Saturday, March 31, 2007

Genesee Mountain Park and Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 31, 2007

Terry Michaels, Shaun Michaels and I searched for owls at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson County) before sunrise; without success. We did find a male Williamson's Sapsucker around the group picnic area.

We only had a couple of hours and bad traffic made us give up on trying to get to Loveland Pass to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). There were few birds around. About 31 American White Pelicans and a couple of Double-crested Cormorants. The lack of waterfowl still puzzles me? We found few sparrows, etc. The Brewer's Blackbirds that usually nest around the parking area for the southwest marina have not returned.

We also drove the DIA Owl Loop. Strong winds and the time (3:30pm) we drove the loop may have contributed to zero Burrowing Owls found.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Another Hike Along Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 30, 2007

Temperatures only reached into the middle 40s today; winds were 10-15mph. It felt cold.

I hiked the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal from 88th avenue to 56th avenue. Three Burrowing Owls were observed about halfway along the trip. One was inside the arsenal (Adams County) and two were east of the road (Denver).

Two Song Sparrows were along the creek about a mile north of 56th avenue. The Great Horned Owl is still in the nest in large clump of cottonwoods. No hawks were observed. The Hawk previously on a nest was not there today. Few other birds were found.

After an early dinner, four of us drove the DIA Owl Loop. We counted only 5 Burrowing Owls (4 at 3.4 miles east of Tower & 96th ave; 1 west of Trussville & 114th ave). The Ferruginous Hawk was again seen on a telephone along the road running south from 114th avenue and east of Quancy Street.

No Short-eared Owls came out tonight (while we could still see).

March 29, 2007

Before sunrise, I led a field trip on Roger Danka’s Ranch. We located 2 Eastern Screech-Owls along the creek. A White-throated Sparrow popped up out of a bushy area along the creek. One birder thought he heard a Swamp Sparrow; it was not located by the rest of us. Two Harris's Sparrows are still visiting below the feeders back at the main ranch house. Two Long-eared Owls hid in the Russian Olive Tree windbreak.

The trip back to Denver was uneventful. A quick stop at Prewitt Reservoir found few birds that could be identified. Winds were too strong to ID birds on the water. A few shorebirds were too far away. No birds fluttered about below the dam.

Jackson Reservoir was slow also. I did find one Long-eared Owl; however I did not hike far into the woods to search for additional owls. I have seen up to 7 Long-eared Owls this season and have no desire to disturb them anymore than they have been disturbed.

Brush Ponds Wildlife Area was slow as was Brush Wildlife Area. No Greater White-fronted Geese were reported at Riverside Park this season (as far as I have heard).

I did not find the Harris's Sparrow at Barr Lake. The blowing snow did not help the search.

March 28, 2007

I drove up to Sedgwick and stopped several times along the way.

I could not find the previously reported Trumpeter Swan in Morgan County. Morgan Ponds was slow; no uncommon birds were found.

A drive along the west side of the Fox Ranch Nature Conservancy was uneventful. A Greater Prairie-Chicken did fly west across Yuma County Road U (0.3 miles north of the ranch). No Short-eared Owls were found tonight. On previous visits the fields on the west side of CR U have produced Short-eared Owls (4 of my last 9 visits)!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cherry Creek Reservoir & DIA Owl Loop

March 26, 2007

I again drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) while doing chores. There were partly sunny skies over the DIA Owl Loop; however by the time I arrived at Cherry Creek the storm front was overhead.

Highlight was an adult Franklin's Gull at the southwest marina (first of the year for me!). Gulls and waterfowl were few. Again I ask, where are they going this year? In the past, the southwest marina was lined with gulls at sunset.

Hawk count this evening was 5 Western Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, 1 dark-morph Red-tailed Hawk, 1 female Northern Harrier, and a pair of American Kestrels. Several Ring-necked Pheasants were in the brush around the shooting range.

I also drove part of the DIA Owl Loop. Six Burrowing Owls at the 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue site and one just west of Trussville Road and 114th avenue.

Search for Additional Owls on DIA Owl Loop

March 25, 2007

After chores, I managed to work in a drive along the DIA Owl Loop & Barr Lake (Adams County). It was a pleasant afternoon of partly cloudy skies after yesterday’s day of rain.

I wanted to see if additional Burrowing Owls have arrived; they had!

Seven: 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue
Two: just west of 114th avenue & Trussville Road
One: Powhaton Road & 128th Avenue

No Short-eared Owls found again this evening. No Burrowing Owls yet at the prairie dog town along Tower Road at 0.2 miles north of 56th avenue.

We observed our first Adams County Swainson's Hawk of the year. It flew over 128th avenue about 2 miles east of Powhaton Road.

It took about 45 minutes, however I relocated the Harris's Sparrow at Barr Lake. It stayed on the ground behind the tall bushes southwest of the Visitor’s Center. Three adult White-crowned Sparrows were also there.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pawnee National Grasslands, Barr Lake, & DIA Owl Loop

March 24, 2007

Gary Zeeto and I birded Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld County) this morning. It rained most of the day; winds were 10-20 mph.

We drove my favorite Mountain Plover Loop (see CoBus website for directions)

No Mountain Plovers were found throughout the day. My personal earliest date is 3/31 (four times in the past 13 years; seven additional times between 4/1 and 4/6). The best location is the southeast corner of Highway 14 and Weld County Road 51. Perhaps next week will see a sighting?

We did find 2 Chestnut-collared Longspurs along CR 96. We stopped at the windmill just west of the road to Murphy’s Pasture. Several McCown’s Longspurs were spotted here also. Over a dozen McCown's Longspurs were counted along the Mountain Plover Loop (further west).

Gary had to get back to Denver by four, so there was little time to stop at the many reservoirs passed in Weld County.

We did stop at 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd at the South Platte River Trail (Adams). West Gravel Lakes Park is now open. So we hiked inside the park down to the southern lake. Most of the river can be seen from the eastern trail inside the park.

With the help of the last picnic table at the northern lake, we could see down to the Platte River below the green and white tower (most often location of wintering Barrow's Goldeneyes). The river is higher than I have seen it in years and we saw zero ducks and geese on it during our whole hike.

West Gravel Lakes had 15 Ruddy Ducks, 3 Horned Grebes (in alternate plumage), and 7 Common Goldeneyes.

The only duck on East Gravel Lakes was a lone male Common Goldeneye.

Tani Reservoir (south of East Gravel Lakes) was more interesting. Ruddy Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, American Coots, and Northern Shovelers were in numbers over a dozen each. Gary picked out a male Barrow's Goldeneye at the halfway point of the reservoir.

Dahlia Pond had the most waterfowl. The “L” shaped lake runs between 88th avenue and Dahlia Street. It had the same species as Tani Reservoir, however in greater number. No Barrow's Goldeneyes however.

After dropping Gary off, I drove over to Barr Lake and the DIA Owl Loop (Adams). I did not expect much at Barr Lake and was pleasantly surprised that the Harris's Sparrow was still there! I only saw 4 adult White-crowned Sparrows below the Visitor Center’s feeders. They flew to the back edge of the bushes 50 feet south of the Center. I walked along the canal west of the building to see if there were more than 4. The Harris's Sparrow popped up from the ground behind the back side of the most southern bush.

Please try and avoid the southeastern side of the building where the Kestrel box is located. The male Kestrel caught a mouse and stuck it inside the box (most likely for a female).

I drove the DIA Owl loop to see if additional Burrowing Owls had flown in during the night. One Burrowing Owl was on the fence at the 96th avenue/Tower Road site (3.4 miles east of said intersection).

At 96th & Tower, a Ferruginous Hawk stood on a telephone pole. I usually see one east of the Burrowing Owl site.

Last year, two pairs of Burrowing Owls nested across from the Wildhorse Ridge Condos along Tower Road (about 0.2 miles north of 56th avenue). I have been checking that site also; without success. Today a Prairie Falcon was perched on the wooden fence post watching over the prairie dog town.

The rain did let up around 6:00pm. No Short-eared Owls came out this evening.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Burrowing Owls Back along DIA Owl Loop

March 23, 2007

Bryan Ehlmann & I returned early this morning and timed the trip to look for Short-eared Owls and Mountain Plovers south and east of Colorado Springs (along Squirrel Creek Road). Unfortunately, we did not locate any.

After dropping Bryan off at DIA, I drove the DIA Owl loop. Burrowing Owls are back! Two Burrowing Owls were at the prairie dog village located at 3.4 miles east of 96th avenue and Tower Road (Adams County).

Afterwards, I walked Buckley Road from 88th avenue to 56th avenue (east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal). Another Burrowing Owl was observed at 2.0 miles south of 88th avenue & Buckley Road. East side of Buckley, Denver County. This is halfway along the 4.0 mile hike.

Other sightings included a Lincoln's Sparrow at the creek 1.0 miles north of 56th avenue and Buckley Road. A Ferruginous Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk hunting over the many prairie dog towns. The prairie dogs have definite expanded their towns this year.

I also observed a hawk on a nest. Not enough of the hawk was seen to positively identify it. If I had to guess it looked more like a Red-tailed Hawk than Swainson's Hawk. However, Swainson's Hawks have nested there for the past three years; will return later for another look.

Quite a few Horned Larks were in the cultivated fields along the Owl Loop today. At least 5 McCown's Longspurs were among them.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Search for Owls Along the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt

March 19, 2007

I enjoyed a pleasant hike between Prospect and Johnson Parks along the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson County). I started the round trip at 5:00am so as to search for owls first.

I have not been enjoying any luck during the daylight in finding the Eastern Screech-Owl at Prospect Park. Today a squirrel came out of the hole the owl usually used. That cannot be good for owl watchers. A Raccoon uses one of the other holes.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard while at the first footbridge west of Johnson Park (5:45am).

Birds were few and far between. Nine Black-capped Chickadees and four White-crowned Sparrows were encountered.

On the return trip, I ran into a flock of 40+ Cedar Waxwings; unfortunately no Bohemian Waxwings were among them. This flock was 300 yards west of Johnson Park.

Many singing birds in the spring sunshine included Northern Flickers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, and even a Western Meadowlark.

Nice day to be outside especially with cold and possible snow? in the forecast.

I was hoping another birder would relocate the Chatfield Reservoir Sage Sparrow or report that it was not there? No word, guess I will head that way.

Added later in afternoon: I finally made it over to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson). I could not find the Sage Sparrow reported yesterday in a 2 hour search. Nothing unusual was seen; birding was quite slow. I did hike about 0.5 miles south of Kingfisher Bridge; nothing there either.

Bike Ride Around the DIA Owl Loop

March 18, 2007

I rode my bike around the DIA Owl Loop this afternoon; no Burrowing Owls were spotted yet. Few birds were spotted along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Buckley Road between 56th & 88th avenues. A herd of 60+ White-tailed Deer were about 1/2 mile north of 56th avenue. There were many Western Meadowlarks singing out on the plains. Just a few Horned Larks were seen.

I did not hear about the Sage Sparrow found by Terry Michaels at Chatfield Reservoir until quite late in the afternoon. I started over there. When I realized that my arrival would be near dark, I turned around.

A quick drive through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) after sunset found about 30+ American White Pelicans and 4 Double-crested Cormorants. Again no gulls; they are spending the night somewhere else this spring?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Search for Owls in Jefferson County

March 17, 2007

Four of us searched for Northern Pygmy-Owls (or any owls) in Jefferson County this morning. We checked Deer Creek Canyon, Reynolds Park, Pine Valley Ranch, and Red Rocks Park; without success.

Highlights of the day and what a beautiful day it was with calm winds and temps around 70 degrees:

A Dusky Grouse walked across the Oxen Draw Trail 30 yards south of the main parking area for Reynolds Park. We heard a wren along Elk Creek, however were not able to see it?

Several American Dippers were observed in Elk Creek on our drive over to the town of Pine.

A Pine Valley Ranch Park, we found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker east of the Buck Gulch Trail and approximately 400 yards south (uphill) of the junction of the Pine Lake Trail.

We checked and the road to Guanella Pass (by way of Grant) is closed.

A hike up the main trail to the old castle at Mt. Falcon Park did not find any owls or Dusky Grouse.

Two additional American Dippers were found at Lair 'O Bear Park. Quite a few people having a picnic here. No owls were around.

We walked around Red Rocks Park for 30 minutes hoping for some White-throated Swift flyovers; without success.

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). No gulls were seen at all; where do they go now? Three dozen white pelicans were at the eastern end of the lake. Water levels are high and there is little space on sandbars.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Slow Day in Adams County, Owl Loop & Barr Lake

March 16, 2007

Another side trip while doing chores, we drove the DIA Owl Loop and stopped at Barr Lake (Adams County). Nothing unusual was observed along either route. No Burrowing Owls again! The Harris's Sparrow now has not been reported since 3/4.

