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.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Accidental Five Owl Day!

October 17, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started out to bird Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County). Target birds were last week's Black Scoter and possibly a Long-eared Owl. When we arrived we were told that there was a "Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Roundup". Open time was pushed back to 8:00 am and a make swift parking area was at the entrance. They expected so many people that one would have to take a shuttle bus into the arsenal. That sounded like a nightmare, so we left.

Alternatively, we drove over to two private ranches (it was still dark at 6:00 am). At one we relocated a resident Barn Owl. At the second we relocated two Long-eared Owls. Both we have observed several times in 2009.

On the way over to Barr Lake we stopped and scoped the southern side of the Denver Disposal Site. A Short-eared Owl was hovering along side the closest mound/hill east of Tower Road. I have seen this species here three times in 2009 (possibly have passed the area at dawn or dusk 104+ times, if you want to figure odds). So before sunrise, we had three rather good owl species for our day list!

We went to Barr Lake not expecting to find any land birds this late in the season. We parked at the boat ramp (mile marker 7.5), Bryan walked east while I made a quick walk west to the banding station.

When we first arrived, dozens of Franklin's Gulls were flying in from the east. A least one Bonaparte's Gull was among them.

Surprisingly, I found quite a few birds. A flock of 7 Eastern Bluebirds were just west of the Pioneer Trail (mm 8.1). Between the Pioneer Trail and mm 8.2 there was a small flock of warblers which included 4 Yellow-rumped, an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Townsend's Warbler.

Continuing west a Hermit Thrush was skulking low in the bushes below the main road at mm 8.4.

I turned back east at mm 8.6 and birded back to the Pioneer Trail (from below the main road/trail). A Swainson's Thrush was low in the bushes northeast of the north end of the Pioneer Trail. Continuing east, another 4 Swainson's Thrushes were at mm 7.8. I do not believe they could be seen from up on the main trail; I had to walk through the woods from below the trail.

A pair of Rock Wrens seemed rather "frisky" on the rocks near the gate at mm 7.5.

Hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants flew over head (unless a flock of 80-100 kept circling back).

Bryan found a late Common Yellowthroat below the dam and a pair of Belted Kingfishers (mm 7.0). He also came upon a dozen American Goldfinches which were accompanied by 2 Lesser Goldfinches.

Next we drove to the town of Barr and hiked some of the north side of the lake. While there were hundreds of gulls along the shore at mm 4.5, we did not find any uncommon ones. Many Western Grebes were out on the lake. No loons or scoters were found.

A Great Horned Owl was in the tall cottonwoods west of mm 5.0 (our fourth owl of the day).

No Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop so we ended our birding day with a quick hike along the east side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Buckley Road, 88th avenue south for 2.0 miles). One of the Burrowing Owls reported several times this week was still there. That concluded our 5 owl day!!!

Quite an accident, but well enjoyed!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Prewitt and Cherry Creek Reservoirs

October 16, 2009

Richard Stevens:

We stopped at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) . Highlights included a Sabine's Gull, 3 Black-bellied Plovers and 2 American Golden-Plovers.

Back in Denver, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) while out getting supplies. What exquisite afternoon weather! After winds this week on the plains of 20+ mph with gusts to 32 mph, the 6 mph wind with gusts to 8 mph was a pleasurable change.

I hoped to find the recently reported Arctic Tern or Pacific Loon but that did not happen. While I was scoping the gulls at the southeast sand spit the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (Beltz, 10/11) flew in to the north side. It swam around for 15 minutes and then disappeared back west. Also during my hour stay, the Sabine's Gull (Washburn, 10/9) flew into my view. It never landed but flew back west also.

Next I walked to the north end of the road below the southwest end of the dam. I sat there for another hour. Several hundred Western Grebes swam 100 yards off shore. Also observed were Eared Grebes, a couple of Horned Grebes, 2 Pied-billed Grebes and 1 Clark's Grebe. There were 300+ gulls on the swim beach which I did not have time to drive over to and ID. I also saw a grebe that looked suspiciously like a Red-necked Grebe. It was too far away for a definitive ID.

Colorado Eastern Plains

Richard Stevens: Will Try and Summarize Trip sometime this weekend.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County

At first light I entered Rocky Mountain Arsenal and went to Richard Stevens' waypoint for Long-eared Owls. In less than 5 minutes a Long-eared Owl responded to my Long-eared Owl tape. I did not get any response when I played a Barn Owl tape.

There were no land birds at the Rod and Gun Club bird blind. Canada Geese, Gadwall, American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes were in the pond.

A Palm Warbler was found in the cottonwoods along the stream between Lower Derby Lake and Lake Ladora. I couldn't see into Lower Derby Lake and didn't take the time to hike to Havana pond.

Later I walked Buckley Road from 56th avenue to 88th avenue and back. I didn't find Friday's Fox Sparrow. A Sage Thrasher was around the Wildlife Watch parking lot. A Burrowing Owl (Stevens, 10/2) was in Denver County across from the 8th telephone pole south of 88th avenue.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cherry Creek Reservoir & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

October 2, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I started out this morning only to see if any Short-eared Owls would show up at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). At 6:15 am I parked along the main road, just west of the woods where Cherry Creek crosses under the road. Civil Twilight was 6:24 am; sunrise 6:57 am. No owls did fly by, so I walked the cattails along the road and found a Marsh Wren!

I reversed directions and walked along the main road into the woods on either side of Cherry Creek. While doing my rather poor imitation of a Black-and-white Warbler a flock of small birds appeared to get excited.

It must have been a bad imitation (or perhaps good?) as a Cooper's Hawk flew in and landed almost above my head. He called the whole time I was there; perhaps I was on his hunting grounds?

The flock included 6 Black-capped Chickadees, 8 Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a very yellow Tennessee Warbler. I watched the warbler for a minute or so, observed the white undertail coverts well. The warbler was last seen 15 feet south of the main road and along the Wetlands Trail just west of Cherry Creek.

It was such a beautiful day (at 9:00am winds 10-12 mph, gusts to 16; temperature 44 degrees). I figured it would be a wash on seeing many birds but decided to get some exercise by walking the whole 6 miles around the lake.

As expected few birds were encountered, very few if you do not count the murder of 82 American Crows at the Mountain View Loop and dozens of Black-billed Magpies at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

I did run into another Cooper's Hawk, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks and a Red-tailed Hawk. Quite a few Pelicans, a couple of Double-crested Cormorants, hundreds of American Coots, Horned Grebes and Eared Grebes were out on the water.

The highlight was two American Avocets in basic plumage at the southeast sand spit.

(It was not until later in the day when talking to Rebecca that it occurred that I had spent 6.5 hours at Cherry Creek Reservoir and not seen one sparrow. At intervals I had played a Swamp Sparrow recording at the cattails on the south side from the Lake Loop to the southeast corner; not even a Song Sparrow responded. Usually I find that playing any recording gets a response from other birds; it is as if they can not allow one bird to fill the airwaves by themselves; not today.

It might have appeared that I was trying to avoid chores back home. I had every intention of returning to those chores, (but) Rebecca wanted to go back out, eat lunch, and go grocery shopping. So, what could I do? :-)

After lunch I got the idea that instead of shopping with her, she could drop me off at 88th avenue and Buckley Road (northeast corner of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal) and pick me up in two hours at 56th avenue and Buckley (4 mile hike along the east side of the Arsenal).

This turned out to be rewarding for me (chores be cursed, they will be there tomorrow).

In the first 0.5 mile I walked upon dozens of sparrows (Vesper, Brewer's, Lark, 1 Clay-colored, White-crowned, Chipping) searching for food in the weeds along Buckley Road. The only "hoped for" sparrow missing was a Grasshopper Sparrow (which was not to be).

I had my GPS with me, but unfortunately no extra batteries. Trail marks had to be the telephone poles along the road. If I remember correctly, every two telephone poles mark approximately 0.1 miles (or perhaps not).

At the fourth telephone pole from the gate at 88th avenue I came upon 2 Sage Thrashers. They would fly south as I approached, but eventually stopped at pole # 7 (allowed me to continue alone). They did fly on both sides of the road so got them for both Denver & Adams Counties.

At pole # 8, a Burrowing Owl was in the field east of Buckley Road (Denver County).

At pole # 11, a Burrowing Owl was inside the Rocky Mountain Arsenal fence (Adams County).

Continuing South to the barrier across the road, another Burrowing Owl was seen one telephone pole south of the barrier. It was inside the Rocky Mountain Arsenal property (Adams).

The highlight of the day was at 6 poles south of the barrier (I guess I was approximately 2.0 miles south of 88th avenue; therefore 2.0 miles north of 56th avenue). A Fox Sparrow popped up out of the weeds. First it stayed on the fence on the east side of Buckley (Denver) and then flew to the boundary fence of the Arsenal (Adams).

I figured that surely Fox Sparrows have been banded at Barr Lake (Adams), but the Denver sighting could be interesting. Fox Sparrows are neither listed on the CoBus County checklists or the CFO County checklists!!! (until now)!!!

I would have preferred a red form (eastern) Fox Sparrow, but this gray form looked quite impressive in the afternoon sun. It was a "slate colored" subspecies with gray head and gray unstreaked back. "Passerella iliaca schistacea"

Finally, two additional Sage Thrashers were around the old parking area for the Wildlife Watch Area (Adams).

When I arrived at the creek crossing about 0.5 mile north of 56th avenue, two Song Sparrows fluttered about the weeds.

Quite an enjoyable hike and I arrived at 56th avenue just as Rebecca and my ride pulled up!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chatfield Reservoir and Nearby Foothills

October 1, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) to see what the winds blew in last night. Winds were still 20+ mph with gusts to 43+ mph.

A few additional birds were on the reservoir, but nothing uncommon. Waves were quite high. No shorebirds walked the shore line. If there were any uncommon gulls or terns, we did not find them.

Best birding was south of Kingfisher Bridge and east of the South Platte River. The hill to the east protects the area a little bit so winds were only 6-7 mph. A Plumbeous Vireo was along the hillside just south of the paved path.

Highlight was a Tennessee Warbler in the wind break at the north side of the pond south of Kingfisher Bridge. These trees are quite exposed and winds whipped the branches about. The bird was quite frustrating to us. We saw a warbler like bird come out to the edge of the branches several times. However, before we could ID the darn thing, it would bury itself back in the thick trees. It took almost 40 minutes before we saw the bird well enough to identify it.

Next we drove up Deer Creek Canyon Road in search of owls or a late Common Poorwill. Denver Mountain Park and Deer Creek Canyon Park were checked without any results. Nothing was heard in the strong winds.