Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Gull Search in Arapahoe County

December 28, 2009

About an hour before sunrise, I sat in my not too warm car and waited to see if Short-eared Owls would show up at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe); none did.

Next, I drove over to Aurora Reservoir to scope for gulls with Gary Weston. Again, thousands of White-cheeked Geese swam in the middle of the reservoir. We could see several Snow Geese, however could not determine if any were Ross's Geese.

We scoped the scuba diving area (east end of dam) for about an hour. The adult Thayer's Gull was still there (could not find the 1st cycle Thayer's Gull). A dozen Herring Gulls were among hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.

At the swim beach, several hundred additional Ring-billed Gulls stood on the ice. We could not find the Mew Gull during our 1.5 hour stay.

Again, there was too much snow for us to walk around the 8.0 mile bike path. The uncommon gulls could have been on the southeast side. In addition, many of the gulls fly back and forth during the day to the Landfill just north of the reservoir.

Quincy Reservoir had few birds. Cherry Creek Reservoir was slow also. Both were completely snow and ice covered (except for a small area of open water at eastern end of Cherry Creek Reservoir). The pair of American White Pelican has moved on and hopefully they did not die and were eaten by predators.

The few gulls at Cherry Creek Reservoir were 2 Herring and 58 Ring-billed Gulls. A Great Horned Owl called from the southern end of the Campgrounds.

Return to the Mountains

December 27, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bob Kersey and I drove up to Summit County to search for Rosy Finches and other mountain species.

No Rosy Finches were found around Silver Plume (Clear Creek County). Local feeders were visited by Mountain Chickadees and Pine Siskins.

Fourteen Barrow's Goldeneyes, several Common Goldeneyes, Mallards and Green-winged Teal were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond (Summit County).

Our attempt to find White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass was not successful. We continued south down the pass and stopped at Montezuma. Here we snow shoed up the Hunkidori Trail for a bit hoping to find a Northern Pygmy-Owl; did not happen. We had no luck on the Saints John Trail also.

We returned to Loveland Pass for another 2 hour search for Ptarmigan; again without success. Then we headed to Georgetown for a late lunch.

A pair of Pine Grosbeaks and a flock of 7 Evening Grosbeaks were observed at feeders around Georgetown. A flock of 9 Red Crossbills was at the city park.

With an hour of light left, we returned once again to Loveland Pass. Bob watched the east side of the pass, I the west. Just after sunset, a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan flew down from the west side hill to just below the road. Bob rushed over and saw his lifebird Ptarmigan!

Last year I had a similar experience where just at sunset, Ptarmigan flew down from higher hills to tree line. They appear to spend the night in the scattered trees at the upper tree line (provides a shelter from the nasty winds)? I am now three for three in searches for Ptarmigan at sunset on Loveland Pass. Cannot tell if this is "common", but we were quite happy it happened!

I would like to test this "concept" on Guanella Pass. However, exposing ones self to the late afternoon winds may not be a prudent idea? In addition, with recent snowstorms, Guanella Pass may now be closed for the season (will have to check on that next week).

Gull Search in Arapahoe County

December 26, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) just before sunrise. Gulls were again grouped below the eastern end of the dam and at the swim beach. There was too much snow (besides being quite cold) to walk the complete 8.0 mile bike path that circles the reservoir.

An adult and 1st cycle Thayer's Gull stood on the ice below the east end of the dam. Fourteen Herring Gulls, two California Gulls, and hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were with them. It required over 1.5 hours to find the Thayer's Gulls as all of the gulls appeared to hunker together for safety or warmth?

Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were at the swim beach. I scoped the group for 45 minutes. If the Mew Gull was there, I could not pick it out of the horde of Ring-billed Gulls. At least 3 Herring Gulls and a California Gull were there also.

Among the thousands of White-cheeked Geese (mostly Canada Geese) out on the reservoir, I was able to pick out a Ross's Goose and 7 Snow Geese. If the Greater White-fronted Geese were still out there, I could not pick them out.

While finding a Mew Gull across the lake was beyond my equipment's abilities, I am pretty sure that if the Glaucous Gull was still around, I would have been able to see it looming over the smaller gulls.

Many gulls fly north to DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) for the day. The uncommon gulls could still be around, just not during my 4 hour stay.

Owl Search on the Eastern Plains

December 25, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I took Carrie Borden to the eastern plains in the late morning. We experienced cold temperatures and brief snow furies.

Seven Long-eared Owls were found at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). I could not get the Eastern Screech-Owls to come out of the "warmth" of their cottonwoods.

We found Lapland Longspurs up County Road 4 and continued north and west to Crow Valley Campgrounds (Weld). A couple of White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were just about it there.

Our birding day ended at Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld). Four Short-eared Owls came out just after sunset.

DIA Owl Loop

December 24, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove over to Barr Lake (Adams County) and then along the DIA (Denver International Airport) Owl Loop.

Barr Lake was pretty quiet. The reservoir is still completely frozen over. We did count 19 Great-tailed Grackles at the first house south of the Tree Nursery at Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue (also called Bromley Road).

We studied Horned Larks among the several thousand observed along the DIA Owl Loop. Most were along Trussville Road between 128th and 120th Avenues. We believe that we could pick out 2 or 3 subspecies (see January's "Colorado Field Notes").

No owls showed up this afternoon. We did count a Ferruginous Hawk, 2 Rough-legged Hawks, 1 Red-tailed Hawk, and 5 Northern Harriers.

Return to Red Rocks Park in a Snowstorm

December 23, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I drove across Denver and visited Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County) this afternoon. The Golden-crowned Sparrow was underneath the platform feeder when we arrived. After 5 minutes, it worked its way up the gully to the north. We saw it briefly below the wishing well; then it disappeared. It did not return in the hour and 20 minutes of our stay.

Other birds visiting the area included: Spotted Towhee (3) Western Scrub-Jay (7) Red-winged Blackbird (2) Dark-eyed Junco (various races: 42+) Northern Flicker (1) Song Sparrow (2) Black-billed Magpie (2)

We carefully made our way back home at 3:45 pm; roads became quite slick when it started to snow again.

Georgetown Christmas Count

December 22, 2009

Richard Stevens: Bryan Ehlmann's report on the Georgetown CBC:

"Eight birders and five feeder watchers conducted the fourth consecutive Georgetown Christmas Count. Previous counts were conducted in early January; this year we wanted to get up Guanella Pass before it was closed. Recent predictions suggested that the road would receive several feet of snow in the next few days; therefore, we changed the date to today.

Richard Stevens, Jerry Petrosky and I took on the Guanella Pass task, as we did not know if snowshoeing would be necessary due to snow conditions. As it turned out, we were able to get to the top of Guanella Pass without snowshoes. Our route did require going up through Grant from Highway 285 as the route from Georgetown has been and will be closed for many months due to the rockslide.

Once we reached the top, nineteen White-tailed Ptarmigan were found below the huge rock 40 yards east of the road and approximately 400 yards south of the parking lot! Nasty weather rolled in from the west and we quickly got the heck out of there.

We dropped Jerry off in Denver and headed to Georgetown via I70.

Gary Weston's group went up to Loveland Pass and found two Ptarmigan in a two hour search. The birds were about 0.7 miles up the western trail. Scoping the eastern side and the western slope across from the first switchback south of the summit were unsuccessful today.

They also saw five Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and two American Pipits while plodding around in the deep snow.

Sue Ehlmann's group saw about 20 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and 12 Brown-capped Rosy Finches on the cliffs north of Silver Plume. A local resident says she sees small flocks early two out of three early mornings.

Evening Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills were found in Georgetown. Also a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, and Pine Siskins.

Owling was hampered when the weather deteriorated rapidly after sunset. We strapped on snowshoes and went up the Saints John Trail for about half a mile, hearing a Northern Pygmy-Owl. We changed our minds about going up the Argentine Pass trail as it passes a well known avalanche chute about 3/4 a mile from the trailhead. The same is true for the Hunkidori trail which is usually good for a Boreal Owl.

Final species total so far is 43 species. I haven't heard from two feeder watchers yet. This total surpasses our previous high of 34. Finally results will be listed in February's "Colorado Field Notes"."

Aurora Reservoir Christmas Count

December 21, 2009

Richard Stevens: Bryan Ehlmann's report on the Aurora Reservoir CBC:

"We held the 4th "annual" Aurora Reservoir Christmas count today. Participants: 9 birders, 5 feeder watchers and one rancher. The circle encompasses the Aurora Airpark, Aurora Reservoir, Quincy Reservoir and Cherry Creek Reservoir.


Aurora Reservoir: 73,602 White-cheeked Geese; mostly Canada Geese at least 20 Cackling Geese (estimate of course, we tried to be conservative) Wave after wave of White-cheeked Geese flew in about 10:00 AM. Fortunately, we already had counted the geese on the lake and Sue watched from the swim beach area while Rebecca counted from the east end of the dam.

2 Greater White-fronted Geese
3 Ross's Geese
11 Snow Geese

Thayer's Gull (adult & 1st cycle)
Mew Gull
Glaucous Gull

Rich Steven took up the task of walking along Quincy Avenue from Gun Club Road to Powhaton Road and into Aurora Reservoir. Ready for Horned Lark count: 7 He did find a Northern Shrike along Quincy and another in the Arapahoe Race Track.

In the morning, Richard and I counted 2,914 White-cheeked Geese (almost all Canada Geese) and 2 American White Pelicans (only of day) at Cherry Creek Reservoir and Jerry Petrosky counted birds away from lake in the afternoon. Jerry found 2 Northern Shrike (one north of the Campgrounds and one east of the shooting range). Jerry also found 3 Virginia Rails, 1 Hairy Woodpecker, one Wilson's Snipe to name a few.

Quincy Reservoir: 119 Canada Geese, a few Common Goldeneyes, a couple of American Coots.

Before sunrise Rich, Gary and I found 2 Short-eared Owls southeast of Aurora Reservoir. The most numerous ducks were Common Goldeneyes. Another Northern Shrike was added at the southeast corner of Aurora Reservoir. When Rich reached the reservoir after his "walk", he found the Glaucous Gull swimming below the northwest corner of the dam. I found the adult Thayer's Gull on the ice at the northeast ice shelf. Sue found the Mew Gull on the ice shelf by the swim beach. Jacob Washburn and Amy Davenport found the 1st cycle Thayer's Gull at mile marker 4.5.

