Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wray and Tamarack Ranch Christmas Counts

December 29 and 30, 2008

As soon as I finish writing the report for "Colorado Field Notes" I will post it here also.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Some Douglas County Birding

December 27, 2008

Bryan Ehlmann;

Gary Weston, Richard Stevens and I did some owling along Deer Creek Canyon Road, Foxton Road, Decker Road, South Platte River Road and Platte Canyon Road this morning. We did get responses to our playback tapes at two locations. Both Northern Pygmy-Owls were heard along Decker Road. One just after the paved road turns to gravel. The other was just west of the town of South Platte.

We did not find any Lewis's Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, or American Three-toed Woodpeckers around the entrance to Cheesman Reservoir. I believe they were last reported in early summer, but maybe no one has searched since then?

Returning toward Denver, we found many Pine Siskins at several feeders. Our count was over 210. American Goldfinches numbered about 40-45. Black-billed Magpies and a few Western Scrub-Jays were also seen.

Afterwards we relocated the Dunlin on the South Platte River about 100 yards south of the C470 bridge. Access it from the dog walking area of Chatfield State Park, Douglas County.

We ran into several other birders. Ray Simmons and Dave King didn't relocate the Northern Pygmy-Owls at Reynolds Park, Jeffco. They did find an adult male American Three-toed Woodpecker along the Strawberry Jack trail about 300 yards east of the Buck Gulch trail in Pine Valley Ranch Park, Jeffco. A husband and wife who I am sorry I misplaced your name, found Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant north of Silverthorne, Summit County.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Search for Gulls

December 26, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I met Bill Cryder at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) early in the morning. We sat and scoped the reservoir for several hours (from a point south of the west side and south end of the dam).

No uncommon gulls could be picked out when we arrived. However, about 45 minutes later 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew in from the north (direction of DADS, Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site). About 30 minutes later a 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull flew in with a group of 80-90 Ring-billed Gulls.

During our stay we also saw 7 Herring Gulls and 1 California Gull. The adult Mew Gull observed on 12/24 was never picked out. We hiked down to the swim beach and halfway across the northern end of the dam.

We did not hike around to the southeast corner because there did not appear to be any gulls down there. The Barrow's Goldeneye and Greater Scaup 12/24 were probably missed because of the lack of that hike.

In the afternoon I drove up to the South Platte River and 88th avenue area hoping to get photos of the gulls observed yesterday. There were many Ring-billed Gulls and several Herring Gulls on the ice near the open water. No Glaucous Gulls were found.

I scoped East Gravel Lake from the dirt mound outside of the fence on the north side. Only Ring-billed Gulls and a male Barrow's Goldeneye, Common Mergansers, American Coots, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, and Gadwalls were found.

I scoped the northern West Gravel Lake from the northwest corner. Again only Ring-billed Gulls and one Herring Gull were here.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping that the Glaucous Gulls had moved down there. The reservoir is completely iced over and no birds were on the ice. I thought the warm 41 degree winds would have opened up a little water; they did not.

I hung around to see if the Short-eared Owl would put in an appearance; it did not. No uncommon birds were at the south end of the 12 mile Beaver Pond. Great sunset however!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Adams County Birding on Christmas Day

December 25, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I looked for a walk to take advantage of the 50 degree temperatures today. We started at Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area (Adams County). The American Dipper found by Bob Canter on 12/20 was about 30 yards downstream from the Lowell Blvd Bridge. Thanks much to Bob for finding and reporting the Dipper! I have only observed one other American Dipper in Adams County.

After watching the Dipper for 30 minutes we drove to nearby South Platte River at 88th avenue. We walked the east side of the Platte River from 88th avenue to the green and white tower about a mile South. The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on the river just below the tower. However, the highlight was a 1st year Glaucous Gull standing with 42 Ring-billed Gulls by the river about 40 yards south of the tower! When a dog walked came by, the gulls flew east to Tani Reservoir.

Most of the lakes in the area were ice and snow covered. About 5 percent of East Gravel Lake was open water. No Long-tailed Ducks or scoters today, another male Barrow's Goldeneye was with 14 Common Goldeneyes. A few Common Mergansers and dozens of Northern Shovelers were also counted. The 51 gulls appeared to be all Ring-billed Gull except for 2 Herring Gulls.

On the way to Barr Lake, we noticed 3000+ White-cheeked Geese along I76 (south side, west of mile marker 16). We only stopped briefly and did not pick out any uncommon geese.

Our final hike was at 3:00pm at Barr Lake (Adams). When we stepped out of the car, the noise made by thousands of geese filled the air. However, we could not see any geese and decided to walk toward the west down to the bird blind about 0.8 miles west of the parking area.

At least 6,200 Canada Geese stood on the ice in the cove west of the blind. It only took seconds after setting up the spotting scope to find a Greater White-fronted Goose among the Canada Geese. No White-cheeked Geese that could be called a Cackling Goose were found.

After further scoping a lone white goose (Ross's Goose) was also found. The noise was tremendous. Interesting though, when 3 adult Bald Eagles flew by (a good 200-300 yards off shore) the geese stopped calling. We could almost hear a pin drop for about 30 seconds.

Our birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop in search of Short-eared Owls. No owls tonight, we did count 5 Northern Harriers, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, and a Ferruginous Hawk along the way.

Great Day at Aurora Reservoir

December 24, 2008

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). About 45 minutes before sunrise I searched for the Short-eared Owl reported on 12/5 by Glenn Walbek. I was able to relocate the owl on 12/6. On 12/12, I was real fortunate to find it along the 12 mile Beaver Pond trail. It was not found on Wednesday.

I met Gary Weston and Bill Cryder just after sunrise at Aurora Reservoir. In the next 6 hours we circled the 8.0 bike trail. We went for lunch and returned to end our day there.

We started our hike near the northwest corner of the reservoir. About 400 gulls were along the shore at the southwest end of the dam. An adult Mew Gull allowed us great looks. This was approximately mile marker 7.0.

Bill had said that 90 percent of the lake was frozen on Saturday. Strong southern winds today had opened up about 60 percent of the reservoir.

At around mile marker 4.5, we found a female Greater Scaup and male Barrow's Goldeneye swimming among 38 Common Goldeneyes and 2 Common Mergansers. (The swim beach is mm 7.7 and 0.0 as numbers increase counterclockwise).

We counted many White-cheeked Geese and a few more Common Goldeneyes and found few uncommon birds until we returned to the northwest corner of the dam (mm 6.8).

At a little after Noon, many gulls flew in from DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) to the northwest. First one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was observed landing on a small island of ice south of the dam's tower. Then a second adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, and finally a third adult Lesser Black-backed Gull also came in. Eventually we also observed a 1st year Lesser Black-backed Gull come in from DADS.

Other gulls counted included 17 Herring Gulls, hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, and 2 California Gulls. The only additional waterfowl were Mallards, Gadwalls, and at least one Cackling Goose.

Owling Trip

December 21 & 22, 2008

Bryan Ehlmann:

Rich Stevens and I tested some camping equipment for a friend and combined that with a few nights of owling.

Saturday night we camped out in Pike National Forest at a "cool" 8 degrees. Winds were surprisingly calm. For several hours we walked Forest Road 560, playing Northern Pygmy-Owl tapes, but not getting any response.

Early Sunday morning, we did get a response at nearby Reynolds Park also in Jefferson County. Shortly after one owl responded a second owl also joined in for about 10 minutes along the Oxen Draw Trail.

Returned to Pine Valley Ranch Park after sunrise, but didn't have additional success. A search for American Three-toed Woodpeckers was also not successful.

In the afternoon we received a text message about the Dunlin at Chatfield State Park and shuffled off to southwest Denver. A short 5 minute walk from the dog walking area below the Chatfield Reservoir dam and we saw the Dunlin and a Killdeer. Both were on the mudflats about 200 yards south of the C470 Bridge.

Afterwards we searched for owls in Deer Creek Canyon. Again a Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings!

Sunday night we camped near Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The temperatures only reached 10 degrees, warm?

Monday morning we were up early and searched for owls in Golden Gate Canyon State Park and the White Ranch area. Bingo, we found our fourth and possibly fifth Northern Pygmy-Owls of our excursion!

Monday night my warm bed was heaven! I bet Richard felt the same way!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

South Platte River, North of Chatfield Reservoir

December 21, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I took time out of our Owling quest and stopped by Chatfield Reservoir (Douglas County).

We made the short walk north from the dog walking area down to the C470 bridge. The Dunlin was with 2 Killdeer on the shallow mudflats several hundred meters south of the highway.

We watched the shorebirds for 30 minutes and drove through the State Park looking for additional birds. Most of the reservoir is frozen and there were only a few birds around. Nothing uncommon turned up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another Great Afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 12, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I drove down to Franktown to visit a friend. Both the male and female Northern Cardinal came to her feeders on several occasions! Quite a few Dark-eyed Juncos including one White-winged Junco also flew under her feeders.

A drive through Castlewood Canyon State Park was uneventful. No Bluebirds were observed. A Northern Shrike was on telephone wires along Castlewood Canyon Road, south of the Winkler Ranch (Douglas County).

I was not going to stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), at the last moment changed my mind and was happy I did.

Most of the gulls and waterfowl were again quite far from shore. However I did enjoy some nice highlights.

The male Barrow's Goldeneye was again in the cove northwest of the swim beach.

When I stopped at the picnic tables northeast of the handicapped fisherperson's dock a large white Gull was swimming about 20 yards offshore. It turned out to be an adult Glaucous Gull! It was not the same Glaucous Gull reported on Wednesday as that one was a 1st cycle Gull.

It allowed me to watch it through binoculars, but the minute my scope was pointed at it, the Gull took off toward the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

When I arrived at the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek loop, the adult Glaucous Gull stood on the mudflats with 3 Bonaparte's and many Ring-billed, California, and Herring Gulls.

The minute I put my scope on the Gull it took off this time toward the dam tower. I scoped the snow covered mudflats for the Dunlin; they were not found. I could see 2 Common Loons through a scope (toward northeastern boat ramp). Also took a couple photos of a nearby Great Horned Owl.

Many ducks and geese were just off the picnic area whose coverings look like spread Gull wings. I scoped the lake from here. Two Red-breasted Mergansers were among hundreds of Common Mergansers. The Long-tailed Duck was on the closest edge of the large raft of waterfowl.

