Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Search for Owls in Douglas County

January 29, 2008

I decided to return to Sedalia and the forest south of there today. A check of several locations where there were previous reports of Northern Pygmy-Owls did not turn up any for me.

A couple of Townsend's Solitaires, Pine Siskins, and Mountain Chickadees were at the Sedalia Cemetery. Just two Cedar Waxwings flew around south of the chapel.

Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) continues to be slow. A flock of 7 American Tree Sparrows were along the southeastern edge. A Peregrine Falcon flying along the southern end of the dam was the highlight for the day.

The two Northern Shrikes were relocated at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Three Bald Eagles stood on the ice around the small open water area. Dark morph Red-tailed Hawks out numbered Western Red-tailed Hawks 3 to 2.

Few geese were at LakeCrest (it was a little early for them as they usually show up well after sunset).

A male Northern Harrier was the highlight of a drive around the DIA Owl Loop.

Search for Owls around Castlewood Canyon State Park

January 28, 2008

At 2:30am I drove down to Castlewood Canyon State Park area to investigate a Northern Saw-whet Owl report at a friend's yard. The owl did not disappoint; we found the owl calling just before civil twilight. After sunrise, we went back out and we able to see the small owl hiding deep in an evergreen tree.

A second Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard calling around the State Park area!

Birds in Castlewood Canyon State Park we few and far between. Two Spotted Towhees fluttered about the bushes below (east) of the old farmhouse at the north end of the park.

I was surprised by the lack of any bluebirds around the Winkler Ranch (just outside the southwest entrance of the park). A Northern Shrike was on the telephone wires about 0.6 miles south of the Winkler Ranch entrance.

From Castlewood Canyon I headed southeast to see about a report of a Barn Owl east of Franktown. The landowner described seeing on 3 occasions last week what could not have been a Great Horned Owl. Unfortunately, we did not find it today.

I was close enough to Kiowa to tempt a trip there to checkout birds. I hope the waxwings seen last month by Cici Lee would still be around. She had some first Elbert County waxwing sightings (reports). Birds were few. I did find a pair of Mountain Chickadees around the museum. A Red-breasted Nuthatch and eastern White-breasted Nuthatch were around the park.

Just before sunset, I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Here, two additional Northern Shrikes were added to my day list. The first was at his usual location between the shooting range and the field west of where the main road crosses over Cherry Creek. The second was found in the field east of the road that goes to the southern entrance to the campgrounds.

An adult and immature Bald Eagle were again in the trees just south of the campground entrance.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Visit from Roger Danka

January 24, 2008

Roger Danka and I birded south and southwest of Denver today.

Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) was slow. The reservoir is frozen and few birds were moving about. The same was true for Platte Canyon Reservoir.

We hiked up Waterton Canyon, found few birds but did see the Mountain Sheep about a mile up the canyon. A few Song Sparrows and a Spotted Towhee were along the South Platte River.

Next we drove to the Sedalia Cemetery. A few more birds were moving around here. We found 2 Townsend's Solitaires singing. A flock of 9 Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, and Dark-eyed Juncos. A flock of 7 Cedar Waxwings was in the southwest corner.

We checked Plum Creek for American Dippers; without success. Then drove Highway 67 in search of Northern Pygmy-Owl (or any owls); again without success. A flock of 9 Red Crossbills was observed.

Returning to Highway 25, we next went over to Castlewood Canyon Road. Surprisingly, there were no Bluebirds across from the Winkler Ranch. A drive through the western side of the park was not productive in finding birds.

We checked Walker Lake, no birds and then circled back to the eastern side of Castlewood Canyon State Park. A walk down to the observatory platform added only a Red-breasted Nuthatch and 2 White-breasted Nuthatches to our day list.

Our birding day ended with a drive along the DIA Owl Loop. Only a few Horned Larks were found; no owls were out this evening.

January 25, 2008

The plan was for Roger and his wife to go shopping around Denver today. Roger was going to meet me up in Boulder in the afternoon to hike up Shadow Canyon for an owl search.

I left Denver for Boulder at 4:00am and checked for owls. A Long-eared Owl was found at a well known trail in Boulder (I promised the Boulder birder who turned me on to the spot to not reveal it as the trail is well used). I also found an Eastern Screech-Owl at another well known spot for them (along the same trail but about 1.5 miles from the parking area).

At 7:15am I arrived at the Greenlee Preserve. Eric Zorawowicz was there before me (so I was not the early bird). Sunrise was at 7:11am. We searched unsuccessfully for the Swamp Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow for about an hour. Winds were 15-20+ mph and success did not look promising.

After Eric departed, I hiked the mile trail around nearby Waneka Lake hoping to find the previously reported female Greater Scaup. Once out of the woods of the Greenlee Preserve, winds were measured at 25+ mph (gusts up to 36 mph).

I could barely hold my binoculars steady to look at the few ducks and hundreds of geese along the southern end of Waneka Lake. There were 3 scaups, all with their bills in their backs. According to Sibley's "Guide to Birds" it is easier to ID scaups when they are "sleeping". All three ducks formed nice triangle peaks with their heads (not rounded) which indicated Lesser Scaups.

To escape from the winds, I returned to the Greenlee Preserve and resumed my sparrow search. At around 9:45am, I found a flock of a dozen or so Dark-eyed Juncos feeding on the snow under the willows at the northern end of the preserve.

Finally a sparrow was seen also feeding on the ground (I assume to not expose himself to the winds). It turned out to be the Swamp Sparrow. This was at 9:56 am. I stayed a little longer, but did not find any additional sparrows.

Next, I drove north to get GPS waypoints on many of the Boulder County lakes (for future reference). I stopped at Golden Ponds in Longmont to see if I could relocate the White-throated Sparrow I observed on 1/9 (first reported by Scott Severs on 1/7). Did not have any success in that endeavor.

At nearby Fairgrounds Pond I noticed hundreds of White-cheeked Geese and stopped for a quick count. A Greater White-fronted Goose was among hundreds of Canada Geese and a couple of Cackling Geese. They eventually took off west and were later relocated in the field near Rogers and Airport Roads. Winds were now averaging over 25+ mph.

Continuing west and measuring GPS waypoints, I stopped at Lagerman, Boulder, Six-mile, and Dodd reservoirs. All frozen and no birds.

I searched around the Celestial Seasonings Plant (Spine Road at Gunbarrel) for the previously reported Bohemian Waxwings; without success.

Winds were picking up and I called Roger and suggested to call off our planned owl search. I ended my birding day at Boulder Reservoir hoping a Short-eared Owl would brave the winds and hunt for food; none did.

January 26, 2008

Roger and I drove up to Boulder about 4:00am. Winds were already 25+ mph (and they grew to over 35+ mph). Owling was not looking good.

We checked around the Mesa South Trail Parking area (across from Dodd Reservoir) and did not find any owls (last year Eastern Screech-Owls were found here). In spite of the winds and little possibility of finding owls, we headed up Shadow Canyon.

Surprisingly, we heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl call (answer our recordings) about a mile up the canyon. It was the only owl heard (none seen) all morning.

On the return trip, we found a flock of 12 Red Crossbills across the draw near the old farmhouse. Not much else was seen (well a few Mountain Chickadees) and we headed back to Denver.

We searched for about an hour at the Denver West Office Complex for the previously reported Pine Warbler (last reported 1/12); without success. Winds were measured at 40+ mph.

We stopped at the Highline Canal at Dahlia to see if the Northern Mockingbird and/or Bohemian Waxwings were still about; neither was. The trail was lined with thousands of Buckthorn berries which looked like enough to last all winter for the dozens of American Robins. The waxwings had been around for about 10 days and most of the berries are now gone. As a result, we did not find any waxwings or the Northern Mockingbird. A few Mountain Chickadees and the Robins were all that could be located.

A drive through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) was slow. No Bald Eagles were around. Few gulls are wintering on the frozen lake. No owls came out along the DIA Owl Loop.

January 27, 2008

Roger Danka and I went owling around Golden Gate Canyon State Park and White Ranch Open Space this morning. Winds were again quite strong; no owls were heard. Once daylight arrived, we still found few birds to talk about. Roger headed back home to Julesburg and I back to my computer.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Search for Greenlee Preserve Sparrows

January 23, 2008

Roger Danka and I drove up to Lafayette and searched for the Swamp and White-throated Sparrows reported by Ted Floyd at Greenlee Preserve (Boulder County). I stuck out for the second time.

On the way to the South Platte River and 88th avenue we drove by 104th avenue and Sheridan (Jefferson). Historically, a partial albino Red-tailed Hawk has been hanging out here for five or six years. I also missed it for the second time in a row.

At the S. Platte River (Adams) we hiked 1 mile upstream to the green and white tower. The male Barrow's Goldeneye was about 20 yards north (downstream) of the tower. Winds were quite strong 15-20 mph range and temperatures in the high 20s. That encouraged us to turn around and head toward Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Few birds were again moving about Cherry Creek Reservoir. However, we did relocate the Northern Shrike at the southwest corner of the shooting range.

We looked of Short-eared Owls along the DIA Owl Loop; without success. We did find 2 Northern Harriers, 1 Ferruginous Hawk, and 1 Red-tailed Hawk before sunset. The huge numbers of Horned Larks have either moved on or are far enough from the main road to escape scrutiny. Not much else was seen after sunset.

Long Hike at Cherry Creek Reservoir

January 22, 2008

I had a few hours to spare today and returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

A hike from the southwest marina to the 12 mile beaver pond and back was sufficient to count most of the birds around. It did not find any uncommon birds.

Three Bald Eagles stood out on the frozen reservoir. Looked like two adults and one 2nd or 3rd year Eagle. Three Great Blue Herons were along the cattails at the southeastern end. No telling what they were looking for on the snow covered ice.

The usual flock of 30-50 bachelor Red-winged Blackbirds was in the tree over the cattails west of where Cherry Creek runs under the main park road.

A Virginia Rail called from the cattails at the south end of the 12 mile beaver pond. Most of the water was frozen and only a few Mallards fit into the small open space.

I crossed over Cherry Creek and returned by way of the road that runs past the Shooting Range. The Northern Shrike was back atop the Russian Olive Trees near the entrance to the parking area.

Only a few Ring-billed Gulls and 2 Herring Gulls were back around the southwest marina.

After my hike, I drove over to the campgrounds and hiked the northern and western campgrounds. Several flocks of sparrows added 19 American Tree, 2 Song, 8 White-crowned Sparrows to my day list.

Again, I did not find any Great Horned Owls. Hawk count for the day was 5 Red-tailed Hawks (2 dark morph), 2 Northern Harriers, 1 male American Kestrel, and one Rough-legged Hawk.

Summary: It was cold today!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Return to Highline Canal at Dahlia Parking Area

January 21, 2008

Rebecca Kosten & I were going to head to Lafayette and Greenlee Preserve and look for the Swamp Sparrow. At the last minute the single digit temperatures and falling snow changed our minds. Instead we drove back to the Highline Canal at Dahlia Street (parking area south of Quincy Avenue, Arapahoe County).

As soon as we stepped out of the car, we could see 70+ Bohemian Waxwings in Buckthorn bushes along the canal and about 50 yards north of the footbridge. At least 4 Cedar Waxwings were also observed in the flock once we were close enough to ID them.

We continued our hike north to Quincy Avenue, stopping several times to look for the Northern Mockingbird. It was never found. We did run into a local birder who had seen the Northern Mockingbird on 1/19. It was along the canal and just east of the Margie Woods bench (midpoint of the wildlife pond, about 900 yards north of the Dahlia parking area).

A flock of 12+ Cedar Waxwings were eating Buckthorn berries between the two houses just south of Quincy. The local birder also mentioned that a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings were drinking from her gutters earlier this morning. It sounded as if there were more Bohemian Waxwings than we had observed further south?

We did find one of the Eastern Screech-Owls on the return trip to our vehicle.

It was pretty cold. About 9 degrees plus whatever the 10+ mph wind added. So we only stood at the north side of the wildlife pond for about 10 minutes. In that time we saw 3 Spotted Towhees, 7 White-crowned Sparrows, 1 White-throated Sparrow, 1 Song Sparrow, a dozen House Finches, and 2 Northern Flickers. It was just too cold to stay longer.

When we returned to the Dahlia parking area, the Bohemian Waxwings had moved about 50 yards south of the bridge. The "old mockingbird spot" near the Kent School sign has virtually been stripped of Buckthorn berries. Bushes further north and south still have plenty of berries. The Mockingbird and Waxwings should stay in the vicinity.

We ended our birding day back at Lakecrest (northeast of Chambers & 40th avenue). Wave after wave of White-cheeked Geese fly in starting about sunset to dark. It was too cold to wait until complete dark tonight. The blue phase Snow Goose returned about 15 minutes after sunset. The Greater White-fronted Goose has been returning much later (and we did not wait tonight).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Birding Adams County

January 20, 2008

I had to get out of the house today and decided to hike the S. Platte River at 88th avenue.

The Long-tailed Duck seen on 1/12 was not expected to still be around. The single digit temperatures at night shrunk any open water in the lakes along the river. In fact, there were only small open water areas at East Gravel Lake and the northern West Gravel Lake.

I hiked from 88th avenue to Highway 224. Then hiked Clear Creek from the confluence with the Platte River to the east to Washington Avenue (and back). In the past, several nice flocks of sparrows wintered along Clear Creek. Only one flock of 7 American Tree Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows, and 3 White-crowned Sparrows was found today.

The return trip to my car did not add anything uncommon. There are many ducks wintering on the Platte; the only uncommon one seen was again the male Barrow's Goldeneye (around the green & white tower, about 1.0 miles south of 88th avenue).

Hawk count was 2 Red-tailed Hawks and a Prairie Falcon. A Northern Shrike was on the east side of the Platte River about 20 yards north of the confluence with Clear Creek.

I will have to check the numbers; in my mind the duck count is down from past years. With the surrounding lakes frozen, I would expect most of the area ducks to be on the river (thus giving a good count).

My next stop was the subdivision of homes northeast of Bromley Road & Gun Club Road (Brighton Van-Aire Estates, Adams County). A flock of 50+ Bohemian Waxwings were first found at the southwest corner of 157th Avenue and Duquesne Circle. When I left, they were at the northern end of Duquesne Circle.

My final stop of the day was to look for Short-eared Owls at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld). None showed up this evening. I could pick out 2 or 3 American Tree Sparrows, just about it. Oh, one Red-tailed Hawk, two Rough legged Hawks and one Northern Harrier.

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

January 19, 2008

While out during chores we again drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). The snow this morning appears to forced any birds around to not move.

We did find the Northern Shrike again in the Russian Olive Trees near the entrance to the shooting range.

Hawk count was: 3 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Northern Harriers, 2 American Kestrel.

No Great Horned Owls could be located. It has been awhile since I have seen one in the park. Could they all be gone? Nesting attempts the last two years appeared to have failed.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bohemian Waxwings in Denver

January 18, 2008

Bryan Ehlmann and I started our birding day by searching for Short-eared Owls before sunrise at Sedgwick Draw (Sedgwick County) and east. We did not enjoy luck today and found none.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was at the Sedgwick Cemetery. Cannot figure where he goes? The cemetery is small and we have only found him on two of our last five trips. The next group of trees is quite far away.

Next we went over to Sterling Reservoir (Logan). Birds were few. Temperatures were in the low 20s; it was cold.

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) to search for owls and birds. Again few birds were around. There are one or two Long-eared Owls at the reservoir. It takes some searching to find one (we did)!

Inspection of the feeders in Log Lane Village found only House Finches and House Sparrows. These feeders have enjoyed visits by Common Redpoll and Purple Finches in the past.

Barr Lake (Adams) was skipped as the feeders there have been quiet for several months.

We picked up Rebecca Kosten and Sue Ehlmann and headed for an earlier dinner. It was decided to stop at the Highline Canal at Dahlia Street (Arapahoe) first to see if the Northern Mockingbird was still around. We did not find the Northern Mockingbird or the previously reported White-throated Sparrows. The "mockingbird" area (400 yards north of the Dahlia parking area) was filled with hundreds of European Starlings, dozens of American Robins, and a dozen Cedar Waxwings.

Our thinking was that they "scared off" the mockingbird. As we watched a Spotted Towhee underneath the Buckthorn bushes a flock of 70+ Bohemian Waxwings flew into the bushes. They stayed for the 30 minutes we watched them and were still there when we left. A local landowner walked by and said that the Bohemian Waxwings had first come there yesterday afternoon. The area is filled with Buckthorn berries; perhaps the waxwings will continue for another day or too?

After dinner, we drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Hundreds of geese were flying in from the golf course and Village Greens Park to the west. No uncommon ones were picked out. We drove over to the shooting range and found a Northern Shrike perched on top of one of the Russian Olive Trees near the entrance.

Two Red-tailed Hawks (one dark morph) were the last birds spotted as we left the park.

Birding Colorado's Northeastern Plains

January 18, 2008

Bryan Ehlmann and I started our birding day by searching for Short-eared Owls before sunrise at Sedgwick Draw (Sedgwick County) and east. We did not enjoy luck today and found none. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was at the Sedgwick Cemetery. Cannot figure where he goes? The cemetery is small and we have only found him on two of our last five trips. The next group of trees is quite far away.

Next we went over to Sterling Reservoir (Logan). Birds were few. Temperatures were in the low 20s; it was cold.

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) to search for owls and birds. Again few birds were around. There are one or two Long-eared Owls at the reservoir. It takes some searching to find one!

Inspection of the feeders in Log Lane Village found only House Finches and House Sparrows. These feeders have enjoyed visits by Common Redpoll and Purple Finches in the past.

Barr Lake (Adams) was skipped as the feeders there have been quiet for several months.

We picked up Rebecca Kosten and Sue Ehlmann and headed for an earlier dinner. It was decided to stop at the Highline Canal at Dahlia Street (Arapahoe) first to see if the Northern Mockingbird was still around. We did not find the Northern Mockingbird or the previously reported White-throated Sparrows. The "mockingbird" area (400 yards north of the Dahlia parking area) was filled with hundreds of European Starlings, dozens of American Robins, and a dozen Cedar Waxwings.

Our thinking was that they "scared off" the mockingbird. As we watched a Spotted Towhee underneath the Buckthorn bushes a flock of 70+ Bohemian Waxwings flew into the bushes. They stayed for the 30 minutes we watched them and were still there when we left. A local landowner walked by and said that the Bohemian Waxwings had first come there yesterday afternoon. The area is filled with Buckthorn berries; perhaps the waxwings will continue for another day or too?

After dinner, we drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Hundreds of geese were flying in from the golf course and Village Greens Park to the west. No uncommon ones were picked out. We drove over to the shooting range and found a Northern Shrike perched on top of one of the Russian Olive Trees near the entrance.

Two Red-tailed Hawks (one dark morph) were the last birds spotted as we left the park.

January 17, 2008

Today we visited several ranches in Sedgwick County. Our owl count was 7 Long-eared Owls (2 locations). One rancher reported seeing two Short-eared Owls last evening (which was where we later ended our birding day; without seeing any additional owls).

We worked our way south, driving most of the county roads in search of owls, longspurs, sparrows, and prairie-chickens. Mostly not finding any of our target birds or uncommon birds.

The only uncommon birds found at Sand Draw Wildlife Area were 7 Red Crossbills, 4 Mountain Chickadees, and 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches.

We did find 5 Western Meadowlarks that caused us to stop and study. Eventually they are sounded like Western Meadowlarks (no Eastern Meadowlarks for us on this trip).

Back at Roger's Ranch we watched his feeders while his wife filled us with fried chicken (so much for my diet). He has a Harris's Sparrow and 2 White-throated Sparrows visit now and then (Harris's Sparrow since 10/25; White-throated Sparrow since 11/26). He also noticed a Chipping Sparrow on 1/2 which also came by this afternoon. And it was a Chipping Sparrow, not American Tree Sparrow (which there were several of under the feeders).

Our sister listserve discussed Chipping Sparrow sightings in winter as if they were impossible. On the contrary, more and more are showing up during winter months in Colorado. Perhaps due to birder numbers and awareness of the possibilities and/or global warming.

Near dusk, we returned to private ranch #2 (as we have labeled it) to wait for the Short-eared Owls. Unfortunately, they did not appear this evening.

After dark, we took a final hike down Roger's creek and heard one of the two Eastern Screech-Owls on his property. For the past three years, Roger has seen young (successful nesting). We hope to experience that this spring!

January 16, 2008

We returned to the southeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir again this morning. The Short-eared Owl did not show up. A dog barked the whole time we stood at CR 24.8 & CR 3. Perhaps this did not help our cause?

Today we drove the roads north and east of Jumbo Reservoir (Sedgwick). We enjoyed more success today. Lapland Longspurs were again fairly common. Our day count ended up at 517 birds. There were plenty of Horned Larks also.

We ran into two Field Sparrows. The first was at Sedgwick County Roads 32 & 17; the second at CR 30 & 11. We also found 3 Long-eared Owls on a private ranch (#5) south of Highway 138. The Purple Finch that had been visiting his feeders 12/23 through 12/26 was gone. We also did not relocate the American Woodcock found on 12/23.

At Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area we again found a flock of 5-7 Eastern Bluebirds. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was west of the parking area.

A Golden Eagle was seen while we were driving along CR 28 (great road to visit some of the history of Julesburg and Sedgwick County).

Two Eurasian Collared-Doves were around the elementary school in Julesburg. We searched for a Northern Cardinal report in Julesburg (south of the school) but were not able to confirm the sighting.

Our birding day ended north on CR 32 and west of 63. We hoped for an Eastern Meadowlark or additional owls but did not have success.

January 15, 2008

Before sunrise, Roger Danka, Bryan Ehlmann, and I looked for owls at the southeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick). About 15 minutes before sunrise, we watched a Short-eared Owl fly back and forth over the field southwest of Sedgwick County Roads 3 & 24.8. Little else was found at Jumbo Reservoir.

We spent the next few hours driving around the county roads north and west of Jumbo Reservoir. Several flocks of Lapland Longspurs were located (total: 113 birds). We hoped for a stray Snowy Owl; no such luck.

In Peetz, Bryan spotted a White-throated Sparrow east of the railroad tracks (along Park Avenue). At the first ranch east of CR 78 & 55, we found a Harris's Sparrow.

We did run into quite a few raptors. Our count for the day included: 7 Red-tailed Hawks, 16 Rough-legged Hawks, 9 American Kestrels, 3 Merlin, 2 Prairie Falcons, 2 Golden Eagles.

Ovid was pretty quiet. No Purple Finches, Common Redpolls, or White-winged Doves flying about. The only birds found at the Julesburg Wildlife Area were 2 Song Sparrows and 9 American Tree Sparrows. We did pick up a Ring-necked Pheasant for the day.

January 14, 2008

At first light, Bryan Ehlmann, Roger Danka, and I searched for hunting owls at Sedgwick Draw. We did not find the resident Eastern Screech-Owl at Sedgwick County Roads 32 & 15 thirty minutes earlier. No Short-eared Owls made an appearance this morning. Few birds were moving about Jumbo Reservoir and we continued to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.

At Tamarack Ranch WLA, we hiked from the old ranger's home to CR 55 and back. A male Northern Cardinal was found around the fence line around the now maintenance building.

Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were counted in section 1West & 1East. We found several flocks of American Tree Sparrows and 3 Song Sparrows. No uncommon sparrows were found (Field, White-throated, etc). We did see a Common Yellowthroat about 250 yards east of CR 55.

An immature Golden Eagle flew through during our hike and that was just about it.

We drove into Sterling to do some shopping and time the trip to check North Sterling Reservoir (Logan) for owls at dusk; without success.

A stop back at Tamarack Ranch WLA after dark added 2 Eastern Screech-Owls to our day list. Back at Roger's Ranch we found another 2 Eastern Screech-Owls.

January 13, 2008

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded several reservoirs along I76 today. Temperatures were in the 20s; winds 15-20+ mph.

Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) was pretty slow. A lone adult Bald Eagle flew across the west side of the reservoir. I could not get any Eastern Screech-Owls to respond to my recordings.

No Long-eared Owls were found either. However, I did not walk into the woods, but rather scoped them from the road. The campgrounds had several dozen American Robins and a flock of 5-6 Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Prewitt Reservoir was also slow. I found 2 adult and 2 subadult Bald Eagles and not much else. Here I did hike in the woods below the dam. No Eastern Screech-Owls were found.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Return to Denver West & the Highline Canal

January 12, 2008

Rebecca Kosten and I birded the western side of Denver today. Winds were mild, temperatures in high 30s. It felt cold all day.

When we arrived at the Denver West Office Complex, the Pine Warbler was along the south side of building # 15. It flew around the west side and to the north of # 15.

One of us stayed in the car…….while I walked around for 2 hours trying to relocate the bird. In the process I found 2 White-breasted Nuthatches, 3 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a Brown Creeper.

I was watching and counting a flock of 17 Mountain Chickadees at the south side of building # 18 (just west of # 15 & # 17) when the Pine Warbler popped out of the two evergreen trees. Unfortunately, the Pine Warbler stayed high in the trees and did not offer any photo opportunities.

We drove south to the Highline Canal and Dahlia Street parking area. We looked for 30 minutes around and south of the footbridge for the White-throated Sparrows; without success. Then walked north toward Quincy Avenue.

The Northern Mockingbird was again in the buckthorn bushes on the east side of the trail (and just south of the sign for Kent School). Many other birds were also in those bushes including 27 Cedar Waxwings, 11 American Robins, 7 Dark-eyed Juncos, and many House Finches.

We continued north and found a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos across from the Wildlife Area (just south of Quincy). While trying to identify the Dark-eyed Juncos we found one of the White-throated Sparrows. The sparrow was with 3 White-crowned Sparrows across (east) of the Margie Woods bench (at the halfway point of the wildlife pond).

On the north side of the pond, we counted another 7 White-crowned Sparrows, dozens of House Finches, 3 male & 2 female Spotted Towhees, Dark-eyed Juncos, and 1 Song Sparrow.

I would guess that the sparrows eventually end up underneath the feeders north of the pond. The feeders are difficult to see; however many of the sparrows end up on the grassy road running along the north side of the pond.

We stayed until sunset hoping to see the Eastern Screech-Owls; neither came out this evening.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another Bohemian Waxwing Search

January 11, 2008

Rebecca Kosten and I were enticed to return to the Louisville Bohemian Waxwing flock(s). We had already seen a 12 on last Sunday. However the report of 800+ Bohemian Waxwings was too much of a temptation. We hoped to get a few photos.

After driving (30 minutes) around the neighborhood split in half by Dahlia/Polk Streets (Boulder County) we came across a flock of 70+ Bohemian Waxwings. The flock stopped briefly in trees 15 yards west of West Polk Avenue & Owl Drive. They stayed high in the tree and not long enough for any photos.

We continued to drive around for another hour, but did not run into any additional waxwings. We also checked the neighborhood north of South Boulder Road (Garfield Avenue to West Regal Street); without success. There sure are plenty of crabapple trees for them to choose!

Our next stop was a hike along the South Platte River at 88th avenue. We walked south to the green/white tower (approx. 1.0 miles). The male Barrow's Goldeneye was on the river and about 10 yards south of the tower.

After returning to our car and heading toward Barr Lake, we stopped at the north end of East Gravel Lake. From the mound next to 88th avenue, we scoped the open area of the lake. Again there were a few Common Mergansers and a dozen Common Goldeneyes.

The highlight was a Long-tailed Duck. It was feeding much and would stay under water for over a minute at a time. It only came up for air for about a count of 8-10 and then dive down again. Hopefully it will still be there again tomorrow.

We stopped at Barr Lake (Adams). Only a few White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were found. Two female Northern Bobwhites continue to come to the feeders next to the visitor center (behind or west). The male has not been reported for over a week now.

We headed to Aurora for dinner and stopped what I thought would be for only a few minutes at Lakecrest. Several hundred White-cheeked Geese were on the lake. Every time we started to leave, another flock of 50+ geese would fly down.

We could see wave after wave of geese heading toward the small open area. The noise from the calls was deafening and amazing. It entertained us for 30 minutes after sunset. They just kept coming from the east. At 5:09pm the blue phase Snow Goose came in. At 5:19pm the Greater White-fronted Goose came in with a flock of 52 White-cheeked Geese. Both these birds could be the same birds seen off and on for a week or so now.

Geese would come down and get out of the water to make room for another flock. They were still flying in when it was too dark for us to see much. Fascinating to watch! Remember this is private property. We walked from the Wendy's at 40th avenue and Chambers Road east to the lake.

Slow day at Cherry Creek Reservoir & DIA Owl Loop

January 10, 2008

While out doing chores we drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). Few birds were flying around. We saw 2 Bald Eagles standing on the ice. The only gulls found were Ring-billed & Herring Gulls.

There was only a small open area of water in the ice covered lake. Many Common Mergansers, a few Common Goldeneyes, and White-cheeked Geese swam around.

We did count 2 dark morph Red-tailed Hawks, 3 western Red-tailed Hawks, a female Northern Harrier, and 2 American Kestrels.

Our birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop. No Short-eared Owls made an appearance this evening. Horned Lark count was way down from previous visits.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Birding Boulder County on Wednesday

January 9, 2008

At first light, I sat at Fawnbrook Inn, Allenspark. A flock of about 280 Rosy Finches came by four times between 7:20 am and 9:00 am. They only landed once (7:20). I could see 80 percent Gray-crowned, 19+ percent Brown-capped, and an adult and immature Black Rosy Finch. The other three times they just circled 3 or 4 times and left. To the person with the Wyoming license plates who parked next to the feeders and kept their headlights on for an hour, it's probably not the best technique if you want to get the birds to land and get better looks.

I was surprised by the lack of birds (or maybe it was the headlights?). Bird count was 7 Black-capped Chickadees, 2 Mountain Chickadees, 1 female Downy Woodpecker, 1 Clark's Nutcracker, 3 Black-billed Magpies, 1 White-breasted Nuthatch. No Pine Siskins was a surprise.

Afterwards I drove north on Hwy 7 (2.3 miles) to Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park (still Boulder County). I mainly wanted photos of Copeland Lake and GPS coordinates, however decided to drive west up the road. I stopped and found an American Three-toed Woodpecker at 1.0 miles west of the entrance station. Not much else was moving about. Note to 2 wheel passenger car drivers, I did get stuck in the snow, sliding around the road trying to drive uphill out of the place. I was fortunate to get out without calling for a tow truck.

I stopped and walked the road at Olive Ridge Campgrounds (along Hwy 7 about halfway between Wild Basin & Allenspark). I thought I briefly heard an owl, or was it an echo in the wind?

A flock of 300 Rosy Finches were atop the fir trees about 0.6 miles north of Allenspark. I could only identify Gray-crowned & a few Brown-capped. Then I continued east on Hwy 7 back toward Lyons. I took several detours off Hwy 7 and walked a bit listening for owls. Obviously, I was playing a recording and listening for a response, not just listening for an owl.

At the small town of Raymond, I parked at the store and walked a mile up both ends of Boulder County Road 103. At 0.7 miles east of the store, I heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl. The area has great potential and is worth a return in the spring. Note: I actually saw a Northern Pygmy-Owl and heard a third during the hike. Think I will keep the exact locations to myself on this one.

On the drive south out of town, a Northern Goshawk flew across CR 103 at 1.8 miles east of the Raymond Store.

My next stop was Old St Vrain Road (south end of Lyons). Found quite a few Mountain Chickadees, no owls or Lewis's Woodpeckers.

At Meadow Park in Lyons, a Golden Eagle circled overhead. I had to walk all the way down to the bridge at Hwy 7 to see an American Dipper.

At Apple Valley Road (0.4 miles north of Lyons, Hwy 36) I again walked about a mile up the road (from south end). Northern Pygmy-Owls have been found in the tall cottonwoods here; none today however. Again many Mountain Chickadees and a flock of 7 Pine Siskins were about all found.

Up Larimer CR 37E (also called Boulder County Road 71N; Apple Valley Road, east of Hwy 36) I stopped just west of the Wildlife Sign (where actually is the wildlife area? I believe they call the whole subdivision a wildlife area?). A flock of 11 Pinyon Jays flew to the north. I was at the Larimer/Boulder County line and got them for both counties, 2008!

In Lyons, I walked the St Vrain River Restoration Area in search of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers which have been reported in many past years. None found today. Does D.W. King still live in Lyons? He was the birder who reported Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers almost every year.

I sat watching feeders at Highline Drive (east of Lyons) where a Harris's Sparrow was reported on the Christmas Count. It did not show up for me. Forty three Dark-eyed Juncos, 5 Song Sparrows, and a White-crowned Sparrow did visit the feeder on the ground. I met the landowner, a nice old codger. Interesting stories of life in Lyons.

Next I drove to Rabbit Mountain Open Space. No Harris's Sparrow at the feeders near the entrance road (perhaps a half dozen White-crowned Sparrows). Once at Rabbit Mountain, I hiked about 0.5 miles up the trail (listening for Pinyon Jays). Three Bushtits fluttered about some short willows. About this time, it started to snow quite rapidly. By the time I returned to my car, visibility was poor.

My plan was to end the day back at Wellington Wildlife Area north of Fort Collins and possibly look for Gary Lefko's Short-eared Owl at Weld County Roads 100 & 23. The snowstorm convinced me to change my mind and head back toward Denver.

I drove the Longmont Area around Hwy 66 & S. Hover Street and also S. Fordham Street & Cover Basin Drive hoping to run into the previously reported 1500-2000 flock of Bohemian Waxwings; without success. There are plenty of crabapple trees with apples along Cover Basin Drive; no Bohemian Waxwings.

Being only a few miles from Golden Ponds Park, I stopped there. A flock of White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were on the ground, just south of the most eastern parking area (east side of lake). Among the flock was the adult White-throated Sparrow reported a few days earlier by Scott Severs; thanks Scott! When I departed the flock was below the blue park boundary sign.

My birding day ended at Greenlee Preserve in Lafayette where I searched for the Swamp Sparrow reported 2 days earlier by Ted Floyd. The only sparrows I found were 7 Song, 1 American Tree, 1 White-crowned and one Ted Floyd. A Spotted Towhee scurried about the yard south of the trail. Many Dark-eyed Juncos were around.

It started snowing again by the time I reached the Boulder Turnpike and McCaslin Blvd, so I headed for home. I had entertained the idea to go back to Mesa Trail, south Boulder and look for owls up Shadow Canyon; again the snow changed those plans.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Birding Along the Highline Canal

January 8, 2008

I decided to look for the 2 White-throated Sparrows reported yesterday by Pam Tarrall and John Breitsch along the Highline Canal near the footbridge at the Dahlia Street parking area. It was sunny but colder than yesterday; winds were 7-10+ mph.

I walked the highline canal from the footbridge south about 0.5 miles and back twice. On the third trip I found a White-throated Sparrow in the Buckthorn bushes on the west side of the trail and just south of the green trash can. As I watched the sparrow, Gary Weston came by and we watched the sparrow fly across the canal. When we left, it was in the bushes over the small stream flowing into the canal. This was a little further south (the stream appeared to flow from the yard with the large pond which had many geese and ducks.

We then hiked north to Quincy Avenue to look for the Eastern Screech-Owl that we had found a couple of weeks ago on a metro Screech Owl count that CoBus had conducted. We were able to relocate one of the two Eastern Screech-Owls (between the Dahlia Street parking area and Quincy Avenue).

When we reached the bend in the trail (just south of the sign about private property of Kent School) a Northern Mockingbird popped out of the bushes (east side of trail). We were watching 5 Black-capped Chickadees, 30+ Cedar Waxwings, and 2 dozen American Robins. The second Northern Mockingbird I have seen in two days!

I left Gary at Quincy Avenue where he had parked and returned South. Three Bushtits were at the southern end of the ranch on the west side of the trail (south of Quincy and north of the small Wildlife Area). I talked to the owner and she said that the Bushtits usually show up in the afternoon. She has seen nests in the summer for several years now.

Other birds encountered on the trip back included 3 White-breasted Nuthatches, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a Brown Creeper.

I had some work to do at the Denver Museum Nature and Science Library and took the opportunity to search for the White-throated Sparrow reported several months ago at the Denver Zoo (east side of Bird cages, east of Bird building). I missed it for the 3rd time. There were plenty of House Sparrows around.

Hike Along the South Platte River

January 7, 2008

I hiked along the S. Platte River the 12 miles or so from South Platte Park to Confluence Park, Denver. It was a beautiful winter day, no wind, relatively warm temps.

At first light I watched the dark morph Red tailed Hawk perched on the telephone poles behind the Carson Nature Center at South Platte Park (Arapahoe County). At 7:50am the Northern Mockingbird came to the feeder east of the Nature Center. It stayed for at least 30 minutes and was still there when I left.

I hoped to find some uncommon ducks or gulls along the Platte. That did not happen, but I did see plenty of common ducks and geese. The highlights included a Cooper's Hawk, Mountain Chickadees, dozens of Hooded Mergansers, a couple of Common Mergansers, a hybrid Northern Shover/mystery bird, Great Blue Herons and 2 Black crowned Night Herons. I also saw 2 Rough legged Hawks, 9 Red tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and 1 Sharp shinned Hawk. Only Ring billed Gulls and 1 Herring Gull were found.

At Lakecrest (Adams County) at dusk, I found the Greater White fronted Goose and what looked like a hybrid Common Goldeneye X Hooded Merganser. I went back this morning hoping to get a photo (it was too dark last night), neither was there. Perhaps out feeding and they could return later in the day?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bohemian Waxwings, Boulder Cty, Short-eared Owl, Larimer

January 6, 2008

Rebecca Kosten and I looked for a drive on this sunny, "relatively warm" winter day and headed up to Louisville in the afternoon. We drove around the "Harper Lake" area where numerous Bohemian Waxwing reports have come in the past week.

After driving most of the side roads off W. Cherry Street and Dahlia (Polk) we finally ran into a flock of 12 Bohemian Waxwings in a tree along Buchanan Circle. Searching for a few more we eventually tried the streets north of S. Boulder Road; without finding additional birds.

With still an hour of daylight left we decided to drive up to Wellington Wildlife Area and search for owls. We found Great Horned Owls in the cottonwoods south of the Wildlife section along Larimer County Road 64 and another in the cottonwoods at the northeast corner of CR 64 & CR 3.

Several Northern Harriers flew low over the wildlife area. Then about 15 minutes after sunset, we found a Short-eared Owl flying back and forth east in the field northeast of the above intersection.

I did not get any response to a Northern Saw-whet Owl tape played while standing in the road between the west and east sections of the wildlife area.

We also searched the Cobb & Schware Units of the Wildlife Area. No additional Short-eared Owls; we did add another Great Horned Owl at the Schware Unit (off CR 60).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sparrow Search at Cherry Creek Reservoir

January 5, 2008

While doing chores, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) for a couple of hours.

The lake itself is 99 percent ice covered. Three Bald Eagles stood on the ice as did several dozen Ring-billed Gulls, at least one California Gull, and several Herring Gulls. There were not too many waterfowl out there.

I then hiked around the campgrounds in search of sparrows and Great Horned Owls. The thickets at the northwestern corner of the main campgrounds had a sparrow count of 59 American Tree Sparrows (in four flocks). Two Song Sparrows and 19 White-crowned Sparrows were also found.

The Dark-eyed Junco count was less than 24 (in an hour walk).

I could not find any Great Horned Owls. Talking to several campers who have been there for awhile, no one remembers hearing a Great Horned Owl at night. I handed out a field guide and hope that a few people will be aware enough to listen for owls next week.

The highlight bird was a Northern Shrike that was south of the Russian Olive Trees at the south end of the road to the firing range. Few birds were found at the 12 mile beaver pond area (also frozen).

Owl Search South of Denver

January 3 to 4, 2008

January 3rd

Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to search for owls south of Denver. The large amount of snow that we have received this winter limited the number of roads that we could drive.

We reached Teller County in the afternoon and tried unsuccessful to get to Missouri Gulch. Turned around we continued down Hwy 115 to Penrose and Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont).

We hoped to add a Juniper Titmouse or Bushtit to our year list. Neither was found moving around in the cold, snow covered reservoir.

With an hour of daylight we headed to Beaver Creek Wildlife Area (Fremont). Bryan got a response from a Northern Pygmy-Owl (to our recordings). We had walked to the northern end of the wildlife area (with the help of snowshoes). The Northern Pygmy-Owl was in a fir tree along the creek.

We tried to drive up into Phantom Canyon to look for Spotted Owls but were not able to reach the areas where we had success in the past.

January 4th

We spent the night in Canon City, got up early, and tried to find owls up the Shelf Road. Again the weather and slick roads hindered our search. Weather reports did not look good and we decided to return to Denver.

A stop at Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) on the way home was darn good. We found several Bonaparte's Gulls and the Red-throated Loon that was reported the day before!

It looked like snow over Monument Pass (between Colorado Springs and Denver) so we hi-tailed it home.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Birding the First Day of 2008

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out looking to start our 2008 bird list.

At first light we walked around the Denver West Office complex. The Pine Warbler (Schofield, 11/30) was in the area between buildings # 17 & # 15. It came down the feeder at # 17 a couple of times and then circled to the south side of # 15. In my experience, it ends up around building # 7 as the day goes on. We also saw Yellow-rumped Warblers, Pine Siskin, Red Crossbill, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, and Black-capped Chickadee. The final bird seen there was a Brown Creeper!

Our next stop was the South Platte River at 88th & Colorado Blvd. The short 1 mile hike to the green & white tower added a male Barrow's Goldeneye (Cryder, 11/20) and several ducks (Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail Duck, Lesser Scaup, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, American Coot) and Killdeer. Sparrows included Song & White-crowned Sparrow.

From there we headed North to search for Bohemian Waxwings in the Longmont area. We did not have any luck there, received a text message and headed to Louisville. Thanks to Sharon Norfleet, we found 20+ Bohemian Waxwings a half mile north of Harper Lake. They were along Centennial Drive, a few blocks north of Garfield & S. Boulder Road (close to where Sharon had found them earlier in the day).

We headed back toward the DIA Owl loop by way of 56th Avenue (south side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal). Standing south of 56th & the Havana Ponds, it only took 25 minutes before we observed a Peregrine Falcon fly over and land on the tall metal electric poles.

Our birding day ended at the Owl Loop. We could not relocate a Snow Bunting but did see many Horned Larks and 2 Lapland Longspurs! We also added Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, and Prairie Falcon to our day list. Unfortunately no Short-eared Owls made an appearance.

Search for Bohemian Waxwings

December 30, 2007

Bryan Ehlmann and I only had a couple of hours early in the morning. We headed up to Longmont where Bill Schmoker had reported 1500+ Bohemian Waxwings on Saturday. His were around Fordham Street & Clover Basin Road.

Initially we had no luck in the area he had reported the Bohemian Waxwings. We continued to increase the size of the circle. Finally we located 50-54 Bohemian Waxwings on Lake Park Way. This is about 0.6 miles north of Bill's sightings.

We had no additional time and headed back to Denver.

Fawnbrook Inn, Allenspark

December 29, 2007

Four of us went up to Fawnbrook Inn, Allenspark in Boulder County this morning. The roads really weren't too bad. The guys couldn't find a Pygmy Owl in the woods. Just before sunrise a flock of 20 Evening Grosbeaks briefly visited the feeders.

A flock of 250+ Rosy Finches included 1 or 2 Black and a mixed of Gray crowned and Brown capped. Other birds included Pine Siskin, White & Red-breasted Nuthatches, Down & Hairy Woodpeckers, and Mountain Chickadees. Didn't see any Black capped Chickadees.

December 28

December 28, 2007

Stayed Home all day. Weather snowy and cold!

Birds Around Home

December 27, 2007

Stayed Home, snowed all day!

Timeout for lunch, we are having Bridge Tournament #2 and watching the snow come down very fast. You can guess who won BT #1 on Christmas.

Bird wise the pair of Mountain Chickadees and 3 Black capped Chickadees are visiting our feeders frequently. The pair of Red breasted Nuthatches that stuffed sunflower seeds in the cracks of our fence Christmas Day and yesterday have not shown up today. They must have 80 seeds in the fence. Maybe the Chickadees will find them?

About 10 minutes ago a Western Scrub Jay showed up. He ate suet for about 5 minutes and took off. Hope he returns. It's the third one we have had visit (Nov 11, 2002 and Jan 22, 2005) and pretty far east. At least some escaped the West Nile Virus!