Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Brief Stop at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

November 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I stopped by Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to update the status on the reported Tundra Swan and Common Loon.  It was cooler today with temperatures only reaching 59 degrees.  A windy day with anemometer readings 11-12 mph and gusts to 22 mph.

I scoped Lower Derby Lake at least three times.  The Tundra Swan swam along the northern shore (opposite of my location).   Field marks:

Neck length/body length ratio: if its neck laid back it would not cover 75 percent. 

Angle of Body Major Axis: straight line through base of neck and through tail; Trumpeter Swan almost level or slightly upslope, Tundra Swan much more sloped.

Head Profile and Bill Shape:
some Trumpeter Swan have flatter head while Tundra Swan appear rather smooth curved

distance from bill tip to eye is about two times the distance from eye to nape; while Tundra Swan only 1 to 1.5 times

Trumpeter Swan upper mandible is straight while Tundra Swan it is usually curved

Tundra Swan yellow lore is lacking in Trumpeter Swan

A great treatment and additional information on Trumpeter Swan verses Tundra Swan is in "Colorado Field Notes" November, 2017 issue
(see Colorado Birding Society's website on how to obtain)

No loon, scoter, Greater Scaup or other uncommon waterfowl was found.  Nearby Lake Ladora was similar.  Most common duck species were on Lower Derby; it is a good place to study them.

No Short-eared Owls appeared as I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Super Birding Day in Boulder County

November 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another fantastic fall day in Colorado!  Temperature in Boulder reached 72 degrees with 5 mph winds.  However, around 3:30 pm winds grew to 21 mph with gusts to 32 mph.

My birding day was spent in Boulder County.  First stop was Skunk Creek behind the Basemar Shopping Center.  Eventually I was able to photograph both the male Black-throated Blue Warbler and the Varied Thrush.
See Colorado Birding Society's website Photo Library

Circling around Boulder County I relocated a Common Loon at Baseline Reservoir, and then scoped the Valmont Reservoir complex from Legion Park overlook.  I found a Common Loon but could not relocate the Pacific Loon reported yesterday.

Nothing uncommon was found at Walden Ponds, the Tundra Swan was missing.  I looked for the Golden-crowned Sparrow that has wintered for several years now at Teller Lake #5 parking area.  A Sharp-shinned Hawk stood on a Bush west of the old pump house.  Several dozen sparrows (American Tree and White-crowned) flew under my feet.  Could they determine that I was less a threat than the Sharp-shinned Hawk?

Prince Lake # 2 only hosted about 24 gulls.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was the best.  Nearby Erie Reservoir had only Gadwalls and American Coots on it.

A stop at Greenlee Preserve/Waneka Lake was a bust.

Terry Lake provided the best action of the day (well, other than Skunk Creek).  A Barrow's Goldeneye swam on the lake while Bonaparte's Gulls and an Iceland Gull flew overhead.

Boulder Reservoir was interesting.  A scope was required to relocate the Long-tailed Duck reported on 11/12 (Christian Nunes).  Bonaparte's Gulls were flying around here also.

At dusk, a Short-eared Owl flew around the west side of Lagerman Reservoir.  Later I found a Long-eared Owl at an unrevealed location in the northern county.  The owls nest here; therefore, we keep the site undisclosed.

Overall, it was a great day of birding in Boulder County!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Several Trips to First Creek Trail, Adams County

November 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful day!  Temperatures reached 73 degrees; winds were only 5-6 mph.

The third time was a charm.  I stopped at First Creek Trail, Adams County section this morning and found only the birds encountered yesterday, no Common Redpoll.

On the return trip, I stopped again.  This time (3:35 pm), a Common Redpoll was on top of a cottonwood tree.  The tree was along First Creek at 30 yards west of Buckley Road, not far from the trailhead.

I managed to get some witness shots to confirm Common Redpoll.  They are backlight and not great as show type photos.

On the walk back to the Buckley Road 56th Avenue parking area, a Northern Shrike was perched along the fence.

Instead of walking farther west along the First Creek Trail, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  Raptors included two Ferruginous Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks, one American Kestrel and one Prairie Falcon.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Douglas and Adams County Birding

November 12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After dropping Terry off in Centennial, I drove down to the Twenty mile Pond and photographed the Brant.  A Ross's Goose and several Snow Geese were among several hundred Canada Geese & Cackling Geese.

