Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grouse Trip Day 7 Sedgwick Back to Denver

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

March 30, 2012

Grouse Trip Day Seven Two Eastern Screech-Owls were found on Roger Danka's Ranch, Sedgwick County. They decided to skip Prewitt Reservoir and its gulls and returned to Denver.

Richard Stevens' email to cobirders:

"After finishing a successful Grouse Trip this morning (which included the Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse in Nebraska), I picked up Rebecca and we headed to one of our favorite restaurants (Morrison Inn, in of course Morrison). We made the side trip over to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties). It took only about 10 minutes to find the two Eastern Phoebes. They were 10 yards downstream of the Plum Creek Delta footbridge. I got photos of both and will shortly put some photos on the CoBus photo library. Having not looked for them last year, it was a new Douglas County bird for us.

Surprising, we walked passed the second bridge over the dry gully and up to the dam without seeing one additional bird. Two hikers suggested that the Lower North Fork fire may have temporarily moved the birds farther east?"

Grouse Trip Day Six Nebraska to Julesburg

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

March 29, 2012

Grouse Trip Day Six started at a private "Plains" Sharp-tailed Grouse lek north of North Platte, Nebraska. Eleven males displayed to the "disappointment" of two females who appeared uninterested.

A search for Eastern Meadowlarks was not successful and they returned to Colorado.

A Long-eared Owl was relocated in the windbreak at Red Lion Wildlife Area, Logan County.

The many gulls flying around Jumbo Reservoir, Logan/Sedgwick Counties included a Lesser Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull. An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to a recording on the north side of Jumbo Reservoir.

No Short-eared Owls flew by the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area at dusk.

Grouse Trip Day 5 Yuma to Nebraska

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

March 28, 2012

Grouse Trip Day Five, the group started at the Yuma County Road 45 Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek. At least a dozen male Greater Prairie-Chickens were found.

The rest of the morning, they searched for the Snowy Owl reported twice in the past week west of Highway 385 and south of Yuma County Road 45. Note: the Snowy Owl was reported two additional days, 3/23 and 3/26. The Snowy Owl continued to move west and south.

A pair of Northern Cardinals and a Harris's Sparrow was seen at a friend's yard in Wray, Yuma County.

Then they headed to North Platte, Nebraska to search for a "mythical lek" where Greater Prairie-Chickens and the Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse can be seen from the same parking lot.

Eventually they found the site. However Sharp-tailed Grouse had not been seen at the site in 3 years.

Local folks told of a Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek on private land and the CoBus group planned for an early visit the next day.

Grouse Trip Day 4, Gunnison to Kansas

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

March 27, 2012

Grouse Trip Day Four, the group watched Gunnison Sage-Grouse at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek, Gunnison County.

They stopped briefly at Monarch Pass, Gunnison County. No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found.

A Curve-billed Thrasher was seen at a friend's yard in Canon City, Fremont County. A quick drive down Swallows Road, west side of Pueblo Reservoir, found a Scaled Quail.

A pair of Mountain Plovers was relocated on the south side of Blue Lake, Bent County. The plovers were along County Road 10.

They did not find the John Martin Reservoir Snowy Owl, Bent County.

Their birding day ended at the eastern Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek outside of Elkhart, Kansas.

Afterwards they drove to Wray, Colorado.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grouse Trip Day 3, Mesa, Delta to Montrose Counties

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

March 26, 2012

Grouse Trip Day Three, the group started by seeing Gambel's Quail at the eastern entrance to the Colorado National Monument, Mesa County. They skipped driving the 20+ mile drive through the monument as it is early for migrating birds. Instead they entered from the western entrance and found Pinyon Jays at the Campgrounds.

Afterwards they drove up Mesa County Road 4. Two Sage Sparrows were found approximately 7.6 miles north of County Road S. Their first Turkey Vulture of 2012 was also seen.

They found a Long-eared Owl at an undisclosed location in Mesa County. Possible nesting could be occurring. A Western Screech-Owl was found at a private yard.

Black Phoebes were missed at Escalante Canyon, Delta County. They also missed Lewis's Woodpeckers at Fruitgrower's Reservoir, Delta County.

Finally, a target bird was found when a Dusky Grouse was on the south rim drive at Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, Montrose County. The male grouse was displaying at sunset just west of the entrance station.

