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).

Chaffee & Gunnison Counties

October 22, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded around Chaffee County today. Weather was again quite cooperative. Winds were mild all day; high temperatures reached into the 60s.

We searched unsuccessfully for the Western Screech-Owls that nest in Buena Vista. We criss-crossed around Buena Vista three times during the day; without success. Western Screech-Owls were first found in the summer of 2007. While we relocated them in the summers of 2009 & 2010, our attempts in 2011 have all failed.

Pinyon Jays were found at the KOA Campgrounds below the Buena Vista Overlook. A second flock (14) was found along County Roads 301 & 300 on the way to Ruby Mountain. In the past, they have also been found at the Ruby Mountain parking area.

A small flock of 8 Bushtits were at the Buena Vista Overlook.

Lewis's Woodpeckers were found in Buena Vista (south of Brookdale Avenue and east of North Pleasant Avenue). In earlier weeks, nesting was again confirmed this summer.

We continued west over Cottonwood Pass to Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison County). A Black Scoter and male Barrow's Goldeneye were on the lake. The Barrow's Goldeneye could have been the one reported last month by Suzie Plooster?

After dark, we stopped at the many Campgrounds and picnic areas along Gunnison County Road 742. Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at two Campgrounds, Northern Saw-whet Owl at another.

We stopped to say "hi" to a friend. He had heard Flammulated Owls on his ranch up to 10/18. None responded to our recording tonight.

Guanella Pass & Park County Reservoirs

October 21, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) for one last look at White-tailed Ptarmigan before winter weather closes the pass. (Good thing we visited when we did, as several snowstorms hit the pass days later).

A hike up to the Rosalie & 603 trails found 4 White-tailed Ptarmigan about 20 yards farther uphill (south) and 25 yards to the west! It was a fantastic and unusual day. We encountered calm winds and temperatures in the 40s.

No American Three-toed Woodpeckers could be found around the Duck Lake gate closure (open today). None was found at the two Campgrounds along Guanella Pass road as we descended back to Highway 285.

From Guanella Pass, we enjoyed visiting the trio of Park County Reservoirs (Antero, Spinney Mountain Reservoir & Eleven Mile Reservoir).

Ducks had started to migrate through Park County. A Black Scoter and 2 Surf Scoters were at Antero Reservoir. A Common Loon was also there.

Three additional Surf Scoters were joined by a White-winged Scoter at Spinney Mountain Reservoir. (Always nice to get the trifecta of scoters in one day)! Three Common Loons were also here.

Daylight ended at Eleven Mile Reservoir. No scoters were there, however 2 Common Loons and a Pacific Loon swam out on the lake.

It should be pointed out that the trio of reservoirs is close together. Obtaining accurate counts of waterfowl can therefore be clouded if any flight is detected.

After dark, we set up "listening stations" north of the Buena Vista Overlook and along Chaffee County Road 301 & 300 , which go between the Overlook and Ruby Mountain to the south.

One Northern Saw-whet Owl was seen. Three additional owls were heard (in response to our recordings, both active & passive).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Denver Zoo and Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 20, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After a few hours of sleep back in Denver, Rebecca Kosten and I went to the Denver Zoo (Denver City Park, Denver County) to search for the White-throated Sparrow that was reported by David Leatherman.

We circled the Crane Area east of the Kookaburra compound; without success. Then we sat at the south end of the Red-crowned Crane area for about two hours. There is a small puddle here and many birds visited during our stay. Unfortunately, the White-throated Sparrow was not one of them.

We circled the Crane Area and couple of times on our way out of the Zoo. I noticed a tanager collecting moths in the fern like tree (with red berries) just south of the Safari Food Court. To our surprise, it turned out to be a female Scarlet Tanager!

It had a uniform olive green upperparts (unlike Summer Tanager & Western Tanager), no sign of wingbar(s) (unlike Western Tanager), blackish undertail (unlike Summer Tanager), short bill compared to Summer Tanager).

After an early dinner, we stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The Red-throated Loon and Surf Scoters were not found when we scoped the reservoir for about 2 hours from the Lake Loop.

When I walked over to the eastern side of the Lake Loop to scope the mudflats (which were empty of birds), a lone tern flew back and forth not far from shore. At times, it was less than 20 feet from me.

It had a relatively short, white tail with dark outer webs, bluish body (unlike whitish of Forster's Tern), conspicuous dark wedge of primaries, lacked silvery white primaries of Forster's Tern. Definitely not an Arctic Tern or Forster's Tern.

Two Forster's Terns flew around the southwest marina. No uncommon gulls were identified. I thought that I had gotten a brief glimpse at a Bonaparte's Gull (however, became distracted by the Common Tern).

A Short Owl Trip, Larimer and Jackson Counties

October 19, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I arrived at Pennock Pass (Larimer) around midnight. We set up several "listening stations" and walked a mile either side of the summit. Two Flammulated Owls were still in the area. One was about 0.8 miles east of the summit. A second Flammulated Owl was along the fire road leading south from the Summit (about 500 yards from Larimer County Road 44H. The "listening stations" were of no use this night.

Not having any success in finding Boreal Owls around Joe Wright Reservoir and Cameron Pass, we hiked to the Crags Campgrounds and along the fire road leading south. A Boreal Owl responded to our recordings at about 0.4 miles south of the Campgrounds.

A first light we searched unsuccessfully for Sharp-tailed Grouse at their late fall/wintering grounds around Steamboat Springs.

We discovered the difficult way (by driving to Buffalo Pass) why no one has reported American Three-toed Woodpeckers at the pass this summer/fall. The pass was closed due to construction. Later we found that CDOT would try to open it by November 1st (of course, by then, snow may close it down again).

Bryan and I drove to the Colorado State Forest and got a few hours of sleep. At 10:00 PM, we heard a Boreal Owl along Ruby Jewell Road.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 18, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I was at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) when they opened at 7:00 AM. Civil twilight had already started by then; this makes looking for Long-eared Owls flying around not promising. None was found this morning. The reason behind looking for flying Long-eared Owls is that the area they roost is off limits to visitors. In the past, I have been able to see them before civil twilight. Sometimes they will also call before daylight.

I circled Lake Ladora to Gun & Rod Club Pond to Havana Ponds (about a 6 mile loop). Unfortunately, high winds hampered finding passerines.

A Swamp Sparrow came out of the cattails at the southeast corner of Lake Ladora. A Cassin's Vireo was with a loose flock of Black-capped Chickadees (6), Yellow-rumped Warblers (2), White-breasted Nuthatches (2) and Chipping Sparrows (42+) in the cottonwoods at the northeast corner of Lake Ladora.

Rebecca Kosten and I spent the last two hours of daylight at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The Red-throated Loon and 3 Surf Scoters were in the middle of the lake (along line between the swim beach and Lake Loop).

Bryan Ehlmann met me at sunset and we headed into the mountains. We wanted to beat predicted snowstorms to hit Cameron Pass later in the week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Windy Day on the Eastern Plains

October 17, 2011

Richard Stevens:

If we ever imagined winds were crazy in the past week or so, what an experience today. Winds were 20+ mph with gusts to the middle 30s (that was at the "slow windy places"). Temperatures did not reach the middle 40s.

We stopped at Ovid (Sedgwick County) and enjoyed a couple of respectable birds (probably just trying to hold on and not be blown South (that is one way to migrate).

A pair of Rusty Blackbirds was found along Lodgepole Creek, which runs through Ovid Woods (east side of town). At least they were protected from the winds (more or less, down in the creek bed).

I brought up that Purple Finches sometimes are found in the northern woods (east of the high school). None there today, however when we walked to the southern section of woods (on the way to Ovid Sewage Ponds), Bryan spotted a male Purple Finch! Eventually, this bird was "blown" west into town. We later searched for it and the resident Northern Cardinals; without success.

