Sunday, September 10, 2017

Nothing Uncommon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 9, 2017

The weather the past few days has been similar.  Temperatures in the high 80s; winds were 8-10 mph.

Not much birding today, a brief drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) on our way to one of our favorite restaurants found nothing uncommon.

Birding Southwestern Corner of Denver

September 8, 2017

A return to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) was not as successful as hoped.  One Sabine's Gull flew around below the northeast corner of the dam.  It stayed too far away for photos.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull stood among several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of California Gulls on the marina sand spit.

Black Phoebe and Eastern Phoebe, which hung around the swim beach area since 9/2, were not relocated.

I drove over to Deer Creek Canyon (Jefferson) searching for the Eastern Phoebes that had summered there.   They were not found today.

A hike up Spring Valley Ranch (Jefferson) found an "out of place" Ovenbird, several Scrub Jays and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees.

I stopped at Hildebrand Ranch Park (Jefferson).  It is located east of Deer Canyon Park and west of Chatfield Reservoir.  Mostly I was taking photos for "Colorado Field Notes". 

An Indigo Bunting sang from the western end of the parking area.  An Eastern Phoebe was 20 yards or so east of the old barn at the eastern end of same parking area.

An hour before sunset I returned to Deer Creek Park.  No owls were found this evening and none was picked up by the two "owl listening stations" that were planted.

Bird-filled Eastern Plains Trip

September 5-7, 2017

Terry Michaels and I enjoyed a bird-filled trip to the eastern plains.  Migration has hit Colorado's eastern border.

September 5
We headed east along Interstate 70 and stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson County).  The stop was quite eventful.  Most birds were along the southern and southeast end of the reservoir.  Eventually we ran into a Blue-headed Vireo (with nice contrast between its bluish-gray head and whitish throat), a Red-eyed Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Ovenbird and American Redstart.  A Red-headed Woodpecker was farther north at the northeast line of cottonwood trees.

A couple of House Wrens, a female type Burrowing Owl,  Spotted Towhee, many sparrows (Clay-colored, Brewer's (3), Lark (many), Song (4), White-crowned (6), Lincoln's (1), Chipping (many), Savannah (2), Grasshopper (1), Vesper (many), and Dark-eyed Juncos), and one female type Lark Bunting were also observed.

Fairview Cemetery in Burlington was a bust and we continued to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).

Our birding day ended nicely with a focus on owls.  We found a Long-eared Owl near Foster's Grove Campgrounds then headed to the open fields south of Hale.  A Short-eared Owl flew across the field shortly after sunset.  Then we returned to the Republican River (looks more like a creek) and found three Eastern Screech-Owls.  Afterwards another Eastern Screech-Owl was found at Hale.

Misses: We hear a Common Poorwill call.  No Whip-poor-will responded to a recording, which would have been a fantasy find, someday perhaps.

September 6
We woke to an Eastern Screech-Owl calling northeast of Hale Ponds and then spent the rest of the day walking Bonny Reservoir (from Hwy 385) to Hale Ponds (to Kansas).

Our bird count for the day included:
Bonny Reservoir: Blue-headed Vireo, two Cassin's Vireos, American Redstart, Red-headed Woodpeckers (2), Red-bellied Woodpeckers (3), Northern Cardinal
Hale: Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-bellied Woodpeckers (2), House Wren (2), brief calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo (not seen), Eastern Bluebirds (7)
Hale Ponds: Magnolia Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpeckers (4), Red-headed Woodpecker (1), Baltimore Oriole, Field Sparrow

Misses: While probably too early, we stopped several times at Pipit Hill, found no Sprague's Pipits or American Pipits.  Four Eastern Bluebirds were there.

September 7
Our day was spent around the Wray area.

An hour before sunrise we drove Yuma County Road 45.  A Short-eared Owl flew over the field at CR 45/CR PP.  Two Greater Prairie-Chickens walked along CR 45 between the Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek and Hwy 385.

A look at the cottonwoods at the east end of the Sandhiller Motel parking area added another Blue-headed Vireo to our trip list!

