Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 29, 2007

I received a call from Bill Cryder about a strange gull at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). I detoured my birding trip to Julesburg and headed over.

We watched a small gull in the eastern center of the lake of course, for about an hour. The bird fitted the description of a Bonaparte's Gull or Ross's Gull. The primaries looked fairly light and accounting for any shadows from the afternoon sun, they could have been pale gray like a Ross's Gull. From the distance we were observing, we could not see any contrast between the wings and back. However, after 55 minutes the bird finally took off and we observed a Bonaparte's Gull flying away toward the southwest marina.

Later, we drove over to the Lake Loop and found the Red-throated Loon about 100 yards off the northwest corner. Three Common Loons were in close proximity. Also seen were many Western Grebes (no Clark's Grebes), many Horned Grebe, Eared Grebes, a couple Pied-billed Grebes, dozens of American Coots, a group of Ruddy Ducks, 2 Common Mergansers, many Ring-billed Gulls and California Gulls.

From the hill overlooking the southwest marina, we could see an adult or 4th year Lesser Black-backed Gull on the sandbar to the north and an adult Great Black-backed Gull standing on the poles outlining the marina area.

We did not find any scoters.

Winds were calm; temperatures in the high 50s. Just to stand under the superb fall sunset and listen to the loons, grebes, coots, and arriving Canada Geese makes the trek worthwhile! What a bonus the loons add to the trip!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Birding Adams County

October 28, 2007

I spent 6 hours walking around Rocky Mountain Arsenal Sunday. There was nothing rare, but I still enjoyed a few highlights.

The Surf Scoter on Havana Ponds was a surprise though I did go there looking for scoters at Lake Ladora and Havana Ponds. Unfortunately, it is not possible to see Lower Derby Lake which should have the best birds on it (more isolated, maybe deeper).

I watched a Northern Shrike hunt for about an hour at the Rod and Gun Club Pond area. He caught a mouse and ate lunch during my stay.

The local Peregrine Falcon flew over Lake Ladora about 3:00pm. He has made an appearance now on my last four trips over to the Arsenal (usually in the morning).

A yellowish bird flew out of the bushes along the western side of Lake Ladora. I thought it might be a late Wilson's Warbler and took 20 minutes to find out it was a Common Yellowthroat. A few winter in Colorado and I hope to return in a couple of weeks and relocate it. The location is a small group of bushes (opposite leaves, reddish, look willowish) next to the cattails where the shoreline runs a straight line north to south. The high weeds to the west are usually filled with sparrows.

In the same area was a flock of sparrows which included 9 Song Sparrows and 37 American Tree Sparrows. On the northwest side of Ladora, there was a flock of 29 White-crowned Sparrows (which were first seen a couple of weeks ago). The White-crowned Sparrow was not observed with them on this trip.

Both Bryan and I have found a Long-eared Owl in the same area (not the sparrow areas) on our last two trips. Perhaps it will stay the winter.

After hiking the Arsenal I headed over to Barr Lake to see if the "missing Ross's Gull ended up there. No luck on any uncommon gulls, however I did see one Pacific Loon and 2 Common Loons. A fourth loon was too far away to identify (I was at the boat ramp). If the Cherry Creek Reservoir Red-throated Loon is no longer there, Barr Lake may be the place to check?

I ended my birding day watching several dozen White-crowned Sparrows below the feeders behind the Visitors Center. About 30 minutes before sunset, I watched a sparrow that was quite interesting. It was larger than the "rest" of the White-crowned Sparrows and appeared to be darker. While I had good looks for about 25 seconds, it kept its back to me the whole time.

Its back appeared blackish without any brown or rusty color. A 5-8 second look at the top of its head appeared to be blackish with a yellowish center. The bird was in the shadows with the sun 90 degrees to the left. The bird appeared to be a Golden-crowned Sparrow. I list it as "possible" to be cautious (perhaps the sun somehow shone of the center and made it appear yellow and the rest of the dark head was due to being in shadows?).

I continued to watch hoping to see if the cheeks were grayish (Golden-crowned) or had brown (first year White-crowned). Unfortunately, two hikers walked around the side of the building and scared all the sparrows away. I stay an extra 30 minutes waiting for the birds to return. When I lost enough light that I could not see, I departed.

The bird will have to be left for another day; however I am leaving town for the week and can not get back there until next weekend.

Local Denver Reservoirs

October 27, 2007

I returned to Denver late yesterday afternoon and found little on Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). Met up with Gus Chambers and headed out about 3:00am to do some owling. We struck out at both Pine Valley Ranch Park and Reynolds Park. Winds were calm; temperatures in the high 40s. Unfortunately, we did not have time to hike around Pine Valley Ranch Park (only searched around the lower parking area).

After sunrise, we quickly hiked up to the junction of Oxen Draw, Eagle's View, and Raven's Roost. No Blue Grouse, but we did find a female American Three-toed Woodpecker about 15 yards north of the intersection.

Afterwards, we rushed Gus to DIA to make his flight home.

After getting a text message about scoters in the area, I decided to check the local reservoirs.

First stop, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). There were 7 Surf Scoters (Allison Hilf had reported 6) just offshore near the gull-winged picnic tables. Two Common Loons swam off the handicapped fishing dock. Allison also reported a Pacific Loon which I did not take time to search for (and later Glenn Walbek found a Red-throated Loon, which I could not relocate later in the day).

At my next stop Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas), I managed to find another Pacific Loon and another Common Loon. I did find my main target, a Thayer's Gull at the sand spit at the marina area. I did not find the reported Lesser Black-backed Gull or Ross's Geese.

My final stop (before returning to Cherry Creek Reservoir) was Standley Lake. It took awhile, but I was able to relocate (all reported by Doug Faulkner early in the day) 2 Surf Scoters, 3+ Black Scoters, 2 Common Loons, and my third Pacific Loon of the day!

Back at Cherry Creek Reservoir, I did not arrive until it was almost too dark to see. Missed the Red-throated Loon and planned to return on Sunday. However, first stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal and then decided to go to Barr Lake to look for the Ross's Gull.

What another beautiful fall day it was in Colorado!

Birding South Park

October 21 to 26, 2007

October 21st

Bill Cryder, Jerry Petrosky, Terry Michaels and I struck birded around Arapahoe County today.

We enjoyed good success. A Surf Scoter was swimming around the east side of Aurora Reservoir. Our loon count was up to 5; most of them swimming in the southeast corner of the reservoir. A flock of 9 American Tree Sparrow

October 22nd

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed up to Park County to see if any scoters were migrating through South Park. Our route was roundabout as we went through Loveland Pass, then Leadville, and then down to Park County.

We were at Loveland Pass at sunrise and counted 14 White-tailed Ptarmigan below the ridge on the east side of the road!

We had lunch with a friend and his wife in Summit County and took up their invitation to stay the night and play bridge. The weather was poor so we took them up on it.

October 23rd

Besides, we woke up to Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Grosbeaks coming to their feeders! A check of Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit) did not find any Barrow's Goldeneyes.

We made a detour to the A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary to see if any American Three-toed Woodpeckers could be found. None were found, but we birded mostly from our car.

Bryan and I worked our way west and south to Leadville (Lake). Turquoise Lake was quiet, birdwise. We drove up to Independence Pass (base, not the top) and searched for owls.

Finally we heard an owl. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was calling from the northwest corner of Twin Lakes. We stopped at the traditional Rosy Finch house near Granite, none have been seen yet this fall.

October 24th

We stayed the night in Buena Vista and headed out at 2:00am in search of owls. Two Northern Saw-whet Owls were found in their traditional Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands east of town. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was found west of town as we drove up to the top of Cottonwood Pass (Chaffee).

While looking for Lewis's Woodpeckers around town, a lady came out and described an owl she had been seeing. She took us over to the tree and there was a Western Screech-Owl looking out!

Finally we reached Park County east of Buena Vista. We spent most the afternoon counting the many birds on Antero Reservoir. The highlights were 2 Greater Scaup, a Pacific Loon, 7 Surf Scoters, 4 Black Scoters, and one White-winged Scoter. In addition 3 Common Loons and a Pacific Loon were also found.

What a treasure! It's not often one can find the triple crown of scoters at on one lake!

With only an hour of light remaining and winds picking up to 35+ mph, we decided to return to our motel in Buena Vista.

October 25th
For once we did not get up at 2:00 or 4:00 am. We passed Buena Vista Overlook on the drive east to Park County reservoirs. Five Pinyon Jays flew around below the hill to the west.

We hit Antero Reservoir first to see if yesterday's birds were still there. Numbers were slightly down which might have indicated that the birds had moved to the nearby reservoirs.

A careful scoping of the lake convinced us that the White-winged Scoter was definitely gone. Both of the other scoter numbers were down to 2 Black Scoters and 2 Surf Scoters. Loons included 2 Common Loons and 1 Pacific Loon. An addition at Antero Reservoir was 2 Trumpeter Swans!

We headed to Spinney Mountain Reservoir to cautiously count scoters there. The scoter count at Spinney was 5 Surf Scoters and 1 Black Scoter. To err on the conservative side, we concluded that the Surf Scoters were from Antero Reservoir and no addition Black Scoters had flown into Park County during the night. The White-winged Scoter was not relocated during our stay.

Additions to our trip list were 4 Common Loons swimming around on Spinney Reservoir. There were another 4 Common Loons on Eleven Mile Reservoir (on which there were no scoters).

On the way back to Buena Vista for the night, we checked on the 2 Trumpeter Swans. There had been joined by 5 Tundra Swans!

We also made a detour to the top of Weston Pass. There had been a report of a Boreal Owl heard at the top. We did not find that, but did hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl at a stop about 0.4 miles into the riparian area first encountered west of Highway 285.

October 26th
While we were not as through with our scoter count today. We did get:
Antero Reservoir: 4 Surf Scoter, 2 Black Scoter, no White-winged Scoter
Spinney Reservoir: 3 Surf Scoter, 1 Black Scoter, no White-winged Scoter
Eleven Mile Reservoir: 4 Common Loons, no scoters

Swan count today was 5 Trumpeter Swan and 5 Tundra Swans. Clearly they were migrating through and there was no way for us to determine if we were counting the same birds.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hunt for Arapahoe County Trumpeter Swan

October 20, 2007

Definitely needed to do chores today (undesirable, frustrating tasks, purchased a new car and got new eye glasses). However, there is always time to get in a little birding, so I searched for the Arapahoe County Trumpeter Swan (reported earlier by Bill Cryder) and Cherry Creek Reservoir Pacific Loon (reported by Don Beltz). Did not find either at Cherry Creek Reservoir; birding was slow. The pursuit was not aided by winds which were again 20+ mph.

The gull count was at least double since my last visit. The many American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorant have not yet left for their winter grounds. No loons and no uncommon gulls or any uncommon birds were found. Added Sunday: I forgot to mention that we did see one or two Bonaparte's Gulls flying around off the swim beach area.

One Shrike flew across the main road below the Ranger's Office. It appeared to be tracking a sparrow of some type. Neither stopped long enough for an id and I did not take the time to chase them into the field. At the bird platform (Cottonwood Creek Loop) I couldn't get a Swamp Sparrow to respond to a recording and left it for another day.

Both Quincy Reservoir and Aurora Reservoir did not have a large white bird on them. No swans, I headed for home at dusk. No Short-eared Owls came out along the DIA Owl Loop.

Quick Trip to Barr Lake

October 19, 2007

While doing chores I ran by Barr Lake (Adams County) and birded a couple of hours. Winds were 20+ mph; temperatures in the 70s. I walked from the Visitor's Center to the boat ramp (mile markers 9.0 to 7.5) and did not see one bird (not even a Starling) until reaching the boat ramp.

Finally a Northern Flicker flew off the ground and away. A small flock of birds along the canal at the access bridge to the boat ramp included 9 Dark-eyed Juncos, 3 American Goldfinches, 2 Black-capped Chickadees, and a Song Sparrow. Nothing uncommon, I turned around and went back to the Visitor's Center.

I watched the feeders behind the center for about an hour (so much for chores :-). The bird count included many House Sparrows, about 8 White-crowned Sparrows, 5 Dark-eyed Juncos, 2 Red-winged Blackbirds, and a White-throated Sparrow. When not at the feeders, the White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows flew to the short bushes about 25 yards to the west of the Nature Center.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop one last time this season looking for Burrowing Owls. They have been gone for about 3 weeks now. In a few weeks, it will be time to look for Lapland Longspurs and perhaps Snow Buntings along the loop. A Short-eared Owl is still always a possibility.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Search for Dusky Grouse, Mt Falcon Park

October 18, 2007

Several birders asked about Dusky Grouse locations, so Jim Bottoms and I went to Mt Falcon Park (Jefferson County) this morning. One of those lucky days, we only had to search about 30 minutes before finding one. The Grouse was on the hill below and east of the old castle. It could be observed from the main trail going east from the castle. 40 yards east of the castle and 20 feet north of the trail. Found all three nuthatches and 4 Red Crossbills.

The hill below and west of the old castle has also been good for them this year. If missed at either location I usually walk east along the main trail and look below the first bench encountered (about 400 yards or so east).

A quick stop at Genesee Mountain Park and we missed Williamson's Sapsuckers again. No time for much else.

Search for Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass

October 17, 2007

Jim Bottoms and I headed up to Loveland Pass in search of White-tailed Ptarmigan. Another lucky day, we did not have to hike as far as Randy Cross and I did Monday. Two White-tailed Ptarmigan were around the huge rock outcropping below the Sniktau trail about 60 yards and perhaps 0.4 miles from our car. A few Mountain Bluebirds were still flying around west of the parking area.

No birds at Loveland Ski Basin. The feeders that use to be visited by Rosy Finches and Pine Grosbeaks are gone. The ski area was forced to take them down by the Forest Service.

We stopped at Genesee Mountain Park and walked from the group picnic area to the top (by the flag pole). No Williamson's Sapsuckers were encountered today. They could be gone for the season. We missed them Monday also.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pleasant Afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 16, 2007

While out doing chores I stopped and walked the Cottonwood Creek Loop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) for the last two hours of daylight. I played a Swamp Sparrow recording at several locations and one came out of the cattails. It was along the inlet canal at about halfway between the bird platform and the wooden bridge east of the parking area. You can recognize the area by a small muddy shoreline with a large group of bright green plants (cattails?).

While standing on the old wooden bridge playing a Swamp Sparrow recording, a flock of sparrows came by to the east (where the path is paved). The count was 37 American Robins, 9 White-crowned Sparrows (all juveniles), and 6 Song Sparrows. When I continued the walk east to the metal bridge (just below the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond) there were 17 White-crowned Sparrows (all adults). No additional Swamp Sparrows could be found.

No uncommon gulls were found today around the lake. A couple of Herring Gulls, dozens of California Gulls, and hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were it. Two American Tree Sparrows were around the restrooms at the campgrounds. A dozen Great Blue Herons, no egrets, hundreds of American White Pelicans, and dozens of Double-crested Cormorant rounded out the count. Only shorebirds were Killdeer.

One thing that stuck me was the lack of birds especially sparrows. In late October last year and previous years, many sparrows would be feeding on the thistles and rabbit brush at the Cottonwood Creek and Lake Loops.

On a traffic note: trying to get to Barr Lake from the airport is next to impossible between 3:30pm and 6:00pm. With the new town, Reunion and all the cars heading north on Tower Road, forget it. It takes half an hour just to get through the traffic light at 88th avenue. The reverse (Barr Lake to Airport) is the opposite (impossible) between 5:30am and 7:00am.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Summit & Clear Creek Counties

October 15, 2007

Randy Cross and I decided to try owling in the Montezuma, CO area (Summit County). We wanted to hike up the Saints John Trail (toward Glacier Mountain) and Hunkidori Trail. We arrived to discover that the area had received a foot of snow the day before. Lacking the proper equipment, we only hiked about 0.5 miles of the trails and did not locate any owls.

Our backup plan was to see if we could find any White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek). Winds had blown off most of the snow up there, especially on the east side. We hiked up about 1.5 miles and back and found 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan on the return trip. Guess we were about 0.75 miles from our vehicle (GPS) on the trail to the top of Mt. Sniktau and therefore in Clear Creek County.

A flock of 7-9 Mountain Bluebirds flew around the evergreens on the west side of Highway 6. Several American Pipits were also still around the area, no Rosy Finches though.

For the past four years I have wanted to hike the ridge to the west along the continental divide and then drop down into Loveland Ski Basin (about a 4 mile hike). Preferably when there is a thin layer of snow on the trail so to make finding White-tailed Ptarmigan a little easier. It is always easier to find them by looking for their tracks in the snow rather than their well camouflaged bodies in snow or granite rocks (depending upon the season).

The kink in this plan has been that when the area gets its first snow, it is usually several feet. Avalanche danger has discouraged any attempt of the plan. Perhaps this will be the year? Snow is predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday and if not too deep, we plan to give it a try.

After our Loveland Pass trek we headed into Dillon and checked local feeders. No Rosy Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, or Pine Grosbeak were about. We did see Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Black-capped Chickadee, Pine Siskin, Downy Woodpecker, and Hairy Woodpecker. A Band-tailed Pigeon would have been nice; but found none of them around either.

The city park in Georgetown was quiet also as was Silver Plume. A quick stop at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) did not find any Williamson's Sapsuckers.

Owling and "The Little Sit"

October 14, 2007

Randy Cross and I started out owling about 3:00am. Before sunrise we enjoyed medium success. Partial view of a Northern Pygmy-Owl at White Ranch Open Space (Jefferson County). We heard another Northern Pygmy-Owl at Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Jefferson). We then headed up to Rollinsville by way of the Peak to Peak Highway.

Along the trek we stopped every 0.5 mile and listened for owls. Heard 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls (Boulder), observed none. No Flammulated Owls, it is late in the season for them (however, we did hold out hope that we might come across a late migrating Flammulated Owl). No Boreal Owls, we were not high enough (elevation) for them.

We returned to Denver by way of Hwy 72. Throughout the earlier morning and the whole day for that matter, we ran into rain and more rain.

In the afternoon we sat for three hours at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). It was part of a competition started last year to see how many birds could be found in 3 hours. The 3 hour time limit was an accident. When we started this "little sit" as we call it, weather turned so bad last year that we had to quit after 3 hours.

This year we had three teams of two. Total species were: 28, 27, 27. Further rules for anyone who cares: teams can pick any spot in the park to sit and any 3 hour time period. It is an interesting exercise at a slow time of the year.

The highlight for the two teams with 27 species was a Red-necked Grebe. The winning team missed the Red-necked Grebe but added Sandhill Cranes heard flying overhead and a Swamp Sparrow (heard in the cattails west of the bird platform).

Other notables included a 4th cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Egret. We hoped for an early scoter or loon; none showed up.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

October 13, 2007

I enjoyed a successful day of birding in spite of the weather. Partly cloudy skies in the morning turned to heavy rain by late afternoon.

At first light I returned to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) to see if I could find the Northern Waterthrush that Bryan Ehlmann reported on Wednesday. I also wanted to cover all 7.8 miles of trails open to the public.

My first stop was the northwest corner of Lake Ladora (which is just behind the Visitor's Center). Guess it was not my first stop as I watched and photographed 2 Rock Wrens fluttering about behind the Center.

At Ladora, I counted at least 51 sparrows in the tall weeds just north of the trail. Most were White-crowned Sparrows, however the White-throated Sparrow popped up several times. Two Song Sparrows also joined the group. A dozen American Goldfinches flew around feeding on the thistles also. The several tall cottonwood trees at this corner only had Yellow-rumped Warblers (about 7) today.

I continued clockwise around the lake. No Long-eared Owls today in the Russian Olive grove. The locust grove was also void of birds. Warbler migration is definitely on the downside or over here. I scoped the canal at the northeast corner for about 30 minutes before giving up on a Northern Waterthrush sighting.

Once I arrived at Peoria and 64th avenue, I continued south to the junction with the Woodland Trail. I took the detour to the Rod and Gun Club Ponds. The ponds are dry and only a few flickers were found along the trail. A Rock Wren searched for food under the bird blind on the western end of the ponds.

