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