Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Return to Adams County

October 30, 2012

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cherry Creek Reservoir and DIA Owl Loop

October 29, 2012

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adams to Arapahoe County, a Beautiful Colorado Fall Day

October 28, 2012

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Slow Day Of Birding Around Denver

October 27, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Early this morning, Bryan Ehlmann and I drove over to the Platte River Birding Area (88th and Colorado Blvd, Adams County).  We walked down the west side of the Platte River to Highway 224.  No Barrow's Goldeneyes, Long-tailed Ducks or scoters on the West Gravel Lakes or the Platte River.

Our return hike was on the east side of the Platte River.  No uncommon birds were found on Tani Reservoir or East Gravel Lake.  We made a quick trip up to Cooley Lake with similar results.

On the way home, we stopped briefly at Barr Lake (Adams).  The Harris's Sparrow was again below the old farm equipment behind the Visitor's Center.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I went over to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  Temperatures hovered around 42 degrees until sunset.  We tried to arrive after 4:00 pm when the Trading Post closes (less people traffic).

Unfortunately, three professional photographers were using this backdrop for their client's photos.  It was quite frustrating waiting for a non-congested period when the juncos and sparrows would emerge from the thickets.

Several times several dozen Dark-eyed Juncos and three White-crowned Sparrows appeared.  Unfortunately no uncommon sparrows did.

Leisure Day East of Denver

October 26, 2012

Richard Stevens:

A Vermilion Flycatcher report at Barr Lake (Adams County) came to us late yesterday afternoon.  Bryan Ehlmann and I headed over for a look.  It was not found where reported at the horse trailer parking area.  We also hiked the Prairie Trail to the southern border of the park.  No sign of a Vermilion Flycatcher.  Note: the sex of the bird was not given (males are red, females brown).

The Harris's Sparrow was observed in the bushes by the old farm equipment behind the Visitor's Center.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal for a hike in the sunshine.  When we arrived the two Harris's Sparrows were below the eastern feeder north of the Contact Station (the old Visitor's Center).

A walk around Mary Lake did not find any Swamp Sparrows (only a couple of Northern Flickers).  We scoped Lake Ladora from the western parking area and found a female/immature type Surf Scoter.

The road south of Lake Ladora is now open to the public and we drove it (6th Avenue).  We stopped at the southwestern corner of Lake Ladora and played recordings of Swamp Sparrow, Virginia Rail, Sora and Marsh Wren.  One out of four was not bad.  A Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails for us!

The newly opened road allows views of Lower Derby Lake (which until now was not accessible to the public).  Hundreds of ducks swan on the swallow lake.  Unfortunately no uncommon waterfowl.  We did see dozens of Ruddy Ducks, one Canvasback and several Redheads.

Other than White tailed and Mule Deer, the rest of the drive to the eastern end of 6th Avenue was uneventful.

A quick hike over to the Rod & Gun Club bird blind found a Hermit Thrush hiding underneath the blind!

Annual "Hike Loveland Ridge, Continental Divide Trek"

October 24, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky and Bryan Ehlmann met me at Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties) for our "annual" Hike Loveland Ridge (Continental Divide).  Several snowstorms are/were predicted for the area and we had to move up the trip this year. 

There is a narrow window when the ground is snow covered however not deep enough for avalanche danger.  Two or three times in the past ten years we have missed this window and not been able to conduct the hike/bird survey.

NOTE: I want to make it clear, that this hike can be quite dangerous.  Do not attempt when there is any accumulation of snow on the ridge.  Both Bryan and I have taken avalanche classes.  This makes us more aware than the general public, however by no means experts.  Even experts get in trouble.  Nature MUST be respected in Colorado (she always wins).  We also carry avalanche beacons and shovels as precautions.

Our hike was highly successful again this year.  We counted eleven White-tailed Ptarmigan along the four mile hike (three groups, four birds in Clear Creek, five and two birds in Summit County).

Afterwards, we drove up the paved road south of the Loveland Pass's Summit to the small ice covered lake there.  A hike around the lake found another two White-tailed Ptarmigan up the northwest hill.

Scoping the mountainside at the first large pullover below the southern side of Loveland Pass did not find any additional Ptarmigan.  This is my most successful area for finding Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass in the winter.

Finally, we hiked down to the ragged rocks below the East side of the Summit.  Another White-tailed Ptarmigan was found below the eastern side of these ragged rocks (not visible from the Summit itself).  This is usually my second choice for a Ptarmigan search.

We then headed back to Georgetown for dinner and then to Guanella Pass for an interesting owling and camping trip.

October 25, 2012

It started to snow about 10:00 pm and did not let up until several hours after sunrise.  Owling was a bust.  Nothing responded to our recordings.

After a few hours sleep, we woke up to a foot of snow and temperatures in the 20s.  The warm sleeping bags beckoned, but we forced ourselves to get up and hike Guanella Pass.

Five hours were spent on the Summit.  The only White-tailed Ptarmigan found were in the first 20 minutes (who knew?).  Five Ptarmigan were hunkered under the couple of fir trees about 30 yards north of the upper parking area (east side of Guanella Pass Road).

Not knowing the final count would be five birds, we hiked down to the lake below the eastern side of the Summit.  Then we hiked up to the intersection of the Rosalie and 603 trails, continued up 603 to the top of the mountain and circled back east and north along the Rosalie Trail to our Jeep.

The only birds found were half a dozen American Pipits and a Prairie Falcon, which soared through the valley between Bierstadt Mountain and us (to the east).

We backtracked to the Guanella Pass Campgrounds and found a small flock of 6 Pine Grosbeaks.  The red and green birds stood out in the now falling white snow.  We heard the drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker however were not able to put binoculars on it.

Snowfall increased and our plans to go owling tonight were canceled. We returned to Denver by way of Grant (mother nature won again).

A Trip Back to North Park

October 21, 2012

Richard Stevens:

On 10/20, Rebecca Kosten and I headed to Jackson County for a couple of days.  A Flammulated Owl responded to our recordings near the Summit of Pennock Pass (this is probably a juvenile bird that was fledged not far from a nearby nest that we monitored this summer).

Later a Boreal Owl responded to our recording played at the eastern end of the upper parking lot for Joe Wright Reservoir.

After a few hours sleep, we wandered around Jackson County.  A White-throated Sparrow surprised us at the Gould Store.

Dozens of birds came to the feeders at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Unfortunately, no Rosy Finches appeared during our hour stay.  Pine Grosbeaks, plenty of Pine Siskins & Mountain Chickadees and a few Red-winged Blackbirds entertained us.

We managed to navigate the "iffy" road down to the Teller Ghost Town.  I would not recommend it in a passenger car as there are several deeply washed out areas.  Unfortunately, we did not locate any American Three-toed Woodpeckers or owls today.

We emerged from the area by way of Rand.  Few birds were seen on the "High Park Prairie".  Even the summer nesting Vesper Sparrows appeared to have abandoned North Park for the winter.

No Greater Sage-Grouse were found around the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center at dusk.

October 22, 2012

Rebecca Kosten and I ventured into Routt County for a couple of days.  Today we drove up Buffalo Pass Road to the Summit.

It was a successful day.  Temperatures were in the 50s; winds were less than 10 mph (good for this area).  Buffalo Pass Road is open to the Summit from Steamboat Springs (west side) until weather closed it (which may be soon).  It is only open on the east side on weekends (road repair) which we did not know (had planned to drive down the eastern side into Larimer County).

Eventually we found 9 American Three-toed Woodpeckers during 7 or 8 stops along the road.  The highlight however was a pair of White-winged Crossbills, which circled overhead at 0.6 miles from the Buffalo Pass Summit.

During the trek, we also saw Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees and 2 Clark's Nutcrackers.

October 23, 2012

Today we drove north to the small "village" of Columbine and then into Little Red Park (Forest Road 550 going east from Highway 129).

Just before reaching Forest Road 500, we observed a male White-winged Crossbill circling overhead.  There may have been two; however, they were not seen at the same time.

Birds were scarce.  Many of the birds that nest along Creek had migrated out.  At 3-4 miles up the road, we entered the forest.  One Dusky Grouse was observed running across the dirt track.

A Ferruginous Hawk in Little Red Park may have been the most uncommon bird found today.

One Superb Day of Birding In Colorado

October 20, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) this Saturday morning.  Weather was fantastic, a beautiful fall day in Colorado.  Unfortunately, several hunters had reserved areas north of Highway 52.  So as to not "conflict" with the hunters, we birded the southern sections (Ponds 1-4).

As it turned out, the birding was good here.  We found a Black-and-white Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler with four Black-capped Chickadees in the windbreak just south of the parking area.

The area was covered well in a couple of hours and we continued east to visit a friend's ranch.  He has a pair of Long-eared Owls that may have stayed on his ranch for several years now.  They successful fledged two owlets this summer.

After dropping Bryan off at home, I picked up Rebecca and we continued to Barr Lake (Adams) where I enjoyed a fantastic afternoon.  Fantastic does not cover it.

While walking below (northwest) of the banding area, two Black-capped Chickadees caught my attention.  In the next 15 minutes, bird activity was marvelous.  Three Brown Creepers loosely "followed" the Black-capped Chickadee activity south along the line of trees that jut toward the lake.

Then a warbler appeared and allowed me to watch it for 5 or 6 minutes.  It turned out to be a first fall Prairie Warbler.  However, that was not the end of the parade.  Another warbler followed and it turned out to be a female Black-throated Blue Warbler!

I called Bryan Ehlmann who was not home. Sue Ehlmann rushed over and we relocated the Prairie Warbler (for the third time, this time to the southwest).  I left Sue with Rebecca to look for the female Black-throated Blue Warbler and I hiked the shoreline of the dwindling lake.  They could not relocate the Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Shorebirds were few, in fact only Killdeer were found (not even a lingering Spotted Sandpiper).  After covering about 2 miles of the shore, I met up with Rebecca and Sue at the boat ramp.  Sue went home and Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop on the way to dinner in Aurora.

To top off our great day of birding we found a Peregrine Falcon perched on the northern fence to the DIA runways.  At Trussville and 114th Avenue, we found a Prairie Falcon perched on the solar farm panels.

Continuing east, I spotted another large falcon on a post at 3.1 miles east of Tower Road and 96th Avenue (just south of the infamous Prairie Dog Town and Burrowing Owl Site).  It was quite large; however, my first thought was that the Peregrine Falcon had moved.

I put a scope on the bird and we were surprised to see a Gyrfalcon (update: it was relocated on 10/27 by Bob Conway).  Unfortunately, I rushed to the car to get my digascoping camera and the bird flew.  We were not able to see if it had any straps on its legs (which may indicate that it was an escaped bird).  I have not contacted Bob to see if you had a better look at the Gyrfalcons legs.

It put a nice end to our superb day of birding (although, no Short-eared Owls appeared tonight) along the DIA Owl Loop.

Trip to Summit and Clear Creek Counties

October 19, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I took two Canadian birders to Summit County to search for mountain birds.  Rosy Finches are starting to come to lower elevations and we found a few.  Coming from eastern Canada, they were able to see 9 or 10 lifebirds (Pine Grosbeak, Pygmy Nuthatches, Clark's Nutcrackers, 3 species of Rosy Finches, Mountain Chickadees, etc.).

We searched unsuccessfully for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass.  There was little snow on the Pas, which made finding a Ptarmigan quite difficult.  Looking for their tracks and following those to the birds is the best technique for success.

A stop at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) on the way back to Denver added a Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Western Scrub-Jays and Spotted Towhees to our day list.

