Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cherry Creek Reservoir After Snow Storm

March 24, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I did manage to get out of our driveway in spite of 10 inches of snow. We drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) and had a couple of interesting bird sightings.

An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the telephone poles in the water around the southwest marina. Two Herring Gulls and about two dozen Ring-billed Gulls there also. About two dozen American White Pelicans swam around the lake. Not many other waterfowl except 57 American Coots.

Near the Mountain Loop, an Osprey carrying a fish flew over us. It was followed by an adult Bald Eagle and first year Bald Eagle trailing behind. The adult managed to get the Osprey to drop his prize in the field south of the mountain loop. The osprey circled back to the reservoir while the adult Bald Eagle landing and enjoyed "his catch".

Another Great Spring Day, Jefferson County Birding

March 23, 2010

Richard Stevens:

As I look outside at the 6-10 inches of snow on the ground (it is 4:00 am on Wednesday, 3/24), I remember how enjoyable Tuesday was. While temperatures were 25 degrees cooler than Monday, winds were still relatively mild on this pleasant day. While today, 3/24, we will most likely to stuck inside for the whole day (except perhaps to shovel snow on the driveway).

Bryan Ehlmann and I first stopped at Pine Valley Ranch Park at around 5:00 am. We listened for owls (specifically Northern Pygmy-Owl) from the lower parking area. There was not a sound to be heard.

We arrived at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County, also) at 6:00 am. Here we enjoyed better results. Two Northern Pygmy-Owls called from somewhere in the tall trees near the creek at the western parking area.

As usual, after daylight, we were not able to locate the owls. Most likely, they were still in the same trees, but quiet.

Bryan and I hiked up the Raven's Roost trail by way of the Elkhorn Trail. Luck was with us, as we observed a male and female Dusky Grouse walking across the Raven's Roost trail from west to east. They eventually disappeared down the steep hill. (Location was 50 yards south of the old service road).

We continued up Raven's Roost to Eagle's View, circled around to the Oxen Draw trail and returned to the parking area.

Other notable sightings/hearings included:

A Dusky Grouse was booming somewhere near the upper clearing along the Eagle's View trail. Our efforts to see the bird were denied even though the grouse called for 30 minutes or so. He sounded so close, however………

When we reached the junction of the Oxen Draw, Eagle's View and Raven's Roost trails, the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard. It took another 20 minutes to locate the Three-toed Woodpecker (10 yards east of Oxen Draw and 20 yards north/below the intersection of the three trails).

Bryan decided to go home and get some sleep, while I returned to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt to search for the White-winged Scoters reported yesterday by Bob Spencer.

First, I walked north of I70 to the location of the two Rusty Blackbirds that have been around since they were reported by Chavez on 3/5. I quickly found the male Rusty Blackbird about 60 yards north of I70.

The female Rusty Blackbird has not been reported for about a week now? Perhaps I have an explanation? I watched the male sun himself for 10 minutes. He then picked up several insects and walked into the thick bushes. About 10 minutes later, he returned and repeated the task of collecting insects. Again, he returned to the bushes. Just maybe, he was feeding the female? Could the pair be nesting in spite of being quite far from their breeding range? I plan to look into this further. However, how is our huge snowstorm going to affect their/his behavior?

Afterwards, I hiked from Youngfield Street (I70) down to Prospect Park where the scoters were reported. A few Redheads were on the western Bass Lake. The male and female Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the eastern Bass Lake.

No scoters on Tabor Lake. Many Double-crested Cormorants and four or five Great Blue Herons were on nests on the Tabor Lake island rookery.

Finally, I scoped Prospect Pond, again finding no scoters or Greater Scaup. One Scaup was a good candidate for a female Greater Scaup. The duck was diving quite often with only a few seconds of surface time to get some more air. I was not able in the 30 minutes I watched the female Scaup to determine its identity. Eventually, I ran out of time and had to leave.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birding in Weld, Adams and Jefferson Counties

March 22, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Another beautiful day in Colorado, temperatures reached 70 degrees and winds were mild.

Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to hit some local birding locations before we left town for a week.

Our first stop was Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County). Access to the northern property will end on April 1st. It was our last visit of the spring. Two Long-eared Owls were found in the windbreak west of Pond 7 (about 10 yards north of the sign for # 7).

Again, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks and a Great Horned Owl were found farther north along the windbreak.

We next stopped at 88th Avenue and Colorado Blvd and walked the South Platte River down to Highway 224. The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was again on the S. Platte River (about 10 yards south/upstream of the green/white tower).

The male Rusty Blackbird at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson) was quite cooperative. He flew up from west of the trail and landed in a tree along the bike path (at 30 yards north of Interstate 70). We never found the female and are not sure it has been seen in 5 or 6 days?

The male Barrow's Goldeneye was still on the eastern Bass Lake. Bob Spencer later reported a female Barrow's Goldeneye and 2 White-winged Scoters (both of which were not found by us).

Bob did relocate a Greater Scaup on Prospect Lake which I had possibly seen on 3/15 and again today (It was first reported by Todd Deininger on 3/14).

The Golden-crowned Sparrow at Red Rocks Park only made us wait 10 minutes before coming out to get some of the seed we put below the platform feeder behind the Visitor's Center.

The highlight of my day was a Williamson's Sapsucker at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson). It beat my earliest date by five days!

We ended our birding day at Lair 'O Bear Park (Jefferson). Two American Dippers were found along Bear Creek. Unfortunately, no owls responded to our recordings. Northern Pygmy-Owls have been found in past years. The habitat looks good for Northern Saw-whet Owls also.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Birding Around Denver, a Sage Sparrow Hunt

March 21, 2010

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful spring day in Colorado. The day started out cold (28 degrees at 8:00 am) but warmed up to the high 60s (with little wind).

At sunrise, I walked the swim beach area at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson County). The previously reported Sage Sparrow was already searching for food with two dozen Dark-eyed Juncos at the southeast corner of the parking area.

Unfortunately, a balloon launch company decided to launch from the same corner (the balloon launch area had snow on it, so they decided to use the parking area, which had been plowed). When the operator started the heater that inflated the balloon, the tremendous noise scared the flock of birds to the north.

Afterwards, I went on scouting for a future bird trip. I passed Louviers on the way and made a brief stop to search for the Lewis's Woodpeckers at their favorite "leaning tree". One of the Lewis's Woodpeckers was on the fir tree with the dead looking top (south of the railroad tracks).

The day was going well. Two stops and in less than 5 minutes both target birds were found! My next stop went just as well. I stopped at the American Three-toed Woodpecker spot along Highway 67 (west of Sedalia and East of Rampart Road). Two Three-toed Woodpeckers were fluttering about in the same location as my previous visit. Three stops, 15 minutes birding time; occasionally, short searches are nice.

I swung around to Cheesman Reservoir and walked highway 126 up to the green trailer. Both Lewis's Woodpeckers and Red-headed Woodpeckers have been seen in the area in past years. However, none was found today.

A brief walk up Cheesman Canyon trail found another 2 American Three-toed Woodpeckers!

I stopped at three locations where Bryan Ehlmann and I had "heard only" Northern Pygmy-Owls a few weeks ago (GPS waypoints). No Northern Pygmy-Owls were observed or tempted to come out of the woods. The many cars coming down the road did not help in my search.

On the trip home, I decided to swing by Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) and search for first of the season (for me) Turkey Vultures and/or White-throated Swifts. Neither species were found.

I did find 2 Western Bluebirds and 7 Mountain Bluebirds along Castlewood Canyon Road (near the Winkler Ranch). The bluebirds appeared to have paired up (notice, one had no mate) and had "staked out" bluebird boxes.

Two Wild Turkey were seen south of Castlewood Canyon Road (south of bluebird box 41). A few Spotted Towhees were seen in the park. The color today was "blue". Sightings included Western Bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds, Western Scrub-Jays, Steller's Jays, and two Blue Jays (in the State Park and south to the Winkler Ranch).

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) in search of the Sage Sparrow reported yesterday. I walked from the southwest marina to the Lake Loop and back. There was no sign of any sparrows. In fact, one Dark-eyed Junco was the only sighting.

The few birds on the lake included 17 White Pelicans and 2 Horned Grebes. Gulls included less than 7 Ring-billed Gulls; that was it. They all must be at Aurora Reservoir and the nearby landfill?

Grouse Trip

March 16-20, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Tuesday 16th:

A CoBus sponsored Grouse Trip started today.

