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!