Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 29 to September 30, 2007

Six of us met up late Saturday afternoon and headed our two car caravan to Pennock Pass (Larimer County) and later continued to Cameron Pass (Jackson).

I was fortunate to be able to find 2 Flammulated Owls. One was nice enough to allow all several minute looks at it. At Cameron Pass, the Boreal Owl "staked out" earlier in the week, was still in the same place. Again, all were able to get good looks the owl. Afterwards, we were able to find two additional Boreal Owls (heard only, but still nice to know where they are).

After Saturday night's successful owling trip, 4 of the 6 birders hung around and went birding in Jackson County. We visited Teller City early Sunday morning. It is a ghost town south of Gould.

For further information, it was a featured birding site in September, 2006 "Colorado Field Notes". It offers some interesting history besides good birding. Note however, that a 4 wheel drive vehicle is needed to get to the area. There are several places in the road down to the ghost town that definitely require such.

Today Roger Danka found us a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers at the northwest corner of the self guided tour hike. While trying to get better looks at the woodpeckers, we heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl off to the northeast.

We headed back to Denver a little after noon as Roger had another 200 mile drive to get home.

I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and arrived around 5:45pm. A check of the swim beach, eastern sand spit, and bird platform area did not turn up the previously reported Great Black-backed Gull. I did see 2 Common Terns in the southeast corner of the lake.

I scoped the sandbar about 100 yards north of the southwest marina and found a Lesser Black-backed Gull. I was at the fishing pier and rushed over to the newish road that runs below the dam and from the southwest marina. I got great looks at the Lesser Black-backed Gull (from less than 20 yards). Unfortunately, as my camera was booting up, a jet ski came by and scared the gulls away (I needed just 3 more seconds for a photo).

This road offers good close views of the southwest corner of the lake (especially in the afternoon sun). Two Sabine's Gulls were at their "usual" location about 200 yards off the marina. A third Sabine's Gull was several hundred yards off the swim beach.

At the bird platform, I counted 31 Snowy Egrets, 9 Great Blue Herons, and 1 Great Egret. Also dozens of American White Pelicans, Killdeer, and one Virginia Rail. Seven Black-crowned Night-Herons searched for food at the Cottonwood Loop Wetlands Pond.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

September 29, 2007

I spent 5 hours walking the trails at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County). Most of the time 3+ hours was spent on the new trail around lake ladora. I ended up with 61 species and three good sightings.

My most recent 5 trips to the Arsenal were a little disappointing. Though I was in a van on a birding trip and we spent most of the day riding around. I thought a hike would be more productive and it was. One plus, I have found Long-eared Owls on 3 of the last 4 trips.

I started out at 6:00am as I wanted to see if any owls would respond to tapes. Long-eared Owls and Barn Owls have roosted in the old Governor's Row area in the past. It is not legal to walk into the row, but I could get within 20 yards of it by walking on the main road. No owls responded this morning however.

Order of sightings:
1. White throated Sparrow in willows at northwest corner of Lake Ladora. Also in the tree were 9 White crowned Sparrows, 1 Lincoln's Sparrow, 2 Wilson's Warblers, and 3 Dark-eyed Juncos. I was actually following a Rock Wren along the rocks at the Ladora Lake dam when I came across this mixed flock of birds.

2. Long eared Owl, seen while "painting" with my binoculars the Russian Olive trees first encountered when trail turns south (hiking clockwise).

3. Female Black throated Blue Warbler. She was a nice surprise while counting 31 Yellow rumped Warblers along northwest corner of the lake. They worked the tall cottonwoods first encountered at northwest corner. when they hit the most southern one of group (just northwest of side "Lake Ladora") they turned back north. Still there when I left.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and hiking trails open 6:00am to 6:00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

List compiled with Clipbird ver: 2.01

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon - flew over Ladora Lake
Virginia Rail - southeast corner/Ladora
American Coot - 2
Ring-billed Gull - only 1 gull seen flying over
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl - east side/lenore
Long-eared Owl - russian olives/northeast corner/Ladora
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Kingbird - only 1 seen all day
Plumbeous Vireo - 2, one locust trees east central side/Ladora
Blue Jay
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee - on 2 observed
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren - northwest corner/Ladora
Marsh Wren - west central/Ladora
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 51 counted during trip
Townsend's Solitaire - only 1
Hermit Thrush - only 1
American Robin - dozens
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler - only 1, south end/lenore
Black-throated Blue Warbler - female/see notes at beginning
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 75+
MacGillivray's Warbler - south end/Mary's Lake
Common Yellowthroat - south end/Mary's Lake
Wilson's Warbler - 6
Green-tailed Towhee - west central side/lenore
Chipping Sparrow - 12+ flock
Clay-colored Sparrow - 1 west central side/Ladora
Brewer's Sparrow - 1 southwest corner/Ladora
Song Sparrow - 4
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2, one northwest corner/Ladora
White-throated Sparrow - northwest corner Ladora
White-crowned Sparrow - 3 flocks/total 16 birds
Dark-eyed Junco - pink sided/dark headed
Red-winged Blackbird - hundreds
Western Meadowlark - only 2
Yellow-headed Blackbird - only 1
Brewer's Blackbird - 2
Common Grackle - flock of 51
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch

Search for Owls and Woodpeckers

September 28, 2007

Terry King and I left Denver at 4:00am in search of owls and Common Poorwill. We arrived at Reynolds Park about an hour before sunrise. In less than 5 minutes a Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our playback recordings. In the dim light, we were able to see the owl about along Oxen Draw Trail at 20 yards uphill (south) of the Songbird Trail. We watched it call for about 10 minutes before it flew off to the southeast.

No Common Poorwills called and we continued our hike up the Oxen Draw Trail. About 200 yards south of the Songbird Trail, Terry noticed a Dusky Grouse walking across the path! It appeared to be a female and she eventually wandered uphill to the east.

Two of our three target birds, we did not have any luck finding the third (American Three-toed Woodpecker). We searched up the Oxen Draw Trail and around its junction with the Raven's Roost and Eagle's View Trails. We continued to the top of the Eagle's View Trail and then back down to our car. We were quite satisfied with our morning.

On the trek down, we found all three nuthatch species (Red-breasted, White-breasted, & Pygmy). A Brown Creeper was seen about 100 yards from the end of our hike. A few Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, and 2 Red Crossbill were also added to our day list.

Our next stop was Pine Valley Ranch Park, also in Jefferson County. We again ran into all three nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, and Pine Siskins.

Finally we found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker. He crossed the Buck Gulch Trail at about 400 yards south of the Pine Lake Trail. Two male Hairy Woodpeckers were also observed.

We drove around to the south side of Pike National Forest and found a Northern Goshawk near the junction of Forest Roads 550 road and 553 .

From here we headed toward Deckers and searched unsuccessfully for Northern Saw-whet Owls or Flammulated Owls. We did see another Three-toed Woodpecker.

In the late afternoon, we headed east to Castlewood Canyon State Park. We managed to find a Western Bluebird for Terry (lifebird). A couple of Mountain Bluebirds were also flying around Castlewood Canyon Road near the entrance to the Winkler Ranch.

After dark we played tapes near the waterfalls in the park; without success. Wandering over to the subdivision west of the park was more successful. Finally a Northern Saw-whet Owl answered us back. Unfortunately, it was on private property and we could not try and get looks at the bird.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another Search for Arapahoe County Jaegers

September 27, 2007

I went out early this morning to check Arapahoe County reservoirs for jaegers and gulls. I found a Sabine's Gull at the swim beach area of Aurora Reservoir. No jaegers at Aurora, Quincy, or Cherry Creek Reservoirs.

I started my day at Powhaton Road and 128th avenue. No Short eared Owls or Burrowing Owls. The Short eared Owls sometimes fly along the tree line that is many hundred yards to the northwest. I have not seen Burrowing Owls here in my last two trips.

There are still 3-5 Burrowing Owls at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.

I past by now and then trying to get a last date for them.
In 2005 & 2006 it was 10/14.
Latest 10/20 in 2001.

In the late afternoon, I drove down to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas). A couple of White-breasted Nuthatches flew around the trail down to the gazebo overlook. Two White-crowned Sparrows were in the bushes below.

The Winkler Ranch (along Castlewood Canyon Road) had the most birds: 9 Vesper Sparrows, 1 Lincoln's Sparrow, 2 Song Sparrows, and a Savannah Sparrow. Bobolinks and Dickcissels are long gone now. A lone Loggerhead Shrike stood on the telephone wires near Lake Gulch Road and Castlewood Canyon Road. The bluebird count is dropping; only 5 Mountain Bluebirds and a pair of Western Bluebirds were observed today.

I listened for Northern Saw-whet Owls after sunset and beyond for about an hour. No "talkers" tonight. I played a recording around the subdivision to the west; again no a sound.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Search for Arapahoe County Jaeger

September 26, 2007

I thought I would try another search for the Jaeger that has been around Arapahoe County lately. My first stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir. No jaeger, I did see an interesting shorebird in the southeastern corner.

This started a chain of events which ended with me sinking in mud almost to my kneecaps. I tried to get closer to the shorebird by cutting through the cattails at the southeast corner of the reservoir. Mistake, high water levels and a quick shrinking produced some nasty soft muddy areas.

While on this quest, I observed a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Only the second one I have ever recorded at Cherry Creek Reservoir. While trying to get close enough for a photo, a Nashville Warbler popped up from below a small thicket between two cattail fields! Almost made having to change shoes and clothes once I returned to my car, worthwhile.

Next I drove east to Aurora Reservoir (with a quick stop at Quincy Reservoir to see no jaeger there). There were no jaegers and most of the gulls were flying around the southeast corner which requires a 2+ mile hike to see (and which I skipped).

In the dwindling daylight, I drove out on the plains east of Aurora Reservoir and looked unsuccessfully for Short-eared Owls.

Hitting Some Birding Spots Around Denver

September 25, 2007

I had to get to DIA by 6:00am in order for Joe Sizemore to make his flight home. My plan was to then get a couple of hours of sleep (stayed up the whole night before). However, I got a call that 2 swans were spotted at the Pena Park and Ride at 40th avenue and Pena Blvd.

I arrived there a little before sunrise and found two white birds with their heads in their backs. When I exited my car, they looked up and I saw 2 American White Pelicans. Just to be careful, I drove over to nearby Emerald-Strand Park and Lake Crest ponds. No swans were found at either location.