Grouse Trip Day 2, Routt to Mesa Counties

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

March 25, 2012

The CoBus Grouse Trip continued as they visited the 80 Route Leks, Routt County before sunrise. As the sun came up, a Dusky Grouse boomed at the 2nd cattle guard up the road. A Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek can be seen from the cattle guard. Greater Sage-Grouse can be heard, but were not seen.

The road still has snowdrifts. A 6-mile hike is required to visit the other Sharp-tailed and Greater Sage-Grouse Leks.

At sunrise, the group drove to the 20 Road Leks. Seven Sharp-tailed Grouse were seen or heard. No Greater Sage-Grouse were heard this year.

No Great-tailed Grackles were found at the Rifle Rest Stop, Garfield County.

They stopped at Cameo a.k.a. Coal Canyon. A Chukar was found along the creek over the northern ridge from the pipe gate parking lot.

The group then drove up the Grand Mesa, Mesa County. A Northern Goshawk and American Three-toed Woodpecker were found south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

After dark, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was found at the Powderhorn Ski Area. Three Boreal Owls called at the pullovers south of the Campgrounds. They saw one of the Boreal Owls at the pullover with the street sign.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Grouse Trip Started

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

March 24, 2012

Another Statewide Grouse Trip sponsored by the Colorado Birding Society started today. Four birders headed into the mountains late this morning.

Weather was superb. Mild winds, almost record breaking high temperatures spread across the mountains.

Their first stop was Loveland Pass, Clear Creek County. While scoping the hillside east of highway 6 from the first pullover on the west side of the Highway, they noticed a White-tailed Ptarmigan walking across the hill to the north.

A few Brown-capped Rosy Finches and Gray-crowned Rosy Finches were found in Silverthorne. One pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant, Summit County.

American Three-toed Woodpeckers were missed on Rabbit Ears Pass, Grand County.

Nine Greater Sage-Grouse were seen at the Jackson County Road 26 leks.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Five Owl Day!!!

March 21, 2012

Richard Stevens:

When I woke up at 4:00 am, there was an email by Phil Buchhotz of a Snowy Owl sighting on a telephone pole at Highway 52 and Weld County Road 77 (at 6:30 pm the previous evening). I woke up Rebecca and we headed that way at sunrise.

We scoped dozens of white bags (drat King Soopers for their white grocery bags). We continued east from the above intersection and I noticed a white spot on a fence post at 0.9 miles east of Hwy 52 & CR 77. Through my binoculars, I could see that it was clearly a Snowy Owl.

We pulled over and set up our scopes. Then watched what seemed to be an adult male Snowy Owl for the next 30 minutes. At first, it appeared to watch us also. Then it turned its back on us and continued its hunt for food.

Afterwards, we passed Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) and of course, we stopped. I limped down from the parking area (my spider bitten leg is still quite sore).

Each pond looked to have a different mix of ducks. Except for rare ducks, most of the common ones were represented. Although, I only found one male Northern Pintail Duck.

An adult Bald Eagle flew overhead and was harassed by a Red-tailed Hawk. A pair of Blue Jays was in the windbreak along Pond 6.

Eventually, I found 4 Long-eared Owls. One was in a nest. A Great Horned Owl was in a nest on the east side of Pond 7. It was a good morning (now three owl species!).

After lunch, Rebecca and I drove through the town of Barr. The fifty+ Great-tailed Grackles are still at the south end of the main road into town.

We did a little shopping and waited until the last hour before sunset. Then drove over to the DIA Owl Loop. The prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue was scoped for about 20 minutes. Finally, we found our first Burrowing Owl of 2012! It was 20-30 yards west of the closest fence to the road.

Shortly after sunset, Rebecca pointed out a Short-eared Owl about 100 yards east of the same prairie dog village (making it a five owl day!).

During the day, the raptor count included species: Red-tailed Hawks, one Rough-legged Hawk (I76 service road, east of Barr Lake), Ferruginous Hawk (112th avenue), American Kestrels and a Prairie Falcon (96th avenue).

Sunset ended a fantastic birding day!

P.S. the Snowy Owl was seen throughout the day at least until 2:30 pm.

FOS Williamson's Sapsucker, Genesee Mountain Park

March 20, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Merlynn Brown answered the question "is it too early to find Williamson's Sapsuckers in Colorado" when she found a male at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) yesterday. Rebecca Kosten, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and I decided to give Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) at try.

With 10 minutes of getting out of our car at the Genesee Mountain Park group picnic area, Rebecca spotted a male Williamson's Sapsucker climbing up one of the Ponderosa Pine trees!

The park was quite birdy today. Other birds included Red Crossbills, 3 species of Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, and Pine Siskins.

Late in the afternoon, Rebecca and I sat at the Star K Ranch Open Space and watched a feeder that I had carried in the trunk. Shortly before sunset, the Harris's Sparrow made an appearance.

No Burrowing Owls or Short-eared Owls showed along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

First Grouse Trip of 2012 (Part 2)

March 18, 2012

Richard Stevens (transcribed telephone calls)

Bryan Ehlmann took over my trip when I was bitten by a Recluse Spider last week.

Bryan Ehlmann and all found six+ Greater Prairie-Chickens at the Yuma County Road 45 Leks this morning.

Weather was crazy. Temperatures in the 50s, winds were 30 mph with gusts to 62 mph. Eventually, grass fires along Highway 36, shut down most of that highway. This included one of the "new" Greater Prairie-Chicken leks that Bryan and I checked out last week.

A Snowy Owl report came in last night and I forwarded it to Bryan. They changed plans and spent most of the morning and early afternoon searching for the owl. It had been seen for several days, south of CR 45 and west of Highway 385.

Finally, not having any success in locating the owl, they headed north into Phillips and Sedgwick Counties. Not much was found at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (continued strong winds did not aid in their searches).

They waited at the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) for Short-eared Owls. None showed up this night.

After dark, they were led to a pair of Eastern Screech-Owls at Roger Danka's ranch where they spent the night.

March 19, 2012

A stop at Jumbo Reservoir did not find any unusual gulls or birds for that matter. They continued west in search of longspurs and possible Mountain Plovers (although excessively early for the plovers).

A Long-eared Owl was one of the few birds found at Crow Valley Campground (Weld County). They did relocate the female Red-bellied Woodpecker that has been around since at least October 21.

McCown's Longspurs were found along Weld County Road 96 (north of Crow Valley Campground). They had to drive up to Highway 85 and Weld County Road 114 to find a Chestnut-collared Longspur (in field at southeast corner of intersection).

A detour to a friend's ranch added a Northern Saw-whet Owl to their trip list. Then they headed south back toward Denver. At sunset, two Short-eared Owls were observed flying over the cattails at the south end of Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld County Road 48).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Drive Around Denver

March 17, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I stopped by Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area (Adams County). The American Dipper was along Clear Creek, just east of Lowell Blvd.

Then Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). The many gulls were common, many Ring-billed, dozens of California and a few Herring Gulls still around.

NOTE: After looking over my photos, I noticed a 1st year Thayer's Gull among the gulls!

We stopped at Star K Ranch (Adams) the last hour before sunset. Thought the Harris's Sparrow was gone, but we were happy to watch the mule deer. About 7:00 pm, a couple of Black-capped Chickadees visited the feeders (someone had forgotten to take them down). This brought a female Red-winged Blackbird and surprise, the Harris's Sparrow!

No Short-eared Owls or Burrowing Owls seen after sunset along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

First Full Grouse Trip of 2012

First Full Grouse Trip of 2012 (March 13-19)

Transcribed phone calls (Richard Stevens):

Because of an injury, Bryan Ehlmann took over my grouse trip. Seeing the results, I do not believe the four birders are disappointed!

March 13th
Their trip started by finding Rosy Finches, Clark's Nutcrackers, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks and a few additional mountain species in Summit County.

Unfortunately, they missed White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).

Bryan Ehlmann and all relocated ROSY FINCHES (Ehlmann, 12/6) and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Dodson, 2/1) at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. Their birding day ended by relocating GREATER SAGE GROUSE (Stevens, 2/29) up County Road 26.

March 14th
The grouse trip continued before sunrise this morning at the 20 Mile Leks south of Hayden. Shortly AFTER sunrise, three Sharp-tailed Grouse were found displaying on the west side of 27 Road (Still strange that the locals call the road 20 Road?).

They continued west and drove to Oxbow State Trust Lands (Moffat). The STL is closed until August 15th; however, the area can be scoped from the parking area. A Sage Sparrow popped out of the sagebrush for them. A flock of 6-8 Pinyon Jays flew around the Junipers on the north side of the highway.

On the way back to Craig, a Ferruginous Hawk flew across the highway.

No Chukar were found at Coal Canyon (Cameo, Mesa County).

They had better luck on the Grand Mesa (Mesa). While they could not find an American Three-toed Woodpecker at the Powderhorn Ski Area, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was a great consolation prize!

Later, they heard 3 Boreal Owls along Highway 65 (Grand Mesa Highway) at pullovers just south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

March 15th
The group drove through the Colorado National Monument (Mesa) this morning. Driving from the southern (eastern) entrance to the northern (western) entrance, keeps the sun at ones back during the drive.

Gambel's Quail were found around the homes just outside of the eastern entrance. Few birds were found during the drive through the Colorado National Monument (as expected this early in the season).

They did find Juniper Titmice and a few Pinyon Jays at the Campgrounds.

Bryan and all enjoyed much better fortunate than I on a drive through Escalante Canyon (Delta). I have missed Chukar on my last 9 days of searches (about 45 hours duration). Congratulations guys!

They found a Chukar walking on the north side of the Escalante Canyon Road between the old goat farm and the first cattle guard to the west!

Later, they found a Black Phoebe along Escalante Creek, east of Sentinel Rock.

They stopped at Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta) and saw few birds. Then they found two Lewis' Woodpeckers west of the Horn residence below Fruitgrower's Reservoir in Delta County.

Thirty minutes before sunset they saw a Dusky Grouse along the south rim drive at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Montrose County. Grouse was just west of the campground entrance road.

The south rim drive cannot be driven to its west terminal because of snow (best place to look for Pygmy owls).

March 16th
Bryan Ehlmann and all found several Gunnison Sage-Grouse at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek outside of Gunnison (Gunnison County).

They stopped and looked for the American Three-toed Woodpeckers at the Monarch Pass Rest Stop; without success.

A drive along Swallows Road west of Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo County) found Scaled Quail and a Curve-billed Thrasher.

Perhaps the bird of the trip was found when they drove the north side of John Martin Reservoir (Bent County). A birder gave them directions to a Snowy Owl that had been around for several days!

At dusk, they heard two Western Screech-Owls at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca County). They continued to Elkhart, Kansas.

March 17th
Ehlmann and all saw 6+ Lesser Prairie-Chickens at the Elkhart Lek and then returned to Colorado.

Returning by way of Baca County Road G was a good choice. They found Vesper Sparrows across from the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek road. A Cassin's Sparrow was found as they walked south along the first dirt tracks east of the same entrance. A Burrowing Owl had been seen farther east.

At Baca County Road G and 36, they got their first look at Colorado's State Bird. A male Lark Bunting flew around the farm here.

They detoured back to Cottonwood Canyon where Rufous-crowned Sparrows, an Eastern Phoebe, Lewis's Woodpecker, Canyon Towhees, Chihuahuan Ravens and Mountain Bluebirds were added to their trip list.

Two Buttes Reservoir had only a few birds. Most notable was a Barn Owl and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

After dark, they relocated an Eastern Screech-Owl below the Bonny Reservoir dam (Yuma County).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Return to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

March 12, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and I sought a place for an afternoon walk. We again chose Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County). The area will be closing soon to provide undisturbed habitat for nesting birds. Our hike was along the north side windbreak between Ponds 5 and 8.

Many American Robins still roam the windbreak, especially the Russian Olive trees. A Great Horned Owl perched in one of the taller cottonwoods. The two Long-eared Owls were relocated. Dark-eyed Juncos were second in numbers to the American Robins. Only two Horned Larks were observed.

It was a pleasant walk and end to a mild winter day! No Short-eared Owls appeared at dusk.

Two Days On The Eastern Colorado Plains

March 10-11, 2012

Richard Stevens:

We basked in two days excellent birding and weather on the eastern plains. A friend had informed me last year about five Greater Prairie-Chicken leks in Yuma County. We finally had the opportunity to check the directions out.

All five leks were occupied during the two mornings and evening of our explorations!

A sixth lek has public access along CR 45 (listed on the CoBus website:
Note as a hint for seeing the Greater Prairie-Chickens: early in the season, they sometimes do not appear/display until after sunrise. I have experience birders leaving before the birds have shown up to dance. Especially on cold, foggy mornings, birders should have some patience. Arriving late, may not mean you have missed the birds.

Between morning and evening visits to leks, we stopped at several friends' yards in Wray.

Northern Cardinals are doing well (for Colorado) in Wray. Over the two days, we watched 6 Northern Cardinals (4 males, 2 females) that were definitely different birds. We suspect that another 2 males and a female or more were missed.

One friend has an eastern Fox Sparrow visiting her yard since late last year.

Striking out on our own, we found 4 Common Redpolls at the east end of Wray. Unfortunately, they were not there the next morning (therefore, not reported to the RBA).

We passed by Bonny Reservoir (not a State Park anymore) in Yuma County. Half a day there added some nice birds to our trip list.

While checking up on for Long-eared Owls on the south side, we found a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Eastern Bluebirds were in the field along the Republican River below the Bonny dam. While a walk along Yuma County Road 4, east of CR LL.5 found a Harris's Sparrow (just east of the old restroom/camping area south of the road).

The windbreak south of Hale has been hit hard by weather the past few years. The cover does not seem thick enough as a choice for Long-eared Owls to roost or nest. A quick walk through did not find any owls.

The highlight for all was a young male Purple Finch in the trees around the buildings below the dam. It eventually flew to both the north and sides of CR 2!

Hale Ponds was quite birdy. A wren (unknown species) flew along the Republican River (north of the most northeastern pond). Regrettably, none of us captured enough of a look to indicate whether it was a Winter Wren or House Wren (although, we suspected a Winter Wren).

A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was in the taller cottonwoods west of the eastern line of ponds. A Northern Bobwhite was also in this area. Perhaps they are making a comeback or dog trainers have just lost a few? A flock of 7 Eastern Bluebirds flew along the Republican River as it flowed into Kansas.

After dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl called for us (north of Hale Ponds). We walked along CR 3 from highway 385, east of a mile. Hoping for a Greater Prairie-Chicken (none) another Eastern Screech-Owl was heard south of Yuma CR 3.

On the trip home, I talked everyone into detouring to Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) hoping to hear a Long-eared Owl. None found, however a calling Eastern Screech-Owl was a nice consolation. Thanks to all, I know they were quite tired!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Search for Flammulated Owls

March 8-9, 2012

Richard Stevens:

It was a long two days. Our estimated 5 mile hike (aided at times with snowshoes) turned out to be almost 8 miles one way. Cross-country skis make the trip faster and easier; snowshoes are more comfortable to carry over bare ground and rocks.

First, we stopped at the Colorado State Forest. A lone moose walked around the west side of the building. It was quite a massive animal! Forty Rosy Finches consisted of Brown-capped and Gray-crowned. We cannot remember a Black Rosy Finch here in our last three visits. The White-throated Sparrow also made an appearance.

Our goal was get to the top of Pennock Pass (Larimer County) and try for a new early date for Flammulated Owl sightings. I thought snowshoeing a short 2.3 miles up Guanella Pass last year was to be a piece of cake. Which it was anything but. This hike was a doozie (for lack of a better word that I want to put in print).

We each carried packs around 55 pounds. Every time I make such a trip I try on reduce the amount of weight. Most times the pack still ends up weighting 50-55 pounds. Why is that? Surprising or not, water is one of the heavier things carried. Our tent is one of the lightest made. Sleeping bags ditto.

Both of us also carried each a "listening station". A dual playing/recording box with prerecorded CD disk(s) of different owl species (depending upon the search area and habitat). The two hour disks can be set to play constantly, however, large blank areas mean the owls are not constantly bombarded by calling and noise. The second disk is recording forest sounds. Software allows the two disks to be compared (since the recording disk is picking up the playing disk) and any matching sounds are eliminated from the final analysis by the software. This greatly shortens the time required to examine the disks. We are working on histograms of the owl calls, which could then be matched to the recording (therefore, not requiring anyone to listen to the recordings at all).

After setting up camp at the top of Pennock Pass (now signed for the last year or two), we hiked several miles along the road either side of the Summit. We detected no owls. Perhaps something will show up when we have time to study the recordings.

We explored south into the forest along a fire road until an hour before sunrise and ended our search. We had given our quest perhaps a 10 percent change of success; it was not to be.

Our plan to stay at Wellington Wildlife Area until dusk and the Short-eared Owls come out was altered because of our exhaustion. Eastern Plains and Greater Prairie-Chicken hunt for Saturday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Return to 80 Route & Trip to Buffalo Pass

March 7, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Because we missed Dusky Grouse up 80 Route yesterday, we returned this morning (again a couple of mile hike) and were rewarded with a male Dusky Grouse sighting near the 2nd cattle guard up the road.

Northern Saw-whet Owl recordings were played on our hike up the road; without receiving any responses.

Our "adventure" for today was to reach the top of Buffalo Pass (Routt County). Snowmobiles were used to get us up there. We stopped several times and snowshoed into the woods in search of American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Our final Three-toed Woodpecker count was only three. We know dozens are up there. They probably are not very active in the cold of winter.

The view by the way is spectacular!

We stopped by the Colorado State Forest late in the afternoon. Fifty Rosy Finches (no Black) and the White-throated Sparrow were observed.

Afterwards, we snowshoed into the Crags Campgrounds. At least one Boreal Owl called around the Campgrounds. We continued up the fire road south of the Campgrounds (for about 2 miles). At least two additional Boreal Owls were heard. Our return trip was in the dark. I have made this hike many times; it is not recommended by anyone unfamiliar with the area.

80 Route Leks, A long hike

March 6, 2012

Our adventure this morning had a time limit. We hiked up 80 Route to Jimmy Dunn Gulch State Trust Lands. Note this area is State Trust Lands which are different from Wildlife Areas (makes it a little more difficult to find information on it).

We wanted to see if grouse were displaying along the 80 route yet. Because we wanted to catch any birds while still on the lek, we had to get to the leks before an hour or so after sunrise.

Our plan was to hike past Jimmy Dunn Gulch, wait until civil twilight and then return to the Dusky Grouse displaying site (which would mean that it would be too late to see them).

Half a dozen Sharp-tailed Grouse were running around Jimmy Dunn Gulch! Most a hundred yards up from the entrance.

Later we found four Greater Sage-Grouse at their lek south of Jimmy Dunn.

As predicted, the Dusky Grouse were not near their usual place (2nd cattle guard up 80 Route).

Note: Vehicle access was only to the first hill up 80 Route Road. In all, we "hiked" 10 miles round trip.

The rest of the day was spent exploring Routt County. We search unsuccessfully for Rosy Finches at ranches where they had been reported in past years.

We saw Sharp-tailed Grouse tracks at several locations, however no birds.

After dark, we searched "historical locations" for Boreal Owls near Steamboat, without success.

Grouse in Moffat County

March 5, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Early this morning we drove Moffat County Road 3 (toward the Greater Sage-Grouse Timberlake Leks). Our usual plan is to drive west to the cattle guard (in the dark) and then return east to the lek just before sunrise.

As has occurred on many of my previous visits, we found Greater Sage-Grouse before reaching the cattle guard. Several birds were seen crossing the road. Later half a dozen more were observed walking between the sagebrush.

Finally, we scoped the lek (which is quite far north of CR 3). Half a dozen Greater Sage-Grouse walked around. Several displayed briefly.

After a late breakfast in Craig, we drove west to Oxbow Wildlife Area. Several hours were spent hiking the area in search of Sage Sparrows. None was found. Perhaps they have not reached this far north yet (they were reported 102 miles south last week). A small flock of 6-7 Pinyon Jays were a consolation prize.

We returned to Craig and walked around Loudy Simpson Park (Moffat). Nothing uncommon was found. A drive around Craig did not find any Waxwings around the usual crabapple trees.

Another Grouse Trip Turned Back

March 4, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started out on our first full grouse trip of 2012. Well, it was our second attempt, which would also eventually be turned back because of snowstorms.

Grand Mesa (Highway 65) is closed due to snow. I assume just south of Powderhorn Ski Area (we could not find additional details). Therefore, there was no reason for us to continue with the

Loveland Pass is along the route, so of course we had to make a brief stop. Fortune shined! We found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan below one of the evergreens east of highway 9, across from the first pullover west of the highway and south of the Summit. Where were these birds yesterday?

We searched for American Three-toed Woodpeckers along the route through North Park. No Three-toed Woodpeckers or White-winged Crossbills were found on Rabbit Ears Pass today.

After sunset, we watched six Greater Sage-Grouse at the Jackson County 26 Road leks.

After dark, we walked Cameron Pass (about a mile both east and west). Only one Boreal Owl called this night.

Yet Another White-tailed Ptarmigan Search

March 3, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I lead a group back to Loveland Pass hopefully to find White-tailed Ptarmigan.

On the way, a brief stop at Star K Ranch Open Space found the Harris's Sparrow with many House Sparrows below the feeder hooks (no feeders, they take them down at night). We spread out some seed and continued our trip.

We could not find any Ptarmigan during a 3 hour search. Saturday and Sundays are not good days to search. Too many skiers go up there to avoid the lift ticket prices. My incentive of $20 and a lift from the bottom to the top of Loveland Pass did not prove effective today (sometimes it works, at least 4 times)!

We drove into Dillon for lunch. The Barrow's Goldeneyes continue at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant. After visiting a few feeders, we returned to Denver.

When I arrive home, Rebecca had received a call about an injured swan at the lake near the Mile High Church in Littleton. We had just enough light to get there before dark. The "swan" turned out to be plastic.

A woman had been watching it for several days and thinking it was injured. When called back on March 7, she said that it had sunk.

A Trip Around Adams Cty, Detour to Douglas Cty

March 2, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went out in the fog and snow early this morning and drove Harvest Road. The darker Snowy Owl was on the fence north of 14141 Harvest Road. That is where we left it.

We continued south to Parker in search of the Barrow's Goldeneyes reported earlier. None was at the Equestrian Pond. The pair reported by Jerry Petrosky at the 20 Mile Pond was still there!

Our route home took us by the Platte River Birding Area (at 88th avenue & Colorado Blvd). So of course we stopped and hiked down to highway 224 (west side south and returned along the east side).

No Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the river today. Quite a few species of ducks however. Just about all the common ducks can be seen and photographed. The ducks get use to people along the bike path and allow close approach. Ducks included Northern Pintail Ducks (for those looking for them, Peter?).

On the return trip, we found a male Barrow's Goldeneye on Tani Reservoir. About 20 percent of the lake cannot be seen from the west side (due to high banks). The female could also have been out there.

Adams County Fairgrounds was also passed. While using the "facilities" at the Elena Ventura Open Space (south end of fairgrounds), I photographed a male Great-tailed Grackle. He called constantly to the female on the other side of the small pond there.

When we passed the town of Barr, we drove to the south end. Sixty plus Great-tailed Grackles continue in the yard just north of Barr Lake. The landowner said he would be happy if we took the grackles with us. Their noisy calls are tremendous (especially to live under the trees).

The Barn Owl continues at Barr Lake State Park. I mention, but hope no one will disturb it.

A Short Two Day Grouse Trip

Richard Stevens:

February 29, 2021

Frank and Ann Oliver, Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County) today. The pass had been closed for the last 5 days because of snow and blowing snow.

After a 3 hour search, we found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan below the eastern side of the summit. Look around the ragged rocks several 100 meters below the summit.

Three species of Rosy Finches and several other mountain species were found in Silverthorne. A dozen Barrow's Goldeneyes remain at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

Our birding day ended on Jackson County Road 26. The road was blocked by snow and mud and as a result, we had to walk up it. The task was worthwhile as we found 4 Greater Sage-Grouse. They were not displaying; at least we found them. Our shoes were thick with mud by the time we returned to our vehicle.

March 1, 2012

Our troupe found Rosy Finches (no Blacks) and the White-throated Sparrow at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center this morning.

We drove through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (what parts could be traveled). Hawks included Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Rough-legged Hawks, and 5 Golden Eagles. Unfortunately, no Gyrfalcons were sighted.

Many Greater Sage-Grouse tracks were found, unfortunately no birds.

A pair of moose delighted our guests.

After dark, we heard and finally got to see a Boreal Owl near Cameron Pass.