Monday, August 27, 2007

Birding Around Castlewood Canyon State Park

August 27, 2007

Early this morning Gary Zeeto and I went down to Castlewood Canyon State Park. We listened for owls (especially Northern Saw-whet Owls) before sunrise at the park and surrounding neighborhoods; without success.

After sunrise, we drove south on Castlewood Canyon Road. A Wild Turkey was again feeding on the south hill (where Castlewood Canyon Road runs from west to east just outside of the park). Half a dozen Western Bluebirds were on the telephone wires here.

We heard a Dickcissel singing from somewhere in the alfalfa fields on the Winkler Ranch. We did not see the bird however.

From what I heard, bird numbers were down considerably. We did find a Western Flycatcher (no Willow, Dusky, or possible Alder). Sparrows included Vesper, Lark, and 2 Savannah Sparrows. Other birds observed included: Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Mountain Bluebird, Spotted Towhee, Gray Catbird, and a Common Yellowthroat.

No blackbirds at all were around? We expected Bobolink to be gone, but where are the Red-winged Blackbirds?

We stopped briefly at Parker Regional Park on the way back to Denver. Two Black Terns flew over the pond about 0.2 miles west of the parking area. Not much else was around.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Search for Painted Redstart at Dixon Reservoir

August 26, 2007

I decided to drive to Fort Collins to search for Dixie Smith’s Painted Redstart at Dixon Reservoir. When I arrived in Fort Collins around 2:30 pm rain was pouring down. However, it stopped by the time I reached the west side of town and Dixon Reservoir.

I spent about 2.5 hours searching for the Painted Redstart; without success. Nevertheless, some interesting birds were observed.

Below the eastern end of the willows at the eastern end of the dam, two Soras walked on the dead log in the water. Five or six Cedar Waxwings flew out of the same willows hawking insects.

While painting the trees below (north of) the dam with my binoculars, I picked out a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the western end. Winds were coming strong out of the south and pushing many birds north into thick trees in a restricted area. So the Painted Redstart could have gone unnoticed there.

North below the eastern end of the dam there were a few Chokecherries. A Northern Waterthrush walked around a small puddle (very small pond). Five Wilson's Warblers, two Yellow Warblers, and two Gray Catbirds were also here.

I decided to walk a short distance south below the dam even though mosquitoes were starting to come out in droves. From the parking area north of the preserve there is a path leading to the trail over the dam. From where the two meet, I hiked 40 yards south and then took a path heading east for 30 yards. Here I ran into a flock of birds feeding low to the ground. This loose group was made up of 9 Wilson's Warblers, 2 Yellow Warblers, 1 MacGillivray's Warbler, and an American Redstart.

This group of birds took much patience to see. They stayed low to the ground and in the thick bushes. The hundreds of mosquitoes buzzing around did not help my patience. With time, I was able to obtain good looks at all the birds.

Mosquitoes increased in numbers and I quickly departed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ruby-throated Hummingbird & Boulder County

Around 7:00am I sat at John Vanderpoel’s backyard in Niwot (Boulder County). The Ruby-throated Hummingbird visited his feeders within 2 minutes. I observed the bird two additional times before I left.

It was a cool, overcast day (after yesterday’s record 97 degrees), so I decided to search for Bobolinks and Dickcissels in Boulder County. In this I enjoy little success. I checked Pella Crossing Park, Lagerman Reservoir, Bobolink Trail and Bobolink Meadow off Baseline Road, Boulder Valley Ranch, Doudy Draw, and the South Mesa Trail.

A couple of Mountain Bluebirds were at the Boulder Valley Ranch Open Space. I found 2 Grasshopper Sparrows at the plateau trailhead open space. I also made a quick climb up Gregory Canyon and did not find the Scarlet Tanager seen by many a few weeks ago.

I only walked to the banding area at Barr Lake (Adams). The risk of a mosquito bite was too much and I turned around. There was at least one House Wren still around.

