Thursday, November 29, 2007

Search for Owls on the Eastern Plains

November 29, 2007

Julian Rodriguez and I set out this morning for Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). Our target bird was Long-eared Owl. Unfortunately, none turned up in their historical wintering location.

Lapland Longspurs were fairly easy to find along Morgan County Road 4 which turns into Weld County Road 105. We counted over 200+ in three flocks. We were pretty sure that there was one Chestnut-collared Longspur in a flock just south of the Weld County Line.

No Long-eared Owls at Crow Valley Campgrounds this afternoon. We searched the windbreaks around the Washington Work Center for Northern Saw-whet Owls; without success.

There was not much to see at Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld). Could not find any Peregrine Falcons today.

My birding day ended at sunset at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). At least two Bonaparte's Gulls flew around. No loons, scoters, or jaegers that I could find.

Mountain Birding

November 28, 2007

Julian Rodriguez and I headed up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) in search of White-tailed Ptarmigan.

We made several stops along the way. First we drove around Silver Plume to see if any Rosy Finches were around town; none were. Then we searched for Evening Grosbeaks at their usual location in Georgetown; they were! A flock of 11 Red Crossbills were feeding at the Georgetown City Park. Again I audio taped the birds to compare their calls with my master recordings later.

Luck was with us at Guanella Pass. It only took about 20 minutes to find a dozen White-tailed Ptarmigan. The birds have been on the hill to the southeast of the upper parking area during my last four trips up there. Once in awhile, it is nice to not have to search for hours to see them.

We continued south from Guanella Pass to Grant, then east through Bailey to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).

American Three-toed Woodpeckers were a little more difficult to find than the Ptarmigan today. We had no luck along Buck Gulch Trail and had to take the Strawberry Jack Trail up to the Parkview Trail. Just north of the intersection, a female American Three-toed Woodpecker was working a Ponderosa Pine.

Several flocks of Pygmy Nuthatches, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and 1 White-breasted Nuthatch were observed along our trek. A couple of Hairy Woodpeckers were found along the Strawberry Jack Trail.

Once we returned to Pine Lake, we decided to search for an American Dipper along the creek. We struck out on them, but had the good fortune to hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl calling. The owl was on the hillside north of the Narrow Gauge Railroad down by the western gate!

We made one last stop, Mt. Falcon Park (Jefferson). A quick hike down to the Old Castle did not turn up any Blue Grouse today. Julian did pick up one last lifebird as a Townsend's Solitaire called constantly around the lower parking area.

Weather was interesting all day. We ran into snow several times. Fortunately, winds were mild even up on Guanella Pass.

Our worst problems were driving in the traffic after dark back in Denver.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birding on the West Side of Denver

November 27, 2007

I searched for the Harris's Sparrow reported on Saturday at Bear Creek Lake Park (Jefferson County); without success. I would have searched for the Harris's Sparrow up Turkey Creek Road, but could not remember directions.

So I continued up Highway 285 and ended my birding day at Mt. Falcon Park (Jefferson). It the past Northern Pygmy-Owls have come out to hunt around dusk at the upper meadow. Unfortunately, none came out tonight.

I hiked over to the old castle and about 1000 yards further east in search of Dusky Grouse; again without success. All three nuthatches were found. I also ran into a flock of 9 Red Crossbills. I recorded their calls, but have to check my master recordings before deciding which race they belonged.

The pleasant day (temps in 50s, mild winds) did end with a colorful sunset over Denver to the east.

Birding East of Denver

November 26, 2007

Back driving around, we checked several private ranches before heading back to Denver.

Roger's neighbor (private ranch # 3) called. He had a large "red" sparrow visiting his feeders. We rushed over to find an eastern race Fox Sparrow! It has been a couple of years since I observed one in Colorado.

Back at Roger's (private ranch # 1) we again found 2 Harris's Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow visiting his feeders.

An hour before sunset, we decided to head over to Jumbo Reservoir. A Short-eared Owl flew around the fields south of the southeast corner! We also checked the windbreaks at Little Jumbo Reservoir, but did not find any additional Short-eared Owls. No Long-eared Owls answered our playback recordings.

