Friday, May 28, 2010

A Windy Day at Barr Lake

May 28, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I returned for a couple of hours to Barr Lake (Adams County). I hoped to relocate the possible Alder Flycatcher observed yesterday around the banding station; without success.

There were half a dozen Western Wood-pewees between the banding station and mile marker 8.0. Two of them sang Western Wood-pewee songs. One possible Eastern Wood-Pewee (first observed yesterday) did not call and was left unidentified.

Plenty of the summer regular birds were around; nothing uncommon.

In the late afternoon, Rebecca and I walked the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal again (Buckley Road between 56th and 88th avenue). Winds were 18+ mph with gusts to 25 mph. Needless to say, this kept bird sightings to a minimum.

A few Vesper, Chipping and Song Sparrows were just about all the birds moving around. The Burrowing Owl count was a low 5 birds. Raptor count was 1 Ferruginous Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawks and 2 American Kestrels.

Another Morning at Barr Lake

May 27, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Gary Weston and I birded at Barr Lake (Adams County) this morning. The highlight was a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee. It was originally along the main road, just short of mile marker 8.0. Eventually it flew toward the Pioneer Trail. The area between the Pioneer Trail and the main road is still under water; so we could not follow.

We walked by the banding station twice (out and back). A strange Empidonax flycatcher looked similar to an Alder Flycatcher. However it never saw and did not respond to an Alder Flycatcher recording. (It did not respond to any other Empidonax recording either, but continued to Hawk insects).

We drove around to the northeast corner (Lark Bunting Lane) and walked below the length of the dam. The only uncommon bird was a Tennessee Warbler near mile marker 6.4. Several Common Yellowthroats and Yellow-rumped Warblers were along the canal.

The only thrushes were Swainson's Thrushes. A Belted Kingfisher rattled away near the south end of the canal. It past years, a pair has nested in the dirt bank overlooking the south end of the canal.

Eleven Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

Rocky Mountain National Park and Boulder County

May 26, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I searched for the many uncommon birds reported this week in the Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park area. Unfortunately, we did not find any of them.

Gone, the White-eyed Vireo at the Cub Lake Trail. Gone, the Hooded Warbler, Magnolia Warbler and American Redstart up by Sprague's Lake area. Guess they may not have been gone; we just could not find them.

Matthew Reeser Bird Sanctuary was also slow. We did not find the Bobolink or American Redstart reported on 5/25.

Therefore, we dropped down out of the mountains and stopped at Walden and Sawhill Ponds. Here our fortune was better.

At the end of the Cottonwood Marsh boardwalk, I played a Connecticut Warbler recording. Within 20 seconds, the Connecticut Warbler popped out of the brush and looked around. Better yet, it sang for about 12 seconds!

The Little Blue Heron was at the northwest corner of Cottonwood Marsh. If there are two (some have reported so), we could not find a second one.

We next circled the whole property by heading south to Sawhill Ponds, then west, north and south back to Cottonwood Marsh.

A Red-eyed Vireo and Orange-crowned Warbler were in the tallest (and only) Cottonwood tree between Sawhill Ponds 1 & 2.

We thought we heard a Least Bittern, but could not be sure. It only called briefly and not a second time. It did not respond to a recording.

An American Bittern however did respond at the west end of Pond # 2.

Continuing around, an Olive-sided Flycatcher flew about the northwest corner of the Sawhill Ponds property.

Back in Walden Ponds, a Plumbeous Vireo was observed in the tallest cottonwoods at the west end. (The trees with blooming chokecherry bushes at their base). A Plumbeous Vireo was also in the same tree.

No Eastern Screech-Owls responded to our recordings (it was still rather hot and bright out).

As we went into town for dinner, we stopped at observed at least 2 male Bobolink at the Boulder Bobolink Meadow along Baseline Road (west of Baseline Reservoir).

At dusk, I tried playing a recording at the South Mesa Trailhead. No owls responded and we decided to not hike up the trail this night.

A Trip to Northeastern Colorado

May 21-25, 2010

Richard Stevens:

May 21, Friday

Bryan Ehlmann and I were at Barr Lake (Adams County) at civil twilight. I dropped Bryan off the boat ramp (mile marker 7.5). He was going to walk to mm 6.5 (below the dam) and then return toward the Visitor's Center.

I drove to the Visitor's Center and walked south (and west) to mm 0.5 and back. Most of the first three hours of my birding were around the Visitor's Center footbridge and the Niedrach Trail boardwalk.

A Mourning Warbler was in the bushes at the lake end of the Visitor's Center boardwalk (later, Bryan was able to relocate this bird).

Many Bullock's Orioles, Western Kingbirds, and Eastern Kingbirds flew around the Niedrach Trail. The most birdy area was the willows south of the boardwalk. While watching a couple of Western Wood-pewees catch insects, the Northern Waterthrush was seen walking the water's edge.

Several Warbling Vireos were in the taller willows. A Red-eyed Vireo was spotted at mm 0.2.

I then turned around and headed toward the Pioneer Trail. A Yellow-breasted Chat sang around mm 8.7. He boomed over the many House Wrens chattering away. Another Western Wood-pewee also called here.

A few Yellow Warblers and an Orange-crowned Warbler were near the banding station. Of course, along with many House Wrens and Bullock's Orioles blabbering loudly.

Many Swainson's Thrushes were seen along the hike. At mm 8.2 (which I call Thrush alley because the thick brush here always seems to attract many thrushes over the years), I counted 19 Swainson's Thrushes, 3 Hermit Thrushes and the highlight, a Gray-cheeked Thrush. This maybe the same Gray-cheeked Thrush I found farther south last week?

Down the Pioneer Trail, the two Great Horned Owls had fledged and could not be found. Many Yellow Warblers and House Wrens gave away their positions with their singing. A pair of male Orchard Orioles was chaffering constantly with each other. I did not find a female that could have been the center of their confrontation. A Veery briefly came out of hiding about halfway down the trail.

Continuing North, I met up with Bryan at mm 8.0. Here an Oriole with a melodious song filled the airwaves. With some effort, we saw the male Baltimore Oriole up high in the tall cottonwoods. He eventually flew toward the Pioneer Trail. We were not able to follow as most of this area is still under water.

When we returned to the Visitor's Center Bryan was able to see the Mourning Warbler.

Below the dam, Bryan found a Veery and a Tennessee Warbler along the outlet canal at mm 6.7.

After lunch, Bryan and I headed northeast to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington). This was a great choice of a birding spot. Recent thunderstorms had brought many migrating birds to the area. In seven hours, we found a cornucopia of our feathered friends.

The most birdy areas included below the dam, east of the Ranger's Home, the extreme southwestern corner of woods and the extreme southeast corner of cattails and shoreline.

Mixed Russian Olive and Cottonwood trees below the dam always attract some great birds. Today we found a Magnolia Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, American Redstart, Blackpoll Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, and White-throated Sparrow.

At the southwest corner, we saw a Blackburnian Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Red-eyed Vireo to name the most uncommon.

A walk to the southeast corner added Marbled Godwits and Willets to our list. A suspicious sounding towhee could have been an Eastern Towhee. We were never able to entice it out of the cattails and brush.

After dark, an Eastern Screech-Owl answered our recordings (played west of the eastern parking area).

May 22, Saturday

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent a fantastic day of birding at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan). Eventually we would walk the 7 miles from CR 55 to CR 93 and back!

West of Logan County Road 55:

Our first Bell's Vireo of the year was found in 1 West. Several Northern Cardinals sang from 1 West to 2 West sections. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was along the south side of the Platte River.

At 2 W est we heard and later found a Black-throated Green Warbler in the tall cottonwoods trees. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from the same area.

Between 1 and 2 East, we found a Black-and-white Warbler and another Red-bellied Woodpecker.

We heard and later found an singing male Alder Flycatcher between 6 East & 7 East. Field Sparrows were below the windbreak at 7 East.

Another Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal were around the Tamarack Pond Area. A second Yellow-billed Cuckoo called east of the pond.

When we reached the eastern end, the field north of the Platte River were checked for Eastern Meadowlarks. None so far this year, but we did see a male Bobolink.

May 23, Sunday

Today Bryan Ehlmann and I checked some less birded areas in Sedgwick County.

We were rewarded with our second Alder Flycatcher sighting of the spring. It was singing just west of the parking area for Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area. When we drove up just at sunrise, an Upland Sandpiper was on a post east of the parking area. Two Eastern Bluebirds were perched high in a cottonwood tree.

A walk at Ovid Woods was slow. A Nashville Warbler popped out of some brush behind the High School. Eurasian Collared-Doves were all over the place.

A hike along the Platte River at the Julesburg Wildlife Area (south of Ovid) found 2 Field Sparrows and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. When we returned to our car, a male Northern Cardinal was singing in trees on the west side of Sedgwick County Road 29.

Later in the afternoon, we returned to Jumbo Reservoir were birds relocated included: Common Tern, 2 Common Loons, and an Eastern Screech-Owl. A male Baltimore Oriole and Cassin's Kingbird were discovered in the Campgrounds.

Red Lion Wildlife Area was even better. A Glossy Ibis had joined the Red-necked Phalaropes. Burrowing Owls are back west of the Wildlife Area.

We searched for Short-eared Owls at Sedgwick Draw; without success. However, a Upland Sandpiper on a fence post back at Red Lion Wildlife Area made up for it!

May 24, Monday

Today Bryan and I were met by Jerry Petrosky, Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten. We hiked around DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick County) at sunrise. Northern Bobwhite have been scarce ever since our great snowstorm of 2006. None could be found today; however a White-throated Sparrow burst out of the woodpile near the old dump.

At the Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop we found a male and female Baltimore Oriole (perhaps they will nest here)? A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers were at the west end of the property.

Eastern Towhees have been reported several times in the past, however we could not find any. Chimney Swifts flew overhead during our stay!

We returned to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area to pick up an Alder Flycatcher for the new arrivals. It did not cooperate and we never relocated the bird. A Bell's Vireo and Northern Cardinal were relocated at section 1 West.

The rest of the day was spent on private ranches. A Harris's Sparrow was coming to feeders at private ranch # 3. At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings!

While barbecuing back at Roger Danka's ranch (private ranch # 1), we were able to get two additional Eastern Screech-Owls responding to our recordings.

May 25, Tuesday

We decided to give Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area another go for the Alder Flycatcher. This time we enjoyed success as the flycatcher was out in the open singing away. By the time we set up our cameras however, it flew back north into the woods.

An Eastern Screech-Owl called from somewhere deep in the woods, north of the access road. As we drove out, we heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo east of Tamarack Pond. Field Sparrows were along the road in (around 7 East).

At section 1 West, we again found a Bell's Vireo (Jerry wanted to record it call, which unfortunately it would not do). A male Northern Cardinal, many Spotted Towhees (unfortunately no Eastern Towhees) and a Red-bellied Woodpecker were also there.

For the heck of it, we played our recordings at the north side of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) and again one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls called back.

We circled around to the east and could see one of the Common Loons swimming along the north shore.

It was time to more on and we headed south toward Bonny Reservoir (Yuma). A brief stop at Beecher Island (mostly to take in the history) found an Olive-sided Flycatcher near one of the buildings.

At Bonny Reservoir we stopped at Foster's Grove where a male Northern Cardinal flew across the parking area. A Great Crested Flycatcher called somewhere west of the same. Wild Turkeys (10+) walked were in the field south of the parking area.

We stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) on the way back to Denver. Birding was slow. None of the great birds found a week ago (5/17) were relocated.

Birding In Boulder County

May 20, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard Stevens and I left Denver at 2:00 am. We planned a day of searching for birds in Boulder County.

Our owling went well. We found Long eared Owls at two locations and Eastern Screech Owls at two locations. The location we can mention was hearing an Eastern Screech-Owl at Walden Ponds.

Shortly after civil twilight, about 5:15 AM, we found the Little Blue Heron feeding at Cottonwood Marsh, Walden Ponds. We thought that it would be at the northwest corner, but this was not the case.

Later a Red-eyed Vireo was found near the outlet along Boulder Creek; west of 75th street.

The Northern Parula was not found at the South Mesa Trail. Then we hiked up the Eldorado Mountain Open Space Trail where a Hooded Warbler and Three-toed Woodpecker were found last year. Neither was seen but a Red eyed Vireo was 400 yards south of the trailhead; west of the Eldorado Springs post office.

Less successful searches included Pella Crossing Park, North Teller Lake, Gregory Canyon.

We returned to the South Mesa Trail, again no Parula but we did find two Bushtits north of the bridge. A Northern Parula was found up the Doudy Draw trail; first grove of trees, west of the trail and south of the parking lot. This most likely is the South Mesa Trail Parula.

No additional owls were heard at dusk around the South Mesa/Doudy Draw area.

A Trip South of Denver

May 17-19, 2010

May 17, Monday

Richard Stevens:

At civil twilight, I could pick out the silhouette of a possible Common Black Hawk (reported yesterday by Lisa Edwards) at the northwest corner of the parking area for the Fountain Creek Regional Park Visitor's Center. When the sun rose, the ID was clinched!

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten rushed down from Denver and were able to see the Hawk around 7:00am.

Afterwards, Bryan and I were let off at the south end of the park (Hanson Nature Area) and walked the 2 miles back to the Visitor's Center.

Along the way several interesting birds were found. Within 100 yards of mile marker 16 of the trail, we found a Plumbeous Vireo and American Redstart. A Chihuahuan Raven surprised us by calling as we watched underneath it.

Continuing north, the trail opens up toward a large meadow. Twenty yards west of the bench here, a Palm Warbler was working the cottonwood trees.

At the parking area for the Duckwood Parking Area (0.3 miles south of the Fountain Creek Regional Park Visitor's Center), the trail forks. The right fork continuing straight toward the Visitor's Center while the left fork goes west to follow Fountain Creek.

Earlier I had taken the right fork by myself. The previously reported Hooded Warbler was found on the hillside east of the creek (near the first bench as one walks down from the Visitor's Center).

This trip, we took the right fork and walked along Fountain Creek. An American Redstart was found 10 yards from the intersection. Another 200 yards later, we heard and saw a Plumbeous Vireo singing.

Additional birds seen along the trail included: Black-headed Grosbeaks, a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers, many House Wrens, many Yellow Warblers and 2 Orange-crowned Warblers.

Bryan and Sue returned to Denver, while Rebecca and I planned to do some owling in Fremont County.

Rebecca and I walked the west end of the Arkansas Riverwalk (while waiting for dark for owling). Highlights included a Northern Waterthrush and Hooded Warbler east of Sales Lake.

At the eastern end of the Arkansas Riverwalk we found a Broad-winged Hawk and a small flock of Bushtits.

After dark we enjoyed success in our hunt for a Spotted Owl! This is a protected species and the exact location will not be revealed. Anyone who writes me, I can give a general idea of where to search for one. I have actually been threaten by the Department of Wildlife for disclosing any locations of Spotted Owls? I do not believe they have any enforcement abilities, however one never knows. I do believe that they disturb the owls much more than any birders.

May 18, Tuesday

Rebecca Kosten and I birded Temple Canyon State Park (Fremont) early this morning. The park was alive with birds at sunrise.

The park is known for nesting Gray Flycatchers and Gray Vireos. It did not take us long to find both species. The two best locations are the hillside to the south of the road just before it drops down to the Arkansas River and the hillside to the west as the road rises up from the river.

Empidonax flycatchers seemed quite common in the park. We also saw Cordilleran, Willow, Hammond's, and a Least Flycatcher!

Evening Grosbeaks, Juniper Titmice, Bushtits, Pine Siskins, Spotted Towhees, Western Wood-pewees, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher were found.

Just outside of the western entrance, we saw a flock of 9 Pinyon Jays. A Black-throated Gray Warbler was called from the Juniper trees. The highlight however was a first year male Summer Tanager. At first we thought it was just another Western Tanager; further scrutiny however showed the male Summer Tanager (which seems quite out of place considering the habitat).

We received a text message that Rich Miller had found a Tricolored Heron at nearby Holcim Marsh east of Canon City. Of course we rushed over and were quite fortunate that the bird was out in the open! Great new county bird for both of us!

In the late afternoon, we went up the shelf road. Similar birds were found at Red Canyon Park. A flock of 7 Pinyon Jays and several Townsend's Solitaires were seen. After dark, we had Northern Saw-whet Owls respond to our recordings here at Red Canyon Park and at the BLM land to the north (where the shelf road goes from north to sharply east, near the hunting club).

There is a large cave here (Fly Cave on BLM land) which can be entered without any equipment (except for a good flashlight).

We returned to the area of last night's Spotted Owl but could not relocate it.

May 19, Wednesday

A quick check of the Arkansas Riverwalk relocated the Hooded Warbler from two days ago. No Northern Waterthrush today.

We decided to return to Denver by way of the Shelf Road. A stop at the Crags Campgrounds (Teller) did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls (it was midday).

At Mueller State Park, we hiked up the trail for about a mile. No American Three-toed Woodpeckers could be found.

At Manitou Lake and Campgrounds we found all three nuthatches, but no owls. No owls responded to our recordings at Michigan Gulch or the Manitou Experimental Forest.

Spring Day at Barr Lake

May 16, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed a great morning of birding at Barr Lake (Adams). Winds were calm and temperatures in the low 60s (once it warmed up).

Originally, I spent 5 hours between the Neidrach trail and the boat ramp (mile marker 0.3 to 0.0 to 7.5). In the afternoon, I returned and searched unsuccessfully for the Black-throated Sparrow reported earlier around the Neidrach trail.

In the morning, the most birds were in the thick and taller willows south of the Neidrach trail. Here a Northern Waterthrush lurked along the water's edge. A Blackpoll Warbler, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, and many Yellow-rumped Warblers fluttered about higher off the ground.

Another Northern Waterthrush was in the center of the Neidrach trail loop. Quite a few Bullock's Orioles and Western Kingbirds chattered in the same area.

The number of thrushes from mm 0.0 to 8.7 (descending as one walks north; right from the Nature Center footbridge) was astounding. The thrushes were walking out of the woods and gulping down worms on the trail. I counted 19 Hermit Thrushes.

One or two Swainson's Thrushes were also in the area. Besides the highlight of watching this surprising event, I was able to watch a Gray-cheeked Thrush for about 4 minutes. While the bird did not join his cousins on the path, he did sit on a tree branch in the open for the duration.

At mm 8.7, a surprising Brown Thrasher also came out on to the path. I cannot remember seeing one at Barr Lake before (will have to look that up later).

Many Western Kingbirds and Bullock's Orioles continued to sing as I walked north (counterclockwise around the lake).

At the Pioneer Trail, I watched the nesting Great Horned Owls. The adult was watching her young, which should fledge any day now. Both were stretching their wings quite often.

At mm 8.0, a male Orchard Oriole was chasing a female about.

Another Northern Waterthrush was observed at mm 7.9. This one has been around for a few days.

My return trip to my car was interesting also. A Veery popped out of the brush at mm 8.2. An Orange-crowned Warbler and Warbling Vireo were seen at mm 8.3.

I drove around to the Old Stone House and birded those trees for about an hour. A dark morph Swainson's Hawk circled overhead for quite a while. A Black-and-white Warbler was in a loose flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers and 2 Yellow Warblers in the cottonwoods next to mm 6.0.

The number of sparrows was huge. Chipping Sparrows were in the 5 dozens or more. The 11 Clay-colored Sparrows in the brush near the low Lilac bushes was more than I have ever observed at one time in Colorado.

Lark, Song, 2 Lincoln's, a Vesper Sparrows used the thick cover to search for underlying food.

On the way over, a Great Egret and Great Blue Heron were observed at the corner of Tower Road and 128th Avenue (the Sod Farm overflow pond).

Eleven Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I walked the east side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Buckley Road from 56th to 88th avenue). Hop scotched cars and only walked one way (south to north).

The Northern Mockingbird is still around 1.1 miles north of 56th avenue. No Sage Thrashers today, the Burrowing Owl count was 9 (both Denver & Adams Counties).

Raptors included: Swainson's Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Ferruginous Hawk, 3 American Kestrels and a Prairie Falcon. Western Kingbird and Bullock's Oriole numbers have increased (not surprisingly). Quite a few sparrows (same as Barr Lake plus one or two Grasshopper Sparrows).

Colorado Big Day

May 15, 2010

Big Day: Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard Stevens and I did a big day on Saturday for the fund raising event for the Colorado Birding Society. We started out at midnight and did not end until just about midnight today (Sunday). Our plan was to hit the mountains in the dark, swing over to Coalmont then back across the northeast and end at Bonny Reservoir. With a $20 bounty on any bird that was not reported more than once on a listserve in the past month and $50 bounty of first of the season birds we continued to the Fort Lyons Wildlife Easement to bird in the complete dark for rails.

Excuse the choppy report; I will probably not list all 224 species that we found.

One minute after midnight, we relocated a Northern Pygmy-Owl first heard an hour before at Prairie Stove Road and Highway 14 (Larimer County). We continued to Pennock Pass where we relocated two Flammulated Owls (found on a scouting trip last week). A Northern Saw-whet Owl answered out tape (also found on a previous scouting trip).

From there, we continued to Cameron Pass. It took a while to get a Boreal Owl (Jackson County Side). We then had to rush to Jackson County Road 26 and arrived just in time to see ten Greater Sage-Grouse displaying. Vesper Sparrows and Horned Larks were along CR 26.

At Walden Reservoir, 20+ Marbled Godwit and 4 Willet were on the north side along with California Gulls, Eared Grebes, American Coots, American Avocets, Baird's Sandpipers, and three species of teal (Cinnamon, Green-winged and Blue-winged).

At the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center; a Band-tailed Pigeon was a nice find along with an American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming, Olive-sided Flycatcher hawking insects and 2 Brown-capped Rosy Finches visiting the feeders. Several Broad-tailed Hummingbirds also dropped by.

A quick stop at Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins: it only took 5 minutes to locate the male White-winged Crossbill in the southeast corner. A Cooper's Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk were also here.

We stopped at Timnath Reservoir, missed the Laughing Gull reported the day before, but did see a Red-necked Phalarope.

When we left the mountains, we did not take the chance on missing Chestnut-collared Longspurs and went to Weld County Road 114 and Highway 85. Picked up the Chestnut-collared Longspurs and several Cassin's Sparrows and continued east and south.

A Golden Eagle and Prairie Falcon were seen along CR 114. A male Blue Grosbeak stood on a fence post along CR 45.

Weld County Roads 100 and 57 were very good. We added a Red-eyed Vireo, Blackpoll Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Swainson's Thrush and Hermit Thrush here.

CR 96 was good to us as we picked up a Mountain Plover and several McCown's Longspurs about 2 miles west of CR 77.

Crow Valley Campground added a Plumbeous Vireo, Orchard Oriole, Bullock's Orioles, Brown Thrasher, House Wren, Black-headed Grosbeak and Northern Flicker.

Prewitt Reservoir was especially good. We found a Summer Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, Blackpoll Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Ovenbird and several resident birds.

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area was even better. We saw the most birds here; Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Field Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Cassin's Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Wilson's Warbler, and Warbling Vireo.

Red Lion Wildlife Area had a few additional birds; Burrowing Owls, Upland Sandpiper, a Black-necked Stilt, Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, and a Stilt Sandpiper.

Jumbo Reservoir added; Bonaparte's Gull, Common Tern, White-rumped Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper and Short-eared Owl (at dusk) along with swallows: Cliff, Barn, Violet-green, Tree, Bank and Northern Rough-winged.

After dark we drove south to Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds and added Eastern Screech-Owl and Common Poorwill.

That's when we got the idea to drive south to John Martin Reservoir and the marshes at Fort Lyons Wildlife Easement. Just before midnight we got Black Rail, Sora, Virginia Rail and American Bittern to call!

We did beat the other two teams for most one day species count!

Last Grouse Trip of Spring, 2010

May 9-14, 2010

Another Grouse Trip, this time with Chris Ortega, Bob Tenor and myself.

May 9, Sunday

We started our trip like most of my grouse trips with a visit to Summit County. It was getting late in the season however, we did find Brown-capped Rosy Finches and 2 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches. No Black Rosy Finches (have not seen any in a couple of weeks now).

There were no Barrow's Goldeneyes in Silverthorne at either the Blue River Water Treatment Plant or Angler Mountain Pond.

We backtracked to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) where it only took 10 minutes to find a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan. The most successful spot this year has been the hill on the east side of Highway 6 across from the pullover 1.1 miles south of the Pass' Summit.

Our group headed north and detoured east to Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand). Fortunately, a late male Barrow's Goldeneye was still here!

As we drove north through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Grand) we kept our eyes out for the Gyrfalcon that has been spotted on several occasions (however, not today).

A drive around the self auto tour did not add much to our trip list. We did see many Vesper Sparrows and a Sage Thrasher.

Walden Reservoir (Jackson) still had a couple of Marbled Godwits and 2 Willets. Many California Gulls, Eared Grebes, American White Pelicans and American Coots swam around. American Avocets were at the south end.

Our birding day ended by watching 5 Greater Sage-Grouse displaying on the lek along CR 26, north of highway 14.

May 10, Monday

At first light, we sat at the 2nd cattle guard up the 80 Route (Routt). Unfortunately, no Dusky Grouse appeared this morning. Later a drive north provided good looks at both Sharp-tailed Grouse (close to road) and Greater Sage-Grouse (quite far from the road).

A Golden Eagle flew by and the grouse hunkered down to avoid detection.

Our next stop was the Oxbow Wildlife Area (Moffat) west of Maybell. At least six Sage Sparrows came to the top of the brush in response to our recordings! Several Sage Thrashers also reacted to our recordings.

Not much was happening at the Rifle Rest Stop (Garfield) and we continued to Coal Canyon (Cameo) for a Chukar search. It has been pretty disappointing this year. Chukar have been scarce. We missed them again; I am up to 34 straight hours without a sighting.

We drove up to the Grand Mesa next. A stop at the Powderhorn Ski Area was interesting. An American Three-toed Woodpecker came out of the woods to see what the ruckus (our recordings) were causing. No Northern Pygmy-Owls unfortunately made an appearance.

Gray Jays, Mountain Chickadees and many Steller's Jays came to the platform feeder at the Grand Mesa Lodge.

After dark, we found Boreal Owls at three of the pullovers between the Visitor's Center and the Ski Area. (total of five Boreal Owls).

May 11, Tuesday

A drive through the Colorado National Monument added many birds to our trip list.

Ash-throated Flycatchers, Rock Wrens and a Canyon Wren were at the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area.

A Gray Vireo sang at the Coke Ovens Overlook.

The Campgrounds were full of birds. Over a dozen Black-throated Gray Warblers, half a dozen Juniper Titmice, a flock of 9 Pinyon Jays, Western Scrub-Jays and Steller's Jays to name some.

We gave Escalante Canyon a try for Chukar and missed them again (now up to 36 hours without a sighting). The pair of Black Phoebes was easy to see near Pinnacle Rock.

Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta) was slow except for resident birds (Western Grebes, Clark's Grebes, American Coots, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal, and dozens of swallows).

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose). We found a Northern Pygmy-Owl by walking to the overlook 300+ yards west of the South Rim Drive.

After sunset, six male Dusky Grouse displayed along the side of the South Rim drive. Two females came out to inspect the males.

May 12, Wednesday

At first light, we watched 13 male Gunnison Sage-Grouse display for 3 females at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek (Gunnison). The season is coming to an end; the birds departed within 15 minutes of civil twilight.

We stopped briefly at the Coaldale/Hayden Campgrounds (Fremont). A nice flock of 29 Evening Grosbeaks flew around the Coaldale Campground. A Warbling Vireo sang loudly. At the Hayden Campground, we found a pair of Pine Grosbeaks and 4 Black-headed Grosbeaks.

At Temple Canyon State Park we found Gray Flycatcher and Gray Vireo.

A stop in Canon City (Fremont) added a pair of nesting Curve-billed Thrashers at a friend's home. Usually we search up the Swallows Road at the west end of Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo), but that was no longer necessary. We did go up the road and found two Scaled Quail at the first turn to the left.

Unfortunately, we had to skip most of the great birding spots between Canon City through Pueblo to Lamar. Our one stop was a good one. We enticed Black Rails, Soras and Virginia Rails to answer our recordings at the marshes along Bent County Road JJ (at 1.5 miles east of CR 16).

Our final location of the day was Cottonwood Canyon (Baca). On the trip in, we found Cassin's Kingbirds and Western Kingbirds along CR M, just west of CR J.

Rufous-crowned Sparrows sang at the cattle guard (which turns out to be 1.4 miles east of where CR M crosses Carrizo Creek (primitive camping area).

Mississippi Kites and Lewis's Woodpeckers were observed as we continued to the "camping area". A pair of Eastern Phoebes flew around the old cabin south of CR M (at Carrizo Creek). After dark, we found a pair of Western Screech-Owls in the same area.

May 13, Thursday

Again, up at first light, we watched 9 Lesser Prairie-Chickens dance at the Eastern Lek near Elkhart, Kansas. Later, on the road out, we saw Lark Buntings, Cassin's Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, and many Eastern & Western Kingbirds.

Back in Colorado, we found Burrowing Owls (however no Long-billed Curlews) at Baca County Road M, just west of Highway 287/385. No Mountain Plover were found at Pasture G (across from the Washington Work Center).

Birding at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) was good. Birds found included Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Summer Tanager, and Yellow-throated Vireo. We kicked up a nighthawk that we felt was a Lesser Nighthawk. We could not find one of the resident Barn Owls either this trip.

We checked the radio tower area 7 miles south of Lamar (Prowers) for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (none nesting here yet this year).

Lamar Community College woods was slow also. There were no unusual migrating birds. We did see a pair of Northern Cardinals and a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Could not find the Carolina Wren.

A quick stop at Bonny Reservoir (Yuma) added another Northern Cardinal (Foster's Grove area), Black-throated Green Warbler (Hopper Ponds), Baltimore Oriole (south side), Willet, Semipalmated Plover, Red-bellied Woodpecker (south side). After dark, we did hear an Eastern Screech-Owl and Common Poorwill at Hale Ponds.

May 14, Friday

At first light, we watched five Greater Prairie-Chickens display at the Yuma County 45 Road leks. No females appeared.

Later we drove over to Sandsage Wildlife Area. Both Harris's and White-throated Sparrows were found. There were plenty of Chipping, White-crowned, and Song Sparrows also.

At Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick), we saw a Bonaparte's Gull, Common Tern, Black-and-white Warbler, White-rumped Sandpiper, Common Loon, Marbled Godwits, Willets, and a Baltimore Oriole. Red Lion Wildlife Area added Red-necked Phalaropes to our trip list.

We had to try several locations in Weld County before finding a Mountain Plover (at a friend's ranch, Hwy 14/CR 51 spot was not successful).

Crow Valley Campground added a Plumbeous Vireo and Blackpoll Warbler to our day list. We did not spend much time searching however.

McCown's Longspurs were all over Weld CR 96. Another Mountain Plover was found at the south side of CR 96 at about 2.0 miles west of CR 77. A Swift Fox briefly came out of its den. I have seen quite a few again this spring (considering that books tell us that they do not come out during the day, quite false in my experience).

We had to drive up to CR 114 and Hwy 85 to find our Chestnut-collared Longspur. Five of them were within 100 yards of the intersection (southeast corner).

Our birding day and trip ended at Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld). No Short-eared Owls made an appearance. The American Bittern did call briefly. Half a dozen Northern Harriers hunted over the northern cattails and fields south of CR 48.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Slow Walks Around Denver

May 8, 2010

Richard Stevens:

After driving over 1500 miles this week (in four days), I looked for a nice hike on a flat trail. (This was a short week; the past three weeks included drives of 2200 miles, 3016 miles and 3068 miles).

Rebecca Kosten and I hiked the east side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Buckley Road, Adams/Denver Counties) on this gorgeous spring day. It is about 4 miles from 56th to 88th avenue.

The final Burrowing Owl count was only 7; do not know why more were not out? The Northern Mockingbird was again seen about 1.1 miles north of 56th avenue.

We also observed 2 Rock Wrens, a Bullock's Oriole, and many sparrows (Song, Lark, Chipping, White-crowned). Raptors included American Kestrels, a Prairie Falcon, a Ferruginous Hawk, Red-tailed Hawks and Swainson's Hawks.

Afterwards, I went over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

It took some searching and finally the Glossy Ibis was found with 8+ White-faced Ibis at the Cottonwood Creek Loop Wetlands Pond. The Ibis could not be observed from the eastern side or the overlook. I had to scope below the willows southeast of the cement outlet canal.

Other birds here included; Cinnamon, Blue-winged, & Green-winged Teal, a Great Blue Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron.

At the Bellevue Avenue Wetlands area, I found many shorebirds. They included 36 Least Sandpipers, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, a Lesser Yellowlegs, 4 American Avocets, 6 Wilson's Phalaropes and a Stilt Sandpiper in alternate plumage.

Nine Semipalmated Sandpipers were there briefly and then took off circling like a cyclone for several minutes until they disappeared to the northwest.

I photographed a nesting Great Horned Owl (prefer to not write location as last year's attempts were not successful).

A Short Grouse Trip

May 4-7, 2010

Lou Mazzola and I enjoyed a successful 4 day grouse trip this week. We missed any bad weather that was around the state (hearing about snow and rain). However, winds were quite strong all week.

Tuesday 5/4

Our trip started out well. In less than 10 minutes, we found 3 White-tailed Ptarmigan under evergreen trees on the east hillside across from the pullover west of Hwy 6 at 1.1 miles south of Loveland Pass.

As we headed back north, 2 Ptarmigan flew across the road and landed on the ridge, 0.1 miles north of the pullover. We watched the pair scurry along the ridge and disappear to the north.

We checked feeders around Summit County and found many mountain species including Brown-capped Rosy Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeaks, Gray Jays, Hairy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches and Pygmy Nuthatches.

There were no Barrow's or Common Goldeneyes at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant or Angler Mountain Pond (Summit).

Therefore, we turned east and north and stopped at Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand). Quite a few waterfowl were on the lake. We managed to pick out 3 male and a female Barrow's Goldeneye for our trip list.

Other birds included Western Grebes, Eared Grebes, one Horned Grebe, American Coots, American White Pelicans, Common Mergansers, Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Green-winged Teal and Mallards.

Our next stop was the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson). We drove the Self guided Auto Tour and found many birds. Three Willets gave us great looks. A flock of Marbled Godwits added 49 birds.

A few Vesper, Song, and a Lincoln's Sparrow topped our sparrow list. Red-tailed, Swainson's and a Rough-legged Hawk were added to our rapture list.

An hour spent watching birds at Walden Reservoir (Jackson) was enjoyable. Several American Avocets were along the south shore. Eared Grebes were not far off shore.

The north side was the best. We counted 59 Marbled Godwits, 7 Willets, several Franklin's Gulls, many California Gulls, and many Ring-billed Gulls.

We explored St Johns Wildlife Area and Delaney Buttes Lakes. Found another Willet and a few Marbled Godwits. No Greater Sage-Grouse were around the Delaney Buttes lek; however, it was still quite early. I did not want to take a chance that none would show, so we headed to Jackson County Road 26.

Just after sunset, the Greater Sage-Grouse came out of the sage up CR 26. Our count was 17 males and 3 females.

Wednesday 5/5

Our first light we parked at the 2nd cattle guard up 80 Route. It was not a good memory for me as we could see the ruts from my vehicle that had been stuck for an hour last week. Fortunately, the roads were clear of snow today (however, muddy in spots).

We did not see any Dusky Grouse (but heard two). From the same spot, we could hear many Greater Sage-Grouse and Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Many Sharp-tailed Grouse were found all along 80 road. The most (14) were observed at the fourth cattle guard. This is the entrance to Jimmy Dunn Gulch Wildlife Area.

We stopped at Rifle Rest Stop (Garfield). The Great-tailed Grackles that spent years there were not found this day. The best birding spot was the northwest corner of the property.

I found a Bullock's Oriole and several Yellow Warblers. The highlight was a Townsend's Warbler!

The next 3 hours were spent searching for Chukar up Coal Creek Canyon (a.k.a. Cameo). None was found but we did see 3 Black-throated Sparrows and an Orange-crowned Warbler. Four Wild Horses were along the creek over the northeast ridge from the northern parking area.

Finally, we drove up the Grand Mesa (Mesa) and stopped at the Mesa Lodge. Dozens of Mountain Chickadees and Dark-eyed Juncos visited the platform feeder. They were harassed by many Steller's Jays. A pair of Gray Jays also made an appearance.

After dark, we headed back north and stopped at the many pullovers along the way. At three of the pullovers, we heard only 5 Boreal Owls. Winds were 30+ mph with gusts to 38 mph. This greatly hampered our attempts to see the owls.

Thursday 5/6

At first light, we drove the subdivision just outside of the eastern (southern) entrance to the Colorado National Monument. Several Gambel's Quail walked around. Unfortunately, we still could not find a Chukar.

We skipped most of the overlooks and went directly to the Campgrounds. Black-throated Gray Warblers were everywhere. There were at least 10 of them singing away.

Several Juniper Titmice also sang from the snags. A couple of Pinyon Jays flew by and gave us good looks. White-throated Swifts flew below the overlook.

Our next stop was Escalante Wildlife Area (Delta). Unfortunately, there was bridge work over the Gunnison River and we could not get into the Canyon. Therefore, I did not get the chance to add to my unsuccessful Chukar hunting streak of 32 hours in a row.

We walked along the river and railroad tracks looking for Sage Sparrows; without success. A Black Phoebe was seen flying along the river (where the river turns to the east).

At Fruitgrower's Reservoir, there were many Western Grebes and a couple of Clark's Grebes. Marbled Godwits and Willets were in the northwest corner.

A Dowitcher walked along the north side of the causeway. When it took off and called, it was revealed a Short-billed Dowitcher. The American Bittern also briefly came out of the cattails.

We ended our birding day at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose). Here, five male Dusky Grouse came out to display around sunset. Several had success and brought out 2 females from the woods to check them out.

Friday 5/7

It was going to be a long day with a planned drive of 700 miles in the works. At first light, 19 Gunnison Sage-Grouse displayed at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek (Gunnison). They did not stay more than 15 minutes after civil twilight. Indicates that the displaying season maybe coming to an end.

We did not have much time for birding with all the miles we had to go. An hour stop at Lamar Community College (Prowers) was just about all our birding today.

It was worth the stop. We added a pair of Northern Cardinals, a Mourning Warbler, a Northern Waterthrush, a male Summer Tanager and Least Flycatchers to our trip list. Then we had to move on toward Wray.

At sunset, four Greater Prairie-Chickens displayed at the Yuma County Road 45 Lek. Then we drove the 200 miles back to Denver. A total of about 1850 miles for our four day trek!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Adams, Denver and Arapahoe County Birding

May 3, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky and I returned to the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal today. Winds were mild, temperatures on the cool side (high 50s).

We observed 11 Burrowing Owls during our hike (3 inside the arsenal, Adams County; 8 outside, Denver County).

A Northern Mockingbird was again found about 1.1 miles north of 56th avenue. Last year a pair nested in the same general area. I hope that a mate will show up for this one!

Later we looked for owls along the DIA Owl Loop. No Short-eared Owls today (we believe we know the area of a nesting pair). We did find 15 Burrowing Owls along the route.

After leaving Jerry, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). One of the Short-billed Dowitchers was walking around the new wetlands area, east of the model airplane field.

A Willet and Bonaparte's Gull were still at the southeast sand spit!

Yuma & Kit Carson Birding

May 1, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I visited the Yuma County Road 45 Greater Prairie-Chickens and found 9 Greater Prairie-Chicken displaying on the hill. No females were picked out of the presentation.

Northern Cardinals were found at two yards of friends back in Wray. I ran into an Illinois birder John Boddie and we checked out the Wray Fishing Unit (nothing uncommon).

Sandsage Wildlife Area had many sparrows including a Harris's Sparrow and 2 White-throated Sparrows among dozens of White-crowned Sparrows and a few Song Sparrows.

Before leaving Wray, we walked Wray City Park where a Yellow-throated Warbler was found!

I passed Bonny Reservoir (Yuma) on the way back to Denver. The Baltimore Oriole was observed again along the south side. Today I took the time to look for shorebirds, which included: six Marbled Godwits, 2 Willets, 2 Semipalmated Plovers and 1 Snowy Plover.

A 20 minute search for the White-eyed Vireo at Hopper Ponds was not successful today.

My final stop of the day was Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson). The eastern and southern sides have been fruitful in the past. Today a Northern Waterthrush was observed at the southeast end. A male Northern Parula was along the southern end.

At the northern end, below the dam was quiet. No Short-eared Owls showed up at dusk.

Adams and Yuma County Birding

April 29-30, 2010

Richard Stevens:

April 29

I birded Barr Lake (Adams) for about 4 hours this morning.

A few birds have started to migrate through Colorado. A Northern Waterthrush was walking along the water line below mile marker 8.0.

Other birds between mm 0.0 and 7.5 included: a Hermit Thrush, Spotted Towhee, Green-tailed Towhee and a flycatcher that was left unidentified.

While walking to the Neidrach Boardwalk trail, two Marbled Godwits were seen at mm 0.1. Two male Bullock's Orioles flew around the cottonwoods and willows at the boardwalk.

Next, I headed east toward the Kansas State line. A Red-eyed Vireo and Nashville Warbler were at Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington).

My birding day ended at Bonny Reservoir (Yuma). Migration was in full swing here.

A White-eyed Vireo was found at the Hopper Ponds Area. At Foster Grove Campgrounds, a Yellow-throated Warbler was west of the parking area. A Black-and-white Warbler was in the cottonwoods along the eastern Hale Ponds.

Raptors included: Swainson's Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks and a Bald Eagle.

April 30

Before sunrise, I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl calling from north of the eastern Hale Pond.

I searched for additional migrating birds around Hale Ponds and Bonny Reservoir. A Northern Waterthrush was found walking along the Republican River about 0.2 miles west of Kansas.

Few new birds were found. I did relocate the White-eyed Vireo at Hopper Ponds.

A ranger mentioned a Greater Prairie-Chicken sighting north of the office. I was not able to relocate the bird in a two hour search.

A male Baltimore Oriole was observed along the south side of Bonny Reservoir. The road is now walk in only (once you could drive to the picnic area). I checked the thickets at the east end of the road, found no Long-eared Owls today.

A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was back at Hale Ponds. The Eastern Screech-Owl did not respond to my recordings played after sunset. A Common Poorwill did respond to a recording play along CR 4 at the eastern Hale Ponds.