Thursday, December 27, 2007

DIA Owl Loop

December 26, 2007

I went over to Barr Lake while I waited for Bryan Ehlmann to show up. In the hour I watched the Visitor Center's feeders I saw a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows, and 2 dozen Dark-eyed Juncos. The latest snowstorm did not bring any Harris's Sparrows.

The string of 5 winters in a row (and 9 of the last 11) with a Harris's Sparrow may be broken? The four Northern Bobwhite have not been reported since 12/19.

Bryan and I then drove the DIA Owl loop. The number of Horned Larks amazed us. When we arrived at the field 5.2 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue the field south of the road was covered with Horned Larks.

A Prairie Falcon was perched on the radio tower about 100 yards further east. The falcon later flew to the north and scared up what we conservatively counted as 100,000+ Horned Larks. So our count from that position was well over 120,000 and that was just the birds that we could see.

To escape the Prairie Falcon the northern flock flew toward us. The sky was filled with Horned Larks. We were able to pick out at least one Snow Bunting in the mix. However, there may have been two. This section of road is just east of the only structure next to the road as 96th avenue turns into 114th avenue. (The sequence of the same paved road leading east from Tower Road is 96th avenue to Quency Street to Quency Way to 114th).

We continued east and south. At the Prairie Dog Village/Burrowing Owl Colony (3.4 miles east of 96th & Tower) the only tree to the east was covered with 800+ Red-winged Blackbirds. We looked for a stray Yellow-headed Blackbird but did not find any.

We continued south of another 0.3 miles and found the cultivated field to the east of the road filled with 30,000+ additional Horned Larks. As we watched this group, a flock of 1200+ Red-winged Blackbirds flew over from the south.

The eventual raptor count was 1 female Northern Harrier, 3 American Kestrel (one with a mouse), 2 Prairie Falcons, and a lone Red-tailed Hawk.

A quick trip over to Emerald Strand Park found only 900 White-cheeked Geese on the lake that was 60 frozen. At LakeCrest, we counted over 3,000 White-cheeked Geese. No Greater White-fronted Goose or Ross's Goose. The "blue" Snow Goose was along the western edge. One domestic goose not far away. The geese just kept flying in as we watched. We couldn't see how additional geese found a place to land; they were so tightly packed.

We returned to the DIA Owl Loop at sunset. Searched for Short-eared Owls; without success.

Christmas Counts (Dec 14 to Cec 25)

December 14 to December 25, 2007

Each year the Colorado Birding Society conducts a series of Christmas Counts. They are separate from the counts sponsored by the Audubon Society. Sort of a protest against the fee charged for their counts.

We decided to take turns describing our experiences on the five Christmas Counts conducted by the Colorado Birding Society. We hope some enjoy our accounts.

December 17

Pawnee National Grasslands: Bill Cryder

I guess I will start. The area received a fair amount of snow the few days prior to our count. Winds were 20+ mph; it felt cold all day. They decided to reprise this count which was conducted only once before about 5 or 6 years ago.

A friend of Richard called on 12/14 and said that he had several Sharp-tailed Grouse on his property. That ranch was inside of our count circle. The grouse made a good motivation to do this count. It helped in getting volunteers anyway.

Count circles have 15 mile diameters. The Pawnee National Grasslands circle centers at Weld County Roads 98 & 73.

In all we had 10 birders plus 7 feeder watchers, total birder hours 152, mileage driven while birding 182, miles walked only about 12 miles reduced because of the snow and cold.


Sharp-tailed Grouse (2) private ranch
Long-eared Owl (6, 2 locations) Pawnee National Grasslands
Short-eared Owl (1 each at 2 private ranches)
Common Redpoll (Briggsdale)
Barn Owl (private ranch)

Totals: 49 species; 32,458 birds.

December 18: Richard Stevens

The next CBC was scheduled for Wray on 12/20. We headed to the Crook area on 12/18 to scout for the Tamarack Ranch Wildlife CBC scheduled for 12/21.

Wandering around Sedgwick we watched a Short-eared Owl fly up and down Sedgwick Draw before sunrise. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was seen at the cemetery. A flock of 14 American Tree Sparrows, 9 White-crowned Sparrows, and 2 Song Sparrows were also there.

