Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday at Cherry Creek State Park

April 27, 2008

Inserted by Rebecca Kosten:

This morning Richard Stevens and Gary Weston birded Cherry Creek State Park. They searched for the shorebirds that Bill Cryder reported Saturday afternoon. Bill found 28 Willets and a Marbled Godwit around the southwest marina.

They were able to relocate 21 Willets, no Godwit. A male Yellow-headed Blackbird squawked in the cottonwoods at the end of the Lake Loop. Water levels are very high and there is no shore at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

They found no unusual birds on the reservoir. Many Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants are now around. No Green Herons were found yet at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond or north of the swim beach. No hummingbirds yet around the ranger's office. The Black-chinned Hummingbird(s) usually do not show up until the first of May.

Later, same day:

Sunday evening Richard and I enjoyed a picnic at Cherry Creek State Park. We wanted to get one in before mosquitoes start to show up in a few weeks.

The Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond is almost drained of water. We did see 4 American Avocets and 2 Willets feeding on the mudflats. A few ducks swam in the greatly reduced inlet stream.

We watched 39 Willets on the sandbar in the southeastern corner. One Least Sandpiper was also in the area. No Marbled Godwits. Photos are on the CoBus photo library.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Birding Trip to Longmont

April 26, 2008

I headed up to Longmont (Boulder County) to see the Louisiana Waterthrush. It was as described, along Lefthand Creek and underneath the Pike Road underpass. It allowed all great views. An Orange-crowned Warbler was in the same area.

Afterwards, I drove over to Union Reservoir (Weld). The nice selection of shorebirds there included 8+ Marbled Godwits, 15+ Willets, 10+ Long-billed Dowitchers, and a Black-bellied Plover. Many Western Grebes, American White Pelicans, American Coots, and other waterbirds were on the lake. I was not able to pick out the previously reported Common Loon from my vantage point at the northwest corner of the reservoir.

Many gulls flew around what looked like the southern shore. Of course, if I had gone over there, they would have appeared to be nearer the northern shore. I was able to pick out at least 2 Bonaparte's Gulls among dozens of Franklin's Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls.

My next stop was Barr Lake (Adams). A walk from the footbridge at the visitor's center to the boat ramp added another Orange-crowned Warbler, a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers, and an early Wilson's Warbler to my day list. A male Bullock's Oriole flew around the trees at the Niedrach Footbridge area. No Waterthrush were seen.

I ended my birding day with a drive around the DIA (DEN) Owl Loop. I counted 17+ Burrowing Owls at four stops. Talking to visiting birders who fly into DIA, most did not know what DIA stood for (Denver International Airport). The official airport code is of course DEN. No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Grouse Trip April 18th to April 25th

April 18th to 25th, 2008

I was joined by Robert Martin for another grouse trip. The trip added few birds from my previous trips. We ran into quite a mixture of weather; rain, snow, hail, some sunshine. Checkout the April 11, 2008 trip for a description of this trip.

Additional sightings (new for 2008):

On 4/24, a Boreal Owl was heard and observed at the first pullover south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds on the Grand Mesa. On previous trips, weather did not allow us to explore much of the Grand Mesa.

Grouse Trip April 11th to April 17th

One of the most enjoyable in the past five years. Write up in May's "Colorado Field Notes"

Grouse Trip April 4th to April 10th

April 4th to 10th

I enjoyed the extreme pleasure of accompanying Dr. Claude Bloch around Colorado for a week. Brilliant physician, marvelous birder, and great anecdote teller. I had never met Claude but recognized him immediately from a PBS special on birding in Central Park, New York.

This trip was quite early in the season. While all Chicken-like Birds could be expected, it was definitely too early for vireos, warblers, and most shorebirds.

April 4th, 2008

Claude arrived early Friday morning and we hurried off to Summit County. We picked up the 3 Rosy Finch species, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, and other mountain species at a friend's home.

We missed White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass. Not surprising as it was snowing so much, that visibility was 20 feet. Winds had to be 40+ mph.

We drove up to Steamboat Springs and found several of the dozens of Sharp-tailed Grouse that winter up the Fish Creek Drainage.

Our birding day ended back on Jackson County Road 26 where a Greater Sage-Grouse Lek is close to the road.

April 5th, 2008

Our first stop of the day was the 20 Road Lek. We found another 6 Sharp-tailed Grouse displaying in a small clearing on the east side of the road. The normal "lek" was under 5-6 feet of snow and no grouse crossed the road.

From Hayden, we drove west of Maybell to the Oxbow Wildlife Area (Moffat). In fifteen minutes, 3 Sage Sparrows and 4 Sage Thrashers were found singing from the tops of the brush.

On the drive back to Maybell and Craig (to head south to Rifle) we saw a white goose on the Little Snake River at Hwy 318. It was a County lifebird, Ross's Goose for me!

Our final stop of the day was Cameo. Fortunate was good to us; both a Chukar and Black-throated Sparrow popped out of the brush for us.