November 25, 2007

Back at Roger's Ranch, we walked around at 4:00am. Two Eastern Screech-Owls called in their usual location.

We returned to Jumbo Reservoir to try and photograph a Snow Bunting. None could be found today. The Long-tailed Duck was still out there.

We mainly rested today, too much driving this week. We sat and watched Roger's feeders. Unusual visitor's included 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches and a pair of Mountain Chickadees.

November 24, 2007

My second lifebird of 2007, Black tailed Gull at Sailorville!

November 23, 2007

We left Denver at 3:00am and searched for owls at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) and Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington). Owls were not cooperative this morning; we did not hear anything.

We met up with Bill Cryder and went over to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick). The Long-tailed Duck was still there, swimming in the middle of the lake. No scoters, but we did find a couple of Greater White-fronted Goose north of the eastern campgrounds. Bill Cryder pointed out a Snow Bunting flying around the southeast corner. Unfortunately, it landed on private property and we could not take photos.

Afterwards, we went over to DePoorter Lake. It is usually a good place to find Northern Bobwhites. Again we did not have any luck. When I think about it, I have missed them here on my last four trips now. Perhaps West Nile Virus or hunting has reduced their numbers? Our trip was brightened by finding two Harris's Sparrows along the South Platte River. By the way, this area now requires the Habitat Stamp to visit (can be purchased for $10 at Wal-mart or Sporting Goods Stores).

November 22, 2007

Early in the morning, Roger Danka and I went searching for Rosy Finches in Summit County. We managed to find all three species and then headed over to Fawnbrook Inn (Boulder County) by way of Rollinsville.

No Rosy Finches made an appearance during our 2 hour stay. We did see the usual mountain species; Mountain Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pine Siskin, and 3 Evening Grosbeaks.

We stopped by this week's hotspot, Baseline Reservoir, on our way back to Denver. Added White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Barrow's Goldeneye, and Greater Scaup to our trip list.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Snow Buntings at Sterling Reservoir

November 21, 2007

Roger Danka and I again went out searching for owls before sunrise. We did not have any luck. Even the resident Eastern Screech-Owl east of Sedgwick Draw was quiet this morning.

We wandered west to Sterling Reservoir where we enjoyed more success. Two Snow Buntings flew around the northeastern corner! A Great Horned Owl hid quietly in the small wooded area. Great Horned Owls are more difficult to find these days. West Nile Virus? Human growth?

Our birding day ended early. We did stop briefly on the way home at Riverside Park in Fort Morgan (Morgan). No Greater White-fronted Geese around yet.

Sedgwick County Birding

November 20, 2007

Roger Danka and I birded around Sedgwick and the eastern edge of Logan Counties today.

We started at Sedgwick Draw and searched for Short-eared Owls; without success. Nearby Sedgwick Cemetery had only a pair of Townsend's Solitaires today.

At Jumbo Reservoir, we found the Long-tailed Duck reported by Larry Semo on 11/12. No scoters could be found.

We stopped at two private ranches in Sedgwick County. At one (previously reported as private ranch #3, we found 2 Long-eared Owls. The ranch usually has 2-10 Long-eared Owl winter (for the past 4 years anyway). The rancher has been reporting a male Purple Finch since 10/25. Roger has seen it on two occasions; I keep missing it.

We ended our birding day driving the roads in Sedgwick County. Though we did look unsuccessfully for Greater Prairie-Chickens at the Sedgwick County Roads 46 & 89; without success. We found a few small flocks of Lapland Longspurs (no Chestnut-collared or McCown's mixed in).

At Sand Draw Wildlife Area, we relocated 2 of the 7 Harris's Sparrows reported by Mark Peterson on 11/18. The thickets at the southwest corner parking area seem to be good for Harris's Sparrows in early winter. We walked around a little at the extreme eastern edge of the property looking for Field Sparrows; without success. A flock of 6 Red Crossbills were a somewhat uncommon find. They do seem to show up almost every fall/winter here.