Wray Fishing Unit added an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a male Northern Cardinal, House Wren and two Chimney Swifts circling overhead.

Nearby Stalker Pond added two additional male Northern Cardinals a Northern Waterthrush, Marsh Wren (darn not a Sedge Wren), and common sparrows.

An adult Red-headed Woodpecker was found at Wray City Park.  The highlight of the day was a Bell's Vireo in the thickets at Sandsage Wildlife Area.  Another Red-headed Woodpecker was in the tall cottonwoods; many common sparrows fluttered about the brush.
Misses: no Harris's and Field Sparrows, phoebes, owls.

On the way out of town, we said hi at two friends.  One yard had a pair of Northern Cardinals and a Spotted Towhee (darn not Eastern Towhee).  The other yard had a White-throated Sparrow, male Northern Cardinal and Common Poorwill.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hazy Morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

September 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

At sunrise, I drove to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) with some skepticism in finding the four Eastern Phoebes reported yesterday along the Bluestem trail. In my experience, Eastern Phoebes tend to stay near water.  I did not recall seeing water along the Bluestem trail on my only previous visit.

The Arsenal opened at 6:30 am and shortly after I was at the Bluestem trailhead.  The red-orange sun took quite some time over 45 minutes to burn through what I thought was fog. 

Then I remembered the many wildfires burning in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California.  The resulting smoke must have been hanging over Colorado; the sun did not burn off any "fog".

Vesper Sparrows, two Brewer's Sparrows and a Savannah Sparrow were encountered along the Bluestem trail.  I scoped the far off cottonwoods for any sign of Eastern Phoebes or any flycatchers.

A juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was in a group of dead cottonwoods 50 yards or so from the western side of the Bluestem Southwestern loop.

Farther down the same loop, a raised platform trail slices through a grove of twelve foot high cottonwoods.  A Cassin's Vireo was the only bird fluttering about the grove.

My first flycatcher sighting was a Western Wood-pewee at the extreme western end of the trail.  It was catching bugs near a large "Hawk looking nest" in the tall cottonwood.  The nest was perhaps only ten feet off the ground; therefore probably not a Hawk's nest.

The trail abruptly ends near the dry highline canal.  I turned around and continued south.  At the extreme southern end of the southwest loop, I thought an Upland Sandpiper was heard.  However, it was ignored as an aberration of my ears.

Five Say's Phoebes and eight Western Meadowlarks were walking around an empty prairie dog town at the southern end.  Then a head popped up out of the darker green grasses.  It was an Upland Sandpiper!

I have seen Upland Sandpipers in Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Both sightings were near the old Eagle Watch Bunker accessed from Buckley Road.  I captured a poor quality witness photo and continued my trek.

Six additional Say's Phoebes were observed along the eastern side of the Bluestem Loop.  A female type Lark Bunting and five Western Kingbirds were ran upon.

No Eastern Phoebes for me.  I would like to talk to the Eastern Phoebe observer and see if Say's Phoebes were not their sightings?

Driving the Wildlife Auto Drive added few birds to my day list.  Sparrows did include two additional Brewer's Sparrows, dozens of Vesper Sparrows, one Grasshopper Sparrow, one Savannah Sparrow and two Song Sparrows.

After leaving the bison enclosure of the Wildlife drive, I detoured to Rattlesnake Hill.  Having never hiked to the top, I wanted to see the view and get a few photos.  Just inside the entrance drive, two Sage Thrashers flew across the road.

Another four Sage Thrashers wandered like mice across the asphalt parking area. 

The sky was hazy and limited the view at the Rattlesnake Hill overlook.  I could see two ponds that cannot be seen while driving the Wildlife Drive.  One hundred+ Bison wandered below the hill.

Temperatures were rising at 11:30 am when I drove to the First Creek Trail.   A hike west up the new Adams County section of the trail added mostly only birds previously seen.

An adult Bald Eagle and male Belted Kingfisher were "new" birds for the day.

Finally walking down the Denver County section of First Creek trail did not add any additional birds to my list.

Later at 6:00 pm, Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Two Burrowing Owls were at the W. Cargo Road/Third Creek prairie dog village.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Afternoon At Chatfield Reservoir

September 3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I was near Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) and spent several hours in the afternoon checking of recent bird sightings.  Temperatures reached a warm 95 degrees; winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Labor Day weekend, wow, the park was packed with people.  More than I have ever experienced here before.

The Black Phoebe reported at the swim beach area was relocated farther north.  I saw the bird along the pond/creek east of the main road bridge, north of the swim beach.

Next, I stopped at the south marina sand spit.  The reported Sabine's Gull was not there; however, the sub-adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was.

I scoped the sand spit at Plum Creek delta and found the juvenile Sabine's Gull among 50 or so Ring-billed Gulls.  One Pectoral Sandpiper walked among three Killdeer.  On the way back to the parking area, a Cassin's Vireo popped out of the willows!

My final stop was the Platte River east of the Audubon Center.  An American Redstart fluttered about the cottonwoods.  Missed: a reported Least Flycatcher.

A drive through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home found six Cedar Waxwings near the eastern entrance.  Missed: the Long-eared Owls that summered here.

One Burrowing Owl was at West Cargo Road and Third Creek (Adams), DIA Owl Loop.

Owling In Chaffee and Fremont Counties

September 1-3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn and I headed to Park County in search of the Long-tailed Jaeger at Antero Reservoir and any owls.  Temperatures were a little cooler than Denver (still in the 80s); winds were 6-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  We did not see any of the predicted rainstorms.

September 1

I took about an hour to find the Long-tailed Jaeger at Antero Reservoir (Park County).  We waited until the bird decided to chase some gulls around.  Nothing else uncommon was encountered.

Owling went well in spite of being down to only two of our "owl listening stations" (one was destroyed by an unseen animal last week).

We eventually saw, heard or captured on DVD:
Northern Pygmy-Owl: along Chaffee CR 301 (heard)
Northern Saw-whet Owl: along CR 301 (observed)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (2): Cottonwood Pass (observed)
Northern Pygmy-Owl: Chalk Creek (call captured with "owl listening station"

September 2

In the morning, a brief drive around Buena Vista (Chaffee) found Lewis's Woodpeckers at the City Park (3) and along Pleasant & Princeton Avenues (2).

Two Juniper Titmice were flying around the Buena Vista overlook.  Misses: no Pinyon Jays were found at several previous locations.  Where were they today?

We headed to the Coalmont area of Fremont County.  I have wanted to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan for several years (would be a first county record).

I have made two attempts on Bushnell Peak (13,105 feet) without success.

Today we hiked up Galena Peak (12,461).  Again, we had no success.

Consolation sights were good.  A Townsend's Warbler was seen at Coaldale Campgrounds.  Four American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers were encountered on the hike along Hayden Creek.

On the return trip off Galena Peak, we heard a Boreal Owl near tree line.  Later a Flammulated Owl flew into a tree about 10 yards from us!  Not done yet, a Northern Pygmy-Owl called near the trailhead at Fremont County 6!

September 3

At around 1:00 am we drove up Phantom Canyon (Fremont).  We eventually relocated a Spotted Owl.

As previously written, a friend fixed me up with a radio telemetry antenna.  A few weeks ago, we picked up a signal; however, we were unable to identify what or where it was emitting.

We returned to the proximity again this morning and again picked up a signal.  However, once again we could not determine what the signal was attached.  It was exciting because the signal did move and was above us.  We thought it was surely attached to a bird (or possibly a bat), however nothing was seen flying in the moonlight.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Another Check on Fall Migration at Barr Lake

August 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake to check on fall migration.  Birding was slow.  Townsend's Warbler was the only warbler.  The Least Flycatcher, Western Wood-pewees, House Wrens, Western Kingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds are still around.

No vireos were found this evening.  I did not drive the DIA Owl Loop.