A drive of the DIA Owl Loop found Burrowing Owls at:

7; 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue

2; Powhaton Road & 128th avenue

8; 0.1 mile north of Tower Road & 56th avenue (record high)

My main target was to see if Swainson's Hawks were staging on the plains north of the airport yet. Only 3 Swainson's Hawks were observed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Birding and Biking Around Aurora

August 20, 2007

Gary Z, Gary W, and I road 41.6 miles around Aurora this afternoon. We parked at 56th avenue and Buckley avenue.

First we wanted to see what was along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Denver and Adams Counties). The 8 mile bike ride was uneventful. Not much migrating through the area yet. We did count 43 Western Kingbirds and 2 Eastern Kingbirds; no Cassin's. We counted 9 Burrowing Owls (both counties).

It was such a great day, that we continued south to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). Not much moving around there yet unless you want to count mosquitoes. We did find one male adult Black chinned Hummingbird still east of the ranger's office. In 2004, one hung around until 8/15 and 2003 until 8/3. This one is more persistent. If I remember, last year there was a cold spell in early August? Or maybe that was the year before? None were found after 7/31 in those years.

At dusk we drove the DIA Owl Loop.
No Short eared Owls, we did count:
2 Burrowing Owls 0.2 miles north of Tower & 56th
5 at 3.4 miles east of Tower & 96th
2 at Powhaton and 128th ave

Sunday, August 12, 2007


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Friday, August 10, 2007

Western Slope

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Saturday, August 4, 2007

A few lakes in San Miguel County

Friday August 3, 2007

Our goal was to end the day at Woods Lake in San Miguel County.

We decided to drive north and checkout Miramonte Reservoir. The area around the lake is the Dan Noble Wildlife Area. A Black Swift was flying over as we exited our jeep. Shorebirds included a Marbled Godwit and Greater Yellowlegs! A small mixed (male and female) of Red Crossbills were on firs. Two Sage Thrashers were found on the sagebrush.

There have been reports of Gunnison Sage-Grouse previously. That would have been great, but we did not find any.

We stopped briefly and found one Grace's Warbler near Gurley Reservoir (private property).

We arrived at Woods Lake about an hour before sunset. The usual species were observed, nothing uncommon. The Wildlife Area is typical Spruce-Fir habitat. We did see several Hammond's and Cordilleran Flycatchers.

Our owl drought ended when a Northern Saw-whet Owl called! We also got 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls to respond to our playback recordings.

Mountain Hike

Thursday August 2, 2007

Bryan and I decided to hike to Navajo Lake, hopefully finding some owls after dark. Our rain gear came in handy. Two downpours increased the efforts needed for this 4.3 mile hike. The trail crosses the West Dolores River which is always fun crossing. I used this route to climb Wilson Peak many years ago (1992). Camping around Navajo Lake back then, I heard a Boreal Owl!

Considering the hike? In the last 2.5 miles there is an altitude gain of 1000 feet. In the end, it is a beautiful hike.

Unfortunately we did not find any owls on the trip. The hike goes through Englemann Spruce and subalbine Forest. A scattering of Aspens provide homes for many birds.

We did find several Williamson's Sapsuckers, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, and Downy Woodpeckers. Twice we heard and later observed American Three-toed Woodpeckers. One was within a hundred yards of the Kilpacker Trail (1.5 miles from the trailhead).

Chipping Sparrows were still feeding young. Several Mountain Bluebirds crossed our path. We kept an eye out for Western Bluebirds but guessed that we were just a little high (elevation wise) to see any.

Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches were plentiful. We counted 3 Red-breasted Nuthatches. A Rock Wren fluttered about the lake. Warbling Vireos still are singing away at several Aspen Groves. Of course House Wrens are also up here chattering away. Golden-crowned Kinglets and Ruby-crowned Kinglets are singing but difficult to spot high in the trees.

While trying to get a look at the kinglets, we found one Grace's Warbler at 9,153 feet (thought they were a Ponderosa Pine dweller? We will have to check elevation sightings for warblers when back in Denver? Perhaps Grace's Warblers nest higher than previously thought? It is past their breeding season, so maybe this bird was just wandering around in a post-breeding migration? We did find Wilson's Warblers (which were expected) as well as Virginia's Warblers and Yellow Warblers.

