Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guanella Pass & Genesee Mt. Park

April 28, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bill Reisner, Bryan Ehlmann and I escaped to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) this morning. While winds were 20+ mph with gusts to 32 (anemometer reading at Red Rocks Park), winds were surprisingly slow at Guanella (10 mph).

Access is only from the Highway 285 side at Grant. The gate is still closed near Duck Lake. However, the 1.6 mile hike to the summit does not require snowshoes or much in the way of a strenuous hike.

Once we reached the top, we hiked toward the hill to the southeast. At the sign in box for the Rosalie and 603 trails, we headed uphill along the 603 trail. Unlike two weeks ago, we did not have to go to the top of the 603 trail.

Nine White-tailed Ptarmigan were observed walking around the snow covered willows at about 50 yards west of the 603 trail and 400 yards south (uphill) of the Rosalie Trail. Several Mountain Bluebirds added some color to the landscape!

On the way back to our car, we heard an American Three-toed Woodpecker near the closed gate.

After returning to the west side of Denver, we continued west to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson). Winds were much stronger here 20+ mph gusts to 29 mph.

A male Williamson's Sapsucker responded to my recording played by its favorite drumming "tree", the telephone pole near the group picnic area. Shortly after the male appeared, a female flew out of the woods northwest of the telephone pole.

Another pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was flying around the snag near the flagpole at the top of the park.

Other birds observed included the three nuthatch species, a Brown Creeper, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees and 4 Red Crossbills (another target bird for Bill)!

By 4:00 pm, weather was deteriorating rapidly and we returned once again to Denver.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hike Along East Side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 27, 2010

Jerry Petrosky as posted on "cobirders"

"Richard Stevens and I walked outside of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Tuesday afternoon. That's along Buckley Road between 88th and 56th avenues.

Seven Burrowing Owls were spread across four locations, three inside the arsenal, Adams County and one east of Buckley, Denver County.

Sparrows seen included in order of highest number; Lark (14), Vesper (8), Brewer's (4), Song (2) and Clay colored (1).

A Northern Mockingbird was about a mile north of 56th avenue; where paved road turns from light to dark colored. The mockingbird was first in Denver County but flew into Adams County. First of the year for me!

Raptors included 2 Ferruginous, 5 Red tailed, 2 Swainson's and 3 American Kestrels. No Prairie."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Successful Owl Search

Early April 27, 2010

Richard Stevens:

After dark on 4/26, Bryan Ehlmann and I drove up to Pennock Pass (Larimer) to search for Flammulated Owls. As expected, access is limited by a muddy and snow drifted road. We had to walk in several miles to get to my favorite Flammulated Owl spots.

The task paid off as Flammulated Owls responded to my recordings at two different locations. I can find only 7 earlier records of Flammulated Owls (and only two on Pennock Pass). In our drought years, it was possible to drive up to the Summit, not possible in the past two years.

Later, Bryan and I found 4+ Boreal Owls on Cameron Pass (Jackson). We were able to put a scope on two of them. Caution: many Wilson's Snipes are calling in the area now. Beware of the slight differences in their sounds.

Glossy Ibis at Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 26, 2010

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) around 5:30 pm.

I scoped the Cottonwood Creek Loop Wetlands Ponds. No Ibis or shorebirds were found.

Then I hiked to the new wetlands pond east of the model airplane field (from the new parking area along the main road). There were no shorebirds on the pond that has much water and little shore. Several pairs of Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal and Green-winged Teal and one American Avocet were there.

As I walked back to my car, a dog walker scared up 14 Ibis from the tall grasses east of the Cottonwood Creek Pond. The Ibis circled a bit and came to rest along the eastern shore. Upon scoping the birds, I found 13 White-faced Ibis and one adult Glossy Ibis (took a couple of witness shots showing the blue skin at the base of the bill).

While I was there, Jerry Petrosky stopped by and I was able to show him the Glossy Ibis! While doing that, a Willet also walked out of the taller grasses!

On the northeast side of Cherry Creek Reservoir, a dozen American White Pelicans stood on the eastern sand spit, which is covered in water. The only gulls observed were Ring-billed Gulls.

Grassland Birds

April 24, 2010

Richard Stevens, Bill Reisner and I had target birds of Long-eared Owls, Eastern Screech-Owls, Mountain Plovers and longspurs.

We found the owls at Jackson Lake State Park in Morgan County. Then drove up Morgan County Road 4. A single Mountain Plover was found just south of CR HH.

In Baca County, we found a single Chestnut-collared Longspur and dozens of McCown's Longspurs along CR 96 west of CR 77.

Search for the Cactus Wren

April 19 to 23, 2010

April 19

Rich Stevens and I took off from Denver at 5:00 AM for Cottonwood Canyon in Baca County. A Minnesota tour group had reported a Cactus Wren on the western rim of the canyon.

On the 300+, mile trip down we found two Long-billed Curlews along Baca County Road 10 north of CR SS.

We didn't arrive at Cottonwood Canyon until 2:00 PM. We spent the next three hours walking below the western rim and the road toward Carrizo Mountain in search of the Cactus Wren. It was not seen or heard.

Birding was excellent in spite of our unsuccessful with the wren. Birds seen included Eastern Phoebes, Canyon Towhees, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lewis's Woodpeckers, Rock Wrens, Great Horned Owls, Cooper's Hawk, Wild Turkeys and Spotted Towhees.

After sunset, Richard called in two Western Screech-Owls!

April 20

Early in the morning, we again searched unsuccessfully for the Cactus Wren. Richard wanted to visit several friends in Baca County and we left the canyon around 11:00 AM. Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows were called in with an IPOD recording played near the cattle guard about 1.7 miles southeast of the camping area.

At a private ranch, we saw two Orange-crowned Warblers, sparrows (Vesper, Chipping, White-crowned, Song, and a Field Sparrow), kingbirds (Western, Cassin's and Eastern) and a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

The rancher had a neighbor who was seeing a small red bird. We hurried over and saw a singing male Vermilion Flycatcher. It had been in Furnish Canyon for at least three days!

Back at Cottonwood Canyon, we again heard Western Screech-Owls and a Common Poorwill calling after sunset.

April 21

We gave the Cactus Wren a rest this morning and camped last night at Picture Canyon. An hour before sunrise we walked the Upland Bird Management Area and were rewarded with a Short-eared Owl sighting. The owl hovered several minutes (videotaped) over the parking lot and then flew east.

We hiked about a mile east into the property hoping to find signs of Lesser Prairie-Chickens or plains Sharp-tailed Grouse. Both have been reported to be in the area but no tracks or sounds of birds were found.

Back at Picture Canyon, two Greater Roadrunners were on the rocky cliffs along the entrance road. A Northern Mockingbird and Rufous-crowned Sparrow were around the rocks south of the picnic area.

We walked down to the pictographs, which are sadly in disrepair. A male Northern Parula was found in the flowering trees near the spring. We continued south to Oklahoma and hopped the fence just to stand in the new state for a minute.

On the way back to our car, we heard a Curve-billed Thrasher calling from the rocky cliff near the gated cave, west of the pictograph area.

In the late afternoon, we visited another of Richard's friends that lives along the Cimarron River. He had seen a male Vermilion Flycatcher 4 days prior but not since. This ranch had a pair of Barred Owls attempt nesting 16 years ago.

While here, we received a phone call reporting a Black tailed Gnatcatcher sighting at Carrizo Creek Picnic Area. After about an hour and a half search miraculously the Gnatcatcher was found working its way south from public to private property. We managed two witness photos before it disappeared down the creek.

That night, we camped in Furnish Canyon after driving over to a spot where one can stand in three states at one time. It's marked by a metal circle off Baca County Road 7. A Western Screech-Owl called in the distance!

April 22

We headed up North this morning toward Lamar in Prowers County.

A pair of Mountain Plover was found along the west side of Highway 287 at 2.4 miles south of the Washington Work Center.

Another Mountain Plover, three Burrowing Owls and two Long-billed Curlews were in the field north of CR M at 0.3 miles west of Highway 287.

Two Buttes Reservoir was spectacular this morning. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Thrashers, Turkey Vultures, a Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and Wild Turkeys were found. The highlights were a Black-and-white Warbler along the north side of the creek and a Palm Warbler below the cliff south of the "swimming hole".

Astonishingly I had cell phone service, which had been lacking most of our trip. We called in the Black tailed Gnatcatcher and received new information on the Cactus Wren. We turned around and headed back to Cottonwood Canyon.

This time we walked above the north rim from the western end of the canyon to where Carrizo Creek cuts through the cliff. We didn't find a Cactus Wren but were satisfied that a good attempt had been made.

A relaxing walk at sunset found the usual suspects. Again, we fell asleep to calling Western Screech-Owls and a Common Poorwill.

April 23

It was time to return to Denver as a snowstorm was predicted for late Friday and Saturday. After picking up Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Eastern Phoebes and Lewis's Woodpeckers for the day, we drove toward Lamar.

The day was windy and overcast. The woods behind Lamar Community College in Prowers County is always worth a look. We found a male Northern Cardinal, two Black-and-white Warblers, a male Red-bellied Woodpecker and a House Wren.

Checking in with Denver, we discovered that a Vermont birder had found shorebirds and a Little Blue Heron at Sheridan Lake in Kiowa County. We skipped the many reservoirs and good birding spots in southern Kiowa County and continued north to the small town of Sheridan Lake.

The lake behind the gas station has provided some good shorebird sightings over the years. Richard and I both got our Kiowa County Little Blue Heron thanks to visiting birder Andy Urquhrt and his sister Nori Howe!

We ended our birding trip with a stop at Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds. The usual Long-eared Owls, Eastern Screech-Owl and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were seen or heard at Hale Ponds. We didn't get a response to a Common Poorwill tape played at dusk.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Grouse Trip!

April 12 to 18, 2010

Richard Stevens:

This morning started another grouse trip. Joining me were Deb (Ohio), Deanna (Canada) and Barbara (Arizona). It was quite successful in spite of the few "kinks" thrown at us.

Monday, April 12

We started out early in the morning with a first stop at Loveland Pass (Clear Creek). Unfortunately, no White-tailed Ptarmigan were found in a two hour search. Later in the trip, we had an extra day and planned to return.

Fortunately, we were able to find Rosy Finches, Pine Grosbeaks, and other mountain species at a friend's feeder in Summit County.

As we left town, we stopped by the Blue River Water Treatment Plant; no Barrow's Goldeneyes were there. However, a quick detour to the Angler Mountain Pond added 2 male and 2 female Barrow's Goldeneyes to our trip list!

Few birds were found in Kremmling where the historical "Rosy Finch house" had taken down their feeders.

With some time to spare, we drove to Johns Lake and Delaney Buttes Wildlife Areas. Another the way we passed Walden Reservoir, which was quite birdy. Dozens of California Gulls and a few Ring-billed Gulls waded around the open water. The highlight was an adult Bonaparte's Gull in basic plumage.

We also found many ducks, two Greater Yellowlegs and a few Pelicans. The lakes at the two Wildlife Areas were frozen and snow covered, no birds were around. The road to the Delaney Buttes Greater Sage-Grouse lek was snow covered and muddy; we did not attempt to get up it.

Our birding day (but not our trip day) ended at the Greater Sage-Grouse leks along Jackson County Road 26, north of Highway 14. In total, 19 male Greater Sage-Grouse were observed displaying. No females were observed.

Unfortunately I did not end our day (should have). We (I) decided to checkout the 80 Route Lek road for grouse (Greater Sage-Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Dusky Grouse) for the next morning. When we reached the second cattle guard, snow was too deep to continue. In the process of turning around, I got stuck. It took an hour to dig the Chevy Suburban. Fortunately, we did get out (seven or eight miles from Hayden and a tow truck, I was not looking forward to walking for help. Of course, no cell phone coverage either).

Tuesday, April 13

At first light, we visited the 20 Road Leks south of Hayden (Routt). Eventually 14 Sharp-tailed Grouse arrived to "do their thing" and gave all great looks!

On the way back to Craig, a stop at the Yampa County Airport added several hundred Sandhill Cranes to our trip list!

We skipped Oxbow Wildlife Area (Moffat) and headed south down Highway 13 to Rifle. Perch Pond (about halfway between Craig and Rifle) offered views of Canada Geese, 2 Eared Grebes, 2 Pied-billed Grebes and several Great Blue Herons.

Our next stop was Cameo (Coal Canyon). No Chukar were around the first pipe gate (usual spot) but we did see many Mountain Bluebirds, a couple of Say's Phoebes and a Black-throated Sparrow.

At the second gate, we walked the gravel road, which heads uphill to the northeast and then drops down to the creek. Again, no Chukar, but we did see four wild horses (breed in the canyon) and a lone Pinyon Jay.

Finally we walked a mile farther down Coal Canyon (from the second pipe gate), again missing the elusive chukars. Mountain Bluebirds, Say's Phoebes, Rock Wrens and a Canyon Wren kept us company but were no consolation for missing chukars (now I was in my twentieth hour of unsuccessful Chukar hunting.

We abandoned the search and drove to the Grand Mesa. A stop at Powderhorn Ski Area did not find American Three-toed Woodpeckers or Northern Pygmy-Owls. A Clark's Nutcracker (lifebird for several) was "hanging around the entrance road".

My technique is to drive to the Grand Mesa Lodge and Visitor's Center to look for birds in the late afternoon, then wait until dark and return north for Boreal Owl searches.

At the Grand Mesa Lodge, dozens of Mountain Chickadees visited the platform feeder. Eventually several Gray Jays (lifebird for all three birders) also visited the feeder.

After dark, we found 7 Boreal Owls at the various pullovers along Highway 65.

Wednesday, April 14

We slept a little longer (getting up at 7:00 am instead of the usual 4:30 am, wow a whole 7 hours of sleep!). None of the three birders was going to find a lifebird at the Colorado National Monument, so I skipped it for the first time in my last 14 trips.

Instead, we went looking for Sage Sparrows up Mesa County Roads 3 and 4. It took several hours, but eventually 2 Sage Sparrow were found up CR 4 at 7.8 miles north of CR 3!

Afterwards, again with time to spare we drove into Walker Wildlife Area. A Turkey hunter had seen 3 Chukar less than an hour before we met him. We however, could not relocate the birds in a 2 hour search.

Once again abandoning a Chukar search, we decided to try Escalante Canyon (unsuccessful Chukar searches now at 24 hours). Another 2 hours was spent unsuccessfully looking for Chukar. Two Black Phoebes were seen near Pinnacle Rock (up Escalante Canyon).

Our next stop was Fruitgrower's Reservoir. Many waterfowl including many Western Grebes were on the lake. Unfortunately, no Clark's Grebes (lifebird for the group). A Common Loon was at the far southeastern corner.

The highlight however was a Sage Sparrow. After searching for hours in Mesa County, this lone sparrow was right in front of us. It was running out of the bushes and scarfing up the road kill insects along this quite busy road. When a car came by the sparrow would scurry back into the bushes and quickly return when the coast was clear. He/she was quite entertaining.

On the way to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose), we stopped briefly at Evelyn Horn's house (below the dam) and watched 5 Lewis's Woodpeckers flying around. Most likely the males chasing females around :-)

Our birding day ended at the National Park with a two hour search for Dusky Grouse; without success. We did hear 2 Dusky Grouse booming. However, they were too deep in the bushes for us to get a look at them.

Thursday, April 15

At first light, 23 male Gunnison Sage-Grouse were displaying at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek. Only three females could be picked out (the birds were a good distance from the county road).

One strange sight was a coyote walking through the lek. He walked within 4 feet of one of the displaying male and we thought for sure the coyote was going to get the bird. Instead, the coyote continued past the bird, not even moving toward the displaying grouse. Quite strange? Why did the coyote not attempt to grab the bird that was so close?

Our tour continued east. A stop at Lake Henry (Otero) found the lifebird Clark's Grebe that we looked for at Fruitgrower's Reservoir.

The many shorebirds at Lake Cheraw (Otero) included 20+ Snowy Plovers, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts and many Killdeer.

Continuing east four Burrowing Owls were counted along Highway 266 (Otero CR HH) on the way to Highway 194.

One of the birders needed a Virginia Rail for a lifebird, so I stopped at the Marsh at 1.5 miles east of Bent County Roads 16 & JJ. A tape quickly brought a Virginia Rail to the top of the cattails. Several Soras and an American Bittern also called. A Marsh Wren popped up also.

Friday, April 16

At first light 19 male and 2 female Lesser Prairie-Chickens scampered around the eastern Elkhart lek. This was in a pouring down rain, which did not seem to hamper the birds at all.

On the return to Colorado, a flock of Lark Buntings was found along the highway. Grasshopper Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, and Savannah Sparrows were also found at the same stop. Seven Long-billed Curlews were found in various cultivated fields along the trek.

Back in Colorado,

Four Burrowing Owls were found along Baca County Road M at 0.4 miles west of Highway 287. A pair of Long-billed Curlews also caught our attention.

A quick detour to Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) did not find many birds. We did see another pair of Long-billed Curlews at the intersection of CR UU and 29.

Many Great-tailed Grackles were found throughout Lamar (Prowers) while we stopped for gas and supplies.

We rushed north to Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds for a Long-eared Owl search. Unfortunately, none was found this afternoon.

Our birding day ended at a private lek in Yuma County. Unfortunately, the rancher had decided to plow the field this year (and was doing so when we visited). That ends the lek at least for now.

Saturday, April 17

At first light 8 Greater Prairie-Chickens were observed displaying at the Yuma CR 45 lek. This was a sunrise. Before sunrise we drove farther east on CR 45 and heard at least two or three additional leks that were out of view (on private property).

At the first cattle guard east of the lek that can be viewed from CR 45 (about 1.9 miles east of highway 385) we saw a goatsucker. It was eventually identified as a Lesser Nighthawk!

The day was cold and rainy as we continued north. Jumbo Reservoir (a regular stop on my tour was skipped, no lifebirds for anyone) and we continued to Jackson Lake Reservoir.

It only took about 30 minutes to find 2 Long-eared Owls (lifebird) for our group. Hundreds of Robins were just about all that was seen in the Campground area.

Heading north, we found 2 Mountain Plovers along Morgan County Road 4 at 0.8 miles south of CR GG.

We continued to Crow Valley Campground (Weld) stopped briefly for a rest stop and continued north to CR 77 and CR 96.

A Japanese tour group had just found a Chestnut-collared Longspur at 1.6 miles west of CR 77 (it was not relocate by us). A Mountain Plover was in the same general area.

In the pouring rain, we stopped at the field southeast of Hwy 85 and Weld County Road 114. We walked toward the windmill about a mile to the southeast and found 8+ Chestnut-collared Longspurs.

Our birding day ended at Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld). Just after sunset, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying south from the south end of the reservoir over CR 48 and continuing southward.

Sunday, April 18

At first light, we hiked up Reynolds Park (Jefferson) in search of Dusky Grouse. Eventually we heard two birds, however neither allowed us looks. They were along the Elkhorn Trail, just south of the old service road.

The hike was quite birdy. All three nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Chipping Sparrows and Pine Siskins were seen. Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found. A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers were a surprise.

Instead of returning to Loveland Pass for a Ptarmigan search, we decided to check if the road up to Guanella Pass (from hwy 285 at Grant) was open. This worked out well.

The road is eventually gated but it was only a 1.6 mile hike to the summit. From the summit, I searched for Ptarmigan to the north and east while Deanna and Deb hiked up the 603 trail. They found 3 White-tailed Ptarmigan near the top of the hill south-southeast of the Guanella Pass summit!

Back at the closed gate, I heard a Three-toed Woodpecker.

Returning to Denver, we stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) to see if the Golden-crowned Sparrow was around (did not see it). We did find the pair of Peregrine Falcons on the rocky cliffs south of the amphitheater. The pair of Prairie Falcons were on the cliffs south of the trading post (we observed them from the large parking area below the smaller ones around the trading post).

We returned Barbara and suitcases to the Microtel Motel near DIA airport. Deanna and Deb wanted to see a Boreal Owl so we got the idea to drive up to Cameron Pass (started at 7:30 pm and eventually returned at 3:30 am).

At Cameron Pass (Jackson County), we heard five or six Boreal Owls and got one of them in our binoculars. Another Boreal Owl was heard from the upper parking area for Joe Wright Reservoir (Larimer County).

I dropped off my fellow birders, but my birding day/night was not over. On the way home, I pass Pena Blvd at 56th Avenue. A Short-eared Owl was flying under the overpass, chasing insects, and harassing the Rock Pigeons. I could not resist and had to watch the owl for 30 minutes. He/she was still circling under the overpass when I left at 4:10 am.

Not to get any sleep in a bed, Bryan Ehlmann picked me up and I slept as he drove to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).

April 10, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Cameron Pass to scout for owls. Again, we could not get up Pennock Pass to explore for an early date for Flammulated Owls (road gated due to snow drifts).

At Cameron Pass and several miles either side, we eventually found 9 Boreal Owls.

April 9, 2010

After searching for and finding the Black Phoebe at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) this morning, Rebecca Kosten and I hiked outside of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Buckley Road from 88th avenue to 56th avenue. BTW, we could not relocate the Broad-winged Hawk reported two days ago in Waterton Canyon.

We found 3 Burrowing Owls inside the arsenal fence (Adams County) and 2 Burrowing Owls along the east side of Buckley Road (Denver County). Closest to our cars were 2 in Adams County (west side of Buckley) in the field northwest of the cement barriers across the road (about 1.0 miles south if 88th avenue).

A Sage Thrasher was 5 telephone poles south of the same barrier. It walked along the Denver County side and eventually flew to the Adams County side of Buckley.

We also observed a Prairie Falcon, 5 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 American Kestrels and a Rough-legged Hawk. The late migrating Rough-legged Hawk was directly west of the Microtel Motel (along 56th avenue).

Later we drove the DIA Owl Loop. No Short-eared Owls this evening. We did see 4 Burrowing Owls at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue and 2 Burrowing Owls 0.2 miles north of Tower Road and 56th avenue.

A Swainson's Hawk was near 112th avenue (farther north than the Rough-legged Hawk by about 6 miles. A Ferruginous Hawk was near the Burrowing Owl location along 96th avenue.

Just Another Grouse Trip

April 3 to 8, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Another grouse trip was similar to the trip that ended Friday, 4/2. Nothing new was encountered. We found all the Chicken-like Birds except Chukar. Other birding sources have stated that it is a bad year for Chukar. I have now missed them the last 18 hours and over a hundred miles of searching (in just Mesa and Delta Counties) and would have to agree that they are scarce this year (understatement).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

An Eight Day to the Grouse Trip

April 2, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Randall Whitman and I birded around Jefferson County yesterday as a relaxing day after our 7 day grouse trip. We did have a target bird, White-winged Junco which was never found.

A search of the many ponds around Green Valley Ranch did not find any Cackling Geese. Canvasbacks were at Green Valley Recreation Pond and Montbello Recreation Pond. The Snow Goose continues at Lakecrest.

We drove the roads northeast of Strasburg searching unsuccessfully for Lark Buntings. A Mountain Plover was found in the green fields along Adams County Road 64, west of Bradsbury-Krebs Mile Road.

The Golden-crowned Sparrow came to the platform feeder behind Red Rocks Park from 10:00 to 11:00 am.

We hiked to the top of Genesee Mountain Park (road closed at group picnic area). Two dozen Red Crossbills were around the group picnic area parking lot. A few additional Red Crossbills were seen along the road up to the top. It took about 1.5 hours, but the male Williamson's Sapsucker was finally observed coming from the woods northwest of one of its favorite drumming "trees" (the telephone pole northwest of the pavilion).

One final stop at Red Rocks Park did not find a White-winged Junco. We did see the Peregrine Falcon perched on the rocks at the upper parking lot. Look on rocky cliff (shorter of two at top, north face).

I passed Barr Lake State Park (Adams) on my way home. Not much there. Two Great-tailed Grackles were at the feedlot south of the Tree Nursery at 152nd and Picadilly Road.

I found my first Burrowing Owl of the year along the DIA Owl Loop at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue. Only one so far. The Short-eared Owls just north of here last week, were not observed.

Grouse Trip 3/26 to 4/1, 2010

March 26-April 1, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Friday 26

We started at Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties). We scoped the eastern and western sides of the Summit; without success. As a last resort, we drove south down toward Keystone Ski Area.

At the second pullover south of the summit (and on the right/west side of hwy 6) we stopped and scoped the eastern hillside. Tador found 4 White-tailed Ptarmigan about 20 yards from the highway. There could have been additional birds; however we did not take the time to look.

Our next stop was around Silverthorne. Four Barrow's Goldeneyes were at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Clear Creek). It was worth checking Blue Ridge Road for Rosy Finches!

We continued to Steamboat Springs (Routt) where Sharp-tailed Grouse were missed at a friend's home. In the next two days we drove over Rabbit Ears Pass five times (all during snow storms).

Our birding day ended at Jackson County Road 26, north of highway 14. We briefly saw 2 Greater Sage-Grouse (not good views as they flew across CR 26).

On the way to the motel in Craig, we checked the 80 Route Road. Tall snow drifts at the second cattle guard prevented driving farther north to the Greater Sage-Grouse and Sharp-tailed Grouse leks.

(We met a birder on Saturday that had tried to drive farther earlier today. He had a large truck, good tires and got stuck about 200 yards farther north. It was good we decided to turn around at 10:00 pm).

Saturday 27

We decided to stay around an extra day and try again for Greater Sage-Grouse (normally, day two of my trip is spent at the 20 Road Sharp-tailed Grouse leks). This morning we enjoyed better success. Seven Greater Sage-Grouse flew across the road and started to display in the morning snow storm. Later we found another group of 6 along CR 26. Four additional grouse displayed in the front yard of the ranch built on the old Coalmont Lek (intersection of CR 26 & CR 26b.

Afterwards we hurried back to my friend's home in Steamboat Springs. This time Sharp-tailed Grouse were more cooperative and allowed us good looks. (Therefore, we skipped the 20 Road leks this trip).

A side trip to Oxbow Wildlife Area (Moffat) did not find any Sage Thrashers or Sage Sparrows. We continued to Rifle and then Cameo (Coal Canyon). No Chukars were found in an hour search.

We continued south up the Grand Mesa. At the Grand Mesa Lodge and Store we watched their platform feeders. Several Gray Jays (target birds) cooperated and visited the feeders (along with dozens of Mountain Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Steller's Jays).

After complete dark, we headed back north up the Grand Mesa. We enjoyed great fortunate and found 9 Boreal Owls (2 were observed).

Sunday 28

We drove briefly through the Colorado National Monument (only needed one target bird, Pinyon Jays). The flock of 24+ flew around the Campgrounds. Several Juniper Titmice and Bushtits were also around.

Chukars were missed up Escalante Canyon (Delta) in our 2.5 hour search. We did find a Black Phoebe along the creek near Pinnacle Rock.

At Fruitgrower's Reservoir, birding was slow. We hoped to run into someone who knew where to see a Chukar; missed that also. Five Lewis's Woodpeckers flew around the tall cottonwoods below the dam (Evelyn Horn's home).

We stopped at Pleasure Park (Delta) and again could not find Chukars.

Our birding day ended at Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Gunnison). We heard a Dusky Grouse along the closed road to the East Portal. Unfortunately, we never saw the bird.

Monday 29

Because we missed two target birds (Chukar, Dusky Grouse) we decided to stay in Montrose and try again today. Our 10.5 hour search at many locations was unsuccessful for Chukar.

The most interesting search was up Chukar Road (Peach Valley). It was described as a 7 mile drive down to the Gunnison River. We made it about 5 miles before running into quite muddy roads. A walk of another mile (down steep hills) did not find Dusky Grouse before we decided to turn around. The area was quite good for Pinyon Jays as we saw 3+ dozen of them.

Again we ended our birding day at Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Gunnison). We again heard the Dusky Grouse about 50 yards up the closed East Portal Road. Another Dusky Grouse was heard (briefly seen) east of the Visitor's Center (where road was closed). This grouse was south of the south rim drive near where the hiking trail crosses the road; marked on both sides by narrow brown trail signs).

Tuesday 30

At first light, we watched 22+ Gunnison Sage-Grouse at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek.

Because we stayed an extra day in Delta County, we came up with the idea (somewhat crazy, but not my first time) to drive to Elkhart, KS for the Lesser Prairie-Chickens and then on the Wray for a morning attempt for Greater Prairie-Chickens (a 750 mile trip today).

Obviously we had little time for birding! We looked briefly for Mountain Plover; without success. We also stopped for 30 minutes at Turk's Pond; without finding the reported "possible Eurasian Wigeon".

We arrived at the Elkhart, KS eastern Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek at sunset. Thirteen Lesser Prairie-Chicken displayed nicely from 20 yards or so.

Next, 380 mile drive to Wray.

March 31, 2010

Randall and Tador Whitman and I enjoyed another great day of birding. We started at with 10 Greater Prairie-Chickens on the Yuma County Road 45 lek!

Few birds on Jumbo Reservoir and no swallows. The only swallow of our trip was a Tree Swallow observed near the Colorado National Monument (Mesa County) on Monday.

We found 2 Mountain Plover on the green field behind the Briggsdale School. One on the second green strip from the east and one on the fourth green strip from the east.

McCown's Longspurs were found up the gravel tracks north of Weld County Roads 94 and CR 63. We could not find Chestnut-collared Longspur along CR 96 or one of their favorite fields at CR 114 and Hwy 85.

Windsor Lake was a great stop. No wind, plenty of gulls including Nick Komar's sightings of 2 Iceland Gulls, an adult Glaucous Gull, an adult Thayer's Gull, and a 1st cycle Thayer's Gull.

I made a wrong turn on the way to Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) and we observed a Short-eared Owl standing on a metal post at the northeast corner of CR 51 and CR 50. Another Short-eared Owl was observed along CR 48 (south side of Lower Latham Reservoir).

April 1, 2010

Randall and Tador Whitman and I started our birding day at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County). At 5:00 am, we listened for Northern Pygmy-Owls at the western parking area, and then walked along the main road to the eastern parking area. Unfortunately, winds were measured at 24+ mph. Little could be heard and no Northern Pygmy-Owls.

We then hiked up the Raven's Roost Trail where Tador spotted a Dusky Grouse about 100 yards uphill/south of the old service road!

Our next target bird was an American Three-toed Woodpecker so we drove over to Pine Valley Ranch Park. On the way, two American Dippers were spotted searching for food on the South Platte River (along the Platte River Road).

We did not find any Three-toed Woodpeckers as we hiked up the Buck Gulch Trail past the Park Boundary Sign. Instead of continuing along the 6 mile loop, we decided to drive over to the Sedalia woodpecker site.

Here (10 miles south of Sedalia, park at Highway 67 and Rampart Range Road and walk east 0.2 miles), it took only 10 minutes to find a beautiful male American Three-toed Woodpecker! The hike is much less steep than Pine Valley Ranch Park and made the longer drive well worthwhile!

The American Three-toed Woodpeckers are along Highway 67 at 0.2 miles east of Rampart Range Road. This intersection is about 10 miles south of Sedalia. As far as we could determine, that area is national forest. The Indian Creek Office is at aforementioned intersection. Therefore, one can walk uphill into the woods to locate the woodpeckers.

With no target birds left for our 7 day grouse trip, we decided to drive up to Rist Canyon and look for Northern Pygmy-Owls. Along the way we stopped at watched the White-winged Crossbills at Grandview Cemetery (at around 5:00 pm).

The next 2.5 hours we drove up and down Rist Canyon. Unfortunately, we did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls.