Sunday, January 31, 2010

Owling in Bergen Park and Mt Evans Areas

January 31, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Early, very early this morning, Rich Stevens and I searched for owls in the Bergen Park and Mt Evans areas (Jefferson and Clear Creek Counties). Richard is getting good at finding Northern Pygmy-Owls, although we only found two this morning. One was at a previously location, the other at a new location.

We also relocated a Three-toed Woodpecker at the Echo Lake Campgrounds. and found three Townsend's Solitaires, many Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees and Dark-eyed Juncos, various races.

Three American Dippers were along Bear Creek at Lair 'O Bear Park.

A flock of Bushtits was north of the chapel at Red Rocks Park. A Canyon Wren called from the red rocky cliffs north of the chapel. The Golden-crowned Sparrow continues to visit behind the Trading Post. Other birds here included Western Scrub-Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos and a couple of White-crowned Sparrows. There was no sighting of the Chipping Sparrow.

On the way back to the CoBus office, we found a Ross's Goose on the grass west of Lakecrest at Gateway Park.

Search for More Owls, Douglas County

January 30-31, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Rich Stevens and I spent most of Friday night into Saturday morning searching for Northern Pygmy-Owls around the Decker and Cheesman Reservoir areas of Douglas County.

We managed to get GPS waypoints on three "heard only" Northern Pygmy-Owls along Deckers Road. One of them was seen flying across our spotlight, but could not be relocated once it landed. No other owls were found.

After sunrise, we searched for woodpeckers (Lewis's, Red-headed and Three-toed) around Cheesman Reservoir. Two Three-toed Woodpeckers were found along Cheesman Canyon trail. We struck out on the other two woodpeckers.

We stopped briefly at the Lewis's Woodpecker site near Louviers. The Lewis's Woodpeckers did not show up in our 30-minute stay.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Back at 88th Avenue & South Platte River, Adams County

January 29, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann and I went over to Colorado Blvd and 88th Avenue to scout for ducks for the DFO Trip tomorrow.

In spite of nighttime lows in the middle 20 degrees, lakes are starting to open up. It was much easier to find the ducks when they were restricted to small pools of water in the snow and ice covered lakes.

The three Long-tailed Ducks were along the southern ice line at the Northern West Gravel Lakes.

We first checked East Gravel Lake and found no Long-tailed Ducks. East Gravel Lake did have three species of mergansers, a few Ruddy Ducks and a Redhead (along with the usually many Common Goldeneyes, American Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, etc).

A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was with many ducks on the South Platte River (north of the green/white tower). A first year male Barrow's Goldeneye was on Tani Reservoir. A first year Bald Eagle stood on the ice watching the many ducks and gulls at the southern end of Tani.

We walked north of 88th Avenue and found a Prairie Falcon watching the 88th Avenue Open Space Pond (a.k.a. Coley Gravel Pit).

At Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue (Bromley Road), about 18 Great-tailed Grackles were at the first house south of the tree nursery (around 3:00 pm). At 5:05 pm, they had moved to the tall cottonwoods along 152nd, just east of the Nursery.

Under the "wolf moon" (first full moon of the new year when the moon is 31,300+ miles closer to earth than any other time of the year and larger and brighter), no Short-eared Owls were found when the DIA Owl Loop was driven after sunset.

Search for Pygmy Owls

January 28, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann;

Rich Stevens and I were determined to get a Northern Pygmy Owl photo today. By the way, we didn't. Driving up and down Harold Holt's favorite Pygmy Owl road three times before sunrise didn't work.

At Reynolds Park, a Northern Pygmy-Owl called along the Songbird Trail at about halfway between the two parking lots. It called twice for about eight hoots each time, but heck if we could find it. A Dusky Grouse was seen walking the forest tree line south of the clearing behind the Elkhorn Trail at the western parking lot.

At Pine Valley Ranch Park, a Pygmy Owl called east of the Parkview switchbacks. Again, both of us looked at every tree but couldn't find the little bird. Rich found a Three-toed Woodpecker up the hill south of Pine Lake.

We scouted for tomorrow's trip to Guanella Pass and found that we couldn't get close enough to the top for a try on snowshoes to reach the summit. It would have been at least an eight-mile trip. No Pygmy Owls called at about a dozen stops around Grant.

Finally, we tried Mount Falcon Park. Not a sign was found of any Pygmy Owls or Dusky Grouse. The underbrush that offered shelter for Dusky Grouse has been mostly cleared away. We did find the highlight of the day when a Northern Goshawk flew from the northern woods, down the long open field below the overlook.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt: Search for a Wren

January 27, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I drove over to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson County) to look for the "wren" species reported yesterday by Paula Hansley.

In the morning, few birds were moving about the creek along the "tree bridge trail".

I made the short detour over to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). The Golden-crowned Sparrow was under the platform feeder behind the Trading Post. The Chipping Sparrow was a no show.

I returned to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt where an adult Bald Eagle was standing sentinel over Prospect Pond. As I walked up the "tree bridge trail" a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Song Sparrows, many Dark-eyed Juncos and a Spotted Towhee were encountered.

Two Cedar Waxwings came down for a drink at the creek between the wooden boardwalk and sign "restoration area".

Finally, I heard a wren in the same area. However, in my two hour stay, it never came out of the thicker brush. My thoughts: 1. it sounded like a Winter Wren not a Marsh Wren. 2. I played a recording; the wren responded but did not come out of the brush. Marsh Wrens are not shy and usually approach a recording while Winter Wrens are quite shy. To me, this indicates the bird was likely a Winter Wren. However, having not seen the bird, I will not report it as such.

I continued my walk and found a White-throated Sparrow below the hillside, west of the "warbler area" of the tree bridge trail. I also found an Eastern Screech-Owl at its usual spot (which I prefer to not list to prevent further disturbance to the owl).

I have not been birding Wheat Ridge Greenbelt much in 2010 or late 2009. It is a shame what they are doing to one of the past "five best birding locations" in Colorado. More than half of the old tall cottonwoods have been cut down. Many additional cottonwoods are marked to suffer the same fate.

Another Search of Long-tailed Ducks in Adams County

January 25, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I returned to the South Platte River at 88th avenue to try and solve the minor mystery of how many Long-tailed Ducks are wintering there?

This morning two Long-tailed Ducks were back on the northern West Gravel Lakes, both appear to be juveniles. One of these had disappeared for a day or two and returned this weekend. Southern West Gravel Lake had been frozen, so I never walked down to see if it had opened up and provided a place for one of the juvenile Long-tailed Ducks to feed.

The adult female Long-tailed Duck was this morning on East Gravel Lake. In the five times I have looked, she has always been here. Perhaps others have seen her move?

I suggest anyone searching for the Long-tailed Ducks to provide or at least guess at an age. There is no penalty for being incorrect. If there is a fourth Long-tailed Duck I would like to pin it down.

The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was again on the Platte River within 50 yards of the green and white tower. Another male Barrow's Goldeneye was on East Gravel Lake.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Return to 88th Avenue and the South Platte River

January 25, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I returned to the South Platte River at 88th avenue (Adams County) to try and solve the minor mystery of how many Long-tailed Ducks are wintering there?

This morning two Long-tailed Ducks were back on the northern West Gravel Lakes, both appear to be juveniles. One of these had disappeared for a day or two and returned this weekend. Southern West Gravel Lake had been frozen, so I never walked down to see if it had opened up and provided a place for one of the juvenile Long-tailed Ducks to feed.

The adult female Long-tailed Duck was this morning on East Gravel Lake. In the five times I have looked, she has always been here. Perhaps others have seen her move?

I suggest anyone searching for the Long-tailed Ducks to provide or at least guess at an age. There is no penalty for being incorrect. If there is a fourth Long-tailed Duck I would like to pin it down.

The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes were again on the Platte River within 50 yards of the green and white tower. Another male Barrow's Goldeneye was on East Gravel Lake.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jackson Reservoir and Some Morgan County Birding

January 24, 2010

Richard Stevens:

For the third day in a row, weather (wind and snow) has prevented us from trying for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass. Instead, three of us drove to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). Winds were 20+ mph with gusts measuring 38+ mph.

Not the best conditions to find any birds. We did find a couple of Lapland Longspurs within 3 miles north of Jackson Wildlife Area. An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard somewhere along the western side of Jackson Reservoir (around the Campgrounds).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Search for Owls in Boulder County

January 23, 2010

Gary Weston: Rich Stevens and I planned to search for owls most of the day in Boulder County.

We started about an hour before civil twilight at Meadows Park in Lyons; no owls. Northern Pygmy-Owls have nested in the area in past years.

No Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at Fawnbrook Inn. Just after sunrise, all three species of Rosy Finches came to the feeders. An equal mix of Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy Finches and 2 Black Rosy Finches were seen among 60 Rosy Finches.

The feeders at Fawnbrook Inn also attracted Pine Siskins, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Steller's Jays, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees.

At Wild Basin, we walked into Copeland Lake, found few birds. As expected, the lake was frozen and snow covered. We heard no woodpeckers and saw no birds along the creek below the road.

Back South in Ward, we found 14 Evening Grosbeaks and a pair of Pine Grosbeaks.