At a friend's ranch we found 2 Long-eared Owls in his windbreak. His feeders were being visited by a female Purple Finch. The cattails in his fields had 2 Common Redpolls!

He pointed out that a neighborhood also had 2 Purple Finches visiting his feeders. We did not take the time to confirm that, but the report sounded good.

Sedgwick-Bar Wildlife Area: We stopped here and found 2 Eastern Bluebirds around the parking area. A short walk down the riparian area added a Red-bellied Woodpecker to our day list.

Birds in Ovid were scarce. We were not able to relocate the White-winged Dove or Purple Finch reported by Henry Armknecht. Eurasian Collared-Doves were fairly easy to find however. We did find a White-throated Sparrow in the thickets at the Ovid Sewage Ponds.

Our birding day ended at Roger Danka's Ranch in Sedgwick County. He has had a Purple Finch visiting his feeders since 10/27. He had an eastern race Fox Sparrow show up yesterday and it reappeared for us. The Eastern Screech-Owls on his property did not disappoint, they called shortly after dark.

December 19: Richard Stevens

Most people decided to rest today. Bryan Ehlmann and I headed south to Wray to scout for tomorrow's CBC.

We started out early enough to drive the Marks Butte Area of Sedgwick County before sunrise. Our hope was to find a Greater Prairie-Chicken or Sharp-tailed Grouse. Neither was found. We did see tracks that were not Ring-necked Pheasants. They could be in the area. Marks Butte is the western end of Sand Draw.

At Sand Draw Wildlife Area we missed the Harris's Sparrows that have been around for a month. We did see a Field Sparrow along the back fence line. A Great Horned Owl flew out of the tall evergreen trees along the northwestern corner.

Once in Wray we drove by Stalker Ponds and the Wray Fishing Unit. Bryan pointed picked out the red of a male Northern Cardinal at Stalker Ponds.

Sandsage Wildlife Area had quite a few sparrows. They were however White-crowned, Song, and American Tree Sparrows. Two Great Horned Owls called near dusk.

We met up with the rest of our group for dinner and retired for an early morning CBC.

December 20: Wray CBC: Bryan Ehlmann

Oke, dokie. No snow today but the ground was covered. We had 8 birders and 11 feeder watchers. Winds were 15+ mph. Temperatures in the 30s. Birder hours: 146 Miles driven: 210 Miles hiked: 18

The count circle of 7.5 mile radius was centered on Hwy 385 and Yuma CR 40.5.


We started about 2 hours before sunrise and covered 4 separate areas looking for owls. The Weston group found a Barn Owl at an old broken down barn along CR BB. The Stevens group found an Eastern Screech-Owl at Sandsage wla. Great Horned Owls were counted at 3 different groves.

Before sunrise, we all met and drove the CR 45 loop (Hwy 385 to CR 45 to CR NN to CR PP). Two Greater Prairie-Chickens were seen along the side of the road (CR 45 & CR NN).

We then broke into our groups to count.

Two Long-eared Owls were reported by one of our feeder watchers. A Short-eared Owl was seen during count week (along CR NN). It didn't show today.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was found at Sandsage wla.

Two Common Ravens were east of CR 45.

Five Red-breasted Nuthatches, 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and 18 Mountain Chickadee represented some mountain species.

Bluebirds included 2 Eastern Bluebirds and 10 Mountain Bluebirds. A Western Bluebird was reported during count week.

A Brown Thrasher in Wray and a Northern Mockingbird at Stalker Ponds were both surprises.

Eight Yellow-rumped Warblers and 2 Common Yellowthroats represented the warblers.

A Savannah Sparrow was seen at Sandsage along with 2 White-throated Sparrows. A Harris's Sparrow visited a feeder in Wray.

Nine Northern Cardinals (7 males and 2 females) were reported around Wray. The male at Stalker Ponds was during count week.

One Yellow-headed Blackbird was with 120 Red-winged Blackbirds near a pond on the Bledsoe Ranch.

A female Purple Finch was also reported at a town feeder. All of us got to see this bird.

Totals: 79 species; 5723 birds (count week birds are not included).

December 21: Gary Weston

Tamarack Ranch/Jumbo/Red Lion CBC

It snowed the night before and the day after this count. We had driven back from Wray and arrived at the Danka ranch around midnight. Some of us who will remain unnamed did not start counting until 8:00am. Four of us went owling around 4:00 am.