Many gulls stood on the ice just offshore. Among them were an adult and 1st cycle Thayer's Gulls, adult and 1st cycle Herring Gull, an adult California Gull, and many Ring-billed Gulls. As I was trying to take photos, an adult Bald Eagle flew over and most of the gulls took off toward the dam tower.

Since the Dunlin have not been reported since last weekend, I decided to walk to the south end of the 12 mile beaver pond. A pair had wintered at the southern mudflats in 1993 (well until one of them died, the other stuck around for another 3 weeks).

There were no Dunlin and few birds at the beaver pond. A Virginia Rail walked along the shore as I stood at the southern bench. An interesting sight was 5 waves of Common Mergansers. Each wave was about 500-1000 yards apart and had 40-70 birds each. All of them were males, not one female or immature among them.

I saw the Short-eared Owl twice for 10-20 seconds. I believe it to be a female. It was quite orange underneath with a darker breast. It had the bold buffy patch on the upper wing (lacking the orangish color expected on a Long-eared Owl).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 11, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) around 3:00pm. Unfortunately most of the birds were in the center of the lake today; also light was poor. Many of yesterday's birds were still around. Identification of many of the gulls was left open. I did have a few highlights but could not relocate the Glaucous Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull or Long-tailed Duck.

The male Barrow's Goldeneye was just off shore from the first picnic area east of the parking area for the dam tower.

An adult Thayer's Gull was with many gulls off the handicapped fisherperson's dock.

Off the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop were 5+ Bonaparte's Gulls among many Ring-billed, some California, and some Herring Gulls.

From the end of the Lake Loop I could see two Common Loons.

Great afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 10, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed a long day of birding as the weather improved with calm winds and temperatures near 50. That is nice thing about Colorado's weather, snow one day, warm and sunny the next!

My first stop today was a return to Overland Pond Park (Denver County) to give the Pine Warbler another shot; again without success. Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were across the street on Overland Golf Course. A Greater White-fronted Goose was among them.

A coyote and I watched the geese for 30 minutes and then I headed to nearby Marston Reservoir (Denver). I scoped the lake from the east side (not the best vantage point as the sun was toward the southwest). Three Common Loons were still out there; but I was not able to find the Tundra Swans or Greater Scaup that I found Saturday.

I drove through Fort Logan National Cemetery to find Memorial and Veteran's Lakes slush and ice covered. Very few ducks and geese were on them. A pair of Buffleheads was on Memorial Lake.

My next stop was the Highline Canal at Dahlia. Last year hundreds of Bohemian Waxwings roamed the canal lined with Buckthorn Berry bushes. I have been putting off this trip waiting for more wintry weather, assuming the birds would then come to eat at this huge food source.

As it turned out, I was two weeks late. Local birders said that birds had eaten the berries earlier. About 90 percent of the berries were now gone. However, they had not seen any waxwings in the mix of House Finches and Robins.

The homes just south of the Highline Canal and East Quincy Avenue have feeders which attract many birds. In past years White-throated Sparrows and Harris's Sparrows have been found below their feeders. None were around today.

The highlight of the trip was watching two White-breasted Nuthatches take Pinon Nuts from the feeders and "hide" their bounty in the bark and holes in the surrounding cottonwoods. They worked arduously at their task.

Meanwhile 4-5 Black-capped Chickadees watched from neighboring limbs and would fly over and retrieve the nuts when the nuthatches went back for more! Even a Northern Flicker got into the act and fetched some easy food.

A pair of Spotted Towhees, a Townsend's Solitaire, and a male Red-breasted Nuthatch were also observed along the hike from E. Quincy Avenue to the parking area at the end of Dahlia Street. I even found a flock of 5 Cedar Waxwings not far from Dahlia.

My final stop of the day was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Unfortunately I arrived only an hour before sunset; not near enough time to scope the whole reservoir.

Birding was great as many gulls and waterfowl had arrived since the snowstorm. I never made it to the east end to scope the hundreds of gulls there and to see if last weekends Dunlins were still around; perhaps tomorrow?

When the sandbar at the southwest corner was scoped, I found a Glaucous Gull among dozens of Herring, California, and Ring-billed Gulls. I had planned to return later and walk down the road below the dam and take photos; unfortunately I never made it back before dark. Jerry Petrosky had shown up and I pointed out the Glaucous Gull to him before we headed over to the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

From the Bird Platform we found 9+ Bonaparte's Gulls and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull among dozens of Herring, California, and Ring-billed Gulls standing on the ice just off shore. We checked the snowy mud flats for the Dunlin; they were not there.

It appeared that the Long-tailed Duck was across the lake below the handicapped fisherperson's dock. Later I drove pass there and found it diving there!

Jerry had to leave and I headed over to the dam as thousands of gulls and ducks were just off shore. There must have been a large school of fish for hundreds of Common Mergansers, other ducks and gulls circled below the parking area.

At least 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were among them. A strange duck whose silhouette looked somewhat like a female merganser but half the size was also found. There were so many mergansers that getting clear looks at it or any bird was difficult.

The light was bad as I was on the north side looking into the southwest setting sun. Also I only got 2 looks for about 4 or 5 seconds. The bird easily could have been a Red-necked Grebe. It was not an Eared or Horned Grebe. Guess I will never know.

While watching the hundreds of swimming and flying gulls, I noticed a small Gull. At first I thought it could be a tern as it was quite small. It did not look like a Bonaparte's Gulls, but rather a Little Gull. I watched it until the light was so poor that identification was impossible. Hopefully someone will find this bird tomorrow.

Snowy Day at Washington Park

December 9, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Denver area received 4-6 inches of snow overnight. Because temperatures have been rather warm, the snow was melting rapidly. This did not stop the many accidents that usually occur after such a storm. I did not want to drive around in the mess and decided to take a City RTD bus from the Pena Park n Ride near the airport over to the Washington Park area.

A homeowner in the area had reported Bohemian Waxwings along the West side of the park so I decided to give it a shot. As any birder who chases waxwings knows, they are quite difficult to relocate even the day after the report. This report was 3 days old and I did not hold much hope of success. I have several friends who live in the area and if nothing else planned to visit them.

There were plenty of American Crows and a few Northern Flickers in the park. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet fluttered about the evergreen trees at the north end, no waxwings however.

A two hour walk around Washington Park and the streets west did not find any waxwings, typical. I did find many Hackberry bushes along South Marion Street (site of previous report). Took some great photos of snow covered Washington Park, visited my friends and hopped on a bus back to my car about 12 miles east as the Waxwing flies.

Denver and Adams County Birding

December 8, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky wanted to see an Eastern Screech-Owl so at 7:00am I took him to the Highline Canal. Fortune was good; we found an Eastern Screech-Owl in about a 15 minute walk!

Afterwards we walked the perimeter of Wellshire Golf Course. In past years Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been reported here; unfortunately we did not find any today.

Next we decided to go north to Denver West Office Complex. Pine Warblers have been reported here in the past; none were found today. Ironically, Mike Henwood found a Pine Warbler at Overland Pond Park today. I would never have thought to search there; however we were only 4 miles away as the Pine Warbler flies.

We continued north from the Denver West Office Complex and stopped at the South Platte River at Colorado Blvd. We had intended on walking the Platte from 88th avenue to I270 and back. However, winds were 18+ mph and it was cold.

Instead we scoped Tani Reservoir, East Gravel Lake, and Dahlia Pond from Dahlia Street. That advantage did not give us complete coverage, but probably 90 percent. We did not find the previously reported White-winged Scoter. We did find a male Barrow's Goldeneye at the south end of East Gravel Lake. The previously reported Long-tailed Duck was at the south end of Dahlia Pond.

It started to lightly snow and we headed for home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Warm Winter Day in Southwestern Denver

December 7, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Did anyone hear/mention what day this is? The day that will live in infamy. I did not hear or see anything about it. But it should not be forgotten; the great sacrifice that so many people made for our freedom. Thanks to all of them!

I started a long day of birding at 4:30am by walking a mile of the Highline Canal. A local landowner had turned me on to Eastern Screech-Owls in her neighborhood. It only took 10 minutes to find one! Unless it moved, a second Eastern Screech-Owl answered my recordings and the first owl.

I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery to see if the Greater Scaup were still there. The only Scaup found on Memorial Lake were a male and 2 female Lesser Scaup. There were thousands of White-cheeked Geese on the property. Quite a few of them were Cackling Geese. It amazes me how small many of them were. Some looked smaller than Mallards.

At Veteran's Lake (the western lake) a small Ross's Goose was with hundreds of Cackling Geese. The Cackling Geese were almost as small as the Ross's Goose. They eventually flew across Sheridan Blvd to the Pines Golf Course. Hopefully they returned to the cemetery after eating.

My next stop was Marston Reservoir (Denver County). I scoped the lake well from the east side. A raft of ducks included 9 Redheads, 5 Lesser Scaup, and 2 Greater Scaup. Common Mergansers, a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers, Western Grebes, and 2 Clark's Grebes were also found.

From the western side of Marston I found 2 Tundra Swans close to the shore. Definitely Tundra Swans, they eventually swam back to the middle of the lake where Tina Jones saw them later.

My next stop of the day was a long one. I went brain dead in the beautiful weather (calm winds and temperatures that reached into the middle 60s) and decided to circle Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).

For those familiar with the reservoir, it is a pretty long walk. I was up for that, but had not considered that the only bridge across Plum Creek is quite far south of the lake. My GPS unit said that I hiked 10.5 miles (it seemed much farther hiking up and down the hills).

It was a beautiful day though. One downside was the lack of birds. I counted 48 birds on the water and the surrounding woods only added another 21 birds. Sixty-nine birds were the total! The highlight was a Common Loon below the Heron Viewing Area.

I guessed the recent snowstorm had moved out most of the birds. I suppose if I had stayed until dark, White-cheeked Geese and gulls would have returned from their daily foraging. I only saw 9 gulls (all Ring-billed) the entire hike.

My day ended with a "cool down hike" at South Platte Park (Arapahoe). I walked the 0.5 miles south from the Carson Visitor's Center to the Duck blind to see if I could relocate the Harris's Sparrow. When I arrive at the blind there were no sparrows to be found. Not even the couple of Song Sparrows observed previously in the surrounding cattails. A male Belted Kingfisher rattled at me constantly during my search.

