Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mt Evans to Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 17, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Back on the Plains, it was 91 degrees at Cherry Creek Reservoir in the afternoon.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Bob Harvey and I started the day up Mt. Evans Road (Clear Creek County).  Three Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Echo Lake.  A Green-tailed Towhee and Lincoln's Sparrow were along the west side of the Lake.

We scoped the rocky hillside southeast of Summit Lake and spotted a White-tailed Ptarmigan walking among the rocks crunching down the flowers.

It took a wait of 45 minutes before a couple of Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled over the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  They landed several times on the rocky hillside and provided nice looks.  The cool temperatures and partly cloudy skies made for a fantastic view.

We continued to the top of Mt. Evans however did not find any additional Ptarmigan or Rosy Finches.

Back at the Echo Lakes Campgrounds, we walked down to the Mt Captain trail and quickly heard an American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming.  With a little patience, we eventually found the bird moving between the Pines.

After dropping Bob off in Lakewood, I decided to stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.  On Saturday, I had observed a strange shorebird on the Prairie Loop mudflats.  

It was not there today; however, I did see it later on the Pelican Point mudflats.  Unfortunately, it was at the far southern shore.  I still cannot figure out what it is.  Doug Schoch was there on Saturday; hopefully he took a photo of it?

The Mew Gull was back at the little sandy shore northwest corner of Pelican Bay.  While scoping the lake, I observed one of the Sabine's Gulls flying below the dam.

No uncommon migrating birds were seen around the Smoky Hill Picnic area and swim beach.  It was quite hot during my visit, not much was moving around.

After receiving a text message, I stopped at Coal Creek Regional Greenway.  The Least Flycatcher reported earlier by Cathy Sheeter was not found by me.  

A Western Wood-pewee hawked bugs west of the parking area.  Cathy's bird was reported to the east.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Back To Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

September 16, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 91 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Rebecca and I left early in the morning before the heat arrived.  A possible third day in a row record high was expected.

We enjoyed the morning with a hike around Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).

We at the southern lakes of the Wildlife Area we found several nice birds.  A Cassin's Vireo fluttered about pond 3 windbreak.  The highlight was a sparrow that gave us fits for over half an hour.  It turned out to be a Cassin's Sparrow!

The only owls found today were a Great Horned Owl near Pond 8 (northern ponds).  We did not relocate the Pectoral Sandpiper reported yesterday by Ben Sampson.

Friends Bob and Dale provided a fantastic barbecue for our dinner!

Birding Around Denver

September 15, 2018

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature of 94 degrees beat the old record of 92 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 20 mph.

I left home before sunrise.  One of my target birds was the Northern Waterthrush reported yesterday by Jerome Cech at the Buckley Ranch Open Space (Adams County).  I wanted to arrive before too many dog walkers past by (and many did about 20 minutes after my arrival).

The Northern Waterthrush was walking around the inlet area.  Unfortunately, it only allowed a ten second look before it flew to the outlet area.  The outlet canal had much weeds around it.  The Northern Waterthrush walked south down the outlet canal a disappeared.

The area had a no trespassing sign; I could not follow the bird or get closer.

A walk around the northern side of the pond added two Wilson's Snipes, four Wilson's Warblers, a female Common Yellowthroat and several House Finches to my list.  A Brown Thrasher at the northwest corner was a pleasant surprise.

Already at 104th avenue, I decided to continue west toward Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson).  

A stop at Margret's Park (Adams) in Westminster was especially rewarding.  The first hike around the Pond found only one Western Wood-pewee (northern side).  

The second trip was much better; however, I was always 1-2 seconds late in taking a photo.  A male MacGillivray's Warbler perched for a good 8-10 seconds along the southern canal.  My camera did not boot fast enough.

A pair of Wilson's Warblers, a Yellow Warbler and the Western Wood-pewee were along the southern side.  A calling Gray Catbird finally popped out of the willows below the trail.

While trying to find a second calling Gray Catbird on the northern side, a Cassin's Vireo flew out of the cottonwoods.  Shortly after a Nashville Warbler appeared from the willows.  A second pair of Wilson's Warblers was also in the willows.

After talking to a couple of local residents, It was pointed out that the partial leucistic Red-tailed Hawk was still in the area and seen this morning.  I headed over to the east end of the Legacy Golf Course and sure enough, the Hawk was perched in a tall cottonwood!

My next stop was Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson).  I did not expect the Hooded Warbler found by many last week to be around.  In fact, nothing uncommon was encountered during my hour stay.

It was a beautiful day, although hot, I decided to continue south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  It took about a whole three minutes to spot the Prothonotary Warbler south of the north marina.

It stayed 12-15 feet above in the cottonwoods.  See Colorado Birding Society's website (recent witness photos) for a look at the bird.

I then scoped the lake from the western end of the dam.  The Parasitic Jaeger and Long-tailed Jaegers, and Sabine's Gull were below the dam.  Regrettably, still too far away for anything but a witness photo.

I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  The Mew Gull was not at its usual spot on the small sandy beach northwest corner of Pelican Bay.

The adult Sabine's Gull was seen flying around below the dam.  I did not relocate the juvenile bird.

Four Semipalmated Sandpipers, a Lesser Yellowlegs and a few Killdeer were the only shorebirds on the Prairie Loop mudflats.  Eventually, these mudflats should attract more shorebirds.

