Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Chaffee County Birding

June 22, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Got a late start today, we took a quick look at the Western Screech-Owl (still only one) and Lewis's Woodpeckers and headed south.

A flock of 27 Pinyon Jays was around the Ruby Mountain parking area (off Chaffee CR 301 and CR 300).

Most of the day was spent counting birds on the BLM land northeast of Salida.

No uncommon birds were found around Mt Princeton. Quite a few hummingbirds were found at Alpine (including one male Rufous Hummingbird!)

A search around the old "Eastern Meadowlark" meadow off Chaffee County Road 210 was uneventful. The area has changed much in the past couple of years.

After dark, we searched for owls at Poncha Pass and Monarch Pass; without success.

Park and Chaffee County Birding

June 21, 2010

Richard Stevens:

This morning I hiked up the "Three-toed Woodpecker" trail. I made it all the way above tree line, no woodpeckers and started back down.

On the trip down, I heard the distinctive drumming of a male American Three-toed Woodpecker. He was eventually observed 400 yards up the trail (south of Michigan Creek road) and 20 yards west of the trail.

In the afternoon, we found 2 Lewis's Woodpeckers in Buena Vista (Chaffee). They were just south of Brookdale Avenue and North Pleasant Street.

The resident Western Screech-Owl is still around. Not sure if he has a mate this year?

After lunch, we drove up Cottonwood Pass. We stopped half a dozen times and played an Ovenbird recording. No response. A couple of Gray Jays came out of the forest to beg for food.

We continued to Taylor Reservoir (Gunnison). Nothing uncommon was on the lake. We searched unsuccessfully for Three-toed Woodpeckers at the campgrounds and returned to Buena Vista. Several stops along the way, Northern Pygmy-Owl recordings were played; without success.

In late afternoon, we drove the roads north of the Buena Vista Overlook. After driving Chaffee County Road 304 for about an hour, a Northern Saw-whet Owl finally answered our recording. When it rains, it pours? A second Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard on the way back to the overlook.

Mt Evans Road and Michigan Creek Road

June 20, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove up Mt. Evans Road (Clear Creek County) today. Fortunately, we arrived around sunrise (the day turned nasty by noon with high winds and snow).

A White-tailed Ptarmigan was found on the west hillside at the switchbacks south of Summit Lake. None was found at the top of the road.

On the way down, we found 2 Brown-capped Rosy Finches on the edge of Summit Lake. We stayed an hour, found no additional Rosy Finches.

Near dusk, we drove Michigan Creek Road (Park County). Two Northern Pygmy-Owls were found (heard only). One was just east of the "Three-toed Woodpecker trail" and the other was an additional 80 yards farther west up the road.

Douglas County Birding

June 19, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I decided to see if the Yellow-billed Cuckoos at the DuPont Open Space near Louviers could be heard or seen from outside of the property. Access is closed most of the time as far as I can determine.

I arrived about 30 minutes before sunrise and stay for an hour and a half. None called during my stay.

Therefore, I thought to try for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo(s) at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas). Here I enjoyed better luck. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was found east of the Platte River and south of the second pond south of Kingfisher Bridge.

Later I drove around to the Discovery Pavilion Parking area and walked east to the river. A male American Redstart was fluttering about in the tall trees east of the Waterton Canyon parking area.

From here, I took Titan Road and eventually ended up along Castlewood Canyon Road south of the State Park. I kept an eye out for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, which seem to show up/are reported most springs south of Chatfield State Park. None today however.

Three male and a female Bobolink were in the field about 0.2 miles south of the Winkler Ranch entrance. I heard several Common Yellowthroats and a Grasshopper Sparrow, no Dickcissels yet this year.

The day was not too hot yet, so I walked below the old Cherry Creek dam in the area where the Prairie Warbler was found last year. No warblers were found; however, I did find a singing Least Flycatcher.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weld County

June 22, 2010

Jerry Petrosky:

I drove up to Latham Reservoir to look for and hopefully photograph a Tricolored Herons. After mis-judging daylight, I continued up hwy 392 to the upland sandpiper field. It was still dark when I arrived. I thought I heard one but never did see it.

Back at Latham I heard an American Bittern; never did see a Tricolored Heron. Did see several Black necked Stilts, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, American Avocet and Killdeer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Northeastern Bird Counts

June 14-18, 2010

Monday 6/14
I accompanied Rich Stevens this week on conducting some bird breeding surveys. I was able to visit some areas of Colorado that were not seen before!

We started out with a trip up to Norma's Grove in Weld County. Both a Wood Thrush and Black-billed Cuckoo were seen there yesterday.

On the trip up, we stopped and played recordings at several Upland Sandpiper fields. Two fields yielded no results, but the third along highway 392 at 7.1 miles south of highway 14 was satisfactory. An Upland Sandpiper jumped out of the tall weeds and landed briefly on a fence post. He stayed up for about 30 seconds, gave up and dove back into the weeds not to be seen again.

At Weld County Roads 100 and 57, the birds did not disappoint as we found both of them. A Swainson's Thrush and several Bullock's Orioles were also there.

Rich then took me to his favorite Mountain Plover field. It's accessed from the dirt track going north from the intersection of Weld County Roads 94 and 63. We stopped near the cement drain and walked the road going west.

A Mountain Plover was about 20 yards west of the drain and 10 yards north of the track. We found a Swift Fox on one of four Dens that Richard has GPS on Pawnee National Grasslands. Another Mountain Plover was found 40 yards east of the dirt track.

Plenty of McCown's Longspurs and Lark Buntings were flying up and "doing they mating and flight and song". Cool place, a herd of 27 Pronghorn watched us searching for Mountain Plovers.

Two more Mountain Plovers were found in the field between highway 14 and Weld County Road 51 and the Dyer's driveway to the east.

Crow Valley Campgrounds had few birds and plenty of mosquitoes. Just about the most, I have found in one place. Hey, I am from New York.

From Briggsdale we went back to Lower Latham Reservoir also Weld County because we heard that two Tricolored Herons were seen. We searched for about an hour and finally found one of them! The lake and cattails are very far from Weld County Road 48. The cattails are thick too and offer too many places for the herons to hide.

We saw half a dozen Black-necked Stilt, two Marsh Wrens, many Killdeer and some Baird's Sandpipers. The Baird's Sandpipers were all adults and Rich figured they were already heading south. Does that make them all males?

Tuesday 6/15
Gosh, we were up early at 4:00 AM. We spent the night at Rich's friend's ranch, Roger Danka. Our early start was to look for Eastern Screech Owls at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area in Logan County.

The early rise worked as two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard east of highway 55. But…we did find another Eastern Screech Owl on the west side hours after sunrise so a early rise maybe was not necessary.

The South Platte River runs through Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area. In addition, the water level is higher than it has been in years. We had to use our irrigation boots to even bird parts of the western side.

I should mention that the Wildlife Area is split into west and east sections by highway 55, also called Logan County Road 81. There is also a southern section, south of I76 that goes east and west of highway 55. While Rich has walked this several times, it is very barren, no trees, and very hot in summer.

It is probably good for longspurs, Grasshopper Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Cassin's Sparrows and Greater Prairie-Chickens or Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse. Rich has recorded Greater Prairie-Chickens on more than half a dozen occasions and Sharp-tailed Grouse on two. We did not bird this on the trip.

Rich has made several trips to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area already this spring. He had GPS points on many of the nesting birds. This greatly helped our attempt to record the efforts.

Our bird counts included:
West of Hwy 55
Bell's Vireo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (2)
Northern Cardinal (2 males, 1 female)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (2)

East of Hwy 55
Bell's Vireo
Northern Cardinal (male)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (2)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (2)
Field Sparrow (1)

After lunch, we birded at North Sterling Lake State Park. Bird here was exciting.

A male Scarlet Tanager was found at the most western picnic area. The beautiful red bird stood out in the green cottonwoods. Common Yellowthroats, a Yellow-breasted Chat, Chipping Sparrows, a Spotted Towhee and a pair of Blue Grosbeaks were here also.

While counting gulls, mostly Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of Franklin's Gulls, and swallows, Cliff, Barn, Northern Rough-winged, Tree and Bank, Rich found a Purple Martin! Great new Colorado bird for me and a nice sighting anywhere in Colorado. The Purple Martin flew over to the west side of the lake before we could get out our cameras.

A Barn Owl flew out of the trees at Elks campground. There was about the same birds here except for the Scarlet Tanager and Yellow-breasted Chat.

Two Dickcissels were found west of Logan County Road County Roads 37 and 46 when we drove into the park. Another Dickcissel was seen below the dam as we left the park.

While counting Burrowing Owls along highway 138, west of Red Lion Wildlife Area we also found an Upland Sandpiper. They have been recorded as nesting in these short grass prairies.

Late in the afternoon we returned to a southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area where Rich knows of a Greater Prairie-Chicken lek. It was too late in the spring for any displaying birds but we hoped to run into a stray bird. That did not happen, but we did see several Cassin's and Grasshopper Sparrows and a Sage Thrasher.

A second Upland Sandpiper was found at a private ranch near Red Lion Wildlife Area. A friend of Rich's reported a singing American Woodcock three weeks ago. It was only seen for two days and was long gone before our visit.

Wednesday 6/16
We went back to North Sterling Lake State Park before sunrise. Our hope was to relocate the Purple Martin or additional birds and maybe get a better photo of the Scarlet Tanager.

The Scarlet Tanager was gone when we search the picnic area. The Purple Martin was not relocated. We did see two of the Dickcissels again west of Logan County Roads 37 and 46. We did not find anything rare along the south side of the lake. A different Barn Owl, this time a female was seen.

We drove many of the Logan County Roads north of the State Park, east and west of Peetz and Padroni. North of Proctor and Crook and then we returned to Jumbo Reservoir.

Grasshopper Sparrows are found at 7 stops. Cassin's Sparrows at 3 stops. Dickcissels were most numerous or most loud and therefore easier to find.

After being treated to a fantastic fried chicken dinner by Judy Danka, we walked Roger's ranch. It's a cornucopia of habitats and birds. We found the four resident Eastern Screech-Owls, 2 Harris's Sparrows, a White-throated Sparrow, 5 Dickcissels, Grasshopper Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Yellow-breasted Chats, Common Yellowthroats, and more.

There was a rumor of an eastern Fox Sparrow but we didn't see it. Roger saw a Greater Prairie-Chicken back in April. It would have been nice to get one for Sedgwick County.

Thursday, 6/17
Today we drove the roads north of Sedgwick and Ovid. Dickcissels were again the most numerous bird found. Again, we think this is due to their loud singing. We find them easier to hear than Grasshopper Sparrows. Cassin's Sparrows do not appear to be as numerous in the northeast corner as the others are. Habitat is another reason. It's more suitable for Grasshopper Sparrows and Dickcissels than Cassin's Sparrows.

Rich has GPS on two Long-eared Owl nests. We saw a female sitting on one of them. Eastern Screech-Owl nests at three locations. Possible Short-eared Owl nesting area at another site.

We also visited four ranches, friends of Richard. Harris's Sparrows seen at one and White-throated Sparrows and Field Sparrows at another.

In the late afternoon, we went by another friend's of Richard in Julesburg. After saying "Hi" we saw a male Northern Cardinal across the street at the elementary school at Spruce and 5th Streets.

Friday, 6/18
Today Rich and I conducted bird counts north of Bonny Reservoir down in Yuma County. Thanks for GPS; we found another Long-eared Owl nest and Eastern Screech-Owls at two locations.

Nothing rare was found until we got to Bonny Lake State Park in the afternoon. Here we relocated Northern Cardinal, Great Crested Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, Red-Bellied Woodpecker and Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. We also found a Bell's Vireo along Yuma County Road 2 at the windbreak on the south side of the road before reaching Hopper Ponds.

At Hale Ponds, we relocated more Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. At dusk, Rich got a Common Poorwill to respond to a recording! An Eastern Screech-Owl also answered to his call!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Parulas in Boulder County

June 13, 2010

Richard Stevens:

This afternoon Rebecca Kosten and I drove north to Boulder to search for parulas.

When we arrive at the Farmers Ditch and Iris Avenue, the Northern Parula was singing in the yard north of Iris. If flew across the road several times (north to south, south to north, again north to south). When we left, it was deep in the locust trees south of Iris!

We headed down to Doudy Draw and hiked south to the restroom area. We did not find the Northern Parula spotted yesterday in this area.

The most numerous and by far the noisiest birds were the dozen or so Yellow-breasted Chats. They seemed to singing everywhere.

A couple of Spotted Towhees were around the picnic area. We caught sight of a Peregrine Falcon zooming by overhead. A sudden rainstorm cut our search for a second Parula short.

Nine Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop on our trip home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Birding Around Denver In the Rain

June 12, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed a long day of birding in the rain. Some of my most successful birding has been on rainy days. However, I did not expect to find much and was quite surprised.

Six hours were spent at Barr Lake (Adams County). Four and a half along the south side between mile marker 0.5 and 7.5. Another hour and a half below the dam mm 6.0 to 6.8.

While watching rather wet adult and young fledgling Great Horned Owls at mm 0.2 (just south of the Niedrach Trail boardwalk) a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak started singing. I took a couple of fuzzy photos and moved on (light was horrible in the rain).

At mm 8.8, a second male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was singing. He sang for a good 20 minutes before the rain started to pour down. Yellow Warblers and a couple of Warbling Vireos were in the same area.

Few birds were around the banding area at mm 8.7. A Plumbeous Vireo fluttered about at mm 8.6.

The brush at mm 8.3 is usually good for a thrush and did not disappoint. A Veery and Swainson's Thrush also rather wet came out briefly to the road.

At the Pioneer Trail, mm 8.1, I found another adult and young Great Horned Owl. The young fledgling with mostly adult feathers over his body except for a completely bald head looked quite strange.

The many conspicuous and noisy Western and Eastern Kingbirds from previous visits were nowhere to be found (only saw 1 Western Kingbird). They found shelter from the rain somewhere? A few wet House Wrens flew around chattering.

I moved around to the Old Stone House at the northeast corner of Barr Lake and walked the canal below the dam. I was trying to photograph a third adult Great Horned Owl when a Black-and-white Warbler flew between the two tall cottonwoods south of the mowed path/road leading south from the Old House.

A walk along the canal added 5 Common Yellowthroats, 1 Virginia Rail, a dozen American Goldfinches and another Swainson's Thrush to my day list. The "missing" kingbirds were found. In the 0.8-mile walk, the count was 9 Western Kingbirds and 4 Eastern.

Just north of outlet # 3, a rather rusty looking thrush flew out of the brush along the north-south canal. I was not able to get good enough looks (only saw its back) to distinguish between another Veery or a Wood Thrush. Most likely, it was a Veery.

The rainstorm turned into a lightning storm and I scurried back to my car. Arrived just in time as a downpour and hail was hurled down (cracked my windshield it was so hard).

Next, I was going to stop at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) but the downpour changed my mind and I headed over to Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver).

The rain was not as heavy here and I circled the area once. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from the tall cottonwoods north of the path, northwest corner of the property. It was on the far side of the pond and too wet an area to get over to try to photograph.

A Red-eyed Vireo was in the shorter trees hanging over the trail at the northwest corner. About seven Western Wood-pewees did not seem to be bothered by the rain and went on hawking insects.

Finally, I went back to Rocky Mountain Arsenal and made a quick walk to the Rod and Gun Club Pond (about 4 miles round trip). Nothing uncommon was found. The 6:00 pm closing time did not allow for much lingering/birding.

More Northern Plains Birding

June 11, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Today my goal was to walk the western side of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area. Again, it was an enjoyable day.

Highlights included:
A possible Eastern Towhee (section 1 West) looked like an Eastern Towhee, never made a sound.
Bell's Vireo (section 1 West)
Northern Cardinal (2)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (2 locations)
Eastern Screech-Owl (new location)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (3 at 3 locations)

Again found 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers, Common Yellowthroat, no warblers, several Warbling Vireos, 1 Plumbeous Vireo (unfortunately did not look like a Blue-headed Vireo at all).

I visited a private ranch (a location I inherited birding rights from Dan Bridges) and found Eastern Bluebirds, a Tennessee Warbler, a Magnolia Warbler, Warbling Vireos. This location has been responsible for several American Woodcock records; none today.

A Barn Owl flew out of the riparian area on the south side of Red Lion Wildlife Area. Nothing else unusual at Red Lion Wildlife Area or Jumbo.

My birding day ended at Yuma County Road 45. I did hear one Upland Sandpiper. No Greater Prairie-Chickens came to the CR 45 lek. A Common Poorwill called near the first cattle guard east of the CR 45 lek.

June 10, 2010

The goal today (target bird Black-billed Cuckoo) was to walk the east side of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan). This is a 7 mile stretch (therefore 14 mile round trip). It was quite a productive day.

By the way, yesterday I put together the anti-mosquito outfit. Mosquitoes were horrible at Crow Valley Campgrounds, however they never bothered me!!!

Thick long pants (no mosquito is getting through the material, or tick for that matter), Air Force coat (coated with water and mosquito repellent), mosquito net over my hat and gloves. The outfit gets warm, but not one mosquito bite!

During the trek, (I started at area 7 East), some nice birds were found (but no Black-billed Cuckoos). In no particular order:

Two Field Sparrows (near my parked car).
Yellow-billed Cuckoos at two locations including the south side of Tamarack Pond.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers (5 at 3 locations)
Baltimore Oriole (east of buildings)
Eastern Screech-Owls (at 3 locations, 2 previous known)
Northern Cardinals (2 males around Tamarack Ponds & Maintenance building)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Hooded Warbler (section 2 East)
Black-and-white Warbler (section 1 East)
Bell's Vireo (section 5)

My route was to hike the south side tree line first and then tromped through the thicker bushes nearer the river after the day warmed up. Mucho mosquitoes, beware! Except for the incredible sound, they made next to my ears, no mosquito bites!

Other interesting birds included 5 Red-headed Woodpeckers, 2 Common Yellowthroats, an eastern White-breasted Nuthatch, an eastern Warbling Vireo, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch!

My birding day ended at Roger Danka's ranch where we heard another pair of Eastern Screech-Owls calling after dark.

Long Day on Northern Plains

June 9, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed a long day of birding in northern Colorado.

I departed Denver about 3:00 am and headed up to Briggsdale by way of Highway 392. At Weld County Road 60.5 (which is signed CO Hwy 60.5, a little strange and different) I stopped and played recordings. At least 1 Sora and 2 Virginia Rails responded back!

My first target bird was Upland Sandpiper and I was not disappointed. One stood on a fence post at 0.6 miles south of Weld County Road 67. Another bird was at the traditional Upland Sandpiper field, which is 7.1 miles south of Highway 14 (this one also stood on a fence post)!

I parked at the group picnic area and as I left my car, a cuckoo flew from the tall trees over the pavilion. It was never seen well and therefore never identified to species.

Arriving at Crow Valley Campground just before sunrise I walked the Campgrounds waiting for better light. The Prairie Warbler was singing in the tree next to the old water hole at campground # 10. It flew across the road to campsite # 9. Eventually it flew back to # 10 and then disappeared to the west.

After sunrise, I walked to the south fence line and then circled to the west (searching for the Golden-winged Warbler reported the day before). A Red-eyed Vireo was in the trees along the creek where it leaves the property (to the south).

The Golden-winged Warbler was never found. I continued west and north and got glimpses of a Northern Waterthrush along the creek at approximately 20 yards south of the northwest corner of the Campgrounds.

Several Common Nighthawks and a Plumbeous Vireo were found in the grove north of the group picnic pavilion.

Note: I always surprises me when flew birders are encountered at sunrise. First, even if it is windy, the wind seems to die down for 30-60 minutes just before sunrise (this was the case today, shortly after sunrise; winds became strong and grew as the morning progressed). The increased winds made finding any birds quite difficult.

Secondly, the birds always seem to be most active at sunrise. They move around more in search of food, sing, and call when exposed to the direct sunlight. It works for me! I did not see another birder until around 9:00 am?

After leaving Crow Valley Campground, I drove the Mountain Plover Loop (described on the CoBus website: A quick drive up the dirt track road (CR 94 & CR 63) found a Mountain Plover 5 yards west of the track (in sight of the old cement drain) and several McCown's Longspurs.

Lark Buntings, Brewer's Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows were easy to find along CR 94 & CR 61. Along CR 61 at 0.5 miles south of CR 96, I was stopped by a young Pronghorn lying in the road. He could not have been more than a couple of hours old. His mother had run when she saw my car and the young one tried to keep up. Knock kneed and stumbling, he ran out of gas and just stopped on the road. I backed my car up to almost out of sight and waited for the young one to get up (or for a car to come along, so that I could stop any from continuing toward the youth). While watching the Pronghorns, I noticed a Mountain Plover to the west of CR 61!

Later I reached the riparian area along CR 100 at 0.4 miles east of CR 57. The Wood Thrush reported the day before was not found by me (it was reported later in the day).

I decided to head west to Fort Collins and look for the Least Bittern at Running Deer Natural Area; without success.

Since Fort Collins City Park and Grandview Cemetery were so close, I headed that way to search for the Eastern Wood-Pewee (a new county bird for me). When I arrived, the Eastern Wood-Pewee was singing in Section 2. At Section 1, I could see the female White-winged Crossbill perched at the top of a fir tree for about 6 minutes (second fir tree west of the first streetlight east of the southwest corner of the cemetery).

My plan was to go to Julesburg and since I passed close to CR 100 & CR 57, I returned to the riparian area there. A 15 minute search for the Wood Thrush looked hopeless and as I returned to my car, the Wood Thrush was observed walking along the stream on the north side of CR 100.

Eventually it was chased by a Swainson's Thrush and was in the trees just south of CR 100 and along the creek.

On the trip to Julesburg, I stopped and found Burrowing Owls first north of CR 90 & CR 51 and then at the northeast field at CR 51 & Highway 14. Two Mountain Plover were southwest of the Dyers driveway (0.4 miles east of Hwy 14 & CR 51).

In Sterling, I checked both Pioneer Park and Overland Park for birds (target bird the elusive for Colorado Black-billed Cuckoo). A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was found along the Platte River at Overland Park, no Black-billed Cuckoos. Not much at the Sterling Sewage Ponds and I continued to Jumbo Reservoir.

My birding day ended at Red Lion Wildlife Area waiting for Short-eared Owls; none appeared. Shortly after sunset, I did hear one of the Eastern Screech-Owls on the north side of Jumbo Reservoir.

Guanella Pass and Ptarmigan

June 8, 2010

Bret Walker, Jacob Washburn, Amy Davenport and I returned to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek). We found two Ptarmigan 10 yards south of the junction of the Rosalie and 603 trails.

The American Three-toed Woodpecker that has been hanging around the pipe gate that closes the pass in winter was searched for but not found. We did find an American Three-toed Woodpecker uphill (south) of Pine Lake at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). We did find an American Three-toed Woodpecker uphill (south) of Pine Lake at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).

Barr Lake and Bluff Lake Nature Area

June 7, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky and I returned to Barr Lake (Adams). The Blackpoll Warbler was again found in the tall willows south of the Neidrach Trail boardwalk. Nothing else uncommon was found from mile marker 0.2 to 0.0 to 8.0.

Later we visited Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) where again nothing uncommon was found. We did hear 3 Soras and 2 Virginia Rails in the marsh off the boardwalk.

Owling in Boulder County

June 3-6, 2010

Richard Stevens:

During the four nights, Jerry Petrosky and I visited various draws/canyons/valleys in Boulder County conducting some owls counts. I think what we will do is write up the owl studies in "Colorado Field Notes". Perhaps putting the sightings on a map of Boulder County.

We did enjoy great success (as it was a little late in the year, best time is early spring when the owls are looking for mates).

Jerry wrote on "cobirders": Richard Stevens and I counted owls the last four nights in Boulder and Larimer Counties. We were joined by Jacob Washburn and Amy Davenport this weekend and had good success. Final counts will be posted on the CoBus trip blog. Besides Common Poorwill in three locations, species heard or seen included; Long eared, Northern Pygmy, Flammulated, Saw whet, Eastern Screech and Boreal Owls.

During the day between a few hours of sleep, we added:

On 6/3, Richard Stevens relocated a male BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Davenport, 5/25) southeast of the Ranger's Office at Cherry Creek State Park.

On 6/4, Jerry Petrosky and Stevens relocated a LITTLE BLUE HERON (Guthrie, 5/9) at Cottonwood Marsh, Walden Ponds. Petrosky relocated a GREEN HERON at Sawhill Pond #4. Petrosky relocated BOBOLINK (Stevens, 5/20) at the Boulder Bobolink Meadow. Petrosky & Stevens found a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL at the south end of Gross Reservoir.

On 6/5, Stevens and Petrosky found a TENNESSEE WARBLER below (west) of Lower Derby Lake at Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Stevens reported 7 BURROWING OWLS along the DIA Owl Loop.

On 6/6, this morning instead of sleep Jerry and Richard saw the male Black chinned Hummingbird at Cherry Creek State Park and then a Blackpoll Warbler, Swainson's Thrushes, Orchard Oriole pair; Green tailed Towhee and Spotted Towhees at Barr Lake State Park. Eight Burrowing Owls were along the DIA Owl Loop.

Barr Lake and Boulder County

June 2, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I was supposed to sit at a desk all day and finish up June's "Colorado Field Notes". Thought I would hike a bit first so went over to Barr Lake (Adams County). Only spent two hours and hiked from mile marker 0.2 (south end of the Niedrach Trail) to mm 8.0 to the north.

A Blackpoll Warbler was in the cottonwoods and willows at mm 0.2. I observed a thrush at mm 8.2 (just south of the Pioneer Trail) that looked good for a Gray-cheeked Thrush. However, I did not see it for very long. It is always a difficult id and I could only be quite sure, but not positive (I would say 90 percent sure, but what does that really mean?).

Then I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal on the way home (obviously I did not want to go home and look at a computer monitor for the rest of the day). Hiked to the Rod and Gun Club pond and back, again only taking 2 hours. An American Redstart was in the woods below (west) of Lower Derby Lake. Many Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and not much else in Russian Olive Trees below the lake.

Now sitting at my computer unless someone finds a neat bird to chase.

I did not stay home long instead went chasing the Carolina Wren in Boulder County.

A good reason to describe locations of birds, when I arrived at the Centennial Trail and decided to use the GPS Waypoints provided by another birder, I ended up going to three different parts of the trail (it turned out that the waypoint was quite a bit off course from the actual wren location).

Depending upon the purchase price of a GPS or if the person just got the waypoint off the internet, the GPS waypoints may not be near as accurate as one would hope (as was the situation in this case). I will not be depending upon waypoints in the future!

One positive state of affairs did come out of my driving around Boulder, at a section of the Centennial trail near Mohawk and Pitkin Drives (actually 20 yards north of Pitkin) a woman asked about a bird she had just seen.