The Count Circle is at CR 89, south of Hwy 138. As a result, only a Logan County section of Jumbo Reservoir is included in the count circle. We had 10 birders and 4 feeder watchers. Birder hours: 112 Mileage driven: 122 Miles walked: 7

Because of the snow, we tried something different. We did point counts aided by scopes from our car windows. We spent about 15 minutes at each station, but could move on if no birds were seen.


Both a Sora and Virginia Rail were seen at Little Jumbo Reservoir. A Yellowlegs species was not identified to species.

Four Eastern Screech-Owls answered our playback recordings before sunrise. One Long-eared Owl was found by the Ehlmann group. Later we all went back and relocated the owl.

Nine Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found flying about the cottonwoods at Tamarack Ranch WLA.

Two Field Sparrows and one White-throated Sparrow were the only rare sparrows seen.

Two Northern Cardinals were found near the old Ranger's home.

Total: 71 species; 14,194 individuals

December 22: Richard Stevens

Today we rested back at Roger Danka's Ranch. Bryan, the Gary's and I drove the eastern border from the northeast corner down to Highway 6, then west to Holyoke and back north.

We ran into flocks of American Pipits at two different fields on sunflowers. We did not expect any Sprague's Pipits, but we kept our eyes open for them.

Horned Larks were plentiful. Two dozen Lapland Longspurs were found at a dried up pond. To our surprise a McCown's Longspur was with them. Perhaps a Sprague's Pipit could be a stray also?

We really would have liked to find an Eastern Meadowlark. I read much about the Eastern Meadowlarks in Nebraska. The possibility of one wintering in Colorado is good; we never found one however.

Raptors were in average numbers. Not as many as I have encountered in past years.

We talked to several landowners along our trek. One talked about a really red "House Finch". When we showed him a picture of a Purple Finch, he said that was what he had coming to his feeders in Alvin. We received an invitation to come over and look and sure enough he had an adult male Purple Finch. He thought that it had showed up on December 8th and had been coming everyday since.

I gave him a Field guide which he thumbed through as we ate some of his wife's chili. He also said that he had seen 2 White-throated Sparrows and a Harris's Sparrow. Neither of them gave by while we were there. Anyway, we made a new friend on the eastern border and hopefully turned him into a birder.

December 23: Julesburg CBC: Roger Danka

Not my thing to type out on a computer, but I will give it a shot. They started a new Julesburg Christmas Count today. The center point of the circle was designated as the intersection of Sedgwick County Roads 32 and 47.

Eight birders participated, we recruited 5 feeder watchers. Total birder hours: 114, miles driven: 132, miles walked: 6

The number one highlight was an American Woodcock discovered by Richard Stevens and Gary Weston. Bryan Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten were close by and were also able to see it. By the time the rest of us got over to the Platte River, the woodcock had vanished into the weeds. We all went back later, but still could not find it.

One rancher showed Gary Zeeto and me a Barn Owl hidden in the dark corner of his barn of course. Another rancher saw 2 Long-eared Owls which were not around when Bryan Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten went to look.

One Red-headed Woodpecker was found. Some years I have 2 or 3 stay on my ranch. But I haven't seen this for 4 or 5 years now.

An exciting find for all of us was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. A friend of mine called to ask about a strange woody. Richard and Bryan thought that he might have a late migrating Red-naped Sapsucker. When they went to check it out, it turned out to be an adult female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. All of us got to see that one.

They thought that the 2 Brown Creepers deserved a mention. Also a Rock Wren that was seen during count week (12/20).

One Common Yellowthroat was our only warbler. Interesting sparrows included 2 Field Sparrows, 1 Harris's Sparrow, 1 Fox Sparrow, 2 White-throated Sparrows,

One female Purple Finch was found by a feeder watcher. We all stopped by and saw this one. Three Red Crossbills were a surprise at Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop. Two Common Redpolls were found at a ranch near DePoorter Lake.

Totals included 69 species and 2847 birds. Not what we expected. It was cold and windy all day.

December 24: Bonny Reservoir CBC: Gary Zeeto

I was made count manager for the Bonny Reservoir CBC. It was a horrible day with winds 25+ mph and gusts into the 35 mph range. Temperatures never reached 30 degrees. But 7 hardy souls gave it a try. We also found 3 feeder watchers.