We went only a little ways up the road to Brainard Lake. A most likely Northern Goshawk had flown across the road. During the stop, Richard heard and later found a Three-toed Woodpecker.

A drive around Nederland didn't find many birds other than Crows and Common Ravens. We were not able to locate any feeders. Winds were very strong 35+ mph. Barker Reservoir was of course frozen and snow covered.

We took Highway 119 to Rollinsville again searching for Rosy Finches. But none were found. Richard had three locations of previous Pygmy Owl sightings. No owls were found.

Returning to Nederland for a late lunch, we took highway 72 to Gross Reservoir. Again three owl locations were checked, no owls.

On the way to the northeast corner of Gross Reservoir a flock of 16 Red Crossbills caught our eye. We continued when no White-winged Crossbills were found.

The subdivision at the northeast corner of Gross was driven through and we found a flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings. Unfortunately no Bohemian Waxwings were among them.

We again reversed directions and headed back south to the ranger's home at the southeast corner of Gross Reservoir. We hiked both the south and east side roads this time finding a Northern Pygmy-Owl about 500 yards west of the ranger's home!

From there we followed highway 72 to White Ranch Open Space. Finding no Pygmy Owls at two previous locations, we returned to Denver.

South Platte River at 88th Avenue, Adams County

January 21, 2010

Gary Weston: Rich Stevens and I looked for a place to walk around this morning.

First, we counted birds at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area. A few Northern Flickers, a pair of Black-capped Chickadees, dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos, one Great Horned Owl and 5+ Long-eared Owls were on the list.

At the S. Platte River at 88th Avenue: male and female Barrow's Goldeneyes and a female Long-tailed Duck on East Gravel Lakes were among many ducks. All three merganser species were counted. Ruddy Ducks, Redheads and a Canvasback were the highlighted ducks. Few gulls anywhere but Tani Reservoir where most were Ring-billed, four Herring, and one California.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Owls and Woodpeckers, Jefferson County

January 20, 2010

Richard Stevens:

We had planned on going to Summit County for Rosy Finches and then Clear Creek County for White-tailed Ptarmigan. Predicted snowstorms caused a change in plans. Instead, we drove up Highway 285 to visit Reynolds Park and Pine Valley Ranch Park.

No Northern Pygmy-Owls were found in a 2 hour search. The area around the main parking area was checked. We then walked along South Foxton Road, again missing Northern Pygmy-Owls.

The Oxen Draw trail looked to icy and snow covered to hike the 0.9 miles up to the Eagle View and Raven's Roost trails (best location for Three-toed Woodpeckers), instead we drove over to Pine Valley Ranch Park.

Along the way, we stopped several times and finally found an American Dipper along the South Platte River Road.

At Pine Valley Ranch Park, we hiked the loop: Pine Lake to Buck Gulch to Strawberry Jack to Parkview trails. An American Three-toed Woodpecker was below (north) of the Strawberry Jack trail at about 200 yards west of the Parkview Trail.

Again, I was able to get a Northern Pygmy-Owl to answer my recordings (east of the Parkview trail switchbacks). Again, we were not able to see it.

Once back off the mountain we walked the Pine Loop (missed pygmy owl around Buck Gulch, found by M. Brown on Monday) and then crossed over to the Narrow Railroad Trail. No Northern Pygmy-Owls were found along the Narrow Railroad trail either.

We passed by Reynolds Park and again could not locate any Northern Pygmy-Owls.

Pawnee National Grasslands and Weld County

January 19, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Three of us went up to Pawnee National Grasslands to search for longspurs.

On the way, we stopped at 88th avenue and the South Platte River. We found a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Platte River below the green and white tower. The female Long-tailed Duck was still on East Gravel Lakes.

A pair of Lapland Longspurs was found in a flock of 250+ Horned Larks along Weld County Road 77 north of Crow Valley Campgrounds. The campgrounds themselves were almost void of birds. I think we had one Northern Flicker and one Blue Jay.

No owls were found at the campgrounds, Briggsdale Cemetery or the Washington Work Center.

Our raptor count was quite good as we found Rough-legged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, a Ferruginous Hawk, 2 Prairie Falcons, American Kestrels and Northern Harriers.

Our birding day ended at Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld). Just after sunset a pair of Short-eared Owls flew over the cattails north of County Road 48 (south of Lower Latham Reservoir).

Another Boreal Owl Search

January 17, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I had promised feet yesterday that I would not wear shoes today; sorry feet, it did not work out.

