Thursday, September 27, 2012

Barr Lake, Belmar Historic Park & Chatfield Reservoir

September 26, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I enjoyed an interesting day of birding.  Owling was again scratched due to rain.

Our day started with a hike at Barr Lake State Park (Adams County).  Skies were overcast; temperatures in the middle 60s, good birding weather.

We hiked from the Visitor's Center to mile marker 3.5 and back.  Most of the shorebirds were too far away to identify.  We did not see any plovers or Buff-breasted Sandpipers, which should have stood out among the sandpipers.

The Plumbeous Vireo still fluttered about the Niedrach Boardwalk Trail (or maybe not the same one found on 9/24).  A Black-and-white Warbler was found in the taller willows just southwest of the Niedrach Trail.  A Common Yellowthroat "pished up" from the shorter willows.

Along the western side of the park, a pair of Townsend's Warblers was found at mile marker 2.8.  Highlight bird of the day was a Palm Warbler among 12-24 Yellow-rumped Warblers at mile marker 3.0!

We turned around at mile marker 3.5 as the trail between mile markers 4.0 & 6.0 (end of dam) has fewer trees and is farther from the riparian area.

A 30 minute search for the Bay-breasted Warbler or any uncommon birds back at the banding area (mile marker 8.7) did not turn up any rare birds.

A couple of House Wrens, a Western Wood-pewee, a Dusky Flycatcher and another unidentified "empidonax flycatcher" are still around.  No orioles were found.

This eight mile hike was one of my shorter hikes in the past couple of weeks.  Legs are getting tired.

Next, we drove to Belmar Historic Park (Jefferson) for another search for the Palm Warblers and Blackpoll Warblers.  One Palm Warbler was with a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers along the western side of Kountze Lake.  At least 4 Snowy Egrets remain.

We again found a couple of Wilson's Warblers, a MacGillivray's Warbler and Orange-crowned Warblers.  The Blackpoll Warblers, Townsend's Warbler and Ash-throated Flycatcher were not relocated.

Our finally stop was Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  We scoped the lake from the "cliffs" high above the southern side of the reservoir, west of Campgrounds.  The previously reported Arctic Tern stayed quite far from the shore.  We also found a Common Loon from our elevated vantage point.

Several Red-necked Phalarope were observed swimming around Plum Creek Delta.  A Plumbeous Vireo was long Plum Creek to the footbridge.

The riparian area south of the Plum Creek Delta footbridge was quite birdy.  The best bird was a Blackpoll Warbler.  Other birds included a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Orange-crowned Warblers, a Wilson's Warbler and a Western Wood-pewee.

By this time, traffic around Denver was terrible so we headed over to Deer Creek Park.  Unfortunately, it was raining when we arrived; that ended our birding day before a Northern Pygmy-Owl search.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Adams to Jackson County

September 24-25, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I searched for owls around Barr Lake State Park (Adams County) before sunrise.  We did not have any luck and decided to take a quick look around the Niedrach Boardwalk Trail at Barr Lake.  Temperatures were in the 50s, winds mild and skies overcast.

A Plumbeous Vireo and House Wren were among the few birds moving around the boardwalk.  A Common Yellowthroat popped up from the willows just south of the boardwalk loop.

We then drove over to the boat ramp area and walked back to the Pioneer Trail.  A pair of Townsend's Warblers flew about the cottonwoods just south of the trailhead.  A decision to skip continuing to the banding area turned out not a good one (more later).

Instead, we hiked from the boat ramp to the stone house below the dam.  A Cassin's Vireo was found in the Russian Olive trees near mile marker 6.8.  A few Yellow-rumped Warblers were about the only additional birds found.

Next, we headed west to Belmar Historic Park where a Palm Warbler was reported yesterday.  The first bird found was a Townsend's Warbler just north of the covered footbridge.  A real surprise was a juvenile Ash-throated Flycatcher in the bushes near the footbridge.

In the next hour, we examined 36+ Yellow-rumped Warblers along the southern side of Kountze Lake without finding the Palm Warbler.  A MacGillivray's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and Orange-crowned Warbler were found near the horse trail footbridge at the northwest corner of Kountze Lake.

We returned to Barr Lake to pick up Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons for an owling trip.  A Bay-breasted Warbler had been reported at the banding station (about 200 yards west of our earlier hike) and the four of us looked for it unsuccessfully for about 45 minutes.

So we headed up to Pennock Pass (Larimer).  The weather up there was fantastic with cool temperatures and no wind.  The waxing 1/2 moon lit up the forest road and trees.  All were entertained by the night/forest sounds.  Trying to figure out which birds were calling was a good challenge.  On nights like this, birds can be quite busy filling the airwaves.

Eventually, we found 2 Flammulated Owls near Pennock Pass's Summit.

On hour before midnight, our group continued north and west to Cameron Pass.  The calm winds made our hike around the Crags Campgrounds and the Cameron Pass Summit pleasurable.  Again, birds were quite noisy.

Two Boreal Owls were heard south of the Campgrounds and another just west of the Pass's Summit.

Jacob and Ray decided to get some sleep while Bryan and I decided to drive into the Colorado State Forest.  I have found that the best times to find Boreal Owls is an hour after complete dark and again 2 hours before sunrise.

Bryan and I walked from the intersection of Michigan Creek and Ruby Jewell Roads for about a mile to the east.  On the return trip, a Boreal Owl was heard about 0.4 miles from the intersection.  When we reached the clearing about 0.1 miles from the intersection a Flammulated Owl was calling.   

By sunrise, both of us we tired and we went for some shuteye.

We woke up around noon to drizzling skies and 8+ mph winds.  Jacob and Ray had checked several hummingbird feeders around Gould and the KOA Campgrounds at the entrance to the Colorado State Forest.  A few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and fewer Rufous Hummingbirds are still around.

At 2:00 pm, it started to snow.  While the landscape rapidly turning white was picturesque, the conditions were not encouraging for our planned Northern Saw-whet Owl search later tonight. 

A stop at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center added Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, a Wilson's Warbler, Clark's Nutcrackers, Gray Jays and a few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds to our day list.

Finally, we decided to call tonight's owling off and returned to Denver.  We did stop at our intended search area west of Loveland (a friend's ranch) and looked around for an hour.  Finding a Northern Saw-whet Owl hidden in a forest of trees (and while it is raining) is not a high percentage operation (none was found).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Search for Sprague's Pipits

September 20-23, 2012

Richard Stevens:

September 20, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I started a trek in search of Sprague's Pipits.  Our early date is September 14, however most Sprague's Pipits are not found until the last week of September into the first couple of weeks of October.

Our expectations were not high.  Temperatures have been rather warm which we figured would keep the pipits farther north still.

On our trip to the northeast corner of Colorado, we decided to skip regular stop at Jackson Reservoir, instead stopping at less birded locations such as Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan County).

Our stop at Brush Wildlife Area was a great choice.  Birds were everywhere (along the creek, along the pond and over at the northern border by the South Platte River.

Our Yellow-rumped Warbler count was over 110 birds, mostly immature birds.  We found both White-breasted Nuthatches and Red-breasted Nuthatches.  Red-breasted appear to be in high numbers on the eastern plains this fall.  Two Brown Creepers were also found.

Best birds included a Palm Warbler on the eastern side of the pond.  Townsend's Warblers flew around the taller cottonwoods along the creek (especially the western end of the property).

A Red-eyed Vireo was in the cottonwoods along the Platte River.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker called from the same area however never allowed us a look to determine sex.

A White-throated Sparrow was found east of the parking area. 

Misses: the resident Eastern Screech-Owls ignored our recordings today.

Brush Ponds Wildlife Area was just the opposite.  Few birds were found and we moved on to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).

We did not spend a lot of time (one can take the whole day to cover this huge property).  We walked below the dam and east of the manager's home/office.

Highlights included a Northern Parula, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Waterthrush and 2+ Townsend's Warblers. 

We walked around DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick) in the late afternoon.  A Field Sparrow was found on the hill southwest of the parking area. 

A Magnolia Warbler was found fluttering about the old dump.

Misses: no Northern Bobwhites or Harris's Sparrows were encountered today.

Our energizing birding day ended at the Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop.  At the eastern side of the Rest Stop, we enticed two Eastern Screech-Owls to answer our recordings (this was Sedgwick County)!

We walked Roger Danka's ranch around midnight and heard a couple of additional Eastern Screech-Owls!

September 21, 2012

Bryan, Jacob, Ray and I drove the Sedgwick County Roads in search of pipits, especially Sprague's Pipit.  During the morning, we parked at half a dozen locations and walked the roads where Sprague's Pipits have been found in the past.

Any Pipits were quite scarce.  In the end, we only found 1 or 2 Sprague's Pipits.  This was along Sedgwick County Road 59, between CR 30 & 26.  Sedgwick County Road 61 was a bust (usually the best road to find Sprague's Pipits).

We came across quite a few longspurs.  The majority were McCown's with half a dozen Chestnut-collared Longspurs in the mix.  Even Raptors were numerous.  Swainson's Hawks numbered over 38, Red-tailed Hawks 21, American Kestrels 9 and 1 Prairie Falcon.

A stop at Mark's Butte was essential.  Greater Prairie-Chickens have been seen here on more than five occasions in the past 10 years.  Unfortunately none was found today.

Next, we headed to Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) and several private ranches of my friends.

Sand Draw was fantastic and delayed further pipit searches.  The windbreak along the western side had a Philadelphia Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, and 2+ Townsend's Warblers.

Two Field Sparrows were along the eastern fence line.  A Loggerhead Shrike and young Blue Grosbeak also were a surprise.

Misses: no owls.  While I have found Eastern Screech-Owls here (quite rare), Barn Owls were more likely; none was found today.

We "got" our Barn Owl for the day at a nearby private ranch (Sedgwick).  Two watering holes on private ranches were checked for Eastern Meadowlarks; none was found.

September 22, 2012

Our target birds today were Sprague's Pipits and Eastern Meadowlarks.  Pipits were few as we expected; no Eastern Meadowlarks were found at previous years' locations.

I was determined to make my annual fall hike of the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Jacob Washburn joined me for a rather long day hike on the sandy hills.  Be sure to take plenty of water when attempting this.  One way was approximately 6.8 miles (with zigzags, our round trip was more than a 14 mile hike).

Our early start before sunrise allowed us to chalk off a few miles before the sun warmed the plains.  Sparrows were quite numerous.  We eventually ran into two Sprague's Pipits, dozens of American Pipits and a Greater Prairie-Chicken.

Sprague's Pipit
(40.82148N 102.79205W and 40.83487N 102.74318W)
Greater Prairie-Chicken
(40.84720N 102.70573W)

Hundreds of Vesper Sparrows (300+) topped the count list.  Jacob and I also ran into 100+ Lark Sparrows, 51 Chipping, 21 Brewer's, 16 Cassin's (that we could properly ID), 2 Clay-colored, and 1 Field Sparrow.

A flock of 5 Lark Buntings added the state bird to our day list.

While Jacob and I "leisurely" wandered the sand hills on foot, Bryan Ehlmann and Ray Simmons drove the Sedgwick county roads to the east.  They stopped at several of the WIA properties that I have conducted point counts in past years.

Eventually Bryan and Ray found 1 Sprague's Pipit (40.83910N 102.55757W) and several dozen American Pipits out on the sand hills.

They reported dozens of longspurs, mostly McCown's, more than a dozen Chestnut-collared and 2 Lapland Longspurs.  Their sparrow (species) count was similar to ours; numbers were less as they drove the county roads.

In the afternoon, we all headed to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  It was a fantastic stop.

Along the shore in the southeast corner, we found 2 American Golden-Plovers, 2 Black-bellied Plovers, a Pectoral Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers and 2 Least Sandpipers.

The highlight of the stop however was a female Cape May Warbler at the southwest corner of the Campgrounds.  She was with 7-8 Yellow-rumped Warblers and an Orange-crowned Warbler.

We walked the northern woods and found a Tennessee Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler.  No Eastern Screech-Owls were tempted to respond to our recordings.

We enjoyed a great barbecue at Roger Danka's ranch.  The long day of hiking peaked our hunger.  Cholesterol levels soared tonight. 

September 23, 2012

The four of us started our day with a return to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  Unfortunately, the Cape May Warbler appeared to have moved on from the Campgrounds.  We did find a Tennessee Warbler at the Campgrounds.

We only took the time to check the southeast corner of the reservoir.  Most of the shorebirds were somewhere else.  The pair of American Golden-Plovers and a few Western Sandpipers were all that were left here.

After yesterday's trek, I give Jacob credit for willing to do it again today.  While our hike today was only about 7 miles or so, temperatures were warmer.  Higher winds blew the hot air and sand around.  Hiking on the sandy hills of the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) can be quite strenuous. 

Again we encountered hundreds sparrows, most were Vesper Sparrows (also at least one Brewer's, Clay-colored, Lark, Chipping, no Field Sparrows).

A Greater Prairie-Chicken wandered around the windmill near (40.79184N 102.80389W).  A great start to our day.

We identified one Sprague's Pipit (40.79291N 102.87218W)

Bryan and Ray continued to drive the Logan and Sedgwick County Roads.  They even ventured into Phillips County without finding any Sprague's Pipits.  They did report high numbers of longspurs (three species, with only 2 Lapland Longspurs identified).

In the early afternoon, they picked us up and we abandoned our Sprague's Pipit search until next week.  A brief stop at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) found only the Philadelphia Vireo and Tennessee Warbler (first seen 9/21).  We detoured south to Haxtun and Holyoke on the drive back to Denver.

Afternoon appears not to be the best time to bird Haxtun and Holyoke.  Steve Mlodinow had reported some quite uncommon birds yesterday.  We did not experience the same fortune.  High winds from the northwest may have aided the birds in moving south?

Haxtun City Park was slow.   A juvenile Broad-winged Hawk was the only interesting bird.

Holyoke was slow also.  We found none of the interesting birds reported yesterday at the Cemetery, Justice Hall and High School.  Our only uncommon bird was a Red-eyed Vireo at the Holyoke City Park.

We rushed to get to Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington) before sunset.  Perhaps our late arrival was the cause of our low bird count.  Only an Ovenbird and a Townsend's Warbler remained of the Nashville Warbler, Swamp & White-throated Sparrows reported yesterday.  We all had hoped to add a Swamp Sparrow to our Washington Bird Lists.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cherry Creek State Park and DIA Owl Loop

Sue Ehlmann:
Email sent to the "cobirders" mailing group:

Hello cobirders,

Arapahoe County
Richard Stevens, Bryan and I stopped at Cherry Creek State Park. There were no Townsend's Warblers found at the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area. We did see a young American Redstart, a Cassin's Vireo and 21 Yellow-rumped Warblers. The warblers seem to prefer the locust trees while the vireo the cottonwoods.

Later we relocated Burrowing Owls at E470 and 6th avenue and along Gun Club Road halfway between Colfax and 6th avenue.

No Short-eared Owls showed up at dusk along the DIA Owl Loop.

Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Sue Ehlmann, CoBus & RMORC Project Director
Brighton, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "
Read "cobirders" at:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Washington Park, Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Barr Lake

September 18, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Sue Ehlmann dropped us off at Buckley Road & 88th avenue and Bryan and I walked the four miles south to 56th avenue (outside of east end of Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County).

Eventually we found 5 Burrowing Owls.  One of which was in Denver County just north of the clouds along Pena Blvd.  Using clouds as a waypoint?  We speculate these three clouds are quite expensive works of art and do not move.  Three of the Burrowing Owls were inside the arsenal near the number 111 on the fence (about 3/4 mile north of the Eagle bunker).

Other birds included 6 Say's Phoebes, 7 Rock Wrens, 38+ Vesper Sparrows, and a Wilson's Warbler (at Buckley and the creek, 0.5 miles north of 56th avenue).  A first year Bullock's Oriole was also near the creek.

Our only Western Kingbird sighting was at the old Eagle Watch Bunker parking area.  Hawks included 10 Red-tailed, 2 Ferruginous, and 2 Swainson's Hawks.  A male American Kestrel was the only falcon observed.

The best birding was along the creek from Buckley Road to Pena Blvd.  The fence is broken and there is no indication of "private or no trespassing".

Along the creek, we encountered 1 Cassin's Vireo, 1 Plumbeous Vireo, 3 Townsend's Warblers, 5 Yellow-throated Warblers, 1 Orange-crowned Warbler, a Hermit Thrush and one "empidonax flycatcher".

Four Burrowing Owls found along the DIA Owl Loop (3.4 miles east of Tower & 96th avenue), no Short-eared Owls.

Earlier in the day, I sent the following message to the "cobirders" mail listserve:

"Bryan Ehlmann and I found a flock of birds in the Honeylocust trees when we stopped at the northeast corner of Glenmere Lake at Washington Park. Trees were north of road, west of bike/walking road.

The birds stayed high in trees and among leaves. Flock included 4 Townsend's, 2 Yellow rumped, and Chestnut sided Warblers (this was at 2:00 pm).

Earlier at Barr Lake:
Townsend's Warblers north of banding area
Blackpoll Warbler at Pioneer Trail"

Richard Stevens; Director, Colorado Birding Society
Denver, Colorado
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "cobirders" by sending blank email to:
Read "cobirders" at:

Bryan and I had hiked the Barr Lake Trail from the boat ramp (mile marker 7.6) to the Niedrach Trail (0.5) and back.  Birding was quite slow.  Winds 6+ mph; temperatures in the 60s.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Barr Lake and the DIA Owl Loop

September 17, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went over to Barr Lake (Adams County).  We scoped the lake from the boat ramp, found no uncommon waterfowl or gulls.

Burrowing Owls were again found along Gun Club Road (halfway between 6th avenue and Colfax) and at the northeast corner of E470 and 6th avenue.

A Great Horned Owl called northeast of the parking area for the Coal Creek Open Space.

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight along the DIA Owl Loop.  We did see four Burrowing Owls at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.

Cherry Creek Reservoir and the DIA Owl Loop

September 16, 2012

Richard Stevens:

After spending most of the day recovering from our eastern trip, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and I drove over to Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe County) to checkout the warbler fallout reported a couple of days ago.

We walked south of the Smoky Hill Picnic area. Only three Townsend's Warblers were found. They appeared to favor the locust trees.

The Cassin's Vireo stayed in the locust trees east of the drinking fountain.

Five Yellow rumped Warblers flew about the Pine Trees east of the restroom. We could not make any of them Pine Warblers.

We scoped the lake just long enough to find one Sabine's Gull.

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann and I took a circuitous route home from Cherry Creek Reservoir. We stopped at the 470 Toll Road and 6th avenue. Four Burrowing Owls were below the road at the northeast corner. I understand they picked up a dead Burrowing Owl here last week. In all my passes, I never found more than two. Could this be a minor "staging place" for southern migration? We found another two Burrowing Owls along Gun Club Road halfway between 6th avenue and Colfax Avenue. Both areas are in Arapahoe County.

We drove the DIA Owl Loop found another five Burrowing Owls at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th Avenue (Adams County). No Short-eared Owls appeared.

Colorado Eastern Plains Sept. 12-15, 2012

September 12-15, 2012
Richard Stevens:

September 12, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I headed to Prewitt Reservoir to see if the Ruddy Turnstones were still there.

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) first.  No uncommon gulls or shorebirds were found from the southern dam or the northeastern Wildlife Area.

The western Campgrounds were the most interesting.  We eventually found a Cassin's Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo and 3+ Townsend's Warblers.