When I walked back with her, we found a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing along Bear Creek!

Back on the Centennial Trail (my second hike along here from Baseline Road north), a Carolina Wren called briefly in response to my recording! It was about 100 yards south of Old Tale Road.

I had walked from Baseline to the Park at 55th Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue and back once already, but abandoned the search because it did not fit the GPS waypoint. I was happy that I had come back!

Along the first hike, we did see 2 Bobolink in the Boulder Bobolink Meadow just south of the Centennial Trail (and north of Baseline; Llamas in the field just to the east of the meadow).

The rest of our birding day was spent by hiking the Walden Ponds-Sawhill Ponds in search of the previously reported Least Bittern.

One of the Little Blue Herons was seen at the northwest corner of Cottonwood Marsh (Walden Ponds). We then circled south into Sawhill Ponds and continued around west and north back to Walden Ponds.

I thought that a Least Bittern had answered my recordings. The call was so short that we could not be sure that it was even heard (so did not record a Least Bittern sighting/hearing).

A Green Heron was found along the northwest edge of Sawhill Pond # 4. Nothing else uncommon, plenty of the regular summer birds.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Search for Boreal Owls and the Colorado State Forest

May 29-June 1, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard Stevens and I conducted a Boreal Owl survey in the Colorado State Forest. There were about 152 owl boxes put up seven years ago. Richard surveyed these boxes for three years until the study was taken over by the Forest Service. After a couple of years, the Forest Service quit the study. Richard revived the study last year.

Over the last four days, we found 19 Boreal Owls. The surprise was that a Boreal Owl actually used one of the boxes this year!

Obviously, for security reasons, we will not reveal the exact locations of the owls. Richard does point interested birders in the right direction; for those who are interested in seeing a Boreal Owl.

The best times to find the owls were an hour after complete dark and an hour before civil twilight.

May 29th

Our departure from Denver was at Midnight with arrival at Cameron Pass around 2:00 AM. We found 3 Boreal Owls in the Colorado State Forest in the next hour.

Then we drove up to Jackson County Road 26 an hour before civil twilight as our interest in whether Greater Sage-Grouse were still displaying was of interest. Sure enough, four Greater Sage-Grouse came to the lek about 20 minutes before sunrise. They danced for about 15 minutes and then took off!

We hurried over to the Delaney Butte Lakes loop but found no sign that Greater Sage-Grouse were around that lek.

Later Walden Reservoir was scoped. Plenty of Pelicans, California Gulls, several Franklin's Gulls, Eared Grebes and a few American Avocets here. Highlights included a pair of Red-necked Phalaropes and two Willets.

The only hummingbirds at the KOA campgrounds and the Gould Store were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. All three nuthatches were found.

After dark, we started our Owl count at either side of Cameron Pass with a total of five this night. These then include the three from early this morning.

May 30th and 31st

Slept most of the morning and started a long hike up Michigan Ditch Road. The hike started with a surprise as a Long-eared Owl startled us by flying out of the pines along the first 500 yards of the ditch. This was not a first as it was the third time one was reported here.

Richard found one in 2006 and one of the Ditch "guards" reported one in 2005.

The strenuous hike paid off with a Boreal Owl count of five. We found a nesting tree at one stop a good 4.5 hike up and down the winding road. Camping overnight was fantastic. More stars than I knew were in existence. Moonlight off Mt Richentofen was spectacular. The lack of city noises was fabulous. Satellites zipped by in the sky every 5 minutes or less!

May 31st to June 1st

After checking many owl boxes while thankfully driving today, we had another long hike up North Fork Canadian Road. Fortunately, this road is not as steep as the Michigan Ditch Road. Four additional Boreal Owls found along this hike.

A not so highlight, three of the boxes could only be reached on snowshoes. It was a strenuous hike and not productive.

Five additional Boreal Owls were found today before we headed back to Denver.