Tomas Swardson and I went over to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area. We arrived early before sunrise hoping that we would beat any hunters planning on duck and goose hunts. No hunters had shown up and we had no problems relocating 6 Long-eared Owls. Most were in the windbreak between ponds seven and eight.

Our next stop was the South Platte River at 88th avenue. Long-tailed Ducks were relocated on the northern West Gravel Lake and East Gravel Lake. The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was still on East Gravel Lake.

It is a great place to study waterfowl especially when nearby lakes and ponds are frozen. Just about any ducks that winter in Colorado can be found on the South Platte River or the few open water holes on the East and West Gravel Lakes.

Our trek continued north and we stopped at the Kodak Watchable Wildlife Area (Weld). It took only 15 minutes to locate the immature Red-shouldered Hawk as we walked the bike path on the north side of the Poudre River.

As a last minute decision, we decided to drive up to Cameron Pass (Jackson County) and search for Boreal Owls. Along the way, we stopped at Grandview Cemetery (Larimer). We found the pair of White-winged Crossbills near the southern end of the cemetery. Other birds: Brown Creepers, White-breasted Nuthatches and a Red-breasted Nuthatch.

When we arrived at Cameron Pass, winds were 40+ mph. It was impossible to hear and no Boreal Owls were found in a 3 hour search.

January 18, 2009

Tomas Swardson and I got out early and searched for Greater Sage-Grouse along Jackson County Road 26. There were plenty of tracks, no birds.

Later we found 11 Sharp-tailed Grouse in the Steamboat area (Routt). Attempts to get up Buffalo Pass (American Three-toed Woodpeckers) and the Columbine area (for White-winged and Red Crossbills) were turned back by blocked (snow covered) roads.

We drove around the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge area. Again Greater Sage-Grouse tracks were found, however no birds.

After dark, we again searched for Boreal Owls. Winds were less than 10+ mph and at least we could hear some birds. Eventually we got a Boreal Owl to respond to our recordings. However, the owl never came within sight.

Another Snowy Owl Trip

January 16, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Jamie Mullin and I pointed our car south before sunrise this morning.

At 8:00 pm we observed the Snowy Owl near the intersection of Prairie View Lane and.

Afterwards we searched unsuccessfully for the Winter Wren at Fountain Creek Regional Park. A Wilson's Snipe was in the area of the reported wren.

Our next stop was Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont). We found 3 or 4 Juniper Titmouse but stuck out on the Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

We stopped at Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) and found both the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull on the south marina tires.

After striking out again on the Winter Wren at Fountain Creek Regional Park (El Paso), we arrive back at the Snowy Owl location east of Hwy 24 and Elbert Road. The Snowy Owl was on a house near highway 24 and flew back to the intersection of Prairie View Lane and at 5:00 pm.

Visits to Weld and Adams Counties

January 15, 2010

Richard Stevens:

This morning I went over to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area to look for the Long-eared Owls that were reported this week.

It was quite muddy. Four Long-eared Owls were scattered in the windbreak west of Ponds 7 and 8.

I suggest walking along the windbreak and looking toward sun. Look for silhouettes of Long-eared Owls in the quite thick windbreak. Windbreak along Ponds 7 and 8 were best.

I noticed that weekends are not a good time to visit as duck and geese hunters reserve ponds for hunting. Last weekend almost all of the ponds were reserved. While it would still be possible and legal to walk the windbreak between the ponds, it would not make you popular with the hunters (who do carry guns).

In the afternoon, I met up with Jerry Petrosky. We passed 88th Avenue and Colorado Blvd while out doing chores and took a quick walk down both East and West Gravel Lakes.

One Long-tailed Duck is still on northern West Gravel Lakes. I have not heard what happened to the second young bird.

Hundreds of ducks were on East Gravel Lakes. This included the female Long-tailed Duck. Also present were the male Barrow's Goldeneye, at least one female Barrow's Goldeneye and a first year male Barrow's Goldeneye. There were many additional Common Goldeneyes than the last time I stopped!

Fremont County Birding

Fremont County Jan 13 & 14

Richard Stevens:

January 13, 2010

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and I hit as many birding locations around Canon City as daylight allowed.

A search for Northern Saw-whet Owls at Red Canyon Park was unsuccessful. However, a flock of 14 Pinyon Jays was encountered.

We missed on the Golden-crowned Sparrow at the west end of Tunnel Drive. However, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow popped out of hillside and gave us good looks.

An hour was allotted for finding a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Centennial Park. It was enough and we found one clinging to the side of a tree. It never moved for 30 minutes; we were lucky to find it. No additional Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers or any sapsuckers were found at the Holy Cross Abbey or Rouse Park.