Owling Trip to Cameron Pass and Area

October 16, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Yesterday evening, Bryan Ehlmann and I started a three day owling trip to Jackson County.  A Flammulated Owl responded to our recordings played near Pennock Pass' Summit (Larimer County).

After a couple of hours of sleep, Bryan and I hiked the Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail (Larimer County).

The highlight was definitely two male White-winged Crossbills observed circling overhead near the fork in the trails.

Two male American Three-toed Woodpeckers were also found about 400 yards apart along the trail.

Late in the afternoon we hiked about 4 miles into the Colorado State Forest (from the end of Michigan Creek Road).  Boreal Owls were heard at two locations.  Both were close to previous waypoint locations taken last summer.

Another Boreal Owl was heard just west of the Cameron Pass Summit.

October 17, 2012

Bryan and I checked the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders for Rosy Finches (none was found).  A White-throated Sparrow below the feeders at the Gould Store was a surprise.

Several hours were spent driving the roads in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson County).  Gyrfalcons have been found in past winters, none today however.  Birds were scarce.

At dusk, a walk around the Greater Sage-Grouse leks (Jackson) came up with zero birds.

After dark, we heard Boreal Owls west of Cameron Pass and south of the Crags Campgrounds.

October 18, 2012

We continued our drive around Jackson County today.  Weather was predicted to take a turn for the worst and it did.  It was snowing by noon.

Highlights included a 1st year Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders.  He was quite shy and did not spend more than 5-10 seconds at the feeders (although he visited them three times in an hour and a half).

The White-throated Sparrow was again found at the Gould Store.  With inclement weather coming into the area, we abandoned any owling trip after dark.

Instead, we dropped down out of the mountains by way of Loveland.  A friend was banding owls and caught one Northern Saw-whet Owl tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Black-throated Blue Warblers Everywhere

October 15, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Our owling trip to Jackson County was delayed this morning.

Saturday I passed out three Field Guides to new birders in the Bennett area.  It only took a day for that to pay off.  Last night I received a phone call that one of the new birders had found a male Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Bryan Ehlmann and I rushed over to Bennett this morning.  After a 20 minute wait, the Black-throated Blue Warbler reappeared in my new friend's yard!  Unfortunately, they prefer no strangers visit their yard.

On Friday, a Denver birder had a male Black-throated Blue Warbler crash into her house.  The bird was found dead on her front porch.  Norma Erickson had a male Black-throated Blue Warbler at her Greeley yard on Sunday.  That is quite a few for the Front Range.

Bryan and I stopped off at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) on the trip home.  We could not find the Winter Wrens or Nashville Warbler.  An American Redstart was in the trees south of the parking area south of highway 52.  One of the Long-eared Owls was relocated.

We also stopped at two "Walk In Areas" to briefly search for migrating "Ammodramus" sparrows.  None was found.  Several McCown's Longspurs were found.

See Black-throated Blue Warbler photo in October's "Colorado Field Notes" and on the Home Page of the Colorado Birding Society's Website:

A Slow Day Around Denver

October 14, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went out to breakfast and started early enough to look for Short-eared Owls at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  No Short-eared Owls flew around this morning. 

We spotted a large white (non-pelican bird) at the swim beach and headed over there.  The large bird turned out to be a Swan.  It appeared to be a Trumpeter Swan.  When it took flight, it bent its neck.

The Trumpeter Swan Society in Idaho writes:

"Trumpeter Swans, following the takeoff run and just as they become airborne, will pull their necks into a shallow "S" curve. This is seen only for a very brief time during their first wing beats to stay airborne.

Tundra Swans hold their necks straight the entire time of the takeoff run and initial flight. This characteristic applies to both land and water takeoffs. "

Later in the afternoon, we went for dinner with the plan to drive the DIA Owl Loop after dark to test Rebecca's new Ipad Constellation app.

On the way, we passed Tower Road and 56th avenue.  A Short-eared Owl was flying over the field at the southwest corner.  Two years ago I found a Short-eared Owl chasing pigeons under the overpass just west of here (at 3:00 am).  Since, then I have driven by now and then after dark.

This area is under construction for new homes.  The riparian area is being destroyed as trees come down.  We found a Barn Owl a few weeks ago.  Any Short-eared Owls that roosted in the area will soon have to move elsewhere.

Have to love the Ipad; we studied constellations and stars for several hours.  Rebecca also has seven years of "Colorado Field Notes" and the whole CoBus website on the Ipad.  It is a great reference, just a little too big to carry in the field when birding!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Little Sit" and Return to Barr Lake

October 13, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I conducted our third annual (or maybe 4th) "Little Sit".  Around the state, several groups are having their "Big Sits" (sit and count birds all day that are observed from a 19 foot circle).  I do not know the origin of a 19 foot circle; perhaps that is to fit more birders into it?  Our "Little Sit" is a 12 foot circle and limited to 2-4 people.

We picked a location of Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) where we would see a few uncommon birds.  Highlights included a Winter Wren that we scoped out several days ago.  Also a Long-eared Owl, which is resident at the Wildlife Area.  We did see a Virginia Rail as the third most interesting bird.

Total species was not high; we only stayed from 6:30 am to noon.  I will have to get totals and put them in a comment on this post later (if anyone cares).  We did enjoy the morning in spite of 25 degree temperatures at sunrise.

Shortly after noon, it started to rain.  Bryan went home; I went over to Barr Lake (Adams) after lunch.  When I first started birding, it was said that if it was raining, I should just go home.  My experience is just the opposite.  Some of my favorite uncommon bird sightings have been found during rainstorms.

While there are too many to remember, number one would have to be a Connecticut Warbler May 28, 1996.  I sat in a chair and walked around the Wildlife Area for 9 hours, 34 minutes waiting for the warbler to pop out of the wet grasses.  It was still raining when he did just that.

Number two was a male Mourning Warbler at Wagon Wheel Campgrounds (Bonny Reservoir).  It was pouring down rain when I walked the Campgrounds on 5/14/1996.  The Mourning Warbler popped out of a rabbit brush 10 feet from me.  The dripping wet bird perched there and watched me for 5 minutes or so!