No Ptarmigan were found in a 2-hour search on Loveland Pass, Clear Creek County.

Two pairs of Barrow's Goldeneyes were found at the Blue River Water Treatment Pond, Summit County.

Rosy Finches were also missed in Kremmling and the cliffs north of town, Grand County.

No Three-toed Woodpeckers were found along Rabbit Ears Pass, Grand County.

Obviously, the trip had not started out well. The day ended okay as two Greater Sage-Grouse were seen after sunset crossing CR 26, north of highway 14, Jackson County.

Wednesday 17th:

Three Sharp-tailed Grouse were seen at sunrise walking the hills at the 20-road lek near Hayden, Routt County. Later 80 route was checked out. There was too much snow to drive up the road.

The drive from Craig to Rifle was uneventful. Two Chukar were spotted at Cameo (a.k.a. Bookcliffs at Coal Canyon). The group parked at the second iron pipe gate north of the power plant. Then walked around the hill to the north and down to the wet area where the Chukar were found.

No Three-toed Woodpeckers or Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at Powderhorn Ski Area on the Grand Mesa, Mesa County. Several calling Boreal Owls were heard after dark along highway 65, south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

Thursday 18th:

The group had a good day, finding all their target birds.

Gambel's Quail were found outside the southern entrance to the Colorado National Monument, Mesa County.

While no Black Phoebes were found up Escalante Canyon, Delta County, a pair of Chukar was seen just east of the old sheep corral.

Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were found below the dam at Fruitgrower's Reservoir, Delta County.

The group ended their birding day at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, Gunnison County. A Dusky Grouse was found along south rim drive between the entrance and Visitor's Center.

Friday 19th:

The weather was poor today. Snowstorms blanketed the state. The group drove over to the Waunita Hot Springs Lek anyway and was rewarded with brief glimpses of two Gunnison Sage-Grouse.

Afterwards they drove to Pueblo where it was decided to head toward Denver instead of driving to Springfield in search of Lesser Prairie-Chickens. All participants had already seen Lesser Prairie-Chickens, so there was no lost.

Saturday 20th:

Instead of stopping in Denver, the group continued on to Wray, Yuma County. Early in the morning, three Greater Prairie-Chickens were seen on the CR 45 Lek.

Before returning to Denver, the group swung south to Bonny Reservoir, Yuma County. Weather had improved and many birds were found. Both Long-eared Owls and Eastern Screech-Owls were found at the Hale Ponds area. Several Red-bellied Woodpeckers also.

A Harris's Sparrow was seen at the woodpile along Yuma County Road 4, east of CR LLL.5.

They stopped at Flagler Reservoir, Kit Carson on the trip back to Denver. Another Red-bellied Woodpecker was seen in the woods along the east side of the reservoir.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Aurora Reservoir and the South Platte at 88th Avenue

March 15, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bill Cryder called me early (5:00 am). He had found an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Aurora Reservoir on 3/14.

Bill and I hiked down from the south side of Aurora Reservoir and relocated the Lesser Black-backed Gull. It was with hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls and 2 Herring Gulls just south of mile marker 4.5. By 8:00 am most of the gulls included the Lesser Black-backed Gull took off toward the landfill north of the reservoir.

In the afternoon, I relocated the pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes on the South Platte River. They were 20 yards upstream (south) of the green/white tower (which is about 3/4 miles south of 88th Avenue).

West Gravel Lakes Park opened today. I expected to enter the park and search for the Long-tailed Ducks that had wintered mostly on the northern West Gravel Lake. I also expected that I would be one of the few people there. In that I was greatly mistaken as, over a hundred anglers were after the fish where no one had fished since last fall.

There was no sign of the 3 Long-tailed Ducks. All three West Gravel Lakes had few ducks (less than half a dozen on each).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Wheat Ridge Greenbelt

March 13, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann and I went back out owling early this morning. At a Jefferson County Park that I have never visited before, we heard one Northern Pygmy-Owl. Directions to possible Northern Saw-whet Owl locations did not prove productive.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I went over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams). Approximately, 27 Great-tailed Grackles were still around the feedlot south of the Tree Nursery at 152nd and Picadilly Road.

The Harris's Sparrow made a brief 3 minute appearance at 4:00 pm. The sparrow never went down to the feeders. Instead, he perched high in the overhead cottonwoods. Only one pair of Dark-eyed Juncos was under the feeders. In the past, the Harris's Sparrow usually followed 20-30 Dark-eyed Juncos to the feeders.

We walked over to Lake Ladora on which were 8 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Goldeneyes, 1 American Coot and 1 Double-crested Cormorant.

Our birding day ended at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson). The Rusty Blackbirds could not be found from 5:00 to 5:30 pm. We also did not relocate the male Barrow's Goldeneye, which spent several days on Prospect, Tabor, and Bass Lakes.

Return to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

March 12, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent Thursday night into Friday morning owling in Douglas and Jefferson Counties. After a couple of hours sleep, I went over to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) for some exercise. Three birders had found 2 Long-eared Owls in the windbreak west of ponds 7 and 8. Eventually I ended up with 4 Long-eared Owls (including their two).

A Prairie Falcon fighting to fly into the 10 mph winds (with gusts to 22) ended directly overhead for a bit. A Sharp-shinned Hawk and a Cooper's Hawk were also found in the windbreak. A male Ruby-crowned Kinglet was in the trees along the southwest corner of Pond # 6. A Ferruginous Hawk flew over Pond # 13.

The open water at Pond # 6 held several Mallards, a pair of Gadwall and a pair of Northern Pintail Ducks.

Douglas and Jefferson County Owling

March 11, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard Stevens and I searched for owls in northern Douglas County. We only found one Northern Pygmy-Owl at a location near Sedalia.

We were able to relocate two of the Three-toed Woodpeckers that were previously reported along Highway 67, west of Sedalia and East of Rampart Road.

When we passed Highway 85 near Louviers, one of the Lewis's Woodpeckers was on its favorite "leaning tree".

Later, Richard Stevens and I went owling in Jefferson County. Richard met another birder earlier in the week who suggested 6 or 7 alternative owling locations. We spent the night at two of them and found Northern Saw-whet Owls (2) and Northern Pygmy-Owls (1) at county location #1 and another Northern Saw-whet Owl and Northern Pygmy-Owl at county location #2.

A Great Birding Day in Jefferson County

March 10, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Having a good birding day! At 5:00am, I walked Wheat Ridge Greenbelt from Youngfield Street to Prospect Park and back searching for owls. I searched only 10 minutes for the Winter Wren; without success.

The male Barrow's Goldeneye was with a pair of Common Goldeneyes at the east end of West Bass Lake.

At 7:05am, the pair of Rusty Blackbirds was on the island in Clear Creek at 30 yards west of Interstate 70. At 7:14am, they flew west and stopped in the trees near the bike path. Two minutes later, they disappeared.

My next stop was Red Rocks Park. I put out food and waited an hour. Dozens of birds came out to eat; the Golden-crowned Sparrow was not one of them.

Next, I went to the Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch. When I reached the top, I ran into Mike Henwood. We walked south and found the Juniper Titmouse 100 yards south of the gate for the top of the Hawk watch. Many Townsend's Solitaires, Western Scrub-Jays and a pair of Black-capped Chickadee were also singing in the area. Look for south of the ridge, three snags next to a few Juniper trees and then a dead snag nest to the junipers.

The second half of my day was just as enjoyable. Although finding two new county birds for me was nice (Jefferson County: Juniper Titmouse & Rusty Blackbird).

After leaving the Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch (Jefferson County), I headed south and east to Louviers area (Douglas). One of the Lewis's Woodpeckers was at the usual "leaning tree". It later flew to the south to the fir tree with the Hawk's nest. For the next 20 minutes, it did not move; I left.

I circled south and east and ended up on Lake Gulch Road to Castlewood Canyon Road (hoping to find the Eastern Bluebird reported yesterday). On the trip, north along Castlewood Canyon Road I found only 3 male Mountain Bluebirds and 2 Western Bluebirds (all about 1.6 miles south of the Winkler Ranch entrance).

I the field below the hill west of Castlewood Canyon Road at 0.3 miles north of the Ranch's entrance, four Wild Turkeys wandered around. No uncommon birds were found to the north in the state park.

My next stop sort of on the way home was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams). As I pulled into the Visitor's Center parking area, the Harris's Sparrow was below the western feeders. The sparrow stayed for another 10 minutes until a vehicle drove past.

My final stop of the day was Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld). The potential of the area is fascinating. Unfortunately, the lakes and windbreaks north of Highway 52 will close access on April 1 (to July 15) to allow waterfowl a quiet nesting area.

I walked about 7 miles and again tried to cover the area as much as possible. Spent over half the time at the southern sections (south of Hwy 52). Long-eared Owl count was 5 (North) and 2 (South). A single Great Horned Owl was found at both sections.

Hawks included: again a Ferruginous Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 American Kestrels, and a pair of Northern Harriers.

Exploratory Grouse Trip

March 8 & 9, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Monday 3/8:

Richard Stevens, Shawn Brooks and I started an exploratory grouse trip with the thought in the back of our minds that the trip could be cut short by inclement weather. This is what happened; but we did get in two great days of birding.

We left Denver in the dead of night and were driving along Yuma County Road 45 before sunrise. Three Greater Prairie-Chickens, all males, were already performing their 2010 mating dances. We hung around to about an hour after sunrise, but saw no additional prairie chickens.

A male and female Northern Cardinal were seen while we stopped by to say "hi" to one of Richard's friends in Wray. A second male Northern Cardinal was found at another Wray yard. Yard #2's Eastern Screech-Owl could not be enticed to come out of its nesting hole.

Sparrows were scarce at Sandsage Wildlife Area and the Wray Fishing Unit. The previously reported Barn Owl was not found.

We wandered east of Wray chasing after two Barn Owl reports. One of which was found east of Laird. A few Lapland Longspurs were found in a flock of about 250 Horned Larks.

We zigzagged Yuma County Roads east and south of Wray. Stops at previous Barn Owl locations were unsuccessful in recording any owls. A few Lapland Longspurs were found. Northern Shrike count was three.

Beecher Island was quiet. Total bird count was two Northern Flickers and two Eurasian Collared-Doves.

Bonny Lake State Park also in Yuma County at least had a few birds to watch. The north side, Yuma County Road 3 was slow. Eight Wild Turkeys walked around Foster Grove Campgrounds. Nothing unusual was found. No Long-eared Owls were found in the nearby windbreak.

Many white geese, Snow and Ross's were at the east end. A Golden Eagle soared over the dam. Birding picked up at Hale. We counted 9+ Long-eared Owls in the windbreak. There were/are probably more. We did not want to disturb any nesting attempts.

A few Song Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows were found along the Republican River from County Road LLL.5 to the western Hale Pond. Three Red-bellied Woodpeckers and nine Eastern Bluebirds were reported in the Wildlife Area.

We drove into Kansas to say hi to another of Richard's friends. He also knew a location of a Barn Owl, which of course was not there when we went to investigate.

Near sunset, we inspected two different Greater Prairie-Chicken leks. No birds were found at Yuma County Lek #2, which last year had about 20 birds at its highest. Of course, it could be too early for their 2010 performance.

Y.C. Lek #3 was not reached until 15 minutes after sunset. Here we did find a Greater Prairie-Chicken walking along the road; none were on the lek, which had 8-10 birds in 2009.

We returned to Hale Ponds Wildlife Area and had two Eastern Screech-Owls respond to our tapes.

From there we again reversed directions and headed to Cameron Pass.

Tuesday 3/9:

We stopped and listened for Boreal Owls at six stops. Boreal Owls responded at two of them. Richard has had these six stops "staked out" for months.

Thirty minutes before sunrise, Richard and I drove Jackson County Road 26. Two Greater Sage-Grouse were walking along eating the Sagebrush. We found no birds displaying or booming.

Mid morning, we found Sharp-tailed Grouse wandering around in Routt County. Rabbit Ears pass was searched unsuccessfully for American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Later we drove over to Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge but found no "signs" of additional Greater Sage-Grouse. No Rosy Finches were found in Walden or later at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

It was a beautiful sunny day in North Park. However,…..throughout the day we heard rumors of snowstorms, which promised 6 inches or more of snow. We decided to return to Denver by noon and birded a few locations along Highway 14.