Bonny Reservoir is not what it once was. Water levels are sadly terrible. The once great birding spot is a shadow of itself. The campgrounds are far from any water. Water birds are greatly reduced in the numbers that once flourished here. We hope Kansas enjoys our water.

One of the rangers reported seeing a Greater Prairie-Chicken during count week. None of us hiked to the area where it was seen. Six Wild Turkeys were seen walking along the road on the south side of the reservoir. Two Northern Bobwhite were kicked up at Hale Ponds.

Owls found included 1 Barn Owl, 4 Eastern Screech-Owls, 2 Long-eared Owls, 1 Short-eared Owl and 6 Great Horned Owls.

Gary Weston and Sue Ehlmann found a Winter Wren at Hale Ponds. It was not relocated in the late afternoon.

A Brown Thrasher was found in the bushes across from a ranch house along CR 4.

Two Bohemian Waxwings were with a flock of 101 Cedar Waxwings near the Hale Store.

Our warbler count was 1 Common Yellowthroat along the Republican River. A flock of 11 Yellow-rumped Warbler was in the same area.

Our sparrow count was 1 Lincoln's Sparrow, 2 White-throated Sparrows, and 2 Field Sparrows.

Richard Stevens and Rebecca Kosten found a pair of Rusty Blackbirds along the Republican River west of Hale Ponds. Five Common Grackles and one Great-tailed Grackle were at a feeder along CR 1.

Two Purple Finches were reported at a feeder northeast of the reservoir. One Common Redpoll and 14 American Goldfinches visited a feeder along CR 4.

Totals: 83 species, only 2359 individuals.

The center of our circle is located 2.0 miles north of LL.5 and CR 4 and 200 yards west of LL.5. This keeps the circle inside Kit Carson County and included Bonny Reservoir, Hale Ponds Wildlife Area and the Allen Grain Company.

December 24-25: Richard Stevens

Snow was predicted for Christmas Day and we hurriedly returned to Denver. The snow had started early and the roads on the trip home were terrible. The snow continued through Christmas night; we were stuck inside on Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Search for Pine Warbler

December 13, 2007

Gary Weston and I returned to the Denver West Office Complex (Jefferson County) hoping to get photos of the Pine Warbler.

The feeders north of building # 15 (south of # 17) were full, but no birds.

We ran into a flock of birds on the north side of building # 5 (about 600 yards south of # 15). The Pine Warbler was there with 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, 11 Mountain Chickadees, 2 Black-capped Chickadees, 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers, half a dozen American Robins, and 29 Red Crossbills. We did not find the previously reported Wilson's Warbler.

From there we drove over to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt and looked for Eastern Screech-Owls. None were out sunning themselves this morning. We checked Johnson Park for Waxwings; without success and headed back to Denver.

I dropped Gary off and drove over to Barr Lake (Adams). Two Bald Eagles stood on the ice just off the boat ramp. Don Belts had seen 9 Bald Eagles just 30 minutes earlier.

I met up with Don and we watched the Visitor Center's feeders for about an hour and a half. Finally the male and 3 female Northern Bobwhite came and fed under them.

A juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over several times causing the sparrows, red wings, and bobwhites to scatter. A female Northern Harrier flew over twice and had the same affect.

More than a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows, a Pine Siskin, and a lone American Goldfinch were observed getting some "free food".

I had business in Denver and afterwards drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and again met up with Don Belts. More the half of the lake was ice covered. Hundreds of waterfowl and gulls were in an open area, unfortunately in the center of the lake.

On the trip over, I stopped at Village Greens Park (southwest of the State Park). While there were several thousand White-cheeked Geese, I did not pick out any Greater White-fronted Geese or Brants.

The only birds seen from the southern shore at Cherry Creek were 4 Hooded Mergansers and a dozen Northern Shovelers.

After leaving Don, I drove over to the south side. From here I could pick out a juvenile Thayer's Gull and 1st and 2nd Lesser Black-backed Gull. Glenn Walbek had earlier also found a 4th year Lesser Black-backed Gull and relocated the Long-tailed Duck I found the week before.

A quick trip around the campgrounds did not find any Bald Eagles or Great Horned Owls.

The plan to drive the DIA Owl loop was abandoned due to lack of daylight. Roads around there were snow blown and icy on my trip home.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

DIA Owl Loop

December 12, 2007

Getting Cabin fever, Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) in the afternoon. Roads were again not good. Snow has melted and turned to ice.

There are still three large flocks of Horned Larks. We did not relocate the Snow Bunting. No Short-eared Owls made an appearance this evening.

Skies were clear and we watched a few "falling stars". The main Geminid meteor shower is predicted to "hit" Thursday and especially Friday. Midnight to dawn on Friday will be best, look to the west in the constellation Gemini.

Quick Trip to Barr Lake

December 11, 2007

I braved the snowy and icey roads and drove over to Barr Lake (Adams) but did not find much.

A few White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos came to the Visitor Center's feeders. No Harris's Sparrows (yet) this year. Roads were snow covered; temps cold. If there are any uncommon birds around, I would think the feeders would attract them?

And where are the Goldfinches? I have noticed that the past two weeks, no Goldfinches have come to the thistle feeders? Were they on the CDC "West Nile hit list" also?

Return to Loveland & the Streak-backed Oriole

December 10, 2007

Gary Weston, Gary Zeeto, and I returned to Loveland to get another look at the Streaked-backed Oriole. We discussed the sex of the bird for awhile, never came to a conclusion as to which it was. Additional research needed.

We drove through Boulder County on the way back to Denver. Not many birds were found on the freezing reservoirs. A drive through the southern subdivision off Paragon Drive & S. Boulder Road did not find any Bohemian Waxwings.

Search for Long-eared Owls

December 9, 2007

Dave King and I drove up to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). We did not find the previously reported Harris's Sparrow but did see our target bird. A lone Long-eared Owl was hidden deep in the woods by the campgrounds. A flock of 9 Yellow-rumped Warblers added a little color to the drab landscape. Two adult Bald Eagles flew by during our stay.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I scurried up to Loveland (Larimer). The Streaked-backed Oriole visited feeders several times at Connie Kogler's home.

Thanks much to Connie for finding and inviting birders to see the bird!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Horrible Day Weather-wise, Good Birding Day!

December 8, 2007

Dave King and I went up to Boulder County to look for Long-eared Owls and Rosy Finches. The roads were bad and we decided not to go up to Allenspark. Only 2 Brown capped Rosy Finches reported, so we did not miss much.

We did manage to hear a Long-eared Owl on private property. May have gotten a glimpse of the shadow as it flew by us. Not very satisfying looks for Dave as a lifebird.

Instead of heading toward Allenspark we searched the old Boulder neighborhoods where Bohemian Waxwings have been reported in the past. We did not have any luck west of Broadway from Foothills Community Park south to Chautauqua Park. In the neighborhood along Paragon Drive, south of Boulder Road we found one Bohemian Waxwing flying around. It never stopped and was not joined by others.

Visibility was bad, so we skipped the many Boulder Reservoirs and headed back east.

On the way over to Barr Lake State Park, we stopped along the S. Platte River at Colorado Blvd & 88th Avenue. Relocated the male Barrow's Goldeneye on the Platte River at about 40 yards south (upstream) of the green/white tower.

A drive around the neighborhoods northeast of Barr Lake (Bromley Lane east to Gun Club Road) did not find any Great-tailed Grackles or Waxwings.

At Barr Lake visibility was poor and little could be seen on the lake. No uncommon sparrows visited the Visitor Center's feeders during an hour watch. A male and 3 female Bobwhites did wander under the feeders. These must be escapees from somewhere.

After a late lunch we checked out LakeCrest, Emerald Strand, and the Airport Park n Ride. The most geese were on the Airport Park n Ride Pond. No Ross's or Greater White fronted Geese.

With about an hour of daylight (rather dim) left, we drove the DIA Owl loop in search of Short eared Owls, what the heck, maybe a Snowy Owl.

None were found, but we found 3 huge flocks of Horned Larks. The flock at 5.2 miles east of Tower Road and 96th Avenue was accompanied by a Snow Bunting! The flock would fly up from the plowed field and weedy field to the west on the south side of the road whenever a car would pass by honking their horn. The area is just east of the only Oil Storage Tank close to the road.

