Friday, December 27, 2013

Birding the South Platte River in Adams County

December 26, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Looking for a hike, I chose the S. Platte River trail north of 88th and Colorado Blvd.

I did not find the four birds reported yesterday by Cathy Sheeter (Rusty Blackbird, Barrow's Goldeneye, Harris's Sparrow and Greater Scaup).

A Long tailed Duck on the reservoir east of the trail (after it turns east to north) was a nice consolation prize. Sorry I cannot remember its name of the reservoir.

Other birds found included White crowned Sparrows, groups of Lesser Scaups, one adult Bald Eagle and only one Red tailed Hawk.

One final sight was a rare American Black Duck..........plastic decoy! I do remember that being there three years ago.

After lunch, I returned to the area and walked the South Platte River Birding Area from 88th avenue & Colorado Blvd south to Highway 224.  Then I backtracked to Clear Creek and walked west to Washington Avenue.  From there, I took the RTD bus back to my car.

Quite a few ducks spend the winter on the South Platte River.  Just about every "common" species can be observed.  It is a great place for photographers to get images of the ducks as the waterfowl get use to people walking by and are not too skittish.

The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was observed among many Common Goldeneyes on the Platte River, just upstream (south) of the green/white tower.

A Northern Shrike was east of the Platte River and west of Tani Reservoir.  I looked unsuccessfully for the Harris's Sparrow reported between 74th & 78th avenues. 

Sparrows appear to be scarce this winter at many of the Denver birding locations.  I only found six White-crowned Sparrows on my trek today.

All the reservoirs in the area were ice covered.  These included East Gravel Lake, the three West Gravel Lakes, Dahlia Ponds and Barrington Reservoir #5.  The one exception was the lake north of 88th where I found the Long-tailed Duck (later found to be named Cooley Gravel Pond on my map).

The many gulls standing on the ice at the various lakes were all Ring-billed Gulls.

It was a pleasant hike and a great way to spend this warmish winter day.  Temperatures in the high 40s; winds calm down in the river valley.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Exploring Kit Carson County

December 24, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Today, Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I walked around Fairview Cemetery in Burlington (Kit Carson County).  Pine Warblers have wintered here in the past.  Unfortunately, birding was slow today.  We did find a Great Horned Owl (perhaps keeping other birds from moving around) and two Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Three Great-tailed Grackles flew around Burlington (behind McDonald's and park near I70).

Later, we hiked around Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  Two interesting birds were encountered.  A Swamp Sparrow was "called up" from below the dam.  Later Bryan spotted a Common Redpoll among a flock of House Finches (along the eastern side of the reservoir).

Many Rough-legged Hawks, one Ferruginous Hawk and a surprise Northern Goshawk were observed on our drive back to Denver (along Interstate 70).

Weather was quite cold today (temperatures never reached 30 degrees and anemometer readings were 14 mph, gusts to 22 mph).

Bonny Reservoir Christmas Count Week

December 23, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I visited Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area today.  The timing was to include our sightings to the Bonny Reservoir Christmas Count (count week, not count day).

We considered our day to be quite successful as we found Eastern Screech-Owls (three locations), two Long-eared Owls, one Short-eared Owl, one Barn Owl and one Northern Saw-whet Owl.  We do not believe our Northern Saw-whet Owl was the same bird reported previously (ours was on private property which we had permission to bird).

Other interesting birds included a Northern Mockingbird, seven Red-bellied Woodpeckers and two Brown Thrashers.

Nearby Hale Ponds (Republican Wildlife Area) hosted a few interesting birds also.  We found two additional Eastern Screech-Owls, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Lapland Longspurs.  The highlight was a Winter Wren near Hale Ponds marsh.

Unfortunately, no Greater Prairie-Chickens could be located.  We also did not find the previously reported Harris's Sparrow.

Southern Colorado Trip

December 20-22, 2013

Richard Stevens: Southern Colorado Trip

December 20

On the way to pick up Bryan Ehlmann at the airport, I drove the DIA Owl Loop and found a Ferruginous Hawk, two Red-tailed Hawks and a Prairie Falcon.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this morning.

Later we picked up Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons and headed south (Limon to Rocky Ford to Springfield).

A stop in Rocky Ford found many Eurasian Collared-Doves and one White winged Dove.  No Inca Doves, I have not heard of a sighting in Rocky Ford since January 2011.

December 21
Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I (along with three bird feeder watchers) conducted the Carrizo Canyon Christmas Count today.  We ended up with a respectable 63 species (however not close to high of 72 species in 2006).

Highlights included a Winter Wren, Western Screech-Owls, a Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Lewis's Woodpecker (just one), Rufous-crowned Sparrows (2), Eastern Bluebirds, Hermit Thrush (unusual for count) and one Bohemian Waxwing (among 62 Cedar Waxwings).

Misses included: no Barn Owls or Northern Saw-whet Owl this year, no flyover Sandhill Cranes, Northern Shrike but no Loggerhead Shrike, Curve-billed Thrashers lacking, no longspurs (which had been on all previous counts as were Barn Owls), could not find the resident Northern Cardinal this year.

Total: only 4 birders this year, driving miles down to 52 as we only had one vehicle this year, 22 miles walking (mostly by Bryan and myself).  The center point was near CR 8 & CR J so as to include Picture Canyon, North Canyon, Cottonwood Canyon, and Carrizo Creek.

Final count will be published in a future issue of "Colorado Field Notes".

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Green-winged Teal
Wild Turkey
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
Ring-billed Gull
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Greater Roadrunner
Western Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Say's Phoebe
Northern Shrike
Blue Jay
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Chihuahuan Raven
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick's Wren
Winter Wren - new to count
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
Townsend's Solitaire
Hermit Thrush - new to count
Brown Thrasher - unusual for count
European Starling
Bohemian Waxwing - just one
Cedar Waxwing - 62
Spotted Towhee
Canyon Towhee
American Tree Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow - unusual for count
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

December 22

After spending the night at a friend's ranch in Furnish Canyon our troupe headed back north.  We drove around Comanche National Grasslands at first light in search of Lesser Prairie-Chickens; without success.

A hike to two previous "leks" (by way of open trails, not closed roads) did not find any prairie chickens.  We did encounter a Curve-billed Thrasher, which was missed on yesterday's Christmas Count.

Birding Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca County) is tricky this fall due to flooding and construction.  We did come across the "bird of our trip".  A Carolina Wren was in the thickets below the northern rocky cliffs (below the dam).

We walked around Lamar Community College (Prowers County) in the afternoon.  A male Northern Cardinal with his splendid red colors stood out at the southern end of the College woods.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker, not quite as brilliant colored, was found at the northern end of the woods.  Other birds included a Brown Thrasher (rare in winter), too many Eurasian Collared-Doves, a White-winged Dove, and White-crowned Sparrows.  No uncommon sparrows (Harris's or White throated) could be found.

A quick detour to the Mike Higbee Wildlife Area just east of town did not find any uncommon sparrows either.

Friday, December 20, 2013

An Enjoyable and Successful Winter Day on the West Side of Denver

December 19, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a quick trip through the DIA Owl Loop (as I took him to the airport).  After not seeing any owls for a few days, one of the Short-eared Owls was observed flying along the fence line east of the Prairie Dog Town located at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.  See map on Colorado Birding Society's website for recent additional locations that it has been seen (

I enjoyed birding Jefferson & Arapahoe Counties today.  Temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday (mid 40s); winds were mostly less than 5 mph.

I walked around the various Campgrounds at Chatfield State Park (Jefferson/Douglas) looking unsuccessfully for the Brant.  Then met up with Robb Hinds and we hiked the mile or so down the Highline Canal searching for the Winter Wren reported on Sunday.  Directions were vague and we do not believe the correct location was ever found; the Winter Wren was not found.

After returning to the parking area, Trudy (sorry I do not know her last name but am quite grateful), informed us that she had found the Brant (possible gray bellied?) in Campgrounds A.  Robb and I hurried over and relocated the Brant below the hill, north of the Campgrounds.

Eventually the Brant and 60+ White-cheeked Geese flew to the parking area for the handicapped fisherperson's dock.  We rushed over and were able to get nice views of the geese.  The geese were last observed walking south up the asphalt path leading back to Campgrounds A.

On the way home, I stopped at nearby South Platte Park Reservoir and scoped the lake for about 30 minutes.  Two or three Long-tailed Ducks had been reported there and I wanted to try to confirm the report of three.  Unfortunately, I only found two; they were quite a ways off (along the northern shore of this rather large reservoir).

Then I scoped nearby (to the east) Blackrock Lake and relocated two of the seven previously reported Greater Scaup.  My hike did not continue to Eaglewatch Lake (just north of Blackrock) where the remaining Greater Scaup may have been.  Both lakes were ice free.

My final stop was Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  I threw out seed and the Golden-crowned Sparrow along with three Song Sparrows appeared within five minutes!  Many Dark-eyed Juncos also came out.  The weather was quite nice and no Rosy Finches were flying around (better viewed on inclement days).