Great day for December! The warm weather won't stay forever.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Great Day at Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 6, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir at about 6:00am. As I was driving to the west of Cherry Creek, I saw a bird with the unmistakable fluttering of a Short-eared Owl in the field east of Cherry Creek and north of the main road.

This was 6:28am and it was quite dark. However the silhouette was that of a Short-eared Owl. The Owl eventually landed in the trees overlooking the marsh along the Shop Creek trail. I took 5 silhouette photos of the bird and waited for better light.

Unfortunately, two joggers came along before significant light and the Short-eared Owl flew west into the trees. I parked on the west side of Cherry Creek where the owl was first found yesterday by Glenn Walbek; it never appeared.

My next stop was the bird observation platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop. I wanted to check and make sure that the Dunlin reported yesterday by Glenn Walbek had not moved to the mudflats here. The only birds around were White-cheeked Geese. From this point, I noticed hundreds of gulls on the ice below the handicapped fisherperson's dock on the north side of the lake.

When I arrived at the dock, I scoped the gulls from 20 feet or so. Among the hundreds of birds were an adult Mew Gull and an adult Thayer's Gull. Eventually the gulls flew to the middle of the lake to search for food.

I was ready to walk the east side of the reservoir and look for the Dunlin. Once I reached the inlet canal and found no Dunlin and few birds except for additional hundreds of gulls. The canal is too deep and the only choice was to bushwhack around the inlet to a bridge that crosses it at the Shop Creek trail. Careful on the rickety bridge when crossing it!

After hiking to the south side of the reservoir, I could see the two small Dunlin among 3 or 4 Killdeer. I hiked through the neck high cattails and got within 20 feet of the Dunlin, took 400+ photos and made 6 one minute movies of the shorebirds. Surely a few of them will come out.

While photographing the Dunlin, I noticed a Swamp Sparrow walking along the cattails only about 15 feet to the west of me!

The shorebirds stayed close to another 300 gulls. Among the gulls was the adult Mew Gull which I also digiscoped again.

Returning to my car, I found a better way to get there than bushwhacking through the woods. Park at the Shop Creek parking area. Walk north about 100 yards or so to the first trail leading west (signed Wetlands Preserve. Hike west, past the first large clearing on the right (north). Once past the first line of trees, pickup a trail heading toward the lake. This will go through the woods and reach another small clearing. From here, head west through the cattails for about 300 yards to another small stream going into the lake. The area appears to be a favorite place for gulls and other birds as few people make the effort to reach it. I would say it is about halfway between the inlet creek at the bird observation platform and the southeast corner of the Reservoir.

After returning to my car, I headed to Franktown to check on an uncommon bird report.

Thanks to a cooperative landowner I was able to see a male Northern Cardinal! They also have seen a female Northern Cardinal, but it did not show up during my stay. Perhaps the pair is or will nest in Douglas County!

Late in the afternoon, I had occasion to pass by Quincy Reservoir. The reservoir is closed until March, but can be scoped from outside the fence (park at school on north side of Quincy).

Several thousand White-cheeked Geese stood along the shore at the east end of the reservoir. While there were no Brants, one Greater White-fronted Goose was among the horde. About 30 minutes before sunset most of the geese flew up for a final feeding for the day. It appeared that most of them went either to the fields north of the school or over to the Northern Experimental Plains Park to the northeast.

All said it was a beautiful day to bird! Thanks much to Glenn Walbek for the wonderful birds to pursue.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Colorado State Forest, Jackson County

December 1 through 5

Gary Weston: I was joined by several birders off and on through the week. We cross-country skied and snow shoed through the Colorado State Forest.

Our main goal was to flag a couple of Boreal Owls for two birders, one going for an ABA big year, the other going for a Colorado big year.

On Monday (12/1) we found 7 Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant in Summit County. Green Mountain Reservoir, Wolford, and Windy Gap didn't have any birds of note.

The highlight was a Gyrfalcon along Highway 125. It was about halfway between the entrance to the main office for Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge and the road heading west to the self driving auto tour of the Refuge.

Tuesday morning we found 2 Greater Sage-Grouse walking Jackson County Road 26, about 0.6 miles north of CO Hwy 14.

With much effort we found 3 Boreal Owls during the week. These were not near a road. Early Thursday morning we saw a Boreal Owl near the top of Cameron Pass!

Later Thursday (12/4) a flock of 60 Rosy Finches (4 Brown-capped, 2 Black Rosy) was seen at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

Friday we searched unsuccessfully for the Iceland Gull reported at Horsetooth Reservoir. We also stopped at Union Reservoir but saw nothing unusual. The Jim Hamm Park Swamp Sparrow was not relocated in a 15 minute search.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Birding Around Denver

November 30, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I started for Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) at first light. It was snowing and the streets were icy and partially snow covered. Temperatures were in the low 30s; winds averaged 14 mph.

Several stops were made on the way down. The Greater Scaup are still at Memorial Lake, Fort Logan National Cemetery. A 15 minute stop at Marston Reservoir found one Pacific Loon and one Common Loon; there may have been additional loons? No swans were found.

I only spent 20 minutes at the Bird Blind south of South Platte Park (Arapahoe). While a flock of 5 White-crowned Sparrows and 2 Song Sparrows were located; no Harris's Sparrow was observed.

My jinx with the Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) loons continued. A Common Loon was all that was observed while scoping from the dam. Cold and 15+ mph winds made my decision easy not to walk further.

In late afternoon I circled Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Birds in order observed included:

From the dam tower pullover:
The male Barrow's Goldeneye was in a raft of associated ducks including 35+ Common Goldeneyes and a female/immature Surf Scoter. This may have been the scoter I first observed on Wednesday (11/26).

Two Red-necked Grebes were south of the dam tower. Several Bonaparte's Gulls were flying around below the dam also.

I skipped the swim beach as to not have to walk down in the snow and wind. An adult Bald Eagle was in the cottonwoods along the south side of the campgrounds. The Long-tailed Duck was observed from the handicapped fisherperson's dock.

From the Bird Observation Platform, Cottonwood Creek Loop I observed 120 gulls which included 6 Bonaparte's Gulls. Several Killdeer were also on the mud flats. While I was scoping the lake, a Swamp Sparrow came out of the cattails. It walked around the southern edge of the cattails for about 5 minutes. Two Song Sparrows also did the same thing.

There was a large raft of waterfowl just off the Lake Loop. Hundred+ Common Mergansers, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, Eared Grebes, Horned Grebes, and American Coots were with dozens of gulls. I also picked out two 1st cycle and two adult Thayer's Gulls.

My last stop was a hike from the southwest marina to the sandbar to the north. Three hundred+ gulls stood on the sandbar. I finally was able to pick out the adult Mew Gull among the many Ring-billed, a dozen California, and 4 Herring Gulls.

I quite pink breasted Gull with its head in its back kept me at the sandbar for an hour. Finally the bird lifted its head; it was a Ring-billed Gull.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jackson and Adams County Birds!

November 29, 2008

Richard Stevens:

After a cold night we drove up to Delaney Butte Lakes (Jackson) and found a Snow Bunting flying around. Before heading up there, we drove quickly over to Jackson County Road 26. At first light, two Greater Sage-Grouse were walking the road!

We searched for crossbills, Rosy Finches, American Three-toed Woodpeckers, etc at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center; without success and headed for home.

After splitting up, I cut across northern Denver to miss the Interstate 70 traffic. Since I passed 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd decided to walk the east side of the S. Platte River from 88th avenue to Tani Reservoir and back.

Right off the start, the White-winged Scoter previously reported by Ken Chavez on West Gravel Lakes was observed just east of the East Gravel Lake dam tower.

Continuing South I photographed a male and female Barrow's Goldeneye swimming at the south end of East Gravel Lake. I hiked to the south end of Tani Reservoir (south of E. Gravel Lake). Here I relocated the larger male Barrow's Goldeneye that I have been seeing for a week or so.

Checking the lake south of 88th avenue and east of Dahlia, I could not relocate the Long-tailed Duck that I found earlier. I checked both the south and west ends of the "L" shaped lake. There were many Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, and Buffleheads.

I scoped the larger lake north of 88th avenue and east of Dahlia from a pullover along 88th avenue. One of the two Long-tailed Ducks I found last week was observed. From the pullover one can also see a pond south of 88th avenue. Only Mallards and Gadwalls have been here the past week. I also could see the Mute Swan to the north. There once was a pair, but I have only seen one lately (and surely semi-pets).

Since I passed Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) on the way home I made a quick stop at the Visitor's Center. Hiked over to Lake Lenore and found no geese. The Greater White-fronted Goose and Ross's Goose I found last Tuesday had departed with the 3400 White-cheeked Geese also seen Tuesday. The Biologist said the geese had left on Thursday.

At sunset I scoped Lakecrest only to find the same situation as the Arsenal, No geese, only a dozen or so Common Goldeneyes.

Search for Slaty-backed Gull Hybrid, Boulder County

November 28, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Gary Weston and I traveled up to Boulder County mainly to get a look at the possible Slaty-backed Gull. The bird was not up at six-mile reservoir at first light so we decided to check several other locations and return later.

The SBGU was not a Baseline Reservoir. We did see a Surf Scoter and Long-tailed Duck (both previously reported). Few gulls around. Lagerman Reservoir also had only a few Ring-billed Gulls.

No large gulls were found at Union Reservoir or Jim Hamm Park across the street. We walked Jim Hamm and did get the previously reported Swamp Sparrow to respond to a recording!

Returning to six-mile reservoir I learned the SBGU had departed about 5 minutes before arrival. I decided to check Lagerman again and then head to McIntosh Lake. This time there were no gulls at Lagerman.

When I arrived at McIntosh Lake several birders on the South side declared the Gull was not there and left. I decided to drive around to the North side. As I reached the southeast corner, forty Ring-billed Gulls and the SBGU were standing on ice. Unfortunately, I hit the curb as I made a U-turn and most of the gulls took off.

Once on the North side I relocated the SBGU. Again it took off and almost flew over my head and continued northeast. Gary who had stayed at six-mile reservoir arrived at McIntosh too late.

We parked my car at the Wal-mart and took Gary's jeep up to Cameron Pass (Jackson/Larimer Counties). It was snowing when we arrived, but there was absolutely no wind. Go figure? Without any prompting we heard and located a Boreal Owl west of the Summit.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Clear Creek County and Southwest Metro Area

November 27, 2008

Richard Stevens:

This morning I took Ray Simmons and Davie King to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County). It was one of those rare days where we found 9+ White-tailed Ptarmigan in less than 20 minutes!

After dropping them off at the Light Rail Station at Mineral, I hiked from the Carson Nature Center at South Platte Park (Arapahoe) to the spur trail for the Bird Blind approximately 0.5 miles south.

When I arrived there was a flock of sparrows just west of the blind. The flock included 6-7 White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows, a Lincoln's Sparrow (gave me a 6 second look), and the Harris's Sparrow (observed 3 times for approx. 4 seconds each.

The flock stayed close to the ground and bottom of the willows. It moved west to the corner of the lake and then headed north. When I left the flock it was in the willows below (east) the large clump of cottonwoods that still had many dead leaves on it (other trees were basically bare).

From South Platte Park I drove north to Hampden Blvd and then west to Fort Logan National Cemetery (Denver County). At least four Greater Scaup are still on Memorial Lake (eastern lake).

I continued south on Sheridan Blvd to Marston Reservoir where I photographed a Pacific Loon that was quite close to the Bowmar Drive side of the lake (eastern side). In all, I observed 3 Pacific Loons and 2 Common Loons. The highlight however was photographing 3 Tundra Swans!

My plan was to head north to the South Platte River and 88th Avenue to look for the Long-tailed Ducks and Barrow's Goldeneyes. However I received a text message about 3 species of loons at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) and turned South.

For a place that was supposed to be loony, I only found 1 Common Loon. I parked at the parking area above the dam and hiked east and south to Plum Creek Delta and back. The highlight here was 2 Black Scoters that were just below and south of the dam tower.

Later I drove around to the southeast marina, the handicapped fishing dock, and the heron rookery. No additional loons were found. Two Cedar Waxwings were at the campgrounds just south of the boat ramp. While at the heron rookery a flock of 82 Redheads circled just over my head and landed just below the observation deck; cool!

Next I headed to McLellan Reservoir where my third Black Scoter of the day was observed. A small group of gulls included an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull!

With fading light a check of the new South Platte Reservoir found it void of birds. This was good as it was probably too dark to identify much.

My birding day ended back up Deer Creek Canyon. A search for Northern Pygmy-Owls (or any owls) came up empty.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Return to Clear Creek and Arapahoe Counties

November 26, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I managed to get another 5 birders up to Guanella Pass to see White-tailed Ptarmigan this morning. Our count was 11 birds! Winds were moderate and temperatures in the 20s.

In the late afternoon I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Thousands of gulls were spread across the lake as there were no boats. Boating closes on Sunday for the winter.

However a couple of kayaks approached the delta off the Bird Observation Platform and the only birds still there were 3 Killdeer.

So I walked to the end of the road below the dam (from the southwest marina). Several thousand gulls stood on the sandbar north of the marina. Among the gulls were 7 Bonaparte's Gulls and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull!

From the north end of the road which dead ends before meeting with its counterpart coming from the north I observed another Lesser Black-backed Gull. This Gull appeared to be a first year Lesser Black-backed Gull.

The Goldeneye count was 4 times more than previous visits this week. I counted 96 Common Goldeneyes and 1 male Barrow's Goldeneye. By the time I got around to scoping the ducks (photographing the Lesser Black-backed Gulls was the priority) it was well after sunset. A female Goldeneye had the head posture of a Barrow's Goldeneye. Since I was unable to see color in her bill, I left the duck unidentified.

Just a little south and east of the sandbar a scoter species swam rapidly away from me. It was definitely a scoter but light was too poor to identify. It appears to be a Surf Scoter (no white on sides) but? Perhaps someone will be able to relocate it tomorrow?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

November 25, 2008

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon (2:00pm) I decided to bird the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County). Winds were 5-10 mph and temperatures in the 40s.

A Ross's Goose was on Lake Lenore behind the Visitor's Center. The White-cheeked Geese count was 3,420 (give or take).

A flock of sparrows in the thickets, bushes, and grasses at the northwest corner of Lake Lenore included 17 Song, 9 White-crowned, and 31 American Tree Sparrows.

Continuing around Lake Lenore, a Greater White-fronted Goose was observed at the eastern end of the western portion of the lake. In total at Lake Lenore: 14 Canvasbacks, many Buffleheads, many Gadwalls, Mallards, and 36+ Common Goldeneyes were counted.

My plan was to circle Lake Lenore, head over to Rod and Gun Club Lake, and finish the day at Havana Ponds. A hike of about 5.4 miles. When I was on the east side of Lenore a kind federal worker offered me a ride.

The worker took me over to Lower Derby Lake (no public access) and then east to see the pair of resident Bald Eagles and their nest.

Lower Derby Lake had another 1500+ ducks and geese. The highlight was a female Black Scoter! There was a report of a swan here 2 weeks ago. I am trying to run down additional information on that bird.

I was quite glad for the ride when we arrived at Havana Ponds. For the waterfowl total there was 1 Gadwall (that was it). Twelve Ring-billed Gulls stood on the southern end. Not another bird, the extra 2.3 mile hike I was planning would not have been a good use of the limited daylight.

Instead I hiked Mary Lake. Not too many birds were here, but I did find a Marsh Wren!

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 24, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove down to Franktown and nearby Walker Pit to search for the Tundra Swans and possible Barrow's Goldeneye reported yesterday by Hugh Kingery. Neither species was around at 1:00pm.

Later we stopped at the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Nine Bonaparte's Gulls stood on the delta off the platform.

Winds were calm and the water was like glass. We did not find the Long-tailed Duck or Common Loon(s). The male Barrow's Goldeneye was observed in the southeast corner. It was with about 30 Common Goldeneyes. They whole raft were swimming directly toward the bird platform (that is until a jet ski came by and scared them back to the southeast corner).

I walked down to the south end of the 12 mile Beaver Pond. Nothing uncommon was located.

Return to Guanella Pass

November 23, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Texas birder Lynn Barber and I headed up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan for her "big year".

Conditions were quite different than last Thursday (11/20) when I was up there. Thursday there was little wind and temperatures in the 40s. Today winds were 40+ mph with gusts into the high 50s.

It took us about 2.5 hours. Lynn finally found a group of 4 Ptarmigan. As is sometimes the case, I had found a group of 6 about 2 minutes before she found hers. We were about 400 yards apart at the time.

She is having quite a year! Look for her website for updates on her progress.

After she headed back to Texas, I drove over to Barr Lake. I was not able to relocate the Tundra Swans reported yesterday by Dave Cameron. There were thousands of White-cheeked Geese. Among them were several Ross's Geese.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

South Platte Park and Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 22, 2008

Richard Stevens:

At 7:00am I arrived at South Platte Park (Arapahoe County). It took about 20 minutes to walk south to the spur trail leading to the bird blind (had to stop and checkout the many ducks on the Platte; hoped for an odd shorebird such as a Dunlin; no luck).

When I started up the spur the Harris's Sparrow was on the path near the cattails and metal circles around small bushes. It first moved into the cattails; later it followed 4 White-crowned Sparrows and a Song Sparrow westward along the shoreline .

Then the loose flock crossed to the north of the path and buried itself in the willows below the bird blind. The photos on the CoBus photo library were taken when the flock flew west of the blind.

About 10 minutes later Bryan Ehlmann and Gary Weston arrived. A couple of additional birders arrived 10 minutes after that and all observed the Harris's Sparrow.

Bryan, Gary, and I then hiked south to the Chatfield Reservoir dam. We found one Common Loon from our vantage point and returned to South Platte Park.

On my way home I made two stops. The Greater Scaup are still on Memorial Lake at Fort Logan National Cemetery.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) I found 2 Common Loons (one at the north end and one the east end of the Lake); one male Barrow's Goldeneye (with 28+ Common Goldeneyes in the southeast corner); and 9 Bonaparte's Gulls on the Delta off the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

Again the lake was only scoped from the Cottonwood Creek Loop Bird Observation Platform. Many birds were missed as they were once again scattered by speed and fishing boats. The Long-tailed Duck was not relocated by me.

One of the two White Pelicans on the delta appears to have a broken wing. With cold weather approaching he could be in trouble.

I forgot to mention the highlight of my trip yesterday to Cherry Creek Reservoir. I relocated most of the birds observed all week at the reservoir. The highlight was a lone Barn Swallow that was hawking insects above the 12 mile Beaver Pond!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Some Denver Area Reservoirs

November 21, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I decided to return to several Denver lakes today. It was sunny but felt cold. Temperatures reached 64 degrees; again it felt cold.

At stopped at Barr Lake (Adams County) first thing in the morning. A Ross's Goose and several Snow Geese (white and blue phases) were among thousands of White-cheeked Geese. I could not relocate the Greater White-fronted Goose.

Next I hiked the east side of the South Platte River from Highway 224 to the Tani Reservoir outlet and back. The male Barrow's Goldeneye was still near the north end of the reservoir. There did not appear to be any female Barrow's Goldeneyes around.

It took an hour at the southeast Dahlia Pond but I finally relocated the Long-tailed Duck. First I missed it while scoping from 88th avenue. Then I scoped the lake from Dahlia. The duck swam out of view to the north just after I set up my scope. Back at 88th avenue I was able to finally obtain decent views of the Long-tailed Duck.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I only scoped the lake from the bird observation platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop; so some birds were missed.

The male Barrow's Goldeneye was accompanied by a female Common Goldeneye both swimming just off the east side of the Lake Loop. After an hour I found the Long-tailed Duck among a group of swimming gulls in the center of the reservoir.

All three times I have seen the Long-tailed Duck this week, it has been among swimming gulls and not the rafts of Western Grebes or Common Goldeneyes. Today there were two distinct rafts of Common Goldeneyes (21 birds and 17 birds, quite far apart and in the eastern corner).

The only loon seen today was one Common Loon. Hundreds of Western Grebes, 2 American White Pelicans, 1 Double-crested Cormorant and a small group of Ruddy Ducks were also out there. Only 7 Bonaparte's Gulls ever stopped off at the Cherry Creek inlet delta.

I walked along the south shore hoping to find a Swamp Sparrow; without success. One Virginia Rail again walked the mudflats north of the inlet bridge.

With an hour of daylight before sunset, I hiked to the 12 mile Beaver Pond. It is a good location for a stray Rusty Blackbird (but not today). Another Virginia Rail was along the shore (mudflats) below the most southern bench. I heard a Wilson's Snipe while checking out the Russian Olive Tree grove and cottonwoods south of the pond.

I almost forgot to mention the highlight of my trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir. I relocated most of the birds observed all week at the reservoir. The highlight however was a lone Barn Swallow that was hawking insects above the 12 mile Beaver Pond!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ptarmigan on Guanella Pass

November 20, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Four El Paso County birders and I drove up to Guanella Pass today. I looked it up, my 136th partial birding day on the Pass! This may have been the best weather ever for a search. Cool to cold temperatures and for most of the trip no wind! The usual late afternoon storm did roll in and bring just a little wind as we returned to our car.

We found at least 14 White-tailed Ptarmigan! Initially I found 8, but additional birds kept emerging from the willows.

I also saw a few American Pipits and 1 White-crowned Sparrow (getting late for it).

We first drove up to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) and stuck out on Ptarmigan there. Thus begging for the longer hike at Guanella Pass. The search was relatively painless as it only took 30 minutes!

The weather at Loveland Pass was also superb! Calm winds and cool air! Both areas still have very little snow.

On the trip up we observed plenty of Common Ravens, American Crows, 1 White-breasted Nuthatch, and 1 Mountain Chickadee (we did not look too hard for them or would have found more).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jackson and Cherry Creek Reservoirs

November 19, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Gary Weston and I were at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) about an hour before sunrise. Our target birds were owls. Temperatures today were 10+ degrees colder than yesterday and wind much stronger (15-25 mph).

No Short-eared Owls showed at the northwest corner of the park. We could not find any Eastern Screech-Owls in the western campgrounds or along the south shore. We did see a pair of Great Horned Owls at the northern campgrounds and found 2 Long-eared Owls farther south. Also a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and many Robins at the southern campgrounds.

Hunting season is still on and there were a few hunters out there. We skipped the northeast wildlife area and drove north on CR 4. Several flocks of Horned Larks were accompanied by half a dozen Lapland Longspurs.

After returning to Denver, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to end my birding day. It was not as comfortable (60 degrees, 20+ mph winds) than yesterday's (78 degrees, calm winds).

I did not circle the whole park but stayed mostly at the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop. With the lack of boats (only 2, compared to 23 yesterday) the gulls and waterfowl were scattered across the lake and not grouped at the bird platform as yesterday.

The Bonaparte's Gull count was 9 among only several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and a few California Gulls. The Lesser Black-backed Gull if still around never came into view.

Both the pair of Pacific Loons and pair of Common Loons eventually came into view but not as the same time as yesterday. I was there 2 hours before finding the Long-tailed Duck in the high waves. Today it stayed mainly off the east side of the Lake Loop. The Black Scoter was never found.

To escape the wind for a few minutes, I walked over to the footbridge over the inlet canal. It only took two minutes to find a Virginia Rail walking the muddy shore (north of the bridge). I watched it for 20 minutes and returned to the bird platform.

On the way back, I ran into a flock of 9 American Tree Sparrows, 3 White-crowned Sparrows, and 2 Song Sparrows.

My birding day ended under another colorful fall sunset!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another fantastic November Day!

November 18, 2008

Richard Stevens:

This morning I decided to "give the Clear Creek County White-winged Crossbills another chance"; without success. In a two hour search no crossbills or Rosy Finches were found. Plenty of American Crows and Common Ravens wandered around Empire, CO.

A quick drive up Loveland Pass did not find any signs of White-tailed Ptarmigan close to the highway.

In the afternoon I went by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to see if the Long-tailed Duck and Tundra Swans reported yesterday by Glenn Walbek were still around. It turned out to be a great decision.

When I arrived at the Cottonwood Creek Loop, 3:45 pm, I ran into Warren Finch who had spent 2 hours circling Cherry Creek Reservoir without finding his or my target birds. We then scoped the lake from the bird platform.

The Long-tailed Duck was perhaps 80 yards off the platform and allowed several "witness photos". Several loons were in the southeast corner and as I was scoping them, I pointed out a female/immature Black Scoter to Warren!

The nice day (record breaking temperatures near 80 and mild winds) brought out many boats to the reservoir. As a result, most of the gulls and waterfowl were congregating in the southeast corner which is off limits to boats.

I remained until well after sunset because at least 3 times in the past at Cherry Creek Reservoir Swans have "dropped out of the sky" to rest at dusk. This has also happened to me twice at Barr Lake. However, none did tonight. I did not expect to see the 3 Tundra Swans from yesterday as the swans never seem to stay?

The time allowed for further inspection of the loons. In all there were 2 Common Loons and 2 Pacific Loons (with one of the Pacific Loons flashing much white on its sides?).

A raft of Goldeneyes swam out of the southeast corner (the ten percent of the lake that I could not see from my vantage point). A male Barrow's Goldeneye was among 5 male and 9 female Common Goldeneyes.

Gull numbers went from about 200 on my last visit (Sunday) to over 2000 tonight. A couple of people walked the southeast sand spit where the gulls usually stand and most of the gulls ended up on the delta off the bird platform or in the water just off shore.

An adult Thayer's Gull landed on the delta and stayed for about 20 minutes before an outrageously loud speed boat zipped by and scared all the gulls up. Eventually I counted 11 Bonaparte's Gulls among hundreds of Ring-billed, dozens of California, and 3 Herring Gulls.

Another spectacular sunset ended this fantastic November day!

Long Day in Adams County

November 17, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I counted birds along the South Platte River and Clear Creek from 88th avenue to the Water Treatment Plant south of Interstate 270. What a gorgeous day with temperatures in the low 70s and mild winds for most of the day.

As we started out at the West Gravel Lakes Park at 88th Avenue and Colorado Blvd it rapidly appeared that birding was going to be slow. Oh well, at least we were getting some exercise on an unusually warm November day.

Our trek started along the east side of the Platte River. For those with "Colorado Field Notes", a map of the area can be found on pages 15 & 16 of the January, 2007 issue.

Gadwalls slightly outnumbered Northern Pintail Ducks which were just about all that were on the Platte River. Goldeneyes (are target birds) were in short supply. We ran into a pair of male Common Goldeneyes on the southern West Gravel Lake.

When we arrived at the confluence of the Platte River and Clear Creek we split up. Bryan continued south along the Platte to the Water Treatment Plant south of I270. I hiked up Clear Creek west to Washington Avenue.

Bryan's highlight was a very late and "lethargic" House Wren found just south of I270. My "highlight" was 2 American Tree Sparrows in the willows about 0.2 miles west of the Platte River.

When we reunited at the confluence we shifted over to the West side of the Platte River and continued North. Engineer's Lake just west of the Confluence had 2 dozen Hooded Mergansers, a few Northern Pintail Ducks, and a dozen Northern Shovelers.

Finally on Tani Reservoir we observed 5 Common Goldeneyes, then another 7, then another 5.

At the north end of Tani Reservoir (which is the reservoir south of East Gravel Lake) at long last we found a male Barrow's Goldeneye swimming along the northeast edge of Tani. This duck would not have been visible from Dahlia Avenue (to the east).

East Gravel Lake had 4 Western Grebes, 19 Common Mergansers, another 17 Common Goldeneyes, one Pied-billed Grebe, and 5 Ruddy Ducks. A Northern Shrike was on the fence just south of the Dam Tower.

A hike north of 88th Avenue was uneventful and we drove east to scope the Dahlia Ponds. As I got out of the car, I observed a female or juvenile Long-tailed Duck about 20 yards south of 88th Avenue (on the first pond east of Dahlia). About 2 dozen Ruddy Ducks, 3 dozen Common Goldeneyes, and some American Coots were also on this pond.

If one was to search for the Long-tailed Duck tomorrow, note that this pond is L-shaped. Only half of it can be seen from 88th Avenue. Drive west and south on Dahlia and you will find a small one car pullover from which to scope the rest of the pond.

A little farther west and uphill there is a pullover on the south side of 88th Avenue where another pond to the south can be scoped. Across 88th Avenue to the north is another large pond worth a check. Both these ponds are fed by the Fulton Ditch.

We found a second Long-tailed Duck here (on the pond North of 88th Avenue). We drove into the Wildlife Area on the north side and scoped from the closed (always) gate. It could possibility be seen from 88th Avenue. Beware most of this area was private property.

Afterwards we split up, Bryan went home and I drove over to Barr Lake. A walk from mile marker 5.3 to 4.3 was uneventful. Scoping the lake from the north end of the dam (mm 6.0) was also uneventful.

On the trip around to the south side of Barr Lake and the park proper, I counted 68 Eurasian Collared-Doves just south of the Tree Nursery at Bromley Lane and Picadilly Road.

Inside the south side of the park I only found 2 American Tree Sparrows, 7 White-crowned Sparrows, and hordes of House Sparrows in the bushes behind the Visitors Center.

Thousands of Geese were along the edge of the lake. I was not going to walk the first mile from the Niedrach Trail but I ran into a couple of birders who had seen 2 Great Horned Owls "not far from the parking area". As I hiked the half mile or so past the Niedrach Trail, a Peregrine Falcon flew along the shoreline.

Eventually I found the Great Horned Owls (after it was too dark for a photo, but it was more like a mile from the parking area. In any case, I scoped the thousands of White-cheeked Geese feeding south of the lake.

About 0.2 miles west of the Niedrach Trail I counted 2 white Snow Geese, 3 blue phase Snow Geese, and a lone Ross's Goose (not with the Snow Geese). Mixed in with the thousands of geese was a Greater White-fronted Goose!

At 4:13pm about 30 minutes before sunset, a large majority of the White-cheeked Geese flew south toward the Sod fields south of 120th Avenue (and east of Tower Road). I relocated the Ross's Goose here. About the same time, 70 Snow Geese flew into Barr Lake from the north. The Greater White-fronted Goose did not move.

The list in the visitor's center said someone reported a Swan species a few days ago. In the distance I observed a white bird swimming with thousands of White-cheeked Geese. Ah, the swan? In time the whole flock swam up to the shore and the "white bird" loomed over the White-cheeked Geese. It was a Snow Goose. Then it hit me, the thousands of White-cheeked Geese were Cackling Geese. Some of them were really small.

I ended my birding day by driving around the DIA Owl Loop in search of Short-eared Owls; without success. A Ferruginous Hawk flew along 120th Avenue as I headed east toward Trussville Avenue. I did locate a Barn Owl in a restricted area where I have permission to count birds.

The sunset was spectacular and so was the day!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Slow Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 16, 2008

Richard Stevens:

After taking friends to the airport this morning I again drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Gull numbers were down from last week. A dozen Bonaparte's Gulls still remain mostly standing on the Cherry Creek Delta off the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

Bird numbers are definitely down from last week before the snow storms. Except for the Western Grebes, counts of the other birds especially gulls were much less than a few days ago.

In the afternoon, I received a call from Bill Cryder. He was looking at a male Greater Scaup! Jerry Petrosky and I were planning on going over to Barr Lake but changed directions and headed to Aurora Reservoir.

When we walked down to the reservoir from the south side, the male Greater Scaup had been joined by a female! This was at Lonetree Cove (mile marker 3.0).

We observed many gulls flying around the cove at mile marker 4.0 and we hiked over there. No uncommon gulls were found but we did see 3 Herring Gulls among dozens of California and hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls. One of the Common Loons was also in this cove/bay.

Search for White-winged Crossbills

November 15, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Five hours we spent searching Empire (Clear Creek County) for the White-winged Crossbills reported yesterday by Andrew Spencer; without success.

I did run into small flocks of Red Crossbills (7 and 5). A lone Eurasian Collared-Dove was observed along Sunset Avenue.

Twice flocks (or the same flock) of 12+ Rosy Finches flew overhead. They consisted of Brown-capped and Gray-crowned Rosy Finches; no Black Rosy Finches were picked out of the flock.

On the way home I stopped at Standley Lake to look for the Lesser Black-backed Gulls reported yesterday. At sunset half the California Gulls looked like Lesser Black-backed Gulls. I never identified a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Colorado Springs

November 14, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I had to drive down to Colorado Springs (El Paso County) and took the opportunity to look over Big Johnson Reservoir. No uncommon birds were found.

I also went over to the Village at Skyline and looked for the eastern race Fox Sparrow; without success. Of course I waited a week too long for the search, but it was worth a shot.

Aurora and Cherry Creek Reservoirs

November 12, 2008

Richard Stevens:

The weather was so nice that I decided to hike the 9 miles around Aurora Reservoir. Unfortunately, few birds were out on the water.

I did relocate one of the Common Loons. A small group of 9 Ruddy Ducks were also out there.

Cherry Creek Reservoir birds had not changed much from yesterday. Again I counted 17+ Bonaparte's Gulls off the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 11, 2008

Richard Stevens:

While again doing chores, I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). The lake was calm and birds were scarce.

I counted 17+ Bonaparte's Gulls standing on the Cherry Creek Delta off the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

The dozens of Western Grebes, Eared Grebes, American Coots, and Pelicans were still out on the water. Gulls included dozens of California Gulls, hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, and an adult Herring Gull. I did not relocate the Thayer's Gull or the Mew Gull (which I have missed on a dozen visits now).

I hiked the south side of the lake from the Cottonwood Creek Loop to the Mountain View Loop hoping a stray Long-eared Owl had stopped by overnight. None were found. The riparian areas were pretty quiet except for a small flock of 5 Black-capped Chickadees.

Return to Park County

November 9 & 10, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to see what birds were still up in Park County.

At Antero Reservoir we were fortunate to relocate a single Yellow-billed Loon, Common Loon and Long-tailed Duck. One of the two Snow Buntings was flying around the eastern side of the reservoir. Unfortunately it would only land briefly and take off again; we were not able to get a focused photo.

At Spinney Mountain Reservoir, we did not find in uncommon waterfowl in the high waves. A Bonaparte's Gull flew into view once.

At Eleven Mile Reservoir, we were fortunate to pick out a Black Scoter and Surf Scoter in the distance.

Near the end of the day, we returned to Antero Reservoir to have another shot at the Snow Bunting. This time we were not able to relocate the birds at all. Two Tundra Swans flew in from the north and landed along the north shore.

Monday morning it started snowing in Park County. Temperatures were much colder than yesterday. Winds were 15+ mph.

At Antero Reservoir, we relocated the Yellow-billed Loon, Common Loon, and Long-tailed Duck. We heard a Snow Bunting or two, but never did see them.

Snow fall continued and got worse as we returned to Denver.

Back Owling In Jackson & Larimer Counties

November 7, 8 & 9, 2008

Richard Stevens:

We headed into the mountains late on Friday to do some owling.

As expected we did not find any Flammulated Owls on Pennock Pass (Larimer County). Cameron Pass and the Crags Campgrounds did not add a Boreal Owl to our trip list.

Saturday morning we headed into Routt County to try and relocate some interesting birds reported by Tom Litteral.

The 4 Tundra Swans were still at Lake Catamount. We had to search through many waterfowl at Stagecoach State Recreation Area in order to relocate the 2 Surf Scoters, Greater Scaup and 8 Barrow's Goldeneyes.

After dark we went owling in the Colorado State Forest. Winds were quite loud and fast and hearing a Boreal Owl seemed impossible. The Cameron Pass and Crag Campgrounds areas did not produce.

Finally at 4:30am on Sunday morning, we found a Boreal Owl about 0.4 miles up Ruby Jewel Road from Michigan Creek Road.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pawnee National Grasslands and Surrounding Area

November 6, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Kevin Story, Brad Phillips, and I ventured up to Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld County). Temperatures reached the low 50s and winds were constantly 15+ mph.

Crow Valley Campgrounds was pretty quiet. We did find a flock of American Tree Sparrows, looked for Common Redpolls around campgrounds and Briggsdale; without success.

Lapland Longspurs are easy to find this year. They seem to be everywhere. Just look for a flock of Horned Larks and separate out the longspurs.

We did have a great day for owls. We found a Long-eared Owl (location not to be announced). At a friend's ranch we were able to see a Short-eared Owl. At another friend's home we also added a Northern Saw-whet Owl for our day!

While searching for Common Redpolls and Snow Buntings along Cow Creek we came upon a Great Horned Owl. Both species have been found more than once in this area which is about a mile north of the Central Plains Experimental Range Office (north of CR 114 & CR 37). Ask at the office for permission to walk to the old barn and continue west to Cow Creek.

We missed Barn Owls, but let's not get greedy :-)

At a friend's ranch we missed both Sharp-tailed Grouse and Rosy Finches. They had a visit from 4 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches less than 10 days ago. They see Sharp-tailed Grouse now and then on their property. I hope to have better luck next time as both species are rare sightings on the plains.

After dropping Brad and Kevin off, I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Bonaparte's Gulls stood on the sand spit off the Bird Observation Platform, Cottonwood Creek Loop. I did not find any loons, scoters, or Red-necked Grebes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guanella Pass and Ptarmigan

November 5, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Gary Weston, Kevin Story, Brad Phillips and I drove up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County). The area received 3-4 inches of snow overnight; it was snowing slightly while we were up there.

A light blanket of new snow is always a blessing when looking for White-tailed Ptarmigan. Searching for the well camouflaged birds is a task. Looking for fresh tracks always makes the dilemma easier.

Sure enough, we found tracks in about 10 minutes. Less than 10 minutes later, two Ptarmigan were observed walking west of the 603 Trail and about 200 yards uphill (south) of the Rosalie Trail (note sign in box at the junction).

There could have been additional ptarmigan there, but we did not want to disturb them and returned to our car. A few White-crowned Sparrows are still up there also.

A stop at Guanella Pass Campgrounds did not find any American Three-toed Woodpeckers today. No birds were around Clear Creek Campgrounds either.

After being dropped back at my car, I headed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The weather was much different than the last two days. Temperatures were 20 degrees lower and winds were 10+ mph faster.

The Rough-legged Hawk was perched on a Rabbit Brush bush just south of the entrance to the Cottonwood Creek Loop. Half a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls again stood on the sand spit off the Bird Observation Platform.

I scoped the lake but did not find yesterdays Black Scoters or Monday's Red-necked Grebe. Waterfowl numbers were definitely lower than the pass few days. No uncommon gulls stood with the hundred Ring-billed and dozen California Gulls on the southwest sandbar.

However, there is one California Gull that is much darker than the others. Yesterday it made me look twice but still conclude that it is a California Gull or hybrid.

The fourteen Ruddy Ducks were still out there. The pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants have not yet moved south. In two hours, I was not able to locate any loons.

Search for Common Redpolls, Return to Cherry Creek

November 4, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I spent the morning searching for the Common Redpolls reported yesterday by Warren Finch at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties). My search extended from McLellan Reservoir to the north to Roxborough State Park to the south.

The several subdivisions which have known feeders were also inspected. I found no signs of Common Redpolls. There was a Northern Shrike on the fence line along Titan Road.

I should have looked over Chatfield Reservoir for waterfowl, but never got around to it. Focus was on the Common Redpolls.

Late in the afternoon, I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). A Rough-legged Hawk was hovering over the entrance to the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

Ten Bonaparte's Gulls stood on the sand spit off the Bird Observation Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop. Approximately 200 Ring-billed Gulls, 28 California Gulls, and 1 adult Herring Gull were also here.

While I was scoping the lake for the Red-necked Grebe I found yesterday, I noticed a raft of 4 blackish ducks. They turned out to be 4 Black Scoters! The Red-necked Grebe was never relocated.

While scoping the lake at the west end of the Lake Loop, I observed one Common Loon. It only surfaced for less than 10 seconds and dived the rest of the time. I hung around for 30 minutes but did not observe any additional loons.

No Red-necked Grebe was picked out of the hundreds of Western Grebes. Plenty of Eared Grebes and a few Horned & Pied-billed Grebes were also out there. American White Pelicans and American Coots were plentiful also.

The gulls on the southwest sandbar included only Ring-billed and California Gulls. One of the California Gulls is much darker than the rest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Couple of Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 3, 2008

I took advantage of another great Colorado fall day and hiked the 9 miles around Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

Hundreds of waterfowl have arrived in the last few days. I have not been able to find a Clark's Grebe among the dozens of Western Grebes. Pied-billed Grebes seem to prefer the southern end. Horned and Eared Grebes are also here.

