Monday, September 16, 2019

Barr Lake & Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 16, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperature was 65 degrees at 7:00 am; it soared to 77 degrees by 10:00 am.  Winds were7-8 mph with gusts to 13 mph by the time I left at 10:00 am.

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams) because of the report of White-rumped Sandpipers on 9/15 & 9/16.  I had been at the same location on 9/15 and captured photos.  On my photos, the dark centers of the Baird's Sandpipers clearly show dark centers.

Today I encountered no sandpipers on the trek between mile 6 (north side of the dam) to mile 5.  Saturday's Lesser Black-backed Gull was not around either.  It may have been on the southern side of the Lake, which I did not visit.

Late in the afternoon, I visited Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  One of the juvenile Sabine's Gulls flew around the eastern end.  It started to rain before the second one was located.

Additional interesting birds included 60+ swallows at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond.  They included two Cliff Swallows, two Violet-green Swallows and many Barn Swallows.

One additional observation: There were half a dozen California Gulls with various degrees of mantle color.  One was rather dark; even so, yet another was as dark as a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  The Gull had dense streaking on nape (not around eye as would be expected on a Lesser Black-backed Gull).  It had yellow legs and black and red on its bill.  This appears to be a bird that has returned for the last six years.  Either a dark mantled California Gull or some type of hybrid, would be my assessment. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Brief Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 15, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Hot temperatures returned with a high of 90 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

On the way to dinner, Rebecca and I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  We spotted the two Sabine's Gulls that have been around since Friday (9/13).  They flew around the southeastern end of the Lake eventually landing off Pelican Point.


Few birds other than Black-billed Magpies were encountered.  Two Vesper Sparrows were on the road at the Lake Loop drive.  A couple of Snowy Egrets stood on the willows at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.  Hundreds of American White Pelicans stood at the southeastern corner of the lake.



Trek At Barr Lake

September 14, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High in the afternoon at Barr Lake (Adams) was 89 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It was hot along the sunny shore with no shade.

I spent the afternoon (2:00 pm to 6:00 pm) stretching and resting my legs on the flat trails at Barr Lake (Adams).

The southern side of the lake was not birdy.  A Cassin's Vireo (banded) turned up at the north end of banding station peninsula.  Three thrushes were observed under the cottonwoods and willows at the western end of the Niedrach Boardwalk trail.

One Hermit Thrush and one Swainson's Thrush were definitely identified.  The third thrush was quite interesting.  It appeared to be a Gray-cheeked Thrush, which would be utterly uncommon for fall.  However, Barr Lake and Adams County has a 10/8/2018 sighting and the First Creek Trail (Adams) has a 9/30/2018 sighting.  Photos taken and will end up on the Colorado Birding Society's website soon.

No shorebirds were found along the southern shore.  Meanwhile hundreds American White Pelican stood on the island off the banding station.  The only gulls seemed to be hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.

With the lack of shorebirds, I resolved to try the northern shore.  Ultimately I would traipse the northern shore from mile 6.0 (north end of the dam) to mile 4.0.  On the return, I hiked the main Barr Lake trail near the railroad tracks.

On the drive along Lark Bunting Lane to the Northern parking area near the old stone house, a Burrowing Owl was spotted south of the road in one of the prairie dog towns.

The only non-Killdeer shorebirds found were six Baird's Sandpipers.  A young Bald Eagle and a Red-tailed Hawk stood in snags near mile 5.4.  Another young Bald Eagle was feeding on a dead carp at mile 5.0.

A few Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons lined the shore.  The Killdeer count was 18 walking around the Smartweed (pinkish flowers all over the shore).

A dark mantled Gull at mile 4 turned out to be a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Several Franklin's Gulls and many Ring-billed Gulls were in the same area.

Now walking back along the main trail I ran into a male Great-tailed Grackle and male Yellow-headed Blackbird around the pond north of the railroad tracks near mile 4.9.

Final interesting bird was a Townsend's Warbler in the cottonwoods at mile 5.3.  A House Wren, four Yellow-throated Warblers, two Black-capped Chickadees, a White-breasted Nuthatch and Red-breasted Nuthatch were also here!

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.

Abyss Lake

September 13-14, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperatures were a cool 65 degrees in the mountains.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

This summer appears to be one to visit areas always on my plans however I never found time to frequent.  Today I started a two day hike to Abyss Lake (Clear Creek).  It is approximately 17 miles round trip.  Any detours would add additional time.  The trail is not one I would like to take for just one day.

The lake is located below Mt Bierstadt and Mt Evans.  It is reached from the Scott Gomer creek trail.  After 6 or 7 miles the Rosalie Trail, which skirts the unnamed hill at the southeast corner of Guanella Pass, meets the Scott Gomer.

More information on the trip will be in October's "Colorado Field Notes".  

Noteworthy birds encountered included two White-tailed Ptarmigan, four American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Fox Sparrows (Slate-colored), three Brewer's Sparrows (possible Timberline) and many Chipping Sparrows.

Regrettably, no owls were found either day.

Guanella Pass & Campgrounds

September 12, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a great escape from the heat with a high temperature of 55 degrees in Bailey.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Two hours before midnight I set up my "owl listening stations" at Whiteside Campgrounds along Guanella Pass Road (Grant side).  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls eventually landed in trees around the campsite.

I was not tired so continued to Burning Bear Campgrounds (also Park County).  After playing owl recordings for less than 30 seconds, a Northern Pygmy-Owl returned the call!

In the morning, I drove up toward Guanella Pass.  The distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard across from the entrance to Duck Lake.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was observed flying from pine to pine on the east side of the road!

A hike up the south side of the unnamed hill at the southeast corner of the Summit found an adult female and young White-tailed Ptarmigan wandering 20 yards below the top of the hill.

I continued over the hill to the parking area and decided to take the Square Top Mountain trail.  Target birds were additional White-tailed Ptarmigan or perhaps a Black Swift.  Neither was found; however, I did find a nice Slate-colored Fox Sparrow and two Wilson's Warblers.

Birds found at the Guanella Pass Campgrounds included yet another American Three-toed Woodpecker, Wilson's Warblers, a male MacGillivray's Warbler, a singing Hermit Thrush and a small flock of four Red Crossbills.

No owls were found after dark.

Wellington Lake and Jefferson County

September 11, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature at Wellington was 60 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

I left Denver a little after sunset to search for owls along CR 560 (Jefferson).  Eventually three Flammulated Owls and one Northern Pygmy-Owl were heard all before midnight.  Only one Flammulated Owl was observed.  Too many birders have been in the area in the past month.  I did not want to disturb the owls any more than has already occurred (registering for fall counts).

While camping another Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard near the Campground at Wellington Lake.  After sunrise, two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found while I hiked around Wellington Lake.

Later I hiked into the Pike National Forest (Pine Valley Ranch Park, Jefferson) by way of CR 550.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found feeding a young male.  Western Bluebirds, one Cordilleran Flycatcher, and many Chipping Sparrows were also counted.

Late in the afternoon, I visited a friend who lives in Bailey (Park).  He has had visits from several large hummingbirds over the years.  Today Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds and a Calliope Hummingbird visited his feeders.

Blue-throated Hummingbird: 7/2/2014
Rivoli's Hummingbird: 7/22/2017

After dark, we hiked roads around Bailey.  None was found.  However, while sitting back at his house and playing my "owl listening stations", a Northern Saw-whet Owl was enticed into flying in.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ken Caryl Valley & Sand Creek Birds

September 10, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I spent the morning assembling a Ken Caryl Valley birding club.  Several of my friends have recently been turned onto birding, which allowed great access for me and other non-residents to an area restricted to residents.

Today we hiked about 1.2 miles (one way) along the Massey Draw Trail.  Highlights included a late sighting of a Bullock's Oriole and a Cassin's Vireo!

Later, I stopped at Sand Creek for another look and possible photo op of the Groove-billed Ani.  Today at 2:00 pm, the Ani was quite far east of yesterday's location near Akron & 37th street.

To find the bird today, I parked at Florence Way and Dayton Circle, and then walked northeast to Sand Creek.  The bird stayed in an 18-foot willow along the north side of the Creek.