We ran out of daylight and never made it over to Temple Canyon State Park. We did make it over to the Kodak Overlook at the Royal Gorge. A female Peregrine Falcon zoomed down the canyon about 30 minutes before sunset.

After dark (and dinner) we spent the better part of the night looking for Spotted Owls at their usually locations in Fremont County; without success.

January 14, 2010

We only did a little birding up the Shelf Road; again missing Northern Saw-whet Owls. Bryan and I went down two of my favorite caves in Colorado (Fly Cave being one of them for you spelunkers).

Not much was found at Brush Hollow Wildlife Area. We did pick up Juniper Titmouse and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Saw Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull during quick stop at Pueblo Reservoir.

After dark, Bryan & Sue and I resumed our search for Spotted Owls. This time luck shined on us. We heard one, exited our car and we able to see one perched in a tree along a county road!!!!

On our return to Denver, we passed Beaver Creek Wildlife Area and tried to see one of the Northern Pygmy-Owls heard two nights ago. Again, we found both (heard only). They stayed on the backside of the cottonwoods and just would not give us a chance to see them.

Snowy Owl in El Paso County

January 12, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I took Donna Fortney down to Colorado Springs (El Paso County). Along the way, we detoured over to Peyton and saw the beautiful Snowy Owl southeast of Elbert Road and Highway 24. It stood on a rooftop near McKittrick and Prairie View Roads for most of the morning.

Afterwards, I drove over to Fountain Creek Regional Park. Along the way, my route took me by Big Johnson Reservoir. The only gulls were 9 Ring-billed Gulls standing on the ice at the northern end of the lake.

At Fountain Creek Regional Park, I parked at the Willow Springs parking area and walked south to North Rice Pond. The previously reported Winter Wren was not near the kiosk (gazebo) on the west side of the pond. I searched the tall grasses north of the gazebo to the sewage pond; without success.

Then I walked to the east side of N. Rice's Pond and played a Winter Wren recording. In less than 5 seconds, the Winter Wren came out of the cattails and walked the swallow drainage at the northeast corner of the Pond!

I drove over to the main entrance of Fountain Creek Regional Park and walked the "warbler alley" and South Rice's Pond areas. The few birds found were Northern Flickers, Black-capped Chickadees, and House Sparrows.

Later near sunset, I met up with Bryan and Sue Ehlmann and we went owling at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area (Fremont County). We heard 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls while hiking around in the dark. Neither bird was seen.

Jefferson County Birding

January 11, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Two California birders and I searched for Northern Pygmy-Owls and American Three-toed Woodpeckers in Jefferson County today.

On the way, a quick stop at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) allowed us good views of the Golden-crowned Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow that have been visiting below the platform feeder behind the Trading Post.

We stopped at Reynolds Park and could not get any owls to respond to our recordings. Then we continued to Pine Valley Ranch Park. The route winds along the South Platte River. Two American Dippers were observed from our vehicle. After briefing exiting our car for better looks, we continued to Pine Valley Ranch Park.

At the park, we hiked Buck Gulch trail to Strawberry Jack trail to Parkview trail down the switchbacks back to our vehicle. American Three-toed Woodpeckers have been found anywhere along this trek.

Today we found a male Three-toed Woodpecker below the switchbacks along Strawberry Jack trail. I would guess about 300 yards east of its intersection with the Buck Gulch trail. Unfortunately, we did not encounter additional Three-toed Woodpeckers today.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings near the Strawberry Jack and Buck Gulch trails. This could be the same Northern Pygmy-Owl that Merlynn Brown hears and sees between here and the Buck Gulch and Pine Lake trails? We only heard our owl today.

Continuing east to the Parkview Trail, (this intersection is usually good for Three-toed Woodpeckers); we then turned north and down the Parkview trail switchbacks. Another Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings at the top of the switchbacks. The owl was quite far away and again was only heard

Return to Summit County

January 10, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Two California birders and I went up in the mountains to look for Rosy Finches and White-tailed Ptarmigan.

We found a few Rosy Finches in Summit County. Search Blue Ridge Road in Silverthorne along Highway 9, south of Interstate 70.

Half a dozen Barrow's Goldeneye were still at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

Next, we headed back east and up Loveland Pass. It took three hours. After missing them below the east side, scoping the western hill across from the first pullover south of Loveland Pass and then making the long, strenuous climb up the western side of the pass we returned to our car.

Two Ptarmigan were walking below (south) of the ragged rocks about 300 yards east and below the eastern side. At least we found some but would have preferred that they had shown themselves sooner.

