high temperature 90, winds calm

No additional Gunnison Sage-Grouse were encountered and we headed to Crawford Reservoir (Delta).  

We did not spend much time there; however did have a Purple Martin fly over, a singing Plumbeous Vireo and four Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Our drive continued south only to Gould Reservoir.  Again not much was found.

We turned back north and drove into the West Elk Wildnerness area (toward Mt. Gunnison).  Few interesting birds were seen.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was probably the best sighting.

Erickson Springs and Lost Lake Campgrounds added few birds to our trip list.

Owling after dark:
Flammulated Owls (2)
Northern Pygmy-Owl (1)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (0)

July 16

Carbondale: high of 69 degrees, winds 3-4 mph with gusts to 12 mph

Our first target this morning was a drive to Overland Reservoir to find the Common Loon reported by Dennis Garrison on 7/13.

A walk around McClure Pass found the bird of the day.  Besides MacGillivray's Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, a male Chestnut-sided Warbler fluttered about below highway 133 (below guardrail below Pass summit).  In the past Purple Martins have nested in the area.  We found none today.

We hoped to find Purple Martins on the road to Marble.  Sixteen Band-tailed Pigeons were around the small community of Prospect Ranch (Gunnison County).  Both a Blue Grosbeak and a pair of Evening Grosbeaks were also there!

Birds around Marble included four Williamson's Sapsuckers, two male Pine Grosbeaks, Rufous Hummingbirds and a male Calliope Hummingbird.  Finally, two Purple Martins were seen behind the Marble cemetery.

On the drive back to Highway 133, our second highlight of the day was a single Black Swift flying over the waterfalls near Prospect Ranch.  The bird was recorded as over Kebler Pass above us.

A Dusky Grouse was observed walking along old Kebler Pass Road (Gunnison).

All four hummingbirds in Colorado (Broad-tailed, Black-chinned, Rufous and Calliope) were observed at Redstone (Pitkin).  For some reason, Blue Jays are listed as rare here.  We had no trouble finding a few.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was found at the Campgrounds.

Our owling tonight was along Avalanche Creek (Janeway & Avalanche Campgrounds) toward Maroon Bells & Snowmass Wilderness.

The night was rather quiet.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded briefly to our recordings with a contact call.  

NOTE: we set up our two "owl listening stations" every night, however had not time to listen to the recordings.  Additional owls may be added to the trip and daily lists later.

July 17

Collbran: temperatures back to a high of 96 degrees, winds 10-12 mph with gusts to 36 mph

We encountered a Dusky Grouse walking across Pitkin 310 road (Avalanche) on our way back to Hwy 133 just before sunrise.  Two Great Horned Owl young cried near hwy 133.

We were running out of days to bird, however had many roads yet to check.  Today we turned west to the Collbran area (Mesa) by way of New Castle.

We picked up a Dickcissel for Mesa County near the previous location of Me Road 3/4 and 57 Roads.  Unfortunately, no Bobolink appeared to remain in the area.

A Black Phoebe continued along PE road.  The Bobolinks reported here last month also appeared to have moved.

We relocated the two Purple Martins along Mesa Forest Road 272 (Brush Creek Road).  A splendid area is worth birding.

Vega State Park (Mesa) added a Chukar and yet another Purple Martin to our trip list.  Southern migrating shorebirds have not arrived yet.  A Juniper Titmouse, two Pinyon Jays, a Bullock's Oriole (rare here?) and Williamson's Sapsucker were also seen.  Best bird almost too well hidden was a Long-eared Owl!

We went owling in Grand Mesa National Forest tonight.

We called up three Northern Saw-whet Owls in the DeBeque area (Mesa)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Western Bird Breeding Surveys, July 1 to 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Western Trip Continued: 2018

July 1

Temperatures were back to 82 degrees.  Winds 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Terry and I drove down Gunnison County Road 38 an hour before sunrise.  A female with four young Gunnison Sage-Grouse walked along the road (north of the CR 38a intersection).  A singing Sagebrush Sparrow along CR 38 was quite a surprise.

We continued into Saguache County without any additional Gunnison Sage-Grouse sightings.

A Gray Flycatcher was encountered along CR 32.  No uncommon warblers appeared this trip (Chestnut-sided Warbler 10/17/2007).

No Least Flycatchers up found during a hike up the Neversink Trail today.

We stopped at several friends' ranches.  A Western Screech-Owl continued at private ranch #3.  No Yellow-billed Cuckoos have been heard/seen this year.

Nothing uncommon was found along the Waunita Hot Springs (road 884) in the late afternoon.  No owls were heard.

July 2

Only 82 degrees today, winds 7-8 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

We birded along Highway 135 from Gunnison to Almont, then Gunnison CR 742 to Taylor Park and Cottonwood Pass.  Campgrounds explored included: Cold Springs, Lodgepole, Spring Creek, Rivers End, and Lake View.

Nothing uncommon could be found on Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison).  A walk around Lake View Campgrounds found two pairs of American Three-toed Woodpeckers, six Band-tailed Pigeons a Veery and two Hermit Thrushes (calling).

The Gunnison County section of Cottonwood Pass added a Slate-colored Fox Sparrow, Red-naped Sapsuckers, a lone male Purple Martin, a Dusky Grouse and a White-tailed Ptarmigan to our trip list.  Earlier in the year, Jacob Washburn and Amy Davenport had found a White-tailed Ptarmigan in Chaffee County.

Owling was great this night.  Conditions included calm winds, an 85 percent waning moon.

Our count: 
Northern Pygmy-Owl (2, separate locations)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1, traditional nesting tree)
Flammulated Owls (4, three locations)

July 3

High temperature was 81 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

We drove up to Schofield Pass (Gunnison) this morning.  A strenuous hike near the summit eventually found a White-tailed Ptarmigan!

Other birds seen included a Williamson's Sapsucker, three Slate-colored Fox Sparrows, Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, an Orange-crowned Warbler and Brewer's Sparrows.

The area has been good for an interesting hummingbird sighting or two.  Today a Rufous Hummingbird was the only one encountered.

We drove up Kebler Pass in the afternoon.  Two Purple Martins were relocated at their usual location.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was around the cemetery area as were a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers.  A Dusky Grouse crossed the road just to the east.

After dark, we only could find one, Flammulated Owl (responded to our recordings).  Winds were quite high this night.

July 4

Temperatures a consistent high of 84 degrees. Winds 4-5 mph with gusts to 10 mph.

Terry and I headed south of Highway 50 today as we took highway 149 and Sapinero Mesa (Gunnison CR 26).  The Pine and Conifer Forests are famous for their American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  Two Gunnison Sage-Grouse crossed CR 26 north of the Cutoff.

Sapinero Mesa BLM land added two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers to our day list. 

A pair of Black-throated Gray Warblers were seen near Gateview.  Grace's Warblers were again found near the Cutoff.

Half a dozen Pinyon Jays flew across the Alpine Tunnel Road.  Two Northern Pygmy-Owls called after dark (Gunnison CR 868).

We spent the whole night owling Alpine Corral, CR 26 & CR 30.  Beside hearing two Common Poorwills we counted:

Northern Pygmy-Owls (2 CR 26 locations)
Flammulated Owl (CR 26)
Flammulated Owls (2, CR 30)
bird of the night: Boreal Owl (CR 30)

July 5

High temperature of 84 degrees.  Winds at 10-11 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

Cimarron Pass was explored today.  Our stops today included Cimarron Wildlife Area and Fish Creek and Silver Jack Reservoirs.  Campgrounds included Big Cimarron, Beaver Lake, and Silver Jack. 

In no particular order (my tired mind escapes me today, fortunately I jotted down the bird sightings)

Cimarron Campgrounds: Dusky Grouse and Northern Saw-whet Owl 

Eight American Three-toed Woodpeckers eventually found along Cimarron Pass road.

Silver Jack Campgrounds: Hooded Warbler (fifth time in the last six years), Dusky Grouse (2), American Three-toed Woodpecker (1), Williamson's Sapsuckers (pair), Flammulated Owl (2)

Northern Saw-whet Owls: one at Beaver Lake, two south of Big Cimarron.

Fish Creek Reservoirs: Flammulated Owl and Northern Pygmy-Owl 

We waited until dark at Cowboy Reservoir, which is very interesting to get to, even in a 4-wheel drive jeep.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl or two answered our recordings.

Birding day ended at Owl Pass: Boreal Owl responded to our recordings.  Unfortunately no White-winged Crossbills were encountered this trip.

July 6

An unbelievable 93 degrees, very hot for the mountains.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

Cinnamon Pass from Lake City

Nothing uncommon at Lake San Cristobel

Two Grace's Warblers, Broad-tailed & a Rufous Hummingbird at Mill Creek Campgrounds (Hinsdale)

Three American Three-toed Woodpeckers seen at Burrows Park Town site (Hinsdale)

Three Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew overhead at Cinnamon Pass summit.

Animas Forks Ghost Town: another American Three-toed Woodpecker, Rufous Hummingbird and Pine and Evening Grosbeaks.  No Long-eared Owls this trip

No owls heard as we backtracked to Engineer Pass

July 7

Hotter yet with a high of 96 degrees; what is happening?  Winds 10-11 mph with gusts to 26 mph.

Lake City to Ouray by way of Engineer Pass today.  4-wheel drive vehicle is a most get drive Engineer pass that goes along Henson Creek (especially the last six miles).  Again, sightings maybe out of order (notes taken):

A Boreal Owl responded to a recording played near Yellowstone Gulch north of Capitol City (Hinsdale County) about two hours before sunrise.

Nellie Creek trail (4-wheel drive): four American Three-toed Woodpeckers (male, female, young male & female).

Whitmore Falls is a short, strenuous hike.  It is known for Black Swift sightings of which none was found today.

Another four Brown-capped Rosy Finches and a Purple Martin flyovers at Engineer Pass summit.


Northern Saw-whet Owl at Poughkeepsie Gulch Road (Hinsdale)
Boreal Owl (rare!) North Fork Cutoff (San Juan County)

July 8

What a day makes.  High in Telluride was only 78 degrees.  Winds 2-3 mph with gusts to 7 mph.

NOTE: 4-wheel drive vehicle is necessary for many of the following roads.

We eventually birded in San Miguel County today.  From Ouray we took Ouray CR 361 (Yankee Boy Basin Road) to the Sneffels Creek Trail.  Stops along the way did not find any owls.

Two Black Swifts flew over the Waterfalls (Ouray).  Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds flew around Sneffels Ghost Town.  We also found Slate-colored Fox Sparrows, a MacGillivray's Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Gray Jays.

A Black Swift flew over Camp Bird (Ouray) as we drove onto Imogene Pass Road.  A lone Williamson's Sapsucker was at the base of the trail.

The highlight of the day was sighting a White-tailed Ptarmigan while we hiked up toward Ptarmigan Lake (Ouray).  

Imogene Pass is on the border of Ouray and San Miguel Counties.  Tomboy Ghost Town is reached shortly after entering San Miguel County.  HOWEVER, the Telluride side (San Miguel) was closed due to a rock slide.

We had to circle back to Ridgway and enter Telluride by way of Hwy 62 and Hwy 145.  No owling was conducted today due to heavy rains.  

July 9

Afternoon storms continued to keep the high temperature down to 78 degrees.  Winds 6-7 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

Still one of my favorite detours is to Alta Ghost Town (San Miguel County).  We started out several hours before sunrise.  I would not recommend that for anyone who has not driven the road before.  It was my fourth trip.  

We arrived at Alta Lakes on schedule about 1.5 hours before sunrise.  A Boreal Owl responded to our recordings.  We had also set up our two "owl listening stations" on the way up Forest Road 632.  Later we confirmed a Northern Pygmy-Owl calling (station #1)!

Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Dusky Grouse, two Black Swifts and Slate-colored Fox Sparrow were also added to our day list!

The rest of the day was planned for our target bird search, a San Miguel County White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Sometimes fortune shines.  It took less than an hour for Terry to find one!  The Ptarmigan was a new county bird for both of us.

Not quite noon yet, we saved a day and drove Ophir Pass Road (planned for tomorrow).  The drive to the San Juan County Line is spectacular!  At times, the road is just a shelf.  At other times, we passed through Aspen Groves and Pine Forests.

Several Black Swifts flew overhead during the drive.  We stopped to watch a female Dusky Grouse escort three young across the road.

Other birds seen included an American Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsuckers, hummingbirds (Broad-tailed, Rufous and our first Calliope of the year) and two Brown-capped Rosy Finches.  It is a mystery where they came from and or are they nesting in the area.

The Calliope Hummingbird was not the early record for Ophir Pass.  A male showed up in Ophir on 6/30/2017.

Our "owl listening stations" picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl contact call.  Inclement weather kept us from owling most of the night.

July 10

High temperature was 78 degrees again.  Winds 6-7 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

We arrived at Lizard Head Pass several hours before sunrise and set up our "owl listening stations".  Eventually they picked up two Northern Pygmy-Owls calling.  We added a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

The San Miguel County side of Lizard Head Pass added a Fox Sparrow, Red-naped Sapsuckers and an American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list.

The bird(s) of the day turned out to be two White-winged Crossbills accompanied by a flock of 14 Red Crossbills (up Dolores Forest Road 578).

Lizard Head Wilderness area (Dolores) added Orange-crowned Warblers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Pine Siskins, a Townsend's Warbler, Wilson's Warblers, Green-tailed Towhee, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Pine Grosbeak, a Dusky Grouse and an American Three-toed Woodpecker to our day list.

The Trout Lakes area (San Miguel) was disappointing on the trip back to Telluride.

Heavy rains canceled owling for the night.  Several Black Swifts we observed flying around Bridal Veil Falls after the rain stopped.  

We were on the wrong side of Black Bear Pass and decided to skip it this year.  Black Bear Pass from Red Mountain Pass is one way east to west.

July 11

High temperature in Silverton was 73 degrees.  Winds high at 12-13 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Our second Calliope Hummingbird of the trip was found at a feeder in Silverton.  Several Rufous Hummingbirds and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were also found.

We headed up the Silverton to Animas Forks Road today.

A hike up Minnie Gulch Road added a White-tailed Ptarmigan to our trip list.  That makes the four year in a row to find one here (San Juan County).

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was added to our trip list at Eureka Gulch Road (San Juan).

Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at the Animas Ghost Town.

Owling was canceled due to inclement weather.

July 12

High in Montrose today was 87 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

We camped at Top of the Pines Campgrounds (Ouray).  Wandering around before sunrise did not find any owls.  

Our Ouray Grace's Warbler was a great consolation prize!  Then Terry found a Northern Saw-whet Owl just outside of the Campgrounds!

Ridgway State Park (Ouray) was quite slow this morning.  Both a Gray Vireo and Gray Flycatcher were added to our Ouray County lists.

Billy Creek Wildlife Area provided an Ouray County Black Phoebe for us at the bridge over the Creek.  A Gray Vireo was heard and two Pinyon Jays seen flying by as we walked County Road 48.

Other birds encountered at the Wildlife Area included Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Pine Grosbeaks and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

We continued north to Montrose and then east to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park.  A female Dusky Grouse and two young walked along the South Rim Road (about 200 yards west of the entrance kiosk.

Among the many birds seen were Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays, Fox Sparrows, Pinyon Jays, Plumbeous Vireo, Green-tailed Towhees, Orange-crowned Warblers, Black-throated Gray Warblers, Gray Flycatcher, Virginia's Warbler, Bushtits, White-throated Swifts, Gray Catbirds, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Gray Vireo, a Townsend's Warbler, and Spotted Towhees.