Many of the Horned Larks would land on the road and people would nice enough to honk at them before running them over. The flock also flew to the north side of the road several times.

Two additional huge flocks were not far away by flight. Driving around to see them was several miles. Both flocks were on the east side of same road which twists and turns as it heads east from Tower Road.

Foray for Mountain Birds

December 7, 2007

Dave King and I drove up to Summit County. Weather was no good. High winds, blowing snow, cold temperatures.

We did manage to find 3 species of Rosy Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Clark's Nutcrackers, Gray Jays, and 3 species of Nuthatches. We even found a Brown Creeper!

Made for quite a good trip in spite of the weather!

A quick stop at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant added 8 Barrow's Goldeneyes and 2 Common Goldeneyes to our trip list.

We searched for the previously reported Bohemian Waxwings along the road to Ute Pass, without success. Weather was getting worse, so we headed back to Denver.

We stopped a Denver West Office Complex and got another look at the Pine Warbler. It was again with a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers north of building #15 and south & east of building # 17. No sign of a reported Wilson's Warbler.

Again, no Eastern Screech-Owls were out at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson).

Friday, December 7, 2007

Goose Hunt

December 6, 2007

Drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) at first light after spending most of the night searching for owls. A "taiga" Greater White-fronted Goose was with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese at the soccer practice field below the Cherry Creek Reservoir dam at Village Greens Park (southwest of the State Park).

I searched the reservoir proper but found few of the birds that were around on Monday (12/3). A suspect dark mantled gull, Ring-billed size or smaller kept my attention. It kept its head in its back; so I was unable to see its bill. Finally after 20 minutes it lifted its head and turned out to be a Ring-billed Gull (mantle was dark enough and white crest large enough for it be possibly be a Mew Gull).

Most of the gulls and Common Goldeneyes were off the east side of the Lake Loop. There could have been a Thayer's Gull, but I was not able to positively id it. I could not pick out a Barrow's Goldeneye among the dozens of Common Goldeneyes. I also could not find the Long-tailed Duck that was on the reservoir last Monday.

Afterwards I wandered over to Inverness and the Denver Tech Center. My White-cheeked Geese count for the day was over 25,000! Not one Brant among them, I only found the one Greater White-fronted Goose early in the morning.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Search for White-winged Crossbills and Owls

December 5, 2007

At first light I went searching for the Sharp-tailed Grouse and previously reported Bohemian Waxwings up Fish Creek Drainage (Routt). No sign of either. Perhaps the weather has not been bad enough to bring the Grouse up to their traditional wintering grounds?

I wandered back to Jackson County and visited an old friend. His feeders have been visited by 800+ Rosy Finches for about a week now. They show up with good regularity. He also had a White-throated Sparrow and Lincoln's Sparrow coming to his feeders. He had reported seeing 2 White-winged Crossbills which of course did not show up during my stay. A consolation prize was a Northern Saw-whet Owl that my friend sees about every 3rd day or so.

After watching 600+ Rosy Finches come to my friend's feeders (Jackson), no White-winged Crossbills, I headed east toward the Colorado State Forest. I looked around Walden on the way, but did not find any additional Rosy Finches. Road conditions discouraged me from driving over to Lake Johns or Delaney Buttes Wildlife Areas.

Finally…………a flock of 30+ Bohemian Waxwings (Jackson County!) flew around the KOA Campgrounds at the entrance to the Colorado State Forest! Again road conditions discouraged me from wandering too far off the main highway.

Three Rosy Finches visited the feeders behind the State Forest Visitor's Center. I couldn't find any of the 9+ American Three-toed Woodpeckers reported there a while back. One of the rangers hears a Boreal Owl after dark some nights. However, one is not going to call during the day.

Returned to my friend's ranch to search for Greater Sage-Grouse and see if the White-winged Crossbills had shown up.

Near dusk, we wandered to the back of his property and found 3 Greater Sage-Grouse. Some days, he and his wife see them from their kitchen windows. They come up and eat the seed dropped below the feeders.

After dark I stopped at 4 previous Boreal Owl locations around Cameron Pass; without success. However………… had started snowing around 2:00pm. Winds were 50+ mph and snow appeared coming down at a 45 degree angle by dusk. Not the best conditions to locate an owl.