Prewitt Reservoir

November 19, 2007

At first light I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County) in search of owls. A Short-eared Owl flew along the windbreak northwest of Powhaton Road & 128th avenue. This was well before sunrise. It disappeared perhaps 10 minutes before sunrise.

I then drove around looking for longspurs, snow buntings, and etc.; without success. A couple of Red-tailed Hawks were along the new section of 128th avenue (east of Trussville Road).

I headed east and stopped briefly at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). Not much was found here. A flock of 9 Yellow-rumped Warblers fluttered about the campgrounds.

Prewitt Reservoir was slow also. I did not find any uncommon birds on the water. Few birds moved about the woods at the inlet area. Few birds were around the outlet canal. After dark, I did hear an Eastern Screech-Owl about 150 yards west of the eastern parking area (semi-campgrounds).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Birding in Boulder County

November 18, 2007

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove up to Fawnbrook Inn at Allenspark to see if the Rosy Finches were coming to their feeders yet. We did not find any around the feeders but did see a small flock up the road to Brainard Lake later in the day.

The usual suspects came to the feeders. Pine Siskins, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, and Black-capped Chickadee. Highlight was a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks. No owls around town, we tried several likely spots; without success.

We also drove through Ward but again no Rosy Finches. The highlight of our mountain excursion was a Northern Goshawk at the top of the tree along the Brainard Lake Road about 0.2 miles west of Highway 72. We checked several reservoirs on the way back to Denver, but found little of interest.

We stopped at Baseline Reservoir and found the nice birds reported earlier in the day by Bill Kaempfer: Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, and Common Loon.

Our birding day ended at Lagerman Reservoir where we hoped a Short-eared Owl or Barn Owl would make an appearance. Unfortunately, none did.

Mountain Birding

November 17, 2007

We returned to my friend's ranch and watched 350+ Rosy Finches as we ate a late breakfast. Said our goodbyes for a couple of weeks and headed back to the Colorado State Forest.

Again an hour wait at the KOA campground and Gould did not find the Common Redpoll. At the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center, we watched a pair of Gray-crowned Rosy Finches visit several times. Reports of up to 7 American Three-toed Woodpeckers around the building did us little good. We were not able to get any to respond to our playback recordings.

We stopped at several of the campgrounds along Highway 14 (Larimer). No owls could be found and we continued back to Denver.

November 16, 2007

We started the morning at a private ranch of a friend. Over 300+ Rosy Finches (3 species plus Hepburn's) came to his feeders! He also had a Northern Saw-whet Owl in one of his fir trees! It is a beautiful ranch; the downside is that he and his wife are snowbound for 2 to 3 months minimum every winter. That's too claustrophobic for me.

We drove over to the lakes west of Walden but enjoyed little success. Gary Z found one female Barrow's Goldeneye in the high waves. Winds had to be 30+ mph; it was cold. At Delaney Buttes Lakes, Gary Weston added 2 Common Loons and another Barrow's Goldeneye to our day list. Walden Reservoir was quiet. No scoters were found anywhere and the Burrowing Owl reported last week could not be relocated.

We searched feeders at the KOA campgrounds (at entrance to the Colorado State Forest) and around Gould for the Common Redpoll reported last week. It would have been a great Jackson County and trip bird for all of us. Oh well, we tried.

After dark we searched for Boreal Owls around the Colorado State Forest. We managed to hear 2, observe none. They just would not come close enough for us to great looks.

November 15, 2007

Our group checked the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County) and Green Mountain Reservoir for Barrow's Goldeneyes; none were around.

We ate lunch while watching feeders in Kremmling (Grand). No Rosy Finches came down from the mountains today. The weather has just been too warm to force them to look for food at feeders. The home owner stated that she had only seen 2 Brown-capped Rosy Finches in the past month.

Windy Gap Reservoir was interesting. Three Barrow's Goldeneyes swam with several dozen Common Goldeneyes. One California Gull was left from last summer's large flock. A Prairie Falcon flew over while we scoped the lake.

Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain were not kind to us. No additional Barrow's Goldeneyes were found.

We ended our birding day by driving the roads around the old Coalmont Lek (Jackson). While there were plenty of Greater Sage-Grouse tracks in the snow, we could not find any birds.

November 14, 2007

We got up early and searched for owls along Cottonwood Pass. Did not enjoy success and continued to Taylor Park Reservoir. Here we found 7 Barrow's Goldeneyes (first reported by Tyler Hicks on 11/12). We were not able to locate the Black Scoter or Rosy Finches that Tyler also found.

At Evelyn Lane near Gunnison we enjoyed better luck. Both Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy Finches were coming to feeders in the neighborhood.

After lunch, we turned around and headed back toward North Park. A quick stop at Twin Lakes added a Common Loon to our day list. We could not find the Pacific Loon that had also recently been reported here.

Once at I70, we headed east and over to Sylvan Lake State Park. We struck out on relocated the Bohemian Waxwings reported there on 11/11.

Our birding day ended by watching 3 species of Rosy Finches come to a feeder in Summit County.

November 13, 2007

Gary Weston, Gary Zeeto, and I headed back into the mountains today. The Park County Reservoirs had fewer birds than my previous visit; there was enough to keep our interest up.

The five Tundra Swans were still at Antero Reservoir. We also found 2 White-winged Scoters and a Pacific Loon. At Spinney Mountain Reservoir, we added another White-winged Scoter and a Surf Scoter to our trip list. No additional scoters were observed at Eleven Mile Reservoir, but we did see 3 Common Loons and 2 Pacific Loons.

Our next stop was the Buena Vista Overlook. A small flock of 5+ Bushtits fluttered about here. Three+ Pinyon Jays could be seen at the KOA campgrounds below the overlook.

We checked several ponds around Salida (Chaffee County). Not many birds were found today. Franz Lake WLA has been slow my last two trips here. Sands Lake WLA was just as slow. Nothing was found at the Arkansas River WLA.

A few Mountain Bluebirds were observed along the road between Salida and the Buena Vista Overlook. About 9 Pinyon Jays flew around the parking area for Ruby Mountain.

We stopped at the Buena Vista home where a Western Screech-Owl was found on my last trip up here. It did not make an appearance this evening. If it is nesting, it would be a first county nesting record. We supplied the home owners with a pair of binoculars and a Peterson's Field Guide to Western Birds. Looking forward to further visits and looks at the bird. Photos will eventually appear in "Colorado Field Notes".

After dark we headed up to the BLM Land north of the Buena Vista Overlook. This night we enjoyed much success by locating two Northern Saw-whet Owls.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Cold Wet Day at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 12, 2007

Another cobirder and I scoped Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) at first light. We could only see 3 loons out there; numbers were down quite a bit from the past week. Shortly after 7:00am, two loons took off, slowly gaining altitude, and disappearing in the low clouds. They appeared to be the pair of Pacific Loons (were definitely not Common Loons and looked too dark headed to be the Red-throated Loons.

Shortly afterwards, we picked up 2 additional pairs of eyes but still could only find one or two Common Loons left on the lake. Four or five Bonaparte's Gulls flew around the jet ski area. A small lingering group of Pelicans huddled together in the southeast corner of the lake. We stopped at two or three additional sites around the reservoir but did not locate additional loons; the weather did not cooperate.

By 9:00am it was raining, winds picked up, and temperatures dropped. My birding partners left and I had every intention of doing the same. A Sharp-shinned Hawk stood on the Gazebo at the Butterfly Hill parking area and I stopped to take a photo. A flock of about 80-100 Red-winged Blackbirds were overhead in the cottonwoods. A female Rusty Blackbird stood out in the crowd. The male could have been there also, but I was not able to pick it out in the four minutes I had before they took off for the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

Curiosity as to where this flock spent the day inspired me to walk back to the Cottonwood Creek Loop to check out the mudflats. First I followed the Butterfly Hill path north to the shoreline. This path goes through some high grasses and bushes which as usual had many sparrows. It is a good place to study White-crowned, American Tree, and Song Sparrows if one is interested. At least two races of Song Sparrows fluttered about. However stopped to check them out, slowed the trip back to the Cottonwood Loop.

By the time I made it down to the Bird Observatory Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop, the flock of blackbirds had moved on (who knows where). Water levels have been rising all week and the mudflats where Glenn Walbek first found the Rusty Blackbirds 10 days ago have disappeared. Continuing east, I did not find any mudflats; nightly snows in the mountains and warm daily temperatures have brought high water levels to the Denver lakes.

At one gap between the cattails along the southeastern edge of the lake, I could see that one Common Loon and the Red Phalarope were still around.

Skies cleared somewhat and temperatures rose a bit, so I decided to continue hiking east to where many blackbirds usually spend the day in the cottonwoods over the cattails just west of Cherry Creek.

Along the way, I found a pair of Great Horned Owls, my first at the park in almost a year. West Nile Virus?, human growth, bird counts seem to be way down from past years.

In the next four and a half hours, I took about 150 GPS waypoints. For ten years, I hiked Cherry Creek Reservoir 2 or 3 times a week and entered bird counts on graph paper. Now with the help of my computer, I plan to transfer the count coordinates to GPS waypoints.

Once I reached the woods where the main road goes over Cherry Creek, I doubled back to the Shooting Range area. Hundreds of blackbirds were in the Russian Olive trees here. Unfortunately once I reached the area, most of the blackbirds were Starlings. No Rusty Blackbirds, but my interest in getting GPS waypoints rose, so I decided to walk the blockaded road south from the shooting range and turn east on the south side of the 12 mile beaver ponds.

Along the way, I ran into 9 Red-tailed Hawks (including 1 dark morph), 3 Northern Harriers, and 4 American Kestrels. A Prairie Falcon stood on the telephone poles next to the southwestern prairie dog town.

I did not pick up a late Common Yellowthroat or Marsh Wren at the Beaver Ponds. Several flocks of American Goldfinches picked away at the cattails. A pair of Downy Woodpeckers worked the trees around the 12 mile picnic area. No warblers, shorebirds except Killdeer, hundreds of starlings, a few Red-winged Blackbirds, still no Rusty Blackbirds.

The day's Black-billed Magpie count was only 3 down from the last 10 year mean average for November (again, got to love computers to keep track of all this for you). They even can draw up a pie chart if one so desires!

As I crossed over the model airplane runway area, a Northern Shrike flew from the Butterfly Hill area southeast toward the shooting range. Two dozen Horned Larks (but no Snow Buntings) wandered around the short grasses here.

No gulls stood on the telephone poles outlining the southwest marina and I left Cherry Creek Reservoir around 3:30 pm.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pleasant Evening at Barr Lake & Star K Ranch

November 11, 2007

Kind of pitiful, four of us went out looking for a late lunch of baked potatoes to settle our queasy stomachs left over from the flu last week (settled for Wendy's at I76 & Bromley, yeah, yuk).

We drove by Barr Lake (Adams County) and found the 4 Common Loons still circled together. They were below the northern end of the dam when we scoped the lake. Only sparrows at the Visitor Center's feeders were White-crowned and American Tree.

Since we do not know how many of these beautiful fall days our left (temps near 70, little wind) we wanted to go for a walk. So, we continued over to Star K Ranch (Adams) to check out a Long-eared Owl report that was a couple of days old. The report is reliable; however we did not find it.

We spent the last hour of daylight circling the wetlands loop. Quite a few sparrows (White-crowned, American Tree, Song) appeared and sang near the northeast corner of the loop (about 20 minutes before sunset). We found 2 pairs of Red-breasted Nuthatches (3 pairs last weekend) and 6 White-breasted Nuthatches along the loop.

Just after sunset, a Great Horned Owl called from the cottonwoods south and east of the Steak House (for those familiar with the area). An Aurora Open Space Ranger said that there are two nesting pairs in the area of the Star K Ranch and nearby Sand Creek Open Space. This probably keeps down the number of other species of owls in the area.

This area's most "famous" uncommon birds were the January 1, 2005 American Woodcock and December 29, 2002 to March 8, 2003 Red-bellied Woodpecker.

