Saturday, June 30, 2012

Birding In Douglas County

June 29, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Today Rebecca Kosten and I tried to find the Lewis's Woodpeckers near Louviers for Gregg Jones and Melissa Carter.  We did not succeed.

Since Dupont Open Space was not far away, we went there and scoped the woods for Yellow-billed Cuckoos.  None was seen or heard (no response to our recordings).

A couple of Cedar Waxwings, half a dozen Pine Siskins and many Robins were at the Sedalia Cemetery.

We returned to Denver by way of Lake Gulch and Castlewood Canyon Roads.  At least five male and a female Bobolink remain at the Winkler Ranch fields (about 200 yards south of the entrance).

A Cordilleran Flycatcher and 2 Spotted Towhees were on the hillside across the road from the Bobolink field.

Mountain Bluebirds, several Western Bluebirds and many Tree Swallows are still using the nesting boxes.

Inside Castlewood Canyon State Park, we decided to hike the old Cherry Creek dam trail.  A singing Least Flycatcher was about 300 yards downstream (north) of the broken down dam.

Other birds encountered included Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's Warblers, Spotted Towhees, White-crowned Sparrows, and a Virginia's Warbler!

We stopped briefly at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to add a Black-chinned Hummingbird to our day list.

A Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

June 28, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten, Gregg Jones, Melissa Carter and I headed to Rocky Mountain National Park (Larimer County).  Cooler temperatures and some mountain birds were the goal.

We hiked north along the trail at Medicine Bow Curve.  White-tailed Ptarmigan were missed as we walked to the end of the trail (about 0.5 miles before the drop-off).  On the return to our car, we dropped down about 20 yards and walked south.

This time we found 2 Ptarmigan near the "wet area" about 0.2 miles from the pullover.  White-crowned Sparrows and 2 "Timberline" Brewer's Sparrows sang from the short willows.

We scoped the snow banks below the Alpine Visitor's Center; no Rosy Finches.  The snow banks at the Lava Cliff pullover were a successful stop.  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches were observed picking "food" off the snow banks below the pullover.

We climbed to the top of the "hill" at Rock Cut Trail.  No additional Ptarmigan were found.  Several Horned Larks flew about the rocks.

A hike up the Bear Lake trail added a drumming American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list!  We hoped to find a Gray Jay but did not have luck on that one.  Historically, they held around the Bear Lake parking area (not reported for a couple of years now).

Clark's Nutcrackers were easy to see at the Rainbow Curve pullover.

Endovalley Picnic area is always worth a stop.  Here we found Red-naped Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Green-tailed Towhee, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Pine Siskin and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

No additional Three-toed Woodpeckers were found (they have nested along the trail that heads west from the west end of the picnic area.

No Black Swifts appeared at the Alluvial Fan area.  We also missed them at Copeland Lake (Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park).  The Wild Basin Area did have a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers and another Red-naped Sapsucker.

We drove about a mile into the area and checked the snags for additional Three-toed Woodpeckers (none was found).  We were able to get photos of an Olive-sided Flycatcher and several Warbling Vireos.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

June 27, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures rose again today back to around 100 degrees.  Birds and we did not move around much.  Rebecca and I drove around the DIA Owl Loop an hour before sunset.  Burrowing Owls were at the usual stops. 

On the way to dinner, we again drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Black-chinned Hummingbird(s) still east of the ranger's office.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Another Drive in the Cool Afternoon

June 27, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Finally a cooler day (temperatures only around 92 degrees however overcast skies!).  Unfortunately, I worked most of the day getting our new computers up to date and working.  Thousands of files to transfer from our old XP computers (which when turned on, crashed everytime after 10-15 minutes).

The last couple of hours of daylight, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I drove around southeastern Weld County.  We stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  Only the southern ponds are open (Northern Ponds open after July 15, nesting sites for many birds).

Mosquitoes were not too bad as the 18-25 mph winds kept them down in the weeds.  Many Western Kingbirds, a pair of Eastern Kingbirds, and a few House Wrens were moving around.  No warblers were found.

We stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on our way to dinner.  At least one Black-chinned Hummingbird is still flying around east of the Ranger's Office.  Not much else has seen anywhere else.  American White Pelicans and Ring-billed Gulls were hunkered down on the eastern sand spit.  One Double-crested Cormorant on the southwest marina logs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Catching Up on the Blog; Drive in Cool Evening Air

I was aware that it had been awhile since I updated the CoBus blog.  However, not that it had been three weeks! Our two computers running on Windows XP both died in the same week.  We have purchased new computers using Windows 7 Pro.  It has taken a week to add all the files on to the new computer.

I kept notes on our birding travels, however was too tired to sit any longer in front of the computer.  Things are caught up now.  I hope that I can keep the blog current also!

June 26, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Again, we waited until almost dusk to venture out in the heat (four days in a row of 100+ temperatures). 

Burrowing Owls came out at dusk along the DIA Owl Loop.  No Short-eared Owls were found.

Nothing uncommon was observed off the Barr Lake boat ramp.

DIA Owl Loop In Cool Evening

June 25, 2012

Richard Stevens:

After dinner, Rebecca and I drove around in the cooler temperatures (if you consider 95 degrees "cooler" at 8:00 pm).

The male Black-chinned Hummingbird is still looking around southeast of the ranger's office at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

We visited the many prairie dog towns along the DIA Owl Loop and found numerous owls at each location (see CoBus website for directions:

Search for Owls on Northern Plains

June 24, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I took the Zimmermans up to the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld County).  Strictly speaking, we did not stay on the Pawnee National Grasslands but wandered north and east also.

We only had to walk about 200 yards before finding a pair of Chestnut-collared Longspurs on the field in the southeast corner of Highway 85 and Weld County Road 114.  It was nice to succeed in only 15 minutes (having spent hours on past searches).

Norma's Grove (east of CR 100 & 57) was quiet.  A hot looking Western Kingbird was the only bird moving about.  We found our trip Burrowing Owl at CR 90 & 51.

We checked the several plover nesting areas I discovered this spring.  An adult and one young Mountain Plover were at one of the locations.  McCown's Longspurs and Lark Buntings were just about everywhere.

Another adult and young Mountain Plover were found near CR 94 and 63.  Another Mountain Plover was found at Highway 14 & CR 51.

Crow Valley Campground had a few interesting birds.  We found an Ash-throated Flycatcher at the southwest corner.  An American Redstart was in the Russian Olive trees east of the group picnic area.  A Northern Mockingbird was on the fence by the ball field.

Unfortunately, no owls were found at the Campgrounds, Briggsdale Cemetery or the Washington Work Center.

We headed to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) by way of Weld CR 105.  Just before entering Morgan County (where WCR 105 turns into MCR 4), a flock of longspurs and Horned Larks stopped us.  At least a dozen McCown's Longspurs and at least one Chestnut-collared Longspur were among the flock of 200+ birds.

A Sage Thrasher stood on a post at the northeast corner of Jackson Reservoir (CR 4 & CCCC).  Many mosquitoes and few birds influenced our stop at the Jackson Reservoir Wildlife Area to be quite brief!

We continued to Fort Morgan for lunch (determined to return to Jackson Reservoir when it was cooler later in the afternoon).

After lunch, we stopped at Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan).  We relocated a male Red-bellied Woodpecker that is resident at the Wildlife Area (missed the female).  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl could not be lured into coming out in the heat.

We walked the eastern end of Fort Morgan Ponds.  An American Woodcock was a long shot (and not found).  We did entice a Yellow-billed Cuckoo to respond to our recording.

At dusk, we were back at Jackson Reservoir.  One of the Long-eared Owls was still near a nest I found several months ago.  I do not believe that they successfully nested (I passed by enough times that if they had succeeded, I would have observed eggs or young birds; neither happened).

After civil twilight, an Eastern Screech-Owl called along the western shore.  A Great Horned Owl called south of the Visitor's Center and west of the Campgrounds main road.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Yet Another Trip to Mt Evans

June 23, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I accompanied Jack and Megan Zimmerman into the foothills today.  Our first stop was Summit Lake at Mt Evans (Clear Creek County).  Within an hour wait, two Brown-capped Rosy Finches were observed flying around the rocks at the northwest corner of the lake.