My best "guess" is that the Ptarmigan wait until the day "warms" up a bit before moving around to search for food. This is usually after 9:00 am on a "nice weather day". I have found them the last hour before sunset; perhaps they are eating one last time before dark?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Red-shouldered Hawk and Trip to Valmont Reservoir

January 9, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Before sunrise, I headed up to the Kodak Watchable Wildlife Area near Windsor (Weld County). Having read about several birders had to kick up the bird and make it fly to identify it (behavior that is not typical of most Colorado birders by the way); I decided to walk the bike path north of the Poudre River.

This paid off as the Red-shouldered Hawk was found about 0.5 miles east of the Wildlife Area parking area. I watched it through binoculars for about 30 seconds and then put a scope on it. It only allowed about an 11-second look and then flew east to the next group of trees. From there it flew south and west toward the open field and farmhouse area in the distance.

The bird was relocated about an hour after my sighting and again six hours later.

On my way to join the Boulder Bird Club Trip to Valmont Reservoir (Boulder) I stopped at several places. Two adult and two 1st cycle Thayer's Gulls stood on the ice at the Parkside Center Pond (Broomfield). An adult California Gull was among 300+ Ring-billed Gulls and 7 Herring Gulls. Gull numbers are changing constantly here as the Erie Landfill is just to the north.

Next, I stopped at Erie Reservoir (Boulder). There were only 10 Ring-billed Gulls and the 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull. Probably the same Great Black-backed Gull later seen at Valmont Reservoir. I hope that I got some good photos at both locations.

The annual trip inside the Valmont Power Plant always allows closer looks at the gulls that return from foraging around sunset. This afternoon we saw the 2nd cycle Iceland Gull, several adult and 1st cycle Thayer's Gulls, the 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull, an adult and 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull, a California Gull and many Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls.

All may be possible to see from Legion Park or slightly closer from the Red Deer Road entrance to the open space south of Valmont. However, looks are definitely farther away.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Red Rocks Park & the Platte River at 88th Avenue

January 8, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Early in the morning, Rebecca Kosten and I drove up to the South Platte River at 88th Avenue. (Adams County) The two young Long-tailed Duck were still on the northern West Gravel Lake. The winter female was on East Gravel Lakes.

We drove over to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) to meet Mike Henwood who had found my lens cleaning kit at Valmont Reservoir (Legion Park) earlier in the week. We quick search allowed us to see both the Golden-crowned Sparrow and the Chipping Sparrow among many Dark-eyed Juncos and Western Scrub-Jays.

After lunch, we had to pass 88th Avenue and the Platte again. Of course, I stopped to see if the light was better for photographs. This time I was only sure of one juvenile Long-tailed Duck on West Gravel Lake. It could be that their dives were timed so only one surfaced at a time? I could not be sure there was more than one.

We walked over to East Gravel Lake to see if the second juvenile Long-tailed Duck had moved there. The adult female was there; no juvenile was found. We did not take the time to hike down the Platte River to search for additional Long-tailed Ducks or the Barrow's Goldeneyes.

At least half a dozen Great-tailed Grackles were around the cattle pens south of the Tree Nursery at 152nd Avenue and Picadilly Road. Dozens of Eurasian Collared-Doves also, if anyone is interested. One day I counted 107 Eurasian Collared-Doves around the cattle pens.

Scoping Gulls at Aurora Reservoir

January 6, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Had to get outside a bird a little, as tomorrow high temperatures are predicted to be 14 degrees with strong winds and 1-3 inches of snow.

Update: They were wrong :-) The high on Thursday (1/7) was 15 degrees. It was cold with 1-3 inches of snow. I finally stayed home and tackled my list of chores.

I scoped the 900+ gulls at Aurora Reservoir for about 3 hours. Half the time at the eastern end of the dam, the other half at the swim beach.

The adult Thayer's Gull was the only uncommon gulls (east end of dam). Although, 7 California Gulls are not common in Colorado winters. Herring Gull count was 27, the rest Ring-billed Gulls. If the Mew Gull was out there, it was not picked out among the close standing Ring-billed Gulls.

Many White-cheeked Geese, some Redheads, Canvasbacks, Common Goldeneyes (most common duck), two Northern Pintail Ducks, and some Ruddy Ducks were swimming around the cold lake.

It was freezing and after 3 hours, I headed back to my warm home.

More Wanderings Around Denver

January 5, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I cannot come up with an adjective for what a beautiful winter day Tuesday was! Temperatures in the mid 40s and calm winds until about 1:00 pm. Calm before the storm, tomorrow temperatures could be 20 degrees colder and snow predicted.

At 7:30am, I returned to Overland Park Pond and looked for the Barrow's Goldeneye around the Florida Avenue overpass. Not finding it within 50 yards north of the overpass, I walked south the 0.8 miles to the Evans overpass. Still I did not find the duck and started back to my car.