An Enjoyable Afternoon at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

December 18, 2013

Richard Stevens:

We stayed home most of the day doing chores (well I did chores).  Rebecca Kosten and I decided to drive through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) after lunch and relished the 60 degree temperatures and the sunny skies.

On the way over, we stopped at Lakecrest.  No uncommon geese were among the six thousand+ White-cheeked Geese on the ice covered lake.  I did count 23 Ring-billed Gulls.

Both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake were completely ice covered (no birds).  We kept an eye on the feeders north of the Contact Station for 30 minutes.  A total of four Dark-eyed Juncos (no sparrows) made an appearance.  The feeders were full but did not attract any uncommon birds today.  Note: Dave usually fills the feeders on Tuesdays; it usually takes the birds a couple of days to empty (best time to search of birds is early in the week).

Except for a couple of Northern Flickers and one Red-tailed Hawk that was our bird count.  The highlight I suppose was that the Bison were close to the road today (took some nice closeups).

After sunset, I walked the path through the Governor's Row area; no Long-eared Owls were found this night.  We did enjoy one of Colorado's better sunsets (the result of the polluted skies over Denver).

Another Look at Aurora Reservoir

December 17, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky, Bill Cryder and I hiked the southern and eastern sides of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Most of the interesting gulls were in Lonetree Cove (mile 3.0) which cannot be seen from other locations around the reservoir.  One can hike down from the southern entrance and reduce the walk to less than 1.5 miles.

One of two Great Black-backed Gulls previously reported two of the six Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two of the ten Thayer's Gulls were observed here.  A dozen California Gulls and 80+ Ring-billed Gulls were also present.

As we returned to the entrance, we noticed a large "whitish" Gull at Senac Cove (mile 2.5, also difficult to see from the swim beach or dam).  We took photos and called the bird the Glaucous Gull that has been around.  Later examining the photos, we decided that it was not a Glaucous Gull but perhaps the possible Glaucous-winged Gull that has been reported on several occasions.

After lunch, Jerry and I drove to a friend's ranch east of Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams County, closed on Tuesday).  Two Long-eared Owls continued at the windbreak surrounding my friend's home.

DIA Owl Loop to Aurora Reservoir to Deer Creek Canyon

December 16, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove around the DIA Owl Loop and area (Adams County) at civil twilight.  A Short-eared Owl was observed flying over the airport property at the south end of Gun Club Road (as it runs south from 112th/114th avenue).

We continued south to Aurora Reservoir and walked the 8.9 miles on the bike path circling the lake. 

Our Gull Count Included: Glaucous Gull (Mlodinow, 12/15), 2 Great Black-Backed Gull (Mlodinow, 12/15), 6 Lesser Black-Backed Gull (Mlodinow, 11/24) & 10 Thayer's Gulls (Cross, 12/13).

Our afternoon plan was to look for owls (specifically Northern Pygmy-Owls) in Deer Canyon (Jefferson County).

As we passed South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe), we stopped and scoped the lake.  The two Long-tailed Ducks swam along the southern end of the lake (below the dam).

We did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls during a three hour drive/hike around Deer Creek Canyon.  A Great Horned Owl called from the Chatfield Reservoir Arboretum.

First Summit County Christmas Count

December 15, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Today, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten, Jerry Petrosky, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons, Gary Zeeto and I conducted the first Summit County Christmas Count.  Weather conditions were good for the mountains.  Partly sunny skies and temperatures in the 30s were pleasant.

We also managed to recruit fourteen feeder watchers who will likely add to our final count (which will be published in a future issue of "Colorado Field Notes".

Highlights included:

Jacob and Ray relocated a dozen Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.  All of us watched 200+ Rosy Finches (three species, only two Black Rosy Finches) at a private feeder.

Jerry, Jacob and Ray cross country skied up the Argentine Trail and found a Northern Pygmy-Owl around 3:00 pm.

Meanwhile Bryan and I timed our ski trip up the Saints John Trail to be there at dusk.  After dark, we managed to get a Boreal Owl to respond to our recordings!

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at a private residence in Silverthorne (rare during winter as most access roads are closed due to snow).

Results so far were 59 species.

Cackling Goose  (rare for this county)
Canada Goose
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Golden Eagle
Prairie Falcon
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Boreal Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Northern Shrike
Gray Jay
Steller's Jay
Clark's Nutcracker
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
American Dipper
Townsend's Solitaire
American Robin
European Starling
American Pipit
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Black Rosy-Finch
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
Pine Grosbeak
Cassin's Finch
House Finch
Red Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
Evening Grosbeak
House Sparrow

Eight Annual Georgetown Christmas Count

December 14, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Today, seven of us and nine feeder watchers conducted the eighth annual CoBus sponsored Georgetown Christmas Count.  We ended so far, with 56 species.  Final results will be published in a future issue of "Colorado Field Notes".

Note: Dusky Grouse, Snow Geese & Ross's Geese are difficult to find in Clear Creek County.  Jacob noticed a flock of 120+ white geese flying high over Georgetown.  While Harris's Sparrows have been recorded in 6 of the 8 counts.


Bryan Ehlmann and I snow shoed to Guanella Pass and relocated two White-tailed Ptarmigan (below the large rocks on the hill southeast of the upper parking lot).  We found one of the resident American Three-toed Woodpeckers at the Guanella Pass Campgrounds.  Also a difficult find, as they do not move around much in the crisp, cold temperatures.

Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and Jerry Petrosky had an easier time of it on their White-tailed Ptarmigan search.  They found a pair walking around below the west side Summit (below the wooden fence facing west).

Unfortunately, the only owl found was a Great Horned Owl.  It was not for lack of trying as we searched from sunset to midnight; without success.

Snow Goose
Ross's Goose
Cackling Goose
Canada Goose
White-tailed Ptarmigan
Dusky Grouse
Wild Turkey
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Gray Jay
Steller's Jay
Clark's Nutcracker
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
American Dipper
Townsend's Solitaire
American Robin
American Pipit
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
Pine Grosbeak
Cassin's Finch
House Finch
Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin
Evening Grosbeak
House Sparrow

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Colorado State Forest Christmas Count

December 13, 2013

Richard Stevens:

The four of us met up with Jerry Petrosky, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and conducted the Colorado State Forest Christmas Count today.  Weather conditions were fantastic with little winds and temperatures in the 40s.

We also recruited five feeder watchers.  Final totals are not in yet.  We did have Boreal Owls, Dusky Grouse, Rosy Finches, American Three-toed Woodpeckers and the usual mountain species.  A surprise was a Greater Sage-Grouse along Jackson County Road 25.

A few Rosy Finches were again at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was north of the Visitor's Center, across highway 14.

Totals so far (with final report in January's "Colorado Field Notes"):
38 species:
Greater Sage-Grouse - Jackson CR 25
Dusky Grouse - Feeder Watcher
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Golden Eagle
Rock Pigeon
Boreal Owl
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Gray Jay
Clark's Nutcracker
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Black Rosy-Finch
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
Pine Grosbeak
Cassin's Finch
House Finch
Red Crossbill
Evening Grosbeak
House Sparrow

Exploring the Colorado State Forest Area

December 8-12, 2013

Richard Stevens:

December 8, 2013

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I headed up to North Park by way of Silverthorne.

Three species of Rosy Finches visited feeders at a friend's home (Summit County).

No Rosy Finches could be found in Kremmling (Grand County).

Our birding day ended at Jackson County Road 26 where a search for Greater Sage-Grouse was unsuccessful.

December 9, 2013

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove back to the Canyon Campgrounds 35+ miles east of Cameron Pass (Larimer) to look for the Carolina Wren and Lewis's Woodpecker reported yesterday by Nick Komar.  Unfortunately, they were not found.

On the trip down Highway 14, we stopped at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (Jackson).  Several dozen Rosy Finches visited the feeders behind the building.  It is early in the season and it appears the Rosy Finches come early in the morning and do not stay throughout the day.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped by the Visitor's Center, no Rosy Finches.  While walking highway 14, the drumming of a male American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard just northeast of the Visitor's Center, north of hwy 14.
December 10, 2013

Late yesterday afternoon, Bryan and I cross country skied into the Colorado State Forest.  Our arrival at Ruby Jewell Road (along Jackson County Road 41 at 5.0 miles east of Hwy 14) was timed to be there around sunset.

We continued up Ruby Jewell Road for about two miles.  Winds were mild (less than 3 mph) and we could hear the forest sounds clearly.  Temperatures were in the single digits by midnight; the strenuous skiing kept us warm anyway.

It still amazes me how noisy the forest is at night, even in winter.  Cassin's Finches, Pine Siskins and a woodpecker or two called during our trek.  The breathing of an Elk was heard at least twice.  Fortunately, the resident bears should have all been hibernating (a relief to my mind to not run into one this night).  Several Aspens had been scarred/worked over during warmer times.

On this night, we only heard one Boreal Owl (up Ruby Jewell Road).  It was not far from one of the nesting boxes that I monitor in June (although in eight years I have only found one Boreal Owl that ever used one of the 152 boxes in the Colorado State Forest).

It was quite an enjoyable trip, well worth the effort.

