Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wandering Around Denver

January 26, 2011

Richard Stevens:

We drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) to see if the Harris's Sparrows reported yesterday would make another appearance. It was a beautiful winter day with temperatures in the 50s and calm winds.

Don Beltz was watching the Rocky Mountain Arsenal feeders when we arrived. The Harris's Sparrow never were seen by us although little time was spent keeping an eye on the feeders.

Instead, we all went on the Wednesday Rocky Mountain Arsenal tour. While few birds can be expected in January, we were treated to many raptor sightings. Over a dozen Ferruginous Hawks were observed, some quite close to the road.

Half a dozen Bald Eagles, a Prairie Falcon, American Kestrels, a Rough-legged Hawk and several Red-tailed Hawks were also found.

Lower Derby Lake had many White-cheeked Geese and gulls (mostly if not all Ring-billed Gulls).

A Northern Shrike was a nice highlight and the final bird seen on our tour. The new bus with comfortable seats and wide windows made the 2 hour tour quite enjoyable.

We (sans Don) not wanting to go home, headed west to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). When we arrived, the Curve-billed Thrasher and Harris's Sparrow were in the bushes next to the trading post feeder.

There was little birdseed and I walked over to spread some out. The birds perhaps are becoming too tame, as they did not move from the close bushes. As soon as the seed was spread, they came down to eat (I was still next to them, unfortunately without my camera).

We ended our birding day walking the streets in Golden (especially near Ford Street and 16th Street. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been found in past years in this neighborhood. Unfortunately, we could not find any today. Still what a great winter day to walk around outside!

Another White-tailed Ptarmigan Search

January 25, 2011

Richard Stevens: Posted on "cobirders" by Bryan Ehlmann:

Bryan Ehlmann:

Gail Gross, Richard Stevens and I went looking for Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass, Clear Creek Tuesday. We eventually found one but it took two trips. The early morning trip was a bust as we only checked along highway 6. Then we dropped down to Silverthorne, Summit County and saw 21 Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

Our second search on Loveland Pass was successful but strenuous. We had to hike 0.7 miles up the trail/hill/mountain west of the Loveland Pass Summit. Finally, a Ptarmigan was found at the "flat area" south of the trail.

After dropping Gail off at DIA, Rich and I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County. Two Harris's Sparrows were reported Monday. One of them visited under the western Visitor's Center feeder.

At sunset, we were at Cherry Creek State Park, Arapahoe County. The Ross's Goose was with several hundred White-cheeked Geese at Greenwood Village Park. That's the park at the southwest corner of the Cherry Creek Reservoir dam. No Short-eared Owls flew around the cattails west of where Cherry Creek goes under the main road.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Long-tailed Duck Denver County and Some Adams County Birds

January 24, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After Noon, we drove down to the South Platte River at Florida Avenue. There is parking at Overland Pond Park (Denver County) just west of Santa Fe Avenue.

A short 5-minute walk north along the Platte the Long-tailed Duck was just south of the footbridge that crosses the river. Took some photos (see CoBus photo library) and headed back home.

We spent about 30 minutes at Barr Lake (Adams). The White-throated Sparrow today stayed in the taller grasses south of the tall bushes west of the Visitor's Center. It never approached the feeders. A few White-crowned Sparrows and one American Tree Sparrow did go below the feeders.

About a dozen Great-tailed Grackles were at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot just south of 152nd Avenue (Bromley Lane) and Picadilly Road. Several hundred Great-tailed Grackles were along Harvest Road at 0.6 miles north of 160th Avenue.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

DIA Owl Loop Before Sunrise, Adams County

January 23, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went out for breakfast early this morning. Drove the DIA Owl Loop first. About 20 minutes before sunrise, we observed a Short-eared Owl way out in the distance southeast of Trussville Avenue and 114th Avenue. The area received an inch or more of grapple last night and roads were too muddy to drive. We could see hundreds of Horned Larks, too far away to id anything else.

Barr Lake was slow. Many White-cheeked Geese again too far away to identify much else. No uncommon sparrows came to the Visitor's Center feeders in the 15 minutes we watched them.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Return to Red Rocks Park

January 22, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I had not received a report from Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County) in four or five days, so I drove over in the afternoon. For me, it is about a 70 mile round trip without detours (which of course one always has to make).

One Wyoming birder, four Colorado Springs birders, one Centennial birder and I were able to see both White-throated Sparrows (at the same time), one Golden-crowned Sparrow, one Harris's Sparrow and the Curve-billed Thrasher.

Only one Rosy Finch was observed. A Hepburn Gray-crowned Rosy Finch hung around the smaller tree overlooking the northern platform feeder.

On the way home, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The Ross's Goose, one Snow Goose, many Canada Geese and several Cackling Geese were around the southwest marina.

No Short-eared Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop tonight.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Tufted Duck Search

January 20, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I searched for the Tufted Duck in Boulder County. We covered similar lakes that I looked at on Monday 17th. Again, we had no success in finding the duck. We did not hear of any sightings of the Tufted Duck.

Along our trek, we stopped at the North Teller Lake parking area along Valmont. An hour search for the Golden-crowned Sparrow did not turn up the sparrow. In my past two successful attempts, the Golden-crowned Sparrow was with a dozen White-crowned Sparrows along the path to North Teller Lake.

Today an American Kestrel perched in the tall cottonwood along Valmont. We found no birds moving about in the tall grasses below the tree. Several sparrows came out of the cattails and brush at the eastern end of the open space. These birds zoomed past the open field overlooked by the American Kestrel and rapidly hid in the windbreak next to the parking area.

Fourteen White-crowned Sparrows, no Golden-crowned Sparrow were later found in the windbreak.

We scoped the Valmont Reservoir complex for an hour. The Tundra Swan was still there. No one could point out a Tufted Duck.

We stopped briefly at the Greenlee Preserve and again I missed the Swamp Sparrow reported a few days earlier.

The 1st cycle Glaucous Gull was again on the ice with several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and two Herring Gulls at the Parkside Center Pond.

On the way home, we could not resist stopping at 88th avenue & Colorado Blvd and walk down the S. Platte River. The Long-tailed Duck was still on the northern West Gravel Lake. Two pairs of Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Platte River south of the green/white tower.

A Prairie Falcon, male & female Northern Harrier, half a dozen American Pipits, and an adult Bald Eagle were also found.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Search for Owls Adams & Weld Counties

January 19, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn and I drove the DIA Owl Loop an hour before sunrise. No Short-eared Owls found this morning.

We went over to Barr Lake (Adams) to look for an interesting Gull that I found late yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, no gulls were around. A Barn Owl was in the thick woods at mile marker 8.0.

Again, the weather changed our plans in the afternoon. I wanted to stay at Wellington Wildlife Area and search for Short-eared Owls after sunset. Snow predictions forced us south.

We drove up to northern Colorado to visit a friend who reported a Northern Saw-whet Owl again this month in his yard.

Along the way, we passed a second friend's home and briefly stopped there. These people are only miles from Wyoming and over 60 miles east of the foothills. They have had three visits by Rosy Finches this season. All were Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and never more than 6 or 7 birds at one time. The last visit was Monday during the recent snowstorm.

At the other friend's home north of Nunn, he took us to his back property and showed us his Northern Saw-whet Owl! This is the fourth Northern Saw-whet Owl to spend part of a winter in the past 14 years! In three of the last 10 years, he has also had a Golden-crowned Sparrow in December or January. So far, not this year.

We took back roads to return to Denver. Snow was light and roads relatively clear until we reached Barr Lake (Adams). Along the way, we counted raptors and kept our eyes out for Short-eared Owls. A Short-eared Owl was seen in the field northeast of Weld County Roads 50 & 52. This field has been quite lucky for me in the recent past.

We went by Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) at around sunset and decided to stop. We scoped the field south of County Road 48 for owls. All of a sudden, a Short-eared Owl appeared flying over the cattails north of County Road 48! It was a nice end to our birding day!

Search for Tufted Duck in Boulder County

January 18, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I arrived home early Monday morning and headed up to Boulder County. Arrived in Longmont at 6:30 am, way too early to search for the Tufted Duck. At first light, I walked around Golden Ponds in Longmont for about 2 hours. No one found the Tufted Duck as most of the ponds were ice covered. A pair of Hooded Mergansers and a Northern Shrike were at Pond 4.

I spent the next 4 hours driving around searching for open water in Boulder County. Lakes checked included: Boulder Fairgrounds, McIntosh Lake, Ish Reservoir, Terry Lake, Highline Reservoir, McCall Lake, Pella Crossing, Clover Basin, Lagerman Reservoir, Dodd Lake, Boulder Reservoir, North Teller Lake, a few others. Most were completely ice covered while a few had only small open water holes.

The most promising for the Tufted Duck to show up is the Valmont Reservoir Complex. There was quite a good deal of open water, no Tufted Duck. The Tundra Swan continues here, in the southeast corner this day.

On the way back to Denver, I stopped at the Parkside Center Pond (Broomfield). I took some great photos of the Glaucous Gull (Plage, 1/15).

Next, I stopped at 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd and walked the Platte River (Adams County) down (west side) to I270 and back (east side). Target bird was the possible Iceland Gull reported the day before. Gave the Dunlin another chance at showing up, which it did not. All gulls observed had dark wing tips, no Iceland Gull found.

The Long-tailed Duck was still on the northern West Gravel Lake. Two pairs of Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the S. Platte River around the green/white tower. Many waterfowl for photographers or birders to see.

My next stop was Barr Lake (Adams). A White-throated Sparrow was under the bushes south of the Visitor's Center. It never approached the feeder area. An interesting Gull was at the boat ramp when I arrived. Unfortunately, it flew west before I got a proper ID.

No sparrows were found around the Old Stone House area (where a Harris's Sparrow was reported last week). Only a few Great-tailed Grackles were at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot. However, 100+ were along Harvest Road at 0.6 miles north of 160th Avenue (along with many Bison)!

At sunset, I drove the DIA Owl Loop looking for Short-eared Owls and several birders who had missed them yesterday. I did not any this evening. Northern Harrier count was 17! The roads southeast of Trussville Road and 114th were quite muddy and I did not attempt to drive them.

Southern Bird Trip

January 13-17, 2011

Bryan Ehlmann

Thursday 13th

Richard Stevens and I commenced to make a short trip to southeast Colorado. It lasted longer than first planned. We made it to Rocky Ford in Otero County early in the morning.

The town is full of Eurasian Collared-Doves now. In 1996, birders flocked from all over Colorado to get a glimpse of just one. Hundreds now call constantly, which makes hearing other birds a little unmanageable.

We walked the area along Washington Avenue from Virginia Drive to Meloneer Drive then over to Cottonwood Lane. On the second loop, we found an Inca Dove while hiking the alley behind the church. The dove was in the yard four houses east of the church.

Later, we hiked Walnut Drive from 9th avenue to Industrial Drive. A White-winged Dove was perched on a telephone wire at Walnut and S. 1st Street.

Our next stop was at the "Purgatory Railroad Crossing" about two miles east of Las Animas. Nothing rare was found. Last trip Richard threw out seed and waited an hour for birds to show; this trip we didn't take the time.

Few birds were noticed when we scoped John Martin Reservoir in Bent County from the north end of the dam. We were not willing to hike west. At Hasty Campgrounds below the dam, we chanced upon a male Red-bellied Woodpecker but not much else.

We looked for owls at Upper Queens Reservoir in Kiowa County. Virtually no birds were found.

Friday 14th

Walking about Lamar Community College in Prowers County, this morning was very exciting. Our first bird was a Carolina Wren singing at the south end of the College woods! Our second bird was a male Northern Cardinal in the yard just south of the woods!

Farther north, a male Red-bellied Woodpecker rapidly worked a cottonwood tree. On the way back south, we found a flock of sparrows, which included a White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Tree Sparrows.

The only birds at Fairmount Cemetery were a lone Great Horned Owl and some Pine Siskins.

Our next stop was the Mike Higbee Wildlife Area, which is a few miles east of Lamar. The area is covered with brush and has Clay Creek bordering its western side. Great habitat for sparrows!

A Harris's Sparrow was along Clay Creek at about 0.2 miles south of highway 50. We found several flocks of sparrows in the brush east of the parking lot. Again, a White-throated Sparrow was found among White-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Tree Sparrows.

We continued east to the Kansas border and the Holly Rest Stop. A Northern Bobwhite called from somewhere south of the parking lot. A Field Sparrow was seen along the old highway 50 road, which goes west from the Rest Stop parking lot.

Continuing South on Highway 89, we found several large flocks of Horned Larks. Dozens of Lapland Longspurs included. Raptors included Ferruginous Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks.

At Highway 116 (Two Buttes Road), we turned west and then north to Two Buttes Reservoir. We walked around here for 30 minutes seeking another Inca Dove, which have been recorded here on several occasions.

Highlights were a Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Brown Thrasher! Almost forgot, Richard found a Barn Owl hiding out in one of the crevices in the northern rocky cliff below the dam.

We reached Cottonwood Canyon in Baca County with a couple of hours of daylight remaining. Richard played a recording at 1.4 miles east of CR M & Carrizo Creek and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows jumped into the open!

We drove from there to the camping area at Carrizo Creek twice. On the second pass, we found our only Lewis's Woodpecker at 0.6 miles east of Carrizo Creek. Around the parking area and up the southern draw, Bewick's Wrens, a Canyon Wren and a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker were seen.

Just after dusk, Richard played another appropriate recording and two Western Screech-Owls called back.

Saturday 15th

We stayed on the night at a friend's ranch in Furnish Canyon. On this private ranch, Curve-billed Thrasher, Greater Roadrunner, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Canyon Towhees, Chihuahuan Ravens and another Western Screech-Owl were highlights!

The rancher had seen a male Vermilion Flycatcher on January 2. This maybe the only Colorado December record for the species? Later I looked the records up. There are two December Vermilion Flycatcher records in Pueblo County. Three January records, two in Baca County and one in Las Animas County.

We checked in with another of Richard's friends in Baca County. He showed us two Barn Owls and a Western Screech-Owl. Reports of a Barred Owl could not be confirmed.

A hike at the Upland Bird Management Area did not find any gallinaceous birds. A Short-eared Owl hovered over Baca County Road M near CR 32.

As we continued west, Richard asked if I was up to another adventure. Of course, we drove through Raton, NM to the Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area, which is in Colorado. Richard has gps waypoints of Northern Pygmy-Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Wildlife Area. Tonight, a Northern Saw-whet Owl returned our call.

Our long night was not over. We searched for Spotted Owls in Fremont County. Alas, none was found.

Sunday 16th

Our day began late, as some sleep was necessitated. We drove to Gunnison and looked for the reported Gunnison Sage-Grouse up Ohio Road. Not finding any at the reported location, we broke out our snowshoes and hiked into the Miller Ranch Wildlife Area in Gunnison County.

We eventually found three Gunnison Sage-Grouse thanks to the heads up of a Missouri Birder whose name I cannot remember. The distance was reported as 0.5 miles. This is only partially correct. It was 0.5 miles from CR 7; however, our hike was about 13 miles round trip. We also heard a Three-toed Woodpecker during the hike.

Our original plan was to snowshoe up Slumgullion Pass in Hinsdale County, which depended upon access. Richard has made a similar trip a decade ago and found Boreal Owls at the Campgrounds up there. Very negative weather reports of several possible feet of snow for Gunnison changed our minds and we retreated to Canon City in Fremont County.

Monday 17th

Most of the morning was used to look for Northern Saw-whet Owls up the Shelf Road north of Canon City. Red Canyon Park and the BLM land to the north have been good for them in past years. We got an abbreviated reply to a recording at the BLM land.

Back in Canon City, we sought the many Williamson's Sapsuckers previously reported. If they were still around, they hid from us.

Weather reports continued to be impending disastrous which convinced us to return to Denver later tonight. We had another unsuccessful search for Spotted Owls, but did find a Northern Saw-whet Owl up Phantom Canyon Road. It was heard only near Oro Junta.

One final hike, we went owling at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area. After walking around for about 2 hours, we found/heard only a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

The report of a Tufted Duck in Longmont secured our decision to return to Denver. As I needed some sleep, Richard does not; he dropped me off and went to find the Tufted Duck. I was to follow with Sue and Rebecca, which did not happen as the duck, was not found.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Return to Adams County (Dunlin, Long-tailed Duck)

January 11, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Before sunrise, Bryan Ehlmann and I tried one last time to find the Snowy Owl reported on the north side of the Denver International Airport (Adams County). Again, we could not find the owl. No Short-eared Owls were found either.

There are quite a few Horned Larks in several flocks. A couple of Lapland Longspurs were among them.

Next, we hiked the S. Platte River at 88th avenue & Colorado Blvd (Adams County). The Long-tailed Duck was on the Platte River below the East Gravel Lake dam's tower. It later flew to the northern West Gravel Lake.

We hiked down to 74th avenue and back. Missed the Dunlin on the trip down, but found it on the way back. It was now downstream of the green/white tower. It took patience to wait for gaps in the steam coming from the river and see the eastern shore. When we left, the Dunlin and a Killdeer were on the middle of a rocky island north of the waterfalls. Look for my footprints in the snow.

A female Barrow's Goldeneye stayed with a male Common Goldeneye about 200 yards south (upstream) of the tower. A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes were just north (downstream) from the tower.

On our return trip, we walked up the ramp to the northern West Gravel Lakes. The Long-tailed Duck was there. Note: if we had not walked around to the western side of the dam's tower, we would have not observed the duck.

No uncommon birds visited the Barr Lake Visitor's Center feeders. At least 50+ Great-tailed Grackles were around the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Search for a Snowy Owl, Adams County

January 10, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I was planning to stay home today. Six and a half inches of snow yesterday on the roads sounded like a possible nightmare out there. However………..

We received a report of a Snowy Owl observed yesterday along the north end of the DIA runways. Bryan Ehlmann picked me up in his jeep and we decided to search around.

Several of the roads especially northeast of the airport were too dicey to drive. We drove around the north and east sides of the airport for several hours. No Snowy Owl for us again.

Two Lapland Longspurs were found among the three large flocks of Horned Larks observed. Both were on the north side of 114th avenue, west of Trussville. We scoped the field southeast of Trussville and 114th avenue. No Snow Buntings found this afternoon.

We ended our trip sitting on the hill south of the Prairie Dog Village 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue. No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Search for Snowy Owls in Weld & Morgan Counties

January 9, 2011

Richard Stevens and I wandered around Weld and Morgan County today in search of Snowy Owls. None was found. One had been reported north of Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) on Friday.

It snowed most of the day. Mild winds made the drive around the country roads quite pleasant. Everything looked clean and fresh under the coating of several inches of snow.

We bumped into five large flocks of Horned Larks. Lapland Longspurs were in all but one of them. All together, the Lapland Longspur count was 29.

An interesting longspur was discovered with a Horned Lark flock at 0.4 miles north of Weld County Roads 89 and 52.

We got superb looks at a longspur that looked like a McCown's Longspur in winter plumage. Both of us agreed that the bird had light chestnut median coverts, a weakly defined cheek and a white tail with black inverted "T" on the tail. It had a black chest patch, which indicates a male McCown's Longspur.

A winter plumaged Lapland Longspur while having a black chest band would also show rufous greater coverts and tertials, a dark border to its cheeks, and a black tail with limited white on the outer two tail feathers (on both sides of tail).

The highlight of the day was a Snow Bunting with another Horned Lark flock. This flock was just north of Weld County Roads 89 and 68. The bird had much brown on its face and upper chest. We concluded it was a female in winter plumage.

Our day passed without any owl sightings. We decided not to head west, lollygag around Lower Latham Reservoir and hope Short-eared Owls would fly around at dusk. Instead, we returned to Denver before sunset.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dunlin on the South Platte River, Adams County

January 8, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I arrived at the South Platte River at 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd (Adams County) at 7:10 am. Sunrise was 7:22 am. I wanted to walk south down to 74th avenue so that on the return trip, the sun was at my back. It was another winter day in Colorado, although colder than yesterday.

The Dunlin reported yesterday by John Robinette was on the rocky shore east of the Platte River and just south of the green/white tower (the tower is about 1/2 mile south of 88th avenue). A couple of Killdeer were on the same "rocky beach". A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was among dozens of ducks in the same area.

Continuing north, a second pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was below the green/white tower.
Farther North, 250+ gulls stood on another "rocky beach" (just north of the waterfalls). I scoped this group of mostly Ring-billed Gulls and found an adult Mew Gull and one Herring Gull.

Quite a few American Pipits were on the fence and small trees below the Northern West Gravel Lake.

My plan was to head up to Boulder and go on the trip through Valmont Reservoir. While packing up my stuff I met a birder from California We returned and got additional looks at the Barrow's Goldeneyes and Dunlin.

He wanted to see a Long-eared Owl, so we headed northeast up Interstate 76 to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). They are somewhat easy to find around the western Campgrounds.

Next, we drove north on Morgan County Road 4 (turns into Weld County Road 105). Not far into Weld County, we found a flock of 200+ Horned Larks. At least four Lapland Longspurs were among them.

On the return trip to Jackson Reservoir, we stopped at Brush Wildlife Area. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was relocated west of the pond.

Near dusk, we stood back at the northwestern Campgrounds and scoped the fields to the north. No Short-eared Owls show up this evening. A pair of Great Horned Owls did call however. Back at the Southern Campgrounds, we enticed an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond to our recordings!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt, Jefferson County

January 7, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I spent about 5 hours hiking the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson County) trail from approximately 1 mile north of Youngfield to Kipling Avenue. Target birds were stub-tailed wrens and Eastern Screech-Owls.

No wrens were detected. I did encounter one Eastern Screech-Owl! After bad experiences with photographers harassing owls, I do not reveal exact locations anymore.

Few birds were around. Four Black-capped Chickadees, a few Northern Flickers and a couple of Black-billed Magpies were just about it. Both Bass Lakes and Tabor Lake were ice covered. Prospect Pond only had a small open water area.

The highlight was a White-throated Sparrow west of the Tree Bridge trail (where it goes uphill). While it could be seen from the public trail, I have a friend who lives along the ridge. I walked over to his house and looked down onto the hillside for better looks at the sparrow.

Again, no owls were found along the DIA Owl on my way home. It was another great mild winter day in Colorado (temperatures in the 50s; winds were calm).

Adams County Winter Wren

January 6, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I spent 5.5 hours along the South Platte River at the Morgan-Smith Wildlife Area (Adams) this morning. Temperatures warmed into the middle 50s; winds were calm.

My target birds were stub-tailed wrens and Dunlins.

Few birds were observed along this seldom birded Wildlife Area. A Winter Wren had been reported three days earlier.

On my third pass around the thicket brush near the Brighton Water Treatment Plant, I finally heard a stub tailed wren. It hid in the thick brush right along the Platte River below a large cement block with blue letters on it (about 20 yards northwest of northwest corner of the Treatment Plant).

Later I walked the Platte River south from 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd (south to Hwy 224). Two male and a female Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the river just south of the green/white tower.

Most of the surrounding lakes were ice covered. This hike is a great place to study the many ducks that winter in the area. They get somewhat use to people walking by and do not fly as one passes.

I looked unsuccessfully for the Harris's Sparrow we found at the 74th avenue pond area a couple of weeks ago. One Northern Shrike was still at the southwest corner of Tani Reservoir.

On the way home, I passed the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot (152nd and Picadilly Road). Fifty or so Great-tailed Grackles are still there.

No owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop this evening. Raptor count: 5 Northern Harriers, 3 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Rough-legged Hawk, 2 American Kestrels and 1 Ferruginous Hawk.

Cameron Pass Area, Jackson & Larimer Counties

January 6, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I spent 5.5 hours along the South Platte River at the Morgan-Smith Wildlife Area (Adams) this morning. Temperatures warmed into the middle 50s; winds were calm.

My target birds were stub tailed wrens and Dunlins.

Few birds were observed along this seldom birded Wildlife Area. A Winter Wren had been reported three days earlier.

January 2-5, 2011

We enjoyed some easy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in Jackson County. Snowshoeing on steeper hills, skiing on the relatively flatter hills.

Most of the birds found were probably not in places most birders would tackle. Note: we carry avalanche beacons. In addition, we have taken two avalanche safety courses, which may or may not make our treks safer. We are cautious about "false security". I have spent many weeks on Cameron Pass and am familiar with the more likely places for avalanches. Michigan Ditch Road/trail begs great respect. Highway 14 was closed for two days a couple of weeks ago.

That said, we found American Three-toed Woodpeckers both in Larimer County (Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail and Chambers Lake) and Jackson County (Michigan Creek Road and near the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center).

Our main target bird was hopefully White-winged Crossbills. However, none was found.

We also ran across five Boreal Owls, got to see two of them! None was along Highway 14 and with easy access.

Surprisingly, winds were calm most nights. It did snow lightly late on two afternoons.

We passed the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center several times. Gray-crowned and a few Brown-capped Rosy Finches came to the feeders several times. Mostly early in the morning (just after sunrise). Their visits were not consistent.

Many of the other suspects (Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, and a couple of Pine Grosbeaks) also fueled up!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Day of Birding 2011

January 1, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed a great first day of the year birding in spite of a start with low single digit temperatures. My big miss was a Snow Bunting along the DIA Owl Loop. Perhaps tomorrow on that one?

I started the day with a sighting of a Varied Thrush at a private home in Brighton. What is with all the Varied Thrushes this season? Bryan Ehlmann and I ended with five Varied Thrush sightings in December! Probably could get four in January if I wanted to drive I76 northeast.

Next, I hiked the S. Platte River from 88th Avenue to I225 and back. Second miss, no Long-tailed Ducks were found, however the pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was south of the green/white tower. Both a Prairie Falcon and Peregrine Falcon flew down the Platte River! A Northern Shrike was on the western fence of Tani Reservoir.

Next stop was Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) for the Glaucous Gull. While watching it from above the dam, the Red-necked Grebe was also observed below. No Lesser Black-backed Gull at the southeast marina, but the Thayer's Gull was there.

On the way home, I stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson). The big four, Golden-crowned, 2 White-throated, and Harris's Sparrows and Curve-billed Thrashers visited behind the Trading Post several times. Finally, a flock of 90-110 Rosy Finches flew in, late afternoon. At least 3 Black Rosy Finches, at least 3 Brown-capped Rosy Finches and many Gray-crowned Rosy Finches including Hepburn's stayed for quite awhile.

I forgot that the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was closed today. I pass by it on the way home anyway, so it was not that much of a detour. Great-tailed Grackles were again at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot. I ended my day with another drive around the DIA Owl Loop; no Snow Bunting.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

DIA Owl Loop, Adams County

December 31, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Most of the day was spent inside where it was warm. High temperatures today were around 14 degrees. Wind chills recorded to -12 degrees around sunset.

Bryan Ehlmann and I had to get out for a little bit. We drove the DIA Owl Loop in the afternoon. A flock of 500+ Horned Larks flew around just south of Trussville Road and 114th Avenue. The highlight was a Snow Bunting accompanying them! Two Lapland Longspurs were also picked out of the horde of larks!

This Snow Bunting may have been the same one that Rebecca Kosten and I found on December 24th. We had driven the roads south and east of Trussville Road just because we had not been on them before.

I did not report this to the cobirders listserve because there is a question of which of these roads are public? We expected to be stopped by airport security during the hour we drove the roads east of the new solar farm we presume was built for the airport. Some of the roads are quite rocky and makeshift.

We estimated 35,000 Horned Larks visiting the fields here. The grasses are much shorter than back along the DIA Owl loop. Whether this influenced where the Horned Larks searched for food, we do not know. A Snow Bunting was found 12/24, along the road going east from the new solar farm (about a half mile east).

It looks like one can drive onto the airport runways from these roads? We were surprised that airport security never appeared. Two Ferruginous Hawks but no Short-eared Owls were found the late afternoon of 12/24.

Dozens of Great-tailed Grackles were at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot when Bryan & I passed by it on 12/31. Nothing uncommon was found behind the Barr Lake Visitor's Center.

Run Back to Denver, Jackson and Larimer Counties

December 30, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard and I wanted to stay and snow shoe down the Crags Campgrounds and road south. Then hit Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail and/or Twin Crater Lakes Trail. The weather prediction for the foothills was very discouraging. Five to ten inches of snow along the foothills, not good, we decided to abandon those trips for now and head back to Denver.

Thirty plus Rosy Finches were seen when we stopped at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. This stop, a Three-toed Woodpecker was in the trees just west of the Visitor's Center.

Richard and I stopped at seven of the Campgrounds and picnic areas along highway 14, between Cameron Pass and Fort Collins. Only one Northern Pygmy-Owl was found.

When we emerged from the mountains, it was snowing heavily along the foothills.

Third Annual Cameron Pass Christmas Count

December 29, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Our snowshoe trek went another three miles into the Colorado State Forest. We then turned around and returned to the entrance along highway 14.

Our third annual Cameron Pass Christmas Count today had six participants snowshoeing around and four feeder watchers.

Highlights included American Three-toed Woodpeckers at Ranger Lakes, the Visitor's Center, Chambers Lake and the Crags Campgrounds.

Feeders in Gould provided similar birds to those visiting the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders. Birds included Rosy Finches, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos and four Pine Grosbeaks.

After dark, Richard and I snow shoed down Michigan Ditch Road for about 2.5 miles. We found two Boreal Owls to add to the four found by the other two groups, which searched along highway 14.

Thanks to all who helped with the Christmas Count. Final counts will be in February's "Colorado Field Notes".

Jackson County Snow shoe Trip

December 28, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

After rising late morning, we visited the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center again. The flock of Rosy Finches, mostly Gray-crowned and a few Brown-capped, now numbered about 30 birds.

The distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker came from south of the Visitor's Center.

We tried unsuccessfully to get to the Teller City ghost town. There was too much snow, a snowmobile would be required to get down there.

Shortly after noon, we put on our snowshoes and headed 7 miles into the Colorado State Forest. The plan was to check previous waypoints for Boreal Owls and camp out overnight. Fortunately, winds were calm to mild most of the night. Temperatures in the 20s.

Our Boreal Owl count was a meager 3 owls.

Birding Around Boulder County

December 27, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard Stevens and I left Denver for Longmont at 5:00 AM to beat the rush hour traffic. Now days, 5:00 AM is late for missing it too. It was a cold but windless morning. We stopped at a private ranch in Boulder County and found two Long-eared Owls at their usual location in a brushy ravine.

After breakfast, we walked around the Longmont Estates neighborhood at 7:10 AM. Sunrise was 7:16 AM. The Varied Thrush was with 40+ American Robins eating crabapples at a house along Baylor Drive, west of Vasser Court. We walked Northwestern Avenue first, then Cornell Drive before taking the walking path south of the Elementary School. Emerging onto Baylor, we found 100+ American Robins up and down the street.

A flock of 14 Bushtits was along the walking path when we returned to our car. The rest of the afternoon, we zigzagged back and forth through Boulder County.

The Winter Wren along St. Vrain Creek at 61st Street called and came out of the brush north of the cement drain and east of the parking lot for the Blue Heron Ranch. The search took less than 10 minutes!

The Golden-crowned Sparrow and 11 White-crowned Sparrows came out of the tall grasses along the path to North Teller Lake. Again we enjoy great luck as we only pished about 10 seconds before seeing the sparrow! The flock flew to the large fallen cottonwood tree along the northern property fence.

Finally, we headed to Cameron Pass in Larimer County. However, we did make two detours. A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings played at mile 78 of highway 34. Later, we missed finding the Northern Pygmy-Owl up Rist Canyon at Whale Rock.

Now in Jackson County, only a few Gray-crowned Rosy Finches were seen coming to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders.

After dark, we walked highway 14 for three miles either side of Cameron Pass. Two Boreal Owls were heard. Neither could be coaxed out of the woods. It snowed the whole time, but fortunately, winds were mild.