Since I was up, I decided to make a day of it and hit as many local birding spots as possible. The thought being that yesterday's cold front would have brought some interesting birds to Denver. As it turned out, this was not the case. Birding was slow all day.

I drove the DIA Owl loop on my way over to Barr Lake (Adams). Burrowing Owls were found at 0.2 miles north of Tower Road and 56th avenue and at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue. No hawks were along the route today.

At Barr Lake, I walked around for over 3 hours. Birds were scarce. If European Starlings, Northern Flickers, and waterfowl are discounted, my whole list included 9 Orange-crowned Warblers (banding area), 5 Wilson's Warblers, 2 male Downy Woodpeckers, a Spotted Towhee, 2 House Wrens (one with no tail feathers), a wet Sage Thrasher (banding area) and a MacGillivray's Warbler.

The adult male MacGillivray's Warbler was near mile marker 8.3. He only came out of the trees for brief looks. It took me over 45 minutes to make sure it was not a Mourning Warbler or other rare bird.

There were no birds along the Niedrach Boardwalk trail loop today. The only shorebirds I could find were Killdeer. I did count 5 Snowy Egrets near mile marker 7.8. An adult Herring Gull stood near the boat ramp at mm 7.5.

From Barr Lake, I took I76 west to I70 and Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson). Again birding was slow. A Townsend's Warbler was fluttering about along the Tree Bridge trail. Few other birds were about during my hour trek.

Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) was no busier. I did see a Sabine's Gull flying off to the north of the handicapped fisherperson's dock. Two Common Terns were east of the marina. A walk at Plum Creek Delta only added 1 Townsend's Warbler to my day list. I could not find the Lesser Black-backed Gull reported yesterday by Walbek.

My final stop of the day was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I figured that if the Long-tailed Jaeger reported yesterday by Petrosky was still there, it would remain all day. As it turned out, I did not find it. I scoped the lake from 6:00pm to 7:15pm (dark) and only found 1 Sabine's Gull (juvenile at eastern end), 1 or 2 Bonaparte's Gulls (middle of lake), and one small "Sterna" tern that was too far away to Identify.

Great Blue Herons were plentiful (21). They out numbered the 17 Snowy Egrets and 2 Great Egrets. Two Blue-winged Teal swam near the jet ski rental area. The only shorebirds were again Killdeer. There were dozens of American White Pelicans and only a few Double-crested Cormorants. Where did the Double-crested Cormorants go this fall? They usually out number pelicans.

There were hundreds of American Coots, about 60 Western Grebes (no Clark's Grebes that I could see), 2 Horned Grebes and 2 Eared Grebes (no Red-necked). Gulls were mostly Ring-billed with a dozen or so California Gulls. No black backed gulls and only 1 Herring Gull that I could find.

Two Day Owling Trip

September 23 and 24, 2007


Joe Sizemore and I started a two day owling trip into the northern mountains. The weather was not cooperative. We ran into high winds and rain. Later we even went owling in snow of about an inch.

Our first stop was the Cow Creek section of Rocky Mountain National Park (Larimer County). We arrived about 90 minutes before sunrise hiked a mile west to the junction of the 3 trails. We thought that we heard a Common Poorwill briefly. However, we only heard it once and never located it.

Once we reached the bridge over Cow Creek, things were pretty quiet. We hung around until sunrise and then headed back east toward our car. Just east of the stairs (about 0.8 miles west of the parking area), we heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl. Carefully we walked about 30 yards north of the trail and were able to see it!

Things were quiet the rest of the hike. On the trip west we saw many Pygmy Nuthatches, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and 5 White-breasted Nuthatches. One Brown Creeper and a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers were just about all seen.

A brief stop at Dixon Reservoir in Fort Collins was not productive (plenty of mosquitoes though). We checked several campgrounds and picnic areas along Hwy 14 on the way up to Pennock Pass. No owls were found.

Once at Pennock Pass Road (Larimer County Road 44H) our luck started to change. It was dusk now and we found a Common Poorwill on the road. Later we had 3 Flammulated Owls at different locations answer our playback recordings.

We reached Cameron Pass (Larimer/Jackson Counties) around 12:30am. Winds were 40+ mph and there was a rain/snow mix. Finding Boreal Owls in this was next to impossible. So we continued on to a cabin at Gould for the night. I got up about 4:00am to check on the weather. Winds were still pretty strong and a trip back up to Cameron Pass was cancelled for the morning.


In the early morning we drove around Jackson County Roads (especially CR 25) in search of Greater Sage-Grouse and other birds. We found a couple of Brewer's Sparrows and one Sage Thrasher that was late in leaving the area. No Greater Sage-Grouse, but they are always hit and miss when not on their leks.

We continued to Steamboat Springs to see if the Sharp-tailed Grouse had moved into town for the winter (they had not). It is amazing that they roost in the winter right in the middle of a subdivision along Fish Creek Road.

A trip up to FR 550 to search for White-winged Crossbills was not successful. Steamboat State Park was slow. We did see 2 Sandhill Cranes fly over. We checked at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass for White-winged Crossbills; also without success.

A drive around the old Coalmont Greater Sage-Grouse Lek near dusk did not turn up any birds.

When we reached Cameron Pass it was snowing quite hard. However as sometimes is the case, there was no wind! We finally were able to find a Boreal Owl on the east side of the pass! There was just before midnight and counted as a 9/24 sighting.

We then had to scurry down to Denver in order for Joe to make his flight home.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Birding a Mountain Loop

September 22, 2007

The following is an experiment in sending a post by way of my cell phone to my blog. I probably will not use the method much as vocabulary and sentences have to remain simplistic for it to work.

Joe Sizemore and I went to Mt. Falcon Park early this morning. We walked to the old Castle about half a mile east of the parking area. Joe flushed a Dusky Grouse along the West side of the Castle. However, we were not able to relocate it. Joe didn't get a very good look at the bird. We looked around for another bird so Joe could get a better look. About 30 minutes later, I managed to find in other Dusky Grouse near the bench along the trail heading east and about 200 yards from the old Castle.

On the way back to the parking area we ran into a flock of Red Crossbills. A flock included five males and three female birds. A dozen Pine Siskins and two Mountain Bluebirds were feeding on the thistles in the open field to the East of the Main trail.

A pair of Downy Woodpecker was around the restrooms. A Hairy Woodpecker was near the parking lot.

Next, we then headed over to Pine Valley Ranch Park in Jefferson County. An American dipper was below the bridge west of the parking area. We then walked the south side of Pine Lake. We could hear a Three Toed Woodpecker drumming up the hill to the South of the Lake. With a 20 minute effort, we were able to finally see the woodpecker.

We continued to Buck Gulch trail. A flock of 11 Pygmy Nuthatches fluttered about the firs 200 yards south of pine Lake. We also found a pair of White breasted Nuthatches and one Red breasted Nuthatch.

About 300 yards further South we heard the drumming of another Three Toed Woodpecker. This one was more cooperative and it only took five minutes to find it. It was an adult male drumming on one of his favorite trees.

We had spent enough time there and returned to our car. We continued South to Grant, and then turned west on Guanella pass road. At the top of Guanella pass, we walked around for about two hours looking for White tailed Ptarmigan. We were not having any success and started back toward our car when a White-tailed Ptarmigan jumped onto a rock about 100 yards south of the junction of the Rosalie and 603 trails. Shortly afterwards, a second Ptarmigan was spotted below the first.

Continuing north, we searched for birds around Georgetown. We were not able to find any Evening Grosbeaks or Pine Grosbeaks today at the city park or nearby feeders.

Our last stop of the day was Genesee Mountain Park. As we pulled into the group picnic area parking lot a male Williamson's Sapsucker flew in front of the car. We watched him for about 15 minutes and then drove to the top of the mountain. We walked around here for 10 minutes and found another male Williamson's Sapsucker and a pair of mountain chickadees.

As we looked towards the east and Denver, Joe pointed out a Clark's Nutcracker flying in the distance. That was all it time that Joe had so we headed back to Denver.

After dropping Joe off, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). It was quite windy and I expected to see few birds on the lake. At least 3 Sabine's Gulls were about 200 yards southeast of the southwest marina. From the Lake Loop I could make out 3 or 4 phalaropes to the east. The high waves made Identifying them impossible; still there are a few still around.

Birding Around Denver on Friday

September 21, 2007

Another beautiful fall day in Colorado! I went over to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt at Prospect Park (Jefferson) about 4:00am to see if I could find any Eastern Screech-Owls. None responded to my playback recordings this morning.

After sunrise, I walked from Bass Lake to Johnson Park (Wadsworth Blvd). This area which once was considered one of the top five birding locations in Colorado has been very slow since our years of drought. I found few birds.

The highlights were a Townsend’s Warbler and Plumbeous Vireo hunting for insects in the under story of the thick trees along the Tree Bridge Trail as it climbs uphill (south) to the subdivision above Wheat Ridge Greenbelt.

Johnson Park had few birds and many mosquitoes. After hiking the 3 miles between the two parks, I took a city bus back to my car.

In the late afternoon, I rode my bike along the eastern side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal (inside: Adams County, outside fence: Denver County).

It was not one of my better ideas as I rode 4 miles (from 56th to 88th avenues) into a 25-35 mph wind. The wind kept any birds that might have been in the area from moving about and being seen.

There are at least 2 Burrowing Owls still in the area (one in each county). This area can no longer be driven in a car; walk in or biking only.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Birding Around Denver on Thursday

September 20, 2007

I birded around Denver. What a beautiful fall day! The smell and feel of "cool" was in the air.

At Barr Lake (Adams) I met up with Gary Weston and we found a Wood Thrush at the southeast corner of the Niedrach Boardwalk Loop. While watching it, we also observed a Cassin's Vireo, Plumbeous Vireo, 5 Wilson's Warblers, and a Hermit Thrush.

Gary had to leave, but I continued north along the main trail/road to the boat ramp at mile marker 7.5. This was with 3 layers of Deet on, for mosquito protection. Along the way, I counted 19 Wilson's Warblers, 2 Orange-crowned Warblers, another Hermit Thrush, 1 House Wren, 1 Spotted Towhee, and another Plumbeous Vireo.

The best bird was a Nashville Warbler at mm 8.3. He was hiding under the trees at the south end of the large clearing north of the banding area.