Once I dropped down off of Cameron Pass (hwy 14 heading east, Larimer) winds had quieted down. Owls were also quiet at the campgrounds and picnic areas along Highway 14.

Search for Bohemian Waxwings

December 4, 2007

I decided to head into the mountains today to look for the previously reported Bohemian Waxwings. Snow is predicted for later in the week and next weekend. Driving around may become treacherous soon.

I circled Dillon Lake and managed to find 5 of the Barrow's Goldeneyes reported by Charles Nims first on 11/29. Another nine Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond (Summit County).

A search along Hwy 9 to Ute Pass did not find any Bohemian Waxwings. They do have a tendency to move around a bunch.

No Rosy Finches were found at feeders in Kremmling (Grand) or around the "cliffs". Each year Rosy Finches are reported on the cliffs. Must be a nemesis of mine, my record is zero for 14 attempts over the years.

There was no success in searching for the Northern Pygmy-Owl and American Three-toed Woodpecker on Rabbit Ears Pass either. No Boreal Owls answered my playback after dark.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Search for Owls in the Front Range Foothills

December 3, 2007

Gary Weston and I left Denver around 4:00am for Reynolds Park (Jefferson County). I am still trying to get a good photo of a Northern Pygmy-Owl. Unfortunately we could not find any owls this morning (or the whole day).

A consolation prize was a male Dusky Grouse walking across the Oxen Draw Trail, perhaps 15 yards south of the Songbird Trail. We did not take the time to hike up 0.7 miles to the intersection of the three trails (Eagle's View, Oxen Draw, and Raven's Roost). Twenty yards around this intersection seems to be a good location to find a resident American Three-toed Woodpecker.

Instead, we drove over to Pine Valley Ranch Park and hiked to the end of the Narrow Gauge Railroad Trail. No owls along here either.

We circled around to the south side of the park (Forest Road 550) hoping to find a Northern Goshawk. Struck out on that bird too. We tried hiking down the Tramway and 543 Trails. A couple of flocks of Pygmy Nuthatches and pairs of White-breasted Nuthatches & Red-breasted Nuthatches were just about all that we found.

From here, we decided to drive Rampart Range Road. Stops at locations of Northern Pygmy-Owl sightings of past years did not produce an owl.

The Sedalia Cemetery was quite birdy. Several Townsend's Solitaires, White-breasted Nuthatches, 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch, and many Pine Siskins kept our attention. A flock of Cedar Waxwings flew in; unfortunately no Bohemian Waxwings were among them.

I dropped Gary off and ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I hope people took time to look at the spectacular sunset just to the south of Cherry Creek Reservoir. Colorado does have some fantastic wintertime sunsets.

Hundreds of gulls and ducks were just off the northern picnic area and I headed there first. I managed to pick out a Long-tailed Duck among the multitude. At least one Bonaparte's Gull was in the mix.

A quick walk to the south end of the 12 mile beaver pond did not add much to my day list. No Dunlins, warblers, etc. A flock of American Goldfinch fluttered about the trees west of the group picnic area.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the poles outlining the southwest marina. No dark ones or large white ones, mostly Ring-billed Gulls with a few California Gulls mixed in.

As expected, hundreds of geese flew in around sunset. A lone Greater White-fronted Goose was in the middle of several thousand Canada Geese in the cove west of the Mountain Loop. For about 30 minutes around 4:30, there was no wind and the water was like a mirror (reflecting the sunset and the birds).

At 5:15pm however, winds started up and had to be 25+ mph quickly. I had planned to search for a Great Horned Owl as it has been almost a year since I have observed one at the park.

Eventually the winds encouraged me to head for home. I did not find a Great Horned Owl at the campgrounds, or northern picnic areas. The planned hiked back to the 12 mile beaver pond was called off.

Looking for Geese around DIA

December 2, 2007

Spent most of the day working on chores around the house. We did manage to get out for a bite of dinner in the late afternoon. Of course, we had to look for a few birds, so we took a walk around LakeCrest.

Thousands of geese were on the lake. At least 5000+ Canada Geese. We could pick out at least half a dozen Cackling Geese also. Two white Snow Geese and one beautiful "blue" Snow Goose swam with them.

