Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

July 30, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Before the heat of the day, I circled both the northern and southern ponds at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams County).

Few birds moved around.  Highlights of the northern ponds included a Long-eared Owl in the thick evergreens near pond 7 (around the partly fallen Russian Olive Tree).  A Brown Thrasher ran under the eastern windbreak at the parking area.

The southern ponds have even fewer birds.  However, a great highlight was a Long-billed Curlew walking the hillside at the southwestern corner.  

By noon, the temperatures were rising into the 90s degrees (high of 96 later in the afternoon).  Winds of 9-10 mph with afternoon gusts to 23 mph brought much heat.

At dusk, Rebecca and I attempted to drive the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  It started to downpour and we gave up on finding any owls.

No Birding

July 29, 2019

Richard Stevens:

A few days a year I do stay home and finish chores :-(

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Pike National Forest and Rocky Mountain Arsenal

July 28, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the low 90s today.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 21 mph.

Rebecca and I headed into the foothills looking for cooler temperatures and the yesterday's Canyon Towhee sighting (Douglas County).

It was definitely a long shot reported along highway 67, 1/2 mile up the old logging road four miles south of Sprucewood.  We found neither cooler temperatures nor the Canyon Towhee.

On the drive back, we stopped at hwy 67 and Rampart Range Road.  It took about 20 minutes before finding the male American Three-toed Woodpecker northeast of the intersection (Douglas County).

After an early lunch back in Denver we drove the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Drive hoping to find a Red-headed Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe or Burrowing Owl.

Neither was found; however, Rebecca photographed a male Blue Grosbeak near mile 5.5.  A Sage Thrasher was near the intersection of 88th avenue (wildlife drive) and Peoria.

We walked to the flooded field along the Havana.  The Willet was gone; total shorebirds were two Western Sandpipers and eight Killdeer.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (no Burrowing Owl either).

I put my photos of yesterday's Painted Bunting sighting on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library

Genesee Mountain Park, Chatfield and Cherry Creek Reservoirs

July 27, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Another hot day with a high of 93 degrees, winds were 2-3 mph.  The lack of a breeze made the day feel even hotter.

The Painted Bunting at the Audubon Nature Center (Jefferson) had not been reported before noon the last three days.  So, I decided to start my day owling and birding at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).

No owls were observed or heard.  A hike to the top near the flagpole found one male Williamson's Sapsucker.  The Sapsucker was along the main road and about 80 yards from the top. 

Another birder had run across a Dusky Grouse; it was not relocated by me.

Pine Siskins, four Red Crossbills (type 2), White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches, and two Western Bluebirds were found.

When I arrived at the Audubon Center, it was reported that the Painted Bunting had shown up at 7:20 to 7:35am and again at 8:55 am.  I arrived at 12:35 pm.  Fortunately, the male Painted Bunting made another appearance at 1:55 pm.  He hung around until 2:14 pm and then flew to the south.

While wandering around the Audubon Nature Center buildings I saw Gray Catbirds, many Spotted Towhees, two Yellow-breasted Chats, many House Wrens and quite a few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.  

The highlight was a male Nashville Warbler walking on the ground below the thick willows southeast of the restrooms.

The road through Chatfield State Park is now open with the completion of the Kingfisher Bridge.  However, it was too hot to continue birding and I had to be home by 5:00 pm.  I was not looking forward to the traffic and major construction along C470.

Late in the afternoon, Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  The male Great-tailed Grackle was again perched above the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.

No owls appeared at sunset.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

July 26, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I debated whether to return the Audubon Nature Center for another search for the Painted Bunting.  Forty+ miles of Denver traffic made the decision not to drive in Friday traffic.

As far as I know, the Painted Bunting was only observed once for 7 minutes around 1:45 pm.  

Late in the afternoon, Rebecca and I went to our favorite restaurant near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  After dinner, a drive through the State Park found few birds.

The male Great-tailed Grackle continues at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.  The female was not in view.  I walked around the wetlands and heard both a Virginia Rail and Sora from the north side.

No owls appeared this evening.  High temperature was 92 degrees (still 86 degrees at 6:00 pm).  Winds were 6-7 mph and cooled the Park a little bit.