They maybe something said for looking too early in the morning. As I walked north, many ducks swam away from the near shore. They may spend the night along the near shore and escape detection as it cannot be seen from the bike path.

When I got back to Florida Avenue, the male Barrow's Goldeneye was just north of Florida Avenue (and of course, next to my car).

Next, I went over to Red Rocks Park for another look at the Golden-crowned Sparrow. As I was looking for a lazy day, I sat for an hour and watched the birds (from below the southern end of the deck behind the trading post).

The Golden-crowned Sparrow came twice to feed on the seed thrown on the ground by someone (thanks much!, I added seed later). The Chipping Sparrow came for long periods. Many Western Scrub-Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos and Spotted Towhees were there to watch also.

The Golden-crowned Sparrow had some interesting behavior. It would chase one particular female Dark-eyed Junco. Other juncos around the sparrow were not disturbed, but this one female (I watched, it was the same junco on each occasion) would be chased away from the seed. The sparrow chased it long distances along the stone wall and then returned to eat several times. I was left to wonder what was up with that junco?

On the way to 88th Avenue and Colorado Blvd, I stopped at the parking area at Lowell Blvd and I76. I picked up my American Dipper year bird and one Bob Canter sighting!

Headed next to South Platte River to see how many Long-tailed Ducks I could find (up to 4 reported on Monday). On the way over, I stopped and scoped the small open water area of the southeast corner of Tani Reservoir (Hwy 224, east of Platter River). There were hundreds of ducks including the male Barrow's Goldeneye. Also picked up my first Ruddy Ducks of 2010. No uncommon gulls were among the 400+ Ring-billed Gulls and 2 Herring Gulls.

Once at 88th and Colorado avenues, I walked the east side of the river along the fence for East Gravel Lakes. A male Long-tailed Duck was among many Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, etc.

Next I walked to the north and west end of West Gravel Lakes. At first, there were no Long-tailed Ducks; after 15 minutes, two immature Long-tailed Ducks swam from around the dam's tower. The Long-tailed Ducks would dive for up to a minute and only surface for 5 seconds. It took a while to determine how many were there. I stayed for another 30 minutes to see if the adult female would show; she did not.

Needing more exercise (not really) I walked the west side of the Platte River down to the green and white tower/tank. Hoping to find the female Barrow's Goldeneye I observed recently (never did) I found a female Long-tailed Duck on the Platte (where river is split by "island/sandbar" whatever it would be called).

Four Long-tailed Ducks! Great stop! I digiscoped all but do not except anything but witness shots as most were through chain link fence and long distance away.

Update: After reviewing the photos, I believe the Long-tailed Duck on the Platte River was the same female observed on East Gravel Lake. It did fly up and head toward Tani Reservoir and could have circled back to East Gravel Lake (just North of Tani).

I ended my birding day back at Barr Lake State Park, again missing the Winter Wren reported last Sunday.

Front Range Jaunt

January 4, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Instead of getting sleep (who wants to do that) I drove the DIA Owl Loop before sunrise. No owls. Raptor count was 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 3 Rough-legged Hawks, 1 Ferruginous Hawk and a pair of American Kestrels.

I searched about an hour for the Winter Wren reported at Barr Lake; without success. Along the canal below the dam I did find, 9 Song Sparrows, 1 Virginia Rail, 1 Wilson's Snipe and one Marsh Wren.

Then I took off for Larimer, Broomfield and Boulder County jaunt to bolster my 2010 year list. With many places to visit and only about 8 hours of daylight, I had to skip the Kodak Watchable Wildlife Area (report of a Red-shouldered Hawk). My mistake as the Red-shouldered Hawk was relocated on 1/6!

Grandview Cemetery, Fort Collins (Larimer) It took about 10 minutes to find the male White-winged Crossbill at the southern end of the cemetery. Once in awhile a quick search is nice!

Simpson Ponds Wildlife Area (Larimer) The Rusty Blackbirds have moved on to private land. I was fortunate to find someone to allow me to check it. Could not find any Rusty Blackbirds along the river or side streams at Wildlife Area. Update: Two Rusty Blackbirds were relocated on the Wildlife Area property on 1/5.

Cattail Pond, Loveland (Larimer) Drove by on my way to Dry Creek Reservoir. Did not see any Great-tailed Grackles but I did not search for them either.

Dry Creek Reservoir (Larimer) One Long-tailed Duck and 7 Greater Scaup. Had to wait for Long-tailed Duck to swim from behind the hill to southwest. Private property, no access.