At nearby Emerald Strand Park (across the street from the eastern end of LakeCrest, another 6000+ Canada Geese were on the small pond and field to the north. We were amazed that geese kept flying in; there did not seem any space for more geese on the pond. One Ross's Goose stood out from the horde of Canada Geese.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Birding Around Denver

December 1, 2007

In spite of the worsening weather, Bryan Ehlmann and I enjoyed a cold day of birding.

At first light, we walked around the Denver West Office Complex (Jefferson County). It was too dark to see much, but we narrowed down the location of feeders where the Pine Warbler could possibly visit. Only one feeder had seeds; it was at the southwest corner of building # 17. Later, once the House Sparrows found the feeder, the seeds did not last long.

From 7:22am to 7:26am we watched the Pine Warbler flutter about the Pine Tree at the southwest corner of building # 15. A couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Townsend's Solitaire were also in the tree. Fifty+ House Sparrows were in the bushes underneath the tree. When the House Sparrows flushed, the Pine Warbler flew with them around to the feeders at building # 17. We were not able to relocate the warbler.

We walked over to nearby building # 15 because Pine Warblers have been seen behind it several times in the past. No Pine Warbler, but we found a flock of birds which included 22 Mountain Chickadees, 2 Black-capped Chickadees, 2 Red breasted Nuthatches, 2 White breasted Nuthatches, 2 Brown Creepers, and 7+ Ruby crowned Kinglets.

From here, we drove over to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Prospect Park) to see if any Western Screech-Owls were out. None were; it was pretty cold, windy, and cloudy. Not much of a reason for the owls to come out to sun themselves.

We received a text message about the Brant at Glasser Reservoir in Broomfield County and headed up that way. We only gave the search 15 minutes; without success and moved on to the South Platte River.

On the trip south, we drove by Sheridan Blvd and 104th Avenue. The partial albino Red-tailed Hawk was in a tree about 0.4 miles east of the intersection. It has been around for half a dozen years now!

From Colorado Blvd & 88th avenue (Adams County), we walked the west side of the Platte River down to Hwy 225, then crossed over and returned via the east side. West and East Gravel Lakes only had a little ice; this tends to spread the ducks out over a larger search area (best when the lakes are frozen and the ducks are forced onto the Platte River).

At the confluence of Clear Creek, we detoured along the Creek down to York Street. Several years in the past, Harris's Sparrows and other interesting birds have been reported in the bushes along Clear Creek. Unfortunately, nothing uncommon showed up today.

On the return trip (east side of the Platte) we found a male Barrow's Goldeneye on East Gravel Lake. There were plenty of ducks (Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Gadwalls, dozens of Common Goldeneyes); nothing else uncommon.

We also found a Northern Shrike on the chain link fence along the west side of Tani Reservoir (that's the lake south of East Gravel Lake).

Nothing unusual was on the Dahlia Ponds and we left as the weather was deteriorating rapidly.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Search for Owls; Boulder, Larimer & Jackson Counties

November 30, 2007

Julian Rodriguez and I were still looking for Long-eared Owls, so before civil twilight we headed to my semi-reliable site in Boulder County. It did not disappoint and we found 2 Long-eared Owls perched in thickets on private property. Just before sunrise, they flew around a bit and went deep into the thickets.

We spent the next couple of hours searching for Northern Saw-whet Owls in Boulder County. Our hunt centered around the Ann U. White Trail and up Left Hand Canyon. We hoped that if no owls were found, we would at least run into a flock of waxwings (perhaps some Bohemian Waxwings). Sightings of neither happened.

Afterwards, we decided to search for owls at the campgrounds along Highway 14 on the way up to Cameron Pass (Jackson). Stops at 9 campgrounds and picnic areas did not find any owls.

With plenty of time before sunset, our next stop was the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. Four Brown-capped Rosy Finches came to the feeders in the hour we watched. Plenty of birds came by, including; Pine Siskins, White-crowned Sparrows, Evening Grosbeaks (2), Pine Grosbeaks (a few), Mountain Chickadees, and Black-capped Chickadees.

We searched the feeders in Gould and the KOA campgrounds for the Common Redpoll that was reported several weeks ago. As previous trips, I missed it again.

After dark, we stopped at 7 stations where Boreal Owls have been found in the past. We heard one at a stop about halfway between the upper Joe Wright Parking area and the summit to Cameron Pass. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the bird (which happens more times than not).