I was able to relocate the Long-eared Owl that Bryan found on Wednesday. The thick locust groves appear to be good places for them to hide. I wonder if any try and nest on the arsenal? Looking at my records, I have now found them in each month of the year.

Back on the Woodland Trail (now west of Peoria) it goes through several locust and cottonwood groves. I counted 2 dozen+ Dark-eyed Juncos (which included Oregon, Pink-sided, and Slate-colored). When I reached the junction with the Havana Ponds trail, I turned south again.

Havana Ponds was the busiest place today. Hundreds of ducks, 2 American White Pelicans, American Coots, 2 Western Grebes, and 1 Pied-billed Grebe were observed here. Ducks included nothing uncommon (Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Pintail Duck, American Wigeon, 2 Redhead).

I turned back north and walked the southwestern side of Lake Ladora. A Peregrine Falcon flew between Havana Ponds & Ladora during my walk. Another flock of 67 sparrows were in the tall weeds at Ladora. This flock was again mostly White-crowned Sparrows, but also included several American Tree Sparrows.

The highlight of my walk was found at the western edge of Ladora. First I heard the clicking of a thrush and later located a late migrating Hermit Thrush. The Thrush acted like a Sanderling and ran up and down gathering insects on a small sandy beach area. I took some of my best Hermit Thrush photos (as usually I only get small glimpses of them deep in woods).

After Rocky Mountain Arsenal, I headed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I was pouring rain, however I managed to see the Lesser Black-backed Gull flying around the center of the lake. American White Pelican numbers have increased as have Western Grebes. If a Sabine's Gull is still there, I could not locate it.

My final stop of the day was Barr Lake (Adams). I got the text message from the CoBus RBA text message service and wanted to see if I could find the gulls reported earlier in the day by Ira Sanders. When I arrived at the boat ramp, 2-4 Sabine's Gulls were flying around about 200 yards north. It took a while, but I finally got the Lesser Black-backed Gull in my scope. It started to rain pretty hard, but I managed to find at least one Common Loon before packing it in for the day.

Search for Sprague's Pipits

October 10 to 11, 2007

October 10th

Roger Danka and I spent two days wandering around Sedgwick and Phillips County in search of Sprague's Pipits.

We did not find any in their tradition locations along Sedgwick CR 59. This was in spite of driving the roads for five hours, stopping and scoping the fields.

In the afternoon, Roger made some calls to ranches that I had provided bird birds and a lectured last fall (2006). Three possible fields to search had emerged.

It never hurts to involve as many people as possible. Roger and I found Sprague's Pipits on two of the three ranches. The ranchers were ecstatic that they had found Sprague's Pipits even with their limited knowledge!

After dark, Roger and I heard his 2 Eastern Screech-Owls calling while we took a hike around his property.

October 11th
Roger and I returned to the two ranches and relocated several Sprague's Pipits. So they had stayed at least one night. We checked several other ranches; without success.

I consumed a late lunch of fried chicken (Roger's wife is the best) and headed back to Denver.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

October 3, 2007

I enjoyed my walk around Rocky Mountain Arsenal so much last Saturday that I had to repeat it today. Temperatures reached the 80s and winds were mild during my 10 hour hike! I took many photos for an article in next month's Colorado Field Notes.

The highlight of the day was definitely a Philadelphia Vireo. I watched the bird for about an hour as it fed in the locust trees at the extreme northeast corner of Ladora Lake. Later I found 2 Townsend's Warblers along the Woodland Trail (as it runs east to west, just west of "D" road).

I covered every public trail out there at least once; several I walked twice. Total mileage: approximately 10.5 miles.

Other birds found included a Clay-colored Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's Warblers, a flock of 19 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 61 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet (not with any Ruby-crowned Kinglets), 1 Western Kingbird, and a Peregrine Falcon (flew over Ladora Lake several times).

The birding day was much better than Tuesday's four hours at Barr Lake where I only saw 47 birds (not species and not counting waterfowl, starlings, or flickers). See blog for that report. I did get my first county Cassin's Kingbird at Barr Lake (at mile marker 8.0).

On a personal note: the Philadelphia Vireo was my 400th non target bird in Colorado (no previous knowledge such as RBA, word of mouth, etc). I had been stuck on 399 for 3 or 4 years now.

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek State Parks

October 2, 2007

The day started out with 20+ mph winds on the plains. Barr Lake was surprisingly calm. Winds did die down later in the morning. The crisp cool feel to the air made for a beautiful fall day in Colorado!

Before sunrise, I drove around north and east of DIA looking for Short-eared Owls this morning; without success. Two Burrowing Owls are still at the 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue site. I have not found Burrowing Owls at the other sites along the DIA Owl Loop in my last couple of trips now. (Though I did see one at the 0.2 miles north of Tower Road & 56th avenue site later in the day).

I counted 5 Northern Harriers after sunrise. Most were along the new paved road; 120th avenue has now been extended east from Trussville Road and is paved for 4.5 miles. They cut through the rancher's land there, look for new housing soon.

A Peregrine Falcon flew over the Prairie Dog colony (Tower, north of 56th) at 6:34am. A Ferruginous Hawk stood on the telephone poles at the intersection of 112th and 114th avenues at 7:00am. (And yes the two avenues cross, weird). No additional hawks were seen throughout the morning.

A four hour walk around Barr Lake was enjoyable but not birdy. Discounting waterfowl, flickers, and starlings, I observed around 47 birds (not species, but birds). West Nile Virus has surely taken it toll on Barr Lake State Park and other places around Colorado.

The highlight was seeing my first Adams County Cassin's Kingbird. The flycatcher was perched in the dead tree just north of mile marker 8.0.

A Green-tailed Towhee was with a flock of 11 White-crowned Sparrows at mile marker 8.8. A male Hairy Woodpecker and Hermit Thrush were up the Pioneer Trail (mm 8.1).

All species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (9), Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee (1), Cassin's Kingbird, House Wren (2), Rock Wren (1), Green-tailed Towhee (1), Hermit Thrush. Slow day, but it was still a pleasant walk in mild winds.

Later in the afternoon I had occasion to past through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe). The Great Black-backed Gull was on the southwest sandbar. Two Common Terns flew around the same area. And two Sabine's Gulls flew around just south of the dam tower. I did not have the time to scope the lake for other birds. Did not see the Lesser Black-backed Gull or Great Egret; again I did not spend much time there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 1, 2007

I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) while doing chores, arriving a little earlier than yesterday (5:00am). A Great Egret was stalking food at the eastern sand spit. No uncommon gulls were there, at the swim beach, or off the Bird Platform (Cottonwood Creek Loop). I counted 21 Snowy Egrets within 20 feet of the Bird Platform Viewing Area. The only shorebirds were 9 Killdeer.

Next I drove over to the southwest road below the dam. Two hundred seven American White Pelicans stood on the southwest sandbar. This was up from 51 yesterday. Gull numbers were down by 75 percent around the reservoir. Snowy Egret numbers were about the same; the count was 37 around the lake.

When I arrived at the sandbar the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and adult Great Black-backed Gull stood at the eastern end. After watching both for 20 minutes, a couple of dozen California Gulls flew in and the Lesser Black-backed Gull took off. I lost sight of it as it flew eastward. The Great Black-backed Gull on the other hand stayed until dark.

Two Common Terns dove for fish around the sandbar. Several times they stopped to rest on the buoys not far from the shore. This allowed some great views of an adult and juvenile bird.

I had not observed any Sabine's Gulls in the hour I stood watching the terns and gulls. Just when I thought they might be gone, three Sabine's Gulls flew around off the swim beach area (it was now 6:40pm).

California Gulls numbered about 49. One California Gull had a much darker mantle than the rest. It was a little too far away and in-between the Pelicans to get great looks, but it could be the "hybrid" that has shown up the last couple of winters. One adult Ring-billed Gull was interesting in that it had a much darker mantle than all but the one "California Gull".

I enjoyed the cool and almost windless evening for another 15 minutes and headed for home. Beats any TV show that I know!