I then hiked along the Eastern side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal from 88th avenue to 56th avenue. No Burrowing Owls, many Western Meadowlarks were singing today! One American Kestrel, one Red-tailed Hawk, and one Sharp-shinned Hawk were found along with 201 European Starlings, 9 American Robins, and 7 Horned Larks.

Birding was slow again; however it should pick up soon. Temperatures reached 66 degrees; winds were 15-20 mph.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 15, 2007

While doing chores on Thursday, we drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the shore below the gull-winged picnic tables. There was quite a few dead fish along the shore, many gulls.

At the Lake Loop, we watched a Say's Phoebe hovering and hawking insects. The phoebe was in the center of the loop. Approximately 30 Mountain Bluebirds were also there.

Not much else around! One American Tree Sparrow at the northeast corner of the campgrounds.

No Burrowing Owls were found again along the DIA Owl Loop; any day now!

Birding Around Wray

March 14, 2007

Stan Roth and I observed 7 Greater Prairie-Chickens at a private lek in southern Yuma County.

The weather was not quite as good as yesterday (colder and windy today). However, it still was a great day for an early spring-late winter day.

Quite a few hawks were encountered: 17 Rough-legged Hawks, 7 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Golden Eagles, 9 American Kestrels, and 2 Prairie Falcons.

We then birded Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds. A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was along the southern side of Bonny Reservoir (accessed off CR 2). Eastern Bluebirds were along CR 4, east of CR LL.5. Many American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were here also.

We found 2 Eastern Screech-Owls while walking the Republican River from LL.5 to the Kansas border. Long-eared Owls can still be found in the windbreak behind the Hale Store (Russian Olives east of CR 2 & LL.5).

Nothing usual was found at Flagler Reservoir.

Search for Greater Prairie-Chickens

March 13, 2007

Stan Roth and I found 2 Greater Prairie-Chickens at the Yuma County 45 Lek. There were 7 additional Greater Prairie-Chickens at a private lek not far from there. (CR 45 lek is private land, however can be observed from a public road. Please do not leave the public road).

It was a pleasant day to bird on the eastern plains. Warm temps and little wind were encountered. We enjoyed the day driving where we could see for miles and little traffic was around!

In Wray we found a pair of Northern Cardinals and a Harris's Sparrow at a friend’s feeders. Five Eurasian Collared-Doves total were observed at two locations. They are not difficult to find in town.

Sandsage Wildlife Area was slow. Half a dozen White-crowned Sparrows were just about all that was seen. No Eastern Screech-Owls, we did run into a Great Horned Owl calling for a mate!

At another friend’s ranch we found 2 Eastern Screech-Owls and a Barn Owl.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Day On the Mesa South Trail System

March 12, 2007

I do not know the right adjective to use for today’s weather, splendid, magnificent, awesome? Temperatures reached 72 degrees; little wind was encountered throughout the day!

My trek today encompassed 14 miles and 14 hours on the Mesa South Trail system. I hiked up into Shadow Canyon twice. It was an enjoyable day even if the target bird (Winter Wren) was missed.

At 6:00am I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl along South Boulder Creek.

I thought I had a Northern Pygmy-Owl along Eldorado Spring Drive at 0.8 miles east of Mesa South Trail’s parking area. It flew briefly between some evergreen trees on the south side of the road. Unfortunately, it was on private property and I could not inspect the area closer.

On my first hike up to Shadow Canyon, I took the Towhee Trail to a spur of the Mesa South Trail (first fork, take a right and then left again at Mesa trail) and continued west to the Shadow Canyon trail. This trail was drier than sections of the Towhee trail. Along the Mesa trail spur I encountered dozens of American Robins, a dozen Townsend's Solitaires, Cassin's Finches, Mountain Chickadees, and two Yellow-rumped Warblers.

I spent about 30 minutes in the area where a Winter Wren was reported on Saturday; as stated without success. The brush there was quite thick and offered many places for the bird to hide. It also had plenty of creek to move along. The area is interesting; offering a nice open space with water up a mountain draw for birds and other animals.

On the trip back to the Mesa South parking area, I took the Towhee trail. I had met a couple of other Colorado birders who had come up by way of the Homestead and Towhee trails. They had seen 5-6 Red Crossbills by this route. The Towhee trail was quite muddy and slippery in spots. The Homestead trail was worse and I skipped it. Hiking alone, I am usually pretty careful about avoiding treacherous spots.

On the return trip I ran into 3 Bushtits. They were about 200 yards below the junction of the

Towhee & Shadow Canyon trails. I tried to photography them; previous experience showed me that they seldom stand still. The photographs were slightly blurred. Dozens of Spotted Towhees use the area for nesting also.

I called Stan Roth to accompany me in my afternoon trek back up. While waiting for him, I decided to hike up the Dowdy Trail for a mile and back. Birds were few, however I took the opportunity to photograph and GPS the area for future reference. I also hiked the 2 miles of Boulder Creek trail down to Highway 93 and back. This trail might be productive for owls (Eastern Screech, Northern Pygmy-Owl in winter) closer to dark?

On the second trip up to Shadow Canyon, we again struck out on the Winter Wren. We again spent about 30 minutes in the area; the bird did not show. The trip was not a waste (well, hiking on a beautiful day is never a waste). We managed to GPS a Northern Pygmy-Owl location. Four Red Crossbills were also happened upon.

No hawks were observed all day? I hoped to see at least a Prairie Falcon or Peregrine Falcon; none. No eagles either? Another highlight was the flight north of 16 Sandhill Cranes! What a great day!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Search for Mountain Birds

Four of us went birding in the mountains this morning. We first searched for Rosy Finches and Grosbeaks around Dillon; found only a few. Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant in Silverthorne.

We rushed up to Kremmling. Three species of Rosy Finches visited feeders in town. Not much else was around and we hurried back to Loveland Pass. We did observe 2 Rough-legged Hawks and a Golden Eagle along Highway 9 on the drive back to Loveland Pass. Fortunately, the day was much better than yesterday when the area reportedly received 7 inches of snow.

After about 2 hours on Loveland Pass, we found 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan about 50 yards below the Sniktau Trail and perhaps 1000 yards east of the Parking Area at the summit.

Note: One reason to rush; if you are not familiar with Colorado’s traffic, returning from the mountains on the weekends should be “considered” before 2:00pm. Any week of the year, traffic returning to Denver greatly increases after 2:00pm.

Later in the afternoon, we returned to the eastern side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal. The Northern Saw-whet Owl found yesterday was not in the same tree. If anyone happened to find it, please let me know?

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop did not find any Burrowing Owls again!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Birding Around Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 10, 2007

Our first stop this morning was Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Denver County). We experimented with playback tapes and got one or two Long-eared Owls to answer! While doing that, a Barn Owl flew across the main road!

Next we biked Buckley Road along the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal from 56th avenue to 88th avenue. Birding was pretty slow; no Burrowing Owls were found.

Bird count:

2 Song Sparrows

5 White-crowned Sparrows

191 European Starlings

101 Red-winged Blackbirds

43 American Robins

2 Western Meadowlarks

A Great Horned Owl on nest

Pair American Kestrels

2 Red-tailed Hawks

The highlight was finding a Northern Saw-whet Owl in the few pines east of Buckley Road. We ran into a highway maintenance truck and asked for permission to bird the old trailer court area. It was used during the war for housing of Rocky Mountain Arsenal employees. Sue Ehlmann was the one who found the owl; it amazed us all.

We also observed a Northern Shrike perched on the telephone wires north of the old Eagle Watch Bunker. It was near where the telephone poles also run east to west. A Ferruginous Hawk stood on those poles.

Afterwards, we drove the DIA Owl Loop; again no Burrowing Owls were found.

Late in the afternoon, Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the DIA Owl Loop. Few birds were found in the rain. No Short-eared Owls came out tonight.

March 10, 2007

Our first stop this morning was Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Denver County). We experimented with playback tapes and got one or two Long-eared Owls to answer! While doing that, a Barn Owl flew across the main road!

Next we biked Buckley Road along the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal from 56th avenue to 88th avenue. Birding was pretty slow; no Burrowing Owls were found.

Bird count:

2 Song Sparrows

5 White-crowned Sparrows

191 European Starlings

101 Red-winged Blackbirds

43 American Robins

2 Western Meadowlarks

A Great Horned Owl on nest

Pair American Kestrels

2 Red-tailed Hawks

The highlight was finding a Northern Saw-whet Owl in the few pines east of Buckley Road. We ran into a highway maintenance truck and asked for permission to bird the old trailer court area. It was used during the war for housing of Rocky Mountain Arsenal employees. Sue Ehlmann was the one who found the owl; it amazed us all.

We also observed a Northern Shrike perched on the telephone wires north of the old Eagle Watch Bunker. It was near where the telephone poles also run east to west. A Ferruginous Hawk stood on those poles.

Afterwards, we drove the DIA Owl Loop; again no Burrowing Owls were found.

Late in the afternoon, Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the DIA Owl Loop. Few birds were found in the rain. No Short-eared Owls came out tonight.

Another Hike Along the South Platte River

March 9, 2007

I spent most of the week sitting in a car, so I needed a hike today. I hiked along the South Platte River from I270 to 88th avenue. The day was nice, winds were mild. However birding was slow.

I found a Northern Shrike at the southwest end of the chain link fence around Tani Reservoir (body of water south of East Gravel Lake).

A side trip was made along Clear Creek in search of one of the two Harris's Sparrows reported in the past month. I was unable to find either one.

A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was again on the river below the green and white tower about a mile south of 88th avenue. They were scared by a dog and ended up on East Gravel Lakes. All three Mergansers were also observed on East Gravel Lakes. Among the over 300 gulls on East Gravel Lake, I could only find Ring-billed Gulls and half a dozen Herring Gulls.

I checked the two West Gravel Lakes but did not find the third Barrow's Goldeneye that has been wintering in the area.

All the bodies of water along the route were scoped for the Long-tailed Duck; without success. The only hawks found today were 2 Red-tailed Hawks.

Chased Away By Snow and Wind

March 8, 2007

Today was a day of snow and fog. Much of the day was spent with poor visibility. We had planned to search for owls on Douglas Pass (Rio Blanco County). Weather reports included 6-12 inches of snow by 3:00pm.

We wanted to get across Rabbit Ears Pass before the big snow. We looked briefly for owls around Steamboat Springs and Rabbit Ears Pass; without success. We did not find any Sharp-tailed Grouse at the Fish Creek drainage either.

Wandering around Jackson County, it was too early for migrant birds such as Sage Thrashers or Sparrows. Having seen Rosy Finches already this year, we decided not to drop down to Kremmling but instead try for owls on Cameron Pass.

When we arrived at Cameron Pass, snow was coming down quite heavy. We would not have minded that, but winds were 50+mph. Chances of hearing the soft calling owls were unlikely and we headed back to Fort Collins.

Stops at several of the campgrounds and picnic areas along highway 14 did not find any owls.

We drove over to the Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer County). We drove the complex looking for Short-eared, Barn, Long-eared, Northern Saw-whet or Great Horned Owls; without success.

Search for Grouse

March 7, 2007

Bryan Ehlmann and I were at the Timberlake Greater Sage-Grouse Lek before sunrise. Before stopping at the lek, we drove the first 3 miles of Moffat County Road 3. Two female Greater Sage-Grouse crossed the road during our drive! Once back at the lek, we saw 6-8 males displaying. As far as we could tell, no females were among them.

Afterwards, we drove over to Oxbow Wildlife Area. We heard that Sage Sparrows had been reported further south along Highway 139 near the Garfield and Rio Blanco County line. Maybe they had reached Moffat County also? None were found; birds were pretty scarce.

A check of Routt County Road 80 proved what we thought, that there was too much snow to get to the leks up there.

We ended our birding day at the 20 mile Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek outside of Hayden. Just before it was too dark to see, a Sharp-tailed Grouse flew from the east side of the road toward the leks on the west side of the road.

Search for Owls in Boulder County

March 6, 2007

At 4:00am, Bryan Ehlmann and I hiked through Walden Ponds and Sawhill Ponds areas in search of the previously reported Northern Saw-whet Owls; without success. No Eastern Screech-Owls were found either.

Beware: We parked along 75th avenue and north of Boulder Creek. Watch for parking rules at both parks as many tickets are given out.

We were able to find Long-eared Owls in two locations. Unfortunately, we were made to promise not to reveal the locations. They are around and probably nest in Boulder County.

Afterwards, we searched again for the previously reported Gyrfalcon by driving roads in Weld and Larimer Counties; again without success.

Few birds flew around the bird feeders at the Colorado State Forest. We could not find any Rosy Finches in Walden.