Erie Reservoir (Boulder) Many gulls but no uncommon ones. A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers was year birds.

Prince Lake #2, Thomas Reservoir (Boulder) Nothing but snow covered ice.

Parkside Center Pond (Off Lowell Blvd, Broomfield) About 100 gulls including a 1st cycle Thayer's Gull. Nice looks, close to road.

Valmont Reservoir (Boulder) Spent the last hour of daylight scoping the gulls. Tens of hundreds flew in during that time. A truck drove down the dirt road and honked horn. Gulls flew up, giving good looks and landed on ice even closer to me!

I thought that at the distance of my location I would only be able to pick out large white gulls and dark ones. Two 1st cycle Thayer's Gulls flew up and were somewhat easy to ID. The 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull came in also. Hundreds of gulls were too far away to ID.

Note about entrance at Red Deer Drive. I went into office and asked what time they closed as gate is locked. One person said it was a good idea to not be in there after 4:00 pm. Another person said they work until 5:00 pm. I noticed later that the gate was locked at 4:30 pm, so it was lucky that I parked outside of the gate and walked extra distance!

After dark, I checked out some Boulder County owl spots. Long-eared Owls on private land. No Northern Pygmy-Owls, but I did hear an Eastern Screech-Owl along the South Mesa Trail (across from Doudy Draw).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Week of 2010 Birding

January 6, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Five of us returned to Denver this morning hoping to beat the oncoming winter storm; which we did!

We stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson), found almost no birds moving around and continued west.

January 5, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Eight of us conducted the Bonny Reservoir (9th consecutive) Christmas Count today. Details in February's "Colorado Field Notes".

Highlights included many owls (Eastern Screech-Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Great Horned Owl), Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Winter Wren and Common Redpoll!

January 4, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Ten of us conducted the Wray Christmas Count today. Details in February's "Colorado Field Notes".

Highlights included Harris's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinals, Common Redpolls, Eastern Screech-Owls, Long-eared Owls, Short-eared Owls and Wild Turkeys. Best bird(s) were 2 Greater Prairie-Chickens, which are difficult to get on any Christmas count.

January 3, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Eight of us conducted the Lamar Christmas Count today. Details in February's "Colorado Field Notes".

Highlights were Harris's Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinal and Short-eared Owls.

January 2, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Six of us traveled to Lamar today.

We drove roads north around the Falcon area (including Elbert Road) searching in vain for the Snowy Owl reported last week.

A drive around Rocky Ford found 2 White-winged Doves and one Inca Dove at the traditional locations.

We searched south of Las Animas at the infamous "secret bird feeding station". Nothing uncommon was found.

At dusk we searched the Upper Queens Reservoir area for Short-eared Owls; without success.

First Bird of 2010, Jackson County

January 1, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Four of us started 2010 earlier by cross country skiing in the Colorado State Forest. Our first bird of the year...........Boreal Owl! My second best "first of the year bird" ever.

On the way back to Denver, we missed Northern Pygmy-Owls up Rist Canyon (Larimer County), but added two Long-eared Owls to our 2010 list at a private ranch in Boulder County.

Later in the day I went searching for the Lewis's Woodpeckers of Louviers (Douglas County); without success. I continued to Sedalia and found one of the American Three-toed Woodpeckers West of Sedalia, 0.2 miles east of Rampart Range Road.

Few birds moved about Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The lone American White Pelican was still there. A second Pelican had been there for a day or two, but has now vanished?

The mystery of the 2nd Pelican may have been solved. The first Pelican which has been around for weeks was being eaten by a Bald Eagle on January 3rd. Perhaps the other Pelican suffered the same fate?

A few Great-tailed Grackles continue to hang around the south end of the Tree Nursery at 152nd Avenue and Picadilly Road (just north of Barr Lake, Adams County).

Colorado State Forest Birds

December 31, 2009

Richard Stevens:

This afternoon we found a few Rosy Finches at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. Plenty of Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, a pair of Pine Grosbeaks and a male Evening Grosbeak were seen.

Our search for Greater Sage-Grouse yesterday was a bust; however, we enjoyed the mountains!

Jefferson County birding

December 30, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I took two out of state birders up to Reynolds Park and Pine Valley Ranch Park today.

We heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl south of the larger (western) parking area for Reynolds Park.

At Pine Valley Ranch Park we briefly saw a American Three-toed Woodpecker up the hill (south) of Pine Lake. No Northern Pygmy-Owls could be tempted to respond to my recordings.

Clear Creek and Summit County

December 29, 2009

I took two out of state birders into the mountains to search for Rosy Finches and White-tailed Ptarmigan. We found Rosy Finches, but struck out on Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass.