Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Northeastern Colorado Search for Sprague's Pipits by way of Boulder County

October 10-14, 2018

Richard Stevens:

October 10

Boulder high of 34 degrees.  Fortunately winds were 2-3 mph with gusts only 5-6 mph.

Terry Michaels started late in the week in an attempt to find Sprague's Pipits and migrating sparrows in Northeastern Colorado.

We first detoured to Boulder County where a plethora of uncommon birds was being reported.

Our first stop was Lagerman Reservoir where the Parasitic Jaeger was observed chasing gulls around.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was among the group.  

The Vermilion Flycatcher and Pectoral Sandpiper were still at Walden Ponds.  The Chestnut-sided Warbler was still at Ryssby Church & Cemetery area.

Boulder and Valmont Reservoirs did not added uncommon birds to our day list.

Cobb Lake, Wellington Wildlife Area in Weld County was hosting a couple of interesting Kingbirds.  We relocated a Cassin's Kingbird but missed on the "strange kingbird" possible Couch's Kingbird.

Seeing a Tropical Kingbird and Couch's Kingbird in Colorado within six days would have been awesome.

We continued to Wellington Wildlife Area proper.  Two Long-eared Owls were in the eastern windbreak (Larimer County).  Just after sunset, we observed a Short-eared Owl flying over the hills to the east of County Line Road (Weld County).  Shortly before that, I Great Horned Owl called from the eastern section of the Wildlife Area (Weld).

October 11

Warmed up to 46 degrees today.  Winds 14-15 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

Terry & I walked the Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) shortly after midnight.  Eventually we located two Long-eared Owls (with the help of NVG7-3P Night Vision goggles).

After a few hours of sleep we walked the western Campgrounds.  A flock of  20+ Yellow-rumped Warblers were at Cove Campgrounds.  A Palm Warbler fluttered about Pelican Campgrounds.  A White-throated Sparrow were also here.

Misses: the resident Eastern Screech-Owls did not call today.

Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) had a few interesting birds.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull flew below the northeastern end of the dam.  

A Black-and-white Warbler and White-throated Sparrow was below the dam and east of the ranger's home.  While a Townsend's Warbler was observed at the inlet area.

We relocated Eastern Screech-Owls at the inlet area and later as we left the reservoir at the eastern parking area.

Misses: no uncommon shorebirds were found at the inlet or the southeastern end of the lake.

October 12

Finally some warmth with high temperature of 62 degrees.  Winds 10-11 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Shortly after midnight, Terry and I walked the eastern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) between 5 & 7 East.  One Eastern Screech-Owl was located.

At first light  we drove Logan County Road 46.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was observed with a couple of Ring-necked Pheasants north of CR 46 & CR 89.  This is a great location especially after a dusting of snow.  The idea was first given to me by the longtime ranger for Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (sorry I cannot remember his name).

We skipped the usually search for passerines at the northern Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area sections and continued to Sedgwick County.

In spite of high winds, we anchored our scopes and checked the many fields along Sedgwick CR 4 & CR 2 (County Line Sedgwick/Phillips).  We continued east of Hwy 385 to the area of previous Sprague's Pipit sightings centered around Sedgwick CR 30 & CR 55 to CR 61.

We eventually found a Sprague's Pipit walking around CR 30 & CR 59.  Just north of the intersection Terry spotted a Greater Prairie-Chicken.  One Grasshopper Sparrow was a surprise find in the area!

October 13, 2018

High temperature of 63 degrees.  Winds strong at 14-15 mph with gusts to 29 mph.

Terry and I spent the day driving the roads between Jumbo Reservoir and Julesburg.  Special emphasis was placed on previous Sprague's Pipit locations.  

We tried to take roads that I had not previously often birded.  We skipped often-birded spots such as Jumbo Reservoir, Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area, Ovid and DePoorter Lake.

Much of the day was on private ranches.  Our tally included Red-bellied Woodpecker (2), Harris's Sparrow (2 locations), Blue-headed Vireo (surprise, late, private ranch # 4), Eastern Meadowlark (private ranch # 1), Sprague's Pipit (private ranch # 1), Rusty Blackbird (2, private ranch # 1), Eastern Screech-Owl (private ranch # 1 & # 3), Long-eared Owl (private ranch # 2 & # 3), White-throated Sparrow (private ranch # 6).

private ranch # 5 reported a Sprague's Pipit two days earlier, not relocated today
private ranch # 6 reported Field Sparrow last week

October 14, 2018

Quite a difference a day makes in Colorado.  High temperature of only 33 degrees, low of 24 degrees.  Winds 11-12 mph with gusts to 29 mph.

Terry & I headed south on this windy day.  No additional Sprague's Pipits were found.  We checked near Phillips CR 27/CR 26 where Terry and I had found a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow a few years ago.  Regrettably, none was around today.

A Broad-winged Hawk clung to cottonwoods at Holyoke Cemetery.  A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was observed at Holyoke City Park.

Our other stops are Holyoke Fishing Pond, Holyoke hotspots and west were uneventful. 

Snowstorms encouraged our rapid return to Denver.

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