Our birding day ended at a private lek north of Walden. Three Greater Sage-Grouse were observed for the first of the season for us.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Quick Drive Through Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 4, 2007

We got bored in the afternoon and decided to drive over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). About 10 percent of the lake was open water today. Temperatures reached 40 degrees; winds were 10-15 mph.

The open water attracted about 400 gulls (up from about 80 on my last visit on Monday. The count was about 10 Herring Gulls among Ring-billed Gulls. One Bald Eagle kept close watch on the gulls.

Quite a few Red-tailed Hawks (7) were out hunting. A female Northern Harrier hovered over the Shooting Range. Four Ring-necked Pheasants were also counted.

We also found a Great Horned Owl in a nest!

Saturday Search for Owls

March 3, 2007

Terry Michaels and I went out looking for owls along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County) before sunrise. None were found flying around this morning. Few birds were found (about 2 dozen Horned Larks).

We stopped by Barr Lake to check around mile marker 8.0 for Great Horned Owls or Barn Owls; again zilch. The Harris's Sparrow was again below the Visitor Center’s feeders.

After lunch we decided to try Deer Creek Canyon for owls. We made a quick stop at Denver City Park to search for an uncommon geese; without success. Two dozen Double-crested Cormorants were in nests on the island at Duck Lake (Denver County).

Along the way we also made a brief stop at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson). The eastern parking area is closed due to mud and we walked in from 41st Avenue. Here we had an unfortunate sighting. A squirrel was half out of the hole near Jack’s Place picnic table that the Eastern Screech-Owl has used many years in the past.

On to Deer Creek, we walked several miles of Deer Creek Canyon Road. Our only success was hearing a Northern Pygmy-Owl along the Creek. We never were able to put binoculars on the owl. The general area was where Deer Creek first moves away from the road (as one drives east from South Owens Road, just outside first subdivision up Deer Creek Canyon Road).

We did find several additional owls. A Short-eared Owl was found in Jefferson County (prefer to not reveal the location). Two Great Horned Owls were heard near the Waterton Canyon parking area.

We also checked Northern Pygmy-Owl locations of the past along Highway 93, north of Morrison, without success.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Birding Around Adams County

March 2, 2007

While out doing chores, I birded several locations around town. Temperatures never reached 30 degrees; winds were 5-10mph.

My first stop was the South Platte River at 74th avenue (Adams County). I hiked the loop from 74th avenue to 78th avenue, east to Engineer Lake, then north back to 74th avenue (Hwy 224). I did not find the Long-tailed Duck of previous visits.

Most of the lakes in the area were free of water. Expecting that the waterfowl had left the swallow Platte River for the deeper surrounding lakes, I scoped them. While scoping Tani Reservoir from the service road north of Hwy 224, I observed the male Long-tailed Duck in the northwest corner.

Not up to a long hike today, I scoped East Gravel Lakes from the high dirt mounds along 88th avenue. Male and female Barrow's Goldeneyes were among 20+ Common Goldeneyes just south of the East Gravel Lake Dam Tower.

I drove over to West Gravel Lakes, however did not find the third Barrow's Goldeneye (male) that has also been in the area for many weeks now.

It took about 2 minutes to locate the 1st winter Harris's Sparrow at Barr Lake (Adams). The bird was under the right side of the large bush off the southwest corner of the Visitor’s Center. Later, a ranger and I watched to fly below the feeders just outside of the Center.

Few birds few about in the strong winds as I drove the DIA Owl Loop.

My last stop was Lakecrest at Gateway Park (Denver County). Much of the lake was open water today. Several hundred gulls included Ring-billed and a dozen Herring Gulls. No uncommon geese or waterfowl were found. Winds by now were 20+ mph.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Search for a Gyrfalcon

March 1, 2007

The snow finally stopped. Allen Sopack and I went out searching for the Gyrfalcon reported by Nick Komar; without success. Winds were 15-25mph today; temperatures never rose above freezing.

We also searched briefly for the Bohemian Waxwings reported near Centennial Middle School in Boulder; without success. We were able to find a Long-eared Owl in the county!

We checked Rawhide Reservoir (Larimer County). Not much was found from our vantage point (which was quite far away).

Little was happening on the Pawnee National Grasslands. No owls around Crow Valley Campground (Weld). We did find 3 Lapland Longspurs along my favorite Pawnee National Grasslands Loop. Many of the roads were quite muddy and required careful driving.