Best places to look for gulls: northeast corner, swim beach, mile marker 4.5 and mile marker 5.5. The reservoir is about 85-90 percent open water. Six Common Mergansers, four Hooded Mergansers and 2 American Coots. Sparrows were scarce with 5 American Tree Sparrow and 2 Song Sparrows.

Quincy Reservoir is completely iced over as is Cherry Creek Reservoir (except for small water hole near southwest marina). Our one rancher reported a Long-eared Owl, which we went over and saw at sunset. Bald Eagles: 2 at Cherry Creek Reservoir and 1 at Aurora Reservoir.

Guess that's it."

Golden-crowned Sparrow at Red Rocks Park and Jefferson County

December 20, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove over to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County) after the snowstorm. We stood inside the trading post and looked for the Golden-crowned Sparrow. The sparrow came out of the brushy draw northwest of the building several times and scrambled for food below the platform feeder.

We stopped at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson). One of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls was warming himself in the dim afternoon sunlight! Not much else was moving about.

Sterling Christmas Count

December 19, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Six of us conducted our Sterling Christmas count today. Results in February's "Colorado Field Notes".

Birding Around Sedgwick County

December 18, 2009

Richard Stevens:

We birded mostly on private ranches around Julesburg today (Sedgwick County).

Roger Danka's ranch has 2 Harris's Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow visiting its feeders. His resident Eastern Screech-Owls are up to 4 in number!

At a nearby ranch, we counted 5 Long-eared Owls! A third ranch had another Harris's Sparrow and a red race Fox Sparrow!

To stretch our legs, we walked Ovid Woods and the Ovid Sewage Pond area. The Eastern Screech-Owl briefly answered our recordings.

Julesburg Wildlife Area (which is really just south of Ovid) was pretty quiet. However, a beautiful male Northern Cardinal sang in the woods to the west of the Wildlife Area (west of the bridge over the Platte River). The bright red color "popped out" of the drab woods.

Only a couple of Black-billed Magpies flew around the Sedgwick cemetery.

The Short-eared Owls, which sometimes fly over Sedgwick Draw, were not seen tonight. A nearby Eastern Screech-Owl site was quiet tonight.

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area Christmas Count

December 17, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Eight of us conducted the Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area Christmas Count today. Results in February's "Colorado Field Notes".

Tamarack Ranch WLA
Eastern Screech-Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Field Sparrow
Greater Prairie-Chicken!

Jumbo reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick Counties)
Eastern Screech-Owl

Trip to Eastern Plains

December 16, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I searched for Short-eared Owls early this morning at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). None appeared (which has been the case for my last for visits, 2009).

On the drive into the State Park, we stopped at the western Campgrounds. Two Eastern Screech-Owls called to each other. Several (4+) Long-eared Owls were also heard calling (whining) back and forth!

The flock of 20+ Great-tailed Grackles was again at the first house along Morgan County Road Y.5, just west of CR 3.5.

While driving the roads north and west of Jackson Reservoir we found several Lapland Longspurs in large flocks of Horned Larks.

We drove over to Riverside Reservoir and north hoping for a Snowy Owl (did not happen).

Our next stop was Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan). A quick walk around the pond found a male Red-bellied Woodpecker searching for food on the large cottonwoods. We were able to call out the resident Eastern Screech-Owl and were "mobbed" by a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos while doing so!

We backtracked to Fort Morgan Ponds and searched for uncommon sparrows between there and Riverside Park to the west; without success. We had no luck calling out one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls.

After lunch, we walked the north side of Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties). A Field Sparrow was found along the main road inside the Wildlife Area (from the eastern entrance and heading west about 0.2 miles toward the western end).

At dusk, we heard (but did not see) an Eastern Screech-Owl at the western end. Later, we stopped at the eastern parking area and walked back west about 0.4 miles. Another Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings here!

South Platte River to Lower Latham Reservoir

December 15, 2009

Richard Stevens:

At sunrise, Bryan (Ehlmann) and I saw the male Barrow's Goldeneye on the Platte River about 10 yards north of West Evans Avenue (Denver County).

Next, we walked the S. Platte River from 88th avenue to Hwy 224 and back (Adams County). The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on the river about 10 yards south of the green and white tower. Later they flew to Tani Reservoir.

On the trip north we stopped at Plaster Reservoir (Broomfield County). The Harris's Sparrow did not show. The Marsh Wren was in the cattails 5 yards east of the footbridge near the Russian Olive Grove. It worked its way west to the end of the Grove and then came back to its original location.

We drove the roads south of Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) and Beebe Draw Ponds. Many raptors observed; dark morph Rough legged Hawk, Red tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Prairie Falcon, and Ferruginous Hawk.

A walk from the oil storage tanks on county road 48 (south side of Lower Latham Reservoir) added another 3 Marsh Wrens to our trip list.

Highlight; five minutes after sunset, two Short eared Owls circled the cattails 10 yards north of county road 48 and 80 yards west of the oil tanks. We turned around and observed another 3 Short eared Owls about 100 yards to southeast.

I have read and been told that the Northern Harriers were the "day shift" and Short-eared Owls the "night shift". Bryan and I watched the first two Short-eared Owls hunt over the cattails just north of us.

When a female Northern Harrier flew over, the two Short-eared Owls dove after the Harrier and chased her for several hundred yards east of Latham Reservoir. Clash of the "two shifts"?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Search for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Golden

December 14, 2009

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I passed by Lakecrest at Gateway Park early this morning. Took a couple of photos of a Ross's Goose, which is probably the same one that has been there off and on for a while.

In the afternoon, Gary Weston and I again tried to relocate the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Golden that Bryan Ehlmann and I found last Friday. Unfortunately, we did not find it.

By the time I returned to Lakecrest and Emerald Strand Park (Denver), most of the geese were gone (probably out eating). I did not stay around until dusk when they usually return.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some Mountain Birding

December 13, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Joe Zark, Mike Borneman and I headed to the mountains at 5:00 am this morning. Temperatures were around 20 degrees; fortunately, winds were calm most of the morning.

After searching for Rosy Finches in Summit County, we made a brief stop at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant. Ducks there included 17 Barrow's Goldeneyes, 2 Common Goldeneyes, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal and Mallards.

Next, we drove up to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek). It was one of those lucky days for us. It took only 15 minutes to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan! The bird was below the eastern side of the parking area. It walked along the bottom end of the ragged rocks about 200-300 yards below us.

Several American Pipits were observed on the snow. Two Rosy Finches (species not determined) circled overhead a couple of times and disappeared to the west.

We returned to Denver and headed up Highway 285 to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was seen up the hill south of Pine Lake.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl recording was played at the Buck Gulch-Strawberry Jack intersection; without getting a response. We then walked to the west end of the Narrow Gauge Trail; again missing owls.

Finally, we decided to return to the Buck Gulch-Strawberry Jack intersection. This time a Northern Pygmy-Owl called for us. Unfortunately, it did not allow us a sighting.

Birding in Boulder County

December 12, 2009

Gary Weston: Richard Stevens and I decided to do some owling at Allenspark and Olive Ridge Campgrounds Highway 7. We arrived in the area about 5:00 AM. While Northern Pygmy-Owls have been found at both locations in the past, we saw little luck this morning.

At sunrise, 20+ Rosy Finches visited the feeders at Fawnbrook Inn at Allenspark. Gray-crowned Rosy Finches made up the majority with a few Brown-capped Rosy Finches. No Black Rosy Finches were found. Other visitors included Steller's Jays, Pine Siskins, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Cassin's Finches and Dark-eyed Juncos.

As we drove back to Olive Ridge for a second time, a flock of 150+ Rosy Finches was seen atop the Lodgepole Pine trees just south of the Campgrounds. Again, it was a mixed flock, but no Black Rosy Finches were among them.

We stopped at the Wild Bird Center in Boulder and walked around for an hour hoping to run into the "yellowish" warbler and possible Palm Warbler reported yesterday. It could be that a Palm Warbler is wintering in Boulder? Nevertheless, we didn't find it.

We waited an hour at Plaster Reservoir in Broomfield County hoping to see the Harris's Sparrow that was around last month. It never showed or maybe never survived our recent brutal nightly temperatures?

Late in the afternoon, we walked around Golden searching for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that Bryan Ehlmann and Richard had found yesterday. Again, we had no luck.

Hunt for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers

December 11, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann:

Rich Stevens and I were seeking a place to go for a walk on this balmy (38 degree) day. It felt much warmer after our recent days with a string of temperatures in single digits.

Rich had not searched for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers yet this year in Golden so we drove to the west side of Denver. Our expectations were low; but we were getting some exercise. Our hunt centered around 1519 Ford Street where several Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been reported in the past.

Surprisingly, I noticed a sapsucker clinging to the side of a tree along 15th street, just west of Ford Street. This was during our third circle of the area. It stayed completely still for 10 minutes, then took off up 15th Street to the northeast.

We found it again about halfway between Ford Street and East Street. A Sharp-shinned Hawk chased House Sparrows in the same area and we lost sight of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

We stopped briefly at Red Rocks Park, Jefferson County. No additional Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were found. We did see a flock of 9-10 Bushtits.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Drive Around Northeast Denver Area

December 10, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went over to Barr Lake (Adams County) and the DIA Owl Loop this afternoon.

Barr Lake is 100 percent ice covered. All the waterfowl from just a few days ago are gone to somewhere else. At least six Great-tailed Grackles flew about the first house south of the Tree Nursery at 152nd Avenue and Picadilly Road.

Two Ferruginous Hawks were observed. One along Picadilly Road at 0.2 miles south of the entrance to Barr Lake. The other was at the Burrowing Owl/Prairie Dog Village (3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th Avenue). We also saw 2 Rough-legged Hawks along Picadilly Road between 128th and 152nd avenues. Four Red-tailed Hawks, 6 American Kestrels and 7 Northern Harriers rounded out our raptor count.

We watched thousands of Horned Larks fly back and forth at Trussville Road and 128th Avenue. No Snow Buntings, we did pick out at least one Lapland Longspur.

Lakecrest had to be scoped carefully; we found the Greater White-fronted Goose and one white Snow Goose among thousands of White-cheeked Geese. Most were much smaller than the Snow Goose and likely Cackling Geese.

At Emerald Strand Park another thousand or so White-cheeked Geese were around the ever shrinking open water hole. A blue phase Snow Goose was among them.

Green Valley Recreation Pond and Montbello Recreation Pond were frozen over and had less than several hundred White-cheeked Geese. Although, we watched hundreds of geese fly away from the Green Valley pond as we approached it.

I do not know about the mornings, but the best time to see the geese in the afternoon is between 2:00 and 3:30 pm. They mostly fly away around 4:00 pm for another feeding and many do not return until well after sunset.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Enjoyable but Cold Birding Day in Adams County

December 7, 2009

Richard Stevens:

This morning I walked along the South Platte River from 88th avenue to the Water Treatment Plant south of I76 and back (7.0 miles) and with a detour along Clear Creek to Washington Avenue and back (3.2 miles).

Most surprising was that the lakes along the route had no ice on them. East Gravel Lake, West Gravel Lakes, Tani Reservoir, A New Unnamed Reservoir, & Dahlia Pond were all ice free. The second surprise was the complete lack of gulls or maybe not since there was no ice or shoreline on which for them to stand.

Plenty of ducks and geese were on the lakes; however, the only uncommon ducks was a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes. They were first on the Platte River 20 yards south of the green/white tower (about a mile south of Colorado Blvd); later they flew to Tani Reservoir.

The detour along Clear Creek was to search for sparrows. Harris's Sparrows have shown up in several past years; none today. A small flock of 7 American Tree Sparrows and 2 Song Sparrow were the total.

Afterwards I searched for the 100+ Great-tailed Grackle flock previously found 0.9 miles east of Harvest Road and 168th Avenue; without success. Four to six Great-tailed Grackles were around the cows and first house south of Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue.

I spent 30 minutes scoping Barr Lake for the Long-tailed Duck reported Saturday by Bill Kaempfer; without success. The search was hindered by a 10+ mph wind directly in my face. Watering eyes, mist coming off the lake, and hundreds of ducks cramped together hampered my attempt. These 30 minutes was much colder to my bones than the 10.2 mile hike along the South Platte River (which was sheltered from the wind).

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop found 8 Northern Harriers, 1 Ferruginous Hawk, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, and 1 Rough-legged Hawk.

I parked at Trussville Road and 128th Avenue and watched for 1.5 hours thousands of Horned Larks fly back and forth across 128th. Watching them walk and plow through the several inches of snow was quite comical.

My target bird was a Snow Bunting (not found) and I settled for nice views of 2 Lapland Longspurs and several of the harriers flying by my car.

At dusk, I repeated the trip around the DIA Owl Loop going for a Short-eared Owl; again without success. Quite an enjoyable day of birding in spite of temperatures around 12 degrees.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 6, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I made a quick trip over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). No uncommon gulls, ducks, geese or swans had flown in by late afternoon. We hoped one of the Chatfield Reservoir Glaucous Gulls might wander east to Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Search for a Snowy Owl

December 5 and 6, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann:

December 5

Gary Weston, Richard Stevens and I went to Morgan County after at Snowy Owl report. We drove around for hours east of Riverside Reservoir never seeing any sign of a Snowy Owl.

Since we came so close to Jackson Lake State Park we detoured over to it. It was a good choice. A Black legged Kittiwake and dozens of Ring-billed and a California Gull were circling the west end of the reservoir.

Later we walked the Campgrounds from the Visitor's Center to the Boat ramp. A dozen Long-eared Owls were found without going deep into the woods. A flock of 23 Cedar Waxwings also contained 1 Bohemian Waxwing. The American Robin count was over 40, but no Varied Thrushes were found among them.

We returned north of Jackson and west to Riverside again not finding a Snowy Owl. Several flocks of one hundred+ Horned Larks were passed. Two of the flocks had at least one Lapland Longspur among them.

Crow Valley Campground didn't have any birds. Well, one Flicker was seen. We didn't find the resident Long-eared Owls or a Saw whet Owl at the windbreaks or cemetery. No Common Redpolls or rare sparrows, but we searched hard for them.

We were having such a good time that we decided to drive up to Cameron Pass and Gould. It was snowing lightly when we arrived, but winds were calm. One could hear a pin drop it was so quiet. Richard took us to two locations where Boreal Owls called. We didn't even have to play a tape.

December 6, 2009

We got a late start after going to bed around 4:00 AM. Several Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and one Brown-capped Rosy Finch, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, a Gray Jay, many Dark-eyed Juncos and a Clark's Nutcracker were seen at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

Weather was deteriorating rapidly so we decided to get back to Denver. Most of the lakes we passed were mostly frozen; finding rare waterfowl was probably out of the question anyway.

We passed most lakes too early in the day for gulls to come to roost. So, we didn't expect much of them either.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Another Day Around Northeast Denver Area

December 4, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Early this morning Bryan Ehlmann and I went out searching for Short-eared Owls along the DIA (Denver International Airport) Owl Loop (Denver County). Horned Lark numbers are still low this season.

A Barn Owl was in the cottonwoods at mile marker 8.0 at Barr Lake (Adams).

A check of the northeast Denver lakes and ponds relocated the Greater White-fronted Goose at Lakecrest, Gateway Park (Denver). Thousands of White-cheeked Geese still mostly Cackling Geese were at the five lakes we checked.

In the afternoon, I met up with Jerry Petrosky at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe). Nothing uncommon was found. We headed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and stopped to scope Quincy Reservoir. We did not find the Trumpeter Swan reported by Karl Stecher but did see a Greater White-fronted Goose along the west shore (visible from open space walkway). We also checked from the south side; nothing additional uncommon.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir we found the 3rd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull that has shown up several times in the past couple of weeks. At least one Bonaparte's Gull (possibly two remain). Still missed the pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes. Our eyes were watering from the cold air and 10+ mph winds; we could have missed them. Many Western Grebes and Common Mergansers still there.

Chatfield Reservoir was too far away in Friday's traffic to attempt to see the two Glaucous Gulls and Tundra Swans (up to 22, wow!).

Birding Around Northeast Denver

December 3, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went out to lunch and stopped by a few semi-frozen lakes. A Ross's Goose and white Snow Goose were at Emerald Strand Park (Denver County). At nearby Lakecrest, Gateway Park (Denver) we found another Ross's Goose (west side), Greater White-fronted Goose (grass, northern middle) and a domestic duck.

No uncommon geese were found at Parkfield Lake, Green Valley Recreation Pond or Barr Lake.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) one or two Bonaparte's Gulls were still flying around the northeast corner. Many Common Mergansers, a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers, American Coots, many common gulls all feasting on a school of small fish at the northeast corner.

Northeast Colorado

December 1 and 2, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann;

Gary Weston, Rich Stevens, John Barber and I went to visit Roger Danka in Sedgwick County. Along the way, we stopped at several lakes. The trip was hampered by two of the coldest days of 2009. When we did get out of the car, we walked around in single digit temperatures.

While hiking the campgrounds at Jackson Lake Wildlife Area we counted 16 Long-eared Owls. We jumped out of the car for only 10 minutes to scope the lake from the south side. It didn't give much time to find rare birds.

We managed to get out and walk Roger's ranch for about an hour on Wednesday. His Eastern Screech-Owls called in the middle of the night. An "eastern" Fox Sparrow comes to his feeders several times during the day. A grove of locust trees hosts a pair of Long-eared Owls.

We found few birds and no rare ones when we stopped a Prewitt Reservoir on the trip back to Denver. Because of the cold temps we decided not to visit Bonny Reservoir on the way home.

Return to Jackson County

November 28 and 29, 2009

Richard Stevens:

November 28

We went up to Jackson County late afternoon. Boreal Owls were found at two locations near the top of Cameron Pass. Early this morning we drove to CR 26 but missed the Greater Sage-Grouse found yesterday by Bryan and Sue Ehlmann.

November 29

Driving the roads early in the morning around John Lake Wildlife Area a light gray phase Gryfalcon was seen flying south-southeast at 2.6 miles northeast of Lake John.

On the way back to Denver, we received a text message that 5 Trumpeter Swans were at a holding pond along Squaw Pass Road (Jefferson). We detoured over and relocated the swans about 1.1 miles west of Highway 74 (near Evergreen).

Later we discovered that these geese maybe domestic. Two adult Black Swans were also on the holding pond.

Search for Boulder Winter Wren

November 27, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove up to Boulder today to search for the previously reported Winter Wren. It took about 3 minutes before the wren responded to my recording. It was first observed north of the bridge, but later flew under the bridge and stay about 20 yards south of it.

We then relocated the Long-tailed Duck at Lagerman Reservoir. The Bonaparte's Gull was still at McIntosh Lake, but we did not find the White-winged Scoter (or Long-tailed Duck reported later in the day).

Our birding day ended at Emerald Strand Park and area looking unsuccessfully for the Brant found yesterday by Jerry Petrosky. Areas checked: Emerald Strand Park, Lakecrest at Gateway Park, Green Valley Recreation Park and Pond, Montbello Recreation Park and Pond.

Larimer and Boulder Counties

November 26, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Sunrise found me at Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins (Larimer). The two White-winged Crossbills and nine Red Crossbills were feeding on pinecones in the middle of the cemetery!

My next stop found a female Greater Scaup at Cattail Ponds in Loveland (Larimer).

Continuing south, I found the previously reported White-winged Scoter at McIntosh Lake. A lone Bonaparte's Gull swam in the middle of the lake!

The previously reported Long-tailed Duck was swimming at the west side of Lagerman Reservoir.

Next, I spent 2 hours at Boulder Creek at 63rd avenue searching unsuccessfully for the Palm Warbler reported yesterday.

At dusk I returned to Boulder Reservoir hoping a Short-eared Owl would come out; none did.

Northeastern Birding

November 24 and 25, 2009

Richard Stevens:

November 24

I headed to the northeastern plains for a couple of days of birding. On the trip northeast, a stop at Barr Lake relocated the two Common Loons that have been there for about a week. Several Great-tailed Grackles remained at the Tree Nursery at 152nd avenue and Picadilly Road.

My next stop was a good one at Andrick Wildlife Area (Morgan). The Long-tailed Duck reported a few days earlier on a pond at the south end of the Wildlife Area was now on Pond #1 (most northwestern pond). A few Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, and American Coots were also here.

On pond #3 (most northeastern pond) a pair of Greater Scaup swam around with half a dozen Lesser Scaup and Northern Shovelers.

A walk through the western Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) found 17 Long-eared Owls and 60+ American Robins.

I then drove around to the southern parking area and walked about a mile of the dam. Five Greater Scaup and four Common Loons were in the middle of the reservoir. Fifty-seven Great-tailed Grackles were in the trees next to the first ranch house west of CR Y.5 and CR 3.5.

No Eastern Screech-Owls responded to my recording as I walked along the dam, west of the parking area (many large cottonwoods here have hosted nesting owls in the past).

At sunset, I walked north of the western Campgrounds hoping to find a Short-eared Owl. Two Great Horned Owls called from the Campgrounds. No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

On the way out of the park, a recording was played at the Cove Campground. An Eastern Screech-Owl answered back for about 10 minutes (recording was played only 2 minutes).

After dark, I drove over to the Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) and another Eastern Screech-Owl answered by recordings.

November 25

Shortly after midnight, Roger and I heard two Eastern Screech-Owls at his ranch.

Roger Danka and I walked the northern side of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) before sunrise. The resident Eastern Screech-Owl responded quickly to my recording! After sunrise, we found both the Yellow-billed Loon, Common Loon, and Greater White-fronted Goose previously reported on Jumbo Reservoir.

After dropping Roger off at home, I headed for Denver (after seeing a White-throated Sparrow and eastern Fox Sparrow that have been on his ranch for a week).

A search for sparrows around the Ovid Sewage Ponds came up empty. A Brown Thrasher was near the bridge at the southern end of Ovid Woods. A male Northern Cardinal was observed at the northern end of Ovid Woods.

The resident Eastern Screech-Owl came out in response to my recording. Dark-eyed Juncos (50+) mobbed me during the playing! I had really been hoping to draw out an uncommon sparrow or Purple Finch from the taller grasses, but was happy to see the owl!

My birding day ended at Sedgwick Draw and Cemetery. A White-throated Sparrow was in the woodpile at the southeast corner of the cemetery. Ten minutes after sunset, a Short-eared Owl flew down the Draw!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

White-tailed Ptarmigan Guanella Pass, Finally!

November 23, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Yesterday, Christa Clarke, John Munro and I found 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan at Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County). They were about 400 yards up the hill southeast of the Summit parking area!

Later we searched unsuccessfully for Merlynn Brown's Northern Pygmy-Owl often heard near the Buck Gulch and Strawberry Jack Trails at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). We did find an American Three-toed Woodpecker up the Strawberry Jack Trail at 80 yards east of the Buck Gulch Trail.

Afterwards, I went over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). From the bird platform, Cottonwood Creek Loop, I found 11 Common Loons (a raft of 9 and 2 separate birds that probably were the 2 that have been there for a week or so) and 1 Pacific Loon.

Five+ Bonaparte's Gulls flew around the southeast sand spit where 9 American White Pelicans remain. Many Eared Grebes, a few Horned Grebes, 11+ Pied-billed Grebes, many Western Grebes were in the middle of the lake. No black backed gulls were observed today. Also did not find the Barrow's Goldeneye.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back at Cherry Creek Reservoir Again

November 22, 2009

Richard Stevens:

With no reason to see the second half of the Broncos game (Final: Chargers 32, Denver 3) I went back to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

On the way, I stopped at Barr Lake (Adams) and found the Common Loons off boat ramp. Great-tailed Grackles are still massing south of the Tree Nursery at 152nd and Picadilly Road.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir, water level was a little lower than yesterday. Three plus Bonaparte's Gulls were flying around the northeast corner. A little of the southeastern sand spit was exposed. One hundred and fifty plus gulls (mostly Ring-billed and a few California; no Herring Gull) stood among 10 American White Pelicans and half a dozen White-cheeked Geese.

From the bird platform, I could see two Common Loons. The Virginia Rail came by but was not scolding today. A Marsh Wren came out of the cattails in response to a Swamp Sparrow recording.

I sat at the southwest marina at sunset; only 300+ Ring-billed Gulls stood on the surrounding floating telephone poles at 4:38 pm. Ten minutes later an adult Herring Gull flew in and a little later the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. It had not shown up Saturday, but was there Friday. This could be the same Lesser Black-backed Gull observed by Jerry Petrosky at Aurora Reservoir this morning.

Again, the previously reported male Barrow's Goldeneye was not found. A surprising 27 Pied-billed Grebes were counted between the southeast corner, the bird platform and the southwest marina.

Dozens of Western Grebes swam east of the Dam's Tower. I could not pick out a Clark's Grebe or Red-necked Grebe among them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 21, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I did not have the whole day to bird but managed a few hours in the afternoon.

A quick check of Lake Ladora, Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) found nothing unusual. I circled Mary's Lake while now and then playing a Swamp Sparrow recording. No Swamp Sparrows appeared but a Marsh Wren and Song Sparrow came out of the southeast cattails. A second Marsh Wren was at the middle of the east side cattails.

There were no white geese at Lakecrest at Gateway Park. Hundreds of Cackling Geese and some Canada Geese were there and at nearby Emerald Strand Park.

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I arrived too early (most successful time is about 30 minutes before sunset and wait for the gulls to come to the southwest marina thereafter).

Gull count around the reservoir had to be 25 percent of yesterday's count. Most the loons and grebes had departed. Water level was much higher than yesterday. The southeast sand spit was covered with water. Yesterday, the Pelican count was 81, today I found six.

I scoped the lake from the Dam's Tower parking area, the northeast boat ramp and the bird platform, Cottonwood Creek Loop. It took about an hour to find any birds at the Bird Platform. Finally, I observed one Pacific Loon and Common Loon, both quite a ways north. They dove for a count of 30+ and only surfaced for a count of 4 or 5. Strong winds (20+ mph) produced high waves. There may have been a Red-necked Grebe in the middle of the lake; I finally gave up trying to see bits and pieces as it rode the waves.

Forty-five minutes at sunset to civil twilight was spent at the southwest marina. Only about 110 Ring-billed Gulls flew in to the poles around the marina before it was too dark to see. No California Gulls, no Herring Gulls, and no black backed gulls were found. I did count 3 Bonaparte's Gulls.

Birding Around Denver!

November 20, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed a tremendous birding day on this fantastic fall day.

We started out looking unsuccessfully for the Barrow's Goldeneye at Lakecrest, Gateway Park (Adams County). Hundreds of Cackling Geese and Canada Geese were on the lake. Five Snow Geese and two Ross's Geese were also observed.

A resident talked about the goose problem. I mentioned that having 18 decoys on the lake probably does not help.

We also checked Emerald Strand Park (hundreds of White-cheeked Geese), Green Valley Ranch Recreation Pond (no geese) and Montbello Recreation Center Pond (no geese).

Next, we check the lakes south of Colorado Blvd and 88th Avenue. Here we relocated the Barrow's Goldeneye in the southwest corner of Tani Reservoir. A Long-tailed Duck was at the northwest side of Dahlia Pond. The "tame" Mute Swan was in the private pond north of Dahlia Pond (east of Dahlia and north of 88th Avenue).

The Great-tailed Grackles are still at the first house south of 152nd Avenue and Picadilly Road. No loons or uncommon gulls were found at Barr Lake (Adams).

The day was so nice that we decided to drive over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) instead of ending our birding day. We were hoping to find the Barrow's Goldeneye reported yesterday.

This was a lucky, good decision. From the Bird Platform, Cottonwood Creek Loop I found at least 3 Common Loons and 1 Pacific Loon. At one time, I thought there were 5 loons, 2 of which were Pacific Loons. However, I never saw both at the same time and recorded only one.

While playing a Swamp Sparrow recording, a Virginia Rail jumped up on the dead log and scolded us for making so much noise!

An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was not far off shore. I also believe there was a good possibly of a 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull nearby. While watching these gulls, at least one Bonaparte's Gull flew by!

At the southwest marina, there were two huge dark gulls. Definitely, one was an adult Great Black-backed Gull and I thought the other to be a 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull. The first cycle Gull looked much more like a Great Black-backed Gull than a Herring Gull. It was getting dark and I could only be "mostly sure".

I never located the male Barrow's Goldeneye reported yesterday.

Warren Lake

November 19, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove up to Fort Collins and Warren Lake (Larimer County).

We digiscoped the mysterious Gull (possible Western Gull). While no scoters or loons were found, we did see a Thayer's Gull and Bonaparte's Gull.

I sent photos on to a western Gull expert. Personally, I hope it is a Western Gull, but would not bet on it.

Guanella Pass

November 18, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann:

Jacob Washburn, Amy Davenport, Terry Michaels and I ventured into the Colorado tundra and went up Guanella Pass this morning. We didn't know what to expect after last weekends snowstorm. Fortunately, the road was mostly clear with a few snowy and icy patches. Once the sun comes out, the snow evaporates rather quickly.

We don't know what the fuss is all about in a Ptarmigan search. Within five minutes of getting out of our car we found two Ptarmigan below, the large rock about 40 yards east of Guanella Pass road. This rock is approximately 150 yards south of the parking lot at the summit.

All kidding aside, we know how lucky we were to not have to search hours for the elusive bird. We scoped the hillsides on both sides of the road but found no additional birds.

On the way back to Denver, we detoured over to Pine Valley Ranch Park. Our search for Three-toed Woodpeckers and Northern Pygmy-Owls came up negative. We did see 2 Hairy Woodpeckers on the hillside south of Pine Lake. A few White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches were up the Buck Gulch Trail. We only went as far at the Strawberry Jack Trail.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cheesman Reservoir and Owling in Jefferson/Douglas Counties

November 17, 2009

Gary Weston: In the afternoon, Richard Stevens and I decided to bird Cheesman Reservoir and then do some owling.

We arrived at Cheesman Canyon Trail parking lot around 1:00 PM. Before hiking up the trail, we walked Highway 126 west to the old green trailer. In past trips, Red-headed Woodpeckers and Lewis's Woodpeckers were found around this trailer and the hill to the south. Regrettably, we couldn't find either today.

We then hiked the Cheesman Canyon Trail from Hwy 126 to the Reservoir. Along the way, we found 3 Three-toed Woodpeckers, 2 Hairy Woodpeckers and a Downy Woodpecker.

Around Cheesman Reservoir, we found White-breasted, Red-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches. One Brown Creeper and 2 Townsend's Solitaires were also seen.

Sunset comes early now and we switched to owling mode. No Northern Pygmy-Owls were found around the reservoir. While visiting five previous owl locations along Deckers Road (GPS Waypoint sites) we heard Northern Pygmy-Owls at two.

Richard also had waypoints for 2 Northern Saw-whet Owl sites but neither was productive tonight.

We continued along Platte River Road, found another Northern Pygmy-Owl at a new site, and took GPS waypoints.

At Reynolds Park, a fourth Pygmy-Owl was heard. This one we were able to get a spotlight on and watch for a few minutes. It was not the usual location at the main parking lot, but farther to the east.

Finally, we made a quick stop at Pine Valley Ranch Park. Here a Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard calling southeast of the lower parking lot. This one was very far away and we were not able to get it in our spotlight.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Return to Plaster Reservoir

November 16, 2009

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, Rebecca Kosten and I returned to Plaster Reservoir (Broomfield County).

As we walked by the footbridge east of the Russian Olive Tree Grove east of the reservoir, a Marsh Wren was rattling away. I played a recording for just 5 seconds and the Marsh Wren flew up from the cattails and landed about 15 feet away!

We waited about 1.25 hours and were about to leave when the Harris's Sparrow came from the fir tree north of the green house (north of Russian Olive Grove). It first landed in the tree with red berries (north of the swing set at the green house) and then flew over to the blue house looking feeder south of the blue home (north of R.O. Grove).

While we waited a male and 5 minutes, later a female Northern Harrier flew along the cattails and creek. American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, and House Finches also visited the blue colored feeder.

A dark morph Red-tailed Hawk stood in the cottonwoods along the east side of Plaster Reservoir.

Later, I walked the southern edge of Plaster Reservoir where I found a Great Horned Owl at the western end of the trees. A second Marsh Wren responded when I played a recording at the cattails there.

Waterfowl on the lake included: Ring-necked Ducks, Eared Grebes, American Coots, Redheads, and American Wigeons.

Later, we relocated the 2 Common Loons off the boat ramp at Barr Lake (Adams). At least 38 Great-tailed Grackles were around the house south of the Tree Nursery at 152nd and Picadilly Road (just north of Barr Lake).

Another Cherry Creek Reservoir Visit

November 15, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went over to Barr Lake (Adams). The two Common Loons and two Bonaparte's Gulls were still there. Several dozen Great-tailed Grackles were south of the Tree Nursery at Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue.

We returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to try to photograph the Mew Gull found yesterday. There was quite a ruckus in the water just east of the Dam's Tower parking area. Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, a dozen California Gulls, and the Mew Gull were attacking a school of fish.

Two Common Loons were off the Bird Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop. Ten or so Bonaparte's Gulls flew around the eastern side of the lake.

At least 90 American White Pelicans and a dozen Double-crested Cormorants remain at the lake. It is getting pretty late for them to hang around. Western Grebes, Eared Grebes, Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots, Ring-necked Ducks, Redheads, Common Goldeneyes, and a few Canvasbacks were also counted.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Few Metro Lakes

November 14, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I birded a few metro reservoirs on this snowy day. Today's bird was Bonaparte's Gull, seen at each lake that I visited.

First stop was Barr Lake (Adams County). Two Common Loons were relocated while I scoped the lake from the boat dock. At least three Bonaparte's Gulls flew by. A dozen Great-tailed Grackle are still around the first house south of the Tree Nursery at Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue (just north of Barr Lake).

I circled the East Gravel Lakes-Tani Reservoir area and relocated the male Barrow's Goldeneye on Tani Reservoir. It just was a little cold and damp to make the hike down the Platte River to see if additional Barrow's Goldeneyes have joined the first bird.

My next stop was Standley Lake (Jefferson). I hoped to relocate the Yellow-billed Loon but missed it for the second time in three days. At least five Common Loons and 2 Bonaparte's Gulls were observed.

I swung down to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping to get a photo of the Mew Gull that I found at the swim beach yesterday. Searches of the swim beach, below the dam, the southwest marina, and the eastern sand spit did not turn up the bird. At least five Common Loons remain here. Bonaparte's Gull count was at least ten.

At sunset, I checked Lakecrest, Gateway Park (Adams). Not one White-cheeked Goose was on the lake. I assumed that some of the tens of hundreds of White-cheeked Geese seen on 11/10 and previous visits were resident birds; guess not.

The highlight however were 16 Bonaparte's Gulls swimming in a tight circle about 20 yards from the west end of the lake. They swam so close together that taking an exact count was quite difficult.

About 1000 White-cheeked Geese (Canada Geese and a few Cackling Geese) were at Emerald Strand Park (just east of Lakecrest).

Some Winter Birding

November 11-13, 2009

Richard Stevens:

November 11

At Sunrise, we visited feeders in Clear Creek and Summit County.

Darrell Schiffman and I headed to the foothills and mountains in search of some uncommon birds. Our attempts were well rewarded as our morning list included:

Three species of Rosy Finches (not many, but 1 Black Rosy, 4 Brown-capped, 7 Gray-crowned). We missed a Hepburn's, but felt fortunate to find at least one of each species this early in the season!

Four Pine Grosbeaks and 20 Evening Grosbeaks visited one feeder. Other visitors included Clark's Nutcrackers, Gray Jays, Steller's Jays, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted, Red-breasted, and Pygmy Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, Hairy Woodpeckers, and a Downy Woodpecker.

The highlight for me was a Northern Shrike staking out the feeders. He had his own personal "feeding bar". The bird was at 9621 feet elevation! I cannot remember any higher elevation sightings of a Northern Shrike (however, will look into it).

A quick visit to the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County) found an adult male, immature male, and four female Barrow's Goldeneyes.

Next, we spent 3 hours searching unsuccessfully for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County).

My approach which has been success in the past is first to scope the east hill and valley east of Highway 9. Especially looking around the ragged rocks below the summit has produced sightings in the past.

Next, we walk about 0.1 miles south to the first pullover on the east side of Hwy 9. Then we scope the hill on the west side of Hwy 9 (again, this has been quite successful).

As a final resort, we have had to make the strenuous climb up the west side of the summit. This trail has produced Ptarmigan sightings but usually only after a mile climb. At about one mile there is a flattish area on the south side of the trail (north side is a severe drop-off).

Scope the hillside to the south of the flattish area. If necessary, walk south as the "flattish area" has a dip where Ptarmigan can hide from view from the western trail.

Darrell and I turned around and headed to Routt County where I have found Sharp-tailed Grouse during the day. I was surprised by the lack of snow both in Routt County as well as back at Loveland Pass. In both cases, I believe there was not enough snow to draw the grouse/ptarmigan from their summer habitats.

We missed on the Sharp-tailed Grouse and headed back to Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand). An American Three-toed Woodpecker flew across our view as I played a Three-toed Woodpecker recording. This was up the road to the Maintenance Shed. We missed finding any Red Crossbills or White-winged Crossbills and drove back south.

With a couple of hours of daylight remaining, we visited Walden Reservoir (Jackson) which had no birds. A few birds were observed at Lake John Wildlife Area. A pair of Greater Scaup swam about 40 yards off the northern shore. A pair of Pied-billed Grebes, one Western Grebe, and four American Coots were also on the lake.

We ended our daylight birding day west of Coalmont. While we drove up Jackson County Road 26, north from Highway 14, we scattered 7 Greater Sage-Grouse. They flew across the road and landed about 30 yards south of CR 26! Finding them in non-lekking season is quite a prize!

In spite of winds of 20+mph, gusts to 40+mph, we were able to hear Boreal Owls at two locations west of Cameron Pass. Quite lucky, as their call is quite soft and low.

November 12

We returned late last night to Denver and started our birding day again at 5:00 am. Mostly this was to miss Denver's rush hour traffic (sunrise was not until 6:38 am).

At civil twilight, we drove through Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas) looking for a Mountain Bluebird which would be a lifebird for Darrell. One was never found. The hillside west of the Winkler Ranch entrance had four American Tree Sparrows, two Song Sparrows, a Spotted Towhee, and a Northern Shrike.

We waited for only about 10 minutes at the slanted Ponderosa Pine tree east of the road to Louviers before the Lewis's Woodpecker flew to the tree. The second Lewis's Woodpecker never came by while we watched the first one for 15 minutes.

From there we continued west up Highway 285 to Guanella Pass. Last summer's huge rockslide has closed down access to Guanella Pass from Georgetown (probably through the end of next summer). The only access is from the Grant end of Guanella Pass.

Again, we were surprised by the lack of snow. Only a few patches remained on the hill southeast of the summit. However, these small patches had hundreds of White-tailed Ptarmigan tracks and scat. Unfortunately, our 3-4 hour search did not turn up any Ptarmigan. We covered the southeast hill quite well, no Ptarmigan.

Our birding day ended at Standley Lake (Jefferson) searching for the previously reported Yellow-billed Loon. While it was not found, five Common Loons were observed swimming around the large lake.

November 13

Again we started early and arrived at Reynolds Park (Jefferson) an hour before sunrise. About 30 minutes after sunrise (7:31 am), we heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl east of the Oxen Draw trail and south of the Elkhorn trail. Unfortunately, we did not get looks of the bird.

Next, we hiked the Narrow Gauge trail at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). An American Three-toed Woodpecker and several Hairy Woodpeckers were seen on the hill south of Pine Lake.

Tired legs convinced us to search for Northern Pygmy-Owls along the Narrow Gauge trail instead of hiking up Buck Gulch trail. Again, no Pygmy-Owls were encountered.

The highlight of the day was a Northern Mockingbird singing in the tall fir trees at the southeast end of the second footbridge west of the parking area. Quite an uncommon find this late in the year and at 7326 feet elevation.

Afterwards we drove back to Castlewood Canyon State Park for another shot at Mountain Bluebirds (none was ever found).

Along the way, we detoured to Daniels Park (Douglas) which is another spot to find Mountain Bluebirds in winter. None was found today, however a Prairie Falcon perched in a pine tree only 10 yards off the road and allowed good looks.

No Mountain Bluebirds at Castlewood Canyon State Park but we did see a low flying, circling Golden Eagle just outside the northern entrance!

After Darrel left for the airport, I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Up to 7 Common Loons were out on the lake. Winds had picked up and temperatures dropped quite rapidly.

A Mew Gull was picked out of hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls standing on the swim beach. It took a while, look for darker mantle and then look at its bill.

Started snowing around sunset (4:38 pm).

Another Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 10, 2009

Richard Stevens:

This morning I relocated the Red-necked Grebe and 2 Common Loons at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

Late in the afternoon, I relocated the Ross's Goose and blue form Snow Goose at Lakecrest (Adams County). By the way, one can park in the Wendy's parking area and walk to two blocks over to Lakecrest in Gateway Park. Beware of parking restrictions in Gateway Park.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pawnee National Grasslands and Plaster Reservoir

October 9 & 10, 2009

Gary Weston: On 11/9, Ray Foster and I searched for Lapland Longspurs up on the Pawnee National Grasslands.

We stopped at Barr Lake State Park on the trip north. Two Common Loons were off the boat ramp. We also found Richard Stevens' Great-tailed Grackles at the Tree Nursery at 152nd avenue and Picadilly Road.

It took an hour drive north of Briggsdale when we found Lapland Longspurs on County Road 122. This is the road into the 122 Pond. We didn't see any rare birds on the 122 Pond.

Crow Valley Campgrounds had very few birds. Not one sparrow was found. No Common Redpolls either.

We also looked for Snow Buntings and Short-eared Owls at the field a mile north of the USDA Experimental Office. No Short-eared Owls showed up at Wellington Wildlife Area.

This morning, I relocated the Harris's Sparrow below the feeders north of the Russian Olive Trees east of Plaster Reservoir.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Broomfield & Adams County Birding

November 9, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Search for Harris's Sparrow at Plaster Reservoir:

"I stood at the intersection of the two trails northeast of the high school and east of Plaster for 20 minutes. No birds, but a Sharp shinned Hawk flew out of the Russian Olive trees on the north side of the grove. I waited another 20 minutes, no birds. I was about to give up and decided to walk by the trees and the feeders north of the path. A Cooper's Hawk was perched in the trees. Once he left, the birds almost instantly came out of the evergreen next to the square, blue gray feeder. About a dozen Dark eyed Juncos, a pair of House Sparrows, two House Finches and the Harris's Sparrow. The Harris's Sparrow stayed below the feeder and mostly on the upper tier of railroad ties. It did drop down once to the lower ground level.

The Marsh Wren popped up from cattails about 20 feet west of the Russian Olive grove. Only once and only for 5 or 6 seconds. Two Song Sparrows were in there also.

Thanks to Eric Zorawowicz for finding and reporting the birds! First county sightings for me!"

Afterwards since I was already outside for the day, I walked the South Platte River from 88th avenue to I225 and back to see if any uncommon waterfowl had arrived this season. (Adams County, approximately 5.0 miles round trip).

A male Barrow's Goldeneye was on the Platte River at about 50 yards south of the green/white tower area. It eventually flew up circled West Gravel Lakes and headed toward Tani Reservoir (east of the Platte River, south of East Gravel Lake).

No additional uncommon waterfowl (Long-tailed Ducks, etc) were found.

Next, I scanned Barr Lake (Adams) from the north end of the dam. Many species of waterfowl were below the dam. No Barrow's Goldeneyes, Greater Scaups, Loons, or Long-tailed Ducks were picked out.

However, from the Boat Ramp inside Barr Lake, two Common Loons were seen to the north.

Twelve to eighteen Great-tailed Grackles have been around the south end of the Tree Nursery at Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue and House just South of the Nursery.

I ended my birding day with a walk along the northern side of Barr Lake (from mile marker 5.5 to 4.0). No uncommon gulls were found among the hundreds of gulls that were out there.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cherry Creek Reservoir Again

November 8, 2009

Richard Stevens:

It was another fantastic fall day in Colorado. Winds were mild, temperatures reached the middle 50s in Denver. Richard Miguel and I spent 6 hours searching for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass; without success.

My statistics show that finding them on a weekend when many snow boarders and skiers are using the pass to avoid ski lift fees greatly reduces the chance of any White-tailed Ptarmigan sightings.

We stopped briefly at Genesee Mountain Park on the trip back to Denver. A few White-breasted Nuthatches, one Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a flock of five Pygmy Nuthatches were found. No crossbills or Williamson's Sapsuckers (not expected).

After returning to Denver, I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). The number of birds was much less than last Friday. Two Common Loons and the Red-necked Grebe were observed from the Bird Platform (Cottonwood Creek Loop).

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Some Local Reservoirs

November 7, 2009

Richard Stevens:

One of my target birds during my October visits to Rocky Mountain Arsenal was a Swamp Sparrow. They had never made the Arsenal checklist but with all the cattails on the Wildlife Area, surely Swamp Sparrow have migrated or even nested in the area.

All my attempts turned up negative. Last Wednesday Robert Andrews and Mike Henwood found 2 Swamp Sparrows at the Arsenal. My goal today was to relocate one of them.

It was a beautiful day with calm winds and temperatures that eventually reached 70s! I arrived at sunrise (6:30am) only to find that the Arsenal did not open until 7:30am. I had asked several people for the correct time, gotten different answers and did not know the correct one until I had to wait an hour this morning.

Finally, the arsenal opened and I hurried to Mary's Lake, hoping to see a hungry Swamp Sparrow actively searching for food. I circled the small lake twice. One the second cycle a Song Sparrow and Swamp Sparrow responded to my Swamp Sparrow recordings.

They came out of the willows on the island, flew toward me and dove into the cattails along the south side of Mary's Lake. Eventually the Swamp Sparrow moved east into thicker cattails where I lost it.

I then hiked along the west and south sides of Lake Ladora to search for the Swamp Sparrow reported by Andrews at the southeast corner of the Lake. I assumed that the first Swamp Sparrow was also one reported by Andrews.

No Swamp Sparrows were enticed out of the southeastern cattails. A small puddle on the south side of the road (6th street) attracted a pair of "yellow shafted" Northern Flickers. Many birders believe no true yellow-shafted Northern Flickers exist in Colorado, but that they are hybrids?

On the return trip to my car, a bluebird was singing from top of a large cottonwood near the southwest corner of Lake Ladora. It did not sound right for a Western or Mountain Bluebird, so I put my scope on it. The bird turned out to be an Eastern Bluebird! I had seen a different more colorful Eastern Bluebird a few weeks ago.

As I worked my way along the western shore of Lake Ladora, a flock of 5 Song Sparrows and surprisingly another Swamp Sparrow came out of the cattails (again responding to my recordings). I point this out because I would probably not have seen any Swamp Sparrows if it was not for the Swamp Sparrow recordings. Most of the Long-eared Owls I have found at the Arsenal this fall have also been reacting to recordings!

These cattails were located where the shoreline goes from northwest corner, south, then east, then south again. There is one large cottonwood with a dead 12-foot snag just south if it. The sparrows came out of and returned to cattails behind these two trees.

My hike did go to the Rod and Gun Club pond and Havana Ponds. I saw no Greater Scaup at the Rod & Gun Club pond and nothing unusual at Havana Ponds (although a Greater Yellowlegs was at Havana Ponds).

Later, Rebecca joined me and we went to relocate the Swamp Sparrow. While I was unsuccessful in relocating the Mary's Lake Swamp Sparrow, Rebecca was able to see the one along Lake Ladora.

We were quite fortunate in the rest of our birding day. Hearing about the Surf Scoters and Parasitic Jaeger at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) we headed south.

Instead of driving way around to the swim beach area, we drove up the north side parking area just west of the dam tower. When we looked over the hill, the Parasitic Jaeger was chasing a Gull just below us! Off in the distance I was able to put my scope on the two Surf Scoters. Total birding time was about 15 minutes! The Common Loon could have also been out there, we did not take the time to look for it.

Our next stop was to drive way north to Standley Lake (Jefferson) to search for the Yellow-billed Loon. Somewhere we had gotten the idea that there were 3 Common Loons and a Yellow-billed Loon.

We stopped off Miller Road and walked through the gate across 88th avenue to scope the reservoir. First, we saw 5 Common Loons, then another group of 3, then a pair and then two single loons. They were quite far away and it took quite awhile to identify them (had to wait for the sun to come out of the clouds for better lighting).

Finally, we picked out one that could have been the Yellow-billed Loon. Again, it was so far away, that we could not quite be 100 percent certain. Therefore, we drove over to the north side of Standley Lake and the fee area.

From the northwest shore, we had better looks at many of the loons. The yellow bill of the Yellow-billed Loon was quite easy to pick out!

Return to Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 6, 2009

Richard Stevens:

After only 1 (and myself) of 4 birders showed up for this morning's trip to Guanella Pass. We decided to call it off until next week. In the absentee's defense, one stayed up all night with the flu, the other twisted his ankle while hiking on the Grand Mesa this week.

Instead, Rebecca Kosten and I visited a couple of local reservoirs today. Temperatures reached the high 60s; winds around 6 mph.

Three Common Loons were seen from the boat ramp at Barr Lake (Adams). We did not see the Bonaparte's Gull nor did we walk down to where the Ross's Goose has been hanging out.

After lunch, we ended our birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Here we enjoyed much fortune. We scoped the lake from the bird platform. Two Common Loons were seen to the northwest (off the Lake Loop). Another Common Loon was below the handicapped fisherperson dock way on the other side of the lake.

While scoping a raft (?) of Buffleheads between the bird platform area and the fisherperson's dock, we found a beautiful Red-necked Grebe. We continued scoping to the east and found a Red-throated Loon in the eastern section of the lake.

Perhaps these birds can be relocated if one gets out early tomorrow morning before a large number of boats are put on the lake?

At the southwest marina, there was a large darkish Gull with whitish head and partial blackish bill. We also observed this Gull on 10/30. Jerry Petrosky told me he said a similar Gull on 11/1 but not 10/31 or 11/2. It could possibly be a 1st or 2nd cycle Great Black-backed Gull?

Marston Reservoir in Denver County

November 5, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I decided to checkout the "mystery loon" at Marston Reservoir (Denver County). We scoped the reservoir from the west side near the closed "bird sanctuary". At 1:30 pm, this angle is better because of the southern setting sun.

We got fair looks at a loon quite far off in the distance. The loon had a "blocky" head and showed much white on its side. When I looked at digiscoped photos later, the head looked too "blocky" to be an Arctic Loon. Also measuring the size (length) of the loon compared to a Common Loon at a similar distance from my scope, they appeared to be similar (not smaller as would be expected with an Arctic Loon).

I set my scope up again at the small park/runoff area at the northwest corner of Marston Reservoir. Another 2 Common Loons were far out in the lake. Two large white sleeping birds "woke up" a couple of times. They turned out to be Tundra Swans.

The large number of gulls at the northwest mudflats was mostly Ring-billed Gulls with a few California Gulls in the mix.

Trek to the Northwest Mountains

November 1 to 4, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann:

November 1

Gary Weston, Richard Stevens and I left Denver early in the afternoon. We searched unsuccessfully for the Red-necked Grebe and Red-throated Loon at Union Reservoir. All that was found was a Common Loon. No unusual gulls were among the hundreds scattered across the huge lake.

After finding a couple of Gray-crowned and one Brown-capped Rosy Finches at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center's feeders we headed up Michigan Creek Road to do some snow shoeing in the Colorado State Forest.

After dark, we found 3 Boreal Owls, albeit all only heard. Two owls were up the Ruby Jewell Road within a mile of Michigan Creek Road. The third was found about 0.7 miles north of the west end of Michigan Creek Road. We enjoyed a pleasant night, as winds were calm. The nightly forest noises were only dimmed by our breathing along the strenuous trek.

November 2

We had a late start after last night's long one. Our hike of about 4 miles along Rabbit Ears Pass did not find any White-winged Crossbills. An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found up the road to the Maintenance Shed (Grand County).

In the afternoon, we relocated the 2 Pectoral Sandpipers reported yesterday by Craig Dodson at Stagecoach State Recreation Area. We also found 3 Sharp-tailed Grouse near Steamboat Springs.

We drove as far as we could north of Steamboat Springs and then snow shoed into the area where White-winged Crossbills and Dusky Grouse have been reported in the past. However, neither species was found.

After dark, we searched unsuccessfully for Boreal Owls around the Steamboat Springs Ski Area and Fish Creek.

November 3

We stayed in Craig and at first light went over to the Moffat County Maintenance Pond. The two Dunlin reported several times by Forrest Luke were still there! A drive around Craig didn't find any Bohemian Waxwings, so we headed south toward Rifle and the Grand Mesa.

The three Tundra Swans again reported by Forrest Luke were still at Perch Pond (Moffat County).

A Peregrine Falcon was in the large cottonwoods on the west side of highway 13 just before entering Rifle. No birds were around the Rifle Rest Stop; we continued west on I70.

Our plan was to drive to the Visitor's Center and a little farther south while there was plenty of light. A quick stop at the Powderhorn Ski Area found a Three-toed Woodpecker west and below the parking lot.

At the Visitor's Center, we walked farther down the road for about a mile. Gary found a male White-winged Crossbill at 0.2 miles south of the Visitor's Center.

After dark, we turned back north and stopped at about a dozen pullovers. Boreal Owls were heard at 3 of them. All three of us have seen Boreal Owls in the past, so we only stopped to here the owls not to try to draw them out of the woods and see them. We marked the spots with GPS waypoints.

Our last stop of the night was again the Powderhorn Ski Area. One or two Northern Pygmy-Owls responded to our recordings.

November 4

We drove through the Colorado National Monument and found few birds. Two Pinyon Jays were seen at the Campgrounds. Attempts to get up the Uncompahgre Plateau (Mesa County) were turned back by muddy roads.

Our trek went as far as Escalante Canyon in Delta County. No Chukar were found and we returned to Grand Junction for an early dinner.

After dinner, we continued our search for Northern Saw-whet Owls at BLM land south of Fruita (sorry I can't remember the name). In any case, no owls were found.

We returned to the Grand Mesa and stopped at three places where Northern Saw-whet Owls have been heard and seen in the past. Unfortunately, we missed them again. A Boreal Owl was heard at the Spruce Grove Campground. Going no farther south, we started the drive back to Denver.

Richard knew several places near DeBeque to search for Northern Saw-whet Owls. One of the stops at Sunnyside Road rewarded our persistence with a Northern Saw-whet Owl. Mostly it was only heard, but it did fly across our heads twice. We settled for a silhouette and headed back to Denver.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ptarmigan and Rosy Finch Search

October 31, 2009

Gary Weston: Ray Foster, Richard Stevens and I went to the mountains in search of Rosy Finches and Ptarmigan.

On the trip up, we saw a flock of 20-30 Rosy Finches fly across the highway at the Silver Plume exit. Just in time, Richard was able to pull off at the Silver Plume exit. We followed the flock to the rocks behind the fire station north of town. Most birds were Gray-crowned Rosy Finches with about 5 Brown-capped mixed in the group. Unfortunately, no Black Rosy Finches were in the flock.

We didn't find any Rosy Finches in Summit County and returned to Loveland Pass in Clear Creek County for a Ptarmigan search. We scoped the eastern slopes for a good 2 hours without seeing any birds.

Then we scoped the western slope across from the first pullover south of the pass. Here we had better luck. Only one Ptarmigan was found, but that was good enough.

For "fun", we hiked up about a mile on the western slope from the parking lot. There were plenty of Ptarmigan tracks but no birds. Man that is a hike!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 30, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I birded a couple of local reservoirs today. It was nice to get back out after a couple of snowy days (over 2 feet of snow fell).

Barr Lake (Adams County) had few birds moving around. The Visitor's Center feeders were visited by 9 White-crowned Sparrows, 1 Song Sparrow and 1 American Tree Sparrow. It has been two winters since a Harris's Sparrow has been reported (after 12 of 13 winters with at least one).

Highlights at the feeders included a Hairy Woodpecker and adult Northern Shrike. Several volunteers saw a Gray Catbird last Tuesday.

A Ross's Goose was with Canada Geese off the boat ramp. Later the flock flew to the fields south of the State Park (only counted one Ross's Goose for the day). A Peregrine Falcon zoomed by from west to east.

The Hawk count along the DIA Owl Loop was 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Rough-legged Hawk, 1 Ferruginous Hawk, and 2 American Kestrels (and no owls).

After lunch, we drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). At least 3 or possibly 4 Common Loons were out on the lake. There may have been another smaller loon, which was not possible for us to ID without a scope.

Because I did not have my scope, we did not look over the hundred plus Western Grebes in the center of the lake. Quite a few Pelicans and a dozen Double-crested Cormorants remain in the park.

A Great Horned Owl was at the southeast corner of the Campgrounds. Another Northern Shrike was seen in the field south of the main road, west of where it goes over Cherry Creek.

A drive at dusk around the DIA Owl Loop did not add any birds to our day list.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Estes Park and Pawnee National Grasslands

October 26 & 27, 2009

Richard Stevens:

October 26

I left Denver about 3:00am and headed to Fawnbrook Inn, Allenspark (Boulder County). Two quick stops in Boulder County found a Long-eared Owl at one and missed Eastern Screech-Owls at another traditional location.

I walked the main road in Allenspark to Ferncliff looking for Northern Pygmy-Owls; without success, then watched the Fawnbrook Inn feeders from 7:00am to 8:15am. (Sunrise 7:21am, direct sunlight on feeders at 7:59 am).

Just three Brown-capped Rosy Finches visited the feeders from 7:11am to 7:36 am and again 7:44am to 7:49am. They never returned after that. I continued to watch hoping for a Common Redpoll; that did not happen. A few Rosy Finches probably come every morning, but not consistently until more inclement weather (which could be today 10/28 as it has been snowing all night).

I arrived at Estes Park about 8:45 am and walked to the south end of the Pine Point of the Matthew Reeser Bird Sanctuary. Both the Northern Parula and Yellow-throated Warbler were foraging when I arrived (once in a while, it is nice not to search for hours for the birds!).

The Northern Parula stayed mostly on the ground. I sat down and it came within 3 feet of me (almost too close for my camera). The Yellow-throated Warbler continued foraging along the east side of Pine Point and eventually I lost it near the northern end of the point.

My day was not really been planned out and I had expected to return to Denver. However, I continued east and stopped at Timnath Reservoir first. An adult female Surf Scoter was 40 yards east of the parking lot (access from Larimer County Road 40). Quite a few waterfowl, mostly Ring-necked Ducks, American Coots, Bufflehead, Redheads, Eared Grebes, and a few Common Goldeneyes were there. No additional scoters or loons appeared to be out there.

My darn car continued east and I found myself at Crow Valley Campground (Weld). A quick stop at the North Weld County Landfill on the way only found Ring-billed Gulls there. Few birds were at Crow Valley Campground (2 Northern Flickers, 2 Blue Jays, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers). Not one sparrow was found in the hour and a half I circled the place.

Just before leaving, I decided to walk the southern border from the entrance to the group picnic area. On my return trip a very little and very red wren popped out of the brush southwest of the group picnic shelter. It allowed great looks twice for about a total of 35 seconds (from about 12 feet, of course I had already put my camera in the car)! I had never seen such a red Winter Wren before. It suggested an adult Western Winter Wren. It eventually buried itself in the thick brush and never came out again.

I walked the Briggsdale Cemetery and then the fir trees at the Crow Valley Work Center. No owls were found at either location. In fact, no birds, where are all the sparrows?

Still planning to return home, I thought to checkout the 122 ponds first. A lone Western Grebe and two Eared Grebes were among hundreds of Ring-necked Ducks and American Coots.

I then turned back west and stopped at Little Owl Creek just north of the USDA Experimental Office. Snow Buntings have been found along this hike at least four times in the past (still a little early in the year however). No Snow Bunting and no Short-eared Owls (usually found at 0.5 miles south of where the east-west trail intersects with the creek. A Great Horned Owl was at 0.4 miles north of the intersection.

It was too late in the day to bird another reservoir so I continued west to the Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer) to end my birding day. Along the drive three Prairie Falcons, two Golden Eagles, and a Northern Shrike were seen.

On the way, I made a quick stop (lucky stop) at a friend's home. He had a Golden-crowned Sparrow visiting under his feeders since Monday! I got good looks and moved on to the Wildlife Area.

At the Wellington Wildlife Area, I walked the line of evergreen trees at the northeast corner but found no owls (it is early for them to arrive for the winter). Hours of visitation are quite erratic and confusing, be sure to get a copy of the hunting seasons at your local sporting goods store to see closures at the Wildlife Area.

I walked Larimer County Road 3 along the east side of the Wildlife Area, watched a colorful sunset and played a Swamp Sparrow recording. A Marsh Wren rattled and came out of the cattails to see what all the commotion was! What a beautiful warm late fall Colorado day!