I then drove the DIA Owl Loop where I saw 3 Burrowing Owls at the 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue site. Later another 2 Burrowing Owls were found at 0.2 miles north of Tower Road and 56th avenue. A Loggerhead Shrike was perched on the fence at the northeast corner of the power plant at Powhaton and 128th avenue.

The Star Ranch Open Space (Arapahoe) was pretty quiet. A late Western Kingbird and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers were just about all I found (except for many mosquitoes).

Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) was similarly quiet. A lone Western Wood-pewee was all I saw (and many additional mosquitoes).

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I hoped that a few of the Sabine's Gulls would be closer to the dam and I could get a photo or two. I did get one shot, however most of the Sabine's Gulls stayed several hundred yards off the dam. There were at least 4, perhaps 5 Sabine's Gulls there.

The trees at the Smoky Hill group picnic area were quiet, bird wise.
I scoped the eastern sand spit from the jet ski rental area. There were many American White Pelicans, 3 Great Egrets, 11 Snowy Egrets, and a few Killdeer.

At the Cottonwood Loop wetlands pond, 6 adult and 2 immature Black-crowned Night-Herons waited for food to swim by. No Green Herons or Red-necked Grebes, I did see a pair of Pied-billed Grebes.

I enjoyed better success from the north end of the Lake Loop. Here I could see 8+ Red-necked Phalaropes and the Red Phalarope. The Red Phalarope stayed a little off to himself, but was in the same vicinity.

A couple of Great Blue Herons stood on the telephone poles in the water around the southwest marina.

Comanche National Grasslands and Big Bend

September 16, 2007

Bryan and Sue Ehlmann found a Baird's Sparrow on the Comanche National Grasslands (Baca County). With the help of GPS, we were able to relocate the bird in the afternoon. Not much time was left for additional birding. However, it was a great bird to see!

September 17, 2007

Rebecca and I continued to Big Bend. Early in the morning we hiked up Pine Canyon to see the Fan-tailed Warbler. Fantastic sighting! We also found a Hutton's Vireo, Townsend's Warbler, and Black-crested Titmice! It was a long but satisfying day!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Search for the Boulder County Long-tailed Jaeger

September 14, 2007

Bryan Ehlmann and I went searching for the Long-tailed Jaeger in Boulder County. We received a call that the Jaeger was no longer at Boulder Reservoir so we detoured over to Union Reservoir (Weld County). It was not there either, but we did find a Sabine’s Gull, Great Egret, and a few Snowy Egrets.

We also checked Lagerman Reservoir. No jaeger, there was a Bonaparte's Gull and Stilt Sandpiper. There was no better success at Baseline Reservoir, Prince Lakes, Valmont Reservoir, and Ish Reservoir. We did find a few Baird's Sandpipers, 2 Western Sandpipers, and 2 Least Sandpipers at Prince Lake #2.

After an early dinner, we checked out Boulder Reservoir. The jaeger still had not show up. So we headed up to Gross Reservoir. We did not really expect the jaeger to be at this high mountain reservoir and it was not. Two Mountain Bluebirds, a Spotted Towhee, and Green-tailed Towhee were around the northeast parking area.

A search for Common Poorwills turned one up along the road to the southern entrance of Gross Reservoir. It was found at the switchbacks that start dropping sharply downhill (about 2/3 of the way to the southern entrance).

A listen for owls around the ranger’s home and southern entrance road did not turn up any tonight.

Birding Pawnee National Grasslands Area

September 13, 2007

Ed Woodruff, Terry, and I birded in Weld County today. What a fantastic day weather-wise.

Our first stop was Highway 14 and County Road 51. No Mountain Plovers could be found; Six Burrowing Owls were at the northeastern corner. As we drove north on CR 51, we observed a Mountain Plover (about halfway between Hwy 14 & CR 90). No Mountain Plovers at CR 51 & CR 90, there were 3 Burrowing Owls to the north of the intersection. About halfway between CR 90 and east to Hwy 14, we stopped at another good Mountain Plover location. Again we found zero, but counted 7 Burrowing Owls.

We then drove the Mountain Plover Loop listed on the CoBus website. At CR 94 & CR 63, we drove north half a mile, stopped and walked west to the cement drains and past. No Mountain Plovers today, we did see several flocks of McCown's Longspurs (at least 34) and plenty of Horned Larks. This was the only place where we observed longspurs the whole day. Back at the intersection of CR 94 & CR 63, we observed 5 Sage Thrashers around the yard of the house at the southeast corner. Along the drive we saw 3 Red-tailed Hawks and 2 Golden Eagles.

Our next stop was Crow Valley Campgrounds. Birding was pretty slow here today. We did find a first year American Redstart in the southeast corner. Other birds found included 3 Western Flycatchers, 2 Brown Thrashers, 1 House Wren, 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 1 Blue Jay, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, half a dozen Wilson's Warblers, a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos (Slate and Pink sided). That was about it except for American Robins and Northern Flickers.

The mudflats at Lower Latham Reservoir were dried up. One Snowy Egret and one Great Blue Heron stood in the inlet canal. Beebe Draw Ponds had a few more birds. We counted Western Sandpipers, Baird's Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, Wilson's Phalaropes, and American Avocets.

Big miss for the day, we did not find any Lark Buntings.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Unsuccessful Search for Common Poorwills

September 12, 2007

Bob Turnbull and I started the morning looking for common Poorwill. We first visited Mt. Falcon Park (Jefferson). Once again we were not able to find any Common Poorwill.

