Monday, September 30, 2013

Back Toward Denver, Kit Carson County

September 29, 2013

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful day it was.  Temperatures reached into the high 70s; winds were mild most of the day.

Bryan Ehlmann and I walked around Fairview Cemetery north of Burlington and found it quite birdy.  Highlights were a Pine Warbler, Nashville Warbler and Red-breasted Nuthatch. 

There are no breeding records for Red-breasted Nuthatches along the eastern border of Colorado.  We do wonder if there might be a pair or two that do stay year round.

With our superb fall weather, I would have preferred to stay on the eastern plains.  Unfortunately, Bryan has to fly to California on Tuesday; we turned toward Denver.

Stops at the small towns along I70 (Bethune, Stratton, Vona) found few birds until we reached Siebert.  Another Red-breasted Nuthatch fluttered about town.  The highlight however was potential Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.  See October 2013 "Colorado Field Notes" for our concerns about the many Yellow-bellied Flycatcher reports this fall.

Only about, an hour was spent at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  A Winter Wren was relocated below the dam.  Few birds moved around the northeast windbreak and cottonwoods and we did not walk around the eastern and southern sides today.

We received a text message that the possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher reported near Arriba City Park on 9/27 was again found today.  We continued west.  The potential Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was found east of the City Park.

Our birding day ended south of Limon looking unsuccessfully for Short-eared Owls.

Sprague's Pipit Search Heads South, Yuma County

September 28, 2013

Richard Stevens:

We rose early and walked around Rainbow Park in Wray (waiting for a reasonable time to visit a private yard).  It was a fortuitous choice of location.  A Pine Warbler was in the evergreens at the south end of the park.

Back at our motel, a Townsend's Warbler was found in the tall cottonwoods at the east end of the Sandhiller Motel.

Shortly after 8:00 am, we visited a private yard.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which had been around for three days, flew in the feed within ten minutes of our vigilance.

Our plans were to search for additional Sprague's Pipits in Yuma County at Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds.  The day turned out to be quite productive.

We found at least two Sprague's Pipits at their traditional hillside below the Bonny Reservoir dam (north of the South fork of the Republican River).

A walk along the River from Yuma County Road LLLL.5 to Hale Ponds added a Harris's Sparrow and small flock of Eastern Bluebirds to our trip list.

It was a fabulous day weather-wise and we decided to hike the Republican River from highway 385 to Foster's Grove.  The hike added a Tennessee Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch (they appear to be everywhere on the plains this fall), White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, a Hairy Woodpecker, Western Wood-pewee, and unidentified Oriole to our day list. 

Late in the afternoon we hiked the hills south of Hale Ponds and found another Sprague's Pipit.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening; as a consolation, an Eastern Screech-Owl called north of Hale Ponds as we set up camp.

No Sprague's Pipits Today, Sedgwick County

September 27, 2013

Richard Stevens:

The devastation along the South Platte River from recent flooding is mind-boggling.  Most access roads across the River are closed.  The flooding has also closed the many Wildlife Areas along the S. Platte River.  One of my friend's ranches along the River is mostly under water (a pile of his personal possessions laid in a heap of mud outside of his destroyed home).

Bryan and I did manage to get over to Ovid and bird for a bit.  Ovid Woods was quiet.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker and White-throated Sparrow were north of the Ovid Sewage Pond area (permission required to bird this area). 

The young male Purple Finch is still visiting a friend's feeders.  The Whip-poor-will along Lodgepole Creek has not been heard since 9/19.  A male Northern Cardinal was observed as we departed town.  It was at the southwest corner and flew over to the water soaked Julesburg Wildlife Area.

We birded five WIA properties on our trip to Wray.  No uncommon birds were encountered.  Our string of days of Sprague's Pipit sightings ended; none was found today.

Sprague's Pipit Search Continues, Sedgwick County

September 26, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I wished to continue our Sprague's Pipit search today.  First, we made a stop at DePoorter Lake Park.  Our target bird was an American Woodcock.  We had to survey the park from highway 138 (due to the recent floods).

The stop was quite successful (in spite of no Woodcocks).  We observed a Hooded Warbler, two Harris's Sparrows, two White-throated Sparrows and a Field Sparrow.

Our day was spent north of I76 today (the last few mostly south of I76).  Eventually a Sprague's Pipit was found at a private ranch north of Sedgwick County Road 36.

Other interesting birds also on private ranches included a two Long-eared Owls, Greater Prairie-Chicken, Eastern Meadowlark, two Field Sparrows, Western Wood-pewee, Cassin's Kingbird (a surprise this far north), Veery, Philadelphia Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Magnolia Warbler, and Fox Sparrow (red form)!

At dusk, the resident Eastern Screech-Owl called at Roger Danka's ranch.

Sprague's Pipit Search, Sedgwick County

September 25, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I continued our Sprague's Pipit search today.  Weather was again quite good.  We drove many of the roads (those that were accessible in spite of recent flooding).

Only one Sprague's Pipit was run across.  It was near yesterday's sighting, this time along Sedgwick County Road 59, and south of CR 30.

An interesting meadowlark caught our attention northeast of CR 61 & CR 32.  We were 99 percent sure; it was an Eastern Meadowlark!  It sang and called exactly like an Eastern Meadowlark.  Unfortunately, we never managed to get good looks at its throat.

The afternoon was spent at a friend's ranch along the South Platte River.  Most of the riparian area was flooded and we could not get close to the trees.  An unidentified warbler was most interesting (possible first fall female Cape May Warbler or female Black-throated Green Warbler or who knows what).

Fall warblers are difficult ids, especially females.  Even with a good look, it might have been difficult and we were too far away.  We will never know what it was.  A female Red-bellied Woodpecker was easier to identify.

At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl called!  It was a decent end to our birding day!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Search for Sprague's Pipits, Sedgwick County

September 24, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Weather was much better than yesterday's thunderstorms.  Winds were mild; temperatures reached the 70s.

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann searched for Sprague's Pipits in Sedgwick County.  While did not find any yesterday, today was a different story.  They found one Sprague's Pipit along County Road 30, east of CR 51.  Another Sprague's Pipit was found along CR 47.5, north of CR 32.5.

Later in the afternoon, they found a female Baltimore Oriole at the Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop.

A Tennessee Warbler was found at private ranch # 1.  After dark two Eastern Screech-Owls were found also.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Return to Sedgwick County

September 23, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Richard Stevens and Bryan Ehlmann drove to Ovid, target birds, Purple Finch and Eastern Whip-Poor-will.