At dusk, American Robins and Hermit Thrushes filled the air with melodious songs! Several Common Nighthawks did their thing also.

Telluride Area

Wednesday August 1, 2007

Being in the area, of course we had to hike around and see Bridal Veil Falls! Several Black Swifts (our target bird) were hawking insects high overhead. In surrounding willows we found a Hermit Thrush and Wilson's Warblers. (N 37 55.15 W 107 46.16)

Next we hiked around the Lizard Head Pass Wilderness Area. Weather has not been nice to us; summer storms pop up every afternoon. We believe from past experience that the afternoon storms tend to quiet down owls. Perhaps it takes them hours to "feel safe" again after thunder, lightning, and pouring rain?

The trailhead starts at 10,281 feet and meanders through conifer forests with scattered Aspen groves. We found a male Williamson's Sapsucker in Lodgepole Pine trees. Unusual, they are said to prefer Ponderosa Pine forests. Two Red-naped Sapsuckers were in one of the Aspen Groves.

Once out of the forest, we enjoyed a fantastic view of Lizard Head. BTW, neither of us see a Lizard Head (guess we have little imagination)?

In July, 2001 Coen Dexter reported White-winged Crossbills up Forest Road 578 in Dolores County. We went up that a ways and also Forest Road 626 in San Miguel County; without success. Several Red Crossbills got our attention; unfortunately there was not a White-winged Crossbill amongst them.

We found the usual mountain suspects, however nothing uncommon.

Our birding day ended with a drive up the Ophir Loop. Again nothing unusual was observed. No owls, after the great luck we had been experiencing, it was expected to end. However it was disappointing.
(N 37 15.56 W 107 51.96)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Northern Ouray County

Tuesday July 31, 2007

We searched for owls that might be found during the day. A source told us about a possible Barn Owl, which would have been a very good sighting for Ouray County. Unfortunately, we did not find it. There was some anecdotal evidence that they do exist in this county.

The source was right on about Western Screech-Owls. We managed to get a Western Screech-Owl to answer our playback recordings.

Billy Creek Wildlife Area was interesting. We found several Bullock's Orioles, kept our eyes open for Orchard Orioles and Scott's Orioles, but found neither. We found a thrush digging for food under one of the cottonwoods. It was quite shy and it took awhile to confirm that it was a Hermit Thrush (the only expected thrush in this county). A Gray Vireo sang, but took another long time to put in our binoculars.

Warblers included Virginia's, Orange-crowned, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and Black-throated Gray Warblers. We got a glimpse of a Tennessee Warbler and took almost an hour to relocate it for confirmation! This figured to be unusual for Ouray County.

The rest of the day we drove around looking for anything usual, hoping to find a Burrowing Owl. At least the Gunnison Prairie Dogs were uncommon for us.

The HIGHLIGHT of the day/trip was a Common Tern at Ridgway State Park.  This may be a first county record!

After dark, we played recordings at Billy Creek WLA sections and Ridgway State Park. Our owl count was 3 Northern Pygmy-Owls and a surprising Long-eared Owl. We spent much time in Northern Saw-whet Owl habitat, but not one sighting or “hearing”.


Monday July 30, 2007

We arrived at Ouray late in the afternoon. Spent the last few hours of daylight watching Black Swifts at Box Canyon. Owling after dark in the State Park was a bust. Surely there are owls here?

We have been running into afternoon storms. Some only last a few minutes to a half hour. But the thunder and rain does not help our search for owls.

Birding Around Montrose

Sunday July 29, 2007

Rested most of the day, Watson won the Senior British Open. Near dusk we found 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls and a bunch of Dusky Grouse at Black Canyon Gunnison National Park. Two females “escorted” 3 and 5 young across the main road. The owls were in the same area that we first discovered them back in April.

Uncompaghre Plateau

Saturday July 28, 2007

We finished up on our Uncompahgre Plateau owl survey. Hit several sections that previously visited. Owling was slow tonight. Count was 2 Flammulated Owls heard, waypoints taken.