Back to Barr Lake, it was raining at 2:00 pm.  I looked around the back of the Visitor's Center and saw the Harris's Sparrow below the bushes next to the old farm equipment.  Then I walked from the footbridge to the banding area (for the next 3.5 hours).

First, I went to the far shore of the shrinking lake.  The shorebirds do not have anywhere to go; they should be there.  The highlight was a Black-bellied Plover among a hundred or so smaller sandpipers.

Back in the woods at the banding station, two quite wet American Redstarts fluttering about the willows behind the picnic table.  Nearby, a Winter Wren came out of the willows in response to my recordings.

Other birds seen moving about included 2 Hermit Thrushes, a Swainson's Thrush, 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, dozens of White-crowned Sparrows.  A White-throated Sparrow was among them as they flew up and down the dry canal.

Around 4:00 pm (a guess, I do not wear a watch) the rain stopped and the sun peeked through the clouds.  Bird activity boomed; birds appeared everywhere.

A flock of a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers had a Magnolia Warbler among them.  These were at the extreme southwest corner of the banding area, where the direct sunlight hit the willows.  Another Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird and Golden-crowned Kinglet were also in this area.

The Philadelphia Vireo was first observed by another birder in the tall cottonwood along the main trail (next to the large dead/fallen tree).  Later it would be observed in the four small willow trees just south of the banding table.  If the birder who found the Philadelphia Vireo is reading this, please contact me with your name to give you credit for the find.

Eventually the two American Redstarts, Philadelphia Vireo, two Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Hermit Thrush ended up in these willow bushes/trees.

Finally, I peeked around the back of the Visitor's Center and observed the Harris's Sparrow one last time before heading for home.  The Harris's Sparrow again came from the bushes next to the old farm equipment and ran along the watering hose to the feeder.  It stayed only seconds before returning to the bushes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Birding East of Denver

October 12, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started our birding day at Barr Lake (Adams County).  The young Harris's Sparrow was as secretive as yesterday.  It did come out of the bushes near the old farm equipment twice in the hour we watched.  The juvenile White-throated Sparrow was a no show.

We headed to Bennett and the Interstate 70 Rest Stop.  Unfortunately, no uncommon birds were found at the Rest Stop this trip.

We walked around Bennett and eventually found the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker after about 1.5 hours.  The Long-eared Owl was once again in an evergreen on the east side of town.

The rest of our day was spent at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  The Winter Wren of 10/7 remains in the same area north of Pond 5.  A second Winter Wren was found south of Pond 4!  Today we relocated two Long-eared Owls.

No additional uncommon birds were encountered.  A Great Horned Owl flew out of the cottonwoods at Pond 13.

Superb Day of Birding Around Denver

October 11, 2012

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started out at Centennial Park in Englewood (Arapahoe County).  I wandered around Oxbow Lake (northeast "wing" of Centennial Lake for about 30 minutes before running into a flock of sparrows in the southwest corner. 

The first sparrow to pop out of the willows was a beautiful adult Swamp Sparrow.  This bird stayed mostly deep in the tall willows along the southwest corner.

Nine or ten White-crowned Sparrows eventually also popped up and flew back and forth between the southwest and northwest corners.  The Golden-crowned Sparrow remained loosely associated with this flock. 

It was first identified when it flew to the two small Russian Olive Trees/bushes on the north shore.  I was able to get several decent looks, however, it mostly stayed deep in the bushes or willows.

While walking back to the parking area, a flock of 3-4 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Orange-crowned Warblers and a Tennessee Warbler were found in the cottonwoods bordering the northern side of Oxbow Lake!

As I was getting ready to leave, Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons came. Fortunately I was able to somewhat quickly relocate the sparrows and warblers for them!

I picked up Rebecca Kosten for lunch and afterwards stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) where a text message stated that Gary Weston had found a Harris's Sparrow under feeders at the old Visitor's Center.

We watched the feeders for 30 minutes without seeing the Harris's Sparrow.  Fourteen+ White-crowned Sparrows and an assortment of Dark-eyed Juncos did visit the feeders.  While Rebecca continued to watch for another hour, I hiked to the northeast corner of Lake Ladora.

There were no warblers there today; however the two White-throated Sparrows (Ehlmann, 10/7) were relocated.

A quick trip around Lake Mary did not find any Swamp Sparrows. 

Our final stop was Barr Lake State Park (Adams) where we heard John Breitsch had found a Harris's Sparrow around the feeders behind the Visitor's Center.  It was first discovered yesterday by one of the rangers.

We watched for about 45 minutes before they closed the Visitor's Center for the day, no Harris's Sparrow.  I did pick out a young White-throated Sparrow among a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and dozens of House Sparrows.

Then we walked behind the building where there was a better view of the backside of the bushes.  After 1.5 hours, success, the Harris's Sparrow came out of the bushes by the old farm equipment.  He was quite shy and came out for only seconds on several occasions.  The Harris's Sparrow stayed mostly under the feeder along the watering hose.

Our birding day ended with a drive along the DIA Owl Loop.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  To our surprise, three Swainson's Hawks, all adults, stood in the field along 114th avenue.  We also saw one Rough-legged Hawk (along 96th) and two Ferruginous Hawks around the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of 96th and Tower Road. 

No colorful sunset this evening as storm clouds rolled in over the mountains to the west.  Winds which were 8-10 mph throughout the day, increased to 18-22 mph.  Temperatures dropped quite a bit.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Drive Around Arapahoe County

October 10, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went for a drive around Arapahoe County today.  Skies were overcast; winds 8-12 mph, temperatures barely reached 50 degrees.

Our first stop was the Interstate 70 Rest Stop near Bennett.  Neither the Philadelphia Vireo nor Nashville Warbler was relocated.  As we wandered around the rest stop, a flock of 31+ Yellow-rumped Warbler flew to the taller cottonwoods southeast of the restrooms.  A beautiful western Palm Warbler was among them.

