Friday, December 28, 2012

Birding in Broomfield and Adams County

December 28, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I was on my own today, no birding partners.  The temperature reached 32 degrees; it felt mild in the areas where there was little wind.  First, I checked the Broomfield Ponds near the Anthem Community.

Anthem Community Park Pond (Parkside Center) was scoped three times and Sienna Pond twice (between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm).

Highlights at Parkside Center Pond were an adult and 4th cycle Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two adult Thayer's Gulls.  A couple of California, a dozen+ Herring Gulls were among half a thousand Ring-billed Gulls.

Ring-billed Gulls and a dozen+ Herring Gulls were the mixed at Sienna Pond.  A 1st cycle Thayer's Gull was the highlight.

No sign of an Iceland-type Gull or Mew Gull were observed at either pond.  I also checked behind the Medical Clinic were 2 Herring Gulls were with 31 Ring-billed Gulls.

When I passed the South Platte Birding Area (88th and Colorado Blvd), I took the time to make a quick walk to just south of the green and white tower.  Highlight was 2 male and 2 female Barrow's Goldeneyes among just about all of the common wintering ducks found in Colorado.

East and most of the West Gravel Lakes were ice covered.  No Long-tailed Ducks were found.

My birding day ended at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lakes were mostly ice and snow covered.  Two Mallards swam in a small open water area of the southeast corner of Ladora.

Someone had filled the feeders near the Contact Station.  Perhaps quite recently, as only a couple of American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos visited the eastern feeders and four House Finches visited the western feeders.

The arsenal stays open until 6:00 pm and I took advantage to stay until after civil twilight.  The highlight of the rather cold wait was a Long-eared Owl.

While 58 Bald Eagles had been reported the day before, only one white belly Bald Eagle was found this afternoon.

I enjoyed the full moon with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  Nothing unusual was found although a Great Horned Owl was found near 56th avenue and Buckley Road!

Trip to Chatfield Reservoir and the South Platte River

December 27, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I finally made the long trip down to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  We were quite disappointed as the reservoir was 100 percent ice and snow covered (except for the dozen holes drilled by ice anglers).

We drove to the north side of Interstate 470 and checked the South Platte River for the Long-tailed Ducks reported there off and on since November 17. 

When none was found around the parking area and south to the dog walking area back in Chatfield State Park, Bryan and I decided to walk the several miles north to South Platte Park.  Sue and Rebecca planned to drive to the Park and pick us up.

Bryan and I found a nice collection of ducks along the Platte River, however, no Long-tailed Duck was found.  Some sharp looking male Hooded Mergansers, brightly colored male Buffleheads and many common ducks took advantage of the open water along the S. Platte River.

We kept eyes open for a wintering Dunlin and checked the thicker bushes for Stub-tailed Wrens; without finding either.

Sue and Rebecca enjoyed better fortune.  They noticed that the South Platte Reservoir had open water.  They set up scopes at the Parking Area for the Kiewit Company (I may have that spelled incorrectly) along South Platte Canyon Road.  From there they saw many Common Mergansers, a Red-breasted Merganser or two and more importantly, a Long-tailed Duck.

They also saw briefly what they thought was a Red-necked Grebe.  The bird swam out of sight along the western shore and never returned.

Later, we drove to Marston Reservoir, which had several strips of open water.  The closer open water had 58 Common Mergansers and a couple of Common Goldeneyes.

The northern strip had 36 American Coots.

The farthest strip of open water had the two White-winged Scoters and Long-tailed Duck among many Mallards and Gadwalls.  I have a friend living in the nearby complex and we were able to get some nice closer views.  Without this access, a good scope is required to view this strip of open water far out along the northern shore of Marston Reservoir. 

After a late lunch, we drove the DIA Owl Loop.  The usual raptors were found including a Prairie Falcon; no Short-eared Owls appeared.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another Unsuccessful Brant Search

December 26, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky, Bryan Ehlmann and I circled Aurora and eastern Denver in search of the Brant Jerry found at Aurora Hills Golf Course on December 24.  We stopped at every park within the 42 square miles of Alameda Avenue and Peoria (The Golf Course).

Just to name parks visited to show our earnest, we searched:
Aurora Hills Golf Course
Highline Park
Delmar Park
Hoffman Park
Havana Park
Freedom Park
Nome Park
Jewell Park
Fulton Park
Mayfair Park
Crestmoor Park
McMullin Park
BiCentennial Park
Aurora City Center
Delaney Farm Park
Centerpoint Park
Tollgate Park
Rocky Ridge
Wheeling Park
Expo Park
Canterbury Park
Village East Park
Lowry Park
Peoria Hills Park
Utah Park
Village Green Park
Highline Hollows Park
Side Creek Park
Tierra Park
Panorama Park
Crestridge Park
Olympic Park
Eagle Park
Meadowood Park
Seven Hills Park
Eldorado Park
Great Plains Park
Montclair Park
Kittredge Park
Denison Park
Springhill Park
Apache Mesa Park

We did find that there are many parks in Aurora and we did not cover the whole town!

NO Brant, Greater White-fronted Goose or Ross's Goose.  They flew the coop!

Afterwards, Bryan and I headed to eastern Denver County.  The lakes there were ice covered.  Wind chills last night were -13 degrees.  The temperature at noon was 20 degrees and dropped from there.

No uncommon geese were found.  Some White-cheeked Geese, however not as many as before the snowstorm on Monday.

We passed through the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.  No owls found, a pair of Northern Harriers hunted along 96th avenue.  Only about 120 Horned Larks were seen; numbers down greatly from years past.

Unsuccessful Search for Aurora Brant

December 25, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca and I searched for the Aurora Brant this morning.  Yesterday's snowstorm appeared to scatter the geese.  Temperatures were single digits at 10:00 am.  The ground was covered with snow, leaving few bare areas for the geese to feed.

There were many less White-cheeked Geese than Jerry found yesterday at Aurora Hills Golf Course and Highline Park. No Brant, we found a Ross's Goose and Snow Goose. May go back out after lunch.

Returning in the afternoon did not help.  Few geese and no uncommon ones could be found.

Aurora Reservoir Gulls

December 24, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I relocated a Lesser Black-backed Gull and Thayer's Gull at Aurora Reservoir. No Glaucous Gull was found.

We watched the Barr Lake (Adams County) feeders for 2 hours. The Fox Sparrow did not appear. With misses for an hour each on Saturday and Sunday, we will probably not go back unless someone else finds the sparrow (gone?).

White-crowned Sparrow numbers (7) and American Tree Sparrow numbers (6) were up yesterday. One rufous crowned sparrow appeared bigger than the American Tree Sparrows. It turned out to be a Chipping Sparrow. Clear breast, no spot, and no rufous color on sides of breast.

No owls along the DIA Owl Loop, other raptor numbers were up, perhaps wanting to eat before last night's snowstorm.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eastern Area Lakes and Gulls

December 23, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I took our little two-car caravan around to east metro lakes today.

Our first stop was Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  We walked in from the south side and scoped the swim beach area, which had few gulls.  The majority of gulls were at mile marker 2.5.  Six hundred+ gulls included a Lesser Black-backed, two Thayer's, a dozen+ California, six to twelve Herring and many Ring-billed Gulls.

Then we quickly drove to the north side of Aurora Reservoir and scoped from the northeastern end of the dam.  Another four hundred+ gulls included another Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Yesterday's Glaucous Gull was not found.

At nearby Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) which is about eight miles west of Aurora Reservoir,   as we expected, fewer gulls were here.  We counted about 250+ gulls off the southwest marina, mostly Ring-billed, a few Herring and half a dozen California.

When we drove to the dam tower, we noticed the large whitish Glaucous Gull standing on the ice (at about halfway between the marina and the dam tower).

Fifty eight Bald Eagles were reported yesterday; we found none today.

Bryan and I went to Barr Lake (Adams) and missed the Fox Sparrow during an hour wait.  Sue and Rebecca went to Lakecrest (Denver) where they saw one of the Greater White-fronted Geese.

Nothing uncommon was found during a drive around the DIA Owl Loop.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Drive Around a Snowy Adams County

December 22, 2012

Richard Stevens:

After getting a late start, I drove over to Barr Lake (Adams County) to see if the "red" Fox Sparrow had stayed through the recent snowstorm.  It did not make an appearance during my hour stay.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop on my way home.  The drive was most uneventful.  No raptors, it was strange not to find at least one.  One flock of 300+ Horned Larks was south of Trussville and 114th Streets.  No Lapland Longspurs or Snow Buntings were found among them.

Another Trip to North Park

December 19-21, 2012

Richard Stevens:

December 19, 2012

Warren Shin and I headed to the mountains early this morning.  We beat the snowstorm in Denver by leaving early.  However, it was snowing in Clear Creek and Summit Counties.

Thirty eight+ Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

After wandering around looking for Rosy Finches and other mountain species we went back to Loveland Pass by way of Keystone.  From there, we snowshoed up to Loveland Pass.

Along the way we found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan twice.  The "easiest" pair to relocate was east of the first pullover on the west side of Highway 6, south of Loveland Pass' Summit.

In late afternoon, we returned to Dillon for lunch/dinner and then headed toward Steamboat Springs hoping for better weather on Thursday.

After dark, Warren and I drove down Highway 14 (3 miles east and west of Cameron Pass) and listened for Boreal Owls.  Winds were 22+ mph with gusts to 34 mph.  Hearing anything but the wind was quite difficult.  Two Boreal Owls were eventually found within 1.5 miles west of Cameron Pass' Summit.

December 20, 2012

At first light, Warren Shin and I sat (in the car, it was 10 degrees) along Jackson County Road 26.  We should have figured out it was too cold for grouse also.  We drove up and down CR 26 finding only Horned Larks.  Returning to our parking spot, two Greater Sage-Grouse were spotted walking through the snow covered sage.

Later we drove into Routt County and found a flock of 4+ Sharp-tailed Grouse!

A walk along the Yampa River Riverwalk was quite productive.  A flock of 20+ Bohemian Waxwings was not far from the 9th Street Bridge.

Later, no Crossbills could be found along Rabbit Ears Pass.  A female American Three-toed Woodpecker down the road to the maintenance shed and cabins was a nice consolation!  Then we returned to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. 

Several times a flock of 150+ Rosy Finches came to the feeders behind the Visitor's Center.  Most were Gray-crowned Rosy Finches.  A dozen or so Brown-capped Rosy Finches and one Black Rosy Finch were also seen.

An hour before dark, we strapped on snowshoes and headed into the Colorado State Forest.  The moon was only about 1/4 full; however, it lit up the forest quite a bit.  Fortunately, winds tonight were mild for that area.  A few Cassin's Finches calling and our breathing were about the only sounds heard.

Finally, after trekking about 6 miles into the Colorado State Forest, we found two Boreal Owls up Ruby Jewell Road (at about 0.6 miles from Michigan Creek Road). 

December 21, 2012

We returned from our night snowshoe trek about civil twilight and tried to get a few hours of sleep.

Warren Shin and I headed back to Rabbit Ears Pass after first stopping at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Again, a flock of about 150+ Rosy Finches came to the feeders.  This time no Black Rosy Finches were among the flock.

The American Three-toed Woodpecker found yesterday was not relocated.  We put on snowshoes and made a 4 mile loop into the forest (east of the maintenance shed/cabin road).

Later, to rest our legs, we walked another 4 miles along highway 14 (about a mile either side of Rabbit Ears Pass' Summit).  We picked opposite sides of the highway.  Warren yelled out, CROSSBILL.  I rushed over to see a male White-winged Crossbill perched on top of a Lodgepole Pine Tree (located just east of the Grand/Jackson County Line). 

The male White-winged Crossbill stayed for quite a while and then flew west into Grand County (thanks! We were able to list the bird in both counties).  Warren thought he saw a female White-winged Crossbill following the male; unfortunately, I was not able to get my binoculars on her.

As we returned east, we had an unsatisfactory meal in Walden (I will do them a favor and not mention the name of the biggest restaurant in town).

Our final target of the trip was a Northern Pygmy-Owl.  We stopped at every Campground and Picnic Area along Highway 14 from Cameron Pass to Fort Collins.  Regrettably, no Northern Pygmy-Owls could be found.

A Great Day Birding Along the Front Range

December 18, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I was not able to join the CoBus trip to Southeastern Colorado this year because of commitments elsewhere.  This morning, I made a quick trip down to Colorado Springs (El Paso County) to pick up a couple of "personal first county sightings"

The Acorn Woodpecker was still around Willow Circle (as described by Marty Wolf and birders last week).

Finding the Palm Warbler at Colorado College at Colorado Springs was more difficult.  It took over an hour to relocate the elusive warbler.  Finally, I found the bird east of Palmer Hall.

I did not want to return to Denver in rush hour traffic (Palm Warbler search took too long and traffic through the Denver Tech Center and DIA Airport is a nightmare between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm) and decided to skip searching for the Varied Thrush along Platte River Road in Jefferson County.

Instead, I rushed through the metro area and stopped at Barr Lake (Adams) for another chance at photos of the "red race" Fox Sparrow.

Unfortunately, when I arrived a couple of birders also were getting out of their car and going over to the Visitor's Center.  They stood within 15 feet of where I would have expected the Fox Sparrow to appear.  That is when they were not walking within 2 feet of the path and looking underneath the bushes.  Really, can anyone expect the bird to come to the area when they are so close?  Really?

I waited in my car for 40 minutes (giving them 45 before leaving).  Fortunately, they left just before my patience ran out.  After they departed, I went over to the path and sprinkled down some seed.  They I sat 60 feet away waiting for the birds. 

Within 5 minutes, six Dark-eyed Juncos appeared, then two American Tree Sparrows and a Black-capped Chickadee, all eating the seeds on the ground.

Within 10 minutes, two White-crowned Sparrows came by.  Then at 21 minutes, the Fox Sparrow came and stayed for 30 minutes!

Every birder has techniques to finding birds.  One must use those that work for them.  Almost all of us have binoculars, which allow us to see for quite a distance.  Standing next to a bush in which one wants a bird to appear, most likely is not a good technique.

I have also found that when putting down some seed, it is better to throw down loose and wide spread.  Piles of seed attract Red-winged Blackbirds, House Sparrows and squirrels.  Works for me, quite often!

On the way home, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  A couple of Northern Harriers and a Red-tailed Hawk represented raptors.

After dark, I met up with Warren Shin and we drove to the western side of Denver to check several previous locations of Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We walked Highway 93 from the Southern Red Rocks Park entrance to Morrison and back, no Northern Pygmy-Owls.

A drive through Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Jefferson County) also did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We did hear a Great Horned Owl calling.

Finally, we checked White Ranch Open Space (Jefferson).  This time a Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings (near its traditional location).

Fox Sparrow and a Snowy Owl

December 17, 2012

Richard Stevens:

After hearing about the "red" Fox Sparrow at Barr Lake State Park (Adams), I arrived at 7:30 am.  It was rather cold; fortunately, winds were mild.  The Fox Sparrow showed up to search for food near the old farm equipment at 9:17 am (fortunate since I was only giving it two hours and planning to leave at 9:30 am).

Since sunrise, a Sharp-shinned Hawk came about every 15 minutes and stood on the farm equipment (figured to be my only photograph of the morning).  He would perch for 5 minutes, then circle to the front of the Visitor's Center, and then fly across the canal to the trees along the lake.

I waited until 10:30 am, the Fox Sparrow never made another appearance.  The Sharp-shinned Hawk seemed to successful scare off most of the birds for the morning.

As I was leaving, a flock of American Goldfinches on the thistle feeder caught my eye.  A lone Common Redpoll was among 10-12 Goldfinches.

I headed to Weld County to search for the Snowy Owl reported by Joe Himmel two days earlier.  While many raptors were found in the next four hours, no Snowy Owl was.

Raptors included: Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, American Kestrels and a Peregrine Falcon (near Lower Latham Reservoir).

Sunset is/was around 4:41 pm.  Daylight is short and valuable this time of year.

Search for a Thayer's Gull and Harris's Sparrow, Bonny Christmas Count

December 16, 2012

Richard Stevens:

German birder, Jurgen Lehnert had two target birds, a Thayer's Gull and Harris's Sparrow.  I figured our best chance was Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo County).  Both were found on their Christmas Count the day before.

While no gulls were on the south marina tires when we arrived, the cove to the west of the marina was full of gulls.  An hour was spent counting 450+ Ring-billed Gulls, 12 California Gulls, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Great Black-backed Gull.

We then drove to the western end of the lake (off W. Fisherman's Point Road) and scoped from there.  Over 150 Bonaparte's Gulls flew about and dove for fish.

Jurgen picked out a first year and female Greater Scaup among 150 Common Goldeneyes.  I found one male Barrow's Goldeneye in the raft of ducks.

No gulls were back at the North Marina.  Two Curve-billed Thrashers were found, one on a trash bin and the other on the road sign on the way to the marina.  See photos on the CoBus photo library (

A stop at the Sailboard Launch Area did not find additional Gull species.  However, a Pacific Loon swam not too far off shore and allowed us great looks!

Next, we headed to Valco Ponds area of Pueblo Lake State Park.  No Swamp Sparrows or the Harris's Sparrow was found during an hour search. 

Back at the south marina, thousands of gulls now stood on the tires surrounding the marina.  It took us the next two hours to scope all the gulls.  They were tightly packed, shoulder to shoulder along the line of tires. 

Eventually I was able to find one adult Thayer's Gull among the horde.  Twenty+ mph winds, gusts to 32 mph did not aid in the search.

Then we rushed to Fountain Creek Regional Park (El Paso) and arrive an hour before sunset.  Unfortunately, the Harris's Sparrow was a no show (near the gazebo at the waterfall, its most often reported location).


Meanwhile, Bryan Ehlmann counted the CoBus Bonny Reservoir Christmas Count

They found most of the birds found on the Audubon Christmas Count and in addition:

Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl (different location than Audubon)
Barn Owl
Northern Mockingbird
Winter Wren
Field Sparrow 

Wray CoBus Christmas Count

December 15, 2012

Richard Stevens:

The eighth annual Wray Christmas Count was held today.  The weather was perfect with little wind and temperatures in the 50s!  Seven birders spent the whole day wandering around a 15 mile diameter circle counting birds.

I had commitments in Denver and Amy Davenport and I did not arrive until after Noon.  I stayed until an hour or two after sunset, however also had to be back in Denver for additional commitments the next day.

Birds that could be relocated with public access were listed on the Colorado Birding Society's website.  Additional Christmas Count Birds on private land included:

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Loggerhead Shrike (confirmed the next day, as Northern Shrike is more expected)
Northern Cardinals (3 Locations-- no public access)
Varied Thrush (private yard)
Fox Sparrow (eastern)
Rusty Blackbird (pair along private section of Republican River)
Greater Prairie-Chickens (12+)
Eastern Screech-Owl (2 Locations-- no public access)
Pine Warbler (private ranch)
Eastern Bluebirds (private ranch)
Harris's Sparrow (2 Locations-- no public access)
Purple Finch (private yard)
Common Redpoll (3 Locations-- no public access)

The final count was 88 species!  Christmas Count Report will be in January's "Colorado Field Notes".

CoBus North Park Christmas Count & Summit County Birding

December 14, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and Sue Ehlmann led six other birders on the CoBus North Park Christmas Count.  The report will be in January's "Colorado Field Notes".

They did relocate the three species of Rosy Finches at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center, Sharp-tailed Grouse in Steamboat Springs area and Greater Sage-Grouse at a private ranch in Routt County.  After dark, they heard Boreal Owls at 3 Locations.

Meanwhile, I joined German Birder Jurgen Lehnert and we explored Summit County.  At sunrise, 38 Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond.  Later in the afternoon, there was only one male.  We figured the main flock went over to the open water area of Lake Dillon (southeast corner).

Eventually we found the entire mountain species expected.  Unfortunately only Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy Finches were found.  Most of the day was spent searching for a Black Rosy Finch.

A surprise was a flock of 48 Common Redpolls (turns out to be a first Summit County Record of Common Redpolls).

