God Bless Dean DiTommaso!
Dean DiTommaso blew into town last summer and fall from Buffalo, New York to work as an inspector on a pipeline reclamation project here in Moffat County. He is a wonderfully skilled birder and found lots of great birds, including a Black Scoter, and documented most of them with nice photos. Well, he showed up again for a week or so to complete the project.
On July 4 he went up to the Moffat County side of Black Mountain and brought back photos of a nesting pair of Three-toed Woodpeckers. He also heard what is probably a first county record of White-winged Crossbill (he is very familiar with this species from his home base in the Northeast). He invited me to go along with him tomorrow morning to try and re-find the crossbill.
Then yesterday, July 6, he calls me on his cell phone to report a Short-eared Owl, a Moffat County species I have long coveted. I met him at the site where he saw the owl earlier in the day and we finally re-found it about a half mile from the original site thanks to an assist from a fly over Golden Eagle that got the owl’s attention. The Short-eared was located in a sea of sagebrush along Moffat County Road 42, 2.8 miles west from its intersection with MC Rd 7. The intersection of these two county roads is about 5 miles north of Great Divide, which is essentially now a “ghost town.” Of course, Dean sent me a nice clear photo of the owl this morning.
I also had several Greater Sage-Grouse at MM 24.1 on CR 7 both going to and coming back from seeing the owl. This site is at the edge of a CRP field that I assume the grouse were keying on.