Other birds around the rest stop included 9 Cedar Waxwings, 6+ Pine Siskins, 2 White-breasted Nuthatches, 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch, and many White-crowned Sparrows.

Next, we drove into Bennett and drove around counting Eurasian Collared-Doves.  No longer a "rare bird", Eurasian Collared-Doves are all over the state.  We even have a pair nesting in our Denver yard.  They do make much noise.

We saw what we thought was a Red-naped Sapsucker and stopped to figure out its sex.  To our surprise, it turned out to be a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Originally, it was one block east of the city park and four blocks east when we left.

The Long-eared Owl found yesterday was in the same evergreens on the east side of town.

Then we headed south to visit a private ranch of a friend.  One of his Barn Owls was hidden in a dark corner of the barn (nice trip bird)!  He mentioned that his neighbor had two owls that looks a "little different".  Could they be young Barn Owls?

The fact that they stayed hidden in evergreens and New Mexico Locust trees peaked our interest.  Eventually we saw two Long-eared Owls!

While driving the roads south of I70 and east of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) we ran into a flock of several hundred Horned Larks.  Several birds with whitish tails stood out.  We counted six McCown's Longspurs and two Chestnut-collared Longspurs.  One longspur type bird had almost no white in its tail.  We may have had a Lapland Longspur for the trifecta.

We zig zagged around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) on the way home.  No Burrowing Owls were found (now for the third trip).  They could be gone.

Banner Lakes to Bennett

October 9, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I returned to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) this morning.  The weather people had missed their mark today.  It was cold and windy all morning.

The Winter Wren was close to the same location is was yesterday (near pond # 6).  The two Long-eared Owls were also within 20 yards of where they were discovered yesterday (Ehlmann, Washburn, Simmons & myself).

After walked down to pond # 9, we returned and birded the southern sections (across Highway 52).  The Blackburnian Warbler that Bryan Ehlmann and I found on 10/7 was not relocated.  However, the Philadelphia Vireo was within 40 yards of yesterday's location.  Meanwhile, Rebecca pointed out a Nashville Warbler under the western cottonwoods.

We continued south to meet up with Highway 36, north of Interstate 70 and then headed into Bennett.  A Long-eared Owl was found in evergreens on the east side of town (same place as a few years ago).

A stop at the I70 Rest Stop was quite productive.  Birds were everywhere and it took several hours to look at most of them.

Highlights included a Philadelphia Vireo.  Fifty one Cedar Waxwings unfortunately did not have a Bohemian Waxwing among them.  Yesterday's Nashville Warbler was not relocated.

A Loop Around the Eastern Plains

October 8, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I made a loop from Last Chance Rest Stop, to Flagler Reservoir back to Denver.  Birding was quite exciting!

We stopped at the Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington County) and found the Black-throated Blue Warbler and Winter Wren.  Both were good finds for Washington County.

Then we headed south to I70 and Flagler (Kit Carson).  Flagler City Park had few birds.  We were about to head to Flagler Reservoir when we received the text message about the Hermit Warbler back at Last Chance Rest Stop.  We hopped in the car and made a quick trip back.

The Hermit Warbler was exactly where the text message stated (northeast corner of highway 36 and 71).  Nice to get a rare bird in less than 5 minutes as that does not happen often!

Then we headed back to Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  In fact, we did not have the same success as birders the day before.  However, we did find one of the Swamp Sparrows, the Winter Wren and a Red-bellied Woodpecker at Flagler Reservoir.

Another Swamp Sparrow was at the Flagler Golf Course.  We missed yesterdays Palm Warbler and White-throated Sparrows.

A decision to stop at the Bennett Rest Stop at I70 and Hwy 36 turned out to be fantastic.  A Nashville Warbler skulked around under the evergreens at the east side.  While a Philadelphia Vireo hunted insects on the trees at the western end of the small oasis of trees along I70.

Quite a few other birds enjoyed the area.  These included Pine Siskins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Brown Creeper, Chipping Sparrows, a Lincoln's Sparrow, and Cedar Waxwings.

Some Birding On the Eastern Plains

October 7, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I returned to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) hoping to relocate the Bay-breasted Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler found yesterday.

We had to settle for 1 out of 2.  The Bay-breasted Warbler was relocated at the northeast corner of Lake Ladora.  The Black-throated Blue Warbler was not found along the Rod & Gun Club Trail.  Two White-throated Sparrows were along the creek at the northeast corner.

After about 3 hours, we decided to go to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) just east of Hudson.  Birding was more successful here.   A Winter Wren was the highlight north of highway 52.  American Robins numbered more than the rest of the birds found.  A Great Horned Owl was around pond 8.

The southern sections were even better.  A Philadelphia Vireo and Blackburnian Warbler worked the cottonwoods along the west side of the property.  A Marsh Wren called from the cattails.  Chipping Sparrows appeared to be everywhere.

After three hours of walking, we needed a rest and drove to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  We put on our mud boots and got as close as we could to scope the mudflats.

Hundreds of shorebirds were out there.  They included 20+ American Golden-Plovers, 1 Black-bellied Plover, 8+ Pectoral Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Baird's Sandpipers, and Killdeer.

Later we checked out the western Campgrounds.  Two White-throated Sparrows were at the Campgrounds.  I showed them one of the Long-eared Owls that had summered (perhaps wintered) in 2012.  A Tennessee Warbler was around the Visitor's Center.

As dusk, we waited for Short-eared Owls at the northwest corner of the park.  None showed up tonight.  We heard two Great Horned Owls along the western shore.  An Eastern Screech-Owl also called briefly.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County

October 6, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I birded Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) for about four hours.

The two highlights included a Bay-breasted Warbler at the northeast corner of Lake Ladora and a female Black-throated Blue Warbler up the Rod & Gun Club Trail.

Chipping Sparrows were the most numerous birds.  Double-crested Cormorants came in second.  A few Orange-crowned Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers were at the southwest corner of Lake Ladora.

Overall, birding was a bit slow.  Another highlight was a late Western Kingbird west of the Rod & Gun Club Trail!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Birding In A Snowstorm and Its Aftermath

October 5, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed over to Barr Lake (Adams County) to see what the snowstorm might have brought into the park.  Last night's winds were out of the northwest.  We figured that the best birding might be along the north to northwest to southern sides of the Park.  This may have been proven correct as birders who walked the northeast to southeast corners reported very few birds!

When we crossed the footbridge at the Visitor's Center (mile marker 0.0/8.9) the first bird we observed was a Black-throated Gray Warbler!

Several Wilson's Warblers were in the willows southwest of the Niedrach Boardwalk.  Chipping Sparrows were quite numerous.

Chipping Sparrows were the high count of the day as we ran into many.  They were also down the first bird blind trail west of the footbridge.

We continued around/clockwise finding few birds other than sparrows at the Eagle Boardwalk Trail.  Two Yellow-rumped Warblers were at the trailhead.

Birding picked up when we reached mile markers 2.5 to 4.0.  Several small flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers and an Orange-crowned Warbler were at 2.5. 

A Philadelphia Vireo was by itself at mile marker 2.8.  More Yellow-rumped Warblers and then we found our highlight of the day.  A male Black-throated Blue Warbler was at mile marker 3.1.

We continued around to mile 5.0.  Only one additional uncommon bird was found.  A vireo at 5.2 was difficult to ID.  At first, we thought it to be a Cassin's Vireo, later we decided it was a Plumbeous Vireo.

The lake itself is a mere shadow of itself.  A ranger once told me that when full the water level is never over one's head.  It is definitely down now.  Hundreds of waterfowl are crammed into the dwindling lake. 

We did not carry our scopes.  Hundreds of Western Grebes "carried the numbers".  If there were any Clark's Grebes, we could not pick one out.

After lunch near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), Bryan and I stopped by the State Park.  Two loons swam around, one Common and one Pacific Loon.

It was too late in the day to drive through the traffic to get to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas); instead we drove the DIA Owl Loop.  No owls were found when we drove the Loop about an hour before sunset.  This included a drive-by of 6th avenue and Gun Club Road.

We saw or heard flocks of migrating Sandhill Cranes over Barr Lake (Adams), Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and DADS (Arapahoe, Denver and Arapahoe Disposal Site).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fantastic Birding On the Eastern Plains

Our electricity was out this morning when Richard and Bryan left.  Now that it is back on , I am posting their latest trip.  Rebecca Kosten

P.S. Be sure to read the comment on Walk In Areas that will be posted in a day or two.

September 27 to October 4, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started out to bird three days on the Eastern Plains Our trip lasted for eight days.  As we came to put it, "Birds, Birds, Birds Everywhere!"  We couldn't stop until the birds ran out or the weather turned.  Predictions of snow on Friday finally ended our quest.  Note: it is snowing at 5:00 am Friday as I am writing this.

September 27, 2012

As we headed to Roger Danka's Ranch in Sedgwick County, we stopped at many birding locations.  Although, we tried to hit a few of the less birded areas and leave the more common locations for others.

Just before sunrise, we looked for owls at Jackson Reservoir in Morgan County.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owls would not call.  A Great Horned Owl did call from west of the Pelican Campgrounds.  One Long-eared Owl was at the Campgrounds.  It appears he has stayed since last October, possibly now for a full year.  We believe he did attempt a nesting as a pair was seen throughout the summer.  However, breeding was not confirmed here.  We did have a pair successfully breed in Sedgwick County.

Our best walk was along the south side of the reservoir from the mobile home court to the parking lot below the dam.  Birds found included a Blackburnian Warbler, two Townsend's Warblers and a Philadelphia Vireo. 

Both a Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos were found at the Visitor's Center.  A Sabine's Gull was observed flying along the western tree line.  We did not take the time to look for shorebirds.  Water level was very low and a long walk was required to inspect the pools.

Thirty minutes was allotted for a bird search at nearby Andrick Wildlife Area.  A Magnolia Warbler and Cassin's Vireo were along the south side of the "parking lot".

Brush Wildlife Area is only a 15 minute detour from Interstate 76.  Birding here has been good for several weeks.  Today a Tennessee and Nashville Warbler were around the pond.  A pair of Townsend's Warblers was at the west end of the Wildlife Area and along the north side of the creek.  While a White-throated Sparrow was found in the field just east of the parking lot.

Our next stop was the Overland Park Museum.  Steve Mlodinow had recently reported a Cape May Warbler, which we did not find.  Our consolations were a Black-and-white and a Tennessee Warblers.

We arrived at Jumbo Reservoir in Logan County as the sun started to drop below the mountains.  No shorebirds walked the southern shore.  A Short-eared Owl flew over the field to the south.  Later we enticed an Eastern Screech-Owl to call at the northern side of the reservoir.

September 28, 2012

Today was described as our best birding day ever in Colorado.  We hit a couple of public access spots and several private ranches that I have permission to bird.  Almost all of our birding was in Sedgwick County.

The private ranches are labeled by numbers that have been designated for years on the CoBus database.

First stop, private ranch # 4.  We hated to leave, as there were a huge number of birds in a riparian area along the South Platte River.  Best bird was a Black-throated Green Warbler, we also saw a Palm, Pine, Magnolia, MacGillivray's, Wilson's', Orange-crowned and many Yellow-rumped Warblers.  They were closely associated with a Red-eyed Vireo, White-breasted and a large number (9) Red-breasted Nuthatches.

In thickets behind the main house, we found a pair of Long-eared Owls and scared up a Barn Owl.

Onto private ranch # 5, we found a Blue-headed Vireo, two Swamp Sparrows and two White-throated Sparrows.  While the birds here were not as rare, we did see over a hundred Yellow-rumped, a dozen Orange-crowned and other associated warblers listed above.  It seemed like a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers for the eastern plains.

The landowner reported seeing an American Woodcock twice in September.  Unfortunately, we could not find it.  He is familiar with the species having shown one to me a few years ago.

Ovid provided several good birding spots.  A male Black-throated Blue Warbler and 1st year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak were at the northern Ovid Woods.  The Black-throated Blue Warbler has to be rare sighting for Sedgwick County (but turned out not to be the first for the Ovid Woods).  Two Eastern Screech-Owls were also found.

The dried up (for years) Ovid Sewage Ponds and adjacent grassy fields provided cover for three White-throated Sparrows and dozens of White-crowned Sparrows, two Lincoln's Sparrows, two Grasshopper Sparrows, many Lark Sparrows and a Brewer's Sparrow.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker worked the trees along the Platte River.

Julesburg Wildlife Area is located on the south side of Ovid and the Platte River.  A male Northern Cardinal was singing as we exited Bryan's jeep.  Three more Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two House Wrens, a Brown Thrasher and a Blue-headed Vireo were seen in a half-mile walk east along the Platte River.  Four Mountain Bluebirds surprised us as Eastern Bluebirds are more expected here.

The seldom-visited Pony Express Wildlife Area (also along the South Platte River) provided the "bird of the day".  We had found two House Wrens and were about to chalk up a third, when closer inspection turned the bird into a Winter Wren!  Again, this must be a rare sighting for Sedgwick County?  The Winter Wren almost made us forget to record a Palm and Nashville Warbler that were there.

Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area also hosted many birds.  The interesting birds another Palm Warbler, two Townsend's Warblers, a Blue-headed Vireo and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker were added to our trip list.  This Wildlife Area is known for Upland Sandpipers; however, it was very late in the year to find one.  We would have settled for an American Woodcock, however saw neither.

Our "owls for the day" were found on Roger's Ranch during our walk after a great fried chicken dinner.  My grumbling stomach thanks you Judy!

September 29, 2012

Today was designated "search for Sprague's Pipits" day.  We drove the country roads and stopped at several birding areas that are called "Walk In Areas".  Specifics were covered in one of the "Colorado Field Notes" issues or look up access policies on the internet.  In short, it requires carrying a gun, which at times I do and which most birders would not.

One Sprague's Pipit was found on a "Walk In Area".  Sparrow numbers topped by far the numbers of birds found. Northern Flickers probably came in second (as I did not take a count of them).  Of the seven areas walked, three were wheat stubble, two unnamed grass and two had creek bottoms.

Our only public access stop, without being a designated "hunter" was Sand Draw Wildlife Area in Sedgwick County.  A Barn Owl and Blue-headed Vireo were found along the western windbreak.  Two Field Sparrows were along the eastern fence line.

September 30, 2012

We moved on to Wray and Yuma County today, which started at Sandsage Wildlife Area.  Many sparrows flew about the weeds; unfortunately, none of them was rare.

Wray Fishing Unit was more interesting.  Vireos abound, Philadelphia, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, one each were seen.  Warblers were not bad either.  A Nashville and Magnolia Warbler were in the windbreak along the entrance road.

A male Northern Cardinal also came out of the windbreak.  A second red bird turned out to be a Summer Tanager, which we thought, was late in the year to see.  A pair of Eastern Phoebes grabbed insects on the southwest side of the ponds.  A Barn Owl was at the western end of the property.

Nearby Stalker Ponds was okay.  A Nashville Warbler and White-throated Sparrow were found.

After a late breakfast/early lunch we stopped by several friends' yards to say "Hi".  What a great decision.  A sapsucker turned out to be a Yellow-bellied and not a Red-naped (yard # 1). 

On the way to another yard, we heard the unmistakable chatter of Pinyon Jays.  The bird(s) of the day turned out to be four Pinyon Jays on the east side of Wray.  They were new Yuma County Birds for both of us!

Yard # 2 was better than # 1.  A young male Prairie Warbler searched for food in the locust trees.  We also watched three male and two female Northern Cardinals come to her feeders.  Yard # 1 only had one male and one female Northern Cardinal.  Maybe it is time to swop the names?

Yard # 3 had a red form Fox Sparrow last week.  Regrettably, the sparrow did not show for us. A flock of Pine Siskins swooped in to peak our interest while we waited.

We walked around Rainbow Park in the afternoon.  Again, the number of birds surprised us at this small park.  The tall cottonwoods made identifying the moving birds a chore.  It was well worth it.  The birds included Palm and Nashville Warblers and Blue-headed and Plumbeous Vireos.

A second Palm Warbler was found at Wray Community Hospital, only a short walk south of the park.  Be sure to check out the ditch running through and south of the park.  That was where most of our birds were seen.

Finally, seeing a cemetery on the city map we went to check it out.  Another Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found here.  We thought it too far from the morning sighting to be the same bird.

Our birding day was not over.  We drove to a friend's ranch on the east side of Highway 385, north of Yuma County Road 45.  He has several Greater Prairie-Chicken leks on his property although none was found tonight.

A flock of American Pipits in a stubble field attracted our attention.  At least one Sprague's Pipit was among them.

October 1, 2012

Birding was way too prosperous to return to Denver.  Instead, we headed back north to chase some rare birds reported yesterday in the Holyoke area of Phillips County.

Most of the rare birds reported yesterday were not relocated; however, we did see some interesting birds.

The Pine Warbler and Eastern Towhee reported yesterday by Kathy Mihm-Dunning were not relocated at the Holyoke Cemetery The Towhee would have been a good addition to our Yuma County List.  We did find the singing Eastern Meadowlark and examined it close enough to confirm its identity.  It was a good Yuma County bird.  We also relocated the Nashville Warbler and Field Sparrow.

Our target bird at the Holyoke City Park was the Black-throated Green Warbler.  We missed it and the Purple Finch, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Palm Warbler (reported yesterday) but did find a Blue-headed Vireo and the Nashville Warbler.

Our target bird at the Holyoke Justice Hall was the Philadelphia Vireo.  We missed another target bird and the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (reported yesterday) but did find one of the Red-eyed Vireos.

We also missed the Purple Finch reported yesterday at Holyoke High School and had nothing to add.  The Northern Cardinal and Nashville Warbler reported at the end of Akron Street were no shows. 

The Holyoke Sewage Ponds and Fishing Hole were quiet so we swung over to Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area.  This is one of the best places to find migrating sparrows such as the "Ammodramus species".  It was a little early for peak sparrow migration.  Only one White-throated Sparrow and two Field Sparrows were found today.

Feeling that the Holyoke area was covered well, we headed back to Wray.   Our best stop of the day turned out to be Beecher Island back in Yuma County.

Many birds flew around this oasis of trees.  These included a Palm and Nashville Warblers, a Philadelphia Vireo, Eastern Phoebe and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker count in Colorado this fall is way above average.

Our day was not over. We decided to drive County Road 45 on Bob Bledsoe's Ranch.  One never knows when a Greater Prairie-Chicken might cross the road.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens were found but we had a brilliant consolation prize.  A Sprague's Pipit, possibly two were at the corner of CR 45 and CR PP; CR 45 turns south and becomes CR PP.

It was a great day of birding; it ended with a Short-eared Owl flying east of Yuma County Road 45!

October 2, 2012

Before leaving town, Bryan and I checked out a few birding locations previously visited in Wray.  Two Palm Warblers wandered around Rainbow Park.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was on the Wray Community Hospital grounds.  This appeared to be the same bird we found at the Wray Cemetery on 9/30.  The 9/30, Palm Warbler was not found.  We did not find a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Grandview Cemetery, Wray.

At the Wray Fishing Unit (about 3 miles west of Wray), we found a Pine Warbler, Eastern Phoebe and relocated the Barn Owl.  Then we decided to head south to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma County).

At Bonny Reservoir, we again missed most of the uncommon birds reported by Mihm-Dunning on 9/30.  However, we found a couple of great birds of our own.  A Bay-breasted Warbler was at the old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds.

While walking the southern road along the now dried up lake, we found a red form Fox Sparrow (near the dried up pond at the picnic area for those familiar with the area). 

A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was just west of the Fox Sparrow spot.  Another pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was at Hale Ponds when we returned to check it out.

The rest of our day was spent checking some additional "Walk In Areas" for Sprague's Pipits and other uncommon birds. While many sparrows were found and a few McCown's Longspurs and two Chestnut-collared Longspurs, no rare birds including Sprague's Pipits were seen.

We made a special note to search the "traditional Sprague's Pipit location" below the Bonny Reservoir dam.

October 3, 2012

Our first birds of the day were two Eastern Screech-Owls calling before civil twilight north of the eastern Hale Pond.  The resident Barn Owl was on his territory along Yuma County Road 4.

We had to return to Wagon Wheel Picnic area to get another look at the fine-looking reddish Fox Sparrow.  All birds are beautiful, but this one is especially so.  The Bay-breasted Warbler found yesterday at the old Campgrounds could not be relocated.

It was time to leave Bonny Reservoir and we drove to Burlington (Kit Carson County).  Fairmount Cemetery presents a challenge to find birds in its thick evergreen trees.  A couple of hours of searching did find a Pine Warbler and 2-3 Townsend's Warblers.

During lunch, we noticed much activity at nearby Palmer Park (just north and east of I70 & Hwy 385).  A Palm Warbler was among 42+ Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Second largest flock we have encountered on this trip.  We got a quick look at the Palm Warbler; however, it took another 45 minutes to relocate it.

There are two "Walk In Areas" about 6 miles south and 10 miles east of Burlington.  When we found no Sprague's Pipits or uncommon birds there, we hit a few more another 10 miles south.

While we found no uncommon birds, it is always a pleasure to bird areas, which are not covered much by others.  We did "kick up" a Greater Prairie-Chicken near Yuma County Roads 56 & G.

Bryan wanted to retire early, me not so much.  I had Bryan drop me off around 9:00 pm at Yuma County Road 2 and Hwy 385, while he went to camp at Hale Ponds.

I spent the next 12 hours walking the Republican River from Hwy 385 to the Kansas border (16 miles along the winding river).  The waning moon was no longer full, but did provide much light to the hike.  Listening (and recording) the bird sounds was quite enjoyable. 

In the end, I found three Eastern Screech-Owls between Hwy 385 and Foster's Grove Campgrounds and two Eastern Screech-Owls from CR LL.5 and the Kansas border.  Great Horned Owl count won with six of them heard.

October 4, 2012

One last check on the Fox Sparrow (it was not found this morning) and we abandoned Bonny Reservoir for this trip.  Fortunately, we drove through the Wagon Wheel Campgrounds on the way out.  Bryan spotted the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker reported by Mihm-Dunning on 9/30!

A stop at Fairview Cemetery on the north side of Burlington relocated the Pine Warbler, at least one Townsend's Warbler and a Gray Flycatcher (new for our trip and quite uncommon for the eastern plains).

Our plan today was to bird Flagler Reservoir and then return to Denver.  Snow is predicted for tomorrow (Friday).  Flagler Reservoir kept our interest with a Swamp Sparrow, two Field Sparrows, a Black-and-white Warbler (south end) and an Eastern Phoebe (southeastern end).

We were tired and decided not to wait until dark for some owling.  Of course, we just could not drive straight back to Denver.  We picked out six of the twenty-two "Walk In Areas" around Siebert and searched for Sprague's Pipits most of the rest of the day.

The bird of the day was one or two Sprague's Pipits halfway between Siebert and Stratton (Kit Carson County) at 3 miles south of I70!