We hiked to the Warner Point western overlook just before sunset.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was enticed to call!  A dusk a Common Poorwill called from the western parking area.

We called it an early night and retired in Delta.

Western Slope Bird Breeding Survey, June 2018

June 25 to July 12, 2018

For those keeping up on my birding trips, it has been awhile since the blog has been updated.  Terry Michaels and I have been exploring areas with no cell phone and internet service.  Birding all day and most of the night, sleeping in late afternoon has us exhausted.  Today we rested in Delta with an excusion up Stevens Gulch.

June 25

Temperatures reached 69 degrees today in Fairplay.  Winds were variable 6-8 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

We started our summer bird breeding surveys on the western slope with a stop at Kenosha Pass (Park County).

We made the long hike up the Twin Cones Peak trail several hours before sunrise.  A Flammulated Owl called from the Aspen grove west of the trail where it bends from south to west.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings played shortly after the gate at the trailhead.  Later we added a second Northern Pygmy-Owl and Flammulated Owl picked up by our "owl listening stations".

Our target birds were Rosy Finches, White-winged Crossbills and White-tailed Ptarmigan; none of which was found.

We did encounter Williamson's Sapsuckers (2), a Dusky Grouse, singing Hermit Thrushes, Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers, an American Three-toed Woodpecker and many Pine Siskins.

On the hike back down, we found another Dusky Grouse near the eastern closed gate.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed at the western Campgrounds.  No additional owls were found.

June 26

Temperatures only reached a cool 77 degrees in Buena Vista.  Winds encountered during the day were 8-9 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

A check of the three Park Reservoirs (Spinney Mountain, Eleven Mile and Antero) found no uncommon birds.  A Bonaparte's Gull flew around Antero Reservoir.  There is no way to know if the Gull was a late migrant or early migrant returning from its breeding grounds.

Trout Creek Pass (Park) added another American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list.

Fourteen Pinyon Jays were found at the Ruby Mountain parking area (Chaffee).  We found Lewis's Woodpeckers are two different locations in Buena Vista (Chaffee).  No Western Screech-Owls could be enticed to show themselves today.

After dark, we went owling in the BLM land north and east of the Buena Vista Overlook.  We found three Northern Saw-whet Owls with the help of our "owl listening stations".

June 27-28

It was a hot couple of days for the mountains.  Temperatures reached 90 degrees.  Winds were a hot 9-10 mph, gusts to 18 mph.

Full Moon!

We spent the next two days exploring Marshall Pass.  This beautiful area gets few visitors, birders or tourists!

Our bird count included (Chaffee County): two Purple Martins, one Northern Saw-whet Owl (O'Haver Lake), two Williamson's Sapsuckers, three American Three-toed Woodpeckers, four Flammulated Owls (spread over three locations) a Gray Flycatcher, many Warbling Vireos.

Saguache County: two Purple Martins (pair), two Williamson's Sapsuckers, four American Three-toed Woodpeckers and two Flammulated Owls (separate locations).

June 29

Temperatures remained high for the mountains.  The high 83 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

We entered Gunnison County by way of Marshall Pass and explored Cumberland Pass today.

The highlight was finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan at Cumberland Pass.  We do not hear of many Ptarmigan reports in Gunnison County.

Other birds run across included: seven Pinyon Jays, two Williamson's Sapsuckers, Red-naped Sapsuckers, and the usual montane birds.

After dark, our owling added two Northern Pygmy-Owls and a Boreal Owl!

June 30

What a change in weather today.  High temperature was only 54 degrees.  Winds were only 4-5 mph, no gusts.

We continued to explore the northeastern corner of Gunnison County.  

The remote ghost town of Tincup added two Rufous Hummingbirds and an "early" Calliope Hummingbird to our trip list.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard drumming.

Mirror Lake is another interesting area that gets few visitors.  We found a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers just west of the lake.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl and two Flammulated Owls were heard after dark.