It was a nice evening for some fresh air! No owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop on the trip home.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Enjoyable Morning at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 10, 2007

After missing the Rusty Blackbirds at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) on previous two afternoons, I thought I would try to find them in the morning. I didn't, however enjoyed a fantastic morning at the State Park. My arrival was timed for sunrise (6:38 am). Winds were 4 mph or less; temperatures around 50 degrees.

I first walked the road going below the dam from the southwest marina. When getting to the end of the road, the Red Phalarope was perhaps 25 feet off the dam. It eventually swam toward the center of the lake. I could see 2 Pacific Loons together off the swim beach and 4 Common Loons together off the handicapped fisherperson's dock.

No Clark's Grebes among plenty of Western Grebes, Eared Grebes, American Coots, and Horned Grebes. I rushed over to the bird platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop hoping to find the Rusty Blackbirds; none were in sight. The bonus was an adult and juvenile Red-throated Loon about 20 yards off the observatory platform. This was about 7:40am. By 8:00am several boats were on the lake and most of the waterfowl swam to the center.

While watching the Red-throated Loons, at least one adult and one juvenile Bonaparte's Gull flew over them.

I then searched for Swamp Sparrows from the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond to the southeast end of the lake loop; without success. Many White-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and American Tree Sparrows were found along the way. The greatest number (41 American Tree, 6 Song, 11 White-crowned) were found about halfway between the Cottonwood Creek and Lake Loops. There is a small stream entering into the lake. The bushes here had plenty of sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos.

I also found a Long-eared Owl (understandably I can not give the location due to the high foot traffic area). It is a good idea to keep an eye out in the thickets.

Besides the visible mudflats from the bird observatory platform, there are considerable mudflats reached by walking east over the Cottonwood Creek wooden bridge and then taking the first dirt path north. If the Rusty Blackbirds are to return, these mudflats maybe a good location to find them.

Also found were a male Northern Harrier (not helping my Swamp Sparrow search by flying back and forth in front of me), 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk (Cottonwood Creek dried pond area, west of parking area), 2 Belted Kingfishers, 1 Virginia Rail, and many Red-winged Blackbirds (at Gazebo parking area west of Cottonwood Creek).

I should have stopped there when I first passed it as there were 200+ Red-winged Blackbirds. The Rusty Blackbirds may have been among them, but I hurried over the bird platform. Of course, by the time I returned several dog walkers and moved the Red-winged Blackbird on to somewhere else.

A pleasant surprise was a flock of 8 Black-capped Chickadees and 2 White-breasted Nuthatches in the bushes near the Cottonwood Creek old wooden bridge. Most chickadees I have observed together in several years now.

Mountain Owling

November 5 & 6, 2007

Gary Weston, Gary Zeeto, and I decided to search for owls at Cameron Pass (Larimer/Jackson Counties). According to the weatherman, there was to be a window of nice weather for the next couple of days.

November 5, 2007

We started up to Cameron Pass shortly after sunrise. Our first stop was over the pass and down 4 miles to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

The feeders were up and we watched for about 2 hours. Two and sometimes four Brown-capped Rosy Finches came for a quick refueling. Other birds that showed up included Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, Mountain Chickadees, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

After sunset, we headed back to the pass. Our technique was to stop every 0.1 miles and play a tape. Snow piles were so high along the road that we could not see over them.

We received responses at two stops. One 0.2 miles west of Cameron Pass' summit (Jackson). The other 0.1 miles west of the upper parking area for Joe Wright Reservoir (Larimer).

Our task took as into civil twilight on November 6th and we headed back home. Tired but satisfied with our success!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Another Unsuccessful Owl Search, Back to Cherry Cck Reservoir

November 4, 2007

We received a report of a Northern Pygmy-Owl at Mt. Falcon Park (Margo and I were up there Thursday looking; without success). John Tiernan and I drove up but could not find any owls at sunrise. We did have 3 species of nuthatches, 2 Townsend's Solitaires, and a flock of 9 Mountain Bluebirds. The consolation prize was relocating a Dusky Grouse (30 yards east of the old castle and 25 yards south of the main path).

After dropping John off at DIA, I drove back to Cherry Creek Reservoir. It was anther beautiful afternoon. Winds were calm and temperatures near 60 degrees.

I arrived with only an hour of daylight left (messed up with the time change), scoped the reservoir for an hour and had found no loons. Then the Red-throated Loon flew in from the east to below the dam. I was able to show the loon to two other birders. While we watched the Red-throated Loon, the adult Bonaparte's Gull flew almost over us several times.

The Red-necked Grebe was not found, but not much time was used searching for it. Scoping the raft of Western Grebes (in the center of the lake) did not find it.

Many boats and jet skiers harassed the birds. They moved around much and made identifying them difficult. The Red-throated Loon had to fly out of the way of traffic at least 3 times in the 15 minutes we watched it.

Unsuccessful Owl Search & 2 Trips to Cherry Crk Reservoir

November 3, 2007

John Tiernan and I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) early in the morning. We found a Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, and 2 Common Loons. The Lesser Black-backed Gull and one Bonaparte's Gull were flying around below the dam. We missed the Red-necked Grebe.

From Cherry Creek Reservoir we headed up Deer Creek Canyon in search of Northern Pygmy-Owls (or any owls). None were found. We did run into a flock of 9 Red Crossbills and 20+ Cedar Waxwings. John had a wedding to go to and time was limited (isn't always).

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir. With up to 8 loons reported during the day, I was not able to find any in the first hour of searching. Granted, the 2 Rusty Blackbirds were the focus of my trip; they were not found.

Just before sunset, I spotted the Red-necked Grebe of the north end of the owl loop. It was loosely associated with the raft of Western Grebes (did not see any Clark's). The bird looked different than the Red-necked Grebe seen on 10/24 (found by Bill Cryder).

After sunset, 2 Common Loons were spotted below the dam. The Lesser Black-backed Gull was back on the sandbar north of the southwest marina. There was zero wind; the reservoir surface was like glass!

No owls came out during my drive of the DIA Owl Loop.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cherry Creek Reservoir Visit Again

November 2, 2007

While out doing chores, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). From the bird platform, Cottonwood Creek Loop, I could see the Red-throated Loon and 2 Common Loon not far off shore. A single Bonaparte's Gull was flying around to the east of where I stood.

A stop at the southwest marina found the Lesser Black-backed Gull standing on the poles outlining the marina.

Again with an hour of daylight left, I walked around the Star K Ranch Wildlife Preserve in Aurora. While I did not find any rare birds, I watched 8 Red-breasted Nuthatches hunt for food on the large cottonwoods. There were also 48+ Dark-eyed Juncos (Oregon, Pink-sided, State-colored, and 1 White-winged) and 3 Song Sparrows.

Birding in the Mountains

November 1, 2007

Margo and I enjoyed a fantastic birding day. We ran into no wind throughout the day. It has to be the first time I have been on the top of Loveland Pass and Guanella Pass and experienced calm.

We left Denver at 6:00pm to search for birds in the mountains. We enjoyed great success in Summit County with many Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Clark's Nutcrackers, Gray Jays, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Pine Siskins, 3 species of nuthatches, and three species of Rosy Finches.

Our next stop was Loveland Pass. No wind, but we found no Ptarmigan either. I suggested that instead of walking for several miles looking for a couple of Ptarmigan here, that we head over to Guanella Pass where at least the number of potential birds was much greater.

Once at Guanella Pass, again no wind!, we were lucky to find 25+ White-tailed Ptarmigan. Our search lasted less than 30 minutes (which is much better than my usual 4 to 6 hour searches).

With several hours of daylight left, we headed over to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). We only took time to walk the south side of Pine Lake. An American Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming away on the hill near the southwest corner of the lake.

She had two additional lifebirds to find, so we drove to nearby Mt Falcon Park (Jefferson). We walked to the old castle but found no Dusky Grouse. Our walk continued east and I heard a Dusky Grouse about 25 yards east of the castle (and 30 yards south of the main path). While here, 4 Townsend's Solitaires flew to the trees above us.