Later, I passed by the First Creek Trail (Adams) and stopped.  No Common Redpoll for me, birds found in order of number were Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, Song Sparrows, American Goldfinches and White-crowned Sparrow.

A Great Horned Owl flew between First Creek and the trail (quite close) and settled in a cottonwood at the west end of the first riparian area along the creek.

I sat at my usual spot (0.2 miles north of W. Cargo Road & Third Creek) at just before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Jackson County Birding/Owling Trip

November 10-12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

November 10

Terry Michaels and I headed up to Jackson County on an owling trip.  A search for owls along Pennock Pass Road did not find any owls. 

The night was fantastic with little wind which is unusual for the Cameron Pass area.  A Boreal Owl called at 100 yards south of the Crags Campgrounds.

November 11

After a few hours of sleep, Terry & I drove Jackson County Roads 26 & 26b.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were observed walking along CR 26 at 40 yards from Highway 14.

No Rosy Finches or uncommon birds were found in the town of Walden.  A Surf Scoter swam on Walden Reservoir.  The Highlight was a Lapland Longspur, which seemed out of place?

Gould had no uncommon birds also.  The Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center did not attract any Rosy Finches.

After dark, we found Boreal Owls along Michigan Creek Road and Montgomery Pass.

November 12

Two hours before sunrise we heard a Boreal Owl up Ruby Jewell Road, Colorado State Forest.  Another was heard at Ranger Lakes.  Shortly after sunrise, the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard at Ranger Lakes.  We were able to eventually see a male.

The resident Three-toed Woodpecker north of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center eluded us.  Again no Rosy Finches were found at the Visitor's Center.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Afternoon At Aurora Reservoir

November 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I exhausted the morning taking care of chores and preparing for a weekend trip to Jackson County.  Temperatures today only reached the middle 40s.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

A call to Bill Cryder who can see the southern end of Aurora Reservoir from his deck found no sighting of the reported Tundra Swan.

Therefore, I checked the scuba beach area first.  About 1800 gulls on the beach were all Ring-billed Gulls.  It was strange to not have at least one other species.  No swans or other uncommon birds were observed from that vantage point.

Next, I scoped the lake from the upper parking area for the swim beach.  Two Greater Scaup were less than 100 yards off.  Other 2000+ gulls were on the beach at mile 4.0.  This was excessively far away to identify most.  A large white Gull or black backed Gull might have stood out; none did.

Finally, I spotted a Swan at the mouth of Senac Cove.  I drove around to the south end of the Reservoir.  Bill and I walked rapidly down to the shore and received great looks at a Tundra Swan. 

A quick scoping of the lake found one Common Loon in Lone Tree Cove, no scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, etc.  We had to rush back out before the southern gates were closed.  These gates close 30 minutes before the Reservoir proper.  Presently that time is 5:30 pm.

Owling In the Foothills of Douglas County

November 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn and I decided to do some owling in Douglas County.  Temperatures reached 62 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with a few gusts to 16 mph in the afternoon.  However, winds died down after sunset.

We stopped at Dekoevand Park (Arapahoe) on our trip to the foothills.  The area along the Highline canal from University Blvd south then west to the Dekoevand Park footbridge was searched for the Fox Sparrow.

It was reported "under feeders" and we scoped the backyards for feeders and the sparrow.  Few birds moved about and we turned around at the footbridge.  On the trip back, the Fox Sparrow was observed hopping in the brush along the fence line on the western side of the canal.  No feeders were in the yard at this point.  The sparrow must move between several yards north of the southwest corner of the Park.

Later, we hiked around the Rampart Range Road and Highway 67 intersection.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was observed along Hwy 67 at 40 yards south of the Intersection!  A search for additional Three-toed Woodpeckers was not successful.

After dark I set up our two "owl listening stations".  In the next three hours, two Northern Saw-whet Owls were observed along Rampart Range Road. 

As I mentioned in previous posts, Northern Saw-whet Owls seldom make any noise this time of year.  Our "owl listening stations" were set up about 0.2 miles apart.  We would walk between them and hit the surrounding forest with spotlights.  Each station was eventually visited by at least one Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Later we walked about a half mile down Highway 67.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings!