Mesa/Delta counties, 4/7
- Hi all,
Yesterday I set out on an overnight solo mission from the Front Range to
record the song of Black-throated Sparrow. I would have headed southeast,
but the weather forecast drove me west, and I had a marvelous day playing
in the sun on the West Slope while the easterners were enduring snow and
freezing rain (and Snowy Owl sightings--sigh).
I made a quick stop at Cameo on Friday night, since I know that is a good
place for the sparrows, but my suspicions that there would be too much
background noise from the power plant and the interstate were confirmed, so
I continued on to the stateline juniper stand on old Highway 6/50 west of
Mack. There, in the morning, I was serenaded by at least four territorial
Black-throated Sparrows, in addition to Say's Phoebe, Rock Wren, Sage
Thrasher, Western Meadowlark, Horned Lark, and House Finch.
Looked for the Burrowing Owl reported by Bob Bradley but he wasn't up when
I drove by. 6 & 50 Reservoir had various ducks, but no shorebirds or
grackles. FOS Northern Rough-winged Swallow was along the road just west
Colorado River State Park (Fruita Unit) had singing Great-tailed Grackles
in a very noisy environment, but I was pleased to record the song of the
western variety, which (I recently found out) sings rather differently from
the ones on the East Slope. Five Wood Ducks were on the adjacent sewage ponds.
Hoping to get more grackle song in a slightly quieter place, I headed down
to Confluence Park in Delta. I did find a singing grackle here, but the
picnickers and boaters and swimmers had driven it to the island in the
center of the lake, and the wind had picked up, and the bird was singing
infrequently...perfect storm of poor conditions. The three Ross's Geese
reported by Andrea Robinsong were still present--two adults and a young
bird--and a Franklin's Gull was here along with three Ring-billed Gulls and
an adult Bald Eagle.
I drove up the Escalante Canyon hoping for Black Phoebe and Chukar. No
Chukar, but I did find a pair of Black Phoebes in the
canyon--unfortunately, though I set my trip odometer at the site, I forgot
to look at it when I got back to the highway. I'm guessing they were about
7 miles from US 50, near the beginning of the SWA, at a place where the
creek is right next to the road but bending away and a single small box
elder rises above a busted red cattle gate on the bank.
Stopped at Cheney Reservoir and found it very birdy, as Andrea
reported. Again no shorebirds, and no Blue-winged Teal, but most other
expected ducks were there, including Ruddy, a dozen Canvasbacks, and two
dozen scaup, all Lessers. Three Bonaparte's Gulls were on the water, and a
distant Gambel's Quail was calling.
The drive back was hairy, especially from Vail to Idaho Springs, but the
day was nice.