I relocated the 2 Common Loons near the southeast corner (at mile marker 4.0). The Pacific Loon was farther north near the scuba dive area (below the dam).

Two flocks of American Tree Sparrows were around (one south of the swim beach, the other at mm 4.0).

Redheads, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, Mallards, and a few Northern Pintail Ducks also observed.

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The weather was nice until 30 minutes before sunset (now around 5:00pm with time change). Winds increased from 5 mph to 25+ mph pretty quick.

As I entered the Cottonwood Creek Loop, a beautiful Rough-legged Hawk was hovered over the road! It took advantage of the high winds and surveyed the landscape for food.

Ten+ Bonaparte's Gulls were standing on the sand spit off the Bird Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop. While scoping a strange looking Gull in the water not far from the sand spit, I found a Red-necked Grebe! Watch it for 20 minutes while going back and forth to the Gull.

I scoped the whole lake looking unsuccessfully for loons. Then after the wind starting blowing a Common Loon took off into the strong wind. It was interesting watching the loon struggle to get airborne into the 25+ mph headwind. A second Common Loon followed. Where were they when I was scoping the water surface?

I was at the western end of the Lake Loop; the loons flew toward the eastern end. When I tried to relocate them, they were not found. Perhaps they took off south for good? While scoping the eastern side of the Lake Loop, a first year Thayer's Gull was found among 400+ gulls (mostly Ring-billed and dozens of California Gulls).

The Red-necked Grebe could be seen still off the Bird Observatory Platform to the east. The dozens of American White Pelicans joined the gulls in the east bay to feed on the many minnows (I know they have another name, can not think of it?).

The "strange" Gull was slightly smaller than most of the Ring-billed Gulls. It had the dungy brown head and neck expected on a basic Mew Gull. Its back was slightly darker than the Ring-billed's and it appeared to have broad, contrasting white crescents. However the bill from my vantage point did not look like a Mew Gull. I was pretty far from the bird and even with my scope could not get a good look at the bill on the Gull bobbing up and down on the high waves. Therefore never positively identified the bird.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Few Area Reservoirs Visited

November 2, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Mostly we had to do chores today. What a fantastic sunny and warm day for November 2nd! The last 8 years there has been a snowstorm on November 1st or 2nd. I remember because it has been "tradition" to drive in a storm down to Chatfield Reservoir to look for murrelets and murres driven down to the reservoir because of a storm. Not this year, perhaps they will show up later in November?

We passed by Fort Logan National Cemetery and made a quick stop. Four Greater Scaup were swimming around Memorial Lake (the eastern of the two lakes, Veteran Lake is the western lake).

Thousands of Canada Geese and a few Cackling Geese are walking around the cemetery. No Greater White-fronted Geese were picked out.

Since Marston Reservoir (Denver County) is close we drove the 8 blocks to look at it again. However, since we were on the east side and looking into the sun, few birds could be identified. At least 2 Common Loons were out there.

I ended this beautiful day by hiking the northwest side of Barr Lake again (from mile marker 5.3 to 4.3. The Common Loon is still in the cove/bay at mm 5.0. There were few gulls around; their resting sand spit has been taken over by hundreds of White-cheeked Geese (mostly Canada Geese and a few Cackling Geese).

No Short-eared Owls showed up along the DIA Owl Loop after sunset.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Birding Metro Lakes

November 1, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed the fantastic fall day by visiting several local lakes.

After taking Bryan & Sue Ehlmann to the airport, I detoured over to the northwest side of Barr Lake (Adams County). A walk from mile marker 5.3 to 4.3 only found one Common Loon and the usual suspects.

My next stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) where several of the Common Loons and Bonaparte's Gulls were still around.

At Fort Logan National Cemetery (Denver) I photographed 6 Greater Scaup. A short distance away I observed on Marston Reservoir: 1 Black Scoter, 1 Pacific Loon, and 7+ Common Loons. I had 6 Common Loon in my scope at one time!

My final stop was Aurora Reservoir. I only relocated the Pacific Loon and 2 Common Loons. The Black Scoter could have been in one of the coves/bays that I could not see from the south end. I was too tired to circle the 9 mile loop to look.

Beautiful Saturday for November! Continued good birding!

Aurora Reservoir

October 31, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I received a call from Bill Cryder of a possible Black Scoter at Aurora Reservoir. So much for plans to stay home and do chores (they were kindly still there when I returned home). I parked at Bill's home on the south side of Aurora Reservoir. A walk of about 3/4 mile gets one to a hill where about 90 percent of the reservoir can be scoped (take the left fork at the bottom of the hill and continue straight 1/2 mile). From the north end/dam I have always figured that only 70 percent of the reservoir can be scoped.

The Black Scoter was swimming around in the cove/bay east of mile marker 2.5. A pair of Common Loons were swimming in the cove at mile marker 4.0. A Pacific Loon was alone at the mm 4.5 cove. I do not believe that any of these birds could have been seen from the north end. The loons probably could have been observed from the swim beach. But the southern cove (Black Scoter) could not.

I am not that familiar with the new southern walk-in entrance to Aurora Reservoir. The sign states that it is presently open from 7:00am to 7:00pm. With tonight's time change, this may also change. It also states that the gate will be closed in inclement weather.

I do know that on two of the dozens of times I have parked near the dam and circled the 9 miles around the reservoir, that twice Rangers have decided to close the park early due to bad weather. They gave me a ride back to my car to speed up the process (I was the only visitor in the park). Whether one could get locked out of the southern entrance while inside the park, that could be in question. I know that I am no longer capable of climbing over the fence.

So Beware

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back on the Plains

October 26, 2008

Richard Stevens:

We birded the north side of Prewitt Reservoir for about an hour. Shorebirds were too far away for identification. Most gulls were also. However an odd gull flew about 10 yards away from us. It turned out to be a first year Laughing Gull! Perhaps it was the same one that was at Barr Lake last weekend. If it was accompanied by the adult Laughing Gull as was the case at Barr Lake last weekend, we were not able to find an adult. Several Bonaparte's Gulls also were flying around.

Jumbo Reservoir was pretty slow. A Common Loon swam among many Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and Gadwalls. The only uncommon gull was a Bonaparte's Gull.

Two lingering Greater White-fronted Geese swam close to the southeastern shore. Roger Danka had reported half a dozen last week.

Excuse the breivity, it is 3:00am and I am tired!

Adventure in the Mountains

October 25, 2008

Richard Stevens:

PT Warring and I started up the Grand Mesa in early afternoon. The plan was to drive to the Powderhorn Ski Area while it was still light enough to see birds and then backtrack to the Visitor's Center after dark and search for owls.

We stopped at the Visitor's Center and quickly found a flock of Red Crossbills. While walking up the road to the east, Tom heard a White-winged Crossbill. Unfortunately we never did put our binoculars on the bird.

On the side road about a half mile east of the Visitor's Center, a Northern Goshawk flew slowly across the road and gave us great looks. It appeared to be a small adult male.

At the Lodge we found a flock of Pine Siskins and quite a few Mountain Chickadees. Not much else showed up and we moved on north along the main road.

At Powderhorn Ski Area we hiked the road behind the maintenance sheds. An American Three-toed Woodpecker worked the trees below the parking area.

After sunset, a Northern Pygmy-Owl answered my recordings. We never saw the owl; it was to the north of the maintenance shed and well back into the woods.

We stopped at about 7 pullovers as we drove back south along the main road. At the Campgrounds we did not hear any Boreal Owls but a Northern Saw-whet Owl called back. This was the third time that a Northern Saw-whet Owl has called for me in this area. It flew back and forth a couple of times across the main road (passed through our spotlight once).

The first pullover south of the campgrounds offered our first Boreal Owl on the evening. Again we never observed the bird but did hear it call for about 10 minutes.

Our second Boreal Owl of the night was at the third pullover (I believe there are GPS waypoints of the pullovers on the CoBus website). Again the owl did not come out of the woods and we left before disturbing it too much.

That was the end of our owl encounters for the night. It was well after 2:00am and we headed back to Denver.

PT purchased a home around Standley Lake and we decided to walk the south side of Standley before I took him to the airport (had to return to PA to get his wife and belongings).

Standley Lake was quite interesting in spite of winds measured steady at 14 mph and gusts to 30 mph. The large waves made observing and identifying birds quite a task.

A Common Loon still in alternate plumage was in the southeast corner of the lake. I wanted to try for a photo so PT and I walked around the inlet canal in order to get closer to the bird.

This decision turned out to be fortuitous. A very small brown bird with a short tail flew out of the short willows on the west side of the inlet canal. It briefly stopped to look around and gave us great looks at a Winter Wren! Eventually it flew across the canal and to the tall willows on the east side.

We were not able to relocate the wren by the time we hiked to the east side of the canal.

As we hiked back to the west side of Standley Lake a Pacific Loon was spotted. This bird flew back and forth across the lake more than 4 times during our stay.

Farther out was a third loon that was quite interesting. I rode the frantic waves and disappeared behind them more often than revealing itself to us. Both of us thought Red-throated Loon as a first thought. Unfortunately our looks were not long enough to confidently label the loon as such. We hoped another birder would come along later in the day and get better looks?

I also noticed a large white bird in the middle of the lake and near the eastern dam. It definitely was a swan, but which species?

When we arrived at the north side of Standley Lake the swan had swam from the dam to just north of the land spit at the western end. The bird was still quite far away and riding the high waves. Focusing with our scopes in the high winds and bobbing up and down swan did not help identifying the bird. We were 90 percent sure it was a Tundra Swan; but someone could prove us wrong.

Eventually I took PT to the airport and I went home for some sleep.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jaeger-less day; Great day at Barr Lake

October 19, 2008

Richard Stevens:

After missing the Long-tailed Jaeger at Aurora Reservoir this morning, Jerry Petrosky, Bill Cryder, and I scoped both Quincy and Cherry Creek Reservoirs (Arapahoe County); without success. Eventually we split up and I went over to Barr Lake (Adams).

No Burrowing Owls along the DIA Owl Loop (has not been any reported since 10/7). At least one male Great-tailed Grackle was seen near the houses along Picadilly Road and south of Bromley Road (152nd avenue).

At Barr Lake, I was dropped off at Picadilly Road and Lark Bunting Lane and hiked to the reservoir and then along the northwestern side from the dam (mile marker 6.0) to mile marker 3.5 and back.

In the past I have seen many sparrows along the weedy lined Lark Bunting Lane. Today I found none. In fact there were few land birds along my whole trek. Few (none except for a couple of Mourning Doves) were around the old stone building at the northern end of the dam.

I scoped the lake from the northern end of the dam and through the trees at many stops along the hike. The Common Loon was observed from the dam. I never did see the Pomarine Jaeger. Many Western Grebes and common gulls swam on the lake.

At the Cottonwoods at mile marker 5.1, I saw what I thought would be a Brown Creeper (yeah a land bird). Upon closer and longer looks it turned out to be a Black-and-white Warbler crawling along the branches.

The ponds across the railroad tracks had about 30 Common Grackles, many Red-winged Blackbirds, and one Yellow-headed Blackbird in its surrounding cattails.

At mile marker 4.5 a juvenile Laughing Gull was observed flying from the west along the shore line. It landed near a small group of Canada Geese and walked up and down the shore. I was able to watch the Laughing Gull for a good 20 minutes before continuing my hike.

I stopped at mile marker 4.4 to inspect another interesting Gull when I noticed through the trees and weeds a Black-bellied Plover walking the shore.

The best stop was at mm 4.3 (across from the yellow house with green roof). The "sand"/muddy spit here had many gulls on it. I could also see the "sand" bar off to the distant south. A Common Tern stood with many gulls on the closer spit. Many White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants stood in the distance.

The gulls were stirred up several times and I hoped it was because the Pomarine Jaeger was flying by; it was not the case. Finally the adult Laughing Gull flew in from the west and landed on the near "spit". I watched it for about 20 minutes before returning to my ride (who was sitting in the Wendy's) across the highway from Barr Lake.

I stopped and scoped the lake from many spots; again not seeing any Jaeger. The long walk back was not wasted as I stopped and got a great deal on a shed at Lowe's Hardware Store!

Owling This Week

To be filled in later!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 13, 2008

Richard Stevens:

While doing chores I took advantage of the beautiful fall day in Colorado and walked around Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) in the mid afternoon.

I was looking for any flocks of warblers or small birds; never ran into any. The small groups of gulls (southwest sandbar, eastern sand spit, swim beach) were scoped for the Mew Gull; without success.

At least two Sabine's Gulls (possibly 3) were swimming off the Lake Loop. Several dozen California Gulls and a Herring Gull were mixed in with the dozens of Ring-billed Gulls at the swim beach.

The loose raft of Western Grebes was scoped briefly for a Red-necked Grebe; again without success.

The lack of songbirds at the Lake Loop, Cottonwood Creek Loop, 12 mile picnic area, and northern Smoky Hill group picnic area was a little surprising. Not one Black-capped Chickadee was found during my 4 hour visit.

A small flock of 6-8 Chipping Sparrows fluttered about the Smoky Hill Picnic Area. Two Brewer's Sparrows skulked around the campground amphitheater.

The sun shining through the golden leaves made for quite a spectacle; some birds to identify would have been nice.

Return to Colorado's Eastern Plains

To be filled in later!

When I started this blog several other birders offered to report some of our trips. Seeing all the blanks, I will gently suggest that they hold up their end of the bargain in the next few days.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 8, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Tom Jenkins and I enjoyed great success on Pennock Pass (Larimer County). We found Flammulated Owls at 3 locations. Heard only at one location, seen for just a few seconds at a second stop. At the third location a Flammulated Owl allowed us a 45 second look.

We stopped briefly at Union Reservoir but could not pick out the Sabine's Gull.

Our birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Two Sabine's Gulls were flying around several hundred yards off the North point of the Lake Loop.

After walking to the north end of road below the dam and taking an hour, the Red-necked Grebe was found loosely associated with a raft of 60 Western Grebes. The Red-necked Grebe was feeding quite earnestly. It only came to the surface for a count of 5 to 10 and then submerged again. We passed over the location several times before finding it.

The Long-tailed Jaeger and Mew Gull were looked for but not found.

Another Day in North Park

October 7, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Today Tom Jenkins and I meandered around Jackson County.

We searched for Greater Sage-Grouse in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, without success. An early or resident Rough-legged Hawk was observed along Highway 125 (near the entrance to the auto self-guiding tour).

A few lingering Sage Thrashers and Brewer's Sparrows were found along CR 25. The road down to Teller City was impassable due to bad weather (nix on a search for Northern Pygmy-Owls and Three-toed Woodpeckers).

The Sabine's Gull was no longer at Walden Reservoir. Few birds moved around Lake Johns Wildlife Area or Delaney Buttes. In the late afternoon Greater Sage-Grouse were found wandering around north of the two reservoirs (one each at two locations).

Birding North Park

October 6, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Tom Jenkins and I started our birding day at Pine Valley Ranch Park and Pike National Forest (Jefferson County).

It took several hours but we finally managed to find an American Three-toed Woodpecker. An adult female wandered south (uphill) of the Strawberry Jack Trail at approximately 200 yards west of the Parkview Trail. No Northern Pygmy-Owls answered my pitiful imitation of their call.

We decided to drive up and look for the Ovenbird reported by Hartley on 10/4 at Snow Mountain Ranch (Grand). While the Ovenbird was not found, a Harris's Sparrow wandered around the Legget building. On the trip up, half a dozen Rosy Finches were observed flying around the cliffs North of Kremmling.

A detour over to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center did not find any additional Rosy Finches.

Just before midnight, we found a Boreal Owl up Ruby Jewel Road in the Colorado State Forest.

Rocky Mountain National Park

October 5, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Tom Jenkins and I hoped to bird in Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately, Trail Ridge Road was closed due to recent snowstorms (no White-tailed Ptarmigan search).

In the late afternoon, we hiked up Cow Creek Trail (Rocky Mountain National Park, but not the main section). We did not find any Flammulated Owls but did hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl about 0.7 miles west of the Trailhead.

Eastern Plains

to be filled in later!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Foothills Birding

September 30, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Mark Hanson and I started our birding day on Mt Evans (Clear Creek County). We found 2 Brown-capped Rosy Finches at the northeast corner of Summit Lake. Another 3-4 Brown-capped Rosy Finches were at the northwest corner. We hiked about a half mile up (south) Mt Evans Road (which is closed to vehicles at Summit Lake) but did not find any White-tailed Ptarmigan.

A quick 30 minute stop at Genesee Mt Park (Jefferson) did not find any Williamson's Sapsuckers.

Our final stop was Pine Valley Ranch Park and Pike National Forest (Jefferson). We had to hike all the way up the Strawberry Jack Trail to the Parkview Trail before running into an American Three-toed Woodpecker. A female was approximately in the same location reported by Merlynn Brown last week (several hundred yards south of the Parkview Trail).

After I dropped Mark off, I went over to nearby Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). As I got out of my car the dark mantled Gull that others are calling a Lesser Black-backed Gull flew along the north shore line of the Lake Loop. It was difficult to miss, large and dark mantled.

From this vantage point I saw 4 (up to 6) Sabine's Gulls. A Red-necked Grebe was fairly close to shore and there could have been 2 Red-necked Grebes. The many boats were chasing the gulls and waterfowl around quite a bit. I never located the Long-tailed Jaeger (if it is still there). Two small terns (definitely not Forster's Terns) stayed quite a distance from my location.

Many American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, a few Horned Grebes, Eared Grebes, and Pied-billed Grebes were among many Western Grebes. I did not see any Clark's Grebes. Also did not have time (daylight) to search for the Mew Gull.

North Park

To be filled in later!

Denver National Wildlife Refuges and Aurora Reservoir

To be filled in later!

Fall Counts

To be filled in later!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary

September 22, 2008

Richard Stevens:

I decided to drive up to Summit County and search for the Hooded Warbler reported last week by Forrest Luke. I had waited too many days, but enjoyed the trip back into the mountains.

My arrival was timed just before sunrise to see if any Rosy Finches were coming down from higher elevations yet. No Rosy Finches were found but many other mountain species were visiting local feeders. Birds observed included Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, 3 species of nuthatches, and Clark's Nutcrackers. Two Band-tailed Pigeons were the highlight.

About 45 minutes were spent searching for the Hooded Warbler along Johnson Road north of Silverthorne; without success. There are plenty of willows along the Blue River for the warbler to wander along.

The weather was fantastic and I decided to conduct a one man fall count at A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary up Rock Creek. About halfway between the parking area and the sanctuary, a male American Three-toed Woodpecker worked the trees on the east side of the trail. Another Three-toed Woodpecker was later found across Rock Creek at the west side of the sanctuary.

No Northern Pygmy-Owls were enticed into calling. A pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers flew about the Aspens. Other birds encountered included McGillivray's Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, 2 Fox Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows, Song Sparrows, a Dusky Flycatcher, a Hammond's Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

A hike about a mile up the Ptarmigan trail (above tree line), found no Ptarmigan and I returned to my car.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I was too tired to walk/circle the lake, instead scoped the lake for about an hour from below the dam. A juvenile Sabine's Gull flew around the west side of the Lake Loop, drove many times into the water hopefully catching a meal. Another juvenile Sabine's Gull flew around the swim beach area. A small tern near the east side of the Lake Loop was too far away to identify.

If the Long-tailed Jaeger was still there, it did not fly around. I only half heartedly searched through the hundreds of Western Grebes swimming around. If a Clark's Grebe was out there, I did not find it. The Mew Gull was not picked out among the several hundred Ring-billed Gulls flying about.

Half a dozen California Gulls, 60+ White Pelicans, and 14 Double-crested Cormorants stood on the southwest sandbar. An adult and juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron and 3 Great Blue Herons stood on the telephone poles outlining the southwest marina. The pelicans watched me as I enjoyed watching them. The Night-Herons waited for food to swim by and appeared to ignore me altogether. The Snowy Egret count was down to 9 from my vantage point.

Winds were calm; the air had the crisp cool smell of fall. Leaves have not changed colors yet at lower elevations; one of my favorite times of year to watch sunset (no mosquitoes). Unfortunately there was only a hint of sunset as the sun disappeared into the clouds over the mountains. It won't be long before the leaves turned to gold, fall off, then winter……….