Monday, November 29, 2010

Finally the Brant! Ross's Gull Probably Gone

November 29, 2010

Richard Stevens:

We received several inches of snow last night. Temperatures will hardly reach the low 30s today. An hour before sunrise, Bryan Ehlmann and I drove the DIA Owl loop looking for Short-eared Owls; without success.

At sunrise, we scoped Lakecrest and finally got a look at the Brant! Several Ross's Geese were also observed; no Greater White-fronted Goose today. The lone Ross's Goose was with many White-cheeked Geese at Emerald Strand Park (all Denver County).

Next, we drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) for one last shot at the Ross's Gull. It was not found. We probably will not try again unless someone reports the Gull. Most gulls were flying around and we found nothing uncommon at the swim beach or the southeastern corner.

We did not see the Dunlin. However, they could be in the southeastern corner. Yesterday, they walked around in little valleys along the shore and were not visible for long periods of time (unless and when I hiked around the south side of the lake).

Then we drove over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake from the dam, the swim beach and south side. No Ross's Gull, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the swim beach. We did not hike the 8.7 miles around the lake and therefore missed many coves (about 20 percent of the lake cannot be seen from the above mentioned locations).

Again, we found the Harris's Sparrow at Barr Lake (Adams) and the Great-tailed Grackles at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot. For once, I did not stay out until dark; too cold, I went home for a hot meal!

Great Day at Cherry Creek Reservoir, Missed Brant Again

November 28, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out early searching for the Brant; again without success. We again found a Ross's Goose (Emerald Strand Park) and a Greater White-fronted Goose and additional Ross's Geese at Lakecrest (Denver County).

I took Bryan back to his car and we relocated the Harris's Sparrow at Barr Lake (Adams).

Bryan went home for the day and I headed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

As reported, I found the Mew Gull on the swim beach with dozens of Ring-billed Gulls, California Gulls and a few Herring Gulls. I took about 60 photos before the Mew Gull was surrounded by Ring-billed Gulls.

At the southeast corner, I found and took about 30 photos of the two Dunlin before backing off and leaving. I accessed the area by taking the "wildlife preserve" trail north of the Shop Creek Parking Area. Follow this man made (covered in stones) to a well packed trail leading north toward the lake (stump on east side of trail and small log lying across trail, no stones). From here go north to lake and walk east close to cattails. Dunlin were near shore where wet area extends south to cattails.

On my return route, a Swamp Sparrow was seen and photographed on and near a fallen down cottonwood log (about 15 feet long) at the edge of the cattails. This log is about halfway between previous "wet area" and the water inlet at the bird platform.

The Ross's Gull was not found but looked for quite a bit.

Further searches for Brant were not successful. Richard Anderson found the Brant along the south side of Lakecrest, east end. I only scoped from the northern west end of the lake.

My birding day ended near Trussville Road and 114th avenue, searching for Short-eared Owls; without success.

Pueblo County Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Missed Common Redpoll and Brant

November 27, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Again getting to bed late at 8:00 am, my birding day did not start until 11:00 am. I found a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker east of the tennis courts at Pueblo City Park (Pueblo). It slowly moved south along Calla Avenue and flew down Collins Avenue.

The plan was to head south to Lathrop State Park and Lake Maria. However, Rebecca and several other cobirders found a Brant in Denver County and that was a year bird for me.

On my way to Denver (by way of highway 83, it is a much more interesting route than taking highway 25 interstate), I made a brief detour to Tomichi Gulch. I scoped the feeders where I found a Common Redpoll last week; without success in a repeat.

Once in northeastern Denver County, I searched Emerald Strand, Lakecrest and the surrounding fields for the Brant, without success. I did find five Ross's Geese, two Greater White-fronted Geese, and Snow Geese at several locations; it was not a consolation for missing the Brant.

I stopped at Barr Lake (Adams) and found a Harris's Sparrow below the feeders west of the Visitor's Center. Great-tailed Grackles and Eurasian Collared-Doves continue at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot (south of 152nd avenue & Picadilly Road).

Fremont and Pueblo Counties, Unsuccessful Search for Spotted Owls

November 26, 2010

Richard Stevens:

After a couple of hours of sleep (went to bed at 7:00 am), I drove around Canon City (Fremont County) looking for some of the many Williamson's Sapsuckers that have been reported.

A male and two female Williamson's Sapsuckers were relocated at Lakeside Cemetery. A female Williamson's Sapsucker was found at both the Holy Cross Abbey and Centennial Park. I could not find any at Rouse Park; perhaps the sapsuckers at the other locations came from here?

At Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont), I found the previously reported Pacific Loon! The Wildlife Area was quite birdy. A flock of 10+ Bushtits and several Juniper Titmice were fluttering about south of the parking area.

A search for Ladder-backed Woodpeckers below the dam was not successful. Several Pinyon Jays were heard over the hill to the east (east of the old dump). However, I never did see any.

Next, I drove to Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) and scoped the lake from several locations. The Black-legged Kittiwake and several Bonaparte's Gulls were found off the West Fisherman's Point.

The Long-tailed Duck was observed from a little farther east. A few Common Loons were seen also.

The northern marina was quiet; however, the southern marina tires hosted an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and many common gulls.

My birding day again ended with an unsuccessful search for Spotted Owls in Fremont County.

At 6:00 am, I drove through Beaver Creek Wildlife Area. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was enticed to answer my recording! Nice little bird!

Cherry Creek Reservoir, Red Rocks Park and Park County

November 25, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) about 45 minutes before sunrise and waited at the parking area just west of where Cherry Creek crosses until the main road. Short-eared Owls have been observed flying over the large cattail fields here. However, none did today.

Then I scoped Cherry Creek Reservoir from the Lake Loop to see if the Ross's Gull that was seen just offshore the evening before, was still there? It was not. I hurried over to the sandbar at the southwest marina only to hear that the Ross's Gull had just flown. A first year Thayer's Gull swam not far offshore!

On my way to the swim beach area, a quick stop at the old Jet Ski parking area turned out to be a good place to scope the southeast corner of the lake. Among the many Ring-billed and California Gulls, the adult Mew Gull and an adult and 2nd year Lesser Black-backed Gull were observed!

At the swim beach, I found the Ross's Gull flying around in the middle of the lake! Many gulls 600+ were at the swim beach. However, none was uncommon.

No loons, Trumpeter Swan appears to be gone, Western Grebes numbers were way down from 5:00 pm yesterday, Common Merganser numbers way up from last evening, and I did not see the Red-necked Grebe.

On my way to Park County, a quick stop was made at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). The Curve-billed Thrasher and Golden-crowned Sparrow appeared within 10 minutes. The White-throated Sparrow did not show in 15 minutes and I left.

The reservoirs in Park County were mostly ice covered. Eleven Mile Reservoir and Antero were 100 percent frozen. Spinney Mountain Reservoir was 90 percent ice covered. The State Park is closed for the season; however, one can walk in the Wildlife Area at the west end. Two cold Trumpeter Swans stood at the west end. Many ducks were in the river between Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir; however, none was uncommon.

I ended my birding day searching unsuccessfully for Spotted Owls in Fremont County.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Search for owls in Larimer County, Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 24, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Wednesday I took my four birding friends to Larimer County. Our first stop was Lee Martinez Park in Fort Collins. It only took 15 minutes before an Eastern Screech-Owl was enticed to come out of his hole and see what our recording was all about!

On the second pass through Rist Canyon, we finally found a Northern Pygmy-Owl. It was on the south side of the road in the thin woods west of Whale Rock. Sort of the same location as past years and probably the one that Tom and Mary France photographed a while back.

We ran out of time to look for Lapland Longspurs on the Pawnee National Grasslands and I took them to DIA (Denver International Airport; seems that many people have written me about what DIA means; as in DIA Owl Loop).

We stopped briefly at Barr Lake (Adams County) and saw the Harris's Sparrow behind the Visitor's Center. Thousands of White-cheeked Geese, Canada Geese & Cackling Geese, Snow Geese and a couple of Ross's Geese were off the boat ramp.

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). I arrived late but did see the Ross's Gull for the fifth straight day! I hurried around to the swim beach to scope for gulls; this was 5:00 pm. It was getting dark. I could see a couple of Bonaparte's Gulls but most gulls were still flying around in the center of the lake. At 5:07 pm, a Trumpeter Swan landed west of the swim beach!

After dark, I again walked from the Lake Loop to Cottonwood Creek Loop. No Long-eared Owl this evening. A Great Horned Owl again called from the Campgrounds.

I am headed over there now (Thursday morning) to see if the Trumpeter Swan is still around and if any Short-eared Owls will be flying around this morning. I was telling another birder a few days ago, that 7 of the 13 swans that I have seen at Cherry Creek Reservoir have come in after sunset. Now its 8 of 14! It pays to stay and watch the sunset and silhouettes of birds swimming around!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mountain & Foothills Birding & Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 23, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I took four birders into the mountains to search for feeders and mountain birds. We looked in Empire and Dillon, not finding much.

A quick stop at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County) found 7 Barrow's Goldeneyes on the small pond that never freezes.

On the trip back to Denver, we detoured to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek). The pass has received much snow since my last visit. Snow Boarders and skiers now have enough snow to avoid the lift tickets at Loveland Ski Area. Unfortunately, the increased activity chases the White-tailed Ptarmigan away from the "easy" sightings.

Winds were quite strong at the top of the pass. Anemometer readings were steady 28+ mph with gusts to 39.3 mph. We tried to steady our scopes but found no ptarmigan at the top.

The hill opposite the first pullover south of the summit is always my second choice. Again trying to hold our scopes steady was quite difficult; again no ptarmigan.

At the first pullover on the right side of the road below the south side of the summit, we again pulled out our scopes. However, this time I found 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan under one of the evergreens about 40 yards east of hwy 6!

I am always glad to avoid my fourth choice, the long climb up the west side of the Summit. A flat area about 0.6 miles up the steep hill is many times good for Ptarmigan. It is a strenuous climb even for one acclimatized to the altitude. I make it quite often, never enjoy it though.

It was still morning and we decided to drive to Pine Valley Ranch Park to search for American Three-toed Woodpeckers. One American Dipper was diving into the freezing water to hunt for food. Darn, they are hearty birds!

A quick stop at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) was a gem. We found all three "uncommon" birds within 10 minutes. Luck never hurts as the Curve-billed Thrasher, Golden-crowned Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow all were below the northern platform feeder when we arrived.

Our luck continued at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). We walked less than 400 yards before seeing a male American Three-toed Woodpecker working the trees on the hillside south of Pine Lake.

We returned to Denver, the group had already see the Ross's Gull at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and decided to get some rest. I on the other hand, drove over to the reservoir.

I had seen the Ross's Gull for three straight days and was in no hurry to search the many gulls flying around the lake again. A Black-legged Kittiwake would have made my day so I scoped the swim beach first thing.

No Black-legged Kittiwake again, however as a consolation, the Mew Gull and a 1st cycle Thayer's Gull were among several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and dozens of California Gulls.

While scoping the lake for loons, I did find the Ross's Gull in the west-center of the reservoir. Its distinctive feeding pattern is the first clue in locating the Gull. Then a good look at its wedge shaped tail, clinches the ID. No loons or grebes were found.

I drove over to the Lake Loop and scoped the lake from the north end. The Red-necked Grebe was not found; however, a loose raft of Ruddy Ducks and Lesser Scaup had a pair of Greater Scaup among it.

Off to the east side of the Lake Loop, I could see a Pacific Loon and Common Loon. By then, daylight was disappearing rapidly and my search ended without a Black-legged Kittiwake sighting.

After dark, I hiked from the Bird Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop, first west to the Lake Loop and then east from the Cottonwood Creek Loop to the path that cuts through the trees (Shop Creek trail). A Long-eared Owl called for the second time in four days (east of the inlet canal and south of the cattails).

Later, I walked the Campgrounds listening for Great Horned Owls. My birding day ended with the calling of one of the large owls!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adams and Arapahoe County Birding

November 22, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I left home about 60 minutes before sunrise hoping to find some Short-eared Owls along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County). Winds were 20+ mph with gusts to 28 mph. It was definitely colder than yesterday morning.

A Short-eared Owl was seen flying from west to east across Queensburg Street at 0.1 miles south of 114th avenue. This was about 15 minutes before sunrise (sunrise: 6:51 am). It was the only Short-eared Owl found this morning.

After sunrise, a pair of Northern Harriers came out where 114th avenue turns south toward 96th avenue.

Once at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) I scoped the reservoir from the west end of the picnic tables east of the handicapped fisherperson's dock. It took awhile; finally, the Ross's Gull was again observed flying around in the middle of the lake.

I snuck around to the swim beach and scoped the gulls hoping to find the Black-legged Kittiwake; without success. The Mew Gull was in the middle of several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and dozens of California Gulls.

Next, I walked the south end of the lake from the Lake Loop to the Cottonwood Creek Loop. No Snow Bunting for me this morning.

I stopped at the south end of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake from mile marker 1.5 and over to 3.0. No uncommon gulls were found today (they could have been at the north end which was beyond my equipment's ability).

The Pacific Loon and Common Loon were again swimming in the extreme southeastern end of the reservoir. I do not believe this cove can be scoped from the eastern end of the dam or from the swim beach. It is a good 3.0 mile hike to see into this cove.

A stop at Barr Lake (Adams) again found 3 Common Loons (viewed from the closed boat ramp). Great-tailed Grackles and Eurasian Collared-Doves continue at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot.

It took over an hour before the Harris's Sparrow was observed again coming below the feeders behind (west) the Barr Lake Visitor's Center!

The cold winds of 21+ mph changed my mind about ending the birding day at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Common Redpoll at Tomichi Gulch, Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 21, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed an exciting day of birding. First, I drove south to Tomichi Gulch (Douglas County) in search of a possible Eastern Towhee (Kingery 11/19). Throughout the day, the weather changed drastically. At Tomichi Gulch, it was sunny, 40 degrees and calm winds. Later at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas), I measured winds steady at 28 mph with half a dozen gusts at 37.7 mph. At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) around 11:00 am, temperatures dropped 20 degrees and winds were 25+ mph.

I had not been back to Tomichi Gulch since 1993. When I first started birding, I thought that I could get my "lifebird" Band-tailed Pigeon there. Mixed Ponderosa Pine forest, creek and cottonwoods, after 14 visits, It sunk in that Tomichi Gulch perhaps is not the place to find Band-tailed Pigeons.

Many birds were found during a 0.7 mile hike from the trailhead east along the creek to the northeast corner of the "working ranch" where the trail opens up into prairie.

All three nuthatches, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Western Scrub-Jays, Song Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. Three Spotted Towhees were found, no Eastern Towhee.

When I arrived at the open prairie, a red capped bird caught my attention. A Common Redpoll was with 7 American Goldfinches on top of the willows. They eventually flew to feeders between two cream colored homes quite a ways north of the creek.

On the trip back to my car, an adult female Northern Goshawk was observed in a tree about halfway to the trailhead.

Another house with feeders was found at the first creek crossing east of the trailhead. The feeders are east of the cream colored house with wooden porch. If there is an Eastern Towhee in the area, watching these feeders could produce a sighting as I did see two Spotted Towhees visit below the feeders. Perhaps the Common Redpoll will also work his way west to these feeders?

Next, I drove through Castlewood Canyon State Park by way of Lake Gulch Road to Castlewood Canyon Road. I was hoping to see some bluebirds. None was found in the 28+ mph winds.

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). By the time I arrived, the Ross's Gull was no longer at the southwest sandbar. No gulls were at the bird platform area, Cottonwood Creek Loop or the southeast corner.

I did notice some gulls on the Jet Ski beach area. When I stopped to scope them, the Mew Gull was found among 3 dozen Ring-billed Gulls! Later, the Mew Gull flew to the swim beach.

Fog rolled in about noon or so and weather turned bad for about 2 hours. Then the sun returned and so did the Ross's Gull. Jerry Petrosky joined me and watched the Ross's Gull again hunting for fish in the middle of the lake.

I walked the north and then south "beaches" again looking for a Snow Bunting; without success.

Returning to the swim beach, the Black-legged Kittiwake was again missed, if he is still around? We scanned the lake and could not find any loons. However, Mike Henwood did report a Pacific and Common Loon. The Red-necked Grebe was not relocated either.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another Look at the Ross's Gull

November 20, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I got up at 5:00 am to go over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). Then remembered that this time of year, fog hovers over the reservoir until 9:00 am or so. I finally arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir about 8:30 am.

The Ross's Gull was quite visible from the northern picnic tables east of the swim beach. He flew low over the water, diving down and catching fish. He would rest now and then and continue eating quite a few fish. Perhaps "stocking up" for his long trip back home?

From my vantage point, I could see 3 Common Loons, the Pacific Loon and the Red-throated Loon west of the swim beach (below the dam). While looking for the Red-throated Loon, I also found the Red-necked Grebe among the many Western Grebes.

My main goal (having seen the Ross's Gull yesterday) was to photograph a Snow Bunting. My attempt to find any on the north side of the lake was unsuccessful. Several flocks of American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were in the bushes along the shore. Then I hiked the south side of the lake from the boat ramp to the bird platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

I met a birder on the shore at the extreme eastern shore of the Lake Loop and talked to him for 5 minutes. He left and I turned around and took two steps. A Snow Bunting flew up not 15 feet from me.

Later, I met the birder again and he mentioned that he had watched the Snow Bunting for 5 minutes before I ran into him. Unfortunately, he had just started birding and did not know what he was watching. At least I got good looks at a Snow Bunting flying away, but no photographs.

The Snow Bunting flew east along the shore. I continued to the bird platform where the Mew Gull was among 600+ Ring-billed Gulls and several dozen California Gulls. At least I got a photograph of it.

As a consolation, I did see a Long-eared Owl in the trees that still have green leaves along the path from the Lake Loop to the Cottonwood Creek Loop!

Later, I drove to the Shop Creek parking area and bushwhacked into the extreme southeastern corner of Cherry Creek Reservoir. There is much shore here, however no Snow Bunting. Half a dozen Great Blue Herons and many Killdeer were there.

On the way home, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe). The Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were fairly easy to find. I could not relocate the Black Scoter reported a few days ago.

One final stop, Barr Lake State Park (Adams County). Three Common Loons were swimming below the dam. Two Greater White-fronted Geese were among hundreds of White-cheeked Geese just west of the boat ramp. One Snow Goose was also here.

These thousands of White-cheeked Geese (Canada Geese and Cackling Geese) were only a small percentage of the thousands of geese farther west in the park. If someone took the time, perhaps a Brant, additional Greater White-fronted Geese or a Ross's Goose could be found among them. I could see additional white geese too far away to identify in the distance. Perhaps tomorrow?

A quick stop at the Visitor's Center found a Harris's Sparrow behind (west) of the building. He came with a couple of White-crowned Sparrows below the feeders there. When not at the feeders, he would go to the taller bushes just west of the building.

A dozen Great-tailed Grackles and many Eurasian Collared-Doves continue at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot at 152nd avenue and Picadilly Road (about a mile north of Barr Lake).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gilpin County Owls and Rosy Finches; Ross's Gull at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 19, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Gary Weston and I did some owling hours before sunrise in Gilpin County. Mainly we drove up to Rollinsville and back along Highway 119. The scenery sure has changed since gambling went big time in Blackhawk and Central City. It is quite ugly.

Considering the time of year and traffic, we did quite well. We ended up hearing 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls and 1 Boreal Owl. A drive around Rollinsville found two flocks of Rosy Finches. Total number of birds was approximately 310+. They were mostly Gray-crowned Rosy Finches (80 percent) and Brown-capped Rosy Finches. We could only pick out one Black Rosy Finch.

Afterwards, we detoured to Loveland Pass and found 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan north of the large pullover south of the Summit (first pullover south and west of hwy 6). We found little activity at the few feeders in Empire (Clear Creek County).

The excitement today was definitely at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Glenn Walbek found an adult basic Ross's Gull. Fortunately, many birders were able to see it.

Skipping sleep unlike my companions, I arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir around 1:00 pm. First, I tried to find the Snow Bunting reported by Rozinski. I walked from the swim beach to the old jet ski rental area and back. On the second pass, I found a Snow Bunting with 14+ Dark-eyed Juncos and 7+ American Tree Sparrows along the shore. They were in the bushes and along the shore west of the handicapped fisherperson's dock (near the cement stairs leading down to the lake.

About 2 hours later, the many birders looking at the Ross's Gull (from the Lake Loop) saw a Snow Bunting along their shore. Perhaps it was the same bird that flew directly south, or perhaps there were/are several Snow Buntings at the State Park? Snow Buntings are being reported at quite a few locations around Colorado this fall.

From the swim beach, I was able to see at least 3 Common Loons and the Pacific Loon. I missed the Red-throated Loon, which was relocated later in the day by Bryan Ehlmann. I am not sure anyone looked for the Red-necked Grebe today with the Ross's Gull being the priority.

I eventually worked my way over to the Lake Loop and got some great looks at the Ross's Gull. Thanks Glenn!

Almost forgot, on the way home, relocated the Great-tailed Grackles at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot and saw a Common Loon below the dam at Barr Lake (Adams).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Afternoon at Cherry Creek State Park

November 18, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann;

When Sue and I went through Cherry Creek State Park, we found Richard Stevens at the picnic tables with gull wings, southwest side.

Richard was looking at the Red necked Grebe 20 feet from shore.

He also put his scope on the Red throated Loon, Pacific Loon and three Common Loons.

We walked to the end of the road below the dam and saw two Bonaparte's Gulls and the Mew Gull flying around the dam's tower.

Many Ring-billed Gulls, dozens of California Gulls and at least two Herring Gulls were swimming off the dam. We could not find any Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Boulder County and Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 17, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Still too tired to think of a catchy title...................

Instead of going to Gross Reservoir, I drove to the Brainard Lake area, west of Ward (Boulder County). It was snowing, but the sky was clear. I could see the starts and 3/4 full moon through the snowflakes. Winds were mild. All provided a calm surreal experience.

I could not get any owls (Boreal Owl or otherwise) to respond to my recordings.

After sunrise, I found an American Three-toed Woodpecker near the Brainard Lake trailhead. Most other birds were not moving around.

My stop at Paula Hansley's Louisville home was less than 45 minutes. Only a couple of House Sparrows and 2 House Finches visited her feeders during that time.

The last two hours of daylight were spent at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). I scoped the lake from the Bird Platform (Cottonwood Creek Loop) and found 2 Common Loons and the Pacific Loon.

Then I hiked down the road from below the southwest corner of the dam. Unfortunately, the many Western Grebes had swum back into the center of the lake. I was able to pick out the Red-necked Grebe! Two additional Common Loons were found (the two farther east could also be seen, so there were at least four!).

I ended the day watching the many grebes and gulls from the handicapped fisherperson's dock. We had another fantastic Colorado early winter sunset; it was outstanding.

Several Bonaparte's Gulls flew about. However, the Mew Gull escaped my inspection.

Aurora Reservoir and Boulder County

November 16, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Too tired to come up with a catchy title....................

In the morning, I drove over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) and hiked the 8.8 miles around the lake. Quite a few ducks were there. Many Western Grebes but no Clark's Grebes were among them.

A Common Loon was below the dam (mile marker 6.5). A Pacific Loon was in the cove at mm 4.5.

Most of the gulls were on the beach at mm 1.5. I walked the hundred yards or so off the bike path and scoped the gulls. The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was among hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls and dozens of California Gulls. At least two Bonaparte's Gulls were picked out also.
In the afternoon, I drove over to Paula Hanley's Louisville home. She had seen a Wood Thrush and White-throated Sparrow earlier in the day.

I arrived at Paula Hansley's home in Louisville around 2:45 pm. Winds were quite strong (left my anemometer at home along with my cell phone so could not take a reading). I did not see the Wood Thrush in the 45 minutes I watched; winds got stronger. I did see a thrush (probably a Robin) fly out of her pines at 3:01 pm and go left (west I believe, anyway toward Tyler Street).

Next, I drove over to Teller Farms. A flock of 14+ White-crowned Sparrows and the Golden-crowned Sparrow were in the bushes right at the southeast corner of the parking area. They eventually flew along the trail toward North Teller Lake (same thing that Christian Nunes saw earlier). When I departed, the flock flew into the brush below the downed cottonwood tree, north of the trail and just south of Valmont Road.

I checked out Prince Lakes #1 & #2 and Erie Reservoir. The Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the west side of Prince Lake #2.

By the time I returned to Hansley's home, it was quite dark, however less windy. I did not see the Wood Thrush and White - throated Sparrow.

If the weather holds, I plan to go up to Gross Reservoir (west of Boulder) and do some owling. Camp up there and try for the Wood Thrush in the morning. This front is supposed to be a small one and moving out fast? I did hear Interstate 70 is closed from Silverthorne to Eagle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Red Rocks Park Area

November 15, 2010

Richard Stevens:

After spending November 13 & 14th in bed (slept probably 18+ hours each day), my cold appeared to be better. I had to get out of the house. While I did not feel up to much hiking, I could sit at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County) late in the afternoon.

I arrived at 4:00 pm, which may have been a little late considering the poor light (snowing a bit). The number of juncos at the feeders behind the Trading Post was half of my previous visits. In the past four or five visits, an adult and 2 or 3 juvenile White-crowned Sparrows preceded visits from the Golden-crowned Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow. No White-crowned Sparrows came tonight.

I had just about given up hope and was only staying until no birds visited the feeder. At 4:39 pm, the Curve-billed Thrasher jumped up on the northwestern platform feeder. The bird stayed until 4:44 pm and then jumped down and disappeared over the 4X4 (with red paint on it) and into the thick brush.

The two sparrows never came for a visit. By then I had decided to stay longer than any birds. Four Song Sparrows showed up around 5:00 pm. Two of which stayed until at least 5:40 pm when I left. There is a light on the northwest corner of the trading post. I wonder if the Song Sparrows (2 of the 4 kept coming to the platform feeder) take advantage of the light and eat late into the night. I was too cold to stay longer in hopes of deciding that.

Instead of going home, I parked at Red Rocks Park entrance # 2 and walked the highway south to Morrison and back. Northern Pygmy-Owls have nested in the riparian area along the creek in the past; none was found tonight.

Before going home, I drove over to White Ranch Open Space. Here, my Northern Pygmy-Owl recording did get a response!

"Walking the Ridge" Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass

November 12, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Three of us decided to conduct the 2nd annual "Walk the Ridge" (actually Continental Divide) between Loveland Pass and Interstate 70. It really the 7th attempt, last year was the first time we succeeded.

The route is trick if you want to do it when there is snow on the ground (better to see White-tailed Ptarmigan tracks). Too much snow, the route is dangerous and slippery. Not enough snow and the high winds blow away any chance of seeing ptarmigan tracks.

Conditions were perfect today. Just enough fresh snow for ptarmigan to leave tracks. Besides the four White-tailed Ptarmigan, Howard and I found yesterday, we added another seven ptarmigan to our day list!

Note: This is a strenuous hike, while only 3.9 miles in length, there is much elevation gain and of course loss. We also carry avalanche beacons, although they were not needed today. Every precaution should be taken by hikers attempting this. Do not attempt under "avalanche" conditions. Be aware!

Afterwards, to "wind down" our legs, Gary Weston and I hiked the South Platte River from 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd to Hwy 224 (west side) and back (along the east side).

The male Barrow's Goldeneye (Michaels, 11/8) was about 20 yards south of the green/white tower (about 0.4 miles south of 88th avenue). Later we would relocate the duck on Tani Reservoir.

Heading for home, we scoped Dahlia Lake. A Long-tailed Duck was found on the north end (we parked at the small "driveway" gate pointed toward the lake.

Many Great-tailed Grackles and Eurasian Collared-Doves can still be seen at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot (Adams).

Mountain Birding and Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 11, 2010

Richard Stevens:

While watching the "big three" birds at Red Rocks Park yesterday, I met Howard Shapiro from Toronto. We had decided to try for mountain birds in Summit and Clear Creek Counties.

At sunrise, we managed to see flocks of Rosy Finches flying around the Dillon area (all three species, Gray-crowned, Brown-capped, and Black). A few Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Mountain Chickadees, flocks of Pygmy Nuthatches, Gray Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, and White-breasted Nuthatches brighten our morning.

A check at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit) did not find any Barrow's Goldeneyes. One female Common Goldeneye was with Green-winged Teal, Mallards and Gadwalls.

Howard had to catch an airplane home and as we turned back east, I said it would only be a 4 mile (30 minute) detour to look for White-tailed Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass. I really did not expect to find any. However, within 5 minutes of our arrival, I followed the tracks to 2-4 White-tailed Ptarmigan below the southeast corner of the Summit parking area.

We then drove south down the pass to the first pullover on the right side of Highway 6. Last year, the hill on the opposite side of the highway was the best place to find ptarmigan; none there today.

On the return trip over Loveland Pass (at 0.2 miles from the pullover), I again found tracks and two White-tailed Ptarmigan on the right side of the road.

Another great location to look (we did not today) is the first pullover on the left side of the road as one drives south down from the summit. In previous years, ptarmigan are found on the hill on the west side of hwy 6 (west of the pullover). However, do not miss the chance to scope the east side of hwy 6 here.

We stopped briefly at Red Rocks Park and again saw all three uncommon birds (Curve-billed Thrasher, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow).

After dropping Howard off, I spent two hours walking the spring fed creek, south of the Platte River at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt at Prospect Park (Jefferson). The Tree Bridge Trail runs from the west end of the chain link fence south of the Prospect Park footbridge, west to the "Tree Bridge".

I walked the trail twice with success in finding the previously reported Pacific Wren. On my third (and to be last) attempt, I played the Pacific Wren alarm call at the Tree Bridge. Within seconds, the Pacific Wren popped out from underneath the log, stood on the top of the log, and looked around for a good 8-10 seconds. It then dropped back down and appeared to move to the east!

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). I scope the lake for the last hour before sunrise and 30 minutes after. The best vantage point was the picnic table area, west of the handicapped fisherperson dock.

My scope was set up looking at the dam's tower (light gray background) and focused on gulls flying across the view. The Mew Gull was first observed here; later it flew along the swim beach and directly in front of me!

Several Bonaparte's Gulls were also seen flying across the view of the dam's tower as background.

An interesting Gull swam in the water about 20 yards south of my position. I would have enjoyed making it a Laughing Gull; however, it turned out to be a late Franklin's Gull.

The previously reported Black-legged Kittiwake was never found by me.

Escape from Huerfano Cty, Red Rocks Park, Jefferson Cty

November 10, 2010

My aims were to stay in Las Animas County for a couple of days. The weather predictions of a snowstorm changed my mind and after a couple of hours of sleep headed back to Denver.

On the way home, I stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County). Six of us were there at 4:00 pm. All three of the uncommon birds showed up within 10 minutes.

First, the Curve-billed Thrasher came out of the brush north of the northwestern feeder. Seconds later, the Golden-crowned Sparrow popped out from the same area. A few minutes later, the White-throated Sparrow joined the many birds gulping down seeds. It was a great end to the day!

Visit to La Veta and Walsenburg

November 9, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I drove most of the night first to return to Denver, changed clothes and was off to Walsenburg and the La Veta home (Huerfano County) of Paul and Polly Neldner to see their Eastern Towhee.

I arrived in La Veta an hour before sunrise and walked around the riparian area north of town listening to the night. A pair of Great Horned Owls called back and forth to each other.

At 6:20 (sunrise was 6:35 am), I parked in the Neldner's driveway and waited only a few minutes for signs of morning activity.

We did not have to wait more than 10 minutes for the female Eastern Towhee to make an appearance. She came below their feeders several times before I departed at 7:00 am.

On the way out of the area, I took the first county road (Huajatolla Blvd) heading south (from west of CR 359). About halfway between Monroe and the cemetery, four Pinyon Jays were in the evergreen trees around the one story house (only evergreen trees encountered).

I continued into La Veta and drove around the neighborhood at San Francisco Street and the River. A White-winged Dove was found at East Virginia Street and Elm Street.

Next, I headed back toward Walsenburg and Lathrop State Park. Along the way, I noticed a sign for the Walsenburg Water Supply (on some maps; Walsenburg Reservoir) and decided to check it out.

As soon as I turned south on Huerfano County Road 346 (Spanish Peaks Blvd), there was a flock of 31+ Pinyon Jays. Walsenburg Reservoir is best scoped from the next road going west (Taylor Road). A female/immature Black Scoter was on the lake. Also seen: 4 Western Grebes and a Pied-billed Grebe.

I circled Lathrop State Park twice. Birds observed included a Pacific Loon, Common Loon and Red-necked Grebe. I was looking for (more or less, since the only directions were north side of Martin Lake) the Winter Wren.

A Marsh Wren was found in the cattails between Martin and Horseshoe Lakes. While photographing birds from the west side of Martin Lake, I noticed a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers in the Russian Olive Trees west of the Martin Lake south inlet parking area.

A closer inspection found 9+ Yellow-rumped Warblers and a western Palm Warbler.

After lunch I worked my way down to Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (accessed from New Mexico). After sunset and civil twilight, I set up 6 "listening stations" for Northern Saw-whet Owls. Three each for an hour and then moved to another location. One Northern Saw-whet Owl was found. While I was setting them up, a Northern Pygmy-Owl called from the northwest side of the lake.

Then I moved around to the northern access to Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area and set up again 3 & 3 "listening stations". Again having success at two of them.

Back to Northeastern Colorado

November 7-8, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Saturday, 7th

I had every intention of staying home and getting some chores done. A call from Roger Danka reminded me that it was his wife's birthday; off we went to northeast Colorado. This was a good cause, however, it does not take much to get me to go out birding.

On the way to the northeast corner of Colorado, we made several stops (of course). Our first stop was to circle Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) to see if any uncommon gulls or ducks had moved in since our last visit. Unfortunately, we found none. As a consolation, a Harris's Sparrow was found at the southwest corner of the eastern Campgrounds. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds flew about the northeast corner of same.

The longest stop was at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County). We drove along the access road just south of the riparian area along the S. Platte River (from sections 5 East to 7 East.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers were again found from the highway 55 bridge over the South Platte River. A couple of Field Sparrows came out of the windbreak at 7 East (as we walked the east side and returned along the west side).

A Northern Cardinal was found between the maintenance building and Tamarack Pond. The highlight was a calling Eastern Screech-Owl after sunset (in riparian area between 6 and 7 East).

After dinner, Roger and I walked the creek on his ranch and heard two additional Eastern Screech-Owls (Sedgwick). For the heck of it, we drove over to Jumbo to listen to the ducks and geese. The resident Eastern Screech-Owl called from the north side. A Great Horned Owl called in the Campgrounds.

Sunday 8th

After an early breakfast, Rebecca, Roger and his wife and I headed out for some serious birding.

A quick stop at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) found 2 Common Loons and 11 Greater White-fronted Geese. We could not relocate the Harris's Sparrow observed yesterday.

The highlight came while looking for shorebirds along the south and east sides of the reservoir. A Snow Bunting walked the sanding shore at the extreme southeast corner! Unfortunately, it stayed mainly on private property and we only got witness photos.

At Ovid, we walked the northern woods to the southern woods to the nearby Ovid Sewage Ponds.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker added color to the northern woods (east of the high school). A Brown Thrasher was found at the southern end, just north of Monroe Avenue, which goes from town to the old factory to the east.

The weeds around the sewage ponds were quite birdy. Many White-crowned Sparrows, 5 Song Sparrows, 17 American Tree Sparrows and a late Lincoln's Sparrow were found. The highlight was a lone Field Sparrow with his bright Rufous crown and pink bill!

Today was a day for sparrows. Next, we hiked the east side of the Julesburg Wildlife Area (south side of Platte River, south of Ovid). Northern Cardinals have been found in here on previous visits; however none today.

Again many White-crowned, Tree and a few Song Sparrows were encountered. A Harris's Sparrow was found about 200 yards east of Sedgwick County Road 29. A pair of Great Horned Owls was also in the area.

Hoping to find a Northern Bobwhite, we headed to DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick) south of Julesburg. Again many sparrows were found in the high weeds (first at the southwest parking area) and then along the Platte River.

Unfortunately, we did not turn up any Bobwhite. Two Harris's Sparrows moved along the S. Platte River (just west of the old dump). A couple of Eastern Bluebirds were just east of the old dump.

We ended our birding day watching the fields along Highway 11, just south of Nebraska. No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Northeastern Colorado Again

November 5-6, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Friday, 5th

Bryan Ehlmann and I went to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) just for the day. Well, we ended up staying overnight.

Jackson Lake State Park was pretty quiet. Several Bonaparte's Gulls flew over the lake (observed from the dam accessed from CR 2).

We walked to the eastern end of the dam in search of Snow Buntings and whatever. No Snow Buntings were found. A Merlin was in the tall cottonwoods around the ponds below the dam.

An adult Bald Eagle flew by probably scared up from the same cottonwood grove.

Next, we drove east to Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan). A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was found; however, no screech owls could be enticed to make an appearance after civil twilight.

Saturday, 6th

We birded several of the "State Walk-In" areas with little success in finding interesting birds. There areas are quite interesting if visited at the right time of year. I will write more about them at a later date.

The best and only uncommon bird was an Eastern Screech-Owl warming him/herself. Opened her eyes briefly, figured we were not a threat, and went back to "sleep".

Bryan needed to be home by 2:00 pm and we returned to Denver. After dropping Bryan off, I headed up to Fossil Creek Reservoir (Larimer) where an Eurasian Wigeon had been reported the day before.

Once at Fossil Creek Reservoir, I walked the Sandpiper Trail twice; without success. Scoped from the observation deck, and then walked the Cattail Flats Trail.

The Sandpiper Trail was not very interesting. However, that is where the Eurasian Wigeon had been reported the day before and possibly earlier this day.

From the Observation platform, I was able to see a White-winged Scoter. I watched the duck for 15 minutes or so, before it stretched it wings, providing an accurate ID.

A Pacific Loon could be seen from the Cattail Flats bird blind! Fossil Creek Reservoir held hundreds of ducks, the search for the Eurasian Wigeon was definitely like looking for a needle in a large haystack.

When I arrived at the top of the hill at the extreme eastern end of the Cattail Flats trail, I set up my scope. The very first bird in the center of the scope was the male Eurasian Wigeon! The duck was swimming away from me; however, the gray sides stood out among several dozen American Wigeons (with brownish sides). When it turned toward me, the reddish brown head and Bufflehead crown stood out well.

On the walk back to my car, a Grasshopper Sparrow popped out of the tall grasses south of Cattail flats trail. It was an added bonus to the trip.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Visit to Red Rocks Park Again

November 4, 2010


Richard Stevens and I went by Red Rocks Park and decided to stop. Just after 4:00 PM is a good time to catch the birds visiting the feeders behind the Trading Post (the Visitor's Center closes and most people leave).

The Curve-billed Thrasher walked in from the northern hill to below the platform feeder at 4:15 PM. It wasn't 5 minutes after when the Golden-crowned Sparrow joined the thrasher, juncos and House Finches.

We had to wait another 15 minutes for the White-throated Sparrow. It appears shy and stays within a foot of the edge of the bushes. He did stay around for 8 or 10 minutes!

Other birds that visited included a Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, several White-crowned Sparrows (adult and juveniles) and many Western Scrub-Jays.

Earlier we scoped Standley Lake also in Jefferson County. No loons, scoters and swans but there were many Western Grebes, at least one Clark's Grebe, Horned Grebes and Eared Grebes.

Great sunset too!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Birding Around Denver; Harris's Sparrow at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

November 3, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I were at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) when it opened. It is dark enough at 7:00 am, that a search for Long-eared Owls is possible. Unfortunately, none was found this morning.

As the sun came up, we hiked to the Rod & Gun Club Pond and Bird Blind. Sparrows were not as numerous as past years, however we did find a hundred or so.

American Tree Sparrows have arrived. Three loose flocks totaled 61. Song Sparrows were along the west side of Lake Ladora, numbered 7! White-crowned Sparrows were most numerous back at the feeders north of the Visitor's Center.

A Marsh Wren surprised us at the 6th avenue woodpiles (south side of Lake Ladora).

The highlight of the trip was a Harris's Sparrow that was with a loose flock of 17 American Tree Sparrows, 9 White-crowned Sparrows and 2 Song Sparrows. This flock "followed the sun" and came out of the New Mexico Locust Grove just west of the R&G Club Bird Blind. They were at the southern fork in the R&G Club trail.

Bryan found 2 Lapland Longspurs in the short grass around the Prairie Dog town between Lake Ladora and Havana Ponds. Only a few Ring-billed Gulls and Killdeer were around Havana Ponds.

The creek/canal below Lower Derby Lake was quiet. No warblers were found the entire hike.

After lunch, we decided to prove to ourselves that few birds were around. However, one never knows until one tries.

A trip around Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County) found few birds.

Star K Ranch Open Space (Arapahoe) did have a few birds. Twelve Dark-eyed Juncos, eight one Robins, six Downy Woodpeckers and one Hairy Woodpecker. The highlight was our second House Wren of the day. Strange that no sparrows were found around the loop.

We ended our birding day at the Aurora Sports Park (Arapahoe County). Few birds except Robins, Northern Flickers, European Starlings and a couple of Downy Woodpeckers, that was it. Sparrow count was less than a dozen (3 Song Sparrows, 5 White-crowned Sparrows).

We managed to miss any warblers throughout the day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cherry Creek Reservoir & Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

November 2, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Mostly the day was spent doing chores. A brief stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) relocated a Bonaparte's Gull and Common Loon (off the Bird Platform area of Cottonwood Creek Loop).

It was too nice a day to end it inside, instead I walked around Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) the last two hours of daylight.

The highlight was a Long-eared Owl!

American Tree Sparrows have returned (9 birds seen). A Sora and Virginia Rail called from the northern ponds (Pond 6). Three Lapland Longspurs flew around the short grass prairie at the northwest corner of the property.

A Great Horned Owl called again from the Pond 12 area.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some Great Birds Around "Home"

November 1, 2010

Richard Stevens:

First of all, I cannot believe it's the first of November already. Where did the year go?

A brief of my birding day

Boulder County: Bryan Ehlmann and I visited Baseline Reservoir. Red Phalarope and Common Loons were on the lake, no scoters.

We walked along the Bobolink Trail afterwards. No owls and few birds were found. (Long-eared Owls are occasionally found in the thick bushes between Baseline Road and South Boulder Road.) It was quiet at the East Boulder Recreation Center also.

Weld County: On the way back to Denver, we visited Union Reservoir; found all grebes except Red-necked Grebes. One Pacific Loon was still there. No uncommon gulls could be picked out; plenty were flying over this huge reservoir.

Jefferson/Douglas Counties: What a fantastic fall day, mild winds, temperatures in the low 60s. It was too nice to go home. In the afternoon, I visited Chatfield Reservoir on my own. I photographed (digiscoped from 40 yards) the Dunlin on the sandspit near the southeast boat ramp. A searched for Black Scoter and Pacific Loon, missed both. The Heron Rookery trail was closed due to construction; I scoped lake from swim beach and above the dam. Hundreds of Western Grebes and at least one Clark's Grebe were out there.

Next, I stopped at Red Rocks Park. Christopher and Bruce Neuman pointed out the Curve-billed Thrasher below the stone fence west of the trading post. The thrasher stayed on edge of flat rocks just below fence for over an hour. Thanks much guys!

I returned favor by showing them the White-throated Sparrow hiding in brush near the platform feeder. Golden-crowned Sparrow came by several times also. In my experience, White-throated Sparrow is quite shy and prefers to come out early and late in the day when there is less people traffic. Getting anywhere close to the feeder area is quite unproductive.

Ended my day listening to a Great Horned Owl call at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).