Back In the Metro Area

July 25, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 90 degrees today.  The 9-10 mph winds kept the day feeling cool.

I arrived at the Audubon Nature Center (Jefferson) around 5:25am.  Regrettably, the Painted Bunting did not appear by the time I departed at 9:00am.  Note: James McCall saw the bird at 9:25am!

While the Painted Bunting was missed, quite a few birds were around.  Many Spotted Towhees sang and flew around the Nature Center.  One female Spotted Towhee walked within six feet of my chair.  Two Gray Catbirds also ran around in the bushes between the feeders and me. 

Several Yellow-breasted Chats called from the willows behind me and I was able to see two of them.  The highlight had to be a Sage Thrasher that walked down the path around 6:00am.

Afterwards I returned home by way of the Walker Gravel Pit (Douglas).  The Common Loon was still there.  From my photos, it appears that it is molting many of its flight feathers and is reluctant to fly.  The Eastern Phoebes that nested along Cherry Creek near the highway 86 bridge were no where to be seen.

The next stop was the Delaney Farm and Museum (Arapahoe) at Chambers and Alameda in Aurora.  I hiked most West Toll Gate Creek that runs through the Open Space.

An all red bird report sounded like a Summer Tanager; it had no black wings (Scarlet Tanager) or chin (Northern Cardinal).  However, the report was two days old and no red bird was found.

My birding day ended at the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Burrowing Owls have been found in months.  Destruction (bulldozing) of many prairie dog mounds appears to have chased the Burrowing Owls elsewhere. 

I plan to walk Buckley Road (east side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal) in the next couple of days.  Perhaps the Burrowing Owls have moved over there.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Birding In the Mountains

July 17-24, 2019

Richard Stevens:

July 17

It was a cool 73 degrees in the foothills.  Winds were 6-7 mph.

I planned to bird Colorado's South and Middle Parks the next few days.  Eventually I returned home tired from the erratic weather, however did find some interesting birds.

My arrival at Rampart Range Road and Highway 67 was planned for two hours before sunrise.  A walk of about a mile in each direction found only one Northern Pygmy-Owl.  Both Northern Saw-whet and Northern Pygmy-Owls have been found in the past.

After sunrise, I heard the distinct drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker.  A male was eventually observed do just that at the northeast corner of the intersection.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker flew across Highway 67 approximately 0.2 miles east of the intersection.

I stopped and walked around Stoney Pass Road and Wigwam Creek and relocated one of the Red-headed Woodpeckers previously reported.  In past years, this location has had Red-headed Woodpeckers, American Three-toed Woodpeckers and Williamson's Sapsuckers at the same time, not today. A pair of Green-tailed Towhees fluttered about the same area.  

On the drive here, I noticed a small ball of feathers along Sugar Creek Road (Jefferson).  It was a Northern Pygmy-Owl not well hidden in bush below an evergreen tree. 

I hiked up the Cheesman trailhead to the reservoir.  No Three-toed Woodpeckers were found today. Pine Siskins, White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Townsend's Solitaire and a couple of Common Ravens were observed during the walk.

Owling along Trout Creek at Highway 67 was a bust.  A thunderstorm had rolled in several hours before my arrival.  In my experience, owling after a thunderstorm has produced little success.

July 18

Temperatures reached 97 degrees which is quite high for the mountains.  Hot winds of 12-13 mph blew in the warm air.

I wandered around the Manitou Experimental Forest (Teller) between midnight and sunrise.  My owl count was only two Flammulated Owls.  One was an historical location in the Forest.  A second owl was found along Teller CR 782.

Manitou Lake did not add much to my trip list.  Highlights were a male Williamson's Sapsucker and a Plumbeous Vireo.  Other birds included Gray Catbird, Dusky Flycatcher, Veery, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Pine Siskins and four Red Crossbills.

Mueller State Park (Teller) was more interesting.  I spent the day hiking to the north end of the park.  Grouse Mountain overlook (no grouse) to Buffalo Rock to Cheesman Ranch to Rule Creek Pond and back.  In all, the hike was 12.8 miles.  I was too tired to take on the south trails this trip.

Highlights were a Northern Pygmy-Owl just north of the end of the north drive.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a Williamson's Sapsucker were along the drive from the Visitor's Center to the north end.

July 19

The 97 degree high continued for the second day in a row.  Winds of 12-13 mph did not help.

I camped near the Crags Campgrounds (Teller) and got up early to do some owling.  The only owls found/heard were two Northern Pygmy-Owls.  One just south of the Campgrounds and the other about a half mile north of the Campgrounds.  Another highlight was a male American Three-toed Woodpecker feeding a young male (trail south of the Campgrounds). The usual mountain birds were found around the Campgrounds; however, nothing unusual caught my attention.  I did not attempt the entire Crags Trail this trip (approximately 4.8 miles one way).

The majority of the day was spent hiking the Horsethief Park trail.  Traditionally it is a great hike for woodpeckers.  The Horsethief trail is 3.9 miles one way to its terminus. Several side trips include the 0.5 miles to Horsethief Falls (no Black Swifts encountered this trip) and Pancake Rocks trail 2.4 miles to its end point.  I had too much energy today and covered the 14 miles.  The hike is superb but somewhat strenuous.

Highlights: two American Three-toed Woodpeckers along the Horsethief Trail and another pair along Pancake Rocks trail near the Falls intersection.  The hike is worth of the trip just for the views!

Inclement weather and a tired body stopped any owling this night.

July 20

Hot temperature and winds continued in the mountains.  The high was 86 degrees with 13-14 mph winds.

I spent late into the morning at Michigan Creek Campgrounds along the Georgia Pass Road (Park County).  After the last few days, I planned little hiking.  Nothing uncommon was found at the Campgrounds.  Warblers were quite scarce this trip.

A drive to Jefferson Lake (Park) did not find any uncommon birds.  So, I returned to Michigan Creek Road.  The only locations that I have found White-tailed Ptarmigan in the area are French Pass, which would have required a 7 mile hike, and Mount Guyot.  

While the Mount Goyot hike is only approximately a one mile hike off Georgia Pass Road, it was not possible to drive to the trailhead due the extremely snowy winter/spring of 2019.  Several hikers I talked to guessed it would be seven miles round trip to get to the final mile hike up Mount Goyot; I passed.

My longest hike was up the poorly defined trail with a small parking area at 4.1 miles north of the Michigan Creek Campgrounds.  This is a traditional American Three-toed Woodpecker and Northern Pygmy-Owl location (located more or less near Johnson Creek).

In a mile hike up an unnamed hill, I finally arrived above tree line.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers had been observed during the hike.  A male was 100 yards west of Michigan Creek Road.  Another male was 1/2 mile up the trail.  While I was barely above tree line along the southern base of Mount Guyot, I did not run across any White-tailed Ptarmigan.

After returning to Michigan Creek Road, I walked north toward Georgia Pass for about a mile and a half.  On the return, I found a Dusky Grouse perhaps 300 yards from my car. 

After sunset, I played several owl recordings.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl briefly made a contact call (approximately 200 yards south of my car.  

July 21

Getting higher in the mountains helped escaping our recent hot temperatures.  The high today was 80 degrees.  Winds of 9-10 mph were unexpected low for the mountains.

My birding day started with a drive up Independence Pass (Lake/Pitkin Counties).  In about three hours, I was able to find two White-tailed Ptarmigan in Lake County and another in Pitkin County (all north of highway 82).  During the hike small flocks of Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew overhead (observed in both Counties).

I spent the afternoon resting my legs hiking around Twin Lakes Reservoir (Lake County).  Male and female Williamson's Sapsuckers were seen around the Campgrounds.  A female American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered along the Interlaken Trail.

No owls were found after sunset.

July 22

Cooler temperatures continued again with a high of 80 degrees.  Winds were again only 7-8 mph.

I decided to tackle one of my favorite Lake County hikes today and headed up Hagerman Pass.  My day checklist followed a similar story to the pass few days.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were observed on the trip to the Pass.  I had set up one of my "owl listening stations" on the walk and later heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl respond to the recording.

Pine Grosbeaks, Red Crossbills, Willow Flycatchers, Dusky Flycatchers, Olive-sided Flycatcher were among the birds counted on the Lake County side of the Pass.  Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered on the Pitkin Side.  Clear skies for a change after dark allowed for owling.  Unfortunately, only a single Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard along Ivanhoe Creek.

I hiked within 2.4 miles of the Summit to Wildcat Mountain.  However, I declined to make the hike up.  We found White-tailed Ptarmigan during a hike 8/11/2008.  The number of stars in the clear sky was breath taking.  I sat and watched satellites cross the skies and was amazed at how many are up in space. 

July 23

Another high of 80 degrees with winds of 8-9 mph.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl called as I dropped down off Hagerman Pass (Pitkin).  Once back at Turquoise Lake and rested my legs hiking around the relatively flat trails.  

Highlights included a male Black-chinned Hummingbird and Black-throated Gray Warbler.  A Common Loon swam along the eastern half of the Lake.

A walk around Tennessee Pass (Eagle) found a Townsend's Warbler fluttered about.

I stopped by a friend's home in Silverthorne and enjoyed the barbecue!  His yard had Band-tailed Pigeons, Clark's Nutcrackers, Evening Grosbeaks, a Pine Grosbeak, and Pine Siskins.  One Brown-capped Rosy Finch stopped by for a brief visit. 

July 24

Finally a cool day with a high temperature of 59 degrees.  I did not want to leave.  Winds were 5-6 mph.

I headed up North Rock Creek at first light (Summit County, just south of Blue River Campgrounds) to the A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary.  Eventually American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found along CR 1350 just passed the Trailhead to the Bird Sanctuary.  Another two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were encountered along the 1/2 mile trail to the Sanctuary.

A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers fluttered around the Aspen Grove at the Sanctuary.  Other birds observed at this interesting birding spot include Slate-colored Fox Sparrow, Wilson's Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Red-naped Sapsucker to name a few.

I hiked up the rocky Ptarmigan trail along the southern base of Keller Mountain for a good mile before encountering a female White-tailed Ptarmigan with two young!

After dusk, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was enticed into responding to my recordings.  No additional owls were found on the hike back to my car.

I had planned to stay out longer.  Tired and missing showers, I decided to return to Denver (by way of the Painted Bunting sighting at the Audubon Nature Center at Chatfield State Park (Jefferson).

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Eastern Adams & Arapahoe Counties

July 16, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperatures reached a hot 96 degrees today.  Winds on the plains were 13-14 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Early in the morning, I returned to eastern Adams County in search of Mountain Plovers.  Regrettably, none was found.

The Burrowing Owls continue along 160th avenue at the prairie dog town 0.5 miles west of Yellow Jacket Road.

Nothing else was interesting and I drove into eastern Arapahoe County.  At least two Cassin's Kingbirds continue at Richmil Ranch Open Space.  Another Cassin's Kingbird was viewed from the East Bijou Creek Bridge at CR 38.

A check of three traditional Dickcissel sites did not find a one.  Two Burrowing Owls continue on the west side of CR 129 at 0.7 miles south of Orchard Road (one of the past Dickcissel sites).

Temperatures were rising; few birds moved about.  I headed for home.

No Birding July 14 & 15, 2019

July 14 & 15, 2019

Did not bird.  I keep this blog to inform other birders of sightings.  Also it is a searchable record for me to remember where my bird observations were found.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hot Day at Barr Lake

July 13, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 97 degrees.  Winds were 13-14 mph with gusts to 28 mph when the thunderstorm came.

In the morning, I spent 3 to 4 hours searching for herons at the northwest corner of Barr Lake (Adams County).  The search was between mile 2.0 and 4.0.  Three Great Blue Herons were the only found.  Access is east of Buckley Road north of 120th avenue.

Afterwards I took 120th avenue west to Lowell Blvd and Metzger Farm Open Space (Adams).  I stood for an hour 50 yards from the Oriole nest without seeing the male Baltimore Oriole or any female activity.

When I photographed the male Baltimore Oriole (Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library on June 22, at least three male Bullock's Orioles and two female Bullock's Orioles were in the area.  None was encountered today.

In the afternoon, I picked up Rebecca and we went back to the northwest corner of Barr Lake.  This time I brought our high top rubber field boots.  The boots were necessary to walk the last 50 yards to the bird blind at mile 2.2 (parking area is mile 2.7).

No additional herons were found.  A Sora and one or two Virginia Rails called in the cattails west of the blind.  Boots were not necessary to reach mile 2.0 (if you do not mind having wet hiking boots).  No uncommon birds were observed.

No Burrowing Owls or any owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Some organization bulldozed the prairie dog town at Trussville and 114th avenue.  We are still trying to find out whom.

Afternoon Walk at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

July 12, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I brought Jamie Thompson back to Denver, picked up Rebecca and headed to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Temperatures reached 93 degrees today.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

The breeze was quite cool when the sun went behind clouds at 5:00 pm.  We walked the New Mexico Locust tree grove at the southwest corner of Lake Ladora.  An American Robin was the only bird found.  

It occurred that this was not the correct parking area where the Ash-throated Flycatcher had been reported yesterday.  We parked at the new parking area at the southeastern corner of Lake Ladora and walked to the Locust grove about 1/2 mile to the south.

At least eighty White-tailed Deer stood around the pond just south of the parking area.  Another 30-40 were west of the trail.  They ignored us and we continued south.

Shorebirds around the pond included one Willet, two Western Sandpipers, two Baird's Sandpipers, and four American Avocets.  Four Say's Phoebes and two Western Kingbirds were the only birds encountered.

When we reached the main road back at the parking area, an Ash-throated Flycatcher flew out of the tall cottonwoods at the southwest corner of Lake Ladora, grabbed a bug and perched on the brown road marker.

By the time I got my camera out, the Ash-throated Flycatcher had retreated to the cottonwood.  Only a rather poor witness photo was obtained.

We decided to drive the 9 mile Wildlife Loop in the cool evening air.  No Burrowing Owls and few birds were encountered.  We enjoyed the cool drive after the warm day.  No Red-headed Woodpeckers, Sage Thrashers or other uncommon birds were run across.

Montrose & Delta Counties

July 10-11, 2019

Richard Stevens:

July 10

Terry and I met up with Jacob Washburn and Jamie Thompson today.  We have a cabin in Montrose County and enjoyed a leisure day with a barbecue, comparing notes, and making future birding itineraries.

In the afternoon, we drove over to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose County).  Two Dusky Grouse were found along the South Rim Drive on the way to the western High Point.  Two Wild Turkeys ran across the western parking area.

We hiked to the High Point, regrettably, no Northern Pygmy-Owl were found or heard.  At dusk, two Common Poorwills were heard from the western parking area.  One was on the road about 1/4 mile to the east!

July 11

We headed north into Delta County today.  No shorebirds or Lewis's Woodpeckers could be found around Fruitgrower's Reservoir and Eckert.

Then we drove down Escalante Canyon & Wildlife Area west of Delta.  A lone Chukar walked along the field west of the Gunnison River.

Two Black Phoebes, one 1/4 mile west of the Chukar and another east of Pinnacle Rock were encountered.

Other birds observed included two Ash-throated Flycatchers, a Plumbeous Vireo, a male Blue Grosbeak, and two Pinyon Jays.  More surprising were a Gray Vireo and Least Flycatcher.

After dark, we did some owling west of Captain Smith's Site.  Our owl count was three Northern Saw-whet Owls, one Northern Pygmy-Owl and a surprise Western Screech-Owl.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Gunnison Cty: Sapinero Mesa & Cimarron Pass

Amy Davenport: transcript of telephone call:

July 8, 2019

Terry and I (Richard) drove south of highway 50 down highway 149 and Sapinero Mesa.  Highlight was a Gunnison Sage-Grouse on the side of Gunnison CR 26 near the Cutoff, west of Indian Creek.

The BLM land at Sapinero Mesa added three American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers.  A Grace's Warbler was observed near the Cutoff.

We walked around Gateview at CR 25 and were rewarded with Black-throated Gray Warblers and another American Three-toed Woodpecker.

A flock of Pinyon Jays flew around Alpine Plateau.  Owling was nice tonight.
Alpine Plateau: two Flammulated Owls, one Northern Pygmy-Owl
Elk Creek: Northern Pygmy-Owl
Indian Creek ("owl listening stations"): Flammulated Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl

July 9, 2019

Birded Cimarron Pass in Gunnison County today. Highlights:

Cimarron Campgrounds: Northern Saw-whet Owl, Dusky Grouse and American Three-toed Woodpecker

Silver Jack Campgrounds: Hooded Warbler (sixth time in seven years), Dusky Grouse (adult, two young), pair Williamson's Sapsuckers, American Three-toed Woodpecker, two Flammulated Owls (heard only)

Beaver Lake: Northern Saw-whet Owl ("owl listening stations")
Big Cimarron Campgrounds area: Flammulated Owl

Fish Creek Reservoir: Flammulated Owl (seen), Northern Pygmy-Owl (heard)

Forest Road 858: Flammulated Owl

Owl Creek Pass was closed at top and road had several snowdrifts.  We did not make it to the summit.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Western Slope continued (Gunnison Cty)

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

July 6, 2019

Terry and I birded up Highway 135 to Almont and then took Gunnison CR 742 to Taylor Park Reservoir.  Once again, our trek was changed due to the snowy spring.  It was not possible to get to the Cottonwood Pass Summit due to snowdrifts.

Nothing uncommon was on Taylor Park Reservoir.  Lake View Campgrounds across CR 742 added two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Band-tailed Pigeons to our trip list.

Returning to Gunnison, we stopped at many Campgrounds (Rivers End, Spring Creek, Lodgepole and Cold Springs).

Owling was quite successful this night.
Flammulated Owls (3 at separate locations)
Northern Pygmy-Owls (2 at separate locations)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1)

July 7, 2019

We tried to get to Schofield Pass this morning.  Much snow is still on the pass and it is impassable.  Just as well, Schofield Pass is considered the most dangerous pass in Colorado.  We did not have to decide whether to drive it this trip.

We did not get close enough to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Several miles of snowshoeing would have been required to reach near the Summit.

We were not able to relocate the previously reported Black Phoebe at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab.  It was too early to search for the Boreal Owl.

Instead, we drove back to Kebler Pass where birding was more successful.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a male Williamson's Sapsucker were located at the Old Cemetery area.

Two Purple Martins were flying around their traditional nesting location.  Two Dusky Grouse were encountered before we reached Highway 133.

Two Black Swifts flew around the waterfall west of Marble (Gunnison).

Owling on the way back to Crested Butte was slow.  We did locate two Flammulated Owls at previous years GPS waypoints.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called along Ohio Pass (just south of the closed gate).

Friday, July 5, 2019

Western Slope Trip (Chaffee, Saguache & Gunnison Ctys)

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

June 30, 2019

I met up with Terry Michaels and we swung by Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) on our way out of town.  It was too early in the morning to miss Denver's rush hour traffic.  A White-throated Sparrow and Spotted Towhee were around the windbreak for Pond #4.  No owls were found.

We drove Highway 285 south down to Hwy 24.  A detour to the three Park County reservoirs found no uncommon birds.  Winds were measured at 22-23 mph.

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

A small flock of six Pinyon Jays flew around the parking area for Ruby Mountain (Chaffee).  

After dark, our "owl listening stations" were set up north of the Buena Vista Overlook.  Then we sat and listened for owls at a nearby location.  Eventually a Northern Saw-whet Owl was attracted to our recordings.  Later another Northern Saw-whet Owl was picked up on our "owl listening stations" recordings.

July 1, 2019

Terry and I drove around Buena Vista before heading into the mountains.  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were observed along Pleasant Avenue.  Misses: no Western Screech-Owls were found this morning.

Then we headed up Marshall Pass (Chaffee).  While most of it can be driven in a regular car, we do recommend using a high clearance 4-wheel drive.  Marshall Pass goes through Chaffee County, enters Saguache County, returns to Chaffee and ends up back on Saguache County.

Having made this trek on over a dozen occasions over the years, we stopped at regular/previous marked waypoints.

Our bird count included three American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Purple Martins and two Williamson's Sapsuckers.  The usual suspects such as Canada Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, etc were also found.

At dusk, we found/saw two Flammulated Owls.  Both were at waypoint location from previous years!  A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found when we camped at O'Haver Lake.

July 2, 2019

Terry and I continued our Marshall Pass Survey today.  The first quarter of the trip was in Chaffee County.  Birds encountered included two American Three-toed Woodpeckers, a MacGillivray's Warbler, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and a Williamson's Sapsucker.

Terry thought he heard a Hepatic Tanager.  We searched almost two hours; however, whatever bird was not found.  Several pairs of Pine Grosbeaks and a flock of four Red Crossbills were seen during the search.

Back in Saguache County, we added four American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Williamson's Sapsuckers and several Hermit Thrushes.  A colony of Purple Martins included two males and a non-adult male.

After dark, we again sat and played recordings.  One Northern Saw-whet Owl was spotted in a nearby evergreen.  Winds were quite strong which did not aid in our owling.

July 3, 2019

Terry and I explored Cumberland Pass (Gunnison) today.  We did not drive as far as hoped.  CR 76 was clear through Pitkin and the Alpine Turnoff.   Muddy roads became a problem after that.  We made it to Quartz Campground before running into snowdrifts.

From Quartz Campground we hiked (with snowshoes) the 3.9 miles (measured by GPS) to the Napoleon Pass Trailhead (10,695 feet).  Cumberland Pass Summit (11,600 feet) was another 4.1 miles.

With a round trip of 16 miles at hand, we decided not to climb Cumberland Pass and search for White-tailed Ptarmigans.  Would have liked to add a White-tailed Ptarmigan to our trip list, but good sense turned us around.

Nothing uncommon nor any target birds found today.  No owls heard along Cumberland Pass or at the Campground this evening.

July 4, 2019

Our trip finally was affected by the massive amounts of snow the mountains received this spring.  Our drive stopped at the Campgrounds, which are approximately 8.0 miles from the Cumberland Pass summit.  No way could we get to the Summit or bird Tincup and Mirror Lake.  Tincup is a good 5 miles north of the Summit; we were not up for a 13-mile one-way trek.

An attempt to drive or hike down Forest Road 769 (Middle Quartz Creek Trail) was limited by snowdrifts.  No uncommon or many birds were encountered in the short distance traveled.

Then we wandered up Alpine Tunnel Road (Forest Road 767).  Again, roads were closed to driving.  Snowshoes in hand we hiked in about 5 miles along Quartz Creek before stopping (elevation measured at 10,255 feet).  

Elevation was high enough for Boreal Owls or Northern Saw-whet Owls, a little high for Northern Pygmy-Owls.  None was found.  Elevation was too low to get above tree line for a White-tailed Ptarmigan search.

There was no attempt to continue to The Palisades and Alpine Tunnel.  High and loud winds prohibited hearing much tonight.

On the hike back to Cumberland Pass Road, we had a Northern Pygmy-Owl respond to our recordings.  Snowdrifts prohibited additional birding in the area.

July 5, 2019

Back on flat roads!  Terry and I drove Gunnison CR 38 an hour before sunrise.  We made it several miles into Saguache County before turning around.  On the way back, we found a female Gunnison Sage-Grouse and three young wandering along CR 38, north of CR 38a.

No additional Gunnison Sage-Grouse were observed along Gunnison CR 32 and we headed to the Neversink Trail.  No Least Flycatchers could be found; nesting here has been suggested, perhaps not confirmed.

In the afternoon, we hooked up with a friend who has had Western Screech-Owls and Yellow-billed Cuckoos on his ranch.  Regrettably, none was located today.

Late in the afternoon, we drove to the entrance of the Miller Ranch Wildlife Area.  The area is closed 2/1 to 9/1; we observed and heard nothing while walking along CR 7 & CR 7a.