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Mesa/Delta counties, 4/7

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  • Nathan Pieplow
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2007
      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
      of Mack.

      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.

      Good birding,

      Nathan Pieplow
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