After dark, we stopped at seven or eight of the Campgrounds and Picnic areas along Highway 14. No owls were enticed to answer our recordings. It was not possible to get up to Pennock Pass from the west side, Prairie Stove Road.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cherry Creek Reservoir FOS Blue-winged Teal

March 7, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Thirty minutes before sunrise, I sat near Cherry Creek where it crosses the main road at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). I wanted to see if any Short-eared Owls would show up, none did.

Later, I relocated the Blue-winged Teal reported on 3/5 by Mark Mackenzie on the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond. Most of the ducks eventually flew toward the 12 mile Beaver Pond. There was not much else moving about this morning. The Pelican count is up to 18.

Late morning, Rebecca Kosten and I went for a walk at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams). The Harris's Sparrow visited the eastern feeder for about 6 minutes. It was not seen in the next 20 minutes and we left.

Lake Ladora is mostly ice with a small open water area. No birds were there. Two Song Sparrows were flying about the southeast corner of Ladora.

Unsuccessful Search for Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Rusty Blackbirds

March 6, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I spent about 3 hours searching for the Rusty Blackbirds at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson County). I hiked west from Youngfield, north to the grainery (perhaps a mile north) and back. No sign of any Rusty Blackbirds. The area where they were observed yesterday had about 10 people panning for gold (guess they find gold now and then, or they would not be spending the day doing it?). This activity could have forced the Rusty Blackbirds to move.

It was not until just before I gave up that even saw one blackbird. Finally, a male Red-winged Blackbird flew out of the brush just upstream from the orange cone in Clear Creek. A Song Sparrow was in the general area also.

Next, I hiked east from Youngfield to Prospect Park and back. Again no sign of any Rusty Blackbirds.

Afterwards, I drove up to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson). No Williamson's Sapsuckers were found (and not expected for another month). I did see a flock of Pine Siskins and 8 Red Crossbills.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another hike South Platte River at 88th Avenue

March 5, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I needed a place to get some exercise, returned to the South Platte River at 88th avenue. It is one of the few places to see some birds during a hike. The lakes are unfreezing quickly, still most are snow and ice covered.

Northern West Gravel Lake was about 90 percent open water. Two Long-tailed Ducks were among dozens of Redheads, American Coot, and a few Common Mergansers.

I walked from 88th avenue to highway 224 and back. A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was again on the South Platte River. This time north (downstream) of the green and white tower. Most common waterfowl can still be found on the Platte.

East Gravel Lake was only 40 percent open. Hundreds of ducks including Common Mergansers, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, American Coot, a dozen Canvasbacks, etc.

Tani Reservoir was 25 percent open with hundreds of Redheads and dozens of Common Mergansers. Several hundred gulls here were mostly Ring-billed Gulls. I saw 4 or 5 Herring Gulls. No black backed or large white gulls were in the mix.

Sparrows were again scarce. Two American Tree Sparrows and two Song Sparrows were the total.

A Prairie Falcon and juvenile Bald Eagle were just north of 88th avenue.

Colder than yesterday, no wind helped, another nice winter day!

The Great-tailed Grackle count at 3:30 pm at feedlot at the first house south of the Tree Nursery at 152nd avenue and Picadilly Road was 60+! Actually, they were in the tall tree just west of Picadilly, just west of the feedlot.

Just before sunset, I parked at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area and walked along Highway 52 to the western end of the property. About 5 minutes after sunset, a Short-eared Owl flew a hundred yards or so north of me.

Later, I listened for Long-eared Owls from the northern parking area. None called or answered my recordings. It is quite a distance to where I have seen them in the windbreak west of Pond 7.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hike Around Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County

March 4, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I was at Rocky Mountain Arsenal when they opened at 7:30 am. The Harris's Sparrow briefly visited the feeders north of the Visitor's Center from 8:17 to 8:25 am. The Harris's Sparrow and Dark-eyed Juncos appeared to be quite disturbed by dozens of Red-winged Blackbirds. The Harris's Sparrow stayed in brush 8 to 10 feet from both feeders; then it stayed under the bushes about 20 feet east of the eastern feeder.

Later I hiked about 4 miles around the arsenal. Birds were scarce. A Marsh Wren was found in the marsh at the eastern end of Lake Ladora. Two American Tree Sparrows at the Rod and Gun Club Pond.

Several dozen Ring-billed Gulls and 2 Herring Gulls around the open water at Havana Ponds.