We hiked the field east of the main road and Summit Lake entrance for about 2 hours.  No Ptarmigan were found.  Getting desperate, we hiked the hillside at the southeast corner of Summit Lake.  Here we enjoyed success as John found a lone White-tailed Ptarmigan wandering around.

We did the tourist thing and drove to the top of the mountain.  Marmots and Pica rambled along the road.  No Ptarmigan were found.  A few Horned Larks, American Crows and Common Ravens were the only birds seen.

Our trip continued through Evergreen to Lair 'O Bear Park.  An American Dipper was observed east of the observation platform (south of the parking area).

We continued to Pine Valley Ranch Park hoping to find a Northern Pygmy-Owl or American Three-toed Woodpecker.

No owls, an American Three-toed Woodpecker was found drumming along the Strawberry Jack Trail at 30 yards southeast of the Buck Gulch Trail.

We hung around until dusk; no Northern Pygmy-Owls called.

Leisure Walk Around Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 22, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I took a leisurely walk around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams). 

A Virginia Rail answered our recording played at the southwest corner of Lake Ladora.  A few Song Sparrows sang from the cattails.  A Burrowing Owl was building a nest in a nearby cottonwood tree (is it getting late for that? we wondered).

Several Western Kingbirds were spotted along the south side of the lake.  A Cassin's Kingbird surprised us when he was fly catching at the southeast corner of the lake (D Street & Sixth Avenue).

Few additional species were observed during our 3 hour hike.  Nothing uncommon crossed our path.

Searching for Yellow-billed Cuckoos

June 21, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I tried to walk as much of Cherry Creek as we could without trespassing on private lands from Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  Our goal was to find Yellow-billed Cuckoos. 

Historically, Yellow-billed Cuckoos have used the taller, older cottonwoods for nesting sites.  Unfortunately, increased human growth and activity in the area has caused lost of habitat (due to cutting of trees and noise levels).

No Yellow-billed Cuckoos were found as we probably covered 80 percent of the riparian areas (with permission of several landowners and public accessed open space).

We were able to see that 6+ Bobolink still are in the fields south of the Winkler Ranch entrance (on the ranch property).  As a bonus, we heard a Dickcissel several hundred yards south of the same entrance.

Inside the park, we found many Spotted Towhees, Pine Siskins, several Evening Grosbeaks, a Gray Catbird and a dozen+ Turkey Vultures.  No Black Vultures or Ovenbirds which would have been a nice surprise (both seen in the past).

Chipping Sparrows appeared in higher numbers than expected.  Could this be post-breeding migration already?  On the other hand, could they have been escaping from the several wildfires currently in Colorado?

In the afternoon, we detoured over to Tomichi Gulch (site of last year's Eastern Towhee).  A few Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, Spotted Towhees, White-breasted Nuthatches, 4 Pygmy Nuthatches and one Red-breasted Nuthatch were all seen there.

After dark, we returned to Castlewood Canyon State Park.  The Northern Saw-whet Owl could not be enticed into calling tonight.  We eventually did hear one at a friend's yard above the park.

Owling in Summit and Park Counties

June 17-19, 2012

Richard Stevens:

June 17

After a few hours sleep, Bryan Ehlmann and I headed south to Summit County.  Our goal was to go owling around the town of Montezuma at dusk.

We drove through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson).  Nothing uncommon caught our eyes.  We did see a Peregrine Falcon zoom quickly through the area.  Nothing uncommon bird-wise was around the Visitor's Center/Ranger's Office.  Several Moose wandered along the streams.

The drive south along Highway 125 is amazing for the multitude of trees killed by the Mountain Beetle.  If this area is hit by lightning (or a man made fire) thousands of acres will go up in smoke.

No Barrow's Goldeneyes were still on Windy Gap Reservoir.  A few American White Pelicans are staying the summer.

Many Ospreys are north of Silverthorne.  Probably offspring of the pair that have nested for years at the huge nest around the golf course.

We walked for an hour on the west side of Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) without spotting a White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Birds were scarce; nine Horned Larks were counted.

Two hours before sunset, we set out to walk to above tree line up the St Johns Trail.  Then after dark, we returned toward the trailhead.  One Boreal Owl responded to our recordings (later determined to be about 1.1 miles from the trailhead.

Once at the intersection with the Hunkidori Trail we detoured back up that trail for about a mile.  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls were heard on the first half of the trail!

Finally, we hiked up the Argentine Pass Trail.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was along the southern side of the trail at about 0.7 miles from the trailhead.

June 18

After getting a couple of hours sleep, Bryan Ehlmann and I hit Mt. Evans Byway again.  This time we had four Brown-capped Rosy Finches flying around the rocks north of the northwest corner of Summit Lake.

Then we decided to criss-cross the field east of the pullover just north of the entrance to the Summit Lake parking area.  We have found adults on past visits; this time we hoped to find a nest or young wandering around.

Again, we only found a pair of adults (perhaps too early for fledglings and we did not approach close enough to find a nest).

Later we hiked up (south) Mt. Evans Road for about a mile and then returned along the western side of the road (steep hill to west).  A second group of Ptarmigan was encountered (not far from the southeastern end of Summit Lake)!

After dark we drove Guanella Pass Road (Clear Creek), making many stops and listening for owls.  Eventually 3 Northern Pygmy-Owls were found in a 10 mile stretch.  The closest to Guanella Pass Campgrounds was perhaps 800 yards north.

No Flammulated Owls were found (the several "patches" of Aspens along the road appear to be quite young, no old growth Aspens that I know).

June 19

Bryan Ehlmann and I camped at Guanella Pass Campgrounds (well stopped for about an hour to listen for owls in the early morning), then hiked up the Lost Silver Dollar Trail.  It was an all-nighter (never got any sleep).

About 1.5 miles up the trail, we heard a Boreal Owl in the early morning (about 4:00 am).  Unfortunately, it was never spotted.

At sunrise, we were back at Guanella Pass Campgrounds.  Male and female American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found deep in the woods at the northwest corner of the Campgrounds.

The hike up Guanella Pass (parking area to 603 trail, to top of hill to south, then down the south side for 1000 yards, then back up and around the Rosalie Trail, returning to the intersection with 603 trail, down to the parking area) was a good effort combined with our lack of sleep.

Sixty year olds now, it crossed our minds that all-nighters should be behind us instead of reoccurring events.

We did find two "groups" of White-tailed Ptarmigan.  One adult accompanied by five young (300 yards southwest of the Rosalie & 603 trails); another adult had 2 young following "her" (40 yards south of the top of the southern hill at 603 trail).

After setting up tents at the Duck Creek Campgrounds (Park County) around 2:00 pm, neither of us had a problem flying asleep.

Not to be "spoiled", we were up at 8:00 pm and ready to go owling.

This time we hiked along Guanella Pass Road from Burning Bear Campgrounds to Whiteside Campgrounds.  Whiteside is one of my favorite places to camp in the area.

Eventually we found 3 Northern Pygmy-Owls and a Northern Saw-whet Owl during the 12 hike trek.

It was quite an enjoyable night.  Winds were mild; temperatures were in the 50s.  Forest sounds could be heard for long distances with the calm winds.  It was an enjoyable experience (as always).

It was nice to get back home by noon (back to my own bed)!

Finishing the 2012 Boreal Owl Survey

June 14 to June 16, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I finished our Boreal Owl survey for 2012 in the Colorado State Forest.  Because of the High Park fire, we had to circle around through Kremmling (by way of Rand) to get to the Colorado State Forest.  Highway 14 is/was closed down from Fort Collins to Pingree Park Road.

Over the three days, we drove and hiked much of the Colorado State Forest.  We never found time to visit the Visitor's Center (therefore do not know the status of the White-throated Sparrow that spent the winter behind the building.

On the night of the 15th, we tried to drive to Pingree Park Road and get up to Pennock Pass (Larimer).  Once at Highway 14 and Pingree Park Road we were turned around.  We fear that many of the Flammulated Owl nesting attempts maybe or are in jeopardy.  I hope that the adults will escape the wildfire (the eggs and young may not be so fortunate).

The final Boreal Owl count and survey will be addressed in July's "Colorado Field Notes". 

We did find a Boreal Owl using a nesting box this year!!!

Another Look at the Douglas County Carolina Wren

June 13, 2012

Richard Stevens:

We returned Bryan & Sue Ehlmann to Plum Creek in Castle Rock.  Again, the Carolina Wren was cooperative and popped out of the weeds southwest of the intersection of the two trails (west of the Plum Creek trailhead parking area at 2nd and Wilcox Streets.

Again, we were offered only a 10 second look, good enough for an ID, not well enough for a photograph for satisfying viewing.

Afterwards we returned to Denver by way of Lake Gulch Road and Castlewood Canyon Roads.  Eight+ male Bobolink were spotted in the field south of the Winkler Ranch entrance (Mr. Jones and all are now gone, therefore we do not know if the ranch has a new name).

While scoping the field for a count on the Bobolink, we heard and saw a Dickcissel.  It eventually perched on the willows where the creek comes close to the road!

Other birds observed included a dozen Mountain Bluebirds, 2 Western Bluebirds, a Cordilleran Flycatcher (across from the Dickcissel), 2 Wild Turkey (where the road goes east to west, north of the Winkler Ranch), Lincoln's Sparrow, many Vesper Sparrows and a Savannah Sparrow (near Dickcissel spot). 

Spotted Towhees and Evening Grosbeaks were found behind the old ranch house at the northern end of Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).

We checked for Yellow-billed Cuckoos along the Cherry Creek trail (east of the Walker Pit) and at Hidden Mesa Open Space, (none responded to our recordings).

At dusk, we wandered back at the subdivision and Castlewood Canyon State Park.  We heard (got Northern Saw-whet Owls to respond to our recordings) both at the subdivision above and at Castlewood Canyon State Park.

Return to Mt. Evans

June 12, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I led the CoBus sponsored trip to Mt. Evans (Clear Creek County).  There were six of us which made the Ford Expedition Vehicle a little crowded.  I did not mention to the others, that I was glad to be driving (providing the most leg room)!

We did not see the Barrow's Goldeneyes found last week.  Hopefully they were just in the trees somewhere and had not abandoned their nesting attempt.  Last week we saw the female fly into a Douglas Fir Tree.

Brown-capped Rosy Finches were again found along the northwest shore of Summit Lake.

It took over an hour to relocate the pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan in the field east of the pullover just north of the entrance to the Summit Lake parking area.  They were about 400 yards east of the Mt. Evans Byway Road.

The only hummingbirds coming to the three feeders hung at Echo Lodge were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

The trip was over around 1:00 PM.  We read about the Carolina Wren at Castle Rock and Rebecca and I hurried down that way.

When we arrived the Carolina Wren popped out of the "weeds" along the "creek/stream" at the intersection of the two trails several hundred yards west of the Plum Creek Trail parking area (Douglas County).  The Carolina Wren was about 20 feet west of the concrete trails and south of Plum Creek.

It only gave us about a 15 second look; well enough to identify the large, rusty colored Carolina Wren!

Return to Crow Valley

June 11, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I drove North to Crow Valley Campground (Weld).  We had received a report of a possible Alder Flycatcher at the Campgrounds.

The fields along Highway 392 (7 miles south of Briggsdale) were scanned for Upland Sandpiper (traditional nesting locations).  None were found today.

We arrived at Crow Valley Campground soon after sunrise and walked this small riparian treasure.  Sure enough we located an "empidonax flycatcher" that appeared greener backed and darker headed than the "empidonax flycatchers" that we are used to seeing.

We played a recording; the bird cooperated nicely and sang back for 10 seconds or so!  It definitely sounded like an Alder Flycatcher.  Our only question was whether another "empidonax" would imitate the song of an Alder Flycatcher.  An eastern Willow Flycatcher would look similar; however it would have a completely different song.

Continuing our hike around the Campgrounds, we found a Red-eyed Vireo high in the tall cottonwoods at the most southwestern campground.  A few Brown Thrashers, House Wrens, Bullock's Orioles, and a Western Wood-pewee were also encountered.

Two Common Nighthawks lay on branches in the group picnic area (across from the group picnic restrooms).

The day was young and we decided to drive to Jackson Reservoir and Fort Morgan (by way of Weld County Road 105 & Morgan County Road 4).  Four White-rumped Sandpipers were relocated at the Jackson Lake Wildlife Area.

We continued to Fort Morgan for lunch (and to escape the hottest part of the day).  After lunch we first checked Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan).  The resident male Red-bellied Woodpecker flew around the pond here.

A walk from the eastern side of Fort Morgan Ponds added another Red-bellied Woodpecker (this time female) to our day list.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from the taller cottonwoods just east of Riverside Park (western end of the same riparian area as the Fort Morgan Ponds).

We returned to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) at dusk.  One of the Long-eared Owls we suspect of nesting here this summer was relocated.  After sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from the Campgrounds.  A Great Horned Owl called from the western side of the State Park.

It was a nice ending to a great day of birding with friends.  We headed back to Denver.

Northeastern Bird Trip

June 7-10, 2012

Richard Stevens:

June 7

Bryan Ehlmann and I passed Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) on our trip back to Pawnee National Grasslands and then on to northeastern Colorado.

A two hour walked found the usual suspects and an American Redstart.  The warbler was on the east side of ponds 3 & 4, which are located south of highway 52.  The northern side of the Wildlife Area is closed until July 15th to allow nesting birds to be undisturbed.

Crow Valley Campground only had a few birds, however they were good sightings.  A singing "Empidonax flycatcher" turned out to be an Alder Flycatcher.

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak flew about the southwest corner of the Campgrounds.

A check of the two Mountain Plover nests I discovered earlier in the spring found that the eggs had hatched at one of the nests (or a predator got them).  There was no sign of the adult or any young.

The female Mountain Plover was staying close to nest #2.  We could see at least one egg (did not want to get too close and disturb the adult).

Shortly after noon, we headed to Sterling (Logan).

Later in the afternoon we checked Pioneer Park and Sterling Reservoir.  There was not much at Pioneer Park, Sterling Reservoir was more interesting.

While watching a Baltimore Oriole near the picnic area, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo started to call!  We never would have found it if it had not!  A Barn Owl was found in the cottonwoods at the southeast corner of the State Park.

A pair of Dickcissel were found along Logan County Road 46 (on our way out).

We stood at the Platte River the last hour of daylight hoping for a Purple Martin to fly down the river (none did).

Our birding day ended at Overland Park (southeast end of Sterling).  A Baltimore Oriole was in the cottonwoods right along the trail.  We got a Yellow-billed Cuckoo to respond to our recording (played at the northeastern end of the park).

No owls or Green Herons were found.

June 8

After checking along the South Platte River for Purple Martin (none found), Bryan Ehlmann and I birded several places around Sterling.

Riverside Cemetery has many tall trees and we thought it might be a good location for nesting Yellow-billed Cuckoos (or perhaps a Black-billed Cuckoo, both have nested in Sterling in the past).

No cuckoos were found, however we did find a male Summer Tanager and a male Blackpoll Warbler.

At Pioneer Park (west side of town), a lone Hawk turned out to be a Broad-winged Hawk!  We observed no evidence of nesting behavior.

Several Mississippi Kites flew over Columbine Park (center of town).

We were back at the South Platte River about an hour before sunset.  It was a fortuitous choice.  A Purple Martin was seen flying back and forth, east of the highway!

June 9

Over the last two days, Bryan Ehlmann and I had covered most of Sterling; it was time to move on eastward.

At first light, we walked the western sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.  At least two Bell's Vireos were heard between sections 1 & 2 West.  Only short looks were accomplished; their song is quite distinctive.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called in Section 2 West.

A couple of Red-bellied Woodpeckers were seen from Highway 55.  Then we crossed over to the eastern sections.

We walked the seven mile trip to County Road.  Three additional Red-bellied Woodpeckers were counted.  A male Northern Cardinal was north of the maintenance building.

Another Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew from the tall cottonwoods along the southern side of Tamarack Pond.

After returning to our car, we rushed over to the southern sections (CR 46 & 89).  No Short-eared Owls or Greater Prairie-Chickens were found this evening.

After dark we drove the eastern sections and had two Eastern Screech-Owls respond to our recordings!

June 10

Bryan Ehlmann and I continued south this morning.  We heard an Eastern Screech-Owl west of the Foster Grove Campgrounds at Bonny Reservoir (now Bonny Lake Wildlife Area).

A Northern Cardinal was found at Fosters Grove Campgrounds.  Half a dozen Wild Turkey wandered around the now closed Campgrounds.  No Long-eared Owls were found in the windbreak today.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker and male Baltimore Oriole were found while hiking the road on the south side of the old lake (now dried up as Colorado had to give water to Kansas).  No Long-eared Owls were found at the southern windbreak either.

We drove into Burlington (Kit Carson County) and stopped at the Cemetery north of town.  Nothing unusual moved about today.  Great-tailed Grackles can be found at the park near I70.

We returned to Hale Ponds (Yuma) just before dusk.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo responded to a recording (northeast of the eastern Hale Pond).

A Common Poorwill responded to our recording (played along CR 4, just south of the eastern Hale Ponds).

After sunset, we managed to get one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls to our recording.  No Barn Owls answered tonight.

Not especially tired, we headed back to Denver.

Birding Around Denver

June 5-6, 2012

Richard Stevens:

June 5

Rebecca and I rested up most of the day.  A drive along the DIA Owl Loop the last hour before sunset did find Burrowing Owls at their usual locations (see CoBus website if interested in detailed directions:

A Ferruginous Hawk was around the site at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.

June 6

Rebecca Kosten and I headed south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  Our target was the Yellow-throated Vireo and Plumbeous Vireo that are perhaps nesting south of Kingfisher Bridge.

Directions were superb and we found the Plumbeous Vireo right away.  Within 15 minutes, the Yellow-throated Vireo was spotted high up in a cottonwood tree.  We were not sure if the nest was located by us (never actually saw either bird on a nest).

On the walk back to the Kingfisher Bridge parking area, we found two American Redstarts.  One was at the old White-eyed Vireo location (for those who know the area and history).  An adult male was just south of the end of the paved path.

On the walk in and back out, two Eastern Phoebes were observed "hawking insects" near the trailhead (on west side of the S. Platte River).

We continued on the north side of the main road hoping to see a Green Heron (ponds here are traditional locations).  However, the swallow ponds were almost dry; no herons were found.

A few Western Wood-pewees (no indication of Eastern Wood-Pewee call) and a couple of female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were found flying around the riparian area.

San Luis Valley Trip

May 28-June 4, 2012

Richard Stevens:

May 28

Rebecca Kosten and I headed to the San Luis Valley to search for the Bendire's Thrasher reported by Jerry Petrosky on May 25th.  It most of the day to reach the Valley; there was little time for birding.

May 29

Our Bendire's Thrasher search started about 30 minutes before sunrise.  It centered around Forest Road 660 and Forest Road 659 (Saguache County).  Jerry Petrosky had seen and heard a singing Bendire's Thrasher south of Forest Road 660 and just southeast of Forest Road 659 on 5/25.

We spent about five hours driving and hiking around the area.  While there was no sign of a Bendire's Thrasher, we did find 2 Curve-billed Thrashers and six Sage Thrashers.  Our search probably covered 4 square miles.

The day warmed up quickly and by 10:30 am, few birds were moving about.  None was singing by then.  We headed into Del Norte for lunch.

Late in the afternoon, we drove east to Fort Garland and then went three miles south to the "old subdivision".  The area is known for Sage Sparrows.  We found 2 Sage Sparrows in less than 30 minutes.  They scurried about the sagebrush.  Now and then, they allowed us brief views.  Finally, I got one to pop up on a bush and give us good views!

We picnicked at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, and then set up camp for the night.  After dark a search for the previously reported Northern Pygmy-Owl (Petrosky, 5/25) was not successful.

A Western Screech-Owl was found up Little Medano Creek!  That was a nice consolation prize!

May 30

Rebecca Kosten and I again searched for the Bendire's Thrasher found by Jerry Petrosky (5/25) along Forest Road 660.  Again, we failed to find the bird.  We spent the first four hours of daylight and then gave up our search as temperatures rose.

Today one Curve-billed Thrasher and three Sage Thrashers were encountered during our hunt.

In the afternoon, we escaped the heat by driving into the mountains northwest of South Fork.

We searched campgrounds east of Wolf Creek Pass (which included Palisade, Highway Springs, Lower & Upper Beaver Creek and Cross Creek.  Nothing uncommon was found.

At Wagon Wheel Campgrounds, a Hooded Warbler popped up when we played a recording.  It was just about in the same location as last year.  Do they nest here?  Is this part of the same pair?  Questions that entered our mind; however, they are left unanswered.

The last hour of the day, we parked on the western pullover at Wolf Creek Pass.  Two Black Swifts were observed flying over.

A couple of hours were spent owling.  No owls called tonight.

May 31

Today we headed south to bird in Conejos County.  We walked around Pikes Stockade at sunrise and heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Brief looks confirmed the id!

John James Canyon added a Black-throated Sparrow to our San Luis Valley List.

The few hummingbird feeders found only had Black-chinned and a few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds visiting them.

Not finding many birds, we decided to head north to Smith Reservoir.  Three White-rumped Sandpipers continued along the west side.

We passed Zapata Falls on our way back to Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The short walk from the parking area to the falls added a Black Swift to our trip list.

At dusk, we again searched (unsuccessfully) for the Northern Pygmy-Owl found on May 25 by Jerry Petrosky.  The Western Screech-Owl was not relocated either.

June 1

Today we decided to go up in the mountains southwest of Alamosa.

On the trip up to La Manga Pass, we found a Williamson's Sapsucker.  Later, a pair of White-winged Crossbills was found near the summit.

No owls were located from dusk to midnight.

June 2

Earlier this morning, we heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl at one of our stops.

Later we gave the "Bendire's Thrasher" location along Forest Road 660 one last shot.  Again, it was not found.  A lone Curve-billed Thrasher was the only thrasher found.

To escape the warm temperatures we returned to the mountains west of South Fork (Mineral County).  We made the hike up the road past Big Meadows Campground.  Temperatures were cooler and the hike added a White-tailed Ptarmigan to our trip list!

Not much was on Big Meadows Reservoir (Mineral).

Owling has been slow this trip.  We did get Flammulated Owls to respond to our recordings both at Big Meadows Campground and at Park Creek.

June 3

I ventured out on my own about 3:00 am this morning.  A little owling trip to Wolf Creek and West Fork Campgrounds was quite productive.

A Boreal Owl was heard on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass (Mineral).  A Northern Saw-whet Owl called at West Fork Campgrounds (fifth time in ten years).  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was near Wolf Creek Campgrounds.

After sunrise, I wandered briefly into Archuleta County.  East Fork Campgrounds did not add any uncommon birds or owls to our trip list.

Later in the afternoon, Rebecca and I visited Russell Lakes Wildlife Area (Saguache).  The most unusual bird was an Ash-throated Flycatcher.  Two White-faced Ibis could be considered uncommon; I will have to check on that.

We also found American Bittern, Sage Thrashers and a Peregrine Falcon!

June 4

Rebecca and I were not coming back from the San Luis Valley until tomorrow. Then we received a message yesterday that our last computer that would run the "Colorado Field Notes" software had died. Short story, we returned late last night. This morning I purchased a new computer with windows 7 pro, which is supposed to run the XP software. I was working on learning the new computer when we read about the Barrow's Goldeneye at Echo Lake (Clear Creek County). A possible first county record; I called Bryan and Sue Ehlmann and we headed up to Mt. Evans.

When we arrived, a male and female Barrow's Goldeneye swam on the far side of Echo Lake (photographed). We watched the pair for about an hour. The female constantly fed while the male kept watch. As an added bonus! We watched the female Barrow's Goldeneye fly into a tree. Could this be a possible nesting attempt? We plan to keep an eye on it. If you go and happened to figure out which tree, please do not approach.

Since we were already up there, we continued to the top of Mt. Evans. Along the way, we saw two Brown-capped Rosy Finches on the northeast corner of Summit Lake. We walked across the road and found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan almost in the same place as last week. On the drive to the top, we found an additional five Brown-capped Rosy Finches; several were getting a drink on the side of the road.

We debated on going for the Yellow-throated Vireo at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas); decided we did not have enough time. Instead, we stopped at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) where a male Williamson's Sapsucker was found near the group picnic shelter. A pair of Williamson's Sapsucker was at the top near the flagpole.