Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Birding Across Arapahoe & Adams Counties Today

March 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

No Grouse trips scheduled this week.  It was good fortune as weather patterns have snow and rain blowing through Colorado for the rest of the week.

Rebecca Kosten and I went out birding before the rain.  Temperatures reached 46 degrees today.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

Unfortunately, the Brant was not found at Columbine Lakes around noon.  A Say's Phoebe caught bugs while we watched.

We searched around the area including South Platte Park, Columbine Golf Course and several open fields for the Brant; without success.

Ketring Park (Arapahoe) was nearby and we stopped.  The Eastern Screech-Owl was relocated in less than 10 minutes.  The speed of success was quite unusual for us.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) offered few birds for our trip list.  Three Burrowing Owls were out of their burrows when we passed Third Creek and West Cargo Road.

Rain increased and our birding day ended early.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Drive to Douglas & Elbert Counties

March 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I searched once again for the birds along the Cherry Creek Trail, south of Walker Gravel Pit.  Three Burrowing Owls were found at Third Creek & W. Cargo Road (Adams) on our drive south.

Temperatures only reached 64 degrees today.  Winds were variable 5-6 mph with gusts to 14 mph at times.

The Eastern Phoebe was along the trail when we walked from the Walker Gravel Pit (Douglas) to the Hwy 83 Bridge.  Perhaps the cottonwoods provided some shelter from the winds? 

The two Eastern Bluebirds were in the cottonwood grove where the Great Horned Owl is on a nest.

No Greater Scaup were on the Walker Gravel Pit or McLain Gravel Pit.  Only Mountain & Western Bluebirds were seen today along Castlewood Canyon Road, south of the State Park.

We drove to Elbert County and watched a location at a private ranch where Short-eared Owls have been recorded in the past.  None appeared this afternoon.  It did rain several times during our trek today.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Area This Afternoon

March 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures briefly reached 55 degrees today.  Winds at 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph made it feel cold.

Today, I hiked to the Rod & Gun Club Pond at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) without finding any uncommon birds.  No uncommon gulls were at Havana Ponds, Lower Derby Lake or Lake Ladora.

A drive along the Bison Auto Tour did not find my target bird.  Two adult Eastern Phoebes who had three fledglings last year have not returned, yet?

Then I walked outside the east side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Buckley Road to 88th Avenue), returned and continued along the First Creek Trail to Tower Road (Denver County).

Again, I missed an adult pair of Northern Mockingbirds that had one fledgling last year.  They also have not returned, yet?  No Burrowing Owls were found (Adams/Denver Counties).

A Say's Phoebe was just north of the 56th Avenue Bridge.  Sixteen White-crowned Sparrows and forty+ House Sparrows were in the brush pile northwest of the bridge.  If the Harris's Sparrow that wintered there was still around, it did not make an appearance.

A Great Horned Owl was perched north of First Creek and the brush pile.  A few Mallards and three Killdeer searched for food in the slow moving stream.

Later, two Burrowing Owls stood on mounds at the prairie dog village at Third Creek and West Cargo Road.  No Short-eared Owls were found while I sat and watched the 88th avenue and Powhaton Road section of the DIA Owl Loop.

Rapid Grouse Trip

March 21-24, 2017

Richard Stevens:

March 21

Barry Humboldt and I searched for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County).  It took 2.5 hours before we finally found one below the west side of the Summit.

Not to be funny, it was the last place we looked.  My usual plan is 1. Check east of the large pullover south of the Summit; 2. Check the hillside north of the pullover; 3. Scope the hillside west of the first pullover on the return drive to the Summit; 4. Scope the east side of the Summit; 5. Finally hike up the west side of the Summit (this can require a strenuous climb up to 0.8 miles

A brief stop at a friend's yard in Summit County added Rosy Finches (3 species), Clark's Nutcrackers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins to our day list.

We stopped at Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand) on our way north.  Six Barrow's Goldeneyes were found among two dozen Common Goldeneyes.

Our birding day ended at the Jackson CR 26b Greater Sage-Grouse Leks.  We found four birds as the snow fell.

March 22

We started our birding day again with snow falling rather rapidly on the Twenty Road Leks (Routt).  Fortunately, five Sharp-tailed Grouse ignored the blowing snow and flew into the lek.  They did not show an interest in displaying.

The dilemma facing us was the prediction of major snowstorm(s) blowing across Colorado.  We made the decision to skip many of the planned birding stops and exit the western slope.

Regrettably, we omitted stops at Oxbow State Trust Lands (Sagebrush Sparrows, Sage Thrasher), Coal Canyon (Chukar), Colorado National Monument (Pinyon Jays, etc), and Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Lewis's Woodpecker).

A two mile drive up Escalante Canyon (Delta) for Black Phoebes was successful.  A Chukar crossing the road was an added bonus!

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  A male Dusky Grouse was spotted on the side of the South Rim Drive between the entrance and the Campgrounds!

March 23

A drive down CR 887 before sunrise found three Gunnison Sage-Grouse north of the Waunita Hot Springs parking area.

Trying to beat the coming snowstorm, we continued west along Highway 50.  Two male American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at the Monarch Pass rest area (old Monarch Pass Road, Chaffee County).  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew overhead.

At Poncha Springs, we turned south into the San Luis Valley.  The hope was to miss any snow.  We visited John James Canyon (Conejos County).  Taking the time to walk about a mile into the canyon, we found one Sage Thrasher and one Sagebrush Sparrow!

Then we high tailed it out of the San Luis Valley.  La Veta Pass while not a high pass in elevation is one of the two most dreadful passes for me to drive through (the other being Rabbit Ears Pass in Grand/Routt Counties).

We arrived in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) in the afternoon and enjoyed stretching our legs after a 300 mile drive.  Birds found included a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Towhees, Chihuahuan Ravens and Wild Turkey.

Shortly after sunset, two Western Screech-Owls were heard calling.  Eventually we observed one of them deep in a thick grove near the camping area along Carrizo Creek and Baca CR 7.

March 24

We started our birding day on a friend's ranch where Terry Michaels and I had found several Lesser Prairie-Chickens back on March 1st.  Two of them returned today!

Predicted snowstorms hit northeast Colorado today.  We were in no hurry to drive up to Wray (Yuma County).

We wandered back and forth along Baca County Roads.  A Vesper Sparrow was found along CR G, east of the road into the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek.  A Cassin's Sparrow was found with an hour effort in the field to the northeast.

A drive into Pasture G (across from the Washington Work Center) did not find any Burrowing Owls returning yet.  The Highlight of the day was a lone Mountain Plover in the field to the west!

Nothing uncommon was at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  We missed the Carolina Wren at Lamar Community College (Prowers); however, a Northern Cardinal and Red-bellied Woodpecker were found.

We received the text message about a Vermilion Flycatcher rather late in the afternoon.  Of course, we rushed up the Kit Carson CR 55 & CR N.  The Vermilion Flycatcher and reported Chestnut-collared Longspurs found by Glenn Walbek yesterday were not seen by us.

Hale Ponds (Yuma) added Red-bellied Woodpeckers, eight Eastern Bluebirds and Wild Turkey to our day list.  After sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl was called out of his nesting hole.

March 25

We started our birding day with a drive along CR 42 west of Highway 385.  Greater Prairie-Chickens were found at two locations both of which appeared to be leks.  We then rushed to the CR 45 Lek and picked up another three birds (they usually dance long after sunrise).

Stops at Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond (Yuma) were quite successful.  An Eastern Phoebe was along CR FF.  A Barn Owl was west of the residences.

Stalker Pond had a male Northern Cardinal on the south side of the Pond.  A Winter Wren popped out of the cattails below the parking area.

Time was running out for Barry and we returned to Denver quite satisfied with our limited birding opportunities.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Weld County Road 37/46 Ponds

March 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Busy day with chores, birding companions missed their flight from eastern Canada.  Temperatures in the afternoon were 75 degrees.  Winds were 13-14 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

I managed to find a couple of hours in the afternoon to drive up to the Weld County Roads 37/46 ponds.  Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn & Ray Simmons had already found the Eurasian Wigeon earlier in the day!

The male Eurasian Wigeon swam with ten American Wigeons on the eastern pond.  Eight to ten Greater Scaup, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Northern Pintail Ducks, Gadwalls and Mallards were also there.

A male Cinnamon Teal and Great-tailed Grackle were at the western pond along with many ducks.

Arrived back in Denver 5 minutes before my deadline, not much time for birding.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Another Trip Around Eastern Denver

March 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I was going to give up trying to photograph the Westerly Creek Park Harris's Sparrow.  However, Terry Michaels called to let me know that he relocated the Harris's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow this morning.

Temperatures did not reach the predicted 80 degrees; 78 degrees was not bad for the middle of March!  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

When I arrived at Westerly Creek Park I found the flock of sparrows precisely where Terry explained.  Nine White-crowned Sparrows and the Harris's Sparrow walked under the bushes just north of 25th Street and west of Beeler Street.

I managed a witness photo before the flock flew east across Beeler and landed under the bushes near the cement retention area.  The Harris's Sparrow was briefly relocated before it disappeared into the thicker bushes.  The White-throated Sparrow was not found.

My next stop was Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Few birds were found.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull has not been reported since last Wednesday.  Nothing uncommon to report.

On the way to Barr Lake (Adams), I drove through the Town of Barr.  Two Great-tailed Grackles were on a telephone pole at East 136th Avenue and the railroad tracks. 

No Yellow-headed Blackbirds have shown up yet.  The cattail fields along the I76 service road (Telluride Street) are a traditional nesting location for them.

I skipped Barr Lake State Park (Adams) and drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Burrowing Owls were found at Trussville Street & 114th Avenue or down Gun Club Road.

Two Burrowing Owls are now around West Cargo Road and Third Creek (west side of Cargo).  One was north and one south of Third Creek.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Genesee Mountain Park, Cherry Creek Reservoir & DIA Owl Loop

March 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

What a day, 78 degrees with winds 6 mph, gusts to 13 mph.

Barry Humboldt and I went to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).  Two Williamson's Sapsuckers were relocated north and south of the group picnic area.

Other birds found included two Red Crossbills, Red-breasted & Pygmy Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, Dark-eyed Juncos and Chipping Sparrows.

After dropping Barry off, I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  One of the two Long-eared Owls was relocated.  The owl was within six inches of a nest.  We have decided to drop the listing from any rare bird alerts.  Let us hope the pair decides to nest!

I could not relocate the Burrowing Owl at the prairie dog town at West Cargo Road and Third Creek today.  No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).