June 7, 2012

Brett Gray Ranch



On June 1st, a group of nine packed up and headed out to a Nature Conservancy owned ranch in Lincoln County on the eastern plains of Colorado.  We arrived at the Brett Gray Ranch, a riparian zone surrounded by short grass prairie, fully geared for an overnight Black Rail survey.  The headquarters of the ranch, located in a patch of big burly cottonwoods, hosted numerous singing Swainson’s Thrushes, a Say’s Phoebe nest holding four chicks, a Blue Grosbeak pair, and a fly-by Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Once it started to get dark, we began the Black Rail survey.  For most of our stops at the different marsh patches, we only heard Wilson’s Snipes and Virginia Rails, and not a single call of the anticipated small dark rail.  By midnight, we were still out of luck in hearing the far traveling song of the Black Rail. In previous years, several Black Rails had been heard indicating probable breeding.  We crawled into our tents with hopes of hearing one at some point during the night.

At 6 am the next morning, I woke up disoriented and fumbled out of the tent to be greeted by Mark Peterson asking if a Connecticut Warbler would wake me up.  Ted Floyd and the others were itching to get moving, so we grabbed our gear and jumped in the car.  A short distance down a two-tracked ranch road, we hopped out the doors and immediately heard the song of a Connecticut Warbler!  Up to this point, I had thought all this Connecticut Warbler talk was just a ploy to get us out of bed.  We spent a long while following this rarity down a cottonwood-lined creek bed and were rewarded with stunning views of this dazzling, singing male.


Connecticut Warbler

Connecticut Warbler

Connecticut Warbler

Prairie Rattlesnake

Prairie Rattlesnake

Trip List:
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Redhead
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White-faced Ibis
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail
American Coot
Killdeer
Mountain Plover
Spotted Sandpiper
Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Phalarope
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Great Horned Owl
Common Nighthawk
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood-Pewee
Dusky Flycatcher
Say's Phoebe
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Blue Jay
Black-billed Magpie
Horned Lark
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Connecticut Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Cassin's Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Lark Bunting
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Common Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

Thanks to Ted Floyd and The Nature Conservancy for making this trip possible and to the other participants - Todd Deininger, Seth Gallagher, David Gillian, Mark Peterson, Joe Roller, Tim Smart, and Marcel Such.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I would love to venture out with your group if you ever do it again! Thanks for sharing the great information!