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!