Later I walked the eastern side outside the arsenal (Buckley Road between 56th and 88th avenue). Few birds, but I got some needed exercise. Two Song Sparrows around the creek about 0.5 miles north of 56th avenue. Raptors included a Ferruginous Hawk and 2 Red-tailed Hawks.

Two dozen+ Great-tailed Grackles continue around the feedlot at the first house south of Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue (Bromley Lane).

Beautiful winter day, temps in high 50s, calm winds. Tomorrow is predicted to be cold with possible rain or snow.

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area, Adams County

March 3, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I tried to cover Banner Lakes Wildlife Area as completely as possible today. Mileage covered about 7 miles, birding hours 4.

Eight Long-eared Owls were found in three groups. Check windbreak west of Pond # 7 for two of them. Two Great Horned Owls (one on a nest) also found. The highlight however was a Short-eared Owl that flew off the ground in a lesser visited windbreak. It circled me 360 degrees before heading away. I got great looks from 12 feet!

Heading north, the windbreak at the north end of Pond # 8 becomes mostly Russian Olive trees. The trees were full of fruit and hundreds of Robins were from Pond # 8 to Pond # 11! I conservatively counted 462 American Robins!

Other birds counted included 2 Ferruginous Hawks, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Northern Harriers, 3 Blue Jays, dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos, 1 Townsend's Solitaire, House Finches and 2 Pine Siskins.

Search for Rusty Blackbirds and Northern Pygmy-Owls

March 2, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Before picking up Jacob Washburn, I drove over to I225 and Sixth Avenue. The Broad-winged Hawk found yesterday was not relocated in the woods along the Highline Canal, south of the DMV office and East 4th Avenue.

Jacob had the day off from classes so he and I went looking for the possible Rusty Blackbird at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Prospect Park, Jefferson County). A Rusty Blackbird was not found along Clear Creek from Youngfield Street (western end of the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt) to Kipling Avenue. Later we circled Bass Lake, again not finding a Rusty Blackbird.

We stopped and hiked the Tree Bridge trail without finding the Winter Wren or Northern Mockingbird. Two Song Sparrows and eleven Black-capped Chickadees were just about all we found.

Our next target bird was the Northern Pygmy-Owl reported numerous times at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). On the way to the park, we stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) where the Golden-crowned Sparrow was underneath the platform feeder behind the Trading Post.

At Pine Valley Ranch Park, I missed the Northern Pygmy-Owl for an uncountable (I have lost track) time. We continued up Buck Gulch trail to Strawberry Jack trail to Parkview trail and several hundred yards farther south. No Northern Pygmy-Owls. An American Three-toed Woodpecker was observed 10 yards north of the Strawberry Jack trail at 100 yards west of the Parkview trail.

We ended our birding day at Reynolds Park (Jefferson). No Northern Pygmy-Owls were found there either.

Another Hike along the S. Platte River at 88th Avenue

March 1, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn and I returned to the South Platte River at 88th and Colorado Blvd. We hiked south to I270 and back with a side trip along Clear Creek (west to York Street).

Two Long-tailed Ducks were on the northern West Gravel Lake. A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on the South Platte River (about 10 yards south of the green and white tower).

We did not find the Northern Shrike that I had found a few days earlier. Three American Tree Sparrows were along Clear Creek in the willows about 20 yards west of the Platte River. A pair of Song Sparrows was along the Platte River about 30 yards south of the parking area.

Many waterfowl were on East Gravel Lake (Canvasbacks, Redheads, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Coots, and Common Mergansers). We did not see any additional Long-tailed Ducks or Barrow's Goldeneyes.

In the late afternoon, I decided to drive over to Cherry Creek Reservoir and check it out. As I drove down I225, a small strange Hawk was seen perched on one of the highway light poles. I exited at the next ramp and turned back along the service road.

The Hawk flew to the small woods north of the college, north of Sixth Avenue. On closer inspection, the Hawk turned out to be a Broad-winged Hawk! I called Bryan and Sue Ehlmann and they were able to see the Hawk before it was too dark!

Cherry Creek Reservoir was still snow covered and frozen. A few Ring-billed Gulls and 2 Herring Gulls were on the ice near the southwest marina. Not much else was around.