Monday, August 29, 2011

Events This Week In the Mountains

August 28, 2011

Rebecca Kosten;

For those who have not heard, Jacob Washburn fell 50+ feet while owling last Friday. He will be okay, but does have a broken leg. Richard Stevens fractured his wrist while trying to help Jacob.

Thank goodness, all will be all right.

This week's owl counts (August 22-28) will have to wait. Events like this put everything into perspective.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

DIA Owl Loop

August 23, 2011

Rebecca Kosten;

Sue Ehlmann, Amy Davenport and I enjoyed the cool evening after the tremendously hot day with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop. We only expected a few Burrowing Owls and were treated to a few surprises.

A Sage Thrasher was in the lone tree along 128th avenue at 0.3 miles west of Trussville Street.

Five or six Burrowing Owls stood around at the Prairie Dog Town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.

At 8:11 PM, we watched a Short-eared Owl flying south to north about 40 yards east of Trussville. It then turned west and flew in front of our car, about halfway between 120th and 128th avenues.

No Lark Buntings, no sparrows and no swallows were found. We have not seen a swallow since 8/14. Strange that they disappeared at one time. Searches have included Cherry Creek State Park, Barr Lake State Park, DIA Owl Loop, Aurora Reservoir and intersections around Brighton and Aurora.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Migration and Owl Monitoring

August 17 to 21, 2011

Sue Ehlmann:

This week, several CoBus members set up Owl listening stations and Migration Monitoring Stations in the foothills west of Loveland and Fort Collins and in the mountains to Walden.

We want to thank the homeowners who allowed us to set up Migration Stations on the roofs of their homes. See "Colorado Field Notes" for directions on how to construct your own (for under $100). Hundreds of hours of recordings yet to be reviewed. There is never enough time.

Owl Listening Stations are a little more mobile and "hands on". Up to eight CoBus members will be monitoring them into September. The goal is to get some understanding of the migration and territories of Northern Saw-whet Owls, Flammulated Owls (late migration date), Northern Pygmy-Owls (territories) and Boreal Owls (territories).

To date 8/15 to 8/20, detections:

Northern Pygmy: 7
Northern Saw whet: 11
Flammulated: 9 (some previous territories have yet to be revisited)
Boreal: 5 (we have been studying their territories for several years and have not returned to some of the more success sites)

Some problems faced included that owls are not as vocal in the fall and in migration. CoBus does not endorse bird banding and therefore, these numbers are relative numbers to past and future studies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bike Ride Around Adams County

August 16, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After spending most of the morning in the library conducting research, I went on a 34 mile bike ride in the afternoon, which included Barr Lake (Adams). No uncommon birds were detected. Fortunately, I escaped the rain and mosquitoes. A few Bullocks' Orioles are still there. Western Kingbirds, an Eastern Kingbird, House Wrens and a Wilson's Warbler were also around.

One unusual matter, not one swallow was observed. Have they departed for southern lands already? Did the rainstorm induce them to hide out somewhere?

At sunset, Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The sunset was spectacular (rain clouds overhead and clear skies to the west). Again, not one swallow was observed. Just a few days ago, swallows flew everywhere around the pond, lake and grassy hills.

No Snowy Egrets either, I counted hundreds of swallows (Barn Swallows, Cliff Swallows, Tree Swallows) last Saturday. Two Black-crowned Night-Herons hunted at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands (east of the Prairie Loop).

A lone male Wilson's Warbler entertained us as he "hawked" insects over the Wetlands Pond. He would snatch an insect and return 8-10 feet back to the top of the willows along the south side of the pond. I do not know how many mosquitoes (or other insects) it takes to fill him up; he made dozens of trips while we watched the sunset.

Only Ring-billed Gulls and a dozen of so California Gulls stood on the telephone poles surrounding the southwest marina. No Double-crested Cormorants or egrets (it is too early for both to disappear for the year)? A few American White Pelicans swam around the marina (most were probably out on the lake somewhere).

White-cheeked Geese numbers are increasing daily now. All appeared to be Canada Geese, but I could not discount a Cackling Goose in the mix as daylight evaporated rapidly.

Monday, August 15, 2011

DIA Owl Loop

August 15, 2011

Richard Stevens:

We I rode our bikes along the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Buckley Road, 56th to 88th avenues). Winds were mild; temperatures in the high 80s. It was cooler than the past couple of weeks. Good to get out and stretch our legs!

Nothing earth shaking was found.
Burrowing Owl count was Adams County (2) & Denver County (2).

Grasshopper Sparrow (1)
Song Sparrow (2)
Lark Sparrow (19)
Vesper Sparrow (27)

Bullock's Oriole (3, all females or young males)
Western Kingbirds (23)
Rock Wren (1)
Lark Bunting (pair)

Ferruginous Hawk (1)
American Kestrel (2)
Red-tailed Hawk (3)
Prairie Falcon (1)
Swainson's Hawk (5)

NO Northern Mockingbirds for a couple of weeks now.

Four Burrowing Owls were seen at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue. No Short-eared Owls could be found while driving around after sunset.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Trip to Mt Evans and Genesee Mountain Park

August 14, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I led the CoBus sponsored trip to Mt Evans (Clear Creek County) this morning. It was a fine-looking morning with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. We had a caravan of two cars, seven birders.

Have to say, it helps to have many eyes looking for birds. I am quite often alone (which is nice also). It only took 20 minutes before Ray found a White-tailed Ptarmigan. Seconds later Jo Ann found another. It would not have taken 20 minutes, however the ptarmigan were 400 yards east of the pullover just north of the entrance to Summit Lake's parking area.

The many eyes helped also with Rosy Finches. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the northwest corner of Summit Lake, Jan called, Brown-capped Rosy Finch 10 o'clock! Within another 5 minutes, all counted at least 3 birds.

The view at the top of Mt Evans was marvelous in the clear air. No additional ptarmigan were found however, we did come across a dozen American Pipits, 4 Mountain Bluebirds and many Common Ravens. A Prairie Falcon even flew over!

Many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and a half dozen Rufous Hummingbirds took advantage of the free "eats" at the feeders hung on the side of the Echo Lodge. An abbreviated drive through the Echo Lake Campgrounds did not find any American Three-toed Woodpeckers. I have missed them on the last three trips now.

A pair of Lincoln's Sparrows and a Green-tailed Towhee were at the northwest corner of Echo Lake. A lone sapsucker proved to be a male Red-naped Sapsucker. No Pine Grosbeaks turned up this morning.

En route to Denver, a quick stop at the top of Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) found a male Williamson's Sapsucker wandering around near this year's nest site below the summit. It did not appear that he had another brood in the works.

A small flock of Red Crossbills was meandering around below the southwest corner of the upper parking area. Red-breasted, White-breasted, and Pygmy Nuthatches fluttered about the group picnic area. Pine Siskins and a pair of Lesser Goldfinches added to the morning's symphony.

Half our group rushed to the airport to return home. I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Denver) and found 2 Burrowing Owls and a Ferruginous Hawk (east of Tower Road and 96th avenue).

Cherry Creek & Castlewood Canyon State Parks

August 13, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I went back to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this morning and walked from the Prairie Loop to the Mountain Loop and back. No sign of the Great Crested Flycatcher. Only warbler was an Orange-crowned Warbler. Several Western Kingbirds are still around. Three female/immature Bullock's Orioles. No sparrows, where are they?

There was a vireo between the west side of the Lake Loop and the west side of the Mountain Loop. I lost it in the trees, never got enough of a look for a proper ID.

After an early dinner, Rebecca Kosten and I drove to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas). One target bird was Bobolink. We spent an hour searching the Winkler Ranch south of the State Park; without success.

Lark Sparrows were the most numerous birds (count was at least 131). A pair of Western Wood-pewees was in the willows along Cherry Creek (just south of the ranch entrance).

Seven Western Bluebirds were along the section of Castlewood Canyon Road that runs east to west (north of the ranch). While Mountain Bluebird count was only two young birds (south of the entrance).

After dark, we got responses by two Northern Saw-whet Owls (different locations) along Castlewood Canyon Road!

Trip To Northeastern Colorado

August 12, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Coming back from Julesburg, we stopped at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington). Never found the Neotropic Cormorants although we searched for several hours. Mosquitoes were relentless.

A quick hike at the western trees found no uncommon birds. A Nashville Warbler was the only uncommon bird below the dam.

Returned to Denver in time to search briefly for the Great Crested Flycatcher at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe); without success.

August 11, 2011

After sunrise, Roger Danka and I traveled to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County) looking for "late sighting dates" for a few species.

It was a productive morning before we retired for a few hours of sleep.

The western sections of the Wildlife Area added a Bell's Vireo, 2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 Spotted Towhees, 3 House Wrens and a flock of American Goldfinches to our day list.

The eastern sections added (Eastern Screech-Owl, before civil twilight), 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, 3 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 House Wrens, many Lark Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Cassin's Sparrows, many Vesper Sparrows, a Great Crested Flycatcher, 5+ Western Wood-pewees, and five species of swallows (with Northern Rough-winged Swallow missing of the six regular summer visitors).

Late in the afternoon, we found Dickcissels at two locations in Sedgwick County. Roger's ranch still has 2 Eastern Screech-Owls and a Northern Cardinal.

August 10, 2011

Roger Danka and I searched for owls around Logan County all night. We found (heard) five Eastern Screech-Owls at five locations (one new location)!

Two Long-eared Owls were heard at Little Jumbo Reservoir/Red Lion Wildlife Area. Just before sunrise, we saw a Short-eared Owl at Sedgwick Draw!

It was quite a productive night and tiring to say the least!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Search for Cassin's Sparrows at Banner Lakes

August 3, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I drove over to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County). I wanted to checkout the grassy area at the northwest corner of the Wildlife Area for Cassin's Sparrows. They are showing up quite a few locations this summer.

No Cassin's Sparrows were found, however, as a bonus a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called in the windbreak between ponds 7 & 8. While looking for Long-eared Owls, I was able to find the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Two Burrowing Owls were at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue (Adams County).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trip Through Cherry Creek Reservoir

August 2, 2011

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). It started to rain as I arrived. There were not any uncommon gulls at the southwest marina or water covered eastern sand spit.

The male Black-chinned Hummingbird is still searching for a mate east of the Ranger's Office.

The highlight was a flock of 61 Western Kingbirds passing southward over the Smoky Hill Group picnic area.

A couple of Burrowing Owls were out of their burrows along the DIA Owl Loop (3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue, Adams County).

There were too many mosquitoes for a bird walk at Barr Lake (Adams).

Owling Trip to Pennock & Cameron Passes

July 31-August 1, 2011

Richard Stevens

We had two cars, four birders on the owling trip Sunday night. Unfortunately, a thunder and lightning storm hit the foothills west of Fort Collins around sunset. In my experience, this has never been good for successful owling.

A Flammulated Owl was found while walking a mile at the top of Pennock Pass (Larimer County).

A little after midnight, we heard a Boreal Owl near one of the Joe Wright Parking Areas (Larimer). Later, another Boreal Owl was heard in Jackson County.

While the other birders took a catnap, I walked a half mile either side of Cameron Pass. I briefly heard another Boreal Owl on the Larimer County side. The clear sky at 10,256 feet was filled with so many stars. Occasionally a satellite would streak across the sky. The descent of falling stars briefly left a trail of bright light.

At civil twilight, I enjoyed listening to a noisy forest. At least 12 Hermit Thrushes, half a dozen Pine Grosbeaks, 4 Red Crossbills and many Pine Siskins filled the air with song. Always a treat to sit and listen to the waking of the forest.

When I returned to the car about sunrise, a young male Moose was walking up the side of Highway 14. Eventually, he came within 20 yards of the car, more interested in feeding on the willows than us.

We watched the hummingbirds at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center for about an hour. Many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, a few Rufous Hummingbirds and a female Calliope Hummingbird were observed.

Other birds included Pine Grosbeaks, Cassin's Finches and Dark-eyed Juncos.

When we went to a late breakfast in Walden, our driver saw a possible White-winged Dove. We stopped for a better look (one or two have been spotted) at McKinley and 6th street; the trees were filled with Common Nighthawks. I counted at least 18 in two yards.

Our next stop was the auto tour at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson County). There were quite a few shorebirds, which included 2 Marbled Godwits, 3 Willets, 6 Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, a Stilt Sandpiper and Killdeer.

Several Sage Thrashers and many Chipping Sparrows were found in the surrounding sage.

We heard about the return (relocating) of the Rufous collared Sparrow in Georgetown and headed south. Unfortunately, we did not find it during our short one hour visit.

Another Bike Ride, Rocky Mountain Arsenal

July 31, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I went on short 28 bike ride this morning and covered east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal again before today heats up.

Burrowing Owls and a Northern Mockingbird still can be seen along Buckley Road between 56th and 88th avenue. Two male Bullock's Orioles were a little surprising. Adult males usually disappear by now. Rock Wren and Grasshopper Sparrow always nice to see.

It was good to stretch legs again before riding in a car another 100+ miles later today.

Bike Ride Around DIA Owl Loop

July 30, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I did a little 62 mile bike ride covering DIA Owl Loop (Adams County) & Cherry Creek Reservoir,(Arapahoe) great to stretch the legs after too many car rides.

Burrowing Owls seen at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th Avenue and along Buckley Road between 56th & 88th avenues. Black-chinned Hummingbird and many mosquitoes at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Continued Breeding Surveys on Western Slope

To be filled in later!

Rebecca Kosten who has info is out of town.