A quick scope of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) from the upper swim beach parking area, did not find any jaegers or uncommon gulls.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Birding South of Denver

September 13, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove south to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) about an hour before sunrise.

Temperatures reached 93 degrees today.  Winds of 15-16 mph with gusts of 26 mph blew hot winds across Douglas County.

While driving south down Parker Road we noticed three birds flying along the Cherry Creek riparian area.  Their large size and rounded wings caught our attention.  

I quickly pulled over and we watched three Short-eared Owls working the field just north of the Hidden Mesa Open Space (Douglas)!

Continuing to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas), we made a rest stop at the first restrooms south of the western entrance.  Ten Wild Turkeys walked around the two picnic tables.

We put binoculars on the sixteen Vultures circling overhead.  All were Turkey Vultures.  The last Black Vulture reported in the Park was 7/3-7/9/2009.

A walk along the Creekside Trail from the old homestead to the junction with the Rock Rim Trail found many Spotted Towhees, White-breasted Nuthatches, one Plumbeous Vireo, two male Wilson's Warblers and one Orange-crowned Warbler.  The previously reported White-eyed Vireo was not relocated.

A Least Flycatcher was observed hawking insects along the Creekside Trail much farther south (closer to the old dam).

Nothing uncommon was found at the Winkler Ranch.  We hoped for a Lewis's Woodpecker.  The nesting Bobolinks have long since moved south.

A stop at Hwy 86 and the Cherry Creek Bridge did not find any Eastern Phoebe.  Perhaps they have also moved on.  A Gray Catbird popped out of the willows just north of the bridge.

Then we walked nearby Tomichi Gulch but found no uncommon birds.  An Eastern Towhee was discovered here on 11/20/2010.  The area has potential for a big bird checklist; however, it is not birded often.

Now early afternoon it was getting quite warm; we headed for home.

A stop at Salisbury Equestrian Park did not find the Semipalmated Plover reported two days ago.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Bluff Lake Nature Area & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

September 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I walked around Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) in the afternoon.  Temperature was 90 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

We found neither the previously reported Green Heron nor Northern Mockingbird.  Few birds were moving about.

A drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) did not find any uncommon birds.  Highlight was one Sage Thrasher inside the southeastern end of the bison enclosure.

Nothing uncommon was around the dwindling pools near mile nine of the Wildlife Area.  We did not see the previously reported Red-necked Phalaropes.

Afternoon Walk at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

September 11, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperature reached 93 degrees in the afternoon.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 26 mph (at 4:00pm, died down at 5:00pm)

Rebecca and I went for a leisure hike at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) in the afternoon.  Winds slowed down and we greatly enjoyed the solitude and beautiful afternoon.

American Robins were the majority bird at the northern section.  No Long-eared Owls could be located.  A Great Horned Owl flew out of the trees along Pond 12.  A Spotted Towhee lurked around the northern parking area.

No owls were found along the southern Ponds either.  An American Redstart fluttered about the Russian Olive trees just south of the southern parking area.

Beautiful sunset, perhaps it is due to the continuing wildfires?

Birding Around Denver, Welchester Tree Park, Chatfield Reservoir to Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 10, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 87 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 25 mph.  Wish I could blame my miscue ID on the shaky tripod, but will not.

I headed to Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson County) about two hours before sunrise.  It is the only way to miss the horrendous Denver traffic.  After breakfast at McDonald's, I walked around the Park shortly after sunrise.

The Hooded Warbler was moving about the willows along the creek, west of the footbridge.  Unfortunately, he stayed deep in the thickets, no photo.  

I walked around the rest of the park.  A flock of six Black-capped Chickadees was in the northeast corner of the park.  It is the similar location of the Blue-winged Warbler of May 2015.  None today, however a Townsend's Warbler was loosely associated with the flock.

Nothing else moved about and I headed to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) where a Jaeger had been reported yesterday.

From the marina sand spit at Chatfield Reservoir, I could see two jaegers.  One was a juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger.  The other a dark Jaeger appeared to be a Pomarine Jaeger.  

I moved to the north side of the lake (on top of the dam) trying to get closer to the birds.  Regrettably, it was not much closer.  Scoping the lake to relocate the jaegers I discovered a third Jaeger.  Clearly, it was another Long-tailed Jaeger.

Later I found out from birders who had rented a boat to get closer to the birds that my "Pomarine Jaeger" was a Parasitic Jaeger.  That is what I get to trying to identify a Jaeger from 1/3 mile (measure with gaps).

On the way out of the park, I stopped at the old balloon launch area.  Access was limited because of construction, however I scoped the beach and found a Sabine's Gull walking around.

My next stop was Salisbury Equestrian Park (Douglas).  The Semipalmated Plover reported yesterday did not appear to be around today.

Heading north, I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  The Mew Gull continued on the small sandy shore at the northwest corner of Pelican Bay.

Three Sabine's Gulls flew around below the dam (north of the Mew Gull spot).

Stops at the Prairie Loop and Pelican Point did not find any shorebirds other than Killdeer.

A quick stop at nearby Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe) and Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) did not find additional jaegers or uncommon gulls.

No owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver Counties).

Personal note:  I have been publicly incorrect only five times now on bird identifications.  Three of those mistakes were jaegers, all of which were quite far away.  I am going to stop calling them in public.  Most of my identification mistakes were correct ids that I refused to tell the public.  Cannot very well call them after someone else finds them.