Instead of heading home, I went back to the Pawnee National Grasslands, set up my telescope and watched stars and satellites for an hour. It is amazing how much "junk" is circling up there. Shortly thereafter, setting up my tent it took no time to fall asleep (having been up for 39 hours or so).

October 27

Just before sunrise, I drove the roads east of Weld CR 77 in search of a Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse. I have not heard of any sightings in a few years now, but did check three locations where I had seen them in the past; without success.

Back at Crow Valley Campground, yesterday's Winter Wren could not be enticed out of the brush (if he was still there?). I headed to Jackson Reservoir by way of my favorite route (for longspurs). Several flocks of Horned Larks also contained a couple of Lapland Longspurs.

Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) was slow. No uncommon gulls, jaegers or waterfowl. A White-throated Sparrow was along the shoreline trees just south of Pelican Campgrounds. The resident Eastern Screech-Owls could not be lured out during the day.

My next stop was Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington). Again, no uncommon birds were found. A couple of American Tree Sparrows were below the dam.

The water level is quite high. I was told by a ranger about six weeks ago that the water level had stayed high this year even though the irrigation season and would not be dropping to previous year's low levels (unfortunate for shorebird watchers). As a side note, the ranger also told me that Prewitt Reservoir was the only northeastern reservoir that had not had a Quagga Mussel invasion (unfortunate for Jumbo, Sterling and all).

Weather was turning bad and I ended my birding day at Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) (skipped a return trip to Jackson Reservoir for after dark owling). I did relocate the Red-bellied Woodpecker and Eastern Screech-Owl at the northeastern part of the property.

Back in Denver, hope to stay indoors for a day or two or maybe not? Any Murrelet sightings?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eastern Plains

October 25, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann:

We visited Lamar Community College woods (Prowers) at first light and found both the male Kentucky Warbler and the Carolina Wren reported yesterday! An hour was spent searching for the Red-shouldered Hawk that had been reported previously for several days; without success.

While driving around Lamar in the search for the Red-shouldered Hawk we stopped at the Mike Higbee Wildlife Area. We walked south along Clay Creek without seeing any hawks but did find a Harris's Sparrow in the willows along the creek.

Returning to the parking lot a large flock of sparrows was seen along the dry canal. A White-throated Sparrow was among several dozen White-crowned Sparrows, two Song Sparrows and a lone Lincoln's Sparrow. We walked across highway 50 to get a better look at a lone Hawk, which turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk and noticed a male Rusty Blackbird walking along the shore below the road.

Another Harris's Sparrow was found in the sparse woods north of the parking lot for Upper Queens Reservoir. The stop was mainly to get a GPS waypoint.

We headed to Bonny Reservoir to do some owling and stopped at the Burlington Cemetery (Kit Carson) on the trip up. While trying to find a Great Horned Owl that called several times, I found a Pine Warbler that had popped out of the evergreens, maybe trying to see the cause of my lousy imitation of a Great Horned Owl?

After sunset, we searched the Hale (Yuma) windbreak for Long-eared Owls; without success. An Eastern Screech-Owl called from north of the most western Hale Pond and we headed back to Denver.

Searching for Park County Scoters

October 22 through 24, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann:

October 22

Rich Stevens and I headed to Park County to see if recent storms had induced birds to stop at the three reservoirs near Highways 24 and 285.

A Common Loon and Black Scoter were found at Antero Reservoir. A Surf Scoter was seen at nearby Eleven Mile Reservoir. Winds were a steady 18 mph with gusts to 28 mph. That made holding our scopes steady very difficult and many birds could have been missed.

Next, we visited the Buena Vista Valley (Chaffee); it must have another name but no one seemed to know when we asked around. A search for resident Western Screech-Owls went unfulfilled but two Lewis's Woodpeckers were found at their usual location along Brooksdale.

Pinyon Jays were not found at the Buena Vista Overlook or below at the KOA campgrounds. We drove roads to the south on the way to Salida and found about 20 Pinyon Jays at the Ruby Mountain parking lot.

October 23

Early Friday morning, a Northern Saw-whet Owl responded to our recordings. Northern Pygmy-Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl calls were played on the BLM lands north of the Buena Vista Overlook.

We returned to the Park County reservoirs and again found winds very strong with gusts to 30+ mph. The Common Loon was relocated at Antero Reservoir but we couldn't find yesterday's Black Scoter. The Surf Scoter was relocated at Eleven Mile Reservoir.

Finding little at Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Tarrayall Reservoir we decided to listen for owls and get GPS waypoints along Highway 9. The several locations surveyed included the Pike National Forest, Wormer Gulch State Trust Lands and Deer Haven State Trust Lands. Owling was a bust, but we did gather GPS data for future references.

October 24

In the afternoon, we stopped at Veteran's Park in Canon City (Fremont) and found the Black-throated Blue Warbler along with several Yellow-rumped Warblers. The Golden-crowned Sparrow was missed at the west end of Tunnel Drive but two Rufous-crowned Sparrows were found.

Near dusk, we searched Red Mountain Park for owls; without success. Northern Saw-whet Owls have nested in the area in the past but the airwaves were very quiet tonight.

A quick drive up Phantom Canyon did not find a Spotted Owl. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard answering our recordings west of the parking lot for Beaver Creek Wildlife Area.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Final Owl Hunt and Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 21, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I hiked up the Michigan Ditch Road toward Mt Richthofen. We departed from Cameron Pass' summit about two hours before sunset and hoped to time the hike to arrive at mile 5 just after sunset. Boreal Owls have never called for me before complete darkness (at least an hour or so after sunset).

On both hikes this week it was snowing. Strangely there were no winds up there (quite uncommon) or we would have called off our searches. The biggest factor for any success is little or no winds. The owls call so quietly that if they are out, any winds will preclude one from hearing them.

Boreal Owls have been heard in the past at about 4.5 miles from the locked gate. We had one answer our recordings at 4.1 miles south and west of the gate.

This hike is much more strenuous than the Kelly Creek hike (which is relatively flat). The Michigan Ditch trail loses a good amount of elevation and then climbs back up.

In early morning we all checked the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. Behind the building we saw one Brown-capped Rosy Finch, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a pair of Pine Grosbeaks.

On the way back to Denver, a quick stop at Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand) added Barrow's Goldeneyes to our trip list. There were none at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit).

After dropping Bryan and Sue off, I decided to see if any uncommon gulls were brought in to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) by the continuing snowstorm. I could not find any uncommon gulls but noticed a Dowitcher walking the shore at the east end of the sand spit (off the old jet ski launch area).

While I was trying to ID the Dowitcher which appeared to have a flat back (which seems so subjective), a dog walker let his dog run wild along the shore. I mumbled under my breathe about dog owners when the Dowitcher was flushed. Its distinctive "tututu" "tututu" made it a Short-billed Dowitcher. Perhaps there is a minor use for dog owners after all?

The Dowitcher worked its way along the southeastern shore and was in the extreme southeast corner when I departed. I did not have enough daylight to scope the lake for the Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe or other waterfowl.

Another Owl Search in the Colorado State Forest

October 20, 2009

Richard Stevens:

At 3:00 am, Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to hike into the Colorado Forest from the end of CR 41 (the main road into the Colorado State Forest, it passes Michigan Reservoir and turns west at Ruby Jewel Road.

From the locked gate, the road continues for a mile to the junction of the North Fork Yurt Trail. The next 4.5 miles have produced Boreal Owl sightings in the past. We heard two and were able to see one of them at 2.6 miles from the trailhead.

The hike was such a pleasant one. No wind, we could hear the sounds of the forest quite well. Dark shadows of spruce and subalpine trees against a dark sky (which is never completely dark). Quite a few birds called and sang. We heard Pine Siskins, Cassin's Finches, a woodpecker, etc. The heavy breathing of an Elk barging through the woods was quite interesting. Bears could still be out, but this sounded more like an Elk?

During the afternoon we checked out Walden Reservoir, Delaney Butte Lakes and Lake John Wildlife Area without finding many birds. No Rosy Finches could be found in Walden. No Greater Sage-Grouse were found at the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

A Visit to Pennock & Cameron Passes

October 19, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I were at Aurora Reservoir at first light this morning. No jaegers were found. The Common Loon was along the eastern side. We then went over to Cherry Creek Reservoir. Again no Jaegers. The Pacific Loon is still there. The Red-necked Grebe I first reported on the CoBus Trip Blog last Friday was not found. I did see it yesterday when I spent two hours at Cherry Creek Reservoir looking unsuccessfully for the jaeger reported that morning.

Bryan Ehlmann, Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca and I headed up to Cameron Pass by way of Pennock Pass. We are still trying to establish a late date for Flammulated Owls on Pennock Pass (Larimer County). Stops at five of our favorite locations (several nesting spots) were unsuccessful. Then we made a stop up a road heading south into the Forest west of Pennock Pass' Summit. A Flammulated Owl answered our recordings (about 0.6 miles up the road). Most of the Flammulated Owls are probably gone, but perhaps a few more than one remain.

It was pretty quiet at Joe Wright Reservoir (Larimer) though Pine Siskins and Cassin's Finches made quite a racket in the calm winds. A Boreal Owl called just west of the Cameron Pass' Summit (Jackson County).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 18, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made it back to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County). Temperatures were 50 degrees warmer than last weekend; winds however were quite strong.

I again managed to get a Long-eared Owl to respond to my recordings!

We scoped the lakes on the Arsenal and unfortunately did not find any scoters. In fact few birds were found along our 9.0 mile hike around the Arsenal.

A few Franklin's Gulls continue at Havana Ponds. The Rod and Gun Club Pond had only a dozen Canada Geese. Lake Ladora had a couple of Western Grebes and Double-crested Cormorant, not much else.

In the afternoon I sat for about 2 hours at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping to see the dark jaeger that was reported in the morning. I first checked every corner of the lake but then decided to wait and see if the bird would fly around (as I sat at the handicapped fisherperson dock). It never did. I heard later that one was seen at Aurora Reservoir (about 9 miles east). Perhaps there is just one flying back and forth?

No uncommon gulls were seen today. Perhaps they are also at Aurora Reservoir as Cherry Creek Reservoir had many boats zipping around.

The grebe count was about the same as last Friday. The Red-necked Grebe I first reported on the CoBus blog on Friday was among the many.

A Great Horned Owl called near the amphitheater at the campgrounds! I was glad that one or two are still around the park as it has been numerous trips since my last sighting of one.