Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Long Day in Douglas County

Richard Stevens:

While waiting for the Magnificent Hummingbird to show up at my friend's home near Bailey, I update yesterday's birding adventures.

August 29, 2012

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I birded in Douglas County today. 

Our first goal was to look for Bobolink at the Winkler Ranch south of Castlewood Canyon State Park.  None was expected, however we found a female/immature about 1 mile south of the Winkler Ranch entrance along Castlewood Canyon Road.

The ranch was quite birdy. We heard a Dickcissel about 1/2 mile north of the Bobolink.  Several Common Yellowthroats were in willows along Cherry Creek (where the creek approaches the road).

Other birds found included: 1 Savannah Sparrow, many Vesper Sparrows, 1 Grasshopper Sparrow, 4+ Spotted Towhees, 1 Green-tailed Towhee (near Common Yellowthroat spot), Cordilleran Flycatcher, Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds (where road turns from north to west, north of Winkler Ranch), and one Wild Turkey (same area as Western Bluebirds).

Next, we headed west.  A quick look around the crooked tree at Louviers did not find the off and on visiting Acorn Woodpeckers.  Then we continued to Highway 67 and Rampart Range Road.

It took about 30 minutes before an American Three-toed Woodpecker was found.  A male was 30 yards east of the intersection and 25 yards north into the woods.

Our next stop was the Cheesman Canyon Trailhead off CO 126.  We walked west along the road to the green trailer area.  Lewis's Woodpeckers and Red-headed Woodpeckers have been found on this hike in the past.  None was found today.  We did find a MacGillivray's Warbler, Pine Siskins, 2 Red Crossbills and a Green-tailed Towhee.

Bryan and I hiked up the Canyon Trail while Sue and Rebecca drove to the Reservoir.  Along our trek, Bryan and I found 2 American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  Other birds recorded included 3 species of nuthatches, additional Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, 2 Townsend's Solitaires, 1 Green-tailed Towhee, 2 Spotted Towhees, American Crows and Common Ravens.

Nothing uncommon was found on the reservoir and we headed to Bailey.  The Magnificent Hummingbird had again returned to my friend's hummingbird feeders (only once and at 8:41 am).

Later, Bryan and I went owling back around Cheesman Reservoir and Deckers.  We eventually found 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls.  While we stopped at various locations and played recordings, we left two "owl listening stations" along our route. 

One of these stations picked up a Northern Saw-whet Owl!  We plan to go back tomorrow night and try to relocate the owl.  We did go back to Rampart Range Road and Highway 67.  We did not get a response from the Northern Saw-whet Owl reported in the area by Tom Bunker on 4/12/2012.

A Great Horned Owl was found around Cheesman Reservoir and another along CO 126, west of the Cheesman Canyon Trail.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Humminbird Watch Day 2

August 28, 2012

Rebecca Kosten and I returned to my friend's home above Bailey, Colorado.  We watched four species of hummingbirds visit his feeders during our stay (8:00 am to 4:00 pm).  If we were not watching the same birds all day, the count was over 1000 hummingbirds!

While Broad-tailed, Rufous, 4 Calliope, and 3 Black-chinned Hummingbirds were observed.  The Magnificent Hummingbird did not appear.

Hummingbird Watch In Jefferson County

August 27, 2012

I received a call from a friend who lives in the mountains above Bailey, Colorado.  He has seen a Magnificent Hummingbird at his hummingbird feeders off and on since last Friday (8/24/2012).

It is the second Magnificent Hummingbird that has visited his feeders this year.  The first one was back on 7/31.  The bird comes once or twice a day (8/24, 8/25, 8/26) to one of nine hummingbird feeders that Wilson has.

I arrived at around 9:30 am and stayed until dark around 7:30 pm.  We enjoyed the beautiful view and some good barbecue (recipes from PBS' barbecue university).

Finally, the female/juvenile Magnificent Hummingbird appeared for about 10 seconds at around 2:30 pm.  Wilson had seen at 7: 16 am.  Those were the only times it was seen today.

Back To Denver

August 26, 2012

We camped near a Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek (Baca).  None showed up this morning.  A few Cassin's Sparrows, many Vesper Sparrows, one Curve-billed Thrasher and one Short-eared Owl were the consolation.

When we returned to Denver, a text message informed us about the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Van Bibber Park in Arvada (Jefferson County).

My post to "cobirders":

Rebecca Kosten and I returned after a week in southeast Colorado. We heard about the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and headed to Arvada.

I took about 30 photos before 2 Western Kingbirds chased the STFL.  It was on the fence just north of the yellow fire hydrant where dirt and cement trails meet; good 1/2 mile west of parking area.

On the way home we stopped at Lowell Ponds. I got 3 distant photos of the Little Blue Heron who was walking the southeast shore of Heron Pond.

A pretty good half day back in Denver!

Moving On To Baca County

August 25, 2012

Rebecca Kosten and I arrived at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca County) about an hour and a half before sunrise (around 5:00 am).  Two Western Screech-Owls responded to our recordings, as did a Common Poorwill (at civil twilight).  One Screech Owl allowed us good looks.

A walk up the draw south of the "camping area" at Baca County Road 5 & Carrizo Creek was quite interesting.  An Eastern Phoebe and Townsend's Warbler were highlights.  We also found a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Canyon Wren and Long-eared Owl!

We walked west up the draws past the old stone house and fork in the road.  A Gray Vireo, Ash-throated Flycatcher and male Blue Grosbeak were east of the house.

Another male Ladder-backed Woodpecker was down the southern draw.  A flock of 6-8 Pine Siskins seemed out of place.

Common birds included Canyon Towhee, Bewick's Wrens, Chihuahuan Ravens, a few Red-tailed Hawks, Wild Turkeys, Western & Cassin's Kingbirds and Rock Wrens.

We then drove east to the cattle guard 1.4 miles past the "camping area".  I have also found this a good location to search for Rufous-crowned Sparrows and it did not disappoint today.  Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows responded quickly to our recordings.

While trying to photograph the Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Rebecca found a Blackburnian Warbler in the cottonwoods south of the road!

We met some locals who took us to their ranch and showed us a pair of Barn Owls (where else, in their barn).

Later in the day, we parking at Picture Canyon and walked to the "Spring" at North Canyon.  Vermilion Flycatchers have been reported more than half a dozen times in the last twenty years at this spring (none today).

Along the three mile hike, we saw Northern Mockingbirds, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, 2 Curve-billed Thrashers, a Sage Thrasher, several Cassin's Sparrows and many Chipping Sparrows (out of place?).

At dusk, we drove the back roads over to the Upland Bird Management Area.  One Short-eared Owl was found along the way.  None flew around the UBMA this night.

Birding In Las Animas County

August 23-24, 2012

Rebecca Kosten and I spent two days at a friend's ranch in Las Animas County.  We made several birding excursions between events at the Dude Ranch.  After giving birding presentations post dinner, several of us went owling.  Highlights follow:

Hepatic Tanagers were found at two locations.  A female and juvenile at one stop and another female at a second stop.

Western and Cassin's Kingbirds were quite numerous.  We tried to study the wing patterns of both species (concerning an article for September's "Colorado Field Notes" and a previous report on "cobirders").

Two "kettles" of Mississippi Kites (nine and eleven) were observed overhead on separate days.

A couple of Eastern Phoebe families were found.  Canyon Towhees were numerous.  Rufous-crowned Sparrows were found at two Locations.  Chihuahuan Ravens were common as were Cassin's Sparrows.

At dusk, Common Nighthawk flights were higher than expected.  In two nights, we counted 58, 14, 8, and 21 for a total of 98 (not one Lesser Nighthawk).

Warblers were scarce.  A Townsend's Warbler (8/23) and Blackburnian Warbler (8/24) were our only uncommon sightings.

Owling was moderately successful.  Western Screech-Owls (6) were at four waypoints.  Northern Saw-whet Owls were found at two Locations.  Great Horned Owls (7) over five Locations.  Our best surprise was 3 Barn Owls at separate Locations.  Although a Northern Pygmy-Owl was also unexpected. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Owl Trip to Jackson and Larimer Counties

August 18-22, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann: An Owl Trip to Jackson and Larimer Counties

August 18, 2012

Sue and I birded in Jackson and Larimer Counties for a few days.  We drove north from Brighton to Briggsdale on our way to Crow Valley Campgrounds and Pawnee National Grasslands, Weld County.

We scoped the Upland Sandpiper field seven miles south of Briggsdale and did not find any Upland Sandpipers.  Crow Valley Campground was slow.  No uncommon birds were found.

A check of the Mountain Plover fields where several birds nested last summer did not find even one.

We arrived at Cameron Pass just before midnight (stopped in Fort Collins for dinner).  A Boreal Owl was heard northeast of the rest area pullover.

A walk around the Crags Campgrounds found a second Boreal Owl.  They may have been two south of the Campgrounds.

August 19, 2012

We parked before sunrise at Delaney Buttes Greater Sage-Grouse lek.  No grouse were here or seen when we hiked to the top of the Butte.

Walden Reservoir, Jackson County had a few interesting shorebirds.  A Pectoral Sandpiper and Willet walked along the northern shore.  A pair of Red-necked Phalaropes was seen at the northwest corner.

We drove around the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in the afternoon.  No Greater Sage-Grouse were encountered.  A Willet was along the self-guided car tour.  A few Sage Thrashers, Brewer's Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows and Killdeer were seen.

August 20, 2012

Today Sue and I drove to the old Teller Ghost Town.  The road coming south from Gould is not good for passenger cars.  We have a jeep and our teeth took a good rattling.

A Three-toed Woodpecker was found by its distinctive drumming at the northwest corner of the self-guided trail.  The few building still standing in the old Silver mining town are interesting.

Our attempt to find owls at dusk was unsuccessful.

August 21, 2012

Today Sue and I drove up Buffalo Pass, east of Steamboat Springs, Routt County.  In total, seven Three-toed Woodpeckers were found!

Most of this road is passable in a passenger car; we had our jeep.  Owling was not very successful.  We found only one Flammulated Owl near the Summit.

August 22, 2012

I went out into the Colorado State Forest by myself at 3:00 am.  Two Boreal Owls and a Flammulated Owl were found along Ruby Jewell Road.  Richard Stevens and I had taken GPS waypoints earlier in the summer.  The birds were found close to these waypoints.

After breakfast, Sue and I hit the various hummingbird feeders around Gould.  The feeders around Gould have Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds visiting.  The KOA Campgrounds had those two species and a young male Calliope Hummingbird.  The feeders at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center only had Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds coming to them.

Wilson's Warblers, a Fox Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow and Pine Siskins also came out of the willows.  A couple of Gray Jays called from overhead.

A Three-toed Woodpecker drummed across highway 14.

We timed our trip back to Denver to hit Pennock Pass, Larimer County at dusk.  Two Flammulated Owls were curious and responded to our tapes.

A Southern Bird Trip

August 20-22, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann: transcripts from telephone messages

August 20, 2012

While looking for the Red-eyed Vireo reported by Cici Lee at Sondermann Park in Colorado Springs, Richard Stevens and Rebecca Kosten found a Cassin's Vireo in the same area.

In Pueblo, they walked Valco Ponds in both directions from the parking lot.  Highlights included a molting Summer Tanager west of the parking lot and a Black Phoebe to the east.

In the afternoon, they found the pair of Acorn Woodpeckers at Pueblo Mountain Park.

After dark, they found three Northern Saw-whet Owls around South Creek Trail.  A Flammulated Owl was heard between the trailhead and the Davenport Campgrounds to the north.

August 21, 2012

Richard Stevens and Rebecca Kosten found a Cassin's Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo north of the parking lot for the Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area, Las Animas County.

Five Wild Turkeys were seen in the Colorado section of the road into the Wildlife Area.  For those not familiar, Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area is accessed through New Mexico.

Wild Turkeys were seen flying overhead at the parking lot.

August 22, 2012

Richard Stevens and Rebecca Kosten heard two Northern Saw-whet Owls just south of the northern border of the Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area.

On the hike back to the parking lot, they found a female Hepatic Tanager about 800 yards south of the northern border.  Later they found a male Hepatic Tanager about 200 yards northeast of the parking lot.

A Greater Roadrunner was seen along Las Animas County Road 119.8 once they were back in Colorado.  Fifty+ Common Nighthawks flew overhead at dusk near Trinchera.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Adams County Birding

August 18, 2012

Rebecca Kosten: An Email sent to "cobirders" by Jerry Petrosky.
"cobirders" can now be read at:

Hello birders,

My sister Carol and I met up with Rich Stevens and Rebecca Kosten and ate at the Outback near DIA, 40th avenue and Pena Blvd.  Afterwards we drove to Barr Lake State Park.

Along the way, we found Burrowing Owls at:
11; at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue
1; at Trussville Road and 112th avenue
1; along Tower Road at 0.1 miles north of 96th avenue

At Barr Lake:
We did not find any dark headed gulls.  Three Forster's Terns, a Common Tern and 9+ Black Terns flew around the sandbar off the closed boat ramp.

Along the DIA Owl Loop:
No Short-eared Owls
Burrowing Owls (above)
17 Swainson's Hawks
4 Red-tailed Hawks
1 Ferruginous Hawk
1 female Northern Harrier
1 female/immature Lark Bunting; between Tower Road and first turn north along 96th avenue

Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Jerry Petrosky, President, Colorado Birding Society
Denver, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "cobirders" by sending blank email to:
cobirders-subscribe AT
Read "cobirders" at:


While out birding, Richard and I received a call from a fellow who had a Hummingbird stuck in his garage for over an hour.  We have heard of this happening before.

The person tried putting red clothes on the garage floor.  He put on a red hat; nothing tempted the Hummingbird to leave.  Panic had set in for both the hummingbird and the garage owner.

Richard called back and suggested that the homeowner put a red glass filled with 1/4 cup of water and 4 tablespoons of sugar on a stepladder.  Then put the stepladder just outside the garage door.

The hummingbird flew out in less than 10 minutes.  A coincidence or a great idea?  It may be worth a try in a pinch!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mt Evans Byway & Barr Lake

August 17, 2012

Post to "cobirders"

Hello birders,

A reminder that "cobirders" can be read at:

Rob Peterson, Craig Gross, Richard Stevens and I went to Mt. Evans in Clear Creek County.  We hiked to the top of the mountain from the upper parking lot, no big deal.  Did not find any Ptarmigan until we reached the first pullover on the west/right side of the road.  A male White tailed Ptarmigan was about 20 feet below the pullover.

On the way down the mountain, we found several Brown capped Rosy Finches at the northwest corner of Summit Lake.

A Three-toed Woodpecker was found in the cabin/camp area southeast of the Echo Lake Campgrounds.  Several Pine Grosbeaks, a Red-naped Sapsucker and Lincoln's Sparrows were along the western side of Echo Lake.  Rufous and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds came to the feeders at the Echo Lake Lodge.

The Trumpeter Swans are still on the small pond west of Evergreen.  These are domestic birds.

We found two American Dippers at Lair 'O Bear Park in Jefferson County.  Mountain Chickadees, a couple of Black-capped Chickadees and Western Scrub-Jays were around the parking lot.  A Canyon Wren was on the rocks at the west end of the park.

Missed Evening Grosbeaks and any crossbills.

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Bryan Ehlmann, Colorado Birding Society
Denver, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "cobirders" by sending blank email to:
Read "cobirders" at:

Richard Stevens:

After returning home, I went over to Barr Lake (Adams County) to see if I could find the Laughing Gull reported yesterday (Thursday).  I scoped the lake from the northwest side (access off 144th avenue).

No dark headed gulls were found.  Hundred+ gulls were mostly Ring-billed with a dozen California Gulls.

Two hundred shorebirds were mostly Baird's Sandpipers.  Included: 2 Western Sandpipers, a Stilt Sandpiper, 4 Spotted Sandpipers and the Marbled Godwit (first seen yesterday).

The evening was pleasant with temperatures in the low 60s and little wind.  No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop.  Two Burrowing Owls were seen at the site 3.4 miles east of 96th avenue and Tower Road.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Search for Laughing Gull, Barr Lake

August 16, 2012

Richard Stevens:

After the late start, I read about the Laughing Gull at Barr Lake (Adams County) and headed that way.  I spent the next three and a half hours searching for birds.

At 4:30 pm, I walked to the southeast end of the sand spit off the Niedrach Trail.  The good news was that there were no gulls off the sand spit.  Perhaps the Laughing Gull was farther north and closer to shore.

After making sure the previously reported 6 Black-bellied Plovers and no Buff-breasted Sandpipers were not wandering around the wet mudflats, I walked north along the shoreline to the boat ramp.

Shorebird count was 21 Baird's Sandpipers, 2 Western Sandpipers, 12+ Spotted Sandpipers and a Stilt Sandpiper.  Dozens of Great Blue Herons, 61 Double-crested Cormorants and 36+ American White Pelicans stood along the shore.

I stopped at the extreme western point of the shore directly west of the banding station.  Dozens (31+) Black Terns flew around the middle of the lake.

While trying to get the Black Tern count, I found my only dark headed Gull of the day.  It was flying over the opposite shore at approximately mile maker 4.5. 

It appeared slightly smaller and darker than the nearby Ring-billed Gulls.  Its head was black and I could not see any white on its primaries.  The amount of black in the primaries looked much greater than would be expected on a Franklin's Gull with worn plumage.  This could have been the Laughing Gull, just too far away to identify for certain.

After reaching the boat ramp (a Say's Phoebe stood sentinel), dozens of Ring-billed Gulls and White Pelicans stood on the sandbar off the boat ramp.  I returned to the Nature Center by way of the woods below the trail.  Birds were scare. 

A flock of six Black-capped Chickadees fluttered about the southern end of the banding area. A Townsend's Warbler was found in the extreme southwestern area of the banding area.  An Olive-sided Flycatcher hawked insects.  An unidentified thrush stayed low to the ground in the deep thickets.  Also saw an unidentified "empidonax species' and a Western Wood-pewee.

On the way out of the park, half a dozen Western Kingbirds, a pair of Eastern Kingbirds and 80+ Mourning Doves stood on the southern fence.

I drove over to the northwestern shore (access off 144th avenue) to get a better look at the gulls along the shore.  The possible Laughing Gull was not there.  It was a 20 minute drive to reach that side of the lake.  The 6 Black-bellied Plovers were not relocated.

A Last Trip to Watch the Meteor Shower

August 15, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and returned to the DIA Owl Loop one last time to watch the meteor shower.  After the hot day (near 97 degrees), the cool nights are a pleasure.

The number of meteors was down from a few days ago.  At least the skies were clear.  Air travel and cars are almost down to zero at 4:00 am. 

We heard a few birds fly overhead.  No Upland Sandpipers, which I usually can pick out.  We heard a Chipping Sparrow or two and a dozen birds that I have no idea what they were.

Coyotes filled the air.  One Great Horned Owl called somewhere way out in the distance as there is no trees north of the DIA runways.

No Short-eared Owls appeared at dawn.  One Burrowing Owl was out hunting after sunrise.

Breakfast and then getting use to going to bed at 9:00-10:00 am, sleeping until 2:00 pm.  It is a little weird.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Barr Lake Bike Ride

August 14, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I circled Barr Lake (Adams County) on our bikes.  Temperatures were much hotter than yesterday (returned to the 90s).  Winds were calm.

Nothing qualified as a highlight during the 8.9 mile bike ride.  We saw a couple of Great-tailed Grackles in the town of Barr as we passed by the southern side.  A few Bullock's Orioles, Western Kingbirds, a pair of Eastern Kingbirds and one Warbling Vireo were found.

Later, we parked our bikes and walked the sand spits from the Nature Center to the boat ramp.  A hundred or so shorebirds included many Baird's Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Killdeer, 6+ Western Sandpipers, and 2+ Semipalmated Sandpipers.

The highlight of the walk was a Long-billed Curlew at the extreme southwest end of the sand spit off the Nature Center footbridge.

As a note, we saved some walking by parking at the boat ramp, riding our bikes completely around and back to the Nature Center.  Our walk along the shoreline was to get back to our car, then drive to the Nature Center to pick up our bikes.

Later we drove over to Smith Road and Piccadilly Road.  One of the Burrowing Owls (at least three in the neighborhood) was observed west of Gun Club Road (between Colfax and 6th Parkway).

As another note, 6th Parkway is not the same road as 6th avenue.

Adams County Bike Ride and Another Meteor Shower

August 13, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Not getting to bed until 8:00 am made for a late start to the day.  The high temperature today probably did not reach 80 degrees; winds were steady at 6-8 mph.

In the afternoon, Rebecca and I rode our bikes along the outside of the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams/Denver).  Buckley Road runs 4 miles between 56th avenue and 88th avenue.  South of 72nd Avenue, the western side of Buckley Road is in Adams County; the eastern side is in Denver County.  North of 72nd, both sides of the road are in Adams County.

Eventually we found 2 Burrowing Owls in Denver County and another 3 Burrowing Owls in Adams County.  High winds kept most birds from flying around (or blew them past us quite rapidly).

At 4:00 am, we returned to the DIA Owl Loop.  Tonight skies were clear and we watched a dozen or so meteors.  Possibly we heard an Upland Sandpiper flight call.  It was recorded and I will try to obtain a spectrograph later in the week.

Two Burrowing Owls and a Ferruginous Hawk were observed near the prairie dog town (3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue) on the return home.

Drive Around Arapahoe County & Adams Meteor Shower

August 12, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went near Cherry Creek Reservoir on Sunday to eat at one of our favorite restaurants.

Afterwards we drove through the State Park to search for the possible Red-necked Phalarope reported on Saturday.  We did not find any shorebirds.  There were more people and boats than I believe I have ever seen there at one time.  Last weekend of summer before school starts?  Three Snowy Egrets were at the newly renovated Cottonwood Creek marsh.

We returned home by way of Aurora Reservoir.  Few interesting birds flew around the southern end.  A Say's Phoebe was a highlight.

Then we took Aurora Parkway to Gun Club Road.  We have been monitoring a pair of Burrowing Owls nesting in a nearby field.  The location was not revealed because it was close to a public road and we did not want the birds disturbed. 

A few interesting birds were nearby.  A Sage Thrasher was just west of 6th Parkway and Gun Club Road.  A Say's Phoebe flew around a little farther west toward the Colorado Transportation Building (Toll Road Office).  A Northern Mockingbird flew around north of Gun Club Road and 6th Parkway.  Then a Burrowing Owl flew up on a telephone wire at 0.4 miles south of Colfax Avenue and Gun Club Road (north of same intersection above).

At 3:00 am, Rebecca and I went out to look at the meteor shower.  It was partly cloudy and we had to drive east to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area to find a clear sky.  From 4:00 to 5:30 am, we heard American Coots, a Virginia Rail and a Great Horned Owl at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop just before sunrise did not find any Short-eared Owls.  Half a dozen Burrowing Owls were at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.

Eastern Plains of Colorado

August 9-12, 2012

Richard Stevens:

August 9, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent most of the day birding within a 12 mile radius of Holyoke, Colorado.  Phillips County is only 22 miles in height.  We covered it from Nebraska to west of Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area.  Temperatures were in the high 90s; winds of 12+ mph made it quite warm.

One of our target birds was an Eastern Meadowlark, which was not found.  We did find a pair of Mountain Plovers along CR 61, north of CR 36.  A Long-billed Curlew was found on the State WIA west of CR 61, north of CR 26.

Sparrows were scarce also.  Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area was probably our best chance at a rare "Ammodramus" sparrow (bairdii, leconteli or henslowii); they were not found either.

We did find Grasshopper Sparrows ("Ammodramus savvanarum") at two stops.  Cassin's Sparrows ("Aimophila cassinii") were found at three spots.

Frenchmans Creek did not disappoint us.  A Bell's Vireo fluttered about (quite rare for Phillips County).

On the way to visit a friend's ranch in Yuma County, we stopped at Beecher Island.  It was our most birdy stop of the day.  Wandering around the cottonwoods were a 1st year Summer Tanager and Great Crested Flycatcher.  A Field Sparrow was found south across the creek.

My friend's ranch added 2 Eastern Screech-Owls and 2 Great Horned Owls to our day list.

August 10, 2012

An hour and a half before sunrise, Bryan Ehlmann and I drove around the sand hills north of Wray.  The early start paid off.  We found a Short-eared Owl along Yuma County Road 45 (about 3 miles east of highway 385).  Eventually we found two Greater Prairie-Chickens wandering around.

Then our search went to the west side of highway 385 where we found Greater Prairie-Chickens (2 adults, 5 young) on two private ranches.  After saying "Hi" to friends, we went to Wray to checkup on several other friends.

While no uncommon birds were found, we did find 5 Northern Cardinals (3 yards), a Gray Flycatcher and Eastern Phoebe.

Our trek then turned south.  At Bonny Lake Wildlife Area (Yuma), we walked along the north side of the Republican River from highway 385 to Fosters Grove. 

A Pine Warbler was definitely the highlight (located about 400 yards west of Foster's Grove.  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were also observed during the hike.

We crossed over and returned to highway 385 on the south side of the Republican River.  Another Red-bellied Woodpecker and a female Baltimore Oriole were highlights.

While wandering below the Bonny Dam, we saw a flock of 4 Eastern Bluebirds.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was at Hale Ponds.  No uncommon sparrows, warblers, vireos or dickcissels were found.

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called at dusk (northwest of the eastern end of Hale Ponds).  No Common Poorwills (or better yet a Whip-poor-will) could be coaxed into responding to our recordings.

August 11, 2012

Instead of sleep, Bryan Ehlmann and I hiked the Republican River from Kansas to Yuma County Road LL.5 and back to Hale Ponds.  (Eastern Screech-Owl count was 2, possibly 3).

Then we hiked from highway 385 to Foster's Grove and back.  Winds were calm; temperatures in the high 50s.  The hikes were quite pleasant.  We added another 2-3 Eastern Screech-Owls at this end of Bonny Lake Wildlife Area.

No Long-eared or Short-eared Owls responded to our recordings (at Fosters Grove, Wagon Wheel or Hale).

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found after sunrise at Wagon Wheel.  The resident Northern Cardinals could not be found.

Having covered Bonny as much as possible (legs were tired, lack of sleep), we headed to Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  Along the way, we found a Great Horned Owl at the Burlington Cemetery and Great-tailed Grackles at the park at the northeast corner of highways 385 and 70.

We struck out on uncommon sparrows (it was probably a little early for migration) at half a dozen stops.  A Great Crested Flycatcher was heard but never seen in the leaves (winds 18 mph) at Seibert.  We believed a pair nested in town this year.

A Field Sparrow was in the grasses off the southeast end of Flagler Reservoir.  A juvenile American Redstart was the only uncommon bird below the Flagler Reservoir dam.

We stayed until dark.  No Short-eared Owls were found tonight.

Missed Trip species: Eastern Meadowlarks, any Ammodramus sparrows, any Nightjars?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jerry Petrosky: Mountain Birding

Hello birders,

August 8, 2012

Five of us birded the Colorado foothills today. Our first stop was Lowell Ponds, Adams County where the Little Blue Heron was walking the eastern shore of Heron Pond.

The bulk of our day was spent on Mt Evans, Clear Creek County. After a grueling 3 hours, a male White-tailed Ptarmigan was finally located by Scott Beers. I was beginning to think we weren't going to find one.

Brown-capped Rosy Finches were at the northwest corner of Summit Lake when several of us walked over there. All five of us eventually were able to see both species.

Five young Barrow's Goldeneyes accompanied the female on Echo Lake. This is a first recorded Clear Creek County nesting record for the listers out there.

Our final stop was Genesee Mountain Park, Jefferson County. A male Williamson's Sapsucker was found at the northwest corner of the building at the group picnic area. He was on his favorite drumming post/telephone pole.

Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Jerry Petrosky, President, Colorado Birding Society
Denver, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
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Northeastern Bird Trip

August 5-8, 2012

Rebecca Kosten:

August 5, 2012

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann headed up to Northeastern Colorado for a few days to help a friend with some harvesting and of course get in a little birding.

When they stopped at Prewitt Reservoir in Logan/Washington Counties many shorebirds were at the inlet canal.  Fourteen species included a Pectoral Sandpiper and Willet.

While scoping the lake from the western end of the dam, they found a Common Tern and five Forster's Terns flying over.  Species missed: Eastern Screech-Owl.

An hour before sunset, they stopped at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area in Sedgwick County.  Highlights were a Great Crested Flycatcher and male Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Species missed: Upland Sandpiper.

August 6, 2012

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann birded Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area in Logan County for a good seven hours.  They walk most of the west sections 1-4 and the eastern sections from highway 55 to County Road 93.

They relocated at least one Bell's Vireo in the western sections.  Several Spotted Towhee X Eastern Towhee birds were also seen.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called briefly from 2-West.  They heard a male Northern Cardinal, which was never seen.

The eastern sections were most productive.  They found a male Baltimore Oriole, one or two Field Sparrows, which appear to stay year round now, and five Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

At nearby Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop they found a Great Crested Flycatcher and several Chimney Swifts circling overhead.  Species missed: Eastern Towhees.

After dark, they checked Jumbo Reservoir for Eastern Screech-Owls; none was heard tonight.  They relocated Eastern Screech-Owls at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area, two Locations.

August 7, 2012

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann continued their Northeastern Trip.  After checking on owls at several private ranches, they went south to Sand Draw Wildlife Area.  There they found a Bell's Vireo (western windbreak), Barn Owl (western windbreak) and two Field Sparrows (eastern fence line).

They owl count on private property was six Long-eared Owls (two Locations), four Great Horned Owls (two Locations) and another Barn Owl.

It was a good day.  They also confirmed that an adult pair of Black-billed Cuckoos that had three young had fledged the young.  The first confirmed successful nesting in Sedgwick County.

August 8, 2012

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann birded mostly on private property in Sedgwick and Phillips Counties today.

They found a Barn Owl in Sedgwick County.  Two Greater Prairie-Chickens were found in Phillips County.

Other birds reported: Great Crested Flycatcher (Sedgwick), Red-bellied Woodpecker (6; 4 Sedgwick, 2 Phillips), Carolina Wren (Phillips), Northern Cardinal (Sedgwick & Phillips), Lazuli Bunting (Phillips),  four Chimney Swifts (Sedgwick),  Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Sedgwick), female Baltimore Oriole (Sedgwick), Mississippi Kite (Phillips, Holyoke), two Long-eared Owls (Sedgwick).

Just before sunset, they walked the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area in Logan County.  A Short-eared Owl was seen flying 800 yards northwest of CR 46 & 89.

Walk Around Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area

August 4, 2012

Rebecca Kosten:

Rebecca Kosten and I (Richard Stevens) thought about a place to go for a walk in the cool afternoon.  Highs were in the high 90s; winds 19-28 mph.  By 7:00 pm, temperatures dropped into the middle 80s and winds were mild.

We chose Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area (Adams County) and walked Bob Canter's circuit.  I met him a few days earlier and he named the various ponds and pointed out the best birding spots.

Rebecca and I scoped Clear Creek (west of Lowell) then Heron Pond.  No Little Blue Heron was found and we continued west to Tennyson Street, then returned along the bike path south of Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area.

The Little Blue Heron was not on Troutt Pond or Carl Park Pond either.  While looking at an Orange-crowned Warbler north of the bike path and the Troutt Company (just east of Tennyson) we found a juvenile Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

A juvenile/male Lark Bunting was perched on the telephone wire next to Carl Park Pond.

When we returned to Clear Creek, Rebecca pointed out the Little Blue Heron flying south from Heron Pond.  It stood on the sandbar west of Lowell Avenue.  Unfortunately, by the time I retrieved my camera from the car and returned the Little Blue Heron had walked into the tall weeds.

Burrowing Owls were out hunting around the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower and 96th avenue when we drove past the area.  No Short-eared Owls were found tonight.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mt Evans and Barr Lake

August 3, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Earlier this morning (about 2 hours before sunrise), John Kendall, Robert Moss and I drove the Mt. Evans Byway (Clear Creek County).

Once at the pullover just north of the Summit Lake parking area, we walked the east side of the road in search of White-tailed Ptarmigan.   It took about 50 minutes before John yelled, "I have a couple"!

It is always nice to find one in short time.  Too many times, I have spent 4-6 hours searching for the elusive birds (many times, missing them altogether).

The difficult find was out of the way and we walked to the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  Rosy Finches were quite cooperative; luck was with us!  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew in and walked around the rocks not 15 feet from us!

John and Robert had to be at DIA Airport by noon and we skipped driving to the top of Mt. Evans.  A quick and brief look at the hummingbird feeders on the side of Echo Lake Lodge found both Broad-tailed and two Rufous Hummingbirds.

After dropping my friends off at the Airport, I decided to try for another look at the Royal Tern at Barr Lake (Adams).  I arrived at noon and stayed for the next 8 hours.  Temperature was 89 degrees when I arrived; by 2:00 pm, it rose to 97 degrees.  The sun reflecting off the sandy shore made it feel much hotter.

I first walked from the Niedrach Trail north to the end of the sand spit.  Carefully the shoreline was scoped for the 3rd Colorado Royal Tern.  It was not spotted until I reached the very northwestern end of the sand spit.  Rolling hills blocked any view of the Tern until I dropped over the final hill.

The Royal Tern was still quite far away.  It appeared to be 500 yards north of the Eagle Observation Boardwalk.  I suppose closer looks could be obtained by walking the dried lakebed, starting at the beginning of the Boardwalk Trail.

This was still 1.0 to 1.2 miles west of my location and I chose not to make that trek.  Instead, the hundreds of shorebirds attracted my attention.

Most were along the sand spit that is directly north of the banding station.  A Black-bellied Plover was definitely the highlight of the loose flocks.

Among the group were 80+ Baird's Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, Western, Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, 1 Sanderling, many Killdeer and dozens of Solitary Sandpipers.

Three young Killdeer threw me off for a bit.  Lacking the double black breast bands and quite small, they could have been one of the smaller plovers.  Eventually the "tatty" tails gave them away.

Dozens of Spotted Sandpipers came of the weeds/plants along the shore.  I believe the plants are some type of Water Buckwheat?  Feel free to correct me!  Many of the Spotted Sandpipers were obviously quite young (small).  One adult gave away a late nesting attempt (two eggs).

After spending several hours on the southern shore, it took another 1.5 hours to search the riparian area below the banding station.  Birds were not numerous.  Most were nesting birds, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, American Robins and common blackbirds.

Two Warbling Vireos took awhile to get good looks and proper ID.  Surprisingly, no Yellow Warblers were found.  A male Blue Grosbeak along the Pioneer Trail was the most uncommon bird found.  Most of the 2 dozen Bullock's Orioles were along the dry irrigation canal.

Finally, I drove over to the northern side of the reservoir.  Shorebirds were less numerous on this side of the lake.  Baird's Sandpipers were the highest number.  No uncommon shorebirds were found.  Surprisingly, no Yellowlegs were found.  Neither was the Buff-breasted Sandpiper of last weekend.

The Royal Tern was not observed.  However, I probably did not make much of an effort to look for it again (more interested in shorebirds, especially relocating the Buff-breasted Sandpiper).  A sub-adult Bald Eagle flew by as did several Swainson's Hawks.  One Yellow-headed Blackbird flew around the cattails below the trail.

On the way home, I drove over to an undisclosed location and set up two "migration listening stations".  Will not reveal the sites until I pick them up in the morning.

Reynolds Park Circuit

August 2, 2012

Richard Stevens:

John Kendall, Robert Moss and I parked at the large parking area for Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) about two hours before sunrise.  Winds were calm and temperatures in the low 60s.  The full moon was waning; still it lit up the forest well. 

We hiked the Songbird trail east to the smaller parking area and back.  No Northern Pygmy-Owls called this morning.  On three of my past four trips this summer, we heard a Common Poorwill northwest of the larger parking area.  None responded to our recordings today.

After sunrise, we made the circuit (Elkhorn to Raven's Roost to Eagle's View to Oxen Draw).  This strenuous hike is always quite rewarding in bird sightings.

The first curves south of the Old Service Road are a good place to stop for woodpeckers.  Today we saw a male Williamson's Sapsucker and heard the distinctive drumming of a male American Three-toed Woodpecker.

Bob thought he saw a Dusky Grouse scurry across Raven's Roost trail.  Neither John nor I could confirm.  Our lucky improved farther down the trail.  A Dusky Grouse meandered in the woods on the west side of Raven's Roost approximately 350 yards south of the Old Service Road and 8 yards to the west.

Three species of nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Chipping Sparrows and Pine Siskins were recorded as we continued south (and uphill, not a flat trail).

Eventually we reached the clearing at the Eagle's View Trail.  It is a nice view to the south.  Many times Dusky Grouse have been found in the woods north of the trail.  Unfortunately, none was seen today.  Several Townsend's Solitaires called atop the firs.

Finally, the circuit heads downhill (north).  Dusky Grouse have been found several times just south of the junction of the three trails (Eagle's View, Raven's Roost and Oxen Draw).  However again none was found today. 

The same intersection is another good place to search for woodpeckers.  Today a female American Three-toed Woodpecker was found about 20 yards north (downhill) of the intersection.

When we reached the intersection of Oxen Draw and Elkhorn trails, we inspected the willows along Kennedy Creek.  A Virginia's Warbler fluttered about!

The day was warming up nicely and we headed back to Denver.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Adams County Birding Again

August 1, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Late last night I returned to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) and set up two "migrating listening stations".  I prefer this area as the stations can be assembled far from noisy traffic.

I went back early this morning to gather the listening stations.  They do cost over $200 to assemble and losing them and the data is always a concern.  

I arrived about an hour before civil twilight.  The night was filled with bird songs/calls as usual.  Again, Chipping Sparrows were the most numerous bird heard migrating overhead.  As stated before, there are quite a few birds that I am not able to identify by their flight notes.  I hope that experience would assist with that problem.

On the way home, I stopped off at Barr Lake (Adams).  Only a few shorebirds ran around the northern shore.  Most probably are out on one of the sandbars, too far away to identify.  The Royal Tern was once again quite a ways offshore (but there)!

It is currently raining and I plan to skip putting the "migration listening stations" out tonight.

Birding Along Interstate 76

July 31, 2012

Richard Stevens:

In spite of the inclement weather, I enjoyed a great day of birding!  Rain prevented the setting up of "migration listening stations" at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) last night.  Additional rain was predicted for this afternoon; therefore, I decided forego setting up the stations.

Instead, I drove to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) and walked around for about six hours before the rain.  When it started to rain, I headed for Fort Morgan for lunch.

Prewitt Reservoir had some nice mudflats (although wet and mushy).  Birds observed included my second Buff-breasted Sandpiper in three days (Adams & Weld Counties).  Also scoped 1 Long-billed Curlew, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, 2 Willet and an Upland Sandpiper.  They were part of the 18 species seen.

It was quite wet below the dam.  The only "out of place" bird was an Olive-sided Flycatcher.  A waterthrush left unidentified was most likely a Northern Waterthrush.

No uncommon gulls were found.  Each black headed Gull was closely inspected.  I was hoping for a Laughing Gull, which seem to appear this time of year on the eastern plains.  Only Franklin's Gulls were found.

Later I went over to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  There were less shorebirds here.  However, they included a Semipalmated Plover and 2 Snowy Plovers in 14 species.

The last hour of daylight was spent at Barr Lake (Adams).  Again, I approached from the northern side (144th avenue exit of I76).  The group of shorebirds found two days ago were not along the northern shore.

A couple of Baird's Sandpipers, 3 Spotted Sandpipers and a Western Sandpiper were just about it (well dozens of Killdeer created quite a ruckus trying to distract my focus).

The Royal Tern appeared to be hunkered down on the sandbar in the middle of the lake.  It was between many gulls and I only could see the orange bill of a larger than middle-sized tern.