Scouting Trip for the North Park Christmas Count

December 11-13, 2012

Richard Stevens

December 11, 2012

We were not going to make the North Park Christmas Count on Friday (12/14) so we drove up to do a little scouting for a couple of days.

A flock of 100+ Rosy Finches were visiting the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders (mostly Gray-crowned Rosy Finches, no Black).  Other birds included Pine Grosbeaks, Cassin's Finches, Pine Siskins, White-breasted Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees.

After dark I heard a Boreal Owl at the upper Joe Wright Reservoir (Larimer) and another west of Cameron Pass (Jackson).

December 12, 2012

We heard about the Common Redpolls at Cowdrey, north of Walden (Jackson County) and arrived a little after sunrise.  About two dozen of the 58 Common Redpolls reported by Hollowed on 12/11) were fluttering about when we got there.

Walden Reservoir and the lakes at Johns Wildlife Area and Buttes Wildlife Area were frozen.  No uncommon birds were found.  No Rosy Finches could be found around Walden (Jackson).

Ray Simmons and Jacob Washburn came up and we watched the flock of Rosy Finches at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

After dark, we relocated three Boreal Owls west of Cameron Pass (from the pass to 4 miles west).

December 13, 2012

The flock of Rosy Finches coming to the feeders at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center increased from about 100+ to 160+ today.  A Black Rosy Finch was found among them today.  A Common Redpoll was a pleasant addition to the usual mix of birds.

We spent the rest of the day in Routt County in search of Bohemian Waxwings.  Zero found, but we did find several Sharp-tailed Grouse (private land). 

No Crossbills or American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found on Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand/Jackson Counties).

After dark, we heard a Boreal Owl at the Crags Campgrounds.  When the troop retired, I headed back to Denver and other commitments.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Eastern Denver Lakes and Aurora Reservoir

December 10, 2012

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, Rebecca Kosten and I scoped the Eastern Denver County Lakes: Lakecrest, Emerald Strand Park and Green Valley Recreation Center Pond.  The only uncommon goose found was a Greater White-fronted Goose at Green Valley Recreation Center Pond.  No Brants, still hoping and looking for them among thousands of White-cheeked Geese.

We stopped by Bill Cryder's home near Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  It was too cold and windy (32 degrees, wind chill 21 with winds 14 mph, gusts to 22 mph).  We did not walk down to the lake, but could see a Common Loon from his deck.

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

December 9, 2012

Richard Stevens:

In late afternoon, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I returned to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) to search for Harris's Sparrows and the Greater Scaup reported earlier in the week.

Bryan pointed to the Harris's Sparrow when it popped out of the willows at the southwest corner of Lake Ladora.  No Harris's Sparrows came to the feeder area next to the Contact Station. 

The Greater Scaup may still be at Lower Derby Lake; however, we could not pick them out.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) at sunset.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Odds and Ends Around Denver

December 8, 2012

Richard Stevens:

While doing chores Rebecca Kosten and I followed up on several bird reports sent to us.

We received a report of eight or so Barrow's Goldeneyes at the southwest pond at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  This pond is reached by parking at Cherry Creek High School and walking 500 yards east down the path running along the southwestern border of the park.

The pond did indeed have several dozen White-cheeked Geese and eight Goldeneyes.  Unfortunately, the Goldeneyes were all Common Goldeneyes.  The five males were first year Common Goldeneyes and females appeared to be Common also.

At around 1:00 pm, we visited the trio of lakes in Eastern Denver County.  To our surprise, there were few geese on any of the lakes (Lakecrest, Emerald Strand Park & Green Valley Recreation Center Pond). 

Usually, the geese "rest" on the ponds from 10:00 am to about 3:30 pm.  They leave in late afternoon to feed and do not return until dusk.  Could they sense the predicted snowstorm is coming in after sunset?

We stopped at Barr Lake State Park (Adams) to see if the Harris's Sparrow reported last month was still around.  When we arrived, an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk was standing on the water fountain near the feeders behind the Visitor's Center. 

Unlikely any sparrows were going to show any time soon, we decided to drive back to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) and scope the lakes (report of a possible adult male Black Scoter).

Waterfowl were few on both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake.  Again, do they know/sense a coming storm and have flown south?

While we scoped the southern end of Lake Ladora, a Harris's Sparrow popped up from under the few willows next the road at the southwestern end of the lake.  It looked much like one of the two Harris's Sparrows that came to the feeders near the Contact Station last month (the one I called two stripes, for the two black stripes on its breast.  The other had one solid stripe).

For another question that may not be answered, if it does snow tonight and enough to cover the ground, and if this is one of the two Harris's Sparrows from last month, will this Harris's Sparrow remember the food supply back about 1000 yards to the northwest?

We plan to return if there is heavy snowfall in the next couple of days.

Southern Owling Trip

December 3-7, 2012

Richard Stevens:

December 3, 2012

Bryan and I had wanted to search for Spotted Owls in Fremont County for months.  Finding the time was difficult.  The added bonus of "collecting" a first El Paso County Dunlin sighting for both of us started this trip.

One of my favorite routes to Peyton/Falcon is Elbert County Road.  It bypasses the traffic of I25 and Highway 83.  An uncommon bird sighting is always a possibility. 

The Dunlin was still at the "Falcon Pond" and easy to spot when we arrived.  We continued into Colorado Springs and tried unsuccessfully for the Pine Warbler reported four days earlier (too long to wait for a search, for sure).

Later we scoped Big Johnson Reservoir (El Paso) for about an hour and eventually both the Long-tailed Duck and Barrow's Goldeneye were relocated. 

Next, we wandered around Victor, CO searching for Rosy Finches.  Our weather has just been too good.  Rosy Finches seem to be still at higher elevations.  None were in Victor or Cripple Creek.

After dark, we drove down the Phantom Canyon Road in search of Spotted Owls.  None was found tonight.

December 4, 2012

After a late start (due to owling all last night), Bryan and I checked several locations around Canon City (Fremont County).

Several previous locations of wintering Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were checked.  At our third stop, Centennial Park, we found a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the west end.

Florence River Park was searched for Black Phoebes and Swamp Sparrows.  One Swamp Sparrow was our prize. 

Not having much luck around town we headed up to Temple Canyon State Park.  A few Mountain Bluebirds were just outside the eastern entrance.  A Juniper Titmouse was a surprise at the western entrance.  A flock of 6-8 Pinyon Jays flew along the creek below the western entrance.

At dusk, we headed back up Phantom Canyon.  We enjoyed better fortune tonight.  A Spotted Owl was heard and way points taken.  Location to be kept undisclosed.

Just before dawn, we found a Northern Saw-whet Owl near Oro Juno (Fremont).

December 5, 2012

Another late start, Bryan and I again stopped at several parks and Lakeside Cemetery in search of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.  Our only Yellow-bellied Sapsucker sighting was again at Centennial Park. 

While missing Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers at the old Holy Cross Abbey, a female Williamson's Sapsucker was found.  She flew about the pines at the western side of the property.

We decided to see if any Northern Saw-whet Owls could be found on the BLM Land up the Shelf Road.  On the trip north, we stopped at Red Canyon Park.  The highlight was a flock of 8+ Pinyon Jays!

We set up our three "owl listening stations" on the drive up the road.  No Spotted or Northern Saw-whet Owls were observed during the all night trek.  Later: one of the "listening stations" (search for "listening stations" on previous blog posts) picked up a Northern Saw-whet Owl! 

The Technology is cool!  We could have sat at one location all night and never heard an owl.  The stations definitely expand our reach.

The night was young; we were wide-awake and headed to Beaver Creek Wildlife Area (Fremont).  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings played at the most northern parking area.

December 6, 2012

Another late start, we continued west to Salida and Buena Vista.  The resident Western Screech-Owl(s) were not to be found.

A flock of 20+ Pinyon Jays was in the pinyon-junipers along Highway 285 (at 3 miles south of Buena Vista).

Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were found along North Pleasant Street, south of Brookdale Avenue.

The KOA Campgrounds east of Buena Vista and Ruby Mountain Recreation Area southeast of town were checked for birds (especially Pinyon Jays).  While none was found at either location, a flock of 30+ Pinyon Jays was observed along Chaffee County Road 301.

After dark, we set up our three "listening stations" for Northern Saw-whet Owls on the BLM Land east of Buena Vista.  Regrettably, none was encountered this night.

December 7, 2012

Predictions that winter is finally coming (snowing farther north) lured us back to Denver a day early.  Sunday Bryan is to lead a trip to Guanella Pass for White-tailed Ptarmigan.

Winds were outrageous today.  Anemometer readings were "steady" at 19 mph with gusts to 31 mph.  Holding our scopes steady to view Eleven Mile Reservoir and Spinney Mountain Reservoir was quite difficult to impossible.

A couple of scoters were found on each reservoir.  Tentatively, we were 90 percent sure that Spinney Mountain Reservoir: Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter & 2 Surf Scoters.  Eleven-Mile Reservoir: Surf Scoter.  A Common Loon was at Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

We are sure that neither reservoir had a swan.

Owling at Kenosha Pass was a bust.  High winds, occasional snow hampered any serious attempt.  We did hike up the eastern Kenosha Pass trail to the Twin Cone Peaks trailhead.

Another Northeastern Trip

November 28-December 2, 2012

Richard Stevens:

November 28, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed to the northeast corner of Colorado to bird some of the remaining WIAs not visited yet this fall/winter.

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir, found nothing uncommon on the lake, and then checked out the western Campgrounds.  Varied Thrushes have been found in past falls, none was today. 

We did relocate two Harris's Sparrows and two White-throated Sparrows.  One of the two+ Long-eared Owls that appeared to spend the summer (perhaps last winter) was relocated.  A Green-tailed Towhee was around the Visitor's Center (no owls there today).

The highlight was a calling Stub-tailed Wren in the thickets south of Pelican Campgrounds.  The bird was recorded and later the sonogram indicated a Winter Wren.  Since the Winter Wren split, Stub-tailed Wrens found in Colorado should be considered Winter/Pacific Wrens unless examined closely (see December, 2012 "Colorado Field Notes").

A stop at the Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) did not find one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was again working the trees along the northern border of the property.

Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) was slow until we walked below the dam.  A flock of 40+ waxwings included 2 Bohemian Waxwings!  After dusk, we found Eastern Screech-Owls below the dam and at the western end of the property.

Winds were mild and our hike after dusk was quite enjoyable under the full moon!

November 29, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann and I continued our northeastern Colorado trek today.  Temperatures reached the mild 60s and winds were mild.  It was quite a pleasant day!

We planned to examine the seven WIAs in Logan County that are north of I76.  First, we stopped at North Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  While no uncommon gulls, ducks, geese or swans were found, we did find a lone Snow Bunting near the Campgrounds.

The WIA 25-54 is classified as "grass".  The eastern border does have a dried creek.  Highlights included a Field Sparrow, a dozen American Pipits and several Lapland Longspurs in a flock of Horned Larks.

WIA 39-52 & WIA 39-54 added additional Horned Larks, a few (4) Lapland Longspurs, a Northern Shrike and half a dozen American Pipits.

The other four WIAs are designated "Extended WIAs" and are open until March 2013.  The biggest downfall in birding the WIAs in my opinion is the dates there are public access.  The dates are good for hunters; however, most migrating is over before we can access the properties.  The extended WIAs still close before spring migration may have some interesting birds appear.

WIA 55-57 does include the Iliff Valley Ditch.  Usually the areas with any type of water flow will have a riparian area, which attract more birds.  A few Mourning Doves were the low interest highlight here today.

WIA 87-66 may have some ponds in spring.  They were dried up today.  A few Horned Larks flew about.  WIA 85-58.5 is one of my favorite as it borders the South Platte River.  Nothing interesting was found here today. WIA 91-138 is another one to keep an eye on and has a good bird list.  Again, the downside is open dates of 9/1 to 3/1.

Bryan and reached Jumbo Reservoir in the early afternoon.  The only shorebirds were a few Killdeer.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese, hundreds of Ross's Geese and 7 Greater White-fronted Geese were on the lake.

While looking for shorebirds south of the Campgrounds, we saw a Snow Bunting circling overhead.  It appeared to land along the shore.  Unfortunately (and of course) is landed over a small hill on the private property just south of the Campgrounds.

We ended our birding day at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  We missed the Pine Warbler reported by Joey Kellner four days earlier.  A couple of Common Redpolls (which have been around since at least 11/11) were along the main road and south of the old ranger's home.

At dusk, we received responses from two Eastern Screech-Owls along the South Platte River   (sections 6-8 East).

November 30, 2012

Bryan and I went to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) about an hour before sunrise.  An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings (played along the north side of the lake).

We birded the western Campgrounds which was quite slow.  Until, a Snow Bunting was observed circling overhead.  Unfortunately, it circled the private property just south of the Campgrounds.  When it landed, it was along the shore over a slight hill. 

The thousands of White-cheeked Geese including White Geese (Snow & Ross's) and a few Greater White-fronted Geese continued on the lake.  Many flew to feed in the fields northwest of the reservoir.

Before checking the six WIAs in Sedgwick County, north of Highway 138, we stopped at Ovid.  A pair of Rusty Blackbirds was found walking along Lodgepole Creek in the northern woods (they were between Morgan and Clark Avenues).

A Red-bellied Woodpecker drummed on the telephone pole by the maintenance building for the High School.

A couple of White-throated Sparrows flew about the Ovid Sewage Pond area (south of Ovid Woods and along the South Platte River.  Harris's Sparrows were frequently observed along the river; however, none was today.

Most of the afternoon was spent visiting the WIAs.  None had running or standing water.  Most were cultivated.  No uncommon birds were found.  The usual suspects Horned Larks, Red-winged Blackbirds, House Sparrows and two Lapland Longspurs were just about all we found.

We ended our birding day north of Sedgwick.  Nothing uncommon was found at the Sedgwick Cemetery.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker did flutter about.

No Short-eared Owls appeared over Sedgwick Draw at dusk.  No Eastern Screech-Owls were found at nearby abandoned farm sites.

December 1, 2012

Bryan and I returned to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) about an hour before sunrise.  An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings (played along the north side of the lake).

We returned to the western Campgrounds hoping to get a photo of the Snow Bunting that we observed flying around yesterday.  The Snow Bunting was joined by a second one and circled the private property just south of the Campgrounds. 

Again, when they landed, it was over a slight hill.  We continued to be frustrated for about an hour and an half before giving up on getting a photo.

The thousands of White-cheeked Geese including White Geese (Snow & Ross's) and a few Greater White-fronted Geese continued on the lake.  Many flew to feed in the fields northwest of the reservoir.

Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten drove up from Denver and joined us.  Along their drive, they stopped at Jackson Reservoir and relocated two Harris's Sparrows and two White-throated Sparrows.  Unfortunately, they did not relocate the Winter Wren Bryan and I found on 11/28.

Today Bryan and I visited a couple ranches of my friends.  Fall passerine migration appears over and few uncommon birds were found.  One rancher, Bill reported that his son has seen an American Woodcock along the South Platte River several times in the past two weeks.  Our efforts to relocate the bird failed. 

The day was a beautiful fall day with cool temperatures and mild winds.  The walk along the S. Platte River on property (private ranch # 5) that birders seldom access was enough of a treat to diminish our disappointing attempt.  We did find a Red-bellied Woodpecker and two Harris's Sparrows.  They kept our interest up!

We met Sue and Rebecca at Jumbo Reservoir in the afternoon.  After a short wait, we again found the Snow Buntings circling around south of the Campgrounds.  Again and of course, they only landed over a small hill on private property.  Bedeviling!

After dark, we joined Roger and Judy Danka for some great barbecue.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls called in the distance.  It was another dandy ending to a superb day of birding.

December 2, 2012

We took a leisure walk around Roger's Ranch (Sedgwick).  No uncommon birds were found, just an enjoyable hike in the cool morning.  Fresh air and quiet (no wind, cars or traffic) does not make one miss Denver.

Harris's and White-throated Sparrows were among the dozens of White-crowned and American Tree Sparrows visiting below the Danka's feeders.  The dozen or so Dark-eyed Juncos were mainly pink-sided.

After another barbecue of chicken raised my cholesterol who knows how much (but so good), it was time for us to head back home.

Nothing uncommon was found during brief stops at DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick) and the Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop.  Two Harris's Sparrows and a Field Sparrow were at DePoorter.  Nothing uncommon at the Wayside Rest Stop.  We checked the "Common Ground-Dove" spot of Nov-Dec, 2011.  None found today.

To break up the monotony of the same route back to Denver, we drove south down highways 55 and 59.  The route took us through Siebert (Kit Carson County).  While we found no Common Redpolls, a Field Sparrow was found at the sewage ponds!

Our main stop of the day was at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  There was little bird activity below the dam.  Plenty of sparrows flew around the trees at the northeast corner, regrettably no uncommon ones.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found about halfway down the eastern side.  Sue spotted two Common Redpolls at the southeast corner (past the parking lot).

We made brief stop at the Bennett Rest Stop (Arapahoe County); found no uncommon birds.  Looked briefly for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Bennett, without success and then we returned to Denver.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No Uncommon Birds at Rocky Mountain Arsenal or Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 27, 2012

Richard Stevens:

No uncommon birds to report today.  Temperatures were warmer than yesterday and winds mild. 

Rebecca Kosten and I stopped by Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) while out doing chores.  Three American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were the only non-Red-winged Blackbirds to visit the Contact Station feeders.

On the way to dinner, we stopped at the bird observation platform at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A few California Gulls were mixed in with 231 Ring-billed Gulls.  The only shorebirds on the mudflats were Killdeer.

The lake was like a mirror with the lack of wind.  Unfortunately, no scoters, loons or swans were among the many Western Grebes.  At least one Eared Grebe and Pied-billed Grebe were also observed.

The colorful sunset and full moon were the highlights of the trip.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Return Trip to Boulder County

November 26, 2012

Richard Stevens:

After reading about an escaped Gyrfalcon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove the county roads between Parker Road and Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe to Douglas Counties).  I drive these roads many times in a year and know them quite well.  Perhaps I could find the bird.  It was not to be.

On the way south toward Parker, we passed the eastern Denver Lakes and stopped for a quick look at the thousands of White-cheeked Geese (mostly Cackling Geese).  A Greater White-fronted Goose was among hundreds of White-cheeked Geese on Lakecrest.  A Ross's Goose was on Emerald Strand Park Pond.  Another Greater White-fronted Goose was with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese at the Green Valley Recreation Center Pond.

The weather today was much different from yesterday.  Temperatures were 22+ degrees lower; winds were calm most of the day.  It felt quite cold.  We passed a bank around 3:00 pm with the temperature displayed.  If accurate, it was 27 degrees out, definitely cold!

It was late morning, Rebecca and I did not feel like going home to be stuck indoors.  Instead, we picked up a non-birding friend and headed to Boulder County.  I had missed most of the uncommon birds there last week and thought to "give it another try".

We arrived at Baseline Reservoir shortly before 1:00 pm.  Several birders were there and had not found the flock of Common Redpolls.  As I walked Cherryvale, a flock of small finch like birds flew from the west of Cherryvale to the south end of Baseline Reservoir.  They were 32 Common Redpolls.  No American Goldfinches accompanied them today. 

Photos can be found at:

The five adult and three juvenile Tundra Swans "rested" on a sandbar on Baseline Reservoir.  The lone American White Pelican was also there.  A flock of Pelicans came through just two days earlier, and then left.  Perhaps this lone Pelican is injured and could not join them on their trip south?

Our next stop was Hawthorn Gulch at the northwest corner of Boulder.  The pump house where the male Northern Cardinal has been seen is about 400 yards up the switchbacks.  The view of Boulder is superb along the switchbacks.

A dozen Dark-eyed Juncos fluttered about the willows around the pump house.  A Townsend's Solitaire "hawked" insects just ten feet from us.  After about 20 minutes, the Northern Cardinal came from below the trail and hid in the willows around the pump house.  Several witness shots (same webpage above) were taken.  He never exposed himself in the open, so no great shots.

Rebecca was cold so I dropped her off at a local fast food restaurant and made the next stop on my own.  A half hour walk at Cottonwood Marsh, Walden Ponds was productive.  A Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails for about 10 seconds.  Location was halfway between the most western boardwalk and the closure sign at the natural area.

Then I drove around to the northeast corner of the property (75th Street and Boulder Creek) hoping to find additional Swamp Sparrows or the Winter Wren reported last week.  Neither of those birds was found. 

However, a great bonus/consolation was a pair of Rusty Blackbirds walking the northern shore of Boulder Creek.  They popped in and out of the tall grasses along the shore at about 200-300 yards west of 75th street.

After picking up Rebecca, we made one final stop at North Teller Lake # 5.  It was now late in the day; I walked around the windbreak at the parking area looking for the Golden-crowned Sparrow found last week. 

The Golden-crowned Sparrow was not among 60+ House Sparrows.  Neither was it under the fallen down cottonwood east of the parking area (this is where Bryan and I found it last week, with half a dozen American Tree Sparrows).  It was cold and getting dark; the sparrows may have been there and not leaving the ground (tall grasses made searching difficult).

While on the walk, I heard the calls of thousands of geese.  It was a deafening sound but entertaining to a birder.  However, the geese could not be seen.  I walked over to Teller Lake, which turned out to be almost dry.  Only a couple of Ring-billed Gulls stood around, no geese?  I never saw the crowd that was making the thunderous noise.

We savored another outstanding day of birding on the drive home!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Afternoon Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 25, 2012

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, Rebecca and I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  We found a Rusty Blackbird on the mudflats between the Prairie Loop and the Lake Loop.  No loons were found on the lake.  The only shorebirds were Killdeer.  No uncommon gulls could be found either.

The Harris's Sparrow was not found behind the Barr Lake Visitor's Center.  Raptors along the DIA Owl Loop included a Ferruginous Hawk, 4 Rough-legged Hawks, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 American Kestrel and no owls.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Aurora Pine Warbler

November 25, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I finally answered my phone calls this morning.  That is a mistake I will try not to make in the future.  Several great bird reports were on the phone.

An Aurora homeowner had a Pine Warbler visiting his yard for the past three days.  Rebecca and I drove over and relocated the Pine Warbler which visited his feeders every half hour or so.  Unfortunately, the owner preferred not to have a lot of birders visit.  I had called Jerry Petrosky and he also saw the bird.  We thanked the owner and I gave him my field guide for future reference.

Gone now, Bill Cryder had watched an adult Great Black-backed Gull at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) from Thanksgiving 11/22 to 11/24.  One showed up at Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) and could be the same bird?

Ptarmigan & Northern Pygmy-Owl Search, Clear Creek to Douglas Counties

November 24, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) with three Georgia birders today.  The weather was fair with temperatures in the high 40s and mild winds (16+ mph is mild for up there). 

This was after a brief trip into Summit County for Rosy Finches and mountain birds.  We relocated the Barrow's Goldeneyes on Lake Dillon and the Angler Mountain Ranch Pond.  The Lake Dillon Surf Scoter was not relocated.  We also found a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

Guanella Pass is a beautiful Colorado location.  Trying to forget the many hours, I have missed White-tailed Ptarmigan, that can be a problem.  Someday, I will have to add those hours up (not today).

Four of us searched over three hours on the southeast hills.  Then we dropped down the 603 trail to the flats and walked over to the lake (not named as far as I can find out).  Finally, we found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan sitting on a small patch of snow deep in the willows along the east side of the lake.

Heading back toward Denver by way of Grant, we stopped at the closure gate and listened for American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  A favorite spot in past year, none was found today.

Once on highway 285, we detoured the six miles over to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  Hoping we did not have to make the whole six mile loop to find a Three-toed Woodpecker, we took Buck Gulch Trail toward the Skipper Trail.  A female Three-toed Woodpecker was eventually found calling 20 yards east of the Buck Gulch Trail and 200 yards south of the Park Boundary sign (one of Merlynn Brown's favorite spots to find them)!

We split into two groups (limited to two radios) and took separate routes back to the parking area.  Our target bird was an elusive Northern Pygmy-Owl.  While most of the previous successful locations were examined, no owls were found.

We then drove up and down Pine Road (Harold Holt's favorite "Northern Pygmy-Owl drive") without finding a Pygmy Owl. 

The other three birders were game, what the heck, now completely dark, we drove the Platte River Road to Deckers, then highway 67 past Cheesman Reservoir (now in Douglas County) and back to toward Denver. 

The detour route along Sugar Creek Road finally ended our torment.  Well, mine, seven unsuccessful hours of searching and dozens of stops, we finally found a Northern Pygmy-Owl (at about 1.2 miles south of hwy 67). 

 It was a superb night out, with mild temperatures and little wind.  Still, seven hours is a long time to search and miss a bird. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Trip Around Morgan and Weld Counties

November 23, 2012

Jerry Petrosky;

Richard Stevens and I birded in Morgan and Weld Counties.  We wanted to explore as many WIAs as possible in the nine and a half hours of daylight.  As a result, most of the public birding areas, reservoirs and parks usually searched were skipped today.  The day was colder than average but still nice for this time of year.

We arrived at Brush Wildlife Area in Morgan County 30 minutes before sunrise.  The resident Eastern Screech Owls could not be found.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker called from the northwest corner of the Wildlife Area.  As Richard says, the area was very quiet.

We walked as quickly as possible over seven WIAs south of Brush.  Because of our limited daylight, our emphasis was in areas that the "major" creek, Beaver Creek ran through.  Although the creek is dry, it provides some riparian areas where migrating birds may use.

The WIAs east of Highway 71, mostly between Morgan County Roads I and C fit this requirement.  Few rare birds were found.  Mostly Horned Larks and longspurs were found.  Lapland Longspurs were the majority, in fact all but one McCown's Longspur.

A Field Sparrow for Morgan County was at WIA 33-C.
Savannah Sparrows were found at 31-H and 33-B
A late Grasshopper Sparrow was found at 15-F

After a quick lunch in Brush, we continued north along Highway 71 and stopped at nine of the twenty-seven WIAs north of Highway 34 and south of Hwy 14.  The WIAs were split about 50:50 between Morgan and Weld Counties.

Horned Larks out numbered any other species of birds.  Most of the WIAs here were grasslands with little riparian area.  Lapland Longspurs were the only representatives of their family.

We did find any Savannah Sparrow at WIA 31-JJ; which is in Morgan County.

To summarize, our only "Ammodramus" sparrow was the Grasshopper Sparrow in Morgan County.

Historically, Baird's and Henslow's Sparrows are seen in October (no November records), while Le Conte's Sparrow sightings peak in November and December.  Reference: November, 2012 "Colorado Field Notes".

Le Conte's Sparrows are usually reported in marshy areas with cattails.  We did not come upon such a habitat all day.  Although we kept our hopeful, eyes open to a possible sighting.

Raptors included three Prairie Falcons, two Merlin, many Red-tailed Hawks, many Rough-legged Hawks and a few American Kestrels throughout the day.

I enjoyed the company and exploring areas not visited before!  Thanks Richard!

Early Morning Drive to Weld County

November 22, 2012

Jerry Petrosky;

Rich Stevens and I visited a friend's ranch east of Prospect Valley. The ranch has two Long-eared Owls in its windbreak. Owner Bob saw a Golden crowned Sparrow last Sunday and again Monday. It did not return today.

We stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area also Weld County. A Long-eared Owl was in the windbreak along the western side of Ponds 6-8.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Trip to Boulder County

November 21, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I decided on travel to Boulder County in search of the 7 Swamp Sparrows reported Monday (11/19) by Ted Floyd.

We arrived at Baseline Reservoir about an hour before sunrise and walked the Bobolink Trail in search of owls.  Long-eared, Northern Pygmy and Eastern Screech-Owls have all been reported in the past; we found none this morning.

After sunrise, we could see the five Tundra Swans along the far side of Baseline Reservoir. 

Then we headed to Walden Ponds.  While the Swamp Sparrow at Cottonwood Marsh was missed, we did find one of three reported along Boulder Creek, west of 75th avenue.  The Sawhill Ponds Swamp Sparrow was also a no show.

Heading north, we looked for the McIntosh Lake Swamp Sparrow; without success.  Many Bonaparte's Gulls were a consolation.

We did find a Long-eared Owl at a suspected nesting area in Boulder County (location to remain unnamed).

We abandoned (temporarily) our Swamp Sparrow and tried for the Northern Cardinal at Hawthorn Gulch (west side of Boulder).  He was not found (had traveled quite far from its first sighting to last and could still be in the area).

Following a text message about an eastern Fox Sparrow, we returned to Walden Ponds and missed the bird in a short search.  Heard later, that it was relocated, we should have spent more time there.

After missing the Boulder Fairgrounds Swamp Sparrow, we also missed the Panama Reservoir # 1 Swamp Sparrow.  We then thought to search for Swamp Sparrows at Teller Lake # 5.  None was there; however, we did see the Golden-crowned Sparrow that has wintered several of the past few years.

Finally, headed to Erie where few gulls were around and then home, too tired for any owling.  The sunset was superb tonight; hope all watched it!

Colorado Lifebird, Bear Creek Lake Park

November 20, 2012

Richard Stevens:

It has been a long week or so of birding and once again, I promised my feet that they would not have to wear hiking boots today.  Once again, I was not accurate.  I had to chase the Brambling report at Bear Creek Lake Park (Jefferson County).

The location was not difficult to find as dozens of birders were already there when I arrived.  It had been seen just 4 or 5 minutes before my arrival.  I waited the "reported 20 minute interval" and the male Brambling put in an appearance.  He seemed to follow 6-12 American Tree Sparrows to the seed put out by Mike Henwood.

Later I hiked Bear Creek where it enters the lake.  The previously reported Harris's Sparrow was not found. 

I stopped off at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) on the trip home.  The Harris's Sparrows also did not show at the Contact Station feeders.

Quick Trip to Northeastern Plains

November 19, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Today I took 5 out of state birders up to Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld) in search of Common Redpolls.  We eventually found 2 along County Road 100, west of CR 57 (similar area to David Leatherman's sightings).

Norma's Grove was quiet and we continued east to Crow Valley Campground (Weld).  Nothing uncommon was found (the resident Long-eared Owl was missed, as was any Northern Saw-whet Owls at the Washington Work Center).

Then we drove my favorite route from Briggsdale to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  I try to stay on as many roads with telephone wires as possible.  I have found that if a flock of Horned Larks (with longspurs) flies the Horned Lark return to the ground while longspurs will land on the telephone wires first.  They appear to look around and then return to the ground. 

This has worked numerous times for me; as it did today.  We found Lapland Longspurs and 2 McCown's Longspurs (near CR 84 & 85 intersection).  Just before Weld County Road 105 turns into Morgan County Road 4, we ran into a flock of 300 Horned Larks and 4 Lapland Longspurs.

Jackson Reservoir was pretty slow also.  We did find one of the Long-eared Owls that I believe stayed all summer (and perhaps last winter) in the western Campgrounds.

I got the birders back to their motel north of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and decided to check out Bob Righter's report of Rusty Blackbirds.

When I arrived at the Prairie Loop mudflats, I saw Bob's reported Pectoral Sandpiper far to the west.  I walked down to the Lake Loop and returned to the Prairie Loop (following the Pectoral Sandpiper, which was moving east).

In the distance, three Rusty Blackbirds also walked the mudflats.  I stopped and at one time, they approached within 15 feet of me.  They probably would have come closer, but a noisy Killdeer scared everything away.

Then I drove over to the dam parking area and scoped for the reported 3 Pacific Loons.  Sure enough, they were in the northern center of the lake.  Except there were 4 "Pacific Loons".

Note: when I got home and examined the photos of the four loons, three were Pacific Loons and the fourth a Red-throated Loon!

White-tailed Ptarmigan and American Three-toed Woodpecker Search

November 18, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I took five out of state birders up to Guanella Pass for a Ptarmigan and American Three-toed Woodpecker search.  Temperatures were in the 40s; winds "quiet" at 8-10 mph (sometimes they reach into the 40 mph range; one trip I measured 60+ mph).

We split into groups and two and covered the area quite well in the next FOUR hours.  I was about to call it a day, when Bob Thames (Missouri) called on the radio "I got two!"  He was 300+ yards southeast of the Rosalie & 603 trails. 

We must have covered the area at least three times without a sighting.  The pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan was sitting on a small patch of snow, buried deep in three foot willows.  At least they were all able to see one!

Guanella Pass Campgrounds did not have one bird.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers, no Mountain Chickadees, no Pine Grosbeaks, zero.  It was difficult to believe nothing was in the area.

We continued back to Denver by way of Grant.  Most of the businesses in Grant are now "out of business".  I will miss the owner of the Grant store.  She was a little odd (are not we all?) but had some great stories to tell.  She kept me apprised of the status of Guanella Pass throughout the year.  I wish her well, wherever she is?

Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson) is only a six mile detour off highway 285.  We decided on a Three-toed Woodpecker search.  I hoped for an "easy sighting" as my last three trips have required long hikes (and missed on two of them).

Today was no different, as we had to hike up the Buck Gulch Trail to the Strawberry Jack Trail past the Parkview Trail intersection.  We spread out and eventually I found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker 100 yards east of the Strawberry Jack Trail at 300 yards south of the Parkview Trail.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl sighting would have been nice but was not to be.  We definitely got in our exercise today.

Colorado Eastern Plains Trip

November 12-17, 2012

Richard Stevens:

November 12

Bryan Ehlmann and I head to the Eastern Plains today.  Target birds included Common Redpolls, "Ammodramus sparrows" and late migrating birds.

We stopped in Bennett (Adams County) attempting to relocate the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker we found several times last month; without success.

A stop in Byers (Arapahoe) did not relocate two Common Redpolls reported Elam Avenue.

Flagler Reservoir was disappointing.  No target birds or owls were found.  Consolation prizes included a Swamp Sparrow below the dam and a Harris's Sparrow with many American Tree Sparrows at the northeast corner.

The weather was fantastic.  Highs in the 60 degrees and little wind.  We camped at Karval Wildlife Area (Lincoln).

November 13

We rose early to look for Short-eared Owls flying over Karval Reservoir Wildlife Area (Lincoln).  While we did not find any Short-eared Owls, after sunrise we found a Long-eared Owl (almost as good a sighting for Lincoln County).

Many sparrows flew about; however, none was uncommon.

At Kinney Lake Wildlife Area (Lincoln), we relocated the Common Redpolls reported a few days earlier by Mark Peterson.  A Northern Shrike was nearby, hope it does not get the redpolls.

Several flocks of Horned Larks and longspurs were encountered along the drive back north.  The best flock of 110 birds included majority Lapland, a dozen McCown's and at least one or two Chestnut-collared Longspurs!  This in itself was quite a highlight of our trip.

An hour of daylight (valuable with the shortening days) driving around Burlington (Kit Carson) looking for feeders and uncommon birds (including eighth and Rose, a good location for uncommon birds in the past).  A few Great-tailed Grackles were at the park north of I70 and southeast of the McDonald's Restaurant. 

Another hour was used up at Fairview Cemetery at the north end of Burlington.  Again, nothing uncommon was found.  A flock of 10+ Yellow-rumped Warblers kept our attention for a little while.  There were plenty of Eurasian Collared-Doves around town.

As we drove north, we detoured into Kansas to visit a friend (he went to high school with my parents).  In the last month, he had seen an eastern Fox Sparrow and Varied Thrush.  Eastern Screech-Owls nest on his ranch.  We found nothing uncommon and headed to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma) just before sunset (hoping to see a wandering Greater Prairie-Chicken; without success).

An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings as we set up camp.

November 14

The weather continued to be superb with temperatures in the 60s and mild winds.  Most of our morning and early afternoon was spent in the Bonny Reservoir & Hale Pond area.

We started about 2 hours before sunrise and walked along the Republican River from Hwy 385 to the old Foster's Grove Campgrounds.  We located 3 Eastern Screech-Owls before sunrise.

A male Northern Cardinal wandered around the western end of the Campgrounds.  A group (flock?) of Wild Turkeys crossed CR 3 and walked toward the ranger's office.

No Long-eared Owls were found throughout the day (Foster's Grove windbreak or the windbreak along the road that runs along the southern border of the old now dried up lake).

We did run into a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers on the southern road.  The Fox Sparrow found last month was not relocated.  We got a brief look at a possible Harris's Sparrow at the Wagon Wheel Picnic area (too short to confirm).

The old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds was quiet.  Best bird was a Red-naped Sapsucker.  Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers had been found last month; this was definitely a Red-naped.  American Goldfinches were in winter plumage (basic). 

The lack of water in this once thriving lake is sad.  Does not help the bird count either.

Another pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers worked the trees on the west side of the eastern Hale Ponds.  No Winter Wrens or interesting birds were found when we walked from Hale Ponds to the Kansas border.

A walk around the "camping area" at CR 4 & LL.5 found a Harris's Sparrow about 80 yards east of the intersection.

We searched for Northern Saw-whet Owls at the windbreak below the Bonny dam; without finding any today.

The highlight of the day came when we searched for Common Redpolls around the buildings below the dam.  A first year male Purple Finch flew around with American Goldfinches, House Finches and Horned Larks.

On our way to Wray (Yuma), we stopped at two friend's ranches north of Joes (Yuma).  One had visits from 4 Common Redpolls from November 9th to 11th.  They did not show today.

My other friend had a nice list of uncommon birds recorded last summer (Prairie Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Pine Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Cardinal, Vermilion Flycatcher, Harris's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Winter Wren, possible Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Greater Prairie-Chickens).  Unfortunately all long gone before August (I should have visited earlier, plan to next year).

Stops at 3 WIAs along Hwy 59 (between CR 32 & 35) did not find any uncommon birds.  Our search for Greater Prairie-Chickens at two active spring leks south of Yuma (Yuma County) was not successful.

November 15

Today Bryan and I drove the county roads just along the eastern Colorado border, from Bonny Reservoir to Wray.  Properties visited included 6 'WIA" along Highway 36.

No Sprague's Pipits or "Ammodramus" sparrows were found.  Interesting birds included:
WIA 16-QQ: Field Sparrow
WIA 10-PP: White-throated Sparrow
WIA 33-LL: Field Sparrow (2)

The highlight however was a fall plumage Bay-breasted Warbler at a windbreak along the Arickaree River (Yuma).  It was the only warbler found all day (but quite a nice one).

The last few hours of daylight were spent at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Yuma).  A Harris's Sparrow was along County Road CC.  Two Common Redpolls were found at the eastern side of the Wildlife Area (along the Republican River which is not wide here).

Misses: Eastern Screech-Owls and Swamp Sparrows have been found on the property in past years.

November 16

Our birding day started just before sunrise at the Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond.  Misses: Eastern Screech-Owls and the resident Barn Owl.  No sign of the resident Northern Cardinals either.

While counting the number of American Robins (191) at Stalker Pond we found a Varied Thrush among them.  American Goldfinches were the next most common bird at 79.

Our plans changed while showing two Nebraska birders the Varied Thrush.  They saw Common Redpolls at Beecher Island yesterday.  That was our next stop.  Sure enough, two Common Redpolls were along the Arickaree River (does not look much like a creek).  A Say's Phoebe seemed out of place here (time of year).

Afterwards, we turned back north and visited 9 of the 16 WIAs north of Yuma (Yuma County).
Again no Sprague's Pipit or "Ammodramus" sparrows.  Highlights:

WIA 47-N: Common Redpoll (2)
WIA 48-M: White-throated Sparrow
WIA 55-K: Brown Thrasher
Near CR 55-K: Eastern Screech-Owl (responded to our recording while we tried to find sparrows)
WIA 56-J: Harris's Sparrow
WIA 57-H: Field Sparrow (2)

November 17

Bryan and I enjoyed a nice evening in Wray.  For a change, we did not get up before sunrise.  It was our last day on the eastern plains and we checked up on several friends in Wray and the surrounding county.

Our first stop was back at Stalker Pond.  Again, the Varied Thrush was found among 100+ American Robins.  We watched the Varied Thrush accompany many of the robins as they flew toward the Wray Fishing Unit.  The Fishing Unit resident Barn Owl did not make an appearance nor was the Varied Thrush relocated.

Visiting birding friends is always a pleasure and usually quite productive.  Between two yards in Wray, we observed 3 male and 2 female Northern Cardinals.  At what I call private yard # 1 (they had a nesting eastern Fox Sparrow pair this summer) we relocated a first year eastern Fox Sparrow!

At private yard # 4, we were alerted to a Varied Thrush that had been seen for three days in a row.  Our sighting today was day 4 (no relation to yard #; yards are not numbered by importance, but as I made new friends over the years).

Two flocks of Common Redpolls were eventually found in Yuma County.  One (6 birds) was on Bob Bledsoe's property (CR PP, south of CR 45).  Another flock of 11+ birds near the Republican River near CR KK 5.

Unfortunately, time was limited and we headed north to Holyoke (Phillips).  A friend told us about a pair of Common Redpolls and a Purple Finch.  They did not show in the 30 minutes allotted for our search.

Quick searches at the Holyoke City Park and Cemetery did not find any uncommon birds.  Haxtun City Park was quiet also.

Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area (Phillips) was a must stop for sparrow searching.  We were rewarded with sightings of an eastern Fox Sparrow and 2 White-throated Sparrows!

Time was running out on us as we hit just 5 of 11 WIAs south of highway 6 (between Holyoke and Haxtun).

One Field Sparrow and one White-throated Sparrow were just about all uncommon found.  No Common Redpolls were encountered in Phillips County.  I hope that we can return after Thanksgiving and hit a few additional WIAs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unsuccessful Search for Murrelets

November 11, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Today Bryan Ehlmann and I went searching for Murrelets.  The large majority of Murrelet sightings in Colorado have been between 11/2 and 11/14.  They have been found during or the day after a snowstorm (which we had yesterday).  Our final Murrelet count was zero.

We stopped at many of the lakes along the foothills.  At Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas), we scoped the reservoir from above the dam (great view of the lake).  Perhaps we should have driven to the south side of the lake.  We found 5 Common Loons and several Bonaparte's Gulls.  Others found a Rusty Blackbird, Red Phalarope, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Pacific Loon.

Our focus was on the tiny Murrelets however and we probably missed some uncommon birds.  Marston, McLellan, Bear Creek Lake, Arvada, Ralson, Standley were scoped.

We stopped at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) on the way to Barr Lake.  Winds were steady at 17 mph with gusts to 28 mph.  The Harris's Sparrows were not found below the Contact Station feeders today.

Lake Ladora and Lower Derby had many waterfowl, nothing uncommon was found.

I dropped Bryan off at his Brighton home and drove over to Barr Lake (Adams).  The Harris's Sparrow was still behind the Visitor's Center.  Winds again were over 15 mph while I hiked the shoreline.

Highlight was a Black-bellied Plover; however, there were Long-billed Dowitchers, a Sanderling, and Least Sandpiper.  A Bonaparte's Gull flew by.  The biggest surprise was two male Red Crossbills (type undetermined).

My birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  Raptors included: Ferruginous Hawks (2), Prairie Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk (3), Rough-legged Hawk (2) and American Kestrel (2).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Birding Adams County, Then a Murrelet Search in Jefferson County

November 10, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I followed up on a report of Common Redpolls at a private ranch in Weld County.  Sure enough, my new friend and new birder had a pair of Common Redpolls visiting his feeders!  He also has two resident Long-eared Owls.

We stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Too many hunters had reserved hunting areas and we decided to skip walking the windbreaks today.

The two Harris’s Sparrows were again below the eastern feeder at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Contact Station (old Visitor’s Center, Adams County).

No uncommon ducks were on Lake Ladora or Lower Derby Lake.  Several dozen American Tree Sparrows and two Song Sparrows lingered along the western side of Lake Ladora.  We could not find any Swamp Sparrows at Ladora or Mary Lake.

Many gulls were on Havana Ponds.  Unfortunately, they were mostly Ring-billed Gulls with a couple of California Gulls.

We stopped by Barr Lake (Adams).  The Harris’s Sparrow was still behind the Visitor’s Center.  Scoping the lake from the boat ramp did not find any uncommon birds.

We heard about the possible Iceland Gull at Lake Estes (Larimer) and started in that direction.  Fortunately, a text was sent that the bird was most likely a 2nd year Thayer’s Gull.  We decided not to make the long trip up there and wait for additional information (possibly try for the Gull tomorrow).

Instead, we decided to drive south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) and scope several lakes along the way.  It started to snow.  All Murrelets found in Colorado have been reported during or the day after a snowstorm.  None was found at Chatfield Reservoir, Marston, McLellan or Bear Creek Lake Park.

We found a couple of Common Loons at Chatfield Reservoir, not the Mew Gull.

Nothing uncommon visited the feeders behind the Red Rocks Park Trading Post (Jefferson).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back to Summit & Clear Creek Counties

November 9, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I accompanied David Starlett and his wife for some mountain birding in Summit County.  We enjoyed success with many of the usual species and then headed to Guanella Pass.

Two male Barrow's Goldeneyes were found on the Angler Mountain Ranch Pond (Summit County).  None have arrived on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond yet.

We searched two hours unsuccessfully for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Guanella Pass (Clear Creek).

Our birding day ended at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  Birds were scarce the whole day.  Our total bird count at Pine Valley were four American Dippers (one on Pine Lake and three on the creek (Narrow Gauge trail).; one male Downy Woodpecker, and one Mountain Chickadee.

Search For A November Sprague's Pipit

November 8, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove south of Julesburg today.  Zigzagging the back roads of Sedgwick County in search of Sprague's Pipits did not turn up any.  A November date for a Sprague's Pipit sighting (for us anyway) was safe for another fall.  We did run into several flocks of American Pipits, which also seemed scarce on the eastern plains this fall.

We stopped at Sand Draw Wildlife Area, one of my favorite birding locations in Sedgwick County. 
No owls were found in the western windbreak today.  The eastern border was more exciting.  Two Common Redpolls and a Field Sparrow were at the southeastern corner.  Four Red Crossbills circled overhead at the northeastern corner.

Continuing south, we wandered along the Phillips County roads in search of Sprague's Pipits; without success.  Then we stopped at several places in Holyoke.  The cemetery was quiet as was the Fishing Pond.  Two female type Purple Finches were found at the City Park!

Dozens of sparrows were found at Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area (Phillips).  Unfortunately, no "Ammodramus" sparrows popped up out of the wild grasses.

We followed Highway 6 through Haxtun back to I76.  Nothing uncommon was found at Haxtun City Park.

I had to be back in Denver tomorrow and did not have time to stop at our usual birding spots.  A quick jog around Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) found a male Red-bellied Woodpecker and not much else.

Birding On The Eastern Plains

November 7, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Sprague's Pipit reports have been scarce this fall.  We hoped to have the first November sighting.  In addition, Common Redpolls have been somewhat common.  A sighting of them would be exciting.  Perhaps a migrating "Ammodramus" sparrow would appear?

An early stop at the Pony Express Wildlife Area found four Common Redpolls in the field between Sedgwick County Road 28 and the parking area.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker worked the trees at along the South Platte River.

A drive around Jumbo Reservoir was superb.  We found a Dunlin along the shore in the southeast corner.  Several Greater White-fronted Geese were among hundreds of geese trying not to be shot by hunters.  At least two Greater Scaup were among the many waterfowl on the lake.

A singing meadowlark sounded quite like an Eastern Meadowlark.  We scoped it for a long time before deciding that it was a Western Meadowlark.  Unfortunately, the yellow on the face extended too far onto the malar area.  Its flanks looked more creamy colored than buffy.  The song however…….sure sounded like an Eastern.

The day was fantastic.  Almost no wind and temperatures in the high 60s.  We hiked from Jumbo Reservoir to Little Jumbo Reservoir to enjoy this fall day.  Our reward was another two Common Redpolls (hills southeast of Little Jumbo).

In the afternoon, we visited two friend's ranches.  Both have had American Woodcocks on their properties in the past.  There were no recent reports however.

Sedgwick Cemetery had few birds and no uncommon ones.  Our birding day ended with a walk along Sedgwick Draw. No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  Many sparrows seen along the Ditch included White-crowned, American Tree, and one Field Sparrow.

Misses: Sprague's Pipits

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Birding Trip Up Interstate 76

November 6, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I took Roger Danka back home to Sedgwick County.  Several birding stops were made along the way.

We did not make any hikes around Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) to see shorebirds or waterfowl.  A quick jog below the dam found a White-throated Sparrow, Brown Creeper, and a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers.  The highlight was a pair of Rusty Blackbirds!

We stopped in Ovid (Sedgwick County) and walked the northern and southern woods.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was in the northern section and a Brown Thrasher in the southern section (near the bridge).

I always enjoy checking out the Ovid Sewage Pond area.  One never knows what might show up; however, there always seems to be plenty of sparrows.  Today there were many White-crowned Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, a couple of Song Sparrows and 2 White-throated Sparrows.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker worked the trees along the River.

We also stopped at the Julesburg Wildlife Area.  No uncommon sparrows were found today.  The highlight was a singing male Northern Cardinal West of the County Road 27 Bridge.  Many times, I find a Northern Cardinal while driving the western side of Ovid.

A check of feeders around town, did not find any Purple Finches.  This town is a good place to look for them.  With the many Common Redpoll sightings this week, the fields north of town and east of Lodgepole Creek at the northern woods maybe a good location to search.

Two Eastern Screech-Owls called on Roger's Ranch (after dusk)!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Successful White-tailed Ptarmigan Search!

November 5, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Jeffery Poulin and I went into the mountains today.

No Barrow's Goldeneyes were at Blue River Water Treatment Plant (only Gadwall & Mallards). However, 8 males and 4 females were at the extreme southeast end of Dillon Lake.

We spent 2 hours on Loveland Pass missing White tailed Ptarmigan.

An hour on Guanella Pass was more satisfying. A pair of Ptarmigan was southeast of the Rosalie and 603trails.

While looking for American Three toed Woodpeckers, two Brown capped Rosy Finches landed in front of us at 0.1 miles east of the closure gate by the old Duck Lake Club (Park County!).

A stop at Lair 'o Bear Park found 3 American Dippers.

There was no seed out at Red Rocks Park. The only birds were 2 Western Scrub Jays (1 hour sit).

Mountain Birding In Jackson, Grand & Routt Counties

November 2, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Roger Danka and I headed up to Cameron Pass and Gould for a couple of days of owling.

We hit a couple of reservoirs on the trip up to Jackson County.  A Common Loon was at North Poudre Reservoir #3 (Larimer County).

While it is not possible to prove the negative-owls have migrated on and departed Pennock Pass, we could not find any Flammulated Owls on Pennock Pass.  Winds were almost still and walking around for five hours was quite pleasant and enjoyable!

We did heard Boreal Owls both east and west of Cameron Pass (within 0.2 miles either side).

November 3, 2012

After staying up most the night, we got a late start (around noon) for some passerine searching in Jackson County.

The White-throated Sparrow was not relocated around the Gould Store (after being found for 10 days).

Only a couple of Gray-crowned Rosy Finches were found at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders.  The usual suspects did appear; Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds, a few Cassin's Finches and a Gray Jay.

A drive down Jackson County Road 20 (south from Gould) found only a few birds.  Highlights were a late Red-naped Sapsucker, an American Three-toed Woodpecker and an American Dipper.

We went into Steamboat Springs (Routt) to look for Sharp-tailed Grouse (without success) and decided on a drive up Buffalo Pass Road.  This afternoon, we found 7 American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  Unfortunately, no White-winged Crossbills could be found.

After dark, we walked south from the Crags Campgrounds back in Jackson County.  Two Boreal Owls responded to our recordings.  Again tonight, winds were surprisingly quiet.  We enjoyed the hike tremendously; the only sounds being the calls of the forest birds.

A jog up Ruby Jewell Road (from Michigan Creek Road) in the Colorado State Forest at 4:00 am did not find any Boreal Owls or Flammulated Owls.

Notable misses were the lack of time to visit Lake Johns and Delaney Buttes Wildlife Areas or to stop along Rabbit Ears Pass.

November 4, 2012

Today we tried to stop and several places that time forced us to bypass yesterday. 

The majority of our late morning and early afternoon was spent at Little Red Park (Routt).  Target bird was a White-winged Crossbill.  Unfortunately, we could not duplicate last week's sightings.

Highlight was 3 or 4 Dusky Grouse in a tree about 0.3 miles after entering the forest northeast of Little Red Park.

Later we hiked around the maintenance shed area on Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand County) looking unsuccessfully for American Three-toed Woodpeckers, White-winged Crossbills or Red Crossbills for that matter.

Our plan was to be at Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer) at dusk to scope for Short-eared Owls.  A stop at the Cobb Section found a Long-eared Owl!  Then after sunset, a Short-eared Owl was observed at the CR 64 section. 

Actually, we had two Short-eared Owls, however prefer to keep exact locations unreported (to prevent the overly disturbing of the owls).  I suggest to those wanting to see a Short-eared Owl to stand at the parking lot along CR 3 (north of CR 64) and scope the hills to the east and west (of course just before or after sunset).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Visits to Morgan and Adams Counties

November 1, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a quick trip to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) this morning.  Winds were less than 5 mph; temperatures reached into the 60s.

We arrived about an hour before sunrise and waited for Short-eared Owls to hunt north of the northwestern Campgrounds.  Unfortunately, none showed this morning.

The resident Eastern Screech-Owl also did not cooperate (no response to our recording).  At least one Long-eared Owl continues around the Campgrounds.  A Great Horned Owl did call from north of the Visitor's Center and west of the Campgrounds. 

Only a few birds were along the western Campgrounds.  The highlights were a Harris's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow around the Pelican Campgrounds.

We spotted a Dunlin from the dam, east of the southern outlet parking area.  Several Bonaparte's Gulls flew over the shrinking lake.

Later in the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I looked for a place to walk and chose the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Winds remained less than 5 mph; temperatures went to the high 70s.

Red winged Blackbirds have found the feeders at the Contact Station. We waited 40 minutes for them to fill up and leave (for ten minutes).

The two Harris's Sparrows, a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos, and one Tree Sparrow quickly came.

Nothing uncommon was on Lake Ladora. Four Cackling Geese were the highlight.

While hundreds of ducks were on Lower Derby Lake.

The ducks on Derby included at least two Greater Scaup, dozens each of Canvasbacks, Redheads, Lesser Scaups, Ring-billed Ducks, etc. 

We enjoyed the walk to the Rod and Gun Club bird blind in spite of few bird sightings.

The sunset was dull as the sun had disappeared into clouds an hour before.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 31, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I was busy doing chores today, however did past through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  I stopped at the bird platform at the Prairie Loop for 20 minutes.

Gulls on the mudflats were mostly Ring-billed Gulls, a dozen California Gulls and 3 or 4 Herring Gulls.

The two Long-billed Dowitchers were joined by 6 additional birds.

The highlight was a pair of Greater Scaup in a raft of American Coots and 4 Redheads.

I stood at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue (Adams), mainly to watch the fabulous sunset.  Colorado does get some superb sunsets in the winter.

No Short-eared Owls flew about at dusk.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Return to Adams County

October 30, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went over to Barr Lake (Adams County) to search for the Black-bellied Plovers reported last Saturday.  Winds were less than 5 mph; temperatures were in the low 60s.

We hiked out to the extreme southwest corner of the shrinking lake and then several miles northeast to the boat ramp (which is quite far from the water now).

No Black-bellied Plovers were found.  We did have an American Golden-Plover in the extreme southwest corner of the lake.

The Harris's Sparrow was again observed in the brush by the old farm equipment behind the Visitor's Center.  Few birds were found at the banding area.

Then we drove over to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The two Harris's Sparrows were quite cooperative and visited below the eastern feeder by the Contact Station (the old Visitor's Center).

We hiked the west and south sides of Lake Ladora.  The Surf Scoter was not found; however, the Swamp Sparrow was relocated in the southeast corner cattails.

After lunch, Bryan and I visited a friend's ranch in Weld County.  Reports of a possible Northern Saw-whet Owl got our attention.  Unfortunately, we could not find the owl in question.

We returned to Denver by way of Bennett.  Neither the resident Long-eared Owl nor the previously reported Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found.  There were plenty of Eurasian Collared-Doves flying around (as if anyone has to hunt for one these days).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cherry Creek Reservoir and DIA Owl Loop

October 29, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) while doing chores this afternoon.  The number of birds around was way down from yesterday.  Strange as the afternoon was much better than yesterday.  Winds were less than 3 mph; temperature was around 60 degrees.

Few of the birds found yesterday were relocated.  The Common Loon and Sabine’s Gull(s) could not be found.  Hundreds of gulls were on the southeast mudflats and I did not take the time to walk over for a good look.

A small wren popped out of the brush just east of the bird platform at the Prairie Loop.  However, I did not get a good look and could not confirm that it was yesterday’s Winter Wren.

Yesterday’s, Long-billed Dowitcher was joined by a second bird.  They were closer today and the light was better.  A Song Sparrow and Virginia Rail walked between the cattails just below the bird platform.

Jerry Petrosky joined me and walked the group camping area.  A Great Horned Owl was northwest of the Campgrounds.  A flock of 9 American Tree Sparrows flew about.

After dark, I stopped along the DIA Owl Loop to listen to birds in the fields and watch the full moon.  No birds crossed the moon during the hour I watched.

Adams to Arapahoe County, a Beautiful Colorado Fall Day

October 28, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I decided to search for the Gyrfalcon that has shown up twice in the past week in the area of the DIA Owl Loop.

Our first stop was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  My photos of the two Harris's Sparrows were not satisfactory and I hoped to take some better ones.  Both Harris's Sparrows were again under the eastern feeder at the Contact Station (old Visitor's Center) when we arrived.

I scoped Lake Ladora looking for a possible Red-necked Grebe reported yesterday.  It was not found; however, the Surf Scoter was in the southern-middle of the lake.  She constantly dove, staying under water 20-40 seconds and coming up for less than a count of 3.  It took a frustrating 45 minutes to identify her.

On the way to the DIA Owl Loop we found 80+ Great-tailed Grackles at Highway 2 (Colorado Blvd) and Hwy 44.  This would be the outside of the northwest corner of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

We drove the DIA Owl Loop for several hours enjoying the warm fall day and sunshine.  No sign of a Gyrfalcon.  Six Red-tailed Hawks were scoped from the location of yesterday's sighting (104th avenue and Tower Road).

Another dozen Red-tailed Hawks, one Rough-legged Hawk, one Ferruginous Hawk and two American Kestrels were found.  The biggest surprise was a Golden Eagle.  The sun shone off the golden head making ID easy.  We would expect Bald Eagles, not Golden Eagles.  However, at least three Golden Eagles have been reported along the DIA Owl Loop in the past ten years.

When we arrived home, my neighbor needed a ride over to Aurora Medical Center.  I got back in the car and drove the 30+ miles over to the hospital.  Being only 8 miles from Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) I of course was "forced" to go over there.

When I arrived at 5:00 pm, a Common Loon was swimming off the Mountain Loop.  Only a few Ring-billed Gulls were on the southwest marina. 

Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls and dozens of California Gulls were standing on the mudflats at the bird observation platform, Prairie Loop.  At least one juvenile Sabine's Gull swam to the northeast (possibly two).

A dark grebe that appeared to be too big for a Horned Grebe or Eared Grebe was too far away for a proper ID.

The only non-Killdeer on the mudflats appeared to be a Long-billed Dowitcher.  By 5:45 pm light was terrible and I would not be surprised if someone called it a Short-billed Dowitcher.

While watching the Dowitcher, a quite small dark wren came out of the thickets west of the Bird Platform.  A Sedge Wren would have been nice; however, it turned out to be a Winter Wren.  No white streaks on a dark brown back, short tail and small bodied.

Conducting a little experiment, I played a Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren and Winter Wren recording.  The bird popped out briefly during the Winter Wren call.

Under a colorful sunset and almost full moon, I walked the group camping area listening for Great Horned Owls.  None called tonight.  Campers claimed they heard one in the southeast corner of the Campgrounds a few nights ago.  I could not find it.