Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Quick Trip to the Eastern Plains

October 30-31, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Four Denver birders enjoyed a quick trip to Eastern Colorado. Saturday night we were served some great fried chicken and other fattening foods at Judy Danka's birthday party!

Oct 30th

Our first stop was Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). While walking along the southern dam, we found a Red Phalarope and 2 Red-necked Phalaropes swimming about 20 yards offshore.

A Merlin stood in the trees near the ponds east of the parking area. There were plenty of ducks and gulls; however, no uncommon birds were picked out of the hundreds out there.

A search for Long-eared Owls in the western Campgrounds turned out to be zero. A White-throated Sparrow was found when we searched the grove of trees northwest of the boat dock parking area.

We stopped only briefly at Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan). Nothing uncommon could be found. Nothing was on the pond. The resident Red-bellied Woodpeckers also eluded us.

Our final stop was Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties).

A few interesting birds moved about, but the numbers were not near as high as last week.

The highlight of the day was an immature Blackburnian Warbler at the inlet grove. Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by several times.

Shorebirds included expected species: Long-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Western Sandpipers and a Stilt Sandpiper.

We hung around until dusk; did not get an Eastern Screech-Owl to make an appearance.

Oct 31st

Before sunrise, we drove down the road running along the eastern side of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan). An Eastern Screech-Owl called near section 6E.

Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) has a nice collection of birds. The best was an American Golden-Plover by himself below the dam. Two Black-bellied Plovers were seen farther east near the private property.

The Campgrounds were slow. While 3 Greater White-fronted Geese swam in the northeast corner of the reservoir. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were seen flying while we stopped at the northwest corner of the reservoir (we were looking for birds below the road running north-south. Nothing popped out today.

From the northeast corner of Colorado, we headed to Yuma County and Bonny Reservoir.

While looking for the Northern Cardinal and Long-eared Owl reported earlier, we found a Black-bellied Plover walking along the shore south of Foster's Grove Campgrounds.

From the dam, we scoped the many gulls; the only uncommon Gull was a Bonaparte's Gull. We searched quite a while for the Laughing Gull reported yesterday; without success.

We circled to the Hopper Ponds area in hopes of relocating the Swamp Sparrow or Eastern Towhee found on 10/17; without success. Bryan did find a White-throated Sparrow. In the past, a rare "Ammodramus" sparrow has been found in the high grasses; however not today.

An hour was spent searching for Long-eared Owls at Hale; without success. The windbreak has taken some drought, wind damage, and is not as thick as past years. Here is hoping Long-eared Owls will still choose to winter!

When we came out of the windbreak, a Harris's Sparrow was observed on the fence along County Road 4 at 0.1 miles east of County Road LLL.5. He eventually dove down into the high brush (in the same area).

At Hale Ponds, we found a flock of 11 Yellow-rumped Warblers. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker wandered between the Hale Ponds.

At an undisclosed location at Bonny Reservoir, we finally found at least one Long-eared Owl. They have nested in this area almost every summer (so we chose not to direct birders to the spot). I did get a photo of the occupied nest last summer and the unoccupied nest today.

Instead of waiting for dark for a screech owl search, we decided to try to relocate the Common Redpoll found earlier in the day at Flagler Reservoir.

Our arrival at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) was quite late due to traffic in Burlington. We had only 30 minutes before sunrise to search for the Common Redpoll; without success. The White-throated Sparrow was loosely associated with a mixed flock of American Tree Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and Song Sparrows at the northeast corner of the property.

No uncommon birds were found below the dam. A Great Horned Owl did call to a mate. We stood at the western end of the dam and waited for Short-eared Owls to come out; again without success.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Search for White-tailed Ptarmigan

October 29, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I along with any additional interested birders were going to "Walk the Ridge" at Loveland Pass. In reality, this is walking the Continental Divide from Loveland Pass to Interstate 70.

The trek requires good stamina and better timing. We like to do the hike when the trail is snow covered which makes seeing White-tailed Ptarmigan tracks and birds of course easier. Too much snow however, the trek can be too dangerous to attempt.

In the last nine years, conditions have only been good one time. Today we decided by way of a Summit County birder, that there was not enough snow up there yet.

Jerry Petrosky and Jay Bowman wanted to go for Guanella and would have passed on Loveland and the Continental Divide. Therefore, by majority vote, the four of us went up Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County). Access is only from Highway 285 and Grant, CO. The northern approach has been blocked by a rockslide for a couple of years now. According to the Highway Department, access could be closed for 2 or more years.

We were able to drive to the top of the Summit. Winds were strangely calm most of our trip (less than 10 mph). Normally winds are 30+ mph and up to 60+ mph.

Our pleasant hike found two small groups of Ptarmigan. Five birds were 400 yards south of the Rosalie Trail and 603 Trail (and 30 yards west of 603). Another four birds were found around the willows at the lake below the parking area.

On the way back to Denver, we stopped at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). We only hiked Buck Gulch trail to the Park Boundary Sign; no American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found. All of us had made this hike many times and were not over eager to see a Three-toed Woodpecker. Therefore, there was no immediate need or desire to hike farther.

The highlight, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was along the creek at 10 yards south (uphill) of the intersection of Buck Gulch Trail and the Strawberry Jack Trail!

Three Uncommon Birds At Red Rocks Park

October 28, 2010

Richard Stevens:

When I returned to Denver about 2:00 pm, I read about the three uncommon birds at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County). I turned around and headed over that way.

Several birders had been at the Trading Post for about an hour and a half without any sightings. Within 5 minutes of my visit, the Curve-billed Thrasher made an appearance! Minutes later the Golden-crowned Sparrow showed. Another ten minutes later, the shy adult White-throated Sparrow also appeared! The Curve-billed Thrasher was a new personal county species and a nice end to my day!

Search for Owls & a Snowstorm

October 21 to 28, 2010

Richard Stevens:

My goals for the rest of the week were three.

1. I wanted to camp out a night under the Harvest Moon. Probably the last full moon of the year where temperatures would be bearable enough to enjoy the outdoors.
2. Next I wanted to experience a snowstorm in the mountains both for the quiet calm of falling snow and potential rage of a windy night.
3. Kind of have a new theory to find owls, especially Northern Saw-whet Owls after watching Scott Rashid band them in Estes Park; I wanted to try it out.

October 21st

I headed south down Highway 285, resisted the urge to go up Guanella Pass Road at Grant (I had just been there a week ago).

At Kenosha Pass, I walked around the campgrounds and the road east of Hwy 285. Not many birds were around and no Dusky Grouse were found. Winds were quite strong at 21 mph with gusts to 32 mph. The start of my trip did not look good.

Once over Kenosha Pass however, winds were mild (less than 8 mph). I made the short detour up Lost Park (Park County) again finding few birds. It definitive is not the best time of year to find birds in the mountains.

At Jefferson, I turned up Michigan Creek Road and drove to the parking area where American Three-toed Woodpeckers have been seen for years. During an hour walk up the gravel road, I finally ran into a male American Three-toed Woodpecker. Location: 60 yards south of Michigan Creek Road and 40 yards west of the gravel road (see CoBus website for directions to birding locations).

About an hour before sunset, I walked about 2 miles up Michigan Creek Road. Two Dusky Grouse were observed running across the road. One at 60 yards west of the parking area and the other 140 yards west.

I wandered down the road until dusk and played owl recordings on the return trip to my car. A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded on the north side of Michigan Creek Road at 40 yards east of the parking area.

No success in finding owls at Buffalo Springs Campgrounds (Park).

October 22nd

I camped out at Antero Reservoir (Park County). Skies were clear and winds mild most of the night. Temperatures dropped into the low 20s.

The Black Scoter reported by Zeeto on 10/15 was still at the northwest corner of Antero Reservoir. A Common Loon (Zeeto, 10/15) was at nearby Spinney Mountain Reservoir. That was just about it for the three Park County Reservoirs.

An hour walk around Trout Creek Pass was uneventful.

I could not find any Pinyon Jays at the Buena Vista Overlook or KOA Campgrounds below.

In Buena Vista (Chaffee County), I found a Lewis's Woodpecker along North Pleasant Avenue, north of Chaffee County Road 306 (Cottonwood Pass Road).

A search for the Western Screech-Owls that nested last year in Buena Vista turned up empty. I would try searching for them two additional times during the week; without success.

A drive up Cottonwood Pass to the road to Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison County) found a few Gray Jays and a Clark's Nutcracker. Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the reservoir. I may have gotten a brief look at a Brown-capped Rosy Finch at the Lakeside Campgrounds, too brief to be sure.

On the return trip to Buena Vista, I stopped and searched unsuccessfully for owls at Collegiate Campgrounds; without success.

However, my night was about to get more interesting. Scott Rashid when banding Northern Saw-whet Owls near Estes Park sets up mist nets and plays a Saw-whet call next to them. He checks the nets every 15 minutes for owls (basically every 15 minutes because foxes are in the area and he does not want to expose any owls trapped helplessly in the nets to their predation).

On the night I watched the banding, one Northern Saw-whet Owl was observed in a tree only feet from the nets and recording. I thought, why are nets needed, perhaps one could "point count" the owls without exposing them to mist nets or predators?

Just east of Buena Vista, there are quite a few acres of BLM (public access). I took three recording devices and set up "stations" at three locations. Just north of the Buena Vista overlook (Big Sandy Draw), just south of the overlook (CR 301), south of highway 285, and at County Road 302.

Final count; I eventually found 2 Saw-whet Owls up Big Sandy Draw (Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands), 2 Saw-whet Owls along CR 301 (also Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands), and none along CR 302 (Ponderosa Pine Forest). At Big Sandy Draw, I found 3 Saw-whet Owls; however, because of the closeness of the sightings, I was not sure that it was not the same bird.

That would be the advantage of banding, distinguishing the owls. In my opinion, not worth exposing the owls to the trauma of capture and the predation of other animals.

October 23rd

I stayed the night in Buena Vista (temperatures dipped into the middle teens). Before Civil Twilight, I was at Crystal Lakes (Lake County) hoping to catch a glimpse of the Long-eared Owl reported there are few months ago; did not happen.

I also found the Barrow's Goldeneye reported by Tim Kalbach on the Mt Elbert Forebay. His Brown Thrasher sighting is probably a first county record, which I missed of course.

A stop in Granite did not find any Rosy Finches; it really is a bit early for them to come down from the mountains. A Common Loon was on Clear Creek Reservoir.

After lunch, I missed finding Pinyon Jays again at the Buena Vista Overlook and Ruby Mountain parking area.

At dusk, I set up three "listening stations" on BLM northeast of Salida (Chaffee County). I only found one Northern Saw-whet Owl this night. It was up Mountain Gulch Road.

October 24th

I spent the night back at Antero Reservoir in Park County. Finally got to see a little snow, mostly just a dusting. Temperatures again dipped into the middle teens but winds were mild or I would have driven over to Buffalo Springs Campgrounds which, surrounded by trees and hills are more protected from the winds.

There were no scoters or loons on Antero Reservoir this morning. The previous Black Scoter at Antero Reservoir was not at Spinney Mountain Reservoir or Eleven Mile Reservoir either. A female White-winged Scoter was at Eleven Mile Reservoir. Two female Surf Scoters were found a Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

In the afternoon, I drove south on Highway 9 looking for proper habitat to set up my "listening stations". I finally found suitable habitat up Smith Gulch Road, not far from Deer Haven State Trust Lands. One Northern Saw-whet Owl was found up Smith Gulch Road. Throughout the night, I moved the "stations" three times, so nine locations (at least two miles apart) were surveyed.

October 25th

I slept most of the morning (getting to bed around 8:00 am). Drove through Temple Canyon State Park (Fremont County) just to prove to myself that there would be few birds. Flycatchers and Vireos should and were long gone by now.

In the afternoon, I drove up the Shelf Road to set up my "listening stations". There is much BLM Land north of Canon City. During the night, I again moved the stations three times (therefore surveying nine locations). It was my most successful night with 3 Northern Saw-whet Owl sightings at two of the locations.

October 26th

Around 2:00 am in the morning, I passed the Crags Campgrounds (Teller County) and decided to check it out. The habitat is not the best for Saw whet Owls and none was found. A Northern Pygmy-Owl however, was quite noisy.

After visiting a friend in Woodland Park (Teller County) and was ready to head for home. Instead of driving up the busy and boring Interstate 25 (through Colorado Springs and south Denver), I turned west back toward the Park County Reservoirs.

Today I found no scoters at the three reservoirs. Strange, in previous years, the scoters would "hang around" for days or even weeks before moving south. The weather has been quite nice except of one day, perhaps they preferred to take advantage and fly in good weather?

The highlight today was a pair of Tundra Swans at Spinney Mountain Reservoir. Winds were outrageous. Many ducks could have hidden in the high waves?

I was enjoying the owling every night and decided for one last night of it. This time picking the San Isabel Forest southwest of Antero Reservoir. Before dark, I drove back into Buena Vista for a late lunch and to get cell phone service (to check back in with home).

As a side note, my new ATT service was to provide emails on my Cell Phone. Over the last few days, I had sent 3 emails, which later I discovered never, were received. New service is no better than the old one.

I again missed Pinyon Jays in the Buena Vista area; where have they gone? Chaffee County and Buena Vista is usually quite good for them. A few Juniper Titmice and a flock of Bushtits were at the B.V. Overlook.

I tried another 9 locations for my "listening stations"; however, this night no owls were curious enough to make an appearance.

I was headed home, but Bryan Ehlmann said he would like to drive down and search for Northern Saw-whet Owls and make an attempt to find a Spotted Owl. What the heck, I stayed the night in Buena Vista.

October 27th

I met Bryan Ehlmann and Gary Weston at Antero. No scoters, 2 Tundra Swans (Spinney Mountain Reservoir), left my car at Antero Reservoir and headed for Cripple Creek.

We looked around Cripple Creek and Teller City for Rosy Finches; finding none. At dusk headed down the shelf Road. One Northern Saw-whet Owl was relocated (do not know for sure if it was a different bird as it was near the same location as a few days ago).

North of Canon City, we turned east and drove up Phantom Canyon Road. Winds were whipping down the Canon (could not measure as I had left my Anemometer in my car. A three hour search did not turn up any Spotted Owls (or any owls).

Too tired to drive back to Antero Reservoir, we returned to Canon City.

October 28th

After only a couple of hours of sleep, we again drove up Phantom Canyon Road. This time we did hear a Spotted Owl! As a protected species, we cannot write down the location.

After sunrise, we continued North and then west to Antero Reservoir. No Swamp Sparrows were found a Lake George (too late in the year?).

No scoters were found in brief visits to the three Park County Reservoirs. The pair of Tundra Swans had moved from Spinney Mountain Reservoir to Antero Reservoir.

Aurora Reservoir and Search for a Jaeger

October 20, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Arapahoe County: I am over at Bill Cryder's home south of Aurora Reservoir. He saw a dark juvenile jaeger early this morning. He watched it fly from the southwest corner to southeast corner, then north. Bill believes it disappeared over the dam. Jerry Petrosky had a similar experience on Sunday. The jaeger has not returned since I came over around Noon.

As I was answering a few emails, Bill called out that the juvenile dark jaeger was back at the southeast corner of Aurora Reservoir. This is the swim beach area where many of the gulls spend the day. The other good location for gulls is the shore at mile 1.5. This is better as few people visit the area. It requires a good walk to get there. I got a far off glimpse of the jaeger as it flew to the west-northwest. We are going to wait a while and then checkout Quincy and Cherry Creek Reservoirs, which are in the direction the Gull, flew.

We did not relocate the Jaeger at Quincy or Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cherry Creek Reservoir, Aurora Reservoir & Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

October 19, 2010

Richard Stevens:

We biked the 8.8 miles around Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this morning. There were not many birds around; at least the weather was fantastic (cool temperatures and mild winds).

A Common Loon was swimming around the southeast corner (mile marker 4.5). Half a dozen Pied-billed Grebes were in that corner. Forty + Western Grebes swam in the middle of the lake.

Five hundred gulls were mostly Ring-billed and a dozen California. Ruddy Ducks, Redheads and a pair of Northern Pintail Duck topped the non-resident ducks.

We did not find any uncommon gulls, jaegers or scoters. Perhaps next trip.

The juvenile Sabine's Gull was found flying around below the dam at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

The one holdout Burrowing Owl was still east of Picadilly Road at 0.5 miles south of 128th avenue. Hundreds of Eurasian Collared-Doves (400+) and 2 Great-tailed Grackles continue at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot (south of 152nd and Picadilly).

In the afternoon, I looked for a place to go for a quiet walk and headed over Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).

I made a quick stop at Barr Lake (Adams) to look for the Common Loon reported a few days ago. No luck with the loon, I did see a Bonaparte's Gull flying below the dam. Many of the gulls were "resting" in the southeast corner of the rather water depleted lake (mile marker 7.0).

Both a Sora and Virginia Rail called from the cattails at Pond 7. A flight of longspurs some of which landed in the prairie dog village at the southwest corner of the property, included a Lapland Longspur, several Chestnut-collared Longspurs and two dozen+ McCown's Longspurs. It is always great to observe the three species at the same location.

The only warbler observed was a lone Orange-crowned Warbler in the windbreak at Pond 7.

At sunset, a flock of 22 Sandhill Cranes filled the air with their calls as they flew overhead!

I stayed until dusk; no owls flew about tonight.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Birding In the Foothills

October 18, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I decided to combine a short trip into the foothills for "fall colors" with a couple of bird searches (well, that's no surprise, is it)?

The Golden-crowned Sparrow visited behind the Visitor's Center at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County). A couple of Spotted Towhees, Western Scrub-Jays and many Dark-eyed Juncos were also seen.

At Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) we walked from the group picnic area to the top and back. One of these days, someone is going to see a grouse along this road; we did not. No Williamson's Sapsuckers were found. They probably have migrated south by now.

We did collect (sightings) of the three nuthatch species, a Brown Creeper, several Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, and Hairy Woodpeckers.

After lunch in Evergreen, we went over to Mt Falcon Park (Jefferson) hoping to find a Northern Pygmy-Owl. That did not happen, however a consolation was a Northern Goshawk flying below the overlook.

We heard a Wild Turkey back at the parking area, never saw it. No Dusky Grouse, their "favorite haunt" or mine anyway was cleared of underbrush early last year. Too bad, I have not come across one since. The "fall colors" are still nice to see.

CoBus Trip to the Eastern Plains

October 13 to 17, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

October 13, 2010

Four of us took off for southeastern Colorado. Sparrow migration has been good this season and appears to be in full force.

We departed Denver at 4:00 AM and arrived in Crowley County at sunrise. A hike to the northwest corner of Lake Henry was fruitful. We tried our best to pull a Screech Owl out but had no luck.

A small flock of five Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Blackburnian Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch and White-throated Sparrow were found.

Activity on and over the water was limited. A first year Herring Gull was the only uncommon Gull. Two smallish terns were both Forster's Terns.

We enjoyed better luck across the highway at Lake Meredith. An adult Laughing Gull flew along the south shore.

There was a little shorebird activity here. Nine Long-billed Dowitchers, two Greater Yellowlegs and three Lesser Yellowlegs walked the shore. The highlight was emphatically a Sprague's Pipit circling overhead at the southeast parking lot.

It decidedly is the correct time to be along the eastern border in regard to Sprague's Pipit. We eventually would come upon them in five counties! Here's one for Crowley County!

Next we stopped at Ordway Town Reservoir also Crowley County. While we didn't find any warblers in the western trees, we did see a Harris's Sparrow along the south side. A Great Horned Owl called from the northwest corner.

The rest of the afternoon, we searched unsuccessfully for the rare birds (Henslow's Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow, Smith's Longspur and Reddish Egret) reported on October 7. A couple of Burrowing Owls were found north of highway 50.

October 14, 2010

We stayed the night in La Junta and headed south down highway 109. We stopped at Higbee Cemetery at sunrise. A lone Northern Mockingbird vocalized a few short songs.

Stops at a couple of Wildlife Areas and Vogel Canyon were less than satisfying. A Rufous-crowned Sparrow was seen briefly below the cliffs south of the camping area. A Scaled Quail ran across the road as we were leaving.

No Sprague's Pipits were found in Otero County and we moved on to Baca County. A large flock of McCown's Longspurs included at least two Chestnut-collared Longspurs.

Our raptor list included two Prairie Falcons, one Ferruginous Hawk, nine Red-tailed Hawks, two Swainson's Hawks and two Great Horned Owls.

Flocks of sparrows were seen. They were mostly Vesper Sparrows, a few Brewer's Sparrows and an occasional Clay-colored Sparrow.

A Greater Roadrunner ran across Baca CR 16.

Cottonwood Canyon is always a fun place to visit. We walked the draw south of the "camping area". Richard found a Winter Wren in the drainage just east of the old broken down cabin.

A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker drummed in the dead cottonwoods south of the cabin. A flock of Bushtits flittered about the old cabin also. Resident Bewick's Wrens, Canyon Towhees and Canyon Wrens were also nearby.

We wandered up the draw to the west where Long-eared Owls and some uncommon birds have been recorded in the past. A lone female Ladder-backed Woodpecker and two Bewick's Wrens were it today.

Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows were coaxed out from below the rocks near the cattle guard 1.2 miles east of the "camping area". Three Lewis's Woodpeckers were in the dead snags when we drove back to the "camping area".

At dusk, Richard called in two Western Screech-Owls! A nice ending to our birding day!

October 15, 2010

We stayed the night at a private ranch (friend of Richard). Woke up to two calling Western Screech-Owls. What a great omen! This would turn out to be one of my best Colorado Fall birding days!

We headed out to the Upland Bird Management Area at 5:00 AM, after a great breakfast albeit very fattening. A Short-eared Owl was hovering over the entrance upon our arrival.

The four of us set out at sunrise with radios in hand and spread across the area. Richard really wanted a Sharp-tailed Grouse sighting but that never happened. We also kept our eyes out for new or old tracks of Sharp-tailed Grouse or Greater Prairie-Chickens. Both have been reintroduced to the area, although many years ago now. Richard has been trying to get photos of both tracks. Anyone with either or both, he sure would appreciate seeing them.

All four of us saw Sprague's Pipits flying overhead. As we were 25 yards apart, the pipits may or may not have been the same birds. Their call is very much different from American Pipits, quite easy to distinguish! That's County number two (Crowley, now Baca).

An excited Gary Weston broke radio silence. He had a Baird's Sparrow in his sight. We all got great looks and one blurred photo. Not expecting additional sightings, we departed for nearby Picture Canyon.

A Greater Roadrunner watched from the rocky cliffs as we entered the canyon.

A Rufous-crowned Sparrow ran across the rocky hill about 400 yards south of the parking lot.

The petroglyphs at the end of the canyon have taken abuse by "children". A few can still be recognized; but the juvenile who wrote over them was just dumb.

We continued south to North Canyon. Two Curve-billed Thrashers popped out of the rocky crevasses behind the old stone house.

A Northern Mockingbird sang from top of a rabbit brush near the Oklahoma border. We continued to the spring in North Canyon where many uncommon birds have come for a drink. Only a couple of White-crowned Sparrows were there today.

Next, we drove to the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek. Another Northern Mockingbird was seen at the Cemetery just west of the Lek road.

To stretch our legs, Jay and Richard walked southeast from the cemetery. Gary and I walked the road north of the Lek Road. This is part of Mitchell Draw. Gary and I found a late migrating Cassin's Sparrow. A very plain sparrow, it's not difficult to separate from the other sparrows of the plains.

Richard and Jay found a Cassin's Sparrow of their own. I don't know if two Cassin's Sparrows represent "late migrating" or sparrows in their natural habitat. Only two were found.

We did our "25 yards apart" thing at the southern section of Mitchell Draw. This is accessed from the first road heading south from Baca County Road G and east of the Campo Lek Road.

Gary got a quick look at a scurrying Lesser Prairie-Chicken; but the rest of us missed it. Richard found our second Baird's Sparrow of the trip. It was 600 yards south of CR G and 12 yards west of the 4 wheel drive track mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Back in our car, we wandered the county roads along the eastern Colorado border. Two Burrowing Owls were still around. We stopped at a private barn of another friend of Richard and saw a Barn Owl hunkered in a dark corner. Two flocks of pipits were only American Pipits.

Stops at three riparian areas didn't find previously Eastern Screech-Owls found by Richard.

We stretched our legs at Burchfield Wildlife Area, Baca County and were delighted to do so. A Field Sparrow was with 30 or so White-crowned Sparrows and two Brewer's Sparrows near the parking lot.

Bryan found a Blue-headed Vireo moving about the cottonwoods southeast of the parking lot. There might have been two but we were not able to pin them both down at the same time.

Our arrival at Two Buttes Reservoir was not until dusk. Few birds moved about below the dam. It was too late to search for sparrows, pipits and longspurs along the south side of the reservoir. A Barn Owl screeched repeatedly about 25 minutes after sunset! Another nice ending to a great birding day!

October 16, 2010

We stayed on the night in Lamar and visited several "hot spots" early in the morning. The best bird of the day was found early at Riverside Cemetery. That was a Blue-headed Vireo. Birding was slow at Lamar Community College woods and Fairmount Cemetery.

The Great Plains Reservoirs in Kiowa County were so close; we had to check them over. Birds were few, but we did see a Harris's Sparrow at Upper Queens Reservoir.

A hunt for the rare sparrows reported last week at Thurston Reservoir only turned up the White-throated Sparrow, not that uncommon on the eastern plains.

Mike Higbee Wildlife Area, which is usually good for rare sparrows, was also slow. A Baird's Sparrow was recorded here a few years ago.

We drove to the eastern Colorado border, found a Field Sparrow at the Holly Rest Stop and then turned north. Our target birds were again Sprague's Pipits and a wandering Eastern Meadowlark.

Several times, we stopped and walked the county roads, finally having success along Prowers County Road 39, between RR and VV (that's V V not W).

We didn't turn up any Sprague's Pipits in Kiowa, Cheyenne or Kit Carson Counties; not for the lack of trying.

A vote was taken and unanimously it was decided to extend our trip another day!

October 17, 2010

We stayed the night in Burlington and went to Bonny Reservoir, Yuma County at first light. Richard got an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond to a recording played north of Hale Ponds.

The four of us spread out 25 yards each and walked the fields south of Hale Ponds. Two Sprague's Pipits were found within 30 minutes and less than 1000 yards south of Yuma County Road 4. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was met right along the road.

We walked the Republican River from the western Hale Pond to the Kansas border. A Swamp Sparrow was north of the eastern Hale Pond. A Common Yellowthroat between Hale Ponds and Kansas.

After going into Kansas and saying "Hi" to another of Richard's friends, we drove to Wagon Wheel Campgrounds and the picnic area, which were absence of birds.

The walk to Hopper Ponds was better. A male Eastern Towhee jumped out of the brush and gave us great looks at its unspotted body!

We searched only 10 minutes for Sprague's Pipits and Greater Prairie-Chickens north of Bonny Reservoir and west of LL.5. None were found and we moved on northward.

Because of our success in finding Sprague's Pipits, they are all over the Colorado's eastern plains this year, we decided to continue north and look for them in other counties. Richard also came up with an idea to search for Sharp-tailed Grouse or Greater Prairie-Chickens at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area in Logan County.

We continued our trip along the eastern county roads into Sedgwick County. A Sprague's Pipit was relocated along Sedgwick County Road 59. There were no Sprague's Pipits in Phillips County :) Well, we didn't find any.

Our troupe then turned west to Fleming. We still had a few hours before sunset and drove the county roads south of Fleming. We found a Sprague's Pipit along CR 30, west of CR 77 and continued to Mark's Butte. Greater Prairie-Chickens have been reported in the area on two occasions in the past 10 years. After missing on prairie-chickens, we drove to the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.

Richard's plan was to split up and park ourselves at two high points in the Wildlife Area. Any wandering prairie-chickens or Sharp-tailed Grouse maybe could be seen near dusk.

Richard and Gary took a hill overlooking a lek north of Logan County Roads 46 and 89. Jay and I sat atop the hill west of the windmill, northwest of Highway 55 and CR 46.

Richard and Gary saw a Greater Prairie-Chicken foraging about 10 minutes after sunset. Look inspection and slightly blurred photos showed a Greater Prairie-Chicken and not the wanted Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Jay and I watched a Short-eared Owl fly back and forth across the sandy plains. No chickens or grouse for our list.

After dark, we stopped at northern sections 6 to 7, Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area. An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Birding Around Denver, Day 2

October 12, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Weather-wise, today was as yesterday was predicted. It rained until mid-afternoon. Winds were 10+ mph. Perfect birding weather. Unfortunately, I did not feel like spending another six hours at Barr Lake. I enjoyed the walk yesterday and had no reason to repeat it. Instead, I went to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).

Birding was slow. I was not able to relocate the Swamp Sparrow(s) around Mary Lake. Few birds were found around Lake Ladora or the Rod & Gun Club Bird Blind. Havana Ponds had almost no birds around it.

From Rocky Mountain Arsenal and went south down Havana to Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County). Again, there were few birds around the pond. I could not scare up any of the Soras that nested there this summer. One Virginia Rail called briefly.

The lone uncommon bird was a Cassin's Vireo on the north side of the Cottonwoods at the northwest corner of the property.

My next stop was the Wildlife Area at Highway 7 & Hwy 85 in Brighton (sorry I always misplace the name). No need to visit, there was no bird activity.

I ended my birding day under partly cloudy skies at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld). No owls (Long-eared or Short-eared) were found this day.

I did hit the motherlode of warblers. Yellow-rumped Warblers numbered at 116 (flocks, 51, 23, 42). A Nashville Warbler was seen in the windbreak across from Pond 7. A Palm Warbler was at the windbreak at Pond 8.

One last bird, a Townsend's Warbler was south of Highway 52 around Pond 4.

I waited until after sunset, no owls, not even a Great Horned Owl appeared.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Great Day Birding Around Denver Area

October 11, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I was to meet Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca for bunch. While everyone was still sleeping, I drove over to Barr Lake (Adams County) for a "quick" birding trip. The weatherman messed me up as he predicted rain and overcast skies until late afternoon. At sunrise, skies were clear and remained so.

In any case, I thought that last night's rainstorm might have forced migrating birds down to the trees. When I hiked over to the Niedrach trail, I was quite disappointed. Ignoring European Starlings, the only bird found was one House Wren.

My hike continued north to the boat ramp. Few birds were moving around. Three Spotted Towhees and a flock of 9 White-crowned Sparrows were around the banding area.

Four or five Black-capped Chickadees were chattering in the cottonwoods at mile marker 8.5. While trying to see them better, a greenish/yellow bird popped out high above. It turned out to be a female Black-throated Blue Warbler. At least I had one interesting bird for the morning.

At mile marker 8.0, I finally found a flock of birds. It took 50 minutes to determine that the 71 Yellow-rumped Warblers did not include any uncommon birds. While counting and trying to put my binoculars on each one, a Northern Flicker made much racket from behind me (across the canal).

I turned around to get a look at the noisy bird and saw a flock of sparrows. The flock included 32 Chipping Sparrows, 9 Song Sparrows and a Field Sparrow.

Attention back again on the Yellow-rumped Warbler flock, a Winter Wren started to call from the cattails just north of mm 8.0. I played a recording and the wren popped out of the cattails for about 10 seconds. It sounded like a Winter Wren and had a creamy colored throat (not the buffy color expected on a Pacific Wren).

I called Bryan, Sue and Rebecca and watched the general area until they made it over. Not only did the Winter Wren cooperate and come out of the cattails again, it only took 10 minutes to relocate the Black-throated Blue Warbler still at mm 8.5.

After lunch, Rebecca and I resolved to checkout some "hotspots" of previous Octobers while Bryan and Sue went home. We only found 2 Burrowing Owls along the DIA Owl Loop. One along Picadilly Road at 0.5 miles south of 128th avenue, the other west of Tower Road at 0.3 miles north of 56th avenue.

I should mention the Great-tailed Grackles and Common Grackles at the feedlot south of the Picadilly Tree Nursery at 152nd and Picadilly. I gave up on the Eurasian Collared-Dove count here after reaching 350+.

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson) continues to be quite slow. One flock of 5 Yellow-rumped Warblers were just south of Clear Creek. We did find a Nashville Warbler on the south side of Clear Creek. The warbler was south of the footbridge, south of the chain link fence and 20 yards east of the same footbridge.

Our final stop of the day was Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties). A hike along the west side from the Kingfisher Bridge to the horse trail crossing the South Platte River was uneventful. Two House Wrens were the highlight. The area just south of the paved path was once an October hotspot; not today.

The east side was not productive either. Four Cedar Waxwings being the highlight.

Plum Creek Delta was also slow. Three Yellow-rumped Warblers were northeast of the parking area. The highlight was a Black-and-white Warbler 120 yards south of the footbridge.

The lake itself was also quiet. We could not find the Sabine's Gull reported a few days ago.

To continue enjoying this fantastic fall day, we drove up Deer Creek Canyon looking for Northern Pygmy-Owls; without success.

Guanella Pass & Pine Valley Ranch Park

October 10, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Neil Saunders and I went up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County). While winds were mild, (unusual for 11,200 feet), we did see rain and snow.

Luck was with us, it only took 20 minutes to find 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan! The birds were 50 yards south of the intersection of the Rosalie and 603 trails, and 25 yards west of the Rosalie Trail.

We stopped near the pipe gate (about 1.2 miles south of the summit) to search for the American Three-toed Woodpecker that spent last winter in the area; without success.

A detour to Kenosha Pass (Park) did not find any Dusky Grouse. We drove to the closed gate on the east side of Highway 285.

Our last stop was Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). Our luck was not quite a good as on Guanella Pass. We hiked up the Buck Gulch trail to the Parkview trail and then to the Skipper trail (long steep hike) without finding a Three-toed Woodpecker.

Fortunately, on the return trip, we heard the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker. A male Three-toed Woodpecker was 10 yards south of the Strawberry Jack trail at 100 yards west of the Parkview trail.

Continuing west and south, we heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl call. Following the sound, Neil and I finally got good looks at the Northern Pygmy-Owl at about 20 yards south of the Buck Gulch and Strawberry Jack trails! Unfortunately, it was too dark for any good photos.

Le Conte's Sparrows & Prewitt Reservoir

October 9, 2010

Richard Stevens:

At first light, we finally managed to find the 2 Le Conte's Sparrows! Beautiful birds they allowed us good 20 second looks. We also relocated the Blue-headed Vireo and Rufous Hummingbird that Roger had seen for 2 days. The resident Eastern Screech-Owls also came out for us!

We headed back to Denver by way of Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties).

As we drove into Prewitt Reservoir, a large flock of sparrows flew along the road. The flock included a Field Sparrow, dozens of Chipping Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and 2 Clay-colored Sparrows.

At the "mudflats" west of the dam, an American Golden-Plover was more or less with Long-billed Dowitchers, Sanderlings, Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Baird's Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

It was quite birdy below the dam. Among many common birds, we found a White-throated Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, and Nashville Warbler. A Sabine's Gull flew along the eastern side of the dam.

An Orange-crowned Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, 2 Mountain Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches were at the inlet grove.

Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) was slow. We did find a Sabine's Gull flying over the lake. A White-throated Sparrow was under the trees along the shoreline at Pelican Campgrounds. An Orange-crowned Warbler was with 7 Yellow-rumped Warblers. No Long-eared Owls were found.

The Wildlife Area south of Morgan County Roads 2 & AA (where Long-tailed Duck was last fall) added a Harris's Sparrow and Field Sparrow to our Morgan County day list.

After dropping off Bryan and Jerry, I went over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to look for the Red-necked Grebe. I could not find it. However, I did find 3 Sabine's Gulls below the dam. Many of the dozens (over 150+) Western Grebes were right along the shore. A Clark's Grebe was among them. If the Red-necked Grebe was there, I missed it.

No grebes were at the Cottonwood Creek Loop Wetlands Pond or the Bellevue Ponds.

Sprague's Pipit Search

October 8, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I visited a friend's yard in Wray (Yuma County). A pair of Northern Cardinals and a Harris's Sparrow visited during our stay! Winds were again strong at 14+ mph with gusts to 21 mph.

A stop at Wray City Park added a nice Black-throated Green Warbler to our day list.

The rest of the day was spent searching for Sprague's Pipits and migrating uncommon sparrows.

While we did not find any uncommon sparrows, we did find Sprague's Pipits at four locations. Two locations were south of Fleming in Logan County (thanks Scott Sever) and two more Sprague's Pipits were found in the area of Phillips County Roads 59 & 30.

We searched unsuccessfully for Greater Prairie-Chickens at the southern Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan). At least winds had died down the last couple of hours of daylight.

Roger Danka had reported a Nelson's Sparrow on his ranch last week. This week he had two Le Conte's Sparrows. We searched unsuccessfully for both.

Return to Frenchmans Creek Wildlife Area

October 7, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky, and I went back to Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area. We again missed the Le Conte's & Nelson's Sparrows. We did find a White-throated Sparrow.

We drove around southern Phillips County searching unsuccessfully for Sprague's Pipits and migrating uncommon sparrows.

Later we returned one more time to Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area. This time, Bryan spotted the Nelson's Sparrow! Strange, it was the windiest time of our search. The sparrow probably did not want to move and expose itself to the 10+ mph winds. Bryan almost stepped on it.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Frenchmans Creek Wildlife Area

October 6, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky and I visited Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) while we waited for Bryan Ehlmann to get some work done.

At sunrise, we hiked to the Rod & Gun Club bird blind and back. The trees around the bird blind were quiet (no birds and no wind).

On the way back, we found a Nashville Warbler under the tall cottonwood tree along 6th avenue (north of 3rd red buried cable sign, west of Peoria Street). The bird was "with" 3 Black-capped Chickadees and 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers. It eventually moved toward the New Mexico Locust grove to the north.

While standing here, we heard a Virginia Rail and saw a Marsh Wren.

We continued around the east and north side of Lake Ladora. While we were watching a small flock of birds in the Russian Olive trees below Lower Derby Lake, a Barn Owl flew out of the taller cottonwoods. An Eastern Phoebe was among the flock of Wilson's Warblers, Western Wood-pewee, and Dark-eyed Juncos. The Eastern Phoebe eventually flew to the west side of Peoria Street.

When we walked along the outlet canal below Lower Derby Lake, we found a House Wren and Hermit Thrush.

We circled Mary Lake and found an immature Swamp Sparrow along the outlet canal to Lake Ladora. It was with 6 or 7 Song Sparrows. While we played a tape to entice a better look, a possible adult Swamp Sparrow also came out of the cattails.

Bryan was finally ready and we all headed toward Northeast Colorado.

We struck out on finding the Le Conte's Sparrow and Nelson's Sparrow at Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area (Phillips). We did find a Black-throated Green Warbler and Red-breasted Nuthatch at Holyoke City Park (Phillips). We also relocated 3 Field Sparrows at the Lion's Club Fishing Pond.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adams, Boulder & Arapahoe County Birds

October 5, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went back to Barr Lake (Adams County) trying to relocate the Winter Wren I saw yesterday; without success. Yesterday, it was near a bush almost underneath one of the closed banding nets. No telling where it went when they went down the canal to open up the net.

We did find a Nashville Warbler and Hermit Thrush in the bushes at mile marker 8.2 (just south of the Pioneer Trail). This group of bushes is one of my favorite places to find thrushes in the park. Whether this Nashville Warbler was the same one I found yesterday at mm 8.7, I will never know (I suspect it is not).

Afterwards, we drove up to South Boulder County to search for the Sprague's Pipit. The day was again fantastic with little wind and cool low 70s temperatures. Just too nice to go home.

We searched for 2.5 hours for the Sprague's Pipit; without success. Two Vesper Sparrows, one Clay-colored Sparrow and seventeen Horned Larks were encountered as we crisscrossed the eastern side of the mesa (northeast of the intersection of South 66th avenue and Marshall Road).

Several Red-tailed Hawks including a dark morph flew overhead during our stay. This did not make the many prairie dogs happy.

After a late lunch, we drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe). The juvenile Sabine's Gull was flying around the southeast corner of the lake. We relocated the Red-necked Grebe reported earlier in the day by Glenn Walbek. Missed the 2 Red-necked Phalaropes Glenn also reported.

A dusk, we found several Burrowing Owls along the DIA Owl Loop. No Short-eared Owls flew about during our trek.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Winter Wren at Barr Lake

October 4, 2010

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful day. Winds were calm and temperatures were in the low 50s in the morning. A Winter Wren was reported a Barr Lake (Adams County) yesterday and I went over to try to relocate it.

I drove the DIA Owl loop at civil twilight and there was a Short-eared Owl perched on the DIA northern fence! A Great Horned Owl was perched on a telephone pole along 128th avenue. I got this idea to make it a four owl morning and stopped by a friend's ranch. His Barn Owls were of course in his barn.

At Barr Lake, I quickly walked to the banding area before sunrise. About 5 minutes before sunrise (6:56 am), I noticed a small bird moving around the thick bushes along the canal (southeast of the banding station). After getting only glimpses of the bird for 15 minutes, I played a Winter Wren recording. The wren responded immediately (less than 5 seconds). The Winter Wren called for a good minute and popped out of the brush for 10 seconds. Great looks and I was able to record his song. Later, a sonogram matched a Winter Wren, which is what I thought it was. Quite different from the song of the "newly split" Pacific Wren.

I then walked back along the main trail/road to the Neidrach Boardwalk. At sunrise, the whole area was quite birdy (even around the banding station). A few Wilson's Warblers, dozens of White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Lincoln's Sparrows, 2 Hermit Thrushes and an unidentified vireo.

At mile marker 8.8, there is a fall down cottonwood still with green leaves (will not be for long as roots are completely out of the ground). A female/young male Blue Grosbeak sang near the trunk. A Nashville Warbler briefly came out of the underbrush below the tree. Another dozen White-crowned Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow also flew back and forth from the tree to the canal. Another Hermit Thrush skulked around.

Only a few birds were observed from here to the Niedrach Boardwalk. Only three birds were around the boardwalk, 2 Wilson's Warblers and a colorful Cassin's Vireo.

Later I hiked below the dam and encountered few birds. Then I drove around to mile marker 2.5 and walked to mile 4.0. Dozens of White-crowned Sparrows were along the west side of the reservoir. One White-throated Sparrow was with them! A quite late migrating Townsend's Warbler was high in the cottonwoods at mile marker 3.0.

Nothing uncommon was found on the lake. There were many birds: American White Pelicans, Western Grebes, Double-crested Cormorants, Ring-billed Gulls, California Gulls, Ruddy Ducks, etc.

As an Editorial Note: I amazing me that I seldom run into other birders at sunrise. The woods were full of bird activity. The airwaves full of songs and calls. Best time of the day!

Another Search for Sprague's Pipits

October 3, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I continued our search for Sprague's Pipits today. The search wandered through Kit Carson, Washington, Lincoln and Elbert Counties. Unfortunately, none could be found. The day was much different from the past two days. Winds were 10+ mph, gusts to 19 mph; temperatures in the high 80s to 90s; it felt hot.

We decided against driving farther south to see if any shorebirds were on Sheridan Lake (it was dry the last time I passed by it). A 30 minute search for Inca Doves in Kit Carson did not turn up any.

Birding was not unsuccessful. A stop at Kinney Lake Wildlife Area (Lincoln) found a beautiful Sedge Wren calling. It took about 20 minutes for him to pop out of the weeds, and then he gave us great looks.

Karval Reservoir Wildlife Area (Lincoln) added a Field Sparrow and Eastern Phoebe to our day list. Hugo Reservoir was a bust.

Dickcissels and Bobolinks are probably long gone from Colorado for the year. We checked out the Elbert County Road fields anyway; without success.

Search for Sprague's Pipits and Bonny Reservoir

October 2, 2010

Richard Stevens:

A friend who owns a ranch in Sedgwick County called to report a possible Sharp-tailed Sparrow in his cattails. In 2000, he also reported one that turned out to really be one. So Bryan and I headed up to his ranch. We searched for about 3 hours; without success. These reports are not to be ignored in my opinion. The ranchers spent hours each day on their lands and sometimes do run across an uncommon bird.

On 10/11/2000, I fortunately ran into him while walking along the highway along side of his property. He stopped to see what I was doing (at the time, looking for migrating sparrows). While he thought I was "wasting my time", he entertained the concept and gave me a tour of his ranch. I gave him my bird book and we have been friends ever since.

It started a great story about how I drove home from our first meeting. As I walked in the door, the phone was ringing. He was beaming because he was looking at a Sharp tailed Sparrow. I had devoted years searching for Sharp tailed Sparrow on the eastern plains. While I doubted as a 2-day-old birder that he was looking at one, I drove the 180+ miles back to his ranch. As it turned out, he did have a Sharp tailed Sparrow! Again, that's birding!

Bryan and I continued to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma County) where we enjoyed another great day of birding. Winds were mild and temperatures in the 80s.

Our first stop was Yuma County Road 2, where Le Conte's Sparrows have been reported in the past; none today. We then walked the Hopper Ponds area where Bryan yelled Le Conte's Sparrow! After waiting another 20 minutes, we got good views of a Le Conte's Sparrow!

We searched the field below the Bonny Reservoir dam where Sprague's Pipits have been spotted in past years. No sign of any today, a couple of Eastern Bluebirds flew about.

I then wanted to check a field east of Hale (below the Bonny Reservoir dam) where I had found a Baird's Sparrow a few years back. That would have been quite a day to have both rare sparrows sighted on the same day; did not happen.

While walking along the Republican River north of the Hale Ponds, we found a Magnolia Warbler and Palm Warbler! Again not bad, consolation prizes for missing a Baird's Sparrow.

When we drove back to Wagon Wheel Campgrounds for a final check, Bryan pointed out a Short-eared Owl flying over the field to the south!

At dusk, we played a Common Poorwill recording south of Hale Ponds and had a Common Poorwill answer us! As a final bird, we walked north of Hale Ponds and enticed the Eastern Screech-Owl in responding to our tapes.

Jumbo Reservoir and Search for Sprague's Pipits

October 1, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed up to Sedgwick County to search for Sprague's Pipits.

Our first stop however was Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick). It is a long way to drive from Denver and pass up this birding gem. We were not disappointed.

From the south end of Jumbo, we found a couple of Caspian Terns and a Black-bellied Plover. A Blackpoll Warbler was foraging at the south end of the eastern Campgrounds. We saw 14 Greater White-fronted Geese from the northeast corner of Jumbo. Two Red-necked Phalaropes were off the northern Campgrounds.

Finally, we checked the trees below the western side of Jumbo. Many times, I have found a Northern Cardinal down there. No luck with that, but a great consolation prize was a Cape May Warbler in the tall trees below the southwest corner of the reservoir.

On the way east to Julesburg, we stopped by Little Jumbo Reservoir and Red Lion Wildlife Area. A Nashville Warbler was fluttering about the trees on the east side of Little Jumbo. Red Lion was dried up, no birds.

We hiked over to the grove of trees several hundred yards east of the parking area. Occasionally a Red-bellied Woodpecker or uncommon sparrow has been recording here; unfortunately, there were none today.

We also wandered through the fields east of the parking area hoping to "kick up" an uncommon migrating sparrow such as a Baird's or Le Conte's; no luck with that either.

Roger Danka joined us and we spent the rest of the day searching for Sprague's Pipits in the fields and rolling hills of Sedgwick County. Two Sprague's Pipits were found along Sedgwick County Road 59, between CR 30 and CR 26.

Quite a few American Pipits were also around. Fortunately, the blank stare and big eye of the Sprague's Pipit stands out.

As a side note, we also searched around Logan County Road 64.5, west of CR 93. No Sprague's Pipits for us, however, Cole Wild found one the next day. That's birding!