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Friday, April 22, 2011

Colorado - Boulder County and Red Rocks Parks

      After birding the Pawnee Grasslands we drove to my son's home in Boulder County, CO. That evening we actually had dinner at his home and after dinner ventured out to Sandstone Park before sunset. We walked around the park until we came upon some small cliffs and Bryan pointed out a Barn Owl sitting on her nest. As the sun set, out flew a male Barn Owl and landed in a distant tree. So we headed back to the parking lot and past the tree where the owl landed and it flushed. As it flew back towards the cliff it flushed out a third Barn Owl. How cool was that? It had been some time since I've seen a Barn Owl and was glad to have the opportunity again.
       The next morning we were joined by Bryan who lead us around to the birding areas in Boulder County. Bryan told us that a Golden-crowned Sparrow was frequenting a park area nearby. So we headed out. We searched the area for about an hour and finally were able to find the Golden-crowned mixed in with a flock of White-crowned Sparrows.

Immature Golden-crowned Sparrow
      Then we headed to Walden Ponds and added Bank and Rough-winged Swallows to our trip list as well as getting better views of White-throated Swifts. There were many ducks of the ponds but nothing we hadn't already recorded. As we drove around our next stop, which was Boulder Reservoir, we spotted a Bald Eagle, several Osprey, a Red-tailed Hawk on the nest and Carl's next life bird. We walked down from the parking area and looked around the shoreline. The only white bird in the whole area was a Ross's Goose. I think Carl must have got over ten lifers on this trip. He was racking them up. 
      Bryan had to leave us before noon so we headed down to the Denver area, to the Red Rocks Park. At the park we found a feeding station behind the trading post and we planted ourselves on the terrace. As we watched, a Scrub Jay starting giving his raucous calls. Then a Curve-billed Thrasher arrived along with two Spotted Towhees. There were many White-crowned Sparrows and believe it or not, our second Golden-crowned Sparrow of the day appeared. Waiting a little longer we added White-throated Sparrow. Carl and I temporarily left the feeding station. I went inside the trading post and Carl drove off to search for a Canyon Wren that we heard earlier. Then Nick called Carl on the cell phone and came into the trading post to get me. He had spotted a Harris's Sparrow at the feeder. We had accomplished a rare feat today by spotting on four Zonothrichia sparrows in one day (and at one location).
      After spending a considerable amount of time at the feeders we headed out and went to Cherry Creek State Park and reservoir. There were many White Pelicans, Western Grebes and Franklin's Gulls on the lake. But the bird we were after was a reported Red-necked Grebe. After searching through the hundred or so Western Grebes we were able to find the Red-necked Grebe which was a new state bird for me.
      This was the end of our birding trip and tomorrow morning we would be flying back to Pennsylvania. It was a very productive trip. We managed to find Greater and Lesser Prairie Chickens and Greater and Gunnison Sage Grouse. We missed Sharp-tailed Grouse, Chukar and didn't try for White-tailed Ptarmigan. We ended the trip with a 157 total species. Below are some nice birds that we were able to find.

Greater Prairie Chicken (Click on photos to enlarge)

Lesser Prairie Chicken

Nick being chased out of canyon by wild horses
Mountain Bluebird
Cassin's Finch

Pine Grosbeak

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