April 6th, 2008

Our day started at the eastern (southern) entrance to the Colorado National Monument (Mesa). A drive through the subdivision just east of the entrance found 4 Gambel's Quail. It did appear that any Black-throated Sparrows were around yet (they nest in the area).

A couple of points. First I choose to drive from the southern entrance to the northern entrance because it keeps the sun at our backs (the other direction can be a killer on sunny days). The other point, I call the entrances southern & northern, but the park calls them eastern & western. Seems confusing to someone without a map on them.

At Escalante Canyon south of Grand Junction 2 Chukar and 2 Black Phoebes were added to our trip list. Shorebirds were scarce this early in the season at Fruitgrower's Reservoir. Three Lewis's Woodpeckers flew around the tall cottonwoods below the dam.

Our birding day ended at Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Gunnison). Unfortunately the south rim self auto tour road was closed at the Visitor's Center. (For weeks no one would be able to drive to the west end where Dusky Grouse and Northern Pygmy-Owls are almost a certain sighting).

Fortunately, we parked at the closed barrier and pointed the car back to the east. Just after sunset, a Dusky Grouse flew across the road.

April 7th, 2008

Twenty+ Gunnison Sage-Grouse put on quite a show at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek. Just before sunrise they walked from the lek to the road where observers were parked. We got to see them from 20 yards or so!

Our trek continued east. A quick detour to the Buena Vista Overlook (Chaffee) added Pinyon Jays to our trip list. A drive down the Swallows Road (Pueblo) added Scaled Quail and Curve-billed Thrashers.

In Rocky Ford, a drive around this small town added Eurasian Collared-Doves, White-winged Doves, and a Inca Dove to our day list.

Claude had already seen Lesser Prairie-Chickens which allowed us to skip the 130 mile (260 round trip) to the Elkhart, KS leks. All public leks in Colorado are closed for 2008.

April 8th, 2008

Most of today we drove through snowstorms. There was 6 inches of snow on the ground when we drove around Neenoshe Reservoir and Upper Queens Reservoirs.

Fortunately the weather improved as we drove North to Burlington. We spent a couple of hours driving around Bonny Reservoir (20 miles north of Burlington). Eastern Bluebirds and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common around the Hale Ponds area.

On the drive from Bonny Reservoir to Hale Ponds I noticed a flock of sparrows along CR 4 (just west of Hale Ponds). I mentioned to Claude that sometimes a Harris's Sparrow will be in a flock of White-crowned Sparrows. Before I finished the sentence, Claude yelled out……. Harris's Sparrow.

We ended our birding day at the Yuma County Road 45 Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek. Just after sunset, 3 male Greater Prairie-Chickens performed their dance for us (well, obviously not for us, but for……….)

April 9th, 2008

Claude and I watched 6 species of swallows fly around Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) this morning. Then we headed to Pawnee National Grasslands.

Mountain Plovers were found along Weld County Road 96, 2.0 miles west of CR 77. McCown's Longspurs were seen along CR 94. And our final target bird, a Chestnut-collared Longspur was found in the field southeast of Hwy 85 and CR 114.

April 10th, 2008

Claude was leaving around noon for New York. We had just enough time to drive to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). A short walk along the south side of Pine Lake added an American Three-toed Woodpecker to his list.

We stopped briefly at Genesee Mountain Park and found a male Williamson's Sapsucker drumming on his favorite telephone pole at the northwest corner of the group picnic area building.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Grouse Trip March 28 to April 3

March 28, 2008

Trent & Meta Hunt and I enjoyed a fantastic bird of birding. The weather was superb with mild winds (except Loveland Pass) and warm temperatures for this time of year.

We were able to find 3 species of Rosy Finches in Summit County. Also Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Pygmy Nuthatches, and several Clark's Nutcrackers.

A male and two female Barrow's Goldeneyes were still on the Blue River Water Treatment Pond.

Our only disappointment of the day was missing White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass. Winds were mild for the area. Unfortunately many skiers and snow boarders were up there. I hiked to the top of Mt Sniktau but could not find any Ptarmigan.

Next we drove Gore Pass Road in search of American Three-toed Woodpeckers; without success. No Rosy Finches could be located in the town to Toponas. Lake Catamount was completely frozen.

We drove around the Fish Creek Area of Steamboat Springs. To our surprise, 10 Sharp-tailed Grouse were walking around the neighborhood!

We stopped at several pullovers on Rabbit Ears Pass on our trip to Jackson County. A female American Three-toed Woodpecker was searching for food on the trees along the road into the maintenance shed area (Grand County). This road is 4.8 miles north of Hwys 14 & 40.

As we drove toward the old Coalmont Greater Sage-Grouse Lek we found many hawks. Around Highway 14 and CR 26 our Hawk count was 7 Rough-legged Hawks, 9 Red-tailed Hawks, and a Prairie Falcon. Walden Reservoir was frozen. Most of Arapaho National Wildlife Area was snow covered. Hundreds of Elk walked along the creek. At one stop we counted 300 Pronghorn.

Two Golden Eagles stood on telephone poles along the entrance road to the NWR. We did not find the Gyrfalcon that has been reported in the area.

Our birding day ended by watching a male Greater Sage-Grouse feed on the sage along Jackson County Road 26.

March 29, 2008

We found 2 displaying Sharp tailed Grouse at the 20 road lek south of Hayden. lek is under 4 to 5 feet of snow. Birds were displaying on east side of road.

In Craig we found 80 Bohemian Waxwings eating crab apples in front of memorial hospital. around 8th and Russell Street.

At Oxbow Wildlife area: 6 Sage Sparrows and 4+ Sage Thrashers.

Continuing South we searched around the Rifle Rest Stop where we added a male and 2 female Great-tailed Grackles to our trip list.

We drove over to Maam Creek Gravel Pit to search for the previously reported Greater Scaup. They were not around, but we did find a Bonaparte's Gull and 2 Franklin's Gulls. Plenty of species of waterfowl were also there.

A stop at Cameo did not add much to our day list. No Chukar were located, just a couple of White-crowned Sparrows.

March 30, 2008

Our day started with a search for birds at the southern entrance to the Colorado National Monument. We did not find any Black-throated Sparrows, but did count over a dozen of Gambel's Quail.

It was early for many migrating passerines to arrive at the Monument. We did find our target bird. Half a dozen Pinyon Jays were around the campgrounds. We found several Bushtits.

At 1:00 pm we joined the Grand Junction Audubon Society's Owl Prowl. Overall it was a disappointing experience.

Unfortunately there was some of the worse behavior of ABA ethics that I have seen. Nesting Long-eared Owls were harassed for over an hour and a half. I can see stopping and looking for them at a distance is one thing, but circling them and chasing them back and forth for any length of time is not acceptable.

At the next stop, a dozen people or so stood underneath a Great Horned Owl that was clearing sitting on eggs. Scoping from a distance would have been more advisable.

At the last stop we got views of a Western Screech-Owl. The Audubon Society's clearly needs to reassess their Owl Prowl.

We tried to drive up the Grand Mesa and we greeted with a downpour of Graupel.

March 31, 2008

Our first stop this morning was Escalante Canyon. We spent 3 hours searching for Chukar; without success. A great bonus was finding a Black Phoebe singing along the creek. It was south of Pinnacle Rock.

From here we headed south to Fruitgrower's Reservoir. Winds were quite strong. Few birds were out on the water. However, 700 Sandhill Cranes entertained us with their graceful landing next to the reservoir.

Below the dam we saw 3 Lewis's Woodpeckers and Evelyn Horn. The highlight was Evelyn who introduced us to her new book.

Few birds were at Payne's Landing and we went over to Confluence Park in Delta. There were no uncommon waterfowl; a bonus was a Bonaparte's Gull. Several Great-tailed Grackles were around the lake.

We had planned to end our birding day at Black Canyon Gunnison National Park (Gunnison). However the road was closed at the Visitor's Center. We could not get back the 6 miles to the traditional location for Dusky Grouse and Northern Pygmy-Owls.

So we headed to Gunnison. Blue Mesa Reservoir was frozen and snow covered.

I found a couple of Bohemian Waxwing and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Western State College in Gunnison.

April 1, 2008

At first light we watched 27 Gunnison Sage-Grouse at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek.

Afterwards we drove east toward Pueblo. The drive along Swallows Road (west end of Pueblo West) was quite productive. We counted over 9 Curve-billed Thrashers, 7 Sage Thrashers, and 14 Scaled Quail.

At the Fowler Sewage Ponds, we found a Greater Scaup, several Redheads, and Lesser Scaup.

We drove around the many reservoirs in Crowley and Otero County. Most had little water and no birds. Lake Cheraw was low on water; shoreline was quite far away. Neenoshe Reservoir, Upper and Lower Queens Reservoirs, and Thurston were almost dry. Neeogrande Reservoir had some water and several hunters. The hunters had Snow Geese and Ross's Geese in the back of their truck. They said white geese were difficult to find and good luck. We did not find any.

We skipped Lamar Community College and our birding day ended at Pasture G south of Springfield. There were no Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owls, or Long-billed Curlew there.

April 2, 2008

Our birding day started at the Lesser Prairie-Chicken leks outside of Elkhart, Kansas. Fourteen males entertained us by circling one uninterested female (for about 2 hours). She was not impressed.

Trent & Meta headed back home and I went north.

In Rocky Ford I walked around looking for the Inca Dove that Bryan Ehlmann found a few days earlier. I did not find it, but did see a White-winged Dove at hwy 202 and Industrial Drive.

April 3, 2008

I found a Common Nighthawk (would have preferred a Lesser Nighthawk) along the creek at Business Highway 50 and I 25.

At Big Johnson Reservoir, a Bonaparte's Gull was the only uncommon bird found.