The high grasses at the Ovid Sewage Ponds and along the South Platte River yielded a White-throated Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow!

We had planned to remain in the area for another day. However wind predictions of 20+ mph steady winds with gusts into the middle 30s for at least the next couple of days, forced our decision to return to Denver.

To demonstrate our decision was a good one, we stopped at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties). Anemometer readings were steady 28-31 mph, two gusts measured 51 mph. Temperature was 42 degrees at 1:00 PM.

Back home, I went over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) with an hour of daylight remaining. The Red-throated Loon and 3 Surf Scoters swam in the middle of the lake (in direct line with the tip of the Lake Loop and the swim beach).

At first, the Red-throated Loon was diving frequently. It finally stopped and preened for 10 minutes, giving us great however far away looks at him.

Strange, the 12+ mph winds seemed mild (Denver birders were kvetching about the wind and waves). If they have only experienced our day on the eastern plains.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area, Logan County

Instead of waiting a week for a bird trips to finish and getting reports, I will transcribe telephone reports of current bird trips. Amy Davenport

October 16, 2011

Today was an interesting day for the CoBus group. At two hours before sunrise, they relocated two Eastern Screech-Owls at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (6-8 East).

They then walked the southern section north of Logan County Roads 46 & 89. Sitting at the high point about 4 miles north of CR 46 has been a good place to spot Short-eared Owls in the past. None was found today. They did scope a Greater Prairie-Chicken wandering below the hill.

(4.0 miles north of Logan CR 46 at 4.3 miles east of CO 55)
(GPS: 40.82956 N 102.73962 W)

They then parked west of CO 55 and walked the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area. Sightings included:

Sprague's Pipit (2)
(Southwest section; 4.82 miles west of CO 55 at 0.91 miles south of I76)
(GPS: 40.77598 N 102.73962 W)

Greater Prairie Chicken
(2.34 miles west of CO 55 at 1.1 miles south I76)
(GPS: 40.79108 N 102. 84747 W)

In the afternoon, they got a call from a neighboring rancher who wanted a bird identified. There was a Varied Thrush visiting his ranch.

A fourth Varied Thrush in Colorado in the past two days was reported by a friend in Wray. She and her husband had a Varied Thrush visiting their yard since yesterday!

Weather today: winds steady at 15 mph, gusts to 22 mph at times; high temperature just short of 70 degrees F

Logan Walk-In_Areas & Sterling Reservoir

Instead of waiting a week for a bird trips to finish and getting reports, I will transcribe telephone reports of current bird trips. Amy Davenport

October 15, 2011

The CoBus group visited eight WIAs in Logan County today.

Logan County was not as interesting as previous counties. No Sprague's Pipits or "ammodramus" sparrows were found.

The WIA northwest of Sterling Reservoir (CR 54 & 25) had nothing unusual. They stopped at Sterling Reservoir on the way home and found several Barn Owls. Four of the areas were not visited in the past; they enjoyed exploring new "territory".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sedgwick County Birding

Instead of waiting a week for a bird trips to finish and getting reports, I will transcribe telephone reports of current bird trips. Amy Davenport

October 14, 2011

The CoBus group visited only four Walk In Areas in Sedgwick County today.

Their first stop was DePoorter Lake. Sparrows were numerous and included two Harris's Sparrows, a White-throated Sparrow, four Song Sparrows and many White-crowned Sparrows. The surprise bird was a late Dickcissel.

Ovid Woods and Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area were quiet. No Northern Cardinals were found around town.

They found a Sprague's Pipit at WIA (CR 59 & 16). A dozen sparrows at WIA (CR 15 & 8) gave them fits. Two interesting sparrows were left unidentified. They acted like "ammodramus" sparrows, disappearing in grasses with short flights between, not allowing looks of any length.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was at the Sedgwick Cemetery. It was watched flying south toward town.

The WIA at CR 32 & 11 is part of Sedgwick Draw. No Short-eared Owls showed up this afternoon.

After dark, the group joined Roger Danka and watched two Eastern Screech-Owls on his ranch.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Phillips County Walk-In-Area Surveys

Instead of waiting a week for a bird trips to finish and getting reports, I will transcribe telephone reports of current bird trips. Amy Davenport

October 13, 2011

The CoBus group continued to bird Walk In Areas, today in Phillips County.

They visited eight WIAs today. Selection was those along Frenchman Creek and areas visited in past years.

Highlights included:

# Walk In Area (CR 31 to 33, north of CR 22) (Restricted Fee Area)
* Baird's Sparrow (Ehlmann) first 10/13

# Walk In Area (CR 49 to 51, north of CR 38) (Restricted Fee Area)
* Sprague's Pipit (Ehlmann) first 10/13

They also stopped at Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area, which was described as "quite birdy". Dozens of sparrows included 2 Field Sparrows, 2 White-throated Sparrows, 12+ White-crowned Sparrows, 1 Lincoln's Sparrow, 12+ Vesper Sparrows. They also found an interesting "ammodramus sparrow" which was not identified.

Sprague's Pipits were found at three locations including the one above. A Barn Owl was at one WIA. Two Eastern Screech-Owls were found after dark.

They found all three common longspurs at more than one location (McCown's, Chestnut-collared and Lapland Longspur).

Target birds for Friday: Sharp tailed Sparrow or Smith's Longspur would be nice.

Weather Thursday: Highs reached 75 degrees, winds steady at 10 mph. Winds were not as bad as Wednesday, still made birding difficult.

Notes on Walk-In-Areas: Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann started monitoring several dozen Walk In Areas in 2008. They have talked to three DOW officers about access.

BE SURE TO KNOW THE RULES (see Walk In Atlas at DOW office or online for rules and maps). Hunting license is required. You may run into hunters; Richard suggests moving on to another area if any cars are in the designated parking lots for the WIAs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Walk-In-Areas in Yuma County

Instead of waiting a week for a bird trips to finish and getting reports, I will transcribe telephone reports of current bird trips. Amy Davenport

October 12, 2011

The CoBus group after a great morning at Hale Ponds (Yuma County) visited seven WIAs.

They heard one or two Eastern Screech-Owls calling at Hale Ponds before sunrise. A walk along the Republican River from the Kansas border to the western Hale Pond found a fall plumage Bay-breasted Warbler. Later a Swamp Sparrow was seen the cattails at Hale Ponds.

The WIAs (Walk-In-Areas) were not as exciting as yesterday. A Savannah Sparrow at one area peaked interest. They gave chase for 30 minutes before identifying it.

A Barn Owl was flushed accidentally at WIA (CR 56 & H). An Eastern Screech-Owl was found at (CR 55 & K).

At dusk, they drove along Yuma County Road 45. No Greater Prairie-Chickens found but a Short-eared Owl flew across the road at the third cattle guard east of highway 385.

Weather today: high temperature reached the middle 60s. Winds were measured at 23-26 mph with gusts to 32. It was windy all day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Colorado's Walk-In-Areas (fee areas)

Instead of waiting a week for a bird trips to finish and getting reports, I will transcribe telephone reports of current bird trips. Amy Davenport

October 11, 2011

The CoBus group started on a four or five day trip to survey Department of Wildlife "Walk In Areas". These areas are leased from private landowners to the state for hunting. A valid hunting license is required for entry. The properties open up on September 1st and close on October 31st.

Their first stop today was Last Chance Rest Stop where they relocated a White-throated Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow.

Reports from WIA included:
They wanted to emphasize that it takes much walking and helps to have several birders spread across an area to find the secretive birds.

Washington County WIA

At Roads O & 7
Grasshopper Sparrows (2)
Savannah Sparrow (1)
Vesper Sparrows

At CR N & 7
Vesper Sparrows
Say's Phoebe

At CR ZZ & 9

Yuma County Roads several Walk In Areas

At CR D & 5
Not much

At CR M & 1

At CR Y & 4

At CR 14 & B
Grasshopper Sparrow

After dark, they hiked from Highway 385 to Foster's Grove, Bonny Reservoir

Weather: fog early, calm winds 4 mph until 1:00 pm when winds picked up to 16 mph until 4:00 pm. Calm at sunset. High temperature was 65 degrees

After Walk at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area, Adams Cty

October 10, 2011

Instead of waiting a week for a bird trips to finish and getting reports, I will transcribe telephone reports of current bird trips. Amy Davenport

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and Richard Stevens walked Banner Lakes Wildlife Area during the last three hours of daylight.

Their target birds were uncommon sparrows and owls. Vesper Sparrows were the most common with White-crowned Sparrows coming in second. A few Chipping Sparrows and Song Sparrows were seen along the western windbreak.

Highlight was a Field Sparrow in the northwest corner of the property.

They did find one Long-eared Owl. No Short-eared Owls were seen after sunset.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Birding In Douglas County

October 9, 2011

Sue Ehlmann:

Rebecca Kosten, Rich Stevens, Bryan and I decided to search for the Red-headed, Lewis's and Three-toed Woodpeckers near Cheesman Reservoir. We walked from the Cheesman Canyon Trailhead to the green trailer to the west; no woodpeckers. An adult and 1st year Green-tailed Towhee and a late Wilson's Warbler were in the willows south of the road.

Richard and Bryan hiked up the Cheesman Canyon Trail and found two Three-toed Woodpeckers while Rebecca and I wandered around. Once again, the Red-headed and Lewis's Woodpeckers eluded us.

We stopped half a dozen times along Sugar Creek Road. No Pygmy Owls were seen. We didn't want to stay around until dusk, so gave up on them.

Three Townsend's Solitaires and a small flock of Cedar Waxwings were at the Sedalia Cemetery.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Barr Lake State Park

October 8, 2011

Richard Stevens, Jerry Petrosky and I went to Barr Lake State Park after the rain slackened in the afternoon. What a day, rained most of the day and temperatures stayed around 39 degrees.

We did not come across as many sparrows as Richard found yesterday. Rain did not assist our birding.

The Field Sparrow was seen in the canal with a dozen White crowned Sparrows. The sparrows remained close to the bottom of the canal and moved back and forth at 30-40 yards southwest of the Visitor's Center.

The Harris's Sparrow was never found. It was too wet to hike out to the north end of the banding area spit. We also figured that the Duckweed where the Winter Wren was found yesterday was too wet to search for the wren.

Little was found at the banding area. A Hermit Thrush was under Russian Olive Trees at mile 6.8, which is below the dam.

Superb Afternoon at Barr Lake State Park

October 7, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After two weeks of owling every night, Bryan and I resigned after hiking around in 24+ mph winds Thursday night into Friday morning. I dropped Bryan off in Brighton and got a ride over to Barr Lake (Adams County). Rebecca dropped me off and went on to chores.

Surprisingly, winds were 4 mph or less at Barr Lake from 3:00 pm to 6:15 pm. During this time, I had planned to walk from the Visitor's Center to the Old Stone House (approximately 3 miles). Several flocks of birds changed those plans.

A Field Sparrow had been spotted earlier behind the Visitor's Center. So many sparrows were west of the building; it took 1.5 hours to look at them. The final count was 81 White-crowned Sparrows, 3 Chipping Sparrows, 1 Harris's Sparrow, 1 Savannah Sparrow and a Field Sparrow.

Not one of my regular hikes, I walked along the southern weedy edge of the canal from the Visitor's Center to the first tall tree. The Harris's Sparrow was in the pile of dead brush (perhaps 60 yards southwest of the Visitor's Center).

While, another 20 yards farther west, I saw the Field Sparrow with dozens of White-crowned Sparrows below the top of the canal. This flock eventually reversed directions and ended up back behind the Visitor's Center. While I was able to get fair looks at the Field Sparrow three times, I could not tell if it was the one banded earlier in the week.

Returning to the Visitor's Center, I relocated the Harris's Sparrow and a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, which were last observed flying south and landing in the only tall Rabbit Brush south of the Visitor's Center.

Another interesting bird kept flying out of the grasses and landing deep in the grasses several times. It turned out to be a Chestnut-collared Longspur in basic plumage.

One House Wren stayed around the feeders. A female/immature Lark Bunting was on the ground below the Visitor's Center feeders. When I went inside to record the sparrows on their white board, a male Wilson's Warbler flew into the western window. Mostly the Wilson's Warbler is mentioned as he was the only warbler I found during the visit.

I then spent an hour wandering around the banding area. As expected, most birds were found at the southwestern edge of the area (direct sunlight on the trees). A Great Horned Owl was watching from the tall cottonwoods.

A Cassin's Vireo eventually flew to the tree-covered finger of land that juts into the lake. Over sixty Chipping Sparrows and four Black-capped Chickadees were also in that area.

With little songbird activity, I changed to shorebird mode and walked to the north end of the sand/mud spit. Shorebird action was slow however did include: 1 Black-bellied Plover, 3 Pectoral Sandpipers, 1 Sanderling, 4 Western Sandpipers, 4 Baird's Sandpipers and 6 unidentified peeps (not Least Sandpipers).

Other birds on this spit included 18 Snowy Egrets, dozens of American White Pelicans, Ring-billed Gulls, 8 California Gulls, 5 Double-crested Cormorant and a Great Blue Heron.

One other interesting bird was spotted halfway between the banding area and the first Osprey nesting platform. The bird flew up seven times and disappeared in the weeds 20-25 yards from the shoreline. This bird was quite dark with a hint of rufous color from head to tail (slightly darker wings). It was a very small bird with a short tail and needle like bill. Too big to be a House Wren, It showed no white, just plain dark rufous, streaked belly and flanks. It had to be a Winter Wren (although seemed out of place)!

I called Rebecca for a ride about 6:00 pm. We met at the boat ramp area and then went looking for Short-eared Owls along the DIA Owl Loop. None appeared tonight. Two Burrowing Owls were seen at the prairie dog village (3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue).

Rocky Mountain National Park and Highway 34

October 6, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I tried to get up Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park. We wanted a last view of White-tailed Ptarmigan in the park before Trail Ridge Road is closed for the season. However, the road was closed at Rainbow Curve due to snow.

We climbed to the top of the old ski area in Rocky Mountain National Park and sat until dark before dropping back down to our car.

One Boreal Owl was heard on the trip down.

Two Northern Pygmy-Owls responded to recordings played when we drove down highway 34 back toward Loveland.

During our recent owling treks (September 28 to October 6), we would set up "listening stations" (see recent articles in "Colorado Field Notes") when below 10,000 feet. Most exploring for Northern Saw-whet Owls and Northern Pygmy-Owls. When we finally got the time to listen to the recordings, we had attracted 3 Northern Saw-whet Owls and 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls.

Loveland Area and Cow Creek Trail

October 5, 2011

Richard Stevens:

This afternoon, Bryan Ehlmann and I visited some new friends in the Loveland area (Larimer County). They put us on to three Northern Saw-whet Owls (spread over two Locations).

We set up our "listening stations" and found another two Northern Saw-whet Owls southwest of Loveland.

Then we hiked Cow Creek Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. We heard two Northern Pygmy-Owls. No Flammulated Owls called tonight. A New York birder heard one south of the Cow Creek Bridge on Monday night.

Trap Park

October 4, 2011

Richard Stevens:

We stuck to our plan of hiking into areas, waiting until dark, then walking back out and owling. This afternoon, we chose the Trap Park (and Creek) trail (Larimer). It is a long hike to the end; however is relatively "flat" mostly 10,000 to 10,200 feet in elevation (length approximately 3.0 miles). We did detour to Flat Top Mountain which was quite a climb (although only 355 feet and 0.7 miles).

Winds were 5-9 mph tonight. Owling was not as successful. We only heard two Boreal Owls. Bear signs (clawed Aspen trees) was quite numerous. No Bear sightings (not that we care to run into any) since they can outrun and out climb us.

One American Three-toed Woodpecker was the daytime highlight.

Teller City and Jack Creek

October 2-3, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Our choice for birding and owling this afternoon was the old Teller City Ghost Town (Jackson County). The history of the area as a Silver Mining town is quite interesting. For a short period of time, over 200 miners and "friends" occupied the town. Remnants of the old town are highlighted with a self-guiding tour. Parts of the "house of ill repute" still stand.

Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were heard drumming along the northern trail. The resident Northern Pygmy-Owl called at dusk; however again eluded our eyes.

After dark, we made one of our longest hikes. The Jack Creek trail hike as a little over 6.0 miles (one way), elevation 9300 feet to 10,800 feet.

Winds calmed down tonight (well most of the night); skies were mostly clear.

Boreal Owl count was good. We took waypoints on 9 owls. There is no way to calculate how many of the total Boreal Owls were in the area covered. Surely, we did not find all or perhaps 50 percent? It would be great to be able to know or calculate.

It should be mentioned that driving from highway 14 to Teller City requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle. I would not attempt it in any car that I liked or wanted to keep. It is not a good place to break down either (I expect AAA does not visit or charges a fortune for retrieval).

Our owling for the night was not over. We decided to sleep in our car back in the Colorado State Forest. For the third time in the last 10 years, both a Flammulated and Boreal Owl were heard at 4:30 am! One of my favorite places to camp!

Laramie River Road & Zimmerman Lake Loop

October 1, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went birding up Laramie River Road today. We ran into a Wyoming birder who reported a Pileated Woodpecker at the Tunnel Campgrounds (Larimer County). If we could photograph or get a decent sighting, the bird would be a first state record.

Unfortunately, no Pileated Woodpecker was found in a 3-hour search. There have been four reports of a Pileated Woodpecker in Colorado. All were single birder sightings; none has been confirmed.

Tunnel Campgrounds did have a male American Three-toed Woodpecker and 2 Townsend's Warblers as consolation prizes.

Next, we hiked the Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail (Larimer). We were not disappointed. Two White-winged Crossbills circled overhead between the trailhead and the lake!

Our plan was to hike up to tree line (11,005 feet) wait until dark and return to Zimmerman Lake (10,495 feet), then continue to Highway 14.

We enjoyed a night of almost no wind and clear skies. Up there, stars appear to be in the millions! The eastern ridge must block most northeastern winds; we could have heard a pin drop!

Owls did not disappoint us either. We found/ heard only three Boreal Owls, (no reason to hit the owls with a spotlight and disturb them, we only wanted to get a count). There might have been a fourth, too close to number 3 to be sure.

We enjoyed the night so much, that when reaching our car, we decided to hike up to Montgomery Pass. The trail follows an old jeep trail and is not difficult to follow in the dark. The trailhead is just a little north of the Zimmerman Lake Loop trailhead.

I was familiar with this trail as it was climbed when I was trying to hike the 300 highest passes in Colorado. By the way, I only have three to go and I will have accomplished that!

Again, we relished the calm night and owls. The forest is quite noisy even at night! Figuring out what was calling is always interesting and challenging! In the mammal category, several bull elk were heard bugling.

At least another 3 Boreal Owls responded to our recordings. Montgomery Pass (11,004 feet) was reached about 4:00 AM. The return trip was just as pleasurable.

Owling Canadian Fork River

September 30, 2011

Bryan and I continued our owling. This night we hiked deep into the Colorado State Forest along the Canadian Fork River Road (Jackson County). We found three Boreal Owls around Kelly Lake and took GPS waypoints.

Weather continues to be cooperative. We are running into mild wilds, star filled, clear nights. Bear activity appears to have increased. We found many Aspens ripped up by bears. Are they sharpening their claws? No bear sightings yet.