After a few hours sleep, we returned to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (late afternoon and found only a few dozen Rosy Finches.  Earlier in the morning, Sue and Rebecca had counted only a dozen (no Blacks).

December 11, 2013

Four hours before sunrise, Bryan and I went out to listen for Boreal Owls.  Winds were in the 4-6 mph range.  While good conditions for hearing the soft calling owls, none was found this morning.

Then our troupe headed to Jackson County Road 26 to search for Greater Sage-Grouse just before sunrise.  None was found on this chilly winter morning.

We continued to Steamboat Springs and stopped at the road to the Highway Maintenance vehicle shed on Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand).  A female American Three-toed Woodpecker flew across the road!

Several stops along Rabbit Ears Pass did not add a White-winged Crossbill or Red Crossbill to our trip list.

Reservoirs around Steamboat Springs (Routt County) were frozen and had no birds.  After lunch, we walked along the Yampa River Riverwalk searching unsuccessfully for Waxwings.

At dusk, we stopped by a friend's home northeast of town.  Three Sharp-tailed Grouse roosted in one of his trees.  Most winter mornings, a few will drop down out of the trees and walk underneath his porch!

December 12, 2013

Early this morning, Bryan and I snow shoed to the Crags Campgrounds area (Jackson).  The resident Boreal Owls were not found.  We had been scouting for the past couple of days for tomorrow's Christmas Count.

Our planned cross country ski trip down the Michigan Ditch Road trail was canceled this week.  Conditions looked potentially too high for avalanches.  As I have said several times, I am quite familiar with the Colorado State Forest area having spent several hundred days birding there.  We always carry avalanche beacons in winter.  Wandering around below the mountains without experience can be quite severe.

In theory, it is possible to hike/cross country ski down the Michigan Ditch trail and reach Thunder Pass (in 4.0 miles).  One can take the pass (11,331 feet) from Routt National Forest southeast into Rocky Mountain National Park.  In 6.1 miles (Lulu City Ghost Town in 3.3) one will reach Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34).  All the while one is west of the Continental Divide (and does not cross it).

I have only done this once (in August).  The trip is not all that strenuous and passes through some beautiful country (and under Mount Richthofen (12,940 feet).  Make it a two day trip and you will enjoy two days of solitude with potential Boreal Owls (Flammulated Owls in season), and other mountain bird species.

When not birding, we have been playing bridge and resting our legs.  Weather conditions have been quite good this week.  Tomorrow, the 4th Annual Colorado State Forest Christmas Count.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Search for Snowy Owls, Weld & Morgan Counties

December 7, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I traveled up to Weld County after receiving a report of an immature Snowy Owl north of Riverside Reservoir.  Besides driving up and down Weld County Road 89, we also traveled many of the gravel roads north and east of the Reservoir.  Unfortunately, Riverside Reservoir is a private reservoir and permission to scope the large reservoir was not found.

Eventually we ended up at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  A few American Robins, White-crowned and Song Sparrows were observed.  No uncommon sparrows or Varied Thrushes among the Robins, it was quite cold, around 9 degrees at 2:00 pm.

We were able to entice an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond to our recordings.  A Long-eared Owl was found by scoping the riparian area while we stood on the main road.  Having already found Long-eared Owls here this fall, we did not disturb them by walking through the Campgrounds.

Return to Aurora Reservoir

December 6, 2013

Richard Stevens:

I went by Aurora Reservoir to see what gulls might be lingering around (also to visit a friend who lives along the southern border).  Roads were quite slippery today.  Temperatures in the single digits (sun melts top of snow and cold temps freeze it into ice).

Many gulls stood along the southwestern shore.  These included a Mew Gull (Moore, 11/3), two Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Mlodinow, 11/24), two Thayer's Gulls (Mlodinow, 11/22) and the possible Glaucous-winged Gull (Mlodinow, 11/24). 

Note: the Colorado Bird Records Board does not recognize any pure Glaucous-winged Gulls in Colorado (the Colorado Bird Records Committee does).  There are too many hybrids of Glaucous-winged Gulls with their large Gull brothers and no way without DNA studies to prove Glaucous-winged Gulls have flown into Colorado.

Cherry Creek State Park Gulls

December 5, 2013

Email to "cobirders"

Hello cobirders,

I had the chance to drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe County) while doing chores this afternoon.  Roads were quite icy, temperature was 5 degrees when I left around 4:00 pm.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were off the southwest boat ramp.  A Northern Shrike was down the road to the Gun Range.  Eight Bald Eagles perched near the Campgrounds.

I had hoped for a Sage Sparrow or Snow Bunting; it was not to be.

Earlier I drove to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Nothing uncommon was found today.  I passed through the DIA Owl Loop when it was too dark to see much.

Richard Stevens

Aurora Reservoir and DIA Owl Loop

December 4, 2013

Richard Stevens:

I led a trip to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Winds were 12+ mph, temperatures in the 30s and below.

Gulls come and go all day long at Aurora Reservoir.  Some definitely head north to nearby DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) and return throughout the day.  Others fly west toward Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Today we found two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which represented our only uncommon gulls.  At least one Long-tailed Duck continues (Steve Mlodinow reported five on 11/24).

The last hour of daylight, Bryan Ehlmann and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  A Short-eared Owl was found flying over the rocky remnants of old roads on the west side of Queensburg Street, south of 114th avenue.  It eventually disappeared over the Airport runways to the west.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Search for Dusky Grouse in Jefferson County and Barrow's Goldeneyes in Adams County

December 3, 2013

Richard Stevens:

On the way to pick up some birders near the foothills, Bryan Ehlmann and I made a quick stop at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  A Lesser Black-backed Gull and the possible Glaucous-winged Gull were the only uncommon gulls found.

Nate Williams, Karl Clark, Billy Blake and I made a good effort to find Dusky Grouse at Reynolds Park later this morning.  Temperatures were 20 degrees colder than yesterday (in the 40s) and winds 10+ mph, gusts to 21 mph.

We made the whole circuit (Raven's Roost to Eagle's View to Oxen Draw to Elkhorn trails.  No sign of any Dusky Grouse, one can only give it a good try.

A female American Three-toed Woodpecker crossed Oxen Draw trail just north of the Eagle's View/Raven's Roost intersection.  Three species of nuthatches, one Brown Creeper, four Red Crossbills and Pine Siskins were also seen.

After dropping them off at their motel, I decided to hike the South Platte River from 88th and Colorado Blvd to Highway 224 and back (east side of Platte south, cross over and west side back to 88th). 

There was a report of eleven Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Platte River yesterday.  Eventually I found four male and one female Barrow's Goldeneyes.  Three males were on the Platte River and a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on East Gravel Lakes.

Other interesting birds observed included a Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, two Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern Shrike.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Perhaps the Last Foray Into the Mountains for 2013

December 2, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Five of us took advantage of the nice weather and returned to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County).  It took a little over an hour before we found two White-tailed Ptarmigan on the hillside southeast of the upper parking area.

We were not as fortunate at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers or Northern Pygmy-Owls were found in a three hour search.

On my way home, I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls were observed tonight.  Two Northern Harriers, two Red-tailed Hawks, a Ferruginous Hawk and a male American Kestrel wandered around north of the airport.

Weather predictions are for 3-6 inches of snow in the Denver area for Wednesday.  With 12-24 inches predicted for the mountains, birding may be restricted to the plains this week.  High temperatures around 14 degrees, lows -10 degrees, it is going to be a cold one.

One more day/morning a passable weather, winter is arriving.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Hike Around Aurora Reservoir

December 1, 2013

After great barbecue hosted by Bill Cryder, we decided to burn a few calories with walk around the south and eastern sides of Aurora Reservoir.  Our group included Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten, Bill Cryder and I.

Among hundreds of gulls, we found two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and the Gull that others report as a Glaucous-winged Gull (we hold that no pure Glaucous-winged Gulls can be identified or occur in Colorado but rather are hybrids of some degree).

Other birds included a Long-tailed Duck and a Common Loon.  Misses included the Glaucous Gull and Mew Gull reported a few days earlier.  Jerry Petrosky called to say a Glaucous Gull was at Cherry Creek Reservoir (not more than 9 miles to the west, it could have been the Aurora Reservoir bird?).

Wandering Around Adams County

November 30, 2013

Saturday was another fantastic fall day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached into the middle 60s; winds were less than 6 mph.

A stop at Barr Lake State Park (Adams) did not find the Tundra Swan reported two days earlier.  A Common Loon swam with many Western Grebes, gulls (mostly Ring-billed, a few California and a couple of Herring).

No uncommon geese were picked out of the thousands of White-cheeked Geese out on the lake.

Next, we decided to drive through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  Lower Derby Lake hosted hundreds of ducks and geese.

We spotted a female/immature Surf Scoter at the southwest corner of the lake.  At times, it would disappear behind the southwest bank.  Be sure to obey no trespassing signs.  Two reasons, it is not a good idea to break the law on federal property and fines are listed at $225.

Eventually a Greater White-fronted Goose was picked out of the thousands of geese on Lower Derby Lake.  Other waterfowl included Bufflehead, Redheads, Canvasbacks, a few Mallards, American Coots, two Western Grebes and a couple of Pied-billed Grebes.

Heading toward Lake Ladora, we stopped to look for sparrows and rails in the cattails along the southern end of the lake.  A Swamp Sparrow responded in less than three seconds when a recording was played at the southeast corner.

Only a few Buffleheads, American Coots and Gadwall were on the lake.  A hundred or so gulls were represented by Ring-billed and one Herring.

We stayed until dark (park closes at 6:00 pm) to look and listen for Long-eared Owls at the Governor's Row area of the Arsenal.  None appeared/called tonight.

Black Friday Birding

November 29, 2013

The newly formed Sedgwick County Birding Club (now has 11 members) made a circuit around the county today.  Temperatures were in the 50s, winds were mild.

One of the Birding Club members reported a reddish Fox Sparrow.  We drove over and found an adult "Passerella iliaca taiga" that Bill reports has been hanging around for ten days or so.

We stopped in Ovid (Sedgwick County) to say hi to a friend of mine (and recruit her for the club) and were lucky to be there when her Purple Finch made an appearance.  The finch has been detected for six days now!

A stop at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) was quite productive.  The highlight was a Winter Wren below (west) the road at the southwest corner of the Wildlife Area.

Gulls were represented well with a Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Thayer's Gulls, Bonaparte's Gull and Mew Gull.  A Common Loon and at least two Greater Scaup swam around the lake.

On the trip back to Denver (after saying adios to our new friends), we stopped briefly at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  A Common Loon was on the reservoir.  One of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls responded to our recordings.  Misses included the Winter Wren that called on 11/26 and a Lesser Black-backed Gull that had flown over the lake on 11/26.

In Morgan County, we circled Log Lane Village searching for feeders and possible Purple Finches.  Finding no finches, we scoped Riverside Park in Fort Morgan and found a Greater White-fronted Goose among thousands of White-cheeked Geese (eastern end of property).

Thursday, November 28, 2013


November 28, 2013

Ten of us went out looking for Greater Prairie-Chickens in Logan County after an afternoon Barbecue.  Too much food and great friends made for a grand day in spite of finding no Prairie Chickens.

Our day ended under a colorful sunset and watching a Short-eared Owl fly back and forth across the field in Southern Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.  This area is about 4.5 miles north of Logan County Roads 46 and 89. (or 1.1 miles south of I76 and 2.2 miles west of Logan County Road 93).

Happy Thanksgiving To All!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Two Trips: Northeastern Colorado and Colorado Mountains

November 27, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Bryan Ehlmann and Richard Stevens split up today.  Richard had to return to Denver for a White-tailed Ptarmigan trip up Guanella Pass in Clear Creek County.  Bryan led a group of three birders around Logan/Sedgwick Counties.

Bryan's group of four enjoyed a warmish day at Jumbo Reservoir and Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.

They reported from Jumbo Reservoir: Mew Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Thayer's Gulls, Common Loon and Pacific Loon.

Later they found a Field Sparrow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Screech-Owl and Short-eared Owl at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.  They sad miss was any Greater Prairie-Chickens.

Richard's group of two plus himself found two White-tailed Ptarmigan below the huge reddish rocks on the hill southeast of the parking lot at Guanella Pass, Clear Creek County.

Later they relocated a Northern Pygmy-Owl along the Narrow Gauge Trail at Pine Valley Ranch Park, Jefferson County.  They missed any American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trip Up Interstate 76, Morgan to Logan/Washington Counties

November 26, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann made a short trip to Northeastern Colorado.  As often the case, they decided to stay overnight.

Their first stop was Jackson Reservoir in Morgan County.  Their bird count included several Long eared Owls, a Great Horned Owl, an adult and possible 2nd year Lesser Black-backed Gulls, two Thayer's Gulls, a Say's Phoebe, many Yellow-rumped Warblers, many American Robins and an Orange-crowned Warbler.

While checking out the ponds at nearby Andrick Wildlife Area they found a White-throated Sparrow among 6-10 White-crowned Sparrows.

Prewitt Reservoir, which stretches out over Logan and Washington Counties, was their next stop.

They were very excited to find a Winter Wren east of the ranger's home, below the dam.

A Common Loon and Lesser Black-backed Gull were seen while they scoped the reservoir from the dam.

An Eastern Screech Owl was heard at the inlet canal area.  It has been around all year.  No warblers were found.

While waiting for Short eared Owls to come out at Messex Wildlife Area in Washington County, they found a Red-bellied Woodpecker and another White-throated Sparrow.

Aurora Reservoir and Nearby Elbert County

November 25, 2013

Richard Stevens

Bryan Ehlmann and I attempted to recreate the superb birding day that Steve Mlodinow had at Aurora Reservoir yesterday.  We found many of the same birds; however, the numbers were far less today.

We eventually found the immature Glaucous Gull (huge white, easy to see), two Lesser Black-backed Gulls (dark mantles easy to pick out), three or four Thayer's Gulls, and one Long-tailed Duck.

We circled the 8.6 miles early in the morning and returned after lunch for another try.  The gulls fly over to DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) throughout the day.  Our Gull numbers may have been higher; however, we only counted the gulls observed/counted at the same time (not both trips).

Afterwards we drove east and south into Elbert County to scope several locations where Short-eared Owls have been spotted in the past. Regrettably, no Short-eared Owls were found.

We did have a nice variety of raptors, which included Red-tailed Hawks (four subspecies), Rough-legged Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks (a light and dark morph), American Kestrel (pair) and a Prairie Falcon.

A stop at a friend's ranch did find a Long eared Owl in Elbert County.

Trip to Centennial Park and Back

November 24, 2013

Richard Stevens

While out doing chores, I found myself at Centennial Park in Englewood (Arapahoe County).  More or less, 37 miles from home, a slight detour :-)

The Prothonotary Warbler showed up at the "berry bushes" about 10 minutes after my arrival.  A dozen birders were able to see it before it flew north. 

I happened to relocate the bright yellow bird in the drab yellows and browns when walking to my car.  I was able to watch it for 10 or 15 minutes as it walked along the small creek north of the blue gazebo (berry bushes area).  The warbler walked/hopped along the creek and entered many of the little cubby holes (caves/openings/etc) along the creek bank.

He searched for insects and occasionally found a spider or bug.  We only see one or two Prothonotary Warblers in Colorado each year.  I have to assume that this is the Prothonotary Warbler's typical foraging behavior (until I have time to research it further).  It was quite interesting to watch.  Result, the berries are not his only source of energy.

I cut through the Colorado State Mental Institute on my way home.  Hundreds of geese walked their grounds.  At least three Snow Geese and a Ross's Goose were among the many White-cheeked Geese.  Mostly of the White-cheeked Geese appeared to be Cackling Geese.

No uncommon waterfowl were at nearby Fort Logan National Cemetery (only White-cheeked Geese and Buffleheads).

While driving through Cherry Creek State Park earlier (Arapahoe) I did relocate several Bonaparte's Gulls and one of the Common Loons. With too many chores, I only had a few minutes to scope Barr Lake (Adams County) on my way home.  Nothing uncommon was found. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Birding East of Denver

November 23, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded Adams and Weld Counties today.  Temperatures stayed in the low 40s, winds were around 8+ mph.

At sunrise, we drove around the Adams County Reservoirs along the South Platte River.  We hoped that with the many Long-tailed Duck sightings, there might be one along the Platte River Reservoirs; none was found.

We quickly walked to the green/white tower area and found a male Barrow's Goldeneye (loosely associated with Common Goldeneyes).  No uncommon ducks were on the West Gravel Lakes (as we hiked back to our car).

A drive around the York Street/East 144th avenue area did not find the possible Red-shouldered Hawk reported yesterday by Bruce Neuman (to be fair, not much time was spent searching).

Then we headed to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) to see if last weekend's Eastern Towhee was still around (in spite of the mid week snowstorm). 

Many hunters had the northern ponds reserved.  We walked down to the pond 6-7 windbreak to look for Long-eared Owls (found one).  Two hunters were putting out decoys on Pond 5 and since they had just started, we asked if we could quickly walk the Russian Olive Tree windbreak along the southern end of the pond.  They were happy and generous to allow us to do so.  Unfortunately, the Eastern Towhee (or any towhee or bird for that matter) moved about the windbreak.

Since we had made the long drive, we walked the Russian Olive Tree windbreak along Ponds 3 and 4 (south side of highway 52).  Waterfowl are not dumb.  While the northern ponds were mostly frozen, they also had no ducks.  Pond 4 was ice and hunter free and had 100+ ducks.

Again no towhees or robins (there had been many Robins last weekend).  A small bird moved about under the clump of Russian Olive Trees at the southeast corner of Pond 4.  As we circled the small "grove" a Long-eared Owl called several times (we would have missed it if not for the call).  The small bird turned out to be a Song Sparrow.

With a couple of hours of daylight remaining, we decided to drive back to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Harris's Sparrows have been reported at more than three locations this month.  We hoped that the Harris's Sparrows that wintered under the Contact Station feeders had returned.  None was found.

One hundred and fifty plus gulls on Lake Ladora all turned out to be Ring-billed Gulls.  Ninety+ percent of the waterfowl on Lower Derby Lake were American Coots (a few Western Grebes, Mallards and Gadwalls were the remainder).

Sunset is now around 4:38 pm and the arsenal is open until 6:00 pm.  We stayed around and searched for Long-eared Owls; without success.

Short Owling Trip Into the Mountains

November 20-22, 2013

Richard Stevens:

November 20, 2013

Jack Sheridan (distant relative of General Sheridan), Marty Wright and I headed up to the mountains for a few days of owling and White-winged Crossbill searching.

A stop along the eastern side of Chambers Lake found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker.  We tramped partially along the Zimmerman Lake Trail without finding any crossbills (White-winged or Red).

No Rosy Finches appeared at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

After dark, we heard a Boreal Owl just west of Cameron Pass.  No Boreal Owls were found up Ruby Jewell Road and we backtracked to highway 14.  Then we "hiked" down to the Crags Campgrounds.  A cooperative Boreal Owl allowed us nice views!

November 21, 2013

At first light, Jack Sheridan, Marty Wright and I planned to drive Jackson County Road 26 in search of a Greater Sage-Grouse.  Fortune was kind to us.  As we drove west off of highway 14, a Greater Sage-Grouse was walking along the east side of County Road 26 (only about 200 yards off hwy 14).

We continued into Steamboat Springs (Routt) and searched several fields were Sharp-tailed Grouse are sometimes reported.  None was found today.

On the trip back over Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand), we  did not find any White-winged Crossbills.  We heard the drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker (along the road to the maintenance shed), however never did see the bird.

We checked the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders twice during the day; no Rosy Finches came by.  A Pine Grosbeak pair, Mountain Chickadees and Pine Siskins did show.

November 22, 2013

After retiring early last night, our day started about two hours before sunrise.  Fog and snow covered roads made our trip quite treacherous.  We skipped highway 125, which would have passed Windy Gap Reservoir and took highway 40 to Kremmling (Grand County).

A dozen or so Rosy Finches (no Blacks) flew around this small North Park town.  Unfortunately, no Common Redpolls appear to be with them yet this winter.

At a friend's home in Summit County, we found 110 Rosy Finches (three species, only 2 Black) and 2 Common Redpolls!

Our next stop was Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County).  Again, someone in our group carried good luck.  A White-tailed Ptarmigan was observed walking the hillside on the west side of Highway 6 (across from the second pullover, east of hwy 6, south of Loveland Pass). 

I am always grateful when the Ptarmigan search is successful (especially when it was less than 30 minutes old)!

After dropping my birding partners off at their motel, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to search for the Long-tailed Duck reported earlier by Glenn Walbek.  A scope was needed, but I did eventually find the Long-tailed Duck near a raft of American Coots (in the southeastern corner of the reservoir).

Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew over while I was scoping the lake.  Eventually three Common Loons caught my attention.  They were examined for quite awhile; none was a Yellow-billed Loon.

Many Western Grebes and Ring-billed Gulls swam near the center of the lake.  A couple of California Gulls and at least two Herring Gulls were also identified.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area to Red Rocks Park

November 19, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Early this morning Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  We knew the Wildlife Area was closed (open Saturday to Monday); however, we thought that scoping the Russian Olive Tree windbreak below the northern parking area from Highway 52, might find the Eastern Towhee (seen on Sunday & Monday).

While a Townsend's Solitaire and many Robins were seen, the Eastern Towhee was not (no Spotted Towhees either).

After dropping Bryan off at home, I continued west to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  The Golden-crowned Sparrow appeared within 10 minutes of my arrival.

Next, I stopped and looked for the slate colored Fox Sparrow reported along the entrance road.  Directions: the willows and bushes under the rocky cliffs just west of the last house on the north side of the entrance road (as one drives in from Jefferson County Road 93).

The area was quite birdy with many Mountain Chickadees, White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos.  The Fox Sparrow was not there.

I noticed many birds coming to the feeders at the back of the house (above).  House Sparrows, House Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Western Scrub-Jays and American Robins visited off and on.

A large sparrow that appeared to have a brown and reddish body and grayish head popped up just once.  By the time I set up my scope, I only got a two-second look before this sparrow dropped down onto the deck below the feeders.  It never reappeared.  The sparrow may have been the slate colored Fox Sparrow, however, I could not record that I observed it.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) as I drove home.

Guanella Pass and Jefferson County Mountain Parks

November 18, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Cam Dewitt, Stanford Collier and I started up Guanella Pass just below sunrise.  Before we reached the top, four White-tailed Ptarmigan were spotted under the evergreens on the east side of the road.  They were under the first taller evergreens south of the parking area.

Winds were 23 mph, gusts to 34 mph.  Skies were partly sunny with temperatures in the low 40s.  My fortune in finding the Ptarmigan is usually reduced by the stretch of the wind. 

However, I have been up here and recorded 62 mph winds.  That trip both of us were blown off our feet at least once and no Ptarmigan were found.  Twenty-three mph winds are pleasant for this area!

On the trip back to Denver, we stopped near the metal gate at Duck Lake.  A drumming woodpecker turned out to be a male American Three-toed Woodpecker.

A hike around Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson) did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls.  An immature Northern Goshawk was a consolation sighting.

Northern Pygmy-Owls were also missed along Songbird and Oxen Draw Trails at Reynolds Park.

After an early dinner at Morrison Inn (great Mexican food), we drove to White Ranch Open Space and Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  Again, no Northern Pygmy-Owls could be found.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

From Barr Lake (Adams County) to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County)

November 17, 2013

Richard Stevens:

This morning Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Barr Lake (Adams County).  Unfortunately, we could not relocate yesterday’s Blackpoll Warbler found below the dam.  We again circled the reservoir (8.9 miles).  The highlight was a Common Loon on the reservoir and a Spotted Towhee near the Visitor’s Center footbridge (no Eastern Towhees, boo).

We did relocate yesterday’s Barn Owl.  He (rather small bird, white breasted) was in the thickets/cottonwoods off mile 7.2.

The temperatures may have reached the mid 50s; winds were pretty close to 10 mph all day.

I heard about the Eastern Towhee at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) and gave it a try.  Unfortunately I did not know if it was on the north or south side of hwy 52 which splits the Wildlife Area in two.  The Eastern Towhee was not found by me.

I spent about an hour searching the Russian Olive windbreak below the northern parking area.  No towhee, but I did see a Townsend’s Solitaire, White-crowned Sparrow and many American Robins.

The south side Russian Olive windbreak did not hide an Eastern Towhee that I could see (during another hour of searching). However I finally found a few birds.  A chip was heard about halfway down Pond # 4.  With all the uncommon warblers around I was hoping for  a rare one; it turned out to be an Orange-crowned Warbler.  Several Blue Jays, Townsend’s Solitaires and Dark-eyed Juncos filled the air with song.

Finally I gave the northern windbreak another hour of searching; without success.

While missing the Eastern Towhee, I was able to find three Long-eared Owls (two in locations not recorded before by me).

The trip to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area was a superb ending to my birding day.  No sounds but the wind, a couple of Blue Jays and a few songbird calls.

As I wrote yesterday on the CoBus trip Blog, be sure to know the rules and locations of hunters that check in.  In regard to the rules, I have heard of one birder getting a ticket and another birder a warning.  Today hunters were at Ponds 10, 1 & 2. When near Pond 2, I turned around to not disturb the hunter.

Additional birding, 3000+ White-cheeked Geese were on the flooded field north of Tower Road and 96th Avenue (Red Phalarope location).  Four Snow Geese and one Ross’s Goose was among them (no Greater White-fronted Geese however).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Birding Adams & Weld Counties

November 16, 2013

Richard Stevens:

This morning, Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to circle Barr Lake (about 8.9 miles around the trail).  The Weather was pleasant, however much colder and windier than the past few days.

A late migrating Hermit Thrush was below the trail, just northeast of the Pioneer trailhead (mile 8.1).  The highlight of the walk was a Blackpoll Warbler in fall plumage below the dam. 

On the way back to our car, we relocated the Barn Owl in the thick trees off mile 7.2.

No uncommon birds were found while we scoped the reservoir from the now closed boat ramp.

In the afternoon, we drove to a friend's ranch in Weld County.  His resident Long-eared Owls were easy to spot in the evergreen windbreak surrounding his house.

Our birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  We added another Long-eared Owl in the windbreak west of Ponds 6-8. 

Many American Robins and Dark-eyed Juncos fluttered about the same windbreak. 

If visiting be sure to check what days some of the hunting areas are reserved.

Continued Southeast to South Central Trip

November 12-15, 2013

Richard Stevens:

November 12, 2013

At first light, we checked for owls and Harris's Sparrows at Mike Higbee Wildlife Area (Prowers County).  While neither was found, a pair of Rusty Blackbirds walking along the Fort Bent Canal was a superb consolation prize.

A quick stop at Lamar Community College added only one Northern Cardinal to our trip list.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was flying around as we drove through Willow Creek Park.  Fairmount Cemetery was void of birds (do not know why, perhaps a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk had flown through)?

Our group continued south to visit a friend's ranch in Furnish Canyon (he has reported a Vermilion Flycatcher for several days).

A quick detour to Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca County) found a Barn Owl and Common Yellowthroat below the dam (carefully watch access).

A Surf Scoter was with many common waterfowl on the lake itself.

We arrived at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) with several hours of daylight left.  One of the resident Rufous-crowned Sparrows perched on the rocky hillside at 1.4 miles southeast of Baca County Road 5 & Carrizo Creek.

Several Canyon Towhees were not far from the same spot.  A lone Lewis's Woodpecker hung on one of the old cottonwood snags as we continued toward Carrizo Creek.

After sunset, we managed to conjure up one of the resident Western Screech-Owls (near Carrizo Creek)!  Carrizo Creek Picnic Area was very quiet.

November 13, 2013

We arrived at my friend's ranch only to find that the Vermilion Flycatcher has not been seen in two days.

It was another beautiful fall day in Colorado and we celebrated with a hike at Picture Canyon (Baca).  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow popped up on the short rocky hillside just south of the parking area.

Nothing moved about the cliffs with Indian pictographs.  We then hiked south and west to North Canyon.  Along the way, a Curve-billed Thrasher was observed on the cliffs near the old stone cabin.

Unfortunately, only a few birds were around the spring at North Canyon.  Vermilion Flycatchers have been reported here at least three times in the last 20 years.  A Northern Mockingbird was probably not migrating, but a resident bird.

Our trek passed through Cottonwood Canyon and stopped again at Carrizo Creek and Baca County Road 5.  This area once had many Bewick's Wrens around the evergreen trees.  I can only remember seeing one in 2013 (on my nine trips through the area).

We also hiked the draw south of the old stone house (we found a Tufted Titmouse here on 11/2/1996).  A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker, nine Cedar Waxwings, a Bewick's Wren and Dark-eyed Juncos were found.

A dusk we arrived at a friend's ranch in Las Animas and joined 30+ ranchers for dinner.  Afterwards we set up our "owl listening stations" and walked around his expansive ranch.  While we did not find a Northern Saw-whet Owl on our own (four Great Horned Owls were found), Jerry put a spotlight on one hanging around one of the "listening stations".  In my experience, Northern Saw-whet Owls seldom call in fall; however, they are attracted to recordings.

November 14, 2013

At first light, we returned to the Northern Saw-whet Owl spot found last night.  Unfortunately, the owl did not stick around.

I received a call about six Tundra Swans at Trinidad State Park (Las Animas County) and we continued in that direction.

The Tundra Swans were not found, however, we did see a Surf Scoter, Pacific Loon and 1 or 2 Common Loons.  Several Northern Shrikes, a Say's Phoebe and Canyon Towhee were encountered on the drive around the reservoir.

We stopped at Lathrop State Park (Huerfano) on our way to do some owling in Custer County after dark.  Lathrop State Park had few birds of interest (a couple of Mountain Bluebirds and a Vesper Sparrow).

The drive up Greenhorn Road was quite productive.  One Lewis's Woodpecker and two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were run across when we stopped at several of the previous GPS waypoint spots from previous years.

Our "Owl Listening Stations" were set up along the South Creek Trail, Ophir Creek Campgrounds and Davenport Campgrounds.  We eventually located two Northern Saw-whet Owls (continuing our quest to indicate where they winter in Colorado; future "Colorado Field Notes" articles).

November 15, 2013

Our plan today was to go up Slumgullion Pass and search for Boreal Owls at the Campgrounds (Hinsdale County).  These plans were later abandoned when we heard that it was snowing in Lake City (possible 6-12 inches to 5 feet expected).

Instead, we stopped off at DeWeese Reservoir (Custer County).  A White-winged Scoter and Common Loon swan around the reservoir.  A hike below the dam and along Grape Creek found a wren that sounded like a Winter Wren.  The call was brief and we never found the bird (left as one that got away).

With a trip to Lake City out and snow predicted for much of the mountains and possibly Denver, we decided to owl in Fremont County and head home afterwards.

We drove up Phantom Canyon and planned the return trip toward highway 50 after dark.  No Spotted Owls made a sound this night.

On the way into Beaver Creek Wildlife Area (Fremont County), we set up our three "Owl Listening Stations" and continued to the end of the road.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl was hit with a spotlight as we scanned the riparian area around the parking area!

One of our "Owl Listening Stations" (see "Colorado Field Notes") was effective.  We found one of the tiny Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Juniper trees near Oro Juno (one of my favorite locations to search for them).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Southern Trip, Otero, Crowley & Bent/Kiowa Counties

November 11, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Richard Stevens, Bryan Ehlmann and Jerry Petrosky left Denver about 2:00 am.  They arrived at Rocky Ford Wildlife Area in Otero County about an hour and a half before sunrise.  Their efforts paid off as a Western Screech-Owl was found.

They spent several hours at Blue Lake in Bent and Kiowa Counties.  At first they only found a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Thayer's Gull and Pectoral Sandpiper.  After another two hours a Jaeger was seen flying over the eastern end.  This is most likely the Parasitic Jaeger reported last week.

No Barn Owls could be found north of Blue Lake and they worked their way back toward Rocky Ford.  Lake Henry and Lake Meredith are closed.  They scoped Ordway Reservoir from Highway 71, found no uncommon birds.

Nearby after sunset, they found both an Eastern Screech-Owl and Western Screech-Owl on the same ranch in Crowley County!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jefferson and Park County Birding

November 10, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, two California birders and I started our day at sunrise at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson County).  It was too cold to start looking for American Three-toed Woodpeckers wandering around so we walked the Narrow Gauge Trail.

American Dippers appear to have moved on (down to lower elevations for the winter).  The highlight was a Northern Pygmy-Owl watching us near the closed gate at the west end of the trail.

Birds really did not start moving around until well after the 6:39 am sunrise.  We noticed more movement around 10:00 am (on our way down the mountain).  It was a chilling hike up the Buck Gulch Trail to the Strawberry Jack Trail on to Parkview Trail.

The sun just started to warm up the hillside when we reached the Parkview Trail and continued south on Strawberry Jack.  We heard drumming to east of the Strawberry Jack Trail about 200 yards south of Parkview Trail.  We dropped downhill (east) and found an adult female American Three-toed Woodpecker (the only one encountered all morning).

No additional Northern Pygmy-Owls or Three-toed Woodpecker was run across as we continued to the rocky hillside farther south (a productive location of owls on past trips).

Our morning list included three species of nuthatches, a few Mountain Bluebirds, a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos and half a dozen Pine Siskins.

Already on Highway 285, we decided to continue to Park County and the trio of reservoirs there.

Antero Reservoir had few birds (mostly ice covered).

Spinney Mountain Reservoir had only one Surf Scoter and not much else.

Eleven Mile Reservoir had the most birds including three Surf Scoters.

Misses: no loons, swans or additional uncommon ducks.

On the way back to Denver, we searched Bear Creek Lake Park (Jefferson) for the Surf Scoter and Rusty Blackbird reported earlier in the week; without success.

The Golden-crowned Sparrow again did not make an appearance below the Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) platform feeders during an hour wait late in the afternoon.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Trip Into the Mountains West of Denver

November 9, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Saturday was another pleasant fall day in Colorado.  The highs in Denver were around the middle 60s; winds were 10+ mph.

Four of us headed into the mountains today; target birds were White-tailed Ptarmigan and Rosy Finches.

We found all three species of Rosy Finches in Summit County (only one Black).  Clark's Nutcrackers, Gray Jays, three species of nuthatches, Mountain & Black-capped Chickadees, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers and one very late Band-tailed Pigeon.

We scoped Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) from the eastern and western side of the Summit without finding any Ptarmigan.  Having not wanting to hike the steep mountain on the west side of Loveland Pass, we decided to first drive down the pass first and scope the hills.

Fortunately, we found a pair of Ptarmigan below the trees east of Highway 6 (while we were parked at the first large pullover on the west side of hwy 6).

We drove through Keystone Village searching unsuccessfully for Evening Grosbeaks.  None was found in Georgetown either.  Two male Red Crossbills were at the Georgetown City Park.

A stop for an hour did not turn up the Golden-crowned Sparrow at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).

Boulder Bay-breasted Warbler to Lower Latham Reservoir, Weld County

November 8, 2013

Richard Stevens:

It was a fantastic day in Colorado for November.  Temperatures reached the middle 60s.  While others reported high winds in Boulder, when Rebecca and I were there, winds were less than 5 mph.

The Bay-breasted Warbler was quite cooperative.  It gleaned insects from a Pine Tree near the building at 3005 Center Green Drive in Boulder (just northwest of the Foothills Parkway and Valmont Road.

After watching the warbler for an hour, we headed back toward home by way of Valmont Road and highway 7.  We stopped for 30 minutes at the Teller Lake # 5 parking area.  No sparrows were there at all.  A walk to the lake found only one Song Sparrow along the path.  The Golden-crowned Sparrow sometimes is with a flock of White-crowned Sparrows around the fallen trees north of the path.  We did not find it today.

Hundreds of waterfowl were on Teller Lake # 5.  Unfortunately, no uncommon ducks were found.  There were plenty of Redheads, American Coots, Mallards, Gadwalls, Pied-billed Grebes, Green-winged Teal, and a few others.

Prince Lakes 1 and 2 had no gulls at all.  Finally, we passed Lowell Ponds, which had no ice cover or gulls.

Our birding day ended with an unsuccessful search for the Black-legged Kittiwake at Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld).  No Short-eared Owls appeared during a brilliant and colorful sunset.

DIA Owl Loop and Aurora Reservoir

November 7, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County) 30 minutes before sunrise.  A Short-eared Owl flew around the field at the corner of 96th Avenue (where 96th avenue turns north after coming from Tower Road).

To stretch our legs after yesterday's long drive, we hiked the 8.7 miles around Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Common Loon was in the most southeastern cove. 

We never found the previously reported Surf Scoter among hundreds of waterfowl.  The usual characters were represented including Canvasbacks, Redheads, Western Grebes and the more common ducks.

Continued Northeastern Colorado Trip

November 4-6, 2013

Richard Stevens:

November 4

Today, Bryan Ehlmann and I searched unsuccessfully for the Varied Thrush reported yesterday by Mlodinow at Ovid (Sedgwick County).  We walked Lodgepole Creek twice from the Ovid High School to the railroad tracks.

A pair of Rusty Blackbirds walked along the creek south of the high school, north of highway 138.

A Brown Thrasher was encountered near the cross bridge south of highway 138.  Misses included the resident Northern Cardinals.  A male Purple Finch is still coming to feeders at a friend's house (she prefers to remain unnamed).

Inspection of the field and S. Platte River at the Ovid Sewage Pond area found a White-throated Sparrow today.  Misses included the resident Harris's Sparrow(s).

The highlight of the day was an American Woodcock along the S. Platte River (private ranch near Red Lions Wildlife Area).

The weedy field at DePoorter Lake only added another White-throated Sparrow to our day list.  A Northern Bobwhite called from the old dump area.

While checking the Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop for uncommon doves (Inca Doves found in the past) we ran upon a Field Sparrow and not much else.

Eastern Screech-Owls called on Roger Danka's ranch at dusk.

November 5

We called Rebecca, Sue and Jerry Petrosky last night and drove back to the private ranch near Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan County) first thing in the morning.  The American Woodcock had moved down river from yesterday's sighting, but was still on private property (a site/private ranch access that I had "inherited" from Colorado master birder Dan Bridges).

Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) had more ducks and geese than a few days ago, but less gulls.  We did relocate the Lesser Black-backed Gull and several Bonaparte's Gulls.  Geese included Greater White-fronted Geese and Ross's Geese.

The Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter and Black-bellied Plover from two days ago could not be found. Nor were the four Red-necked Grebes reported by Nick Moore on 11/3.

We continued to Sterling where we planned to spend the night and visited several birding locations.

North Sterling Reservoir (Logan) added another Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull to our day list.  Jerry heard a Snow Bunting; however regrettably none of us was able to put a binocular on the bird.

Pioneer Park had few passerines, no warblers or vireos.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owls were not cooperative today; we did not see them.

Overland Park and Museum was equally void of birds.

Two Barn Swallows and a Tree Swallow were somewhat surprising as they flew up and down the South Platte River at Highway 138.

Our birding day ended back at Sterling Reservoir where we waited for Short-eared Owls to appear.  None did tonight.

November 6

Our two car caravan continued west today.  Crow Valley Campground (Weld) was quiet.  No Common Redpolls, owls and other uncommon birds moved about.

We found Lapland Longspurs on the road toward the 122 Ponds.  While no uncommon waterfowl were found.

We searched for Long-eared and Short-eared Owls at Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer); however, daytime is not the most favorable time for such a search.  We have found them in the windbreak along Larimer County Road 3 in past years.

A Common Loon and Bonaparte's Gull were found at Douglas Reservoir (Larimer) and then we turned south.

It took awhile, but eventually we found the Brant at Houts Reservoir.  Several Bonaparte's Gulls were also here.

The Little Gull at Terry Lake (Boulder) was not found.  Perhaps it was back at McIntosh Lake; we did not check it out (and probably should have).

As a consolation, the Golden-crowned Sparrow was relocated at Teller Lake # 5.  It was with 6-8 White-crowned Sparrows and 2 Song Sparrows in the weedy field north of the path heading toward Teller Lake # 5.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Logan/Sedgwick Counties

November 3, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann went searching for the Vermilion Flycatcher reported on 11/2 at Red Lion Wildlife Area by Coyle, Logan County.  They were not able to find it.

A flock of gulls flying over the northeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir included a Mew Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Bonaparte's Gulls, Sedgwick County.  The gulls were last seen flying toward Little Jumbo Reservoir.  A Black-bellied Plover walked the private shore south of the eastern Campgrounds, Sedgwick County.

On the reservoir, they found a Greater Scaup and Surf Scoter, Logan/Sedgwick Counties.

Late in the afternoon, they drove Logan County Road 93 without finding any Greater Prairie-Chickens.  The last hour of daylight, they walked the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area, north of Sedgwick County Roads 86 & 46.  A Short-eared Owl was seen flying below the hill toward I76.

After dark, an Eastern Screech-Owl called back near Eastern Sections 6-7, north of Highway 76.

White-tailed Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass; Checking Some Birding Locations Around Denver

November 2, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Steve Boreanoz and I watched sunrise at Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County) this morning.  A beautiful sunrise peeked through the fog.  Temperature was 12 degrees; however, fortunately winds were calm.

We enjoyed good fortune this morning.  Steve only had a couple of hours to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan before having to head to DIA Airport.  We scoped the eastern side of Loveland Pass without success.

Then we made the mile trek up the western side (as temps reached 20 degrees).  As luck would have it, we only had to hike about 0.8 miles up the steep hillside.  Two Ptarmigan were walking in the bowl on the south side of the trail.  I have found Ptarmigan in this bowl a dozen times over the last decade.  (This bowl is reached when the steep incline somewhat levels off for a brief stretch.  The shallow bowl is to the south; the north side of the trail is a 600-foot drop-off).

After dropping Steve at the airport, I picked up Rebecca Kosten and we went to inspect a few bird sightings and locations.  The afternoon was another fantastic Colorado fall day.  We do not know how many are left in 2013 and enjoyed today much!

Bob Canter called with a questionable grebe at Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area (Adams County).  The only grebe we found turned out to be a Western Grebe molting to basic plumage.  The dull yellow green bill, dark bodied, some hint of black below the eye indicated a Western Grebe.  We would expect a yellow to bright yellow bill, lightish bodied, eye in white on a Clark's Grebe.

We continued south and stopped at Harriman Lake Park (Jefferson) where Baines had reported a scoter from 10/26 to 10/31.  Jerry Petrosky had searched for the scoter yesterday, without success (but reported high winds and waves hindering his search).

Conditions for us were temperatures in the high 60s and calm winds.  We scoped the lake many times until I felt we had looked at every (almost) duck at least three times.  The possible scoter with orange bill and knob was not found.

The many female Lesser Scaups, Redheads and Ring-necked Ducks made the search time consuming.  Added to the many species of female ducks was the fact that many of them kept diving for food.  It seemed like they only surfaced for 3-4 seconds before diving again.

We had to leave without a sighting of the mystery scoter.  I did wonder if anyone had ever conducted a study of how much time each species of duck stays under the water?  Perhaps not, but it might be an interesting study.

One of my loose "rules" the 30 second rule involves if a duck or loon stays under water for more than 30 seconds, it is most likely a Long-tailed Duck (not scaups, Redheads, Ring-necked) or a loon (not a cormorant).  I think it helps to put focus on a possible identification.

Our final stop of the day was Chatfield State Park (it was somewhat on the way home).  We scoped the lake from the top of the dam (my favorite spot).  We found one Red-necked Grebe, the Pacific Loon, one Common Loon and a Bonaparte's Gull.  The second Red-necked Grebe and the Pomarine Jaeger (which I understand has not been found for several days) were not relocated. 

Birding Around Denver

November 1, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I stopped at several birding spots around Denver today.  Winds were calm; temperatures were fantastic in the high 50s.

It took only a few minutes to pick out the Black Scoter and Surf Scoter on Ferril Lake at Denver City Park (Denver County).

We watched the feeders at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) for about an hour and a half.  Unfortunately, the Golden-crowned Sparrow did not appear.

Only gulls, mostly Ring-billed, were on Lake Ladora at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  Many ducks were on Lower Derby Lake.  Although the numbers were far less than when we found the Black Scoter & Surf Scoter last Sunday (10/27).  The Swamp Sparrow could not be found at Lake Ladora or Marys Lake.

We scoped Barr Lake (Adams) from the boat ramp.  Many Western Grebes, American Coots and a few Pied-billed Grebes were observed.  No loons or jaegers were encountered.

At the feeders behind the Visitor's Center, fourteen White-crowned Sparrows (only 2 adults) were joined by a White-throated Sparrow.  They were last seen moving west down the canal.

We stopped by the flooded field along Tower Road, north of 96th avenue (although not hearing about a Red Phalarope sighting for several days).  We found no Red Phalarope.  The American Avocet count was up to three.  Six Killdeer wandered the shoreline.

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.

Birding Around Pueblo, Abandoned Owling Trip

October 31, 2013

Richard Stevens:

When Bryan Ehlmann, Alex B and I reached Pueblo winds were 10-12 mph, gusts to 22+ mph.  Last night we had searched for owls (specifically Northern Saw-whet Owls) in 14+ mph winds.  When it started snowing, we abandoned the idea.

In spite of the high winds, our Pueblo Reservoir count included the Laughing Gull, Bonaparte's Gulls and Common Loon.  Regrettable misses included the Lesser Black-backed Gull and Pacific Loon.

A Black Phoebe was found west of the Valco Ponds parking area.

Our plans to go owling in southern Pueblo County were deserted when we decided the winds were not going to die down tonight.  None of us looked forward to another night of howling winds and no owls. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Park County Reservoirs, Owling in Chaffee County

October 30, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed back to Buena Vista (Chaffee County) to observe Alex B band owls.  Along the trip, we stopped off and scoped the three Park County Reservoirs.

Our first stop was Antero Reservoir.  Two Tundra Swans swam near the southern shore.  One Common Loon was nearby.  No scoters could be found.  Winds were 18 mph, gusts to 27 mph (not aiding much in our search).

At Spinney Mountain Reservoir, we found two Common Loons and two Surf Scoters (Petrosky, 10/20).  There may have been additional scoters; the high waves and winds made scoping the lake quite difficult.

Finally at Eleven Mile Reservoir we observed a Black Scoter (Kellner, 10/27), a Surf Scoter (Petrosky, 10/20) and two Common Loons.  Again, winds measured 18+ mph.

About two hours after sunset, Richard Stevens, Bryan Ehlmann & Alex B found one Northern Saw-whet Owl at the BLM Land northeast of Buena Vista.  It started to snow and they quit early.

Richard, Bryan & Alex head to Pueblo County to search for owls tomorrow night.

Reynolds & Pine Valley Ranch Parks, Jefferson County

October 29, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Martin Cruse and I headed up to Reynolds Park (Jefferson County); target birds were Northern Pygmy-Owls, Dusky Grouse & American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Weather was not good.  Winds 12 mph, gusts to 21 mph; rain/snow mix.

We made the loop from Oxen Draw to Raven's Roost to Eagle's View back to Oxen Draw without seeing many birds.  One of our target birds was found when a Dusky Grouse wandered west of the Raven's Roost trail at approximately 400 yards south of the old service road.

No Three-toed Woodpeckers drummed near their usual locations.  The lack of Three-toed Woodpecker sightings forced us to continue south to Pine Valley Ranch Park.

The elusive woodpeckers required us to hike all the way to the top of the Strawberry Jack trail (into Pike National Forest).  Finally, an adult male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found in the gully east of the Strawberry Jack trail approximately 300 yards south of the Parkview trail.  This is most likely the woodpecker found by Merlynn Brown on 10/24.

After dropping Martin off at his hotel, I passed by the flooded field along Tower Road, north of 96th avenue.  The Red Phalarope was not found as I scoped the field at least four times.  The dozens of Killdeer that had been there for weeks were also gone.

One American Avocet in basic plumage was the only shorebird seen.

A quick stop at Barr Lake (Adams) did not find the Pomarine Jaeger reported earlier.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Back to Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County

October 28, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) today.  Temperatures were in the 40s; it drizzled most of the morning.

We (I) limped to the Rod and Gun Club Bird Blind and Pond.  No wrens were enticed into showing themselves.

The waterfowl mix on Lower Derby Lake was similar to yesterday (Sunday).  The Surf Scoter was relocated; however, the Black Scoter was not found.

We were not able to relocate the Swamp Sparrow Rebecca and I found yesterday in the cattails at the south end of Lake Ladora.  Weather may have had something to do with our misses.

Nothing uncommon was found later at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Finally Reopened!

October 27, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Rocky Mountain Arsenal finally opened after closing for over a month due to flooding and then the government shutdown.

After getting a few chores done, Rebecca Kosten and I went over to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  It was colder than yesterday (mid 60s, winds 10 mph, gusts to 14 mph).

Our target bird was a Swamp Sparrow.  Several have been reported along the Front Range in the past month.  Several were found at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal last year (just about this time of year).

Lake Ladora contained many Ring-billed Gulls, a few California Gulls and two Franklin's Gulls.  None gulls included two American Coots; that was all.

Hundreds of waterfowl were on Lower Derby Lake.  This included a dozen or so Redheads, 70-80 Canvasbacks, Bufflehead, American Coots, American Wigeons, Mallards, one Western Grebe and one Eared Grebe.

The highlights were a Surf Scoter and Black Scoter.  It took quite awhile (45 minutes) to identify the Surf Scoter.  It would stay under water a good amount of time and only surface for 3-5 seconds.  Each time it surfaced, its tail was pointed toward us.

We walked the park of Marys Lake boardwalk that was not destroyed during our heavy rains last month; no Swamp Sparrow.

Finally, a Swamp Sparrow emerged from the cattails along the south end of Lake Ladora.

I really wanted to hike to the Rod and Gun Club Pond and Bird Blind.  Recent sightings of Sedge Wrens and Winter Wrens could open the possibility of an uncommon wren around the cattails there.  I broke a couple of toes a month ago and re-injured them last week.  Walking is no fun; I had to pass on that idea.  Perhaps someone else can make the 3-4 mile round trip?

We passed the Tower Road flooded field (north of 96th avenue) on our way home.  The Red Phalarope was still there along with an American Avocet and many Killdeer.

A Great Horned Owl was heard and seen behind the Old Stone House at Barr Lake (Adams).  We could not see the Pomarine Jaeger from mile 6.0 (northwest corner of the dam).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Birding Around Denver Reservoirs & Lakes

October 26, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed the tremendous Colorado fall day with some marvelous birding.  Winds were calm at Cherry Creek Reservoir and Aurora Reservoir and mild (less than 6 mph) at Chatfield Reservoir.

First we relocated the Black Scoter at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County), however missed the Thayer's Gull (most gulls were out flying around or swimming in the middle of the lake).

Then we road our bikes around the 8.7 mile bike path around Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The two Surf Scoters and Common Loon were in the most southeastern cove (sorry I forget the name of it).

Then we heard about a Pacific Loon at Cherry Creek Reservoir and returned.  However, we scoped the lake twice and never found the Pacific Loon.  There were many boats on the lake; this disturbed the birds, which were constantly moving around.

On our way to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas), we stopped to scope Marston Reservoir (Denver County).  Among the hundreds of Western Grebes, we found a Red-necked Grebe.  Three Surf Scoters swan from the southwestern corner to behind the homes at West Layton Way (the circle north of the private Wildlife Area).

From the marshy open area off South Upham Court, we were able to find one Common Loon.

Finally arriving at Chatfield Reservoir, we scoped the lake from the Handicapped Fisherperson Dock.  The Pomarine Jaeger chased gulls around to the east and north of the dock.  One Red-necked Grebe was toward the dam tower.

From the swimming beach area, we found three Surf Scoters.  We never did find any of the previously reported loons or the second Red-necked Grebe.

Having seen the Red Phalarope along Tower Road yesterday, we did not stop as we passed by (several birders were there looking for it).

Our birding day ended at Barr Lake (Adams County).  We relocated the Pomarine Jaeger that Rebecca had found yesterday (she was not sure of the identification, which was confirmed by Doug Kibbe earlier Saturday).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Another Trip to Guanella Pass and Some Nice Birds on the Trip Home

October 25, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I took advantage of one of the last few superb fall days in Colorado (if the predicted snowstorms for next week come true).  We took Kirk Gross and Michael Kliss up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County).

The weather was fantastic in the morning.  Partly cloudy skies and winds less than 15 mph.  By noon, a front blew in from the west.  Fortunately, my luck (and streak) continued.  We found a White-tailed Ptarmigan in less than 20 minutes.  A male bird jumped up on a boulder about 20 yards southeast of the Rosalie & 603 Trails!

While everyone else had plans for the late afternoon.  I drove back to Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  On Jerry Petrosky's scouting, I relocated the Black Scoter off the Lake Loop.  Jerry's Thayer's Gull was on the floating telephone poles surrounding the southwest marina.  Water levels were quite high; there was no mudflats (or exposed shore) for any shorebirds.

I passed the flooded field north of Tower Road and 96th Avenue on my way home.  The Red Phalarope, Pectoral Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitchers continue to feed in the shallow ponds.

One Burrowing Owl was found near Trussville Road and 114th Avenue (Adams).  I thought all the Burrowing Owls had departed for southern wintering grounds.  There may be a few additional sightings yet this fall.  I will put a photo on the CoBus photo library soon.