One of the Long-eared Owls that has been around all year (see photo on CoBus photo library) was in the same area as all last winter.  One pair may have nested this summer at Jackson Reservoir.

We finally made it to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) in the afternoon.  The Ruddy Turnstones were still along the water's edge in the northeastern corner.

We walked from the most eastern parking area to the manager's office/home and back.  Most interesting birds were a Philadelphia Vireo and Cassin's Vireo.

Two Common Terns were observed flying over the reservoir.

At dusk, we played recordings below the dam and received a response from an Eastern Screech-Owl.  Later we tried the western end of the property and obtained another two responses!

September 13, 2012

At civil twilight, Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I drove over to North Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  Most of our morning was spent walking the southern side of the State Park.

The southern woods produced sightings of a Barn Owl (possibly two), Tennessee Warbler, Cassin's Vireo and 7+ Townsend's Warblers.

Later a Red-naped Sapsucker was discovered at the Campgrounds.  The only uncommon birds at the picnic area were another 2 Townsend's Warblers.

Back in Sterling, we stopped at several locations.  Neither the Columbine Park nor the cemetery hosted any uncommon birds.

Overland Park on the east side of town was a hot spot.  We did not find any of our target birds (cuckoos), however came across a Magnolia Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and 2 Townsend's Warblers.

An "empidonax flycatcher" kept our attention for about an hour.  It appeared to be an Alder Flycatcher (in color and shape).  Unfortunately, while it "hawked" insects during our watch, it never made a sound.

Our birding day ended at Pioneer Park on the west side of town.  We saw another 2 Townsend's Warblers and a 1st year American Redstart.  At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings!

September 14, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I continued our eastern Colorado Plains trip.  Instead of our usual trip up to Logan and Sedgwick Counties to visit Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area and Jumbo, we decided on a different route and drove Highway 6 east into Phillips.

It is/was a little early to search for Sprague's Pipits (however, while our early date is 9/14, most early sightings are in the last week of September and most sightings in October).  It was too late to try for an earlier "first date" so we skipped that hunt.

The Akron Golf Course was quiet.  The same was said about Haxtun City Park.  Holyoke was a different matter and quite birdy.

Three Townsend's Warblers were found at the Holyoke Cemetery (a good place to visit early in the morning).

Holyoke City Park was jumping with birds.  Uncommon birds included a Blackburnian Warbler and Least Flycatcher (seemed out of range).  Red-breasted Nuthatches (also possibly out of range), White-breasted Nuthatches, a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers, a couple of Wilson's Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers were also added to our day list.

We continued south and stopped to check up on two friend's yards in Wray.  Two male, a female Northern Cardinals, and a continuing Harris's Sparrow were seen.  The Harris's Sparrow has been around all of 2012 (first seen in November 2011).

A three mile side trip to Stalker Pond did not find any uncommon birds.  The resident male Northern Cardinal did put in an appearance.  We could not find the resident Barn Owl.

We continued south and stopped at Beecher Island.  I always enjoy this place if not just for its history.  My old tennis pal, Terry C. Johnson incorporated Beecher Island in one of his western novels about Eastern Colorado.  The place where old Roman Nose Indian Chief met his end.

Birding was spectacular today.  We eventually found a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Summer Tanager, Eastern Phoebe, 4+ Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and several Field Sparrows.  Be sure to check it out if in the general area.

No Common Poorwills were found around Hale Ponds after sunset.  While Bryan set up camp, Jerry Petrosky and I decided to walk from the Kansas border to Highway 385 (about miles).

Our final Eastern Screech-Owl count was only five, which surely would have been higher during mating season.  Jerry and I already plan make the trek again next spring.

We did not have to walk back.  A quick phone call to Bryan got us a ride back to camp.

September 15, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I enjoyed a great day of weather and birding on Colorado's Eastern Plains.

Bryan and I birded three hours around Hale Ponds while Jerry caught a few hours sleep after last nights trek.  A dawn, we were able to lure an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond to our recordings (it was first heard last night).

A Northern Waterthrush was found along the Republican River about 400 yards from the Kansas border.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was along Yuma County Road 4 (just south of the eastern Hale Pond).

Finally, Jerry joined us and we headed to Bonny Reservoir.  A Harris's Sparrow was in a wood pile along County Road 4.  A Barn Owl was found at his usual location (building).

The male Northern Cardinal and 2 Townsend's Warblers were at Fosters Grove Campgrounds.

We then walked from Foster's Grove to Highway 385 (and back, along the northern edge of the woods to the west and in the middle of the woods and the return trip).  Only a few birds were found.  However, they included a Magnolia Warbler, Western Wood-pewee (possible Eastern Wood-Pewee?), Wilson's Warblers, Townsend's Warbler, Red-naped Sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, and "empidonax flycatcher".

Our final stop was the Hopper Ponds area (hoping for an uncommon sparrow).  Only Vesper, Lark and Song Sparrows, however, a Blue-headed Vireo offered a great contrast with a Cassin's Vireo.

We stopped for an hour at Fairview Cemetery in Burlington (Kit Carson County).  No Pine Warblers were found today.  Consolation sightings included a Blue-headed Vireo, Summer Tanager and 4+ Townsend's Warblers.

On the way back to Denver, we detoured to Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  A Cassin's Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, and Northern Waterthrush were found along the eastern side of the lake.

At dusk, we found yet another Eastern Screech-Owl (below the dam).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Long Day of Birding In the Heat

Richard Stevens:

September 10, 2012

Jeffrey Poulin and I headed to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson County) at 5:45 am.  We arrived 30 minutes later and walked in cool temperatures (middle 50s).  It was a little cold for the birds to be moving about, however we figured to get above the birds and catch them on our trip back down the mountain.  We hoped to run into a Northern Pygmy-Owl on the trip up, which did not happen.  In all we hiked about 2 miles up the mountain.

It was a fantastic morning.  Absolutely no wind, the woods were quiet except for the birds.  Although I thought, we did not see as many birds as would have been expected.

Eventually we ran into three American Three-toed Woodpeckers although none allowed us good looks.  Locations were:

1. (PVR) --Buck Gulch Trr/100 yds/south Pine Lake Loop (Stevens) first 9/10
2. (PVR) --Strawberry Jack Trr/70 yds/uphill of switchbacks (Stevens) first 9/10
3. (PNF) --Strawberry Jack Tr/160 yds/south/Parkview Tr (M. Brown/Stevens) last 9/10

(PVR): Pine Valley Ranch Park
(PNF): Pike National Forest

When we arrived at the location # 3 dozens of Western Bluebirds were flying around.  More than I can remember seeing in one place in Colorado.

Other birds along Parkview Trail included several dozen Tree Swallows and 3 Plumbeous Vireos.  When a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew through the area, all the Western Bluebirds disappeared for 15 minutes (they returned later).

A search for American Dippers along the South Platte River came up empty (I have never looked so long for a Dipper, and then to miss them).

Jeffrey dropped me off at Bear Creek Lake Park (Jefferson) at noon and I spent the rest of the day covering the trails.  I hiked many of the 15 miles of trails from noon to 6:30 pm.  Again, I probably only walked about 5.2 miles (according to my gps).

The day warmed up quite a bit.  The sun reflecting off the white sands and dirt made it somewhat uncomfortable.  My Water bottle came in quite handy.

The birdiest (is that a word?) time was the beginning of my trek.  A Cassin's Vireo and 2 Townsend's Warblers were along the bike path between 470 and the stone monument to Mr. Morrison (west of the park entrance).

It was and continued to be a strange day.  Birds were difficult to find.

I tried to stay as close to Bear Creek on the hike to the Reservoir proper (2.55 miles according to my gps). It was also the shadiest path.

Highlights included a Northern Waterthrush along Bear Creek where Owl Loop Trail forks to the right (off Bear Creek trail).

A Hermit Thrush and 2 Wilson's Warblers wandered in the thickets farther east where there is a beaver dam below and cement wall.  The only birds on the water were a dozen Double-crested Cormorants and one Ring-billed Gull.

Misses: I did not locate the Northern Waterthrush reported at Bear Creek and the Lake or later the Northern Waterthrush reported where Turkey Creek enters the lake.

Out on the vast rolling hills south, east and north of the lake (no shade) many Vesper Sparrows and a flock of 7 Lark Sparrows dominated numbers.  My final Say's Phoebe count was five.

Finally, I took the Mt Carbon Loop.  A drainage ditch here is lined with a few cottonwoods and willows.  Another pair of Townsend's Warbler was here (just northeast of the intersection of the Carbon Trail and the signed "rerouted trail").

It was a long birding day as the sun set over the western mountains.  The hot sun finally drained the last of my energy and I skipped a planned owling excursion.

Final Days of an Eastern Colorado Bird Trip

September 7-9, 2012

September 7, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann and I continued our eastern Colorado trip.  Weather has been fantastic with cool temperatures and mild winds.  Clear skies have allowed the moon to light up the landscape at night.  Although owling has been slow, fantastic trip so far!

Today we tried to hit many of the public birding places in Lincoln County.  We enjoyed a superb day of birding.

We drove around Hugo as we past through.  Highlight was a male Red-bellied Woodpecker working a large cottonwood tree.

There were few passerines moving about Hugo Wildlife Area.  A Broad-winged Hawk was "resting or hunting" during migration through the area.

Kinney Reservoir Wildlife Area was more "birdy".  A Nashville Warbler was in loose association with several Wilson's Warblers and a Yellow Warbler.  Two House Wrens remain in the area.

Our best birding was at a stop at a friend's ranch.  The cottonwoods around his pond had a Tennessee Warbler, American Redstart, Black-and-white Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher and several Yellow Warblers. 

However, the highlight was definitely a singing Alder Flycatcher.  They appear to be "all over" Colorado this fall.

Our final stop was Karval Reservoir Wildlife Area.  An Eastern Phoebe greeted us near the entrance.  Another Nashville Warbler fluttered about with several Wilson's Warblers (3 or 4).

After sunset, a Short-eared Owl flew about the western end of the property!

September 8, 2012

Bryan and I continued south.  Today we centered our birding around Kiowa County and eastern Prowers County.

Neesopah, Upper and Lower Queens Reservoirs were slow.  Neenoshe Reservoir was "jumping" with birds.

Eventually we found a Magnolia Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler and 2 Cassin's Vireos along the west side of the reservoir (cottonwoods from boat ramp to Locust Grove to the south).

We had to gas up in Holly and decided to try the city park.  What a good choice (luck).  A first year Northern Parula was found.

While usually not birdy, we checked several nearby Wildlife Areas.  A Nashville Warbler and several Wilson's Warblers were at Granada Wildlife Area.  A Field Sparrow was seen at Deadman Wildlife Area.

Holly Rest Stop near the Kansas border occupied much of the rest of our day (never made it to Lamar Community College).  A Blue-headed Vireo flew around the rest area.  Two Field Sparrows were found along the old Highway 50 (west of the rest stop).  Toward sunset, a Bobolink called somewhere southeast of the Rest Stop.

September 9, 2012

We finally made it to Lamar Community College Woods (Prowers County) this morning.  It has been the eastern Colorado "hotspot" for several weeks now.  It did not disappoint today.

We eventually found a Cassin's Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, American Redstart, 2 Northern Cardinals and a juvenile Carolina Wren.  The adult Carolina Wren eluded us.

We needed to return to Denver, however made a quick trip south to Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  Here we found another Blue-headed Vireo and Cassin's Vireo.  Two Townsend's Warblers were on the south side of the pond.

A Wood-pewee has cooperating and sang "for us".  The song confirmed that it was an Eastern Wood-Pewee.

One last sighting in the thickets below the dam was quite interesting.  An "Empidonax" Flycatcher was quite green and yellow.  Both of us thought it to be a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.  Unfortunately, the bird never made a sound.

Then we rushed back to Denver for Bryan's commitments.

My birding later was written in a post to "cobirders" and reinforced that timing can be everything when birding.

"Hello cobirders;

I picked up a new birding partner after Bryan Ehlmann and I returned from a week on the eastern plains.

We drove up to Boulder. The Short billed Dowitcher was on the southeast shore. Twenty minutes later at 6:57 PM a Peregrine Falcon flew down. All the shorebirds flew north-northeast. Except the slowest Killdeer which was caught by the falcon!

I believe the SBDO was a new Boulder County bird for both of us.

Continued Good Birding!"

Trip to Elbert County

September 7, 2012

Richard Stevens: An email sent to "cobirders" listserve by Sue Ehlmann:

"September 7, 2012

Late this aftermoon, Jerry Petrosky drove Amy Davenport, Jennifer Barnes and me to Elbert County Road. We walked the road along the alfalfa fields at 4.1 miles south of highway 86. We only found one Dickcissel for sure with a possible second bird. We expected many Dickcissels and do not know if they were not there or just not flying up? The sure Dickcissel was four telephone poles north of the electric buildings and very far east of Elbert Road.

On a sad note, on the way there we passed 6th avenue and E470. We picked up a dead Burrowing Owl. It was not in too bad a shape, looked more like it hit something and was not run over.

Sue Ehlmann, CoBus & RMORC Project Director Brighton, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Barr Lake State Park Fall Count

September 6, 2012

Gary Weston: An email Jerry Petrosky sent to "cobirders" mail list:

Hello birders,

Gary Weston and I circled Barr Lake in Adams County this morning before the DFO group. We wanted to see what we would miss with less birders counting.

A Cassin's Vireo just south of mile 3.0
Townsend's Warbker in same area.
Tennessee Warbler just west of the Eagle Watch boardwalk
Palm Warbler down the blind blind trail northeast of Eagle boardwalk
Cassin's Vireo and Townsend's Warblers at banding area
Plumbeous Vireo at mile 7.4
Ash throated Flycatcher below the dam

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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Eastern Colorado Bird County

 August 31 to September 6, 2012

August 31, 2012

Gary Weston (transcripts from phone calls):

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann went for a week of bird counts along the eastern borders of Colorado.

They first stopped at Jackson Reservoir in Morgan County.  This seems to be one of the better shorebird spots this fall.

They reported:

Eastern Screech-Owl (western side, calling before civil twilight)
Short-eared Owl (northwest corner before sunrise)
Curlew Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (2)
Short-billed Dowitcher
Marbled Godwit (2)
Snowy Plover
Red-necked Phalarope (2+)
Mountain Plover (24+)
Townsend's Warbler (Campgrounds)
Cassin's Vireo (Campgrounds)

Their next stop took most of the afternoon to bird.  Brush Wildlife Area had many interesting birds.  Their report included:


September 1, 2012

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann continued their northeastern trip.  They camped at Prewitt Reservoir in Logan & Washington Counties and found Eastern Screech-Owls before civil twilight below the dam and at the western end.

After sunrise they added:

* Short-billed Dowitcher (Kaempfer/Ehlmann) (first 8/17) last 9/1
* Pectoral Sandpiper (Mlodinow/Ehlmann) (first 8/19) last 9/1
* Red-necked Phalarope (Mlodinow/Ehlmann) (first 8/19) last 9/1
* (Above: mudflats)
* Nashville Warbler (Ehlmann) first 9/1
* (Above: below eastern end of dam)

One other note, they found a strange Towhee below the eastern side of the dam. It was not identified to species.  Brief looks suggested an Eastern Towhee.  It was not seen well or did it call.

Most of their day was birded at North Sterling Lake State Park.  They reported:

(above picnic area)

(south side)

(Logan County Road 46 on the way into State Park)

Their day ended at Ovid Woods and Julesburg Wildlife Area.  Target: Northern Cardinals; none was found.


September 2, 2012

Stevens and Ehlmann northeastern trip continued today.  They returned to Logan County and stayed until dark.  No Short-eared Owls were found at sunset at the Southern Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.

They reported:

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area
Black-throated Green Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Screech-Owl
Bell's Vireo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Vesper Sparrows (many)
Clay-colored Sparrow (2)
Brewer's Sparrow (3)
Lark Sparrows (many)

Red Lion Wildlife Area
Townsend's Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Blue-headed Vireo

Duck Creek Wildlife Area
Dickcissel (2)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
White-throated Sparrow
Eastern Screech-Owl 

After dark, they relocated another pair of Eastern Screech-Owls at private ranch # 1 and three Long-eared Owls at private ranch # 2.

September 3, 2012

Stevens and Ehlmann turned south today.  Target birds were Eastern Meadowlarks, Ammodramus sparrows and Smith's Longspurs.  None of these was found.

They reported:

Sedgwick County

# Sand Draw Wildlife Area
Bell's Vireo (Ehlmann) first 9/3
Cassin's Vireo (Ehlmann) first 9/3
Blue-headed Vireo (Ehlmann) first 9/3
Field Sparrow (Ehlmann) last 9/3
Barn Owl (Ehlmann) last 9/3

# DePoorter Lake
Baltimore Oriole (Ehlmann) first 9/3
Eastern Phoebe (Ehlmann) first 9/3

Phillips County

# Holyoke Cemetery
Townsend's Warbler (7+) (Mlodinow/Ehlmann) (first 9/1) last 9/3
Baltimore Oriole (Mlodinow/Ehlmann) (first 9/1) last 9/3
Pine Warbler (Mlodinow) first 9/1
Dickcissel (15+) (Mlodinow) first 9/1

# North End of Holyoke (End of Akron Street)
Cassin's Vireo (Mlodinow/Ehlmann) (first 9/1) last 9/3

September 4, 2012

Stevens and Ehlmann continued south along the Colorado Eastern border.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens were found along Yuma County Road 45 during an earlier morning search.

They reported later in the day:

Stalker Pond:

Wray Fishing Unit

Beecher Island

A stop at several private homes in Wray in Yuma County added:
Northern Cardinal (4 males, 2 females, 2 juveniles)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Screech-Owl (2)

September 5, 2012

Stevens and Ehlmann camped at Bonny Reservoir.  They did not find any Common Poorwills at civil twilight.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called at 4:30 am north of Hale Ponds.

The area was very birdy and they reported:

Hale Ponds:
Red-bellied Woodpecker (pair)
Eastern Bluebirds (7)
Tennessee Warbler (north of most northeastern pond)
Nashville Warbler (Republican River, 50 yards west of Kansas)
Barn Owl (CR 4)

Bonny Reservoir
Northern Cardinal (old fosters grove)
Townsend's Warbler (2, fosters grove)
Pine Warbler (fosters grove, after missing them in Phillips and northern Yuma
Counties and finding one in Kansas on Monday, they finally found one in

Great Crested Flycatcher (CR 3, between hwy 385 and fosters grove)
Possible Alder Flycatcher (CR 3, 400 yards east of hwy 385) colors and shape good, did not make a sound

Baltimore Oriole (road along south side of dried reservoir)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (male, same area as Baltimore Oriole)

Summer Tanager (old wagon wheel Campgrounds area)
House Wrens still around

September 6, 2012

Stevens and Ehlmann returned to Bonny Reservoir in Yuma County and found 2 Eastern Screech-Owls before sunrise along the Republican River between highway 385 and the old Foster's Grove Campgrounds.

Then they returned to Burlington and birded Fairview Cemetery in Kit Carson County where they stayed for 3.5 hours.  They found the cemetery very birdy.

Pine Warbler,
Tennessee Warbler
Townsend's Warblers (2)
Cassin's Vireo
Lark Sparrows (many)
Lincoln's Sparrow (2)
Vesper Sparrow (many)
Clay-colored Sparrow (2)
Western Tanager
Bullock's Oriole (2)