At first light we were in the parking lot of Mt. Falcon Park. A wild Turkey walked across the parking lot and down the hill to the West. Two Townsend's Solitaires sang from atop of the fir trees. We heard a Red Crossbill and after a few minutes found three males and four females feeding on the pine cones at the top of the firs.

We walked up the trail to the old Castle. After circling the Castle several times, Bob found a Dusky Grouse about 20 yards west of the Castle. On the way back to the car, the field to the South of the trail had many Pine Siskins and Mountain Bluebirds. A male Downy Woodpecker was around the restroom near the parking lot.

Our next stop was Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). We walked the South side of Pine Lake. Then we headed South up the Buck Gulch trail. A flock of 14 pygmy nuthatches were near the Junction of Buck Gulch trail and Pine Lake trail. About 20 yards South of Pine Lake we found two White breasted Nuthatches. Another 30 yards up the trail we ran into a male Hairy Woodpecker. We thought he heard a Three Toed Woodpecker, but we were never able to find it.

Once we reached the Strawberry Jack trail, we headed West up it. When we reached the Parkview trail, we again heard a Three Toed Woodpecker. After a few minutes, Bob was able to find a male American Three Toed Woodpecker. We then headed down the switchbacks of the Parkview trail back to our car.

We then walked the Narrow Gauge Railroad Trail west to its end. Northern Pygmy Owls have been seen along this trail in the past. However, we did not have any success today. We did find an American Dipper along the creek and near the 2nd bridge west of the parking area.

From there we made a wild detour through Deckers over to Castlewood Canyon Park (Douglas). Along the way, we stopped several times to listen for Northern Pygmy Owls; without success.

Once at Lake Gulch Road and Castlewood Canyon Road, we listened for Bobolinks at the Winkler ranch. It is late in the season we did not have any success in finding Bobolinks (as expected). We did see several Mountain Bluebirds and a pair of Western Bluebirds on the way to Castlewood Canyon Park.

Two Turkey Vultures were flying overhead near the old homestead ranch house. We also saw a juvenile Golden Eagle. While walking behind the old homestead building, we found two Spotted Towhees and a Red Breasted Nuthatch.

Bob did not every much time but we stopped briefly at the South Marina at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). A Sabine's Gull was flying below the dam. We did not have much time to look for the Red Phalarope.

After dropping Bob off, I drove the DIA owl loop (Adams). I found five Burrowing Owls at 3.4 miles East of Tower Road and 96th Avenue. A pair of Burrowing Owls was also at Powhaton Avenue and 128th avenue and another pair was at 0.2 miles north of Tower Road and 56th avenue.

Owling and Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 11, 2007

We starting owling around midnight as I wanted to check several private ranches (invitation only) and still wanted to be a Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) about an hour before sunrise.

We estimated to have only 4 hours of walking time and checked the wildlife areas Knudson (Logan), Dune Ridge (Logan), Overland Trail (Logan), Atwood (Logan), and Messex (Logan) before picking up hwy 63 to hwy 36 to hwy 59. This route passes several state lands and private ranches that I had previously obtained permission to walk.

Owl count from four private ranches turned up only one Eastern Screech-Owl in Logan County. Overland Trail turned up another Eastern Screech-Owl. We briefly saw a Barn Owl flying in front of our car as we drove to Messex Wildlife Area. We did record some nice "night bird migration sounds"!

No Short-eared Owls flew around the north end of Flagler Reservoir the hour before sunrise. After sunrise, we walked the southern, eastern and northeastern corners of Flagler Reservoir. A Northern Waterthrush was walking around at the southeast corner. A Red-bellied Woodpecker worked the tall cottonwoods at the northeast corner.

Below the dam we found a MacGillivray's Warbler. While trying to determine the sex of the MacGillivray's Warbler we discovered another gray headed warbler which turned out to be a male Nashville Warbler (yellow throat, yellow undertail coverts, bluish gray head, nice complete white eye-ring).

Tired, we headed back to Denver. After a few hours of sleep, I woke up at 3:00pm and read Glenn Walbek’s report from Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Then I quickly headed over there. It took about 45 minutes to pick out the Red Phalarope that Glenn found earlier in the day.

Afternoon light from the swim beach is a killer. One almost looks directly into the setting sun. It requires moving around to scope areas where the sun is not directly in your scope. Unfortunately, the west side of the reservoir is too far away to scope the swim beach area.

Many boats pulling skiers were out on this warm fall day. That is a disadvantage when looking for water birds. However, one advantage was that they kept kicking up the gulls. One of the Sabine's Gulls also reported earlier by Glenn was forced to get off the water and flew over my head (I was at the swim beach. By the way, the Red Phalarope was northwest of the swim beach about 80 yards off the shore).

Walking back to my car, I came upon two flocks of birds around the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area. One flock consisted of 40+ Chipping Sparrows most of which were juvenile birds. The smaller second flock consisted of 7 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Black-capped Chickadees, and a Cassin's Vireo. This flock was first encountered northwest of the picnic area and moved south of it (around 5:30pm).

A check of the Cottonwood Creek Loop, Lake Loop, and southwest marina did not turn up the second summer Lesser Black-backed Gull reported by Glenn. No Common Terns reported yesterday by Steve Kennedy, but I did see 2 Black Terns. No unusual shorebirds today were on the eastern sand spit. There was one Great Egret and about 15 Snowy Egrets (another 17 encountered on other parts of the reservoir).

More Fall Counts

The fall counts were published in "Colorado Field Notes". There is no reason to repeat them here.

Fall Counts

The Fall Counts were published in "Colorado Field Notes". No reason to repeat them here!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A quick trip to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt

September 5, 2007

I went over to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt before crashing (owling all night). There were few birds around. I did relocate the Plumbeous Vireo that Terry Michaels reported yesterday. A few Song Sparrows were just about all I found. Another search for the Mourning Warbler (reported last Thursday) was a bust. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird buzzed by my ear (the highlight for the morning).

I slept most of the afternoon. No owling tonight!

During the last hour before sunset, I drove the DIA Owl Loop. Hope was that a Short-eared Owl would come out and hunt before dark; none did. It was raining during the whole drive, so I abandoned the idea of walking the east side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Buckley Road).

Burrowing Owls were out at:
3.4 miles east of 96th avenue & Tower Road
0.2 miles north of Tower Road & 56th avenue

Powhaton Road & 128th avenue

Another Search for Grouse and Owls

September 4, 2007

Roger, Randy Danka and I birded Jackson County. Most places were slow. We did not find anything unusual at Walden Reservoir, St John Wildlife Area, or Delaney Butte Lakes. The highlight was a Clark's Nutcracker at Cowdrey Lake WLA. This is the second time this year that I have seen a Clark's Nutcracker on the high plains where there are no trees. We found the other at Delaney Butte Lake back in April.

We drove around the Coalmont Lek area near dusk. Did not find any Greater Sage-Grouse.

It was raining when we reached Cameron Pass and we gave up on looking for Boreal Owls.

On the trip back to Denver we stopped at the many campgrounds and picnic areas along Hwy 14. No owls were seen or heard.

Search for Sage Grouse and Owls

September 3, 2007

Roger, Randy Danka and I drove through Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. Birding was pretty slow. The highlight was a Golden Eagle.

We also explored Jackson County Road 26. Greater Sage-Grouse have been found here in the past; none today however. We did count 7 Sage Thrashers and many Brewer's Sparrows.

After dark we hiked the Michigan Ditch (top of Cameron Pass, Jackson County). Rain and snow made the trip useless. Winds became quite strong after we were 2 miles down the trail.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Colorado State Forest

September 2, 2007

Roger and Randy Danka and I birded around the Colorado State Forest.

We did wander over to Laramine River Road and up to Browns Park Campgrounds. In all we found 6 American Three-toed Woodpeckers as we stopped at various pullovers along the road. One Three-toed Woodpecker was located at the campground also.

Three Pine Grosbeaks were feeding near the Michigan Canal (summit of Cameron Pass) when we passed by there.

Later in the afternoon we checked the old banding area at the end of Michigan Creek Road, Colorado State Forest. Birds found there included Hermit Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, Red-naped Sapsucker, Pine Siskin, and American Robins.

The feeders at the Colorado State Forest Visitor’s Center were visited by Pine Siskins, Cassin's Finches, 2 Pine Grosbeaks, and an Evening Grosbeak. In the willows we found 1 MacGillivray's Warbler and half a dozen Wilson's Warblers. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds numbered in the several dozens.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, a few Rufous Hummingbirds, and 1 Calliope Hummingbird were found at the Gould feeders. Minus the Calliope Hummingbird, there were many hummingbirds at the KOA campgrounds also.

Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was found east of Michigan Creek Road & Ruby Jewell Road. After dark we searched for Boreal Owls. We briefly heard one east of the previously mentioned intersection. Near dusk it had rained for about 2 hours (which did not help our owling efforts). Owling was a wash (no pun intended).

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Searching for Owls

September 1, 2007

Roger and Randy Danka and I bushwhacked through the thickets south of the dam at Dixon Reservoir (Larimer). We ran into a small flock of warblers at 30 yards south of the east end of the dam and 30 yards east. An American Redstart was again loosely associated with 6-8 Wilson's Warblers and a MacGillivray's Warbler.

Mosquitoes were plentiful and Larimer County is noted for 95 percent of them carrying West Nile Virus. Therefore we did not want to stay for any length of time. The long pants, long sleeve shirts, and gloves made it quite uncomfortable in the summer heat.

A Sora was again walking the log under the eastern end of the trees (at the eastern end of the dam). I was here last Sunday searching for the reported Painted Redstart. A few Cedar Waxwings flew around hawking insects. Two American White Pelicans swam out on the lake.

In the late afternoon we walked around Red Feathers Lakes. Roger located an American Three-toed Woodpecker along the western side of the lakes. White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches fluttered about the campgrounds. Across the road to the south, we found a male Williamson's Sapsucker searching for food on the Douglas firs. After the rain stopped, Dark-eyed Juncos sang in celebration. What a beautiful song this small little bird has!

The highlight was a surprise American Redstart near the cabins at the northwest corner of the property. I can only remember a couple of Redstart reports from the mountains. Most of them were in open valleys such as Steamboat Springs and Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig.

Flammulated Owls can still be found on Pennock Pass. After dark we managed to hear 2 and see a third one. We stopped every 0.2 miles along CR 44h and listened for Common Poorwills; without success.

We had no luck finding Boreal Owls around Joe Wright Reservoir or the summit to Cameron Pass. Winds were quite strong which makes hearing them quite difficult. We did not go far from the main road (windy and wet).

Another Search for Owls

August 31, 2007

I returned to Reynolds Park (Jefferson) with Roger and Randy Danka. While the hike is not difficult, it is strenuous enough to require some effort especially in the summer heat. The all night owling trips were starting to take their toll; I need a rest.

Roger found a Townsend's Warbler when we were about 0.2 miles west of the Eagle’s View Trail (on the way back to our car). We did not find any at the top of the trail today. We did find a female American Three-toed Woodpecker on the trip up (about 20 yards south of the junction of the Oxen Draw, Eagle’s View, & Raven’s Roost trails).

The usual suspects were also seen on the trek (see 8/28/2007).

August 30, 2007

We had planned on hiking around Wearyman Creek and Shrine Pass (Eagle County) for a couple of days. However, circumstances required that we return to Denver. We did make a quick hike up Wearyman Creek about 4:00am. Again a Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our playback. After sunrise, we searched briefly for White-winged Crossbills (reported several weeks ago); without success.

In the afternoon, I walked around Wheat Ridge Greenbelt at Prospect Park in search of the Mourning Warbler reported earlier in the day. The bushes here have become quite thick, almost to the point of not being penetrable. I did not find the warbler (reported as 200 feet east of the chain link fence and 100 feet south of the ditch, south side of Clear Creek).

Birds were few and far between. I did find a vireo along the stream east of the old scout corral. Closer inspection showed it to be a Cassin's Vireo! While trying to identify the vireo, I heard a Northern Waterthrush. Again the thick bushes did not allow me to see the bird.

Later I walked down to the “Jack’s Place” picnic table to see if the resident Eastern Screech-Owls were out; they were not. I returned by way of the south side of the scout corral and worked my way through the thickets east of the corral. From here I could see the stream (north of an old white plastic bench) and there was the Northern Waterthrush walking along it!

It was getting to be 5:00pm. Mosquitoes were coming out in force and I departed.

August 29, 2007

Before sunrise, Gary Weston and I hiked the Twin Cone Peaks trail. A Flammulated Owl answered our recordings when played 40 yards south of where the trail crosses Kenosha Creek. A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was in the Aspen grove east of where the trail turns from north-south to west-east. Several dozen hummingbirds (Broad-tailed) all but one Rufous zipped around the willows and cabins.

On the trip back to our car, 2 Dusky Grouse crossed the road (about 0.2 miles east of Highway 285). Wilson's Warblers flew in and out of the willows along and below the road. Near sunrise we had heard a Hermit Thrush singing.

A quick stop at Antero Reservoir did not find much. The highlight was a singing Dickcissel halfway between the reservoir and Hwy 24. A Rufous Hummingbird also flew by and checked our red car.

We looked for Mountain Plover at their traditional nesting grounds north of the reservoir; without success. A quick walk through Buffalo Creek Campgrounds found another male Williamson's Sapsucker. Four or five dozen American Robins were in the shade. A lone male Black-headed Grosbeak sang briefly.

In the late afternoon, we hiked around the old burn area up Georgia Pass (Park County). We heard the drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker. Again it took over 20 minutes to locate the bird in the thick forest. After dark we listened for Northern Pygmy-Owl (have been found across the road from the burn area in past years). After about an hour, we finally heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl about 200 yards east of the burn area. The night was quiet and windless so we hiked up Georgia Pass to the summit (about 2 miles). On the way back down, we heard a Flammulated Owl we guess about a mile west of the burn area (estimated from a GPS reading). Both owl sightings were after midnight (8/30).

August 28, 2007

Gary Weston and I searched for Common Poorwills and Northern Pygmy-Owls along Foxton Road early this morning; without success.

A late Virginia's Warbler was fluttering about in the thick willows west of the main parking area for Reynolds Park (Jefferson County).

Near sunrise, we started our hike up the Oxen Draw Trail. On some trips, Northern Pygmy-Owls can be found hunting along this ditch (but not today). Gary pointed out a Dusky Grouse scurrying along 20 feet east of the trail (when we were about 80 yards south of the Songbird Trail).

We continued to the junction with the Eagle’s View and Raven’s Roost trails. As we approached the junction we heard a woodpecker. It took about 15 minutes to locate a female American Three-toed Woodpecker. She was about 15 yards south of the Oxen Draw trail and 20 yards east of the above junction.

Our hike continued east and south up the Eagle’s View trail as we wanted to check the new addition mentioned by Merlynn Brown just a few days ago. Just below reaching the clearing at the top of the trail (great view by the way) we found a Townsend's Warbler. This could have been one of the two reported by Merlynn?

We circled back to the Raven’s Roost trail and continued to our car. Along the way we ran into all three nuthatches (White-breasted, Red-breasted, and Pygmy), 2 Brown Creepers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Pine Siskins, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

A brief check for Three-toed Woodpeckers was made at Pine Valley Ranch Park. We only hiked along the south side of Pine Lake and several hundred yards up the Buck Gulch Trail; without seeing any woodpeckers.