Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Search for White-tailed Ptarmigan 2011

December 31, 2011

Richard Stevens:

The last day of 2011, it was difficult to comprehend that this was the final day of the year. The year went by too rapidly. I enjoyed a fantastic birding year. Highlights included achieving 400+ species in Colorado for the third time, visiting some new birding areas, a lifebird, meeting new people, some birders, and making many new friends.

Yesterday, I received a telephone call from someone claiming to be a current movie star. He was staying in Vail and wanted to see a White-tailed Ptarmigan. I said sure, we can meet somewhere in Dillon where he would not feel harassed and a location was set. I would bring a friend if that were okay?

I called Bryan Ehlmann and told him the story. If nothing else (hoax or not) we would try and "pin down" some White-tailed Ptarmigan for several birders arriving the next days, Sunday and Monday.

The telephone call turned out not to be a joke. Fortuitously, people can put on a bunch of winter clothes and not be recognized if so desired. Our guests said that they had seen the movie "Big Year" and became interested in the hobby.

It was fortunate that winds in the mountains were much less than down in Denver. I measured 23 mph, gusts to 37 mph near DIA (Denver International Airport) when I left home.

Bryan and I showed them some Rosy Finches (3 species), Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, 3 species of nuthatches, and a few other mountain birds. Then we stopped briefly at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant and found 20+ Barrow's Goldeneyes.

Next, our troupe headed to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek). Luck was with us. It took less than twenty minutes to discover two White-tailed Ptarmigan hunkered under an evergreen tree (from the first pullover on the west side of highway 6. Thanks to the birds for making us look like we knew what we were doing. I did point out that much luck is involved and my Ptarmigan searches have at times turned into nightmares. I did not want to mislead our invitees into thinking bird searches were always this easy.

They expressed their gratitude; we said goodbye.

Bryan and I made a brief run up highway 119 into Gilpin County. Unfortunately, no owls were found at previous successful GPS waypoints. We did have a Northern Goshawk fly across the highway. A target bird for birders arriving tomorrow; unlikely a chance it can be relocated.

Another Look at the Arapahoe County Snowy Owl

December 30, 2011

Richard Stevens: Email sent to "cobirders":

This afternoon we went by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) on our way to dinner. With a little research, I was able to find out who owned the land south of Aurora Reservoir and acquired permission to search it for the Snowy Owl.

The Snowy Owl is still within 1.5 miles of Aurora Reservoir. It was on private land and not accessible to the public. However, it might return to the Reservoir.

I also found a birder who watched the Snowy Owl after sunset (until dark) on 12/28 on the roof of a house at the northeast corner of the Lake Shore development. It was observed quite late in the day flying along the south side of Aurora Reservoir on 12/29.

Due to recent events involving trespassing and approaching the Snowy Owl a little too close, further details will not be provided.

For those wanting to see the Snowy Owl, scopes and binoculars can be utilized to see quite far. I suggest watching from the many open spaces along the south side of the Reservoir.

I had intended this afternoon to watch the Reservoir from the public roads on the south side of the Reservoir. However, while waiting for sunset (the most likely time for the owl to return) three birders (they had scopes and binoculars) stood within 10 yards of the two buildings that I hope the Snowy Owl would return to and roost. We departed and searched the fields around DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) and the Buckley Air Force Base for Snowy or Short-eared Owls; without finding any.

Earlier today, Bryan Ehlmann and I observed several hundred Rosy Finches (3 species, although only a couple of Black Rosy Finches) coming to the feeders at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

The rest of our three day trek will be posted on the "Bird Trip Reports" link on Colorado Birding Society's website before I retire tonight.

Trip Around North Park

December 29, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After a few "wink's, Bryan and I attempted to get to the old Teller City Ghost town (Jackson County). Even with a 4 wheel drive, we were left with an 10-12 mile snowshoe or cross country ski trip (one way).

Deciding against that, we visited the feeders behind the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. Several hundred Rosy Finches, Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Steller's Jays, White-crowned Sparrows and Downy Woodpeckers were enjoyable to watch.

We searched unsuccessfully for American Three-toed Woodpeckers at Ranger Lakes. Then stopped by a friend's ranch. Close to a thousand Rosy Finches were visiting his feeders!

Three-toed Woodpeckers and any crossbills were missed at Rabbit Ears Pass. No waxwings were found around Steamboat Springs and Lake Catamount. Two Sharp-tailed Grouse were found at a private yard!

With a couple of hours of daylight left, we snowshoed into the Colorado State Forest. About an hour after civil twilight were turned around and headed back out.

Surprisingly, few winds were blowing tonight. The sound of our snowshoes breaking the snow hardly covered up the sounds of the forest. The sliver (quarter) of moon appeared to light up our way. The number of stars appeared infinite. A trek through the forest is always quite pleasurable. Many birds called throughout the night. As a bonus, Boreal Owls were heard at two locations!

A Nine Owl Day

December 28, 2011

Richard Stevens:

In the past, I have written about my owling experiences, sharing sightings and locations. In the past month, several incidences have been brought to my attention.

Bryan and I stayed at a motel in Walden. As my usual behavior, I inquired with the innkeeper about any bird sightings in the neighborhood. She gave me a piece of paper with directions to the bird(s) I was looking to see. This paper described in detail directions to the birding spot. Unfortunately, the directions were word for word directions that I have given to another birder for finding the bird(s). That contribution was presented with a promise not to tell anyone else about the birding site. So much for secrets, as is said, if you want a secret kept, tell no one.

In addition, this month, two other of my most visited and unadvertised birding locations were revealed on the internet. These directions were also shared with a promise (word given) that they would not be published.

I have learned my lesson and will not be as forthcoming in the future of sensitive birding locations.

Bryan Ehlmann and I started out with a simple goal of seeing the Snowy Owl at Aurora Reservoir. It blossomed into much more. At first light, we scoped the south side of Aurora Reservoir from a friend's balcony. The Snowy Owl was down there.

Not even sunrise and our target bird was found. What to do with the rest of the day? After checking my text messages, I read about a friend in Weld County who had a Golden-crowned Sparrow visiting his feeders. Another friend had a Northern Saw-whet Owl in his evergreens (also Weld County).

The idea came to our minds to attempt to see as many owls as we could in the one day. After all, we had already seen one of the most uncommon owls.

As we headed north to Weld County, we stopped at a friend's ranch in Adams County. The Barn Owl was of course in his barn!

A detour to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) added two Long-eared Owls to our day list.

We had to detour into Morgan County to pick up an Eastern Screech-Owl.

Wellington Wildlife Area added a pair of Great Horned Owls. A check of the windbreak found a Short-eared Owl!

Next a stop for lunch (thanks Bill) at my friend's home. One Golden-crowned Sparrow and a Northern Saw-whet Owl seen (Weld).

The next owl was tricky and not at all a sure thing. Bryan and I drove up and down Rist Canyon (Larimer) for about an hour. Finally, we got a response to a Northern Pygmy-Owl! It was just east of Whale Rock (a known location for Pygmy Owls).

After dark, we reached Cameron Pass and relocated a Boreal Owl (heard only).

In was not that late and we tossed around the idea of heading west for a Western Screech-Owl. The location of known Western Screech-Owls could have been reached an hour before midnight.

The idea of adding 170+ miles to our day was not that inviting. Dotsero was 40+ miles less, however we could not be sure of access to Colorado River Road in winter. I called a friend in Glenwood Springs. He had not heard or seen his Western Screech-Owl in several months. This ended our "quest". Nine owls in one winter day are not so bad!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Late Afternoon Search for Aurora Reservoir Snowy Owl

December 27, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Late this afternoon, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I returned to the south side of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

We were fortunate to scope the reservoir from high on a private landowner's deck. The Snowy Owl was not found by us.

An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was observed near the swim beach.

It was too dark to see any owls as we passed the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

Georgetown Christmas Count

December 26, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Today we conducted the Georgetown Christmas Count. The center point is such that Loveland Pass is in the count circle.

Bryan Ehlmann and I found 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan south of Loveland Pass' Summit (at first pullover on right/west side of the highway).

We also observed small flocks of Rosy Finches (Gray-crowned and a few Brown-capped) while walking around the Summit.

About an hour before sunset, Bryan and I cross country skied up the Hunkidori Trail. After dusk, two Boreal Owls responded to our recordings. They were at least 1-1.5 miles west of the trailhead.

Before the hike, I passed out "Colorado Field Notes", my email address and cell phone number. On feeder counter found a Northern Pygmy-Owl south of Montezuma.

Bryan and I also ventured a mile up both St. Johns and Argentine Pass trails. No additional owls were encountered.

Finally a Snowy Owl Arapahoe County

December 25, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I had the idea to scope Aurora Reservoir (which was closed on Christmas Day) from the south side.

It was a fortuitous choice. We were able to see the Snowy Owl along the east side of the reservoir!

In the afternoon, I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) hoping for better photos of the Snowy Owl. This time I acquired permission to walk onto the South Shore development property.

I was able to hike 300 to 400 yards closer to the reservoir. Again, the Snowy Owl was found; however, it was not in the same position as earlier in the day. Digiscoped photos again were only witness quality.

On the trip home, thousands of White-cheeked Geese were feeding in the fields between Gun Club Road and 470 (the toll road). A Greater White-fronted Goose was seen 0.8 miles south of Quincy Road (west side of Gun Club Road).

Another Greater White-fronted Goose and three Snow Geese (adult and 2 juveniles) were just east of Quincy Road and 470.

No owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Yet Another Snowy Owl Search

Email I sent to "cobirders":

December 24, 2011

Rich Stevens and I drove around Morgan and Weld Counties looking for Snowy Owls. We found an Eastern Screech Owl at Jackson Reservoir and two Short eared Owls flying around at dusk at Lower Latham Reservoir's marsh on Weld County Road 48.

Then we heard about the Snow Owl at the east side of Aurora Reservoir. Too late in the day for us to try to find.

Good Birding!

Bryan Ehlmann, Colorado Birding Society Denver, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "cobirders" by sending blank email to:
cobirders-subscribe AT
Read "cobirders" at:

We also stopped by a friend of Richard's and saw 9 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches that have been visiting in Weld County since last Thursday's snowstorm.

Long-eared Owls were found at two locations (to remain unnamed in Weld and Morgan Counties).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snowy Owl Search Turned to West, Logan County

December 23, 2011

Richard Stevens:

We stopped to listen to the two Eastern Screech-Owls calling at Roger Danka's ranch and then headed west.

Having not heard of any additional reports in the northeast corner of Colorado, Bryan Ehlmann and I drove around Logan County today (mostly north of I76). We did venture into Weld County as far as Highway 71. There was no sighting of the Snowy Owl reported north of Avalo (Weld) on 12/21.

Again, we tried to hit most of the roads with open land. The many stops were scoped for any sign of a Snowy Owl; without success. There was no sign of the Snowy Owl near Sterling Reservoir.

We only stopped at Sterling Reservoir to ask about any sightings and handout our email addresses and telephone numbers.

While no Snowy Owl was found, we enjoyed "exploring" the many roads in Logan County. Nothing like looking for a needle in a haystack (a large haystack), especially when there may not be a needle in that haystack anymore!

Tomorrow we try Weld and northern Morgan Counties.

More Snowy Owl Searches, Sedgwick County

December 22, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After checking Jumbo and Little Jumbo Reservoirs for Snowy Owls (none found), Bryan Ehlmann and I drove most of the roads in Sedgwick County. A Long-eared Owl was found in the windbreak at Little Jumbo Reservoir (Red Lion Wildlife Area).

We stopped several times when we ran into people along the road. They were asked about Snowy Owls and informed that several were in the area. I made another dozen contacts for future bird sightings, passed out my email address, website address and cell phone number.

We were quite confident that most likely locations for a Snowy Owl were covered; without success.

Late in the afternoon, we found ourselves on the south side of I76. Our birding day ended with a walk into the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area. No Snowy Owls were found; however, we did see a Short-eared Owl about 500 yards north of Logan County Road 46 at 50-100 yards west of CR 91.

Continued Search for Snowy Owls, Phillips County

December 21, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County) about an hour before civil twilight. One or possibly two Eastern Screech-Owl(s) were heard along the eastern side.

At sunrise, we returned to Jumbo Reservoir. No Snowy Owls were found on Jumbo or Little Jumbo Reservoirs.

Later we returned to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area and found Red-bellied Woodpeckers on both sides of the Highway 55 bridge (up to one section each east and west of the highway).

The highlight was a Stub tailed Wren between sections East 1 and 2. It was quite shy and made no sounds. In addition, it did not respond to either Winter Wren or Pacific Wren recordings. During our brief looks, we believed it to be a Winter Wren.

Having heard that the Logan County Snowy Owl was not relocated, we decided to drive roads in the northern half of Phillips County. No additional Snowy Owls were found.

Denver to Sterling; Great Birds!

December 20, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I searched unsuccessfully for the Pine Warbler at Denver West Office Complex. A brief stop at Red Rocks Park relocated the Golden-crowned Sparrow under the platform feeder behind the Trading Post.

Then we heard about the Snowy Owl in Logan County and headed that way. We relocated it along County Road 44, west of County Road 33!

We received a text message about the second Snowy Owl at Jumbo Reservoir. However, by the time we arrived, it was too dark to see much. We did hear an Eastern Screech-Owl along the north side of Jumbo!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Golden and Denver Bird Searches

December 19, 2011

Richard Stevens:

An interesting day, weather-wise, I do not believe that the snowstorm was predicted. Fortunately, the Denver area only received a dusting of snow.

"Inspired" by our Yellow-bellied Sapsucker sighting yesterday, Bryan Ehlmann and I drove over to Golden to search for additional sapsuckers. One Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found in our 3 hour search. It was along Ford Street (moved north from 16th to 14th streets).

We searched for the Tundra Swans reported Saturday. However, we were never able to determine if the correct lake was searched. No swans were found (Tucker Lake, Arvada Reservoir and one unnamed lake).

After dusk, we walked a Denver neighborhood in search of Eastern Screech-Owls. Two owls were found. (By the way, our search area was Five Points, not a recommended search area).

On the way over, we drove through Denver City Park. The Long-tailed Duck was still on Duck Lake.

Bonny Reservoir Back to Denver

December 18, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Four of us stopped at Bonny Reservoir (Yuma) on our way back to Denver. We searched briefly for the Carolina Wren reported on 12/16; without success. We also stopped to make sure that the American Woodcock reported last on 12/1 had not been relocated.

Bryan Ehlmann and I continued our birding day at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). It took about an hour and a half; finally, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was relocated. It flew out of the draw west of the three pines at the north end of the elementary school (southeast corner of Red Rocks Park).

Several Red-tailed Hawks circled overhead during our search. The only additional birds found included just 2 Dark-eyed Juncos, 3 Northern Flickers and 7 American Robins.

Shortly (less than 2 minutes) after I threw out seed below the platform feeder behind the Trading Post, the Golden-crowned Sparrow walked out of the brush (along ditch to the north) to eat.

Bryan and I headed over to the Denver City Park area. The Long-tailed Duck was still on Duck Lake. After sunset, we walked the Park Hill area for 3 hours. Eventually 4 Eastern Screech-Owls responded to our recordings.

Wray Christmas Count

December 17, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Today, eight of us conducted the Wray Christmas Count. Total numbers and count will be published in "Colorado Field Notes".

Highlights were many on this beautiful winter day in Colorado.

Before sunrise, all of us drove Yuma County Road 45, east of Highway 385. Two Greater Prairie-Chickens (one walking, another a flyover) were just east of the intersection.

Sparrows were the most numerous at Sandsage Wildlife Area. A late Swamp Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrow were found. We returned to the Wildlife Area after dark and received a response to our recordings from an Eastern Screech-Owl!

Wray Fishing Unit had few birds. However, the two found were nice sightings. A Northern Cardinal and Barn Owl flew out of the windbreak along the entrance road.

Stalker Ponds provided the best surprise. A Golden-crowned Sparrow was a rare sighting for Yuma County (however, not a first). Again, sparrows were the most numerous birds. Another Harris's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and 2 Field Sparrows topped the list (Song, White-crowned and a Lincoln's were also found).

Other birds worth noting included 5 Northern Cardinals (2 private yards), a Northern Mockingbird, a Hermit Thrush and a red race Fox Sparrow (which has been around for over a month).

We searched along the Republican River for Short-eared Owls at dusk; without success.

Then our day ended back at Sandsage Wildlife Area.

North Park to Bonny Reservoir

December 16, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Mark and Kevin had to be at DIA Airport by noon. We headed back from Gould shortly after sunrise. A quick stop at a friend's ranch found 1000+ Rosy Finches! A rest stop at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center found another 40+ Rosy Finches. (Something to add to the North Park Christmas Count).

I dropped off Mark and Kevin, picked up Sue & Rebecca and headed to Burlington and Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).

Bryan Ehlmann was already at Bonny Reservoir where he found 2 Field Sparrows along Yuma County Road 2 (southeast entrance to the State Park/Wildlife Area). Bryan also found a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the sharp right hand turn along CR 2.

After dark, we walked the Republican River from Highway 385 to Foster's Grove Campgrounds. Then skipped over to Yuma County Road 4 and walked east to Kansas!

Our Eastern Screech-Owl count was 7! We also found one Long-eared Owl! Earlier Bryan and Jerry Petrosky had relocated a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

North Park

December 15, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Mark Martinez, Kevin Payton and I searched for Greater Sage-Grouse at dawn. We had no better success than last night.

No crossbills or Three-toed Woodpeckers were found when we passed Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand) on the way to Steamboat Springs.

Sharp-tailed Grouse were found at a private yard in Routt County.

We rented snowmobiles are spent the afternoon riding around north of Steamboat Springs. The highlight was seeing a Dusky Grouse, an American Three-toed Woodpecker and a flock of Red Crossbills (unfortunately no White-winged Crossbills).

After dark, we searched for Boreal Owls in the Colorado State Forest and Cameron Pass. One Boreal Owl was heard and later seen west of Cameron Pass (Jackson).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Trip to Loveland Pass and North Park

December 14, 2011

Rebecca Kosten;

Richard Stevens, Mark Martinez and Kevin Payton finally found two White tailed Ptarmigan after a four hour search at Loveland Pass, Clear Creek County. Their last resort was to climb up the steep western trail at the summit. Birds were about 0.4 miles up the trail.

Rosy Finches were found flying around north of Silverthorne, Summit County. A dozen Barrow's Goldeneyes were seen at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant, Summit County.

They continued north to Rabbit Ears Pass, Grand County. No crossbills or Three toed Woodpeckers were found and they continued east.

No Greater Sage-Grouse were found along Jackson County Road 26 at dusk.

Trip to the Butterfly Museum

December 13, 2011

Rebecca Kosten;

Richard Stevens and I visited the Butterfly Museum to see the exhibits and the "Living Lights" Christmas lights.

We passed Barr Lake State Park on the way and stopped for a look. A Ross's Goose was off the boat ramp with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese.

Forty five plus Great-tailed Grackles were around the Town of Barr. None was found at the Picadilly Tree Nursery.

We also searched for the "white" Red-tailed Hawk that has for years been around 104th avenue and Sheridan Blvd. It was not found.

Butterflies were not very active in the late afternoon. The highlight was an Eurasian Collared-Dove that we believed to be trapped in the Museum. Turns out that someone donated the Dove to the Museum.

Museum personnel pointed out that the dove was a "grain eater" and did not threaten the live butterflies. It did "clean up" the dead ones.

The "Living Lights" was spectacular!

Misplaced Plans

December 12, 2011

Rebecca Kosten;

Richard Stevens and my plans were to travel down to Morrison and search for the Varied Thrush reported earlier. Then we were to search for the Golden-crowned Sparrow at Red Rocks Park. Neither happened.

Rebecca Kosten: Following is an email sent by Richard to "cobirders" listserve:

Beautiful day outside, slightly chilly, I was able to spend much time in the fresh air. Reason: two flat tires, one spare, one good wrist.

I was able to get a look at the Barrow's Goldeneyes at the South Platte Birding Area (88th & Colorado Blvd), before seeing the first flat tire. Then discovered that my Saturn Vue had a car jack, but no way to take off the lug nuts. Called AAA.

Changed tire and started to Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area when we got a second flat tire (about 3.5 miles from the first). Okay, no spare, called AAA.

After waiting 2 hours for a tire to be fixed, went to nearest Discount Tire. Huge nails in both tires, too big to take chance with a car that I drive 100s of miles on back roads in the middle of nowhere.

Cost: Too much time $600 for new tires AAA priceless!!! Thanks guys!

Highlight: Expensive Barrow's Goldeneyes on Platte River below green/white tower. Two males and a female! Had plenty of time to scope East & West Gravel Lakes, few birds.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Snowy Owl Search

December 11, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I returned to the prairie east of Aurora in search of the Snowy Owls reported yesterday. The owls were never found.

We again saw the dark morph Ferruginous Hawk and several Red-tailed Hawks on our trek around the north, east and south sides of DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) and Aurora Reservoir.

The flock of Horned Larks (and one Snow Bunting) was not along E. Jewell Road (nor found today).

We stopped briefly at the Aurora Reservoir swim beach. No uncommon gulls were among the hundreds of Ring-billed, dozens of California and Herring Gulls.

Our birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop. No Short-eared Owls came out (for us) this evening.

Aurora Reservoir & Search for Snowy Owl

December 10, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to hike the 8.9 miles circling Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe). We arrived when they opened and found many gulls at the swim beach. Shortly after sunrise, the gulls tend to fly over to DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site). They return several times during the day, however are usually spread all over the reservoir.

A first year Lesser Black-backed Gull was the highlight at the swim beach. The Mew Gull was not found among hundreds of Ring-billed, dozens of California and Herring Gulls.

A few American Tree Sparrows were along the southeast corner of the reservoir. A Say's Phoebe was on the fence at mile marker 4.0. A Greater White-fronted Goose swam with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese below the dam.

Two Bald Eagles stood in the trees to the north of the dam at mm 6.0.

During the hike, we received a text message that two Snowy Owls were seen at the toll road (C470) and East Jewell Avenue. This is not far from Aurora Reservoir. The rest of our day was spent driving the roads north, east and south of DADS and Aurora Reservoir.

Unfortunately, the Snowy Owls were not found.

We did find a couple of interesting sightings. A flock of 200+ Horned Larks was along E. Jewell Avenue at 3.6 miles east of C470. A beautiful winter plumaged Snow Bunting was with this flock. They were at the dirt road going south into the field (just west of four cattle watering tanks).

We were so busy watching the Snow Bunting that it was not until the flock flew further south, that we noticed a dark morph Ferruginous Hawk on a fence post behind us to the north. We were too busy looking for Snowy Owls that the Ferruginous Hawk was missed (we must have driven right past it).

As daylight disappeared, we continued. No Snowy Owls found, we did see a Great Horned Owl in a riparian area along Senac Creek (which leaves Aurora Reservoir and flows north past E. Jewell Avenue).

Raptor count included 7 Red-tailed Hawks, 3 American Kestrels, 1 Rough-legged Hawk and a Prairie Falcon.

Fantastic Day Birding Around Denver

December 9, 2011

Richard Stevens:

At 7:30 am, I visited Becky Campbell's home near Cherry Creek Reservoir. After the fog lifted, the Pine Warbler flew to her suet feeder about every 15-20 minutes. At other times, it was foraging in the nearby pines. Once it spent 10 minutes drinking and foraging in the neighbor's gutter.

Cherry Creek Reservoir was mostly ice and snow covered. Thousands of White-cheeked Geese (no uncommon geese) were on the ice. Hooded Mergansers were swimming in the small open water area around the marina. A lone American White Pelican stood on the marina.

I drove over to Denver City Park. The Long-tailed Duck was standing on the ice on the backside (south side) of Duck Lake. Two Double-crested Cormorants were still around.

My next stop was Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas). The two Brants were walking along Plum Creek where it empties into the lake. After photographing the geese, I walked Plum Creek from the reservoir to the footbridge to the south; no Rusty Blackbirds were found.

Although it was only 41 degrees, I enjoyed sitting on the bench at the parking area above the dam. There was no wind and the sun was out; it was quite comfortable. Hundreds of ducks swam below.

A Common Loon was constantly diving off Massey Draw. A 1st/2nd year Glaucous Gull was among them many Ring-billed Gulls.

I turned my scope to the north and watched the South Platte Park Reservoir (north of C470). A dark bird chased the gulls around this newest reservoir. It was most likely the Pomarine Jaeger that spent weeks at Chatfield Reservoir.

My birding day ended at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). In the waning light, the Golden-crowned Sparrow appeared below the platform feeder behind the Trading Post.

Some More Owling & A Pine Warbler

December 8, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Starting yesterday a little before sunset, Bryan Ehlmann and I snowshoed Michigan Ditch Road. Round trip we went about 6 miles. For those attempting, it is quite a strenuous trek. Good physical conditioning and snowshoe skills are a must. Especially if attempting in the dark.

There are two places where an avalanche is a slim chance. While rare at night, they can occur. Both of us are aware of the locations (and pass through them rapidly, they are not very wide). In addition, both of us carry avalanche beacons.

Eventually, we heard 2 Boreal Owls (at least 2.6 miles south of highway 14).

In the morning, we snowshoed down to the Crags Campgrounds. No owls were found. Not much of anything.

Rosy Finches visited the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders. Other birds included Mountain Chickadees, Cassin's Finches, Pine Siskins, Steller's Jays and a Gray Jay.

We wanted to return to Denver anyway because reports of heavy snowfall at sunset. A text message about a Pine Warbler near Cherry Creek State Park, hastened our plans.

We arrived at Becky Campbell's home just about sunset. A peek through her fence on the north side of the house allowed us to see the Pine Warbler visit the suet feeder on two occasions before dark.

Winter Search for Grouse in North Park

December 7, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove around Jackson County Road 26 and 26b about an hour before sunrise. Our target bird was a Greater Sage-Grouse. We found plenty of tracks in the snow. Finally, two Greater Sage-Grouse were observed crossing CR 26b.

We then hurried to Steamboat Springs (Routt County). Several Sharp-tailed Grouse were found wandering around on private property!

Several locations in and around Steamboat Springs were checked for waxwings. A flock of about 20 Cedar Waxwings was found along the Yampa River (south of the library). Unfortunately, no Bohemian Waxwings were encountered.

There was no access to Buffalo Pass so we headed back to Walden. Several stops along Rabbit Ears Pass (Routt/Grand) did not find any American Three-toed Woodpeckers or White-winged Crossbills this trip.

A stop at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center added Rosy Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, a pair of Pine Grosbeaks and Steller's Jays to our trip list.

Back to Owling

December 6, 2011

Richard Stevens:

A little after midnight, Bryan Ehlmann and I found (heard only) Boreal Owls on both the east and west sides of Cameron Pass (Larimer/Jackson). Two were heard on the east side (between the Summit and Joe Wright reservoir) and one just west of the Summit.

After a few hours sleep, we checked feeders around Gould and the Colorado State Forest. Nothing unexpected was found.

In the late afternoon, we snowshoed up Ruby Jewell Road. The forest was quiet this night; no Boreal Owls were found. Snowshoeing after dark (our return trip) in a forest with almost no wind is quite a treat! We could have heard a pin drop (well not in the snow of course). Our trek was quite pleasant in spite of missing the owls.

Chatfield Reservoir and Search for Tufted Duck

December 5, 2011

Richard Stevens:

In the morning, I drove over to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) hoping for photos of the Brants. Unfortunately, I could not find them. Later, I heard that they had moved over to the Plum Creek Delta area.

Scoping the reservoir from the bench at the parking area above the dam was quite useful. I relocated the Pomarine Jaeger, 1st/2nd year Glaucous Gull and 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull.

On the way to Bryan Ehlmann's house in Brighton, I stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). The Golden-crowned Sparrow was quite cooperative. He made an appearance during the first 10 minutes of the stop. Then I picked up Bryan.

Email sent by Bryan Ehlmann to "cobirders"

Richard Stevens and I went out in the cold searching for the swans and Tufted Duck reported Sunday. We found neither. When open water was found, no rare birds were found. Frederick Recreation Area, St Vrain Ponds, Luna Reservoir and a few additional ponds were searched.

The exception was Union Reservoir in Weld County. We relocated the 1st cycle Little Gull but not the adult. Many Bonaparte's Gulls were still there.

We did not have enough daylight to drive up to Rawhide Reservoir for the Red throated Loon; it will have to wait for another day.

Our highlight was watching two Short eared Owls fly over near sunset at the southern Lower Latham Reservoir marsh.

Return to Denver from Northeast Colorado

December 4, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I wandered around Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) about an hour before sunrise. Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard calling (between sections 6-7 East).

As birds "woke up" in the morning, we were able to find a Northern Cardinal at Tamarack Pond. Two Field Sparrows were around the windbreak at section 7 East. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found on both the eastern and western sides of CR 55.

There was no sign or additional reports of a Snowy Owl. We headed back to Denver. A quick stop at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) found little not expected. The highlight was a Snow Bunting at the southeastern end of the dam.

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned from a great four days of birding on the Eastern Plains. We were avoiding driving back to a snow covered Denver; also, we searched several days for a reported Snowy Owl; without success,

Then, I hopped on the E470 toll road and drove down to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas). In spite on cloudy skies and temperatures in the teens, my afternoon was quite enjoyable and successful.

I looked for the Brants at the Heron Rookery Overlooks, below the northwestern Campgrounds and from the Fishing Pier. While at the Fishing Pier (labeled on Chatfield Reservoir map as such), the 1st/2nd cycle Glaucous Gull flew over my head (which figures as I left my camera in the car to keep it warm).

Then I saw many geese on the swim beach and headed that way. It was too cold to search for the Rusty Blackbirds at Plum Creek Delta. On the way over, I scoped many geese in the field south of the model airplane runways. The two Brants were there (in Douglas County).

At least one (I thought two) Lapland Longspurs were mixed in with dozens of Horned Larks along the model airplane entrance road.

Having missed the Pomarine Jaeger at previous stops, I decided to drive up to the top of the dam. It is still my favorite location to scope Chatfield Reservoir and it did not disappoint.

The Pomarine Jaeger was chasing gulls along Massy Draw and the northern boat ramp. Hundreds of gulls swam and circled over the bay (below me)! One of the gulls was a 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull.

While making a "rest stop" back at the swim beach, many geese started flying into the area. The two Brants were among them (Jefferson County)!

Snowy Owl Search Moves to Phillips & Sedgwick Counties

December 3, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent most of the day searching for Snowy Owls and longspurs. Lapland Longspurs appear to be easy to find this winter along the eastern Colorado border.

We stopped several times to visit friends. Long-eared Owls were relocated at one private ranch (Sedgwick).

Late in the afternoon, we stopped at Sedgwick County Roads 46 and 89. The Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area ranger clued me into this spot years ago. Two Greater Prairie-Chickens were found wandering the fields.

It is a good location to check especially after a dusting of snow. Greater Prairie-Chickens sometimes wander the fields along with Ring-necked Pheasants.

At dusk, we watched the field below the hill (about 0.3 mile walk north of above intersection. For at least the third time in 2011, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying across the field (eastern end of southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area).

Winds were mild; the calm, silent evening was superb; the sunset was fantastic!

Continued Search for Snowy Owl, Common Ground-Dove

December 2, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After wandering Yuma County the last couple of days in search of Snowy Owls, Bryan Ehlmann and I headed north into Phillips and Sedgwick Counties. Still no Snowy Owls were found.

We stopped for 30 minutes at the S. Platte River south of Julesburg. The Common Ground-Dove was quite cooperative. We got great looks although from too far away for photos.

Our next stop was Julesburg Wildlife Area (Sedgwick). The uncommon sparrows found last week were not relocated. A consolation, a pair of Rusty Blackbirds was along the Platte River (about 350 yards east of the parking area).

Our birding day ended at the southeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick). No Short-eared Owls came out tonight.

Search for Snowy Owl in Yuma County, Gyrfalcon!

December 1, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I were avoiding heading back to Denver. It had received perhaps 6 inches of snow recently.

We wandered up Yuma County Road 45 at civil twilight. Greater Prairie-Chickens search for food in the corn stubble fields. This morning was no exception. Two or three Greater Prairie-Chickens were found. For those attempting the same, be sure to stay on public roads. Landowner Bob Bledsoe does not favor birders who trespass on his land.

The highlight of the morning and day was a light phase Gyrfalcon along CR 45. It flew over us where CR 45 turns from east to south (Road name changes to Yuma County Road PP).

The course of our trip was changed when we received a call from a rancher/friend northwest of Arvin. His neighbor had seen a Snowy Owl on Tuesday and today.

We would spend much time in the next couple of days in search of the White Owl! While visiting the Snowy Owl finder, he gave us two photos of his discovery. It was a great prize for a part time/new birder!

The rest of our day was spent searching Yuma County for the Snowy Owl. Regrettably, it was never found.

Two stops to say "Hi" to friends in Wray, added an eastern Fox Sparrow and 4 Northern Cardinals to our trip list.

Of course, the other highlight was missing the heavy snow in Denver; the plains only received a dusting in most areas.

Some Great Yuma County Birds

November 30, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove to Burlington Colorado. A surprise American Woodcock has been in a yard at the north end of town. The bird was a great start to our trip!

A trip through Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds found Eastern Screech-Owls both at Hale Ponds and along Yuma County Road 3 (between Foster's Grove Campgrounds and Hwy 385).

We also relocated a Northern Saw-whet Owl that has been in the area for several weeks.

A Harris's Sparrow was along Yuma County Road 4 (east of Hale). A flock of 50+ Cedar Waxwings was also at Hale.

We searched several riparian areas on the trip to Wray for Eastern Screech-Owls and/or Barn Owls; without success.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Birding Around Denver Today

Richard Stevens:

I find myself again behind in updating my Blog. Limited access, long days and a tired body, tonight I finally found time to catch up!

November 29, 2011

Bryan Ehlmann and I were at Denver City Park (Denver County) about an hour before sunrise. We searched unsuccessfully for Eastern Screech-Owls in the cold, quite cold air.

A quick look found the Long-tailed Duck at appropriately named Duck Lake. After the Zoo opened, we checked to make sure no Long-tailed Ducks were part of their collection. They agreed; the bird must be wild.

From there, we drove over to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). The Golden-crowned Sparrow had not been reported in a week or so. It still has not; the sparrow was a no show.

Our fortune did not ameliorate at the South Platte Birding Area (Adams) at 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd. We walked south to I270 and back without finding any uncommon waterfowl. We knew the Barrow's Goldeneyes had to be there somewhere; however, their hiding place was not detected.

A lone Northern Shrike "hung out" on the fence bordering the Engineer Pond.

After a late lunch, we drove out to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams). At least one Long-eared Owl is out there again this winter. A Great Horned Owl was along the path to pond 13. No Short-eared Owls came out at dusk.

Guanella Pass to Aurora

November 28, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I wanted to try for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) one more time before tonight's snowstorm potentially closes the possibility for the winter. Visiting birder Edward Benson and I threw snowshoes in the car and headed up there early this morning.

We found no owls along Guanella Pass Road (from the Grant Side, hwy 285). We did find that the gate across the road at Duck Lake was closed so we had to hike the last 1.5 miles to the Summit. Later I talked to a ranger who stated that it would now be common practice to gate the road the day after Thanksgiving.

Once we got to the top, it took less than 10 minutes before we stopped six White-tailed Ptarmigan walking around the wooden fence near the Summit. One advantage of fewer visitors at the top!

After dropping Edward off at an Aurora motel, I detoured to 3904 South Idalia Street, Aurora. After about 20 minutes, the Varied Thrush popped up on the shed at the house north of Buzz's home (address above). Later, I followed the Varied Thrush to the yard two houses north of the house with the birdbath and feeders (Myra's home; nice person!).

No Short-eared Owls were observed along the DIA Owl Loop on my drive home.

Canon City to Pueblo

November 27, 2011

Richard Stevens:

It was another picturesque day in Colorado. Winds were mild; temperatures were in the 60s.

My first goal was to find Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers or possibly Williamson's Sapsuckers in Canon City (Fremont County).

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Centennial Park took about an hour to relocate. Perhaps I just needed to wait for the day to warm up before it moved around; the morning was quite chilly. I waited another half hour; no additional Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers appeared.

At Rouse Park, I hoped for find another Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Instead, a male and female Williamson's Sapsucker came along.

No additional sapsuckers were found at the Cemetery or the Elementary School (where a Williamson's Sapsucker had previously been reported).

A check of Florence River Park did not find the previously reported Black Phoebe.

It was a long day so I started back to Denver. However, not before stopping at Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo). The Red-necked Grebe was relocated when the lake was scoped from West Fisherman's Point.

The south marina added a Great Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull to my day list. The unexpected prize was a Glaucous Gull. While trying to figure out its age, a Bonaparte's Gull flew overhead!

A Canyon Towhee or two walked around the southern Campgrounds.

The definite highlight however, was relocating the Eastern Towhee west of the Valco Ponds parking area. It was a new county bird for me.

Just to press my luck, I walked along the Arkansas River to search for the Rusty Blackbirds. It was my lucky day, two Rusty Blackbirds walked along the shore, a nice end to my birding day!

Park and Chaffee Counties

November 26, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Park County to look into the water conditions. Antero Reservoir was 95 percent frozen. Spinney Mountain Reservoir was 75 percent ice covered, while Eleven Mile Reservoir was only 20 percent ice covered.

Not many waterfowl were on any of the lakes. One Common Loon and a few ducks swam on Spinney Mountain Reservoir. A flock of 6-8 Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew over while I was scanning the lake.

Eleven Mile Reservoir was a little more interesting. A White-winged Scoter and another Common Loon were among a dozen common ducks.

Buffalo Creek Campgrounds and Rough and Tumbling Creek BLM lands had few birds moving around.

I struck out on relocating the Lewis's Woodpeckers in Buena Vista (Chaffee) and the Pinyon Jays along Ruby Mountain Road.

After dark, I drove to the BLM land north of the Buena Vista Overlook. I set out several "owl listening stations" (playing Northern Saw-whet Owls recordings). No owls responded. The question of where Northern Saw-whet Owls winter in Colorado or if they do, still to be answered.

Trip from Burlington to Colorado Springs and On!

November 25, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Five of us listened for owls about an hour before sunrise at Hale Ponds (Yuma County). Only one Eastern Screech-Owl called this morning.

After sunrise, we searched for Long-eared Owls at the evergreen windbreak east of Foster's Grove. None was found today; however, as a consolation, we found a Pine Warbler! It fluttered in and out of the thick fir trees.

We received a text about a possible Streak backed Oriole at Fountain Creek Regional Park in Colorado Springs (El Paso). I decided to rush down there and report.

While it was 55 degrees with calm winds north of Burlington, I arrived at the southern end of Fountain Creek Regional Park in the rain. Fortunately, the northern end of this long park was partly cloudy and rain-less.

Eventually, I walked from the Visitor's Center to the north end of the park, to the south end and back without finding any orioles. At least 20 other birders also failed to find the bird. I called back to Bonny Reservoir and suggested not to waste the trip down to Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, Bryan Ehlmann and all had found 2 Long-eared Owls, one each on either side of the lake.

After the several hours of my hike, I drove around to the west side of Fountain Creek, which borders the west side of the park and stopped at the KOA Campgrounds. The Campgrounds were almost directly across from the spot where the Oriole was reported.

I walked around for an hour, inquiring about any "orange bird" sightings and handing out my CoBus business card. No Oriole, however a few new bird-reporting contacts were made.

My birding day ended along the road to the Crags Campgrounds in Teller County. Two Northern Pygmy-Owls were found around the old scout camp. A third was heard at the Campgrounds.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Birding In Northeastern Colorado

November 24, 2011

Richard Stevens: As one can tell from the publication dates, I have been rather lax in updating the blog. Tired tonight (not from Turkey as I do not like it), I will try to be more diligent and write less flat postings!

While waiting for our three turkeys to cook, nine of us searched for the Common Ground-Dove near the Wayside Rest Stop (Sedgwick). It was not found today. Two Rusty Blackbirds were our consolation prize.

Later we dropped by Ovid and walked from the northern woods to the sewage ponds. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker drummed along Lodgepole Creek, behind the high school.

The Purple Finch was found again southeast of 2nd and Monroe Street! Again, it was observed flying west into town.

A Brown Thrasher was relocated east of Lodgepole Creek, north of the Monroe Street Bridge.

No Stub tailed Wren or Northern Cardinal could be found today.

A White-throated Sparrow was among a dozen White-crowned Sparrows and a few Song Sparrows at the old Ovid sewage pond area.

Shortly after dusk, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl call at Roger Danka's ranch! It was a decent end to a gorgeous Thanksgiving day! Temperatures reached the middle 60s; winds were calm.

Prewitt and North Sterling Reservoirs

November 23, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Ray Simmons and I visited Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) at 4:30 am. We relocated an Eastern Screech-Owl while walking west between the western parking area and the Ranger's residence!

At least one Common Loon was out on the lake. To avoid geese hunters, we decided to hike the eastern and southern sides of the reservoir. It was a good choice! A Snow Bunting was found flying around just west of the southeastern corner.

Later, we returned to below the dam. Another good choice, this time we found a male Eastern Towhee! A White-throated Sparrow was with a loose flock of 11 White-crowned Sparrows and 3+ Song Sparrows.

Our birding day ended at Sterling Reservoir (Logan). An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 Bonaparte's Gulls were observed from the dam.

Later we visited the picnic grove where a Barn Owl flew out, then circled back into its cover!

A Varied Thrush in Arapahoe County

November 22, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Plans were to stay home and get chores done today. However, a report of a Varied Thrush in Aurora (Arapahoe) altered those plans.

The Varied Thrush was not in the apple trees or yard where first reported. Therefore, I walked south down the bike path through Los Ninos park to the next road.

On the return trip, the Varied Thrush flew out of the yard with 4 tall and 2 short evergreens along its fence (east side of path). It stopped briefly at the bare tree on the west side of the path and then continued to the Russian Olive Tree in front of the sixth house south of the original yard.

By the time, I circled to the front of the house; I only got a glimpse of the Varied Thrush flying to the backyard and then north.

Eventually the Varied Thrush was going to return to 3904 S. Idalia Street. However, I did not want to wait around for it. I suggested to several arriving birders to watch the original yard and the yard to the north which had a birdbath and feeders (the Varied Thrush was observed there on both 11/23 & 11/24).

I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home. No Harris's Sparrow, two Bonaparte's Gulls were observed flying below the dam.

The last 3 hours of daylight were spent trying to relocate the Winter Wren found yesterday at Barr Lake (Adams). I also scoped the lake briefly; no swans were found.

Return to Barr Lake to Identify Some Swans

November 21, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After hearing that 7 swans were now at Barr Lake (Adams County) I returned in the afternoon. I chose to scope the lake from the north side hoping that would provide better looks to any birds in the middle to western sections of the reservoir.

From Mile Marker 4.5, I could see 7 swans far off in the distance. The Pacific Loon was in the bay around mile 5.0.

Sixty Great-tailed Grackles flew around the Town of Barr (the only access to the northwest end of the lake).

From inside the State Park (mile 7.6) at the boat ramp, I could see 2 Common Loons and the swans, which were still quite far away. They were closer when I scoped from the Niedrach Trail, however still quite a distance.

I circled around the outside of the park to the intersection of Tower Road and 128th Avenue. There is a pullover here and a sliver of land, which allows access to the park (only when there is no water in the canal).

When I dropped down into the canal, several sparrows caught my eye. There turned out to be 4+ White-crowned Sparrows and 2 Song Sparrow. While trying to identify them, a wren came out of the tall grasses at the base of the canal.

This wren was small and had a short tail. I played a Pacific Wren recording, but observed no response. When a Winter Wren recording was played, the small wren came out of the grasses. It was a Winter Wren!

I continued into the park and walked out on the Eagle Watch Boardwalk. The swans were closer however still quite a distance from me. I studied them for 45 minutes (hoping they would swim closer, however, while they swam around, they did not close the distance).

They turned out to be 7 Trumpeter Swans!

Birding Some Metro Denver Lakes

November 20, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I began with a late start to birding today. What another wonderful day of weather in Colorado. Temperatures in the 60s; winds were mild.

On a drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe County), I stopped at the Rowing Club. There was no sign of yesterday's Harris's Sparrow or Long-eared Owl. Several Bonaparte's Gulls flew along the Lake Loop's shore.

A Red-necked Grebe swam close to a raft of Western Grebes in the middle of the lake. American White Pelicans have appeared to abandon the lake. It looks to be a little early this year?

A Greater White-fronted Goose accompanied several hundred White-cheeked Geese at the southwest picnic area (tables with gull wings as covers).

I arrived at Lakecrest (Denver County) at approximately 3:00 pm. Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were again swimming on the lake. (They tend to fly off around 3:30 or 4:00 pm to feed in nearby fields). Five Greater White-fronted Geese and a Ross's Goose were amongst the horde.

Three Snow Geese were the biggest geese on the lake. Truly, this indicates that thousands of Cackling Geese were out there!

My birding day concluded at Barr Lake (Adams). From the boat ramp, I could see two juvenile Tundra Swans in the southeast corner (below the dam).

Scoping the north edge of the lake added 2 Common Loons and a Pacific Loon to my day list.

A Ross's Goose was with many White-cheeked Geese at the Niedrach Trail.

Been without internet access for awhile now. Catching up on some interesting birding times the past nine days.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday Birding Continued at Chatfield Reservoir

November 19, 2011

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, I drove south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas). While scoping the lake from above the dam, the Pomarine Jaeger was observed chasing gulls in the middle of the lake.

I walked down to the Dam Tower and observed the Pomarine Jaeger fly over the south marina sand spit harassing gulls six or seven times. The Jaeger then flew to the north edge of the lake, and then continued west directly underneath me.

The 1st cycle Glaucous Gull also circled along the shore and eventually also flew directly below me. A Common Loon was 5-10 feet off the shore (at the opening the north marina bay).

Bob Spencer was here and got good looks at the Pomarine Jaeger! He informed me of Eastern Bluebirds along the old Plum Creek Road. I was able to relocate a male Eastern Bluebird! Thanks Bob!

On the trip home, I stopped at Fort Logan National Cemetery (Denver). No Greater Scaup or Lesser Scaup for that matter were found on Memorial or Veteran's Lakes.

Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were in the cemetery, no Greater White-fronted Geese among them.

A lone white goose loomed over the White-cheeked Geese. At first, I thought it had to be a domestic goose as it was so much larger than the White-cheeked Geese. On closer inspection, it was a Snow Goose. The White-cheeked Geese had to be various subspecies of Cackling Geese (they were exceedingly smaller than the Snow Goose).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 19, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I went back to Cherry Creek Reservoir two hours before sunrise (Arapahoe County) to check on the Long-eared Owl. The owl was in the same tree that I left it in at 8:30 pm last night!

No Short-eared Owls showed up at dawn over the cattails just west of where Cherry Creek crosses under the main road.

I then rushed back to the Lake Loop and observed the Harris's Sparrow north of the Rowing Club building. It was first on the grassy patches, however last seen flying to the thin tree northeast of the building.

A few Bonaparte's Gulls were seen flying along the southwest corner when I drove out of the park. The Lesser Black-backed Gull was not on the southwest marina's logs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Owling At Cherry Creek Reservoir

Owling November 18, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After dinner I went back to Cherry Creek Reservoir. I heard a Long-eared Owl east of the Lake Loop at 8:30 PM, later saw it (with night vision binoculars) in the trees along the shore at about halfway to the Prairie Loop.

I did not go near the Rowing Club, did not want to scare the Harris's Sparrow. It should be there in the morning. Either in the short grasses north of the building or the tall weeds along the east side. Sparrow was first found by Kirk Huffstater, not me.

Visits to Boulder, Jefferson, Adams & Arapahoe Counties

November 18, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed a good day of birding in spite of missing the Boulder Sedge Wren in a 3+ hour search. Winds were 18+ mph with gusts to 26; not helpful in locating the wren.

From Boulder, I headed to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). Yesterday, I searched for 2 hours without finding the Golden-crowned Sparrow. Today, the sparrow visited under the feeders within 10 minutes of my visit!

Next, I went to the South Platte Birding Area (Colorado Blvd & 88th avenue). The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on the River at 20 yards downstream (south) of the green & white tower.

The Long-tailed Duck was not on Tani Reservoir, East Gravel Lake or north & south West Gravel Lake (western West Gravel Lake was not checked).

My plan was to go to Barr Lake; however, I got the text message about the Harris's Sparrow at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and went that way.

When I arrived at the Lake Loop, Cherry Creek Reservoir, the Harris's Sparrow was with 4 American Tree Sparrows on the small grassy area north of the Rowing Club Building, Lake Loop. I took about 66 photos, surely one or two will come out (will see later).

An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the poles around the southwest marina. Several Bonaparte's Gulls flew around the picnic area with Gull wings as table covers. The day ended with a fantastic sunset over Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Red Rocks Park

November 17, 2011

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I stopped by Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County). The Golden-crowned Sparrow did not show up in the two hours I watched the feeders. Black-capped Chickadees numbered 10-12. Only one Spotted Towhee and dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos also visited.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Ptarmigan and Pine Grosbeak Search

November 16, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Philip Kline and I returned to Clear Creek County for another search of White-tailed Ptarmigan and Pine Grosbeaks. It was a beautiful day on Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide.

The snow covered mountain peaks and blue skies are a picturesque contrast. Winds were slower than last Monday. In all, we searched over 5 hours for White-tailed Ptarmigan.

Our first stop was my favorite search location. East of highway 6, reached by stopping at the first pullover on the west side of the road. Several inches of new snow overnight highlighted the many Ptarmigan tracks. The birds were definitely in the area; however, we could not find any.

Kudos to Philip who lives in warm Tucson, Arizona. He hiked up and down the mountain slope for several hours. Many times sinking almost to his kneecaps in isolated snowdrifts, zigzagging along the Ptarmigan trails. No telling how many Ptarmigan were passed as they hid in the willows.

We scoped most every willow bush and under every evergreen tree (more than once, more than twice). No birds, they were probably watching us walk pass them.

A short lunch break and we drove around Keystone and Dillon looking for Pine Grosbeaks in the forested areas. Few birds were seen and no Pine Grosbeak.

Back at Loveland Pass, we scoped the east side of the summit, no Ptarmigan and decided to make the steep climb up the west side trail. It is an effort, for sure.

At the first "flat area" up the trail, I scoped the grassy hillside to the south (just south of the rocky hillside along the trail). A male White-tailed Ptarmigan hopped up on a rock (or would probably have been missed). A female walked around the rock and into view.

Minutes later, they flew downhill, to the east, crossed the trail, and disappeared in the evergreens just below the highway north of the Continental Divide sign.

We walked down there, however could not relocate the birds.

With a few hours of daylight remaining, we tried Georgetown feeders for a Pine Grosbeak; without success. There was no sign of the Rufous collared Sparrow (it was last reported September 7, 2011).

As a last resort, we drove around Empire. Although several feeders were found, only a few Robins and Mountain Chickadees were seen. Pine Grosbeaks would have to wait for another trip.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Testing My Night Vision Binoculars, Banner Lakes

November 15, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I almost kept my promise to my feet to keep them out of hiking boots today. Late in the afternoon, I drove over to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) walked to the northern end of the property, then waited for dark.

No Short-eared Owls came by at dusk. In my recollection, they are observed about 1 in 9 or 10 visits as they fly over the cattails and sparse trees along the eastern side of the string on ponds.

Only a few Dark-eyed Juncos and many Robins were observed on the trip north. After dark, I was able to test out the Night Vision Binoculars. Anyone out there that also uses them? I would enjoy talking about their use in searching for passerines after dark?

They were again impressive and astonishing. I found three Long-eared Owls hiding in the windbreak along the western side of the northern ponds!

On the way home, I stopped at a friend's home. He occasionally has Barn Owls on his property. The Night Vision Binoculars did not find any tonight.

Search for White-tailed Ptarmigan

November 14, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Philip Kline and I went into the mountains in search of two targets, White-tailed Ptarmigan and Pine Grosbeak. Our trek was a victim of the winds. The wind was 28+ mph with gusts to 48+. Neither bird was found.

We drove up and down Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County) several times, stopped and scoped for Ptarmigan, without success. Then we hiked down the eastern side and searched around several rock formations that were "Ptarmigan shelters" last year and on my only previous trip so far this season.

We drove into Silverthorne and found one female Barrow's Goldeneye on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit).

Several flocks of Rosy Finches (60+ Brown-capped in one and 40+ Gray-crowned in another) were observed around town. No Pine Grosbeaks, we stopped at a friend's home and were told about 100+ mph winds just two days earlier (it was around 22 mph during our visit). Fallen trees were quite common. In one area, a strip of fallen trees was about 100 yards long and 10 yards wide.

Loveland Pass looked non-inviting with dark clouds and blowing snow; we did not go back up at 3:30 pm for another search.

Northeastern Colorado

November 13, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After seeing the Common Ground-Dove near Julesburg, Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky, Gary Weston and I birded some additional locations in Northeastern Colorado. The Common Ground-Dove when accepted will be a first Sedgwick County record!

We walked Ovid Woods and found few uncommon birds until the southern end. The Purple Finch again visited the area where we have been throwing seeds on each trip (just north of the southern bridge over Lodgepole Creek). A Brown Thrasher was also in this area.

Later, we relocated the Purple Finch a few streets over to the west!

We scoped Jumbo Reservoir and found a Common Loon and the Greater Scaup reported earlier in the week. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the southern shore. A late Baird's Sandpiper was also there.

Then we walked from Jumbo Reservoir west to Little Jumbo Reservoir. Hoping for an uncommon sparrow or warbler/vireo, none was found. We did see a Common Redpoll (looked like a male) flipping about the cattails.

We went back to Roger Danka's ranch and saw a Red race Fox Sparrow. We managed to scare up one of his resident Eastern Screech-Owls.

We stood at the southeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir at dusk (CR 26 & CR 3). A Short-eared Owl flew across the field to the south!

Playing an Eastern Screech-Owl tape at the north side of Jumbo got a response of one!

Part 2 (additional information on a sent email):

Sue or Rebecca already sent an email about the great Sunday we enjoyed on the eastern plains. After dark, four of us continued our merriment. We found Eastern Screech-Owls at 4 locations (a Sedgwick private ranch, Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area, Prewitt Reservoir, and Jackson Reservoir).

>>On the way back to Denver, we made several stops. An Eastern Screech-Owl was between Sections 6 & 7 East at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).

>>Another Eastern Screech-Owl was heard at the inlet area of Prewitt Reservoir (Washington). Yet another Eastern Screech-Owl was heard at the western Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir.

>>Using the Night Vision Binoculars, we saw three Long-eared Owls at the Jackson Reservoir Campgrounds! Pretty cool to walk along and scope the trees, then have these eyes (Long-eared Owl) looking at you!

I had wanted to tryout my Night Vision Binoculars and they worked out fantabulous tonight. I was having too much fun and almost spaced that I am leading a bird trip this morning.

While at Jackson Reservoir, we received a text message about the White-eyed Vireo at Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington). What a way to test the night vision glasses. Bryan, Jerry and Gary were crazy enough allow the detour back 30 miles from Jackson Reservoir and we headed south to Last Chance Rest Stop.

It only took about 20 minutes and I was able to find the White-eyed Vireo in the dark night! Demented, but superb!

>> This was the coolest event tonight! While there are no colors, we could tell from the shape of the bird that is was not a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher or Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We could just pick out the bill that looked more like a vireo than a warbler. Only briefly, did we hit the bird with a spotlight and see that it was a White-eyed Vireo!

>>We continued around the small pond. As we walked by the ditch along the southern border, a couple of eyes popped out at us. A Short-eared Owl was perched in a Russian Olive Tree!

The technique would probably not work on a passerine that prefers to stay high in trees. Fortunately, White-eyed Vireos favor "low level" sanctuaries. In addition, if the weather was better, it might have migrated at night. In the cold night air, the vireo appeared to prefer hiding in the bushes.

I do not know how much of a demand a $3000 pair of night vision binoculars will have in the birding Community? However, they just may be something every owling trip needs/requires? Still testing, have to wonder how the $20,000 ones would do? Anyone want to let me borrow his or hers?

5:45 am, off birding!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir, Arapahoe County

November 12, 2011

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Best location was the southwest marina. Just before sunset (4:41 pm) the hundreds of gulls on the marina poles included a 1st cycle Lesser Black backed Gull, adult Mew Gull, 2nd cycle Thayer's Gull, Herring Gulls, California Gulls, and Ring billed.

Would have taken some great photos, however I needed 3 or 4 additional seconds. Just as my camera was focusing, a huge dog jumped in the water and all the gulls flew.

There was no sign of the adult Lesser Black backed Gull. Many gulls and waterfowl were out in the middle of the lake. In 15 mph winds, gusts to 28, my scope was useless.

After dark I searched for owls (Great Horned Owl) at the Campgrounds and the northwest grove of trees (always felt this would be a good place for an odd owl such as Northern Saw-whet Owl); without success. The two campers I talked to said they have not heard any Great Horned Owls calling at night.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Search for Sapsuckers and Owls

November 11, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Four of us searched around Canon City for Sapsuckers (Fremont). We checked Rouse Park, the Abbey, Centennial Park and the Lakeside Cemetery. One Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was relocated at Centennial Park. It eventually flew southwest. Several Mountain Bluebirds were at the Cemetery.

A quick hike down the Arkansas Riverwalk to the spot where the Worm-eating Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler were reported last week was unsuccessful in relocating the warblers. It had been several days since they were reported. We did see Eastern Bluebirds on the way back to our cars.

We were not able to relocate the Greater White-fronted Geese reported several times along MacKenzie Avenue. The time was not taken to check Willow Street.

We cut our trip short as weather forecasts are for inclement conditions in the mountains and Front Range for Saturday.

On the return to Denver, we searched the Park County reservoirs mostly for Snow Buntings and Rosy Finches. Neither was found. We did relocate the scoters found yesterday.

As we drove toward Antero Reservoir to search for Snow Buntings, two swans flew overhead and descended at Spinney Mountain Reservoir. We drove back there and found 2 Trumpeter Swans on the southwest end.

We checked for owls at the Buffalo Peaks Campgrounds; without success. None was found at the Michigan Creek Campgrounds. Finally, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard at the "old American Three-toed Woodpecker" road west of the Campgrounds (see CoBus website for details). Not much was making sounds at the Kenosha Pass Campgrounds.

Birding Mountain Parks South of Denver

November 10, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Four of us (Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten) headed into the mountains for a last check on the Park County trio of lakes near Highways 24 & 285 before they freeze over for the winter.

Antero Reservoir was almost frozen over, no uncommon birds. Spinney Mountain Reservoir was the most interesting with 2 White-winged Scoters, a Surf Scoter and Common Loons. Nearby Eleven Mile Reservoir had a Surf Scoter and Common Loon.

After dark, we searched for owls up Phantom Canyon; without success. A stop at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area (Fremont County) was a little more interesting. We found a Northern Pygmy-Owl near the most western parking area. Several Townsend's Solitaires called during our whole visit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Drive East of Denver In Search of Geese and Owls

November 9, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Just last week I was mentioning to Rebecca that so few geese were found. We experienced a different phenomenon today.

Our first stop was Lakecrest (Denver County, 40th avenue, east of Chambers). Several thousand White-cheeked Geese swam on the lake. Among them were 5 white Snow Geese, 2 Blue Snow Geese and 1 Greater White-fronted Goose.

Best times to visit the lake are after 9:00 am and before 4:00 pm (when they fly out to eat in the fields to the north and east). In addition, it is best to park at Wendy's or the bank along Chambers and walk 2 blocks to the lake, which is private.

Then we scoped Barr Lake (Adams) from the boat ramp (mile 7.6). Tens of thousands of geese were too far away to identify.

A Common Loon and Pacific Loon were in the southeast corner of the lake. The Pacific Loon flew from right to left giving us great views (dark head no chance it was a Red-throated Loon).

We stopped at the entrance station on the way out and scoped the cornfield to the south. At 4:00 PM, tens of thousands, wave after wave of geese landed perhaps 30 yards south of us!

In the mix were Cackling Geese, Canada Geese, 4 white snow geese, 2 blue snow geese, 1 Ross's Goose and 1 Greater White-fronted Goose.

No Great-tailed Grackles were around the Picadilly Tree Nursery at 5:00 pm.

We found no Short-eared Owls while driving around the DIA Owl Loop.

South Platte River Bird Area, Adams County

November 8, 2011

Richard Stevens:

On the way to give a PowerPoint presentation to a Scout Troupe in Westminster, Bryan Ehlmann and I stopped at the S. Platte River at 88th & Colorado Blvd (Adams County). A new sign calls this area the South Platte River Birding Area (will now be referred to that in the future).

We walked south on the west side of the River to Highway 224 and back along the east side of the Platte. The gate to West Gravel Lakes was open so we walked into the park (supposedly closed on November 1st).

A few Ruddy Ducks swam at the north end of the lake. A Long-tailed Duck was along the eastern shore at the halfway point. Two dozen California Gulls were on the overflow drains in the lake.

We left the park and walked south along the dirt track outside of West Gravel Lake. Four hundred+ gulls stood on the S. Platte shore, just below the northern West Gravel Lake. These included 461 Ring-billed Gulls, 11 California Gulls and a Mew Gull.

A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on the S. Platte River below the green and white tower (about 0.5 miles south of 88th avenue). A construction truck scared the ducks up and they flew to Tani Reservoir to the east.

Most of the common ducks in good numbers could now be seen on the River. The most uncommon by number was one male Northern Pintail Duck.

The Barrow's Goldeneye pair swam on Tani Reservoir as we returned to our car. Almost no birds were on East Gravel Lake (only a pair of American Coots). Raptors included a female Northern Harrier and an adult Bald Eagle. A few American Tree Sparrows have also shown up now.

After my presentation, Bryan and I decided to go owling at White Ranch Open Space and Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Jefferson). Winds were 10+ mph; temperatures were in the low 40s. We could not conjure up any small owls this night. A pair of Great Horned Owls called in the State Park.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Aurora Reservoir and DIA Owl Loop

November 7, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I circled Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) on our bikes this afternoon.

Only one Common Loon was found. The highlight was an adult Mew Gull at mile 2.5. This could be the Mew Gull found a few days ago by Don Beltz at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

The two reservoirs are only 9 miles apart. The Red-necked Grebe found by Bill Cryder probably ended up at Cherry Creek State Park two days later (last week).

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese are starting to arrive in numbers. Redheads, Ruddy Ducks and other waterfowl also are increasing in numbers.

A half hour before sunset, we sat at the hill south of the Prairie Dog village at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue. A Short-eared Owl flew low over the hills (quite a distance away) about 5:10 PM (sunset was 4:52 PM).

I calculate that we see one about 1 out of 6 trips along the DIA Owl Loop. Another place to search is along Queensburg Street, south from 114th avenue (about 0.2 miles west of Trussville Road).

Search for Owls and Grouse

November 6, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, John Westin and I searched for owls overnight. No Flammulated Owls were encountered in a three hour search on Pennock Pass (Larimer County). My late date for Flammulated Owls on Pennock Pass is 10/19. Late date for anywhere else in Colorado is 10/5.

We found only one Boreal Owl. It was along highway 14, just west of Cameron Pass (Jackson). Winds were quite strong 12+ mph. None was found at Ruby Jewell Road in the Colorado State Forest.

At civil twilight, we drove Jackson County Road 26 and 26B (circling back to Coalmont). Two Greater Sage-Grouse were along CR 26, just north of the CR 26B turnoff.

Later we visited a friend who had 3 Greater Sage-Grouse coming under his feeders in Steamboat Springs (Routt). Four Sharp-tailed Grouse were also found in Steamboat Springs.

After a few hours of sleep, we searched for Bohemian Waxwings in Steamboat Springs (without success).

The Tundra Swan was still on a half frozen Lake Catamount. Bohemian Waxwings sometimes winter in the trees where the road crosses the river; however, none today.

Our journey then turned back toward Fort Collins. We enjoyed a great stop at the maintenance shed road on Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand). A female American Three-toed Woodpecker was on one of the telephone poles on the south side of the road.

While watching her, two White-winged Crossbills circled overhead, and then disappeared in the trees to the north!

A lone Brown-capped Rosy Finch stopped by the feeders at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, a male Pine Grosbeak, and Steller's Jays were also there.

After dark, we searched the Colorado State Forest (Ruby Jewell Road) for Boreal Owls. Winds were once again quite strong (it makes hearing the quiet calling owls difficult).

We eventually found a Boreal Owl along Highway 14 at four miles west of Cameron Pass (Jackson). Another was about 0.1 miles east of the Summit (Larimer). None called at the Joe Wright Reservoir parking areas.

We detoured back to Denver by way of Pennock Pass. No Flammulated Owls found; it does not look like my late date can be broken this year. I would not recommend driving Pennock Pass without a 4 wheel drive vehicle. The road was quite muddy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Trip to Northern Plains; High Winds

November 5, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, John Westin and I had planned on a trip to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) and Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) today. Winds were 24-25 mph with gusts to 39 mph.

We did make it to Jackson Reservoir about two hours before sunrise. An Eastern Screech-Owl was in the western Campgrounds. After sunrise, we found several Long-eared Owls!

Winds were ridiculous. Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by (or were blown by us?). A Common Loon swam at the northwest corner.

We looked for Snow Buntings along the dam; without success. A Harris's Sparrow in the thickets below the dam was a nice consolation.

We gave up on going to Prewitt Reservoir and looking for birds there in the wind. Instead drove up Morgan County Road 4 (turns into Weld County Road 105). Several Lapland Longspurs were found (look for flocks of Horned Larks).

I called a friend who has a Northern Saw-whet Owl in his windbreak and we drove up there and saw small pieces of it as it hid in the thick fir trees.

At sunset, we walked County Road 48, south side of Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld). Several Marsh Wrens popped up from the cattails. Two Short-eared Owls flew by just after sunset.

Having a good owl week, going for Flammulated and Boreal Owls Sunday morning and night!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Douglas and Arapahoe Counties

November 4, 2011

Richard Stevens:

This afternoon I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). When I arrived, the Red-necked Grebe was swimming off the picnic area southeast of the swim beach. Thanks Bob Righter!

The Mew Gull (Beltz, 10/3) was not found off the southeastern sand spit. Next, I stopped at the Bird Observation Platform, Prairie Loop. The mudflats have temporarily disappeared due to the rising water from snowmelt.

I could not conjure up any sparrows. Many times in November, the cattails will catch a Swamp Sparrow. No Song Sparrows were around either.

Two Common Loons and a Pacific Loon could be seen from there. The loons were diving much and it took quite awhile to identify the Pacific Loon. No Red-throated Loon was found.

The Mew Gull was not found at the southwest marina either. However, hundreds of gulls were flying around the center of the lake. They could not all be identified.

This morning about 2 hours before sunrise, John Westin and I drove Sugar Creek Road (off Hwy 67). One Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard and seen about 0.4 miles off Hwy 67.

Later, we watched the woods northeast of Highway 67 and Rampart Range Road. One male American Three-toed Woodpecker flew within 10 yards of hwy 67.

Some Mountain Birding in Clear Creek & Summit Counties

November 3, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Today, British birder John Westin and I explored the snowy mountains west of Denver.

We were able to find 3 species of Rosy Finches in Summit County. Recent snowstorms appeared to have "pushed" them down in search of food to lower elevations.

Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit). These numbers should increase any day now (additional snowstorms forecasted for Saturday).

Fortune was with us! It only took 20 minutes to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan in all its grandeur. The white plumage in winter is magnificent The bird was below the eastern side of the Loveland Pass Summit (Clear Creek)!

An hour search (more or less) at Georgetown did not produce the Rufous collared Sparrow. It was not expected (last reported 9/7/2011).

We had time on our hands and drove east and south to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson). American Three-toed Woodpeckers were not as cooperative as the Ptarmigan. None was found today. Neither were Northern Pygmy-Owls, they did not appear during our visit nor respond to recordings near dusk.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Birding Denver After a Snowstorm

November 2, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove into the snowstorm in search of Murrelets Tuesday morning. Early November snowstorms seemed to be when they show up in Colorado. We found none at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas County) or Bear Creek Lake Park (Jefferson).

We saw two Common Loons on Chatfield Reservoir during our first visit. After searching unsuccessfully for Northern Pygmy-Owls up Deer Creek Canyon (Jefferson) we returned to Chatfield Reservoir where we counted three Common Loons and saw the Mew Gull!

Nearby Platte Reservoir and McLellan Reservoir did not have any uncommon birds. We found two Common Loons and a Pacific Loon at Marston Reservoir. Again, nothing uncommon was found on nearby Bowles Lake & Bowles Reservoir #1.

We stopped at the S. Platte River at Florida Avenue (Barrow's Goldeneyes and Long-tailed Ducks seen here the last couple of years), however found no uncommon birds.

In the afternoon, we hiked the South Platte River from 88th avenue to hwy 224 and back. A male Barrow's Goldeneye was on the Platte River below the green and white tower. A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on Tani Reservoir (southeast of the tower).

The wintering birds along the S. Platte are easier to find once the nearby lakes have frozen. We were looking for "early dates" on several species (which did not happen, no scoters or Long-tailed Ducks today; early date for Barrow's Goldeneyes in the area is 10/30).

We watched Barr Lake (Adams) at sunset. The Common Loon was still at the 4.5 mile marker. After sunset, a swan flew in, however landed too far away for us to identify. Several Great-tailed Grackles were still around the Picadilly Tree Nursery (at 152nd avenue & Picadilly Road, northeast of Barr Lake).

A Winding Route Back to Denver

November 1, 2011

Richard Stevens:

We had to abbreviate our birding today. We wanted to return to Denver before the foreshadowed snowstorm hit (forecast up to 7 inches of snow; Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, we received 9 inches at home).

A stopover at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) discovered a Dunlin among Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs and some peeps at the inlet area.

A Bonaparte's Gull flew by as we observed a Common Loon from the old boat ramp.

At Jackson Reservoir (Morgan), we found 2 additional Bonaparte's Gulls and 2 Red-necked Phalaropes off by themselves (observed from the dam, at the southern parking area).

It was still fairly decent out so, we detoured to Pawnee National Grasslands and Crow Valley Campgrounds.

Several small flocks of Lapland Longspurs (total 21+ birds) were observed along Weld County Road 105 (just north of where Morgan County Road 4 changes counties and names).

We walked around the Washington Work Center searching for Northern Saw-whet Owls in the thick firs; without success.

A Long-eared Owl was in the fir at the southwest corner of the Campgrounds. The female Red-bellied Woodpecker was still around the group camping area.

Our plan was to drive north to Wellington Wildlife Area (Weld) and wait for Short-eared Owls to fly around at dusk (or Lower Latham Reservoir). It was altered when we watched the heavy clouds rapidly roll in from the northwest.

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area and Some More Walk-In-Areas

October 31, 2011

Richard Stevens:

The CoBus group started the day at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County). Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard before civil twilight along the north side. We then drove to the southern section (north of CR 46 & 89) in search of Short-eared Owls and Greater Prairie-Chickens; neither was found.

Back at Tamarack Ranch WLA, our next stop was quite enjoyable. A fall plumaged Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Cardinal flew around the east side of Tamarack Pond. A Spotted Towhee and many White-crowned Sparrows were also here.

Field Sparrows were found at section 7 East. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were seen at the East and West sections (as we stood on the Highway 55 Bridge over the S. Platte River.

We walked several miles of the Platte River hoping for an American Woodcock; hopes were not fulfilled.

Then we headed south into Sedgwick & Phillips Counties. We again visited 5 "Walk-In-Areas" in search of Sprague's Pipits. Again, none was found and it looks like the late date of 11/22 is safe for another year.

An hour walk around Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) found a Harris's Sparrow and 2 Field Sparrows. We found a male Red-bellied Woodpecker at the Pony Express Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).

It was a beautiful fall day in spite of our misses.

Logan/Sedgwick Counties (Jumbo Reservoir)

October 30, 2011

Richard Stevens:

The CoBus group hiked around Jumbo Reservoir and Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan/Sedgwick Counties) today.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard at the north end of Jumbo Reservoir. A Short-eared Owl was seen flying in the field below the south end of Jumbo (we stood at Sedgwick County Roads 26 & 3).

Several Gulls flew around the southeast corner. These included a Thayer's Gull and 2 Bonaparte's Gulls.

A Pacific Loon, Common Loon and Black Scoter swam in the distance. No shorebirds could be found (well, except a few Killdeer).

Red Lion Wildlife Area (Little Jumbo Reservoir) provided the highlight of the day. Two Common Redpolls flew along the east side of the reservoir.

We then visited three "Walk-In-Areas" in Sedgwick County and two in Logan County. Our goal was to get a new late date for Sprague's Pipits in Colorado. None was found and 10/22 date was safe.

We found 2 Long-eared Owls at one private ranch and 2 Eastern Screech-Owls at another.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Sedgwick County Birding!

Richard Stevens:

Been without internet access for awhile now. Catching up on some interesting birding times the past nine days.

October 29, 2011

The CoBus group returned to Ovid this morning. Winds measured 6-8 mph, gusts to 12 mph; temperatures did not reach 60 degrees.

Again, the Sharp tailed Sparrow could not be found. Perhaps our last try for the bird; or maybe not.

A Purple Finch was again found in the southern section of Ovid Woods. It flew west and was relocated later along 3rd street and again along 5th street. We could not pin down an exact location where he spends most of his time.

While searching for the Purple Finch, we observed flashes of red along the S. Platte River south of Ovid (basically, part of Julesburg Wildlife Area). Unfortunately, the male Northern Cardinal stayed on private property (no photos acquired).

A hike along the eastern section of the Julesburg Wildlife Area added a Harris's Sparrow and Red-bellied Woodpecker to our day list.

A White-throated Sparrow was again seen at the Ovid Sewage Pond area.

No owls found tonight.

Owling Toward Julesburg and Sedgwick County

October 28, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I left Denver in order to arrive at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) at 3:00 am. Eastern Screech-Owls were heard at the western Campgrounds. We also found Long-eared Owls, however choose to not advertise the fact to protect them from disturbance.

A quick stop at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) found another Eastern Screech-Owl (heard only) at the inlet area.

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove up to Julesburg in search of the Sharp tailed Sparrow found on a private ranch (10/22 to 10/24). Unfortunately, it was not found or seen since 10/24.

The group of us visited DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick) and relocated 2 Harris's Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow. A male Black-and-white Warbler and 2 Northern Bobwhite were added to our day list.

No Short-eared Owls appeared at Sedgwick Draw tonight. We did listen to two Eastern Screech-Owls calling back at Roger's Ranch!

Return to Park County and Denver

October 27, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I wanted to visit the Park County Trio of Reservoirs (Antero, Spinney Mountain, & Eleven Mile) before winter came in earnest.

Our count today was:

Antero Reservoir
New addition: Tundra Swans (2)
Surf Scoter (2)
Black Scoter
Common Loon

Spinney Mountain Reservoir
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Common Loon

Eleven Mile Reservoir
Common Loon

Upon returning to Denver, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). A Pacific Loon was swimming alone in the southeast corner of the lake.

I scoped from the Bird Observation Platform at the Prairie Loop. A Willet and 6 Long-billed Dowitchers wandered back in forth in front of me!

The reservoir was scoped well. No additional loons were found. This leads me to believe that there is a turnover most days. The Red-throated Loon and 2 Common Loons reported on 10/28 by Glenn Walbek were not there the afternoon before.

If this holds true, the Red-throated Loon Glenn found was the second in the past two weeks (which is what I believe).

Fremont County Birding & Owling

October 26, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded around Canon City today. It was another mild late fall day in Colorado, fantastic!

Hours were spent walking around in search of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Finally we relocated the one reported by Jerry Petrosky at Centennial Park on 10/18. Later, we found another one at the old Holy Cross Abbey!

We set up our owl "listening stations" along the Shelf Road. It was a great success. In total 6 Northern Saw-whet Owls were accounted for with 2 observed and 4 additional recorded!

In the early morning, we found 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls at the Beaver Creek Wildlife Area.

A Short Day in Park County

October 25, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I got a late start going back to Park County today.

A hike up Kenosha Pass and Twin Cone trails was uneventful. If Flammulated Owls are still up here, we could not find them.

We whiffed on finding owls up Georgia Pass (Michigan Creek Road)

Return to Park County and More Owling

October 24, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the Park County Trio of Reservoirs (Antero, Spinney Mountain, & Eleven Mile). Winds were quite strong at 14 mph, gusts to 23 mph; temperatures in the 30s. Our count today was:

Antero Reservoir
Surf Scoters (3)

Spinney Mountain Reservoir
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter (2)
Common Loon

Eleven Mile Reservoir
Black Scoter
Common Loon

A flock of Red Crossbills was found up Tumbling Creek Road (Park County).

We set up "listening stations" along Phantom Canyon Road and heard a Spotted Owl (different location, no way to know if it was the same one from last night).

Note: Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten drove up to Julesburg area. Roger Danka had seen a Sharp-tailed Sparrow on his land on Thursday (10/22). They all relocated the sparrow on Friday & Saturday (10/23-24). It would not be found on 10/25 or 10/26.

Gunnison Sage-Grouse and Owling!

October 23, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I were up early this morning and drove Gunnison County Roads 38 & 38A. Two female Gunnison Sage-Grouse were found just north of the County Line (with Saguache).

Most of the day was spent stopped at three friend's ranches to catch up on what birds they have been seeing. One of my friends has Western Screech-Owls nesting on his property. Unfortunately, we could not find the owls today.

We scoped the east end of Blue Mesa (about the first 8-10 miles). One Common Loon and a California Gull were the highlights.

In the late afternoon, we hiked at the Miller Ranch Wildlife Area (Gunnison County). Four Gunnison Sage-Grouse were found. In winter, this is a good location to find them. On one trip two years ago, 11 birds were found hunkered down together.

We covered much of Monarch Pass physically and with "listening stations", however no owls were found. With so much undisturbed forest from Salida to Monarch Pass, there has to be owls nesting and living up there. Unfortunately, I have enjoyed little success over the years, in finding them.

The early morning hours were spent driving up Phantom Canyon Road (Fremont County). One Spotted Owl was heard (8 to 14 miles up the canyon; exact location will remain undisclosure to prevent disturbance to a rare owl).