Monday, January 8, 2018

Birding Around Denver

January 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The warmish Colorado winter continued with temperatures reaching the high 40s.  Winds varied from 5-6 mph o 14-15 mph.  

Rebecca Kosten headed west to check on several bird sightings.  It has been a great start to my 2018 checklist and January in particular.  I have to look it up, but I think my January checklist record is 124 species (or could be 128).  The plan is to try to beat each month's record this year.

A walk at along the Van Bibber trail (Jefferson) found one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls!  Nothing uncommon was found during a brief stop at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

We scoped Coors Pond (Jefferson) and found both the previously reported Long-tailed Duck and Red-necked Grebe.  If a second Long-tailed Duck was around it was not relocated.

We were going to stay around Standley Lake until sunset to update any Snowy Owl sightings.  However, it was not necessary as the Owl was on the dam in the afternoon!

Instead, we headed back toward Rocky Mountain Arsenal with a stop at the Black Phoebe site near York and 64th avenue.  We accessed the S. Platte River by way of 69th avenue and the gravel road running along the north side of I270.  It saved a longer walk from parking at York & 64th avenue.

The Black Phoebe was catching bugs and perched on a short bush about 15 yards south/upstream of the Greenway footbridge just south of I270.

A quick drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) found four Bald Eagles standing on the ice at Lower Derby Lake.  The 89 gulls were all Ring-billed.  Nothing was on/at Lake Ladora, which was completely, ice covered.

After dropping Rebecca at home, I returned to the First Creek Trail (Adams/Denver).  Neither the previously reported Harris's Sparrow nor Swamp Sparrow was relocated.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening while I was parked uphill of the Third Creek/Cargo Road prairie dog village.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Successful Search for Pine Warbler and Yellow-billed Loon

January 6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another fantastic warm winter day in Colorado, the temperature reached 57 degrees with winds 4-8 mph.

On the way to South Platte Park Reservoir, I made a quick stop at Dahlia Hollow Park (Arapahoe).  Sometimes easy sightings do happen.  I found the Pine Warbler in about 2 minutes.  The warbler was in cottonwoods just west of the first footbridge west of the entrance.

I put photos of the Pine Warbler and one of the many Cedar Waxwings in the Park on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library: 

The Hermit Thrush and White-throated Sparrow did not appear in the 20 minutes I waited; therefore, I took off for South Platte Park Reservoir.

The Yellow-billed Loon was swimming along the dam at the eastern side of the reservoir (Arapahoe).  It was too far away for a decent photo.

Next, I drove to the eastern parking area and walked along the South Platte Park from C470 to the Carson Nature Center (north of Mineral Avenue).

A pair of Greater Scaup swam in the Platte, just north of C470.  The previously reported female Barrow's Goldeneye was not found.

Another highlight was a Swamp Sparrow in the cattails near the blind at the Pond just south of Mineral Avenue (cannot remember the name of the pond).

After sunset, I walked the Highline Canal from Quincy Avenue to East Belleview and back.  One Eastern Screech-Owl was heard!

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area

January 5, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry and I got up four hours before sunrise and heard an Eastern Screech-Owl at Roger Danka's ranch east of Julesburg.

We relocated two Eastern Screech-Owls at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) before sunrise.  It was colder today with temperatures only reaching 45 degrees.  Thankfully, anemometer readings stayed between 4-8 mph all day.

Highlights at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area included: five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, one Long-eared Owl, seven Eastern Bluebirds, two Northern Cardinals, two Field Sparrows, one Harris's Sparrow, and one White-throated Sparrow.  Best birds of the day were two Common Redpolls along Logan County Road 385.  Three or four American Goldfinches were around also.

We backtracked to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) found nothing uncommon.  Plenty of Snow Geese and Ross's Geese, we did not pick out a Greater White-fronted Goose.  Ducks appeared to be of the common variety.

We headed back to Denver soon after Noon.  A check of the previous Snowy Owl sightings along I76 near Iliff and Galien (Logan) did not find any today.  We also drove north of Fort Morgan (Morgan) without locating any Snowy Owls.  

Wray and Surrounding Area

January 4, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was much warmer today than yesterday.  Temperatures reached 53 degrees.  Winds were a mild 4-5 mph in the morning, but rose to 12-17 mph in middle afternoon.

Terry and I drove Yuma CR 45 about an hour before sunrise.  We did not come across any Short-eared Owls at their often visited spot at CR 45/CR P.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken crossed the road between 1.7 miles east of Hwy 385 and 1.4 miles east.

We of course visited three of my friend's yards in Wray after the decent hour of 9:00 am.  Private yard #1 had a pair of Northern Cardinals.  Private yard #2 had two male, a female Northern Cardinals, and three Pine Siskins (quite out of range).  Private yard #4 had the continuing red Fox Sparrow.

Other highlights included:

At Sandsage Wildlife Area: two Common Redpolls with six American Goldfinches, two White-throated Sparrows and a Swamp Sparrow.
At Wray Fishing Unit: we relocated two White-throated Sparrows, which appear to be residents

Misses: a friend reported hearing an Eastern Screech-Owl along hwy 34, east side of Wray
Nothing uncommon sparrows or wrens at Stalker Pond 

No additional Greater Prairie-Chickens or Short-eared Owl along CR 45/CR P just before sunset.

Republican Wildlife Area

January 3, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I conducted a mini-Christmas Count around the Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area  (Yuma County) today.  We really could not call it a full fledge Christmas Count when there are only two participants.  Temperatures reached 49 degrees in the afternoon.  Winds were 10 mph with gusts to 18 mph in the afternoon.

An hour before sunrise we walked Yuma County Road and the Republican River and heard five Eastern Screech-Owls.  Terry pointed out a Greater Prairie-Chicken dawdling along while scoping the hills behind the ranger's place.

At the old Fosters Grove Campgrounds, we found a male Northern Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Long-eared Owl and eight Wild Turkeys

Along the South Road (gated off Yuma CR 2), we encountered another Red-bellied Woodpecker and a warbler.  Brief looks at the warbler were not long enough to identify the bird.  It may have been a Pine Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler or Nashville Warbler.  All we could confirm was a gray faced warbler with broken eye ring.  Neither of us observed much yellow and thought the undertail coverts to be whitish.  After 30 minutes or so, we determined that the bird had escaped further looks.  Our second Long-eared Owl of the day was in the thick grove of trees at the eastern end.

The old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds surprised us with a Red-naped Sapsucker.  We hoped it was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, but was not.

A Common Redpoll and four Eastern Bluebirds were seen in the Hale area (CR 4/CR LL.5 and below the dam).  Seven additional Eastern Bluebirds were ran across along CR 4 toward Hale Ponds.  A Harris's Sparrow popped out of a brush pile.

We added two additional Red-bellied Woodpeckers at Hale Ponds to our day list.  Shortly after sunset, two additional Eastern Screech-Owls were heard.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Continuing Superb Start to My 2018 Bird Checklist!

January 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The outstanding start to my 2018 bird list continued today.  Temperatures reached 44 degrees.  Winds were 6 mph with gusts to 13 mph.  It was much warmer than yesterday.

My first stop was Salisbury Equestrian Park (Douglas).  The Brant was with a group of White-cheeked Geese.  He was missed on my stop yesterday.

I took the back roads over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and walked down from the south side.  The pair of Long-tailed Ducks and pair of White-winged Scoters continue to swim in the southeastern quadrant of the lake.

Many Ring-billed Gulls were joined with a few California, Herring, a couple of Lesser Black-backed and Iceland Gulls.

A brief stop at 19846 East Garden Drive in Centennial found the Pine Warbler fluttering about the neighbor's tree (west of Doug's yard).

The Swamp Sparrow observed at Ireland Reservoir #1 on December 8 was not relocated.  Ireland Reservoir #5 had only a few White-cheeked Geese hanging around.

My final stop of the day was Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Only one Long-eared Owl could be found today.  Two Great Horned Owls called to each other at dusk.  No Short-eared Owls appeared as I stayed until civil twilight.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Best First Day of a Year Birding Ever

January 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

This may have been my best First Day of the Year birding quest.  Although it was cold, (high of 30 degrees, 1 degree just before sunrise) winds were only 4 mph in Colorado Springs.

In the afternoon Westminster temperatures were 30 degrees with 3 mph winds!

I made the most of the uncommon birds along the Front Range.  At 7:12 am, we sat at 13 Mirada Street in Colorado Springs.  The Red-breasted Sapsucker allowed us only a four second look before disappearing behind its favorite Austrian Pine.  It was my first bird observed in 2018 as nothing else flew about!

We went to breakfast and returned at 9:00 am.  This time the temperatures had improved and the sapsucker flew around a bit.  We observed it in the single pine on the Broadmoor Golf Course (across from 13 Mirada) and later it sat in a cottonwood tree above us!

Our next stop was Cheyenne Canyon Park area.  The Varied Thrush was along Cheyenne Mountain Road. Drive south/uphill past Discovery Visitor Center to pullover #3. At the southern end of the pullover look for the large Ponderosa Pine along the road. Thrush moved about the bright yellow grasses on other side of creek. It would fly back and forth on both sides of road.

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, Spotted Towhee and many American Robins were in the same area as the Varied Thrush.

We returned to Denver and headed to York & 64th avenue.  The Black Phoebe was still hawking bugs near the I76 Bridge.  NOTE:   I have been reminded that while all insects are bugs, not all bugs are insects.

I then walked the South Platte Birding Area from 88th avenue to 72nd avenue.  Two Barrow's Goldeneyes continued to swim on the Platte River.

My final stop of the day was Standley Lake (Jefferson).  I scoped the lake from the gated entrance road at the southeastern corner of the park.  The Snowy Owl again appeared on the most eastern gazebo on the south side of the lake.  This appears to be one of his favorite perches especially in the evening.

That ended my superb first day of the year 2018!

If only Aurora Reservoir would have been open, yesterday sightings: Long-tailed Ducks, White-winged Scoters, Greater Scaup, uncommon gulls).  Well there is always tomorrow!

Photos of Red-breasted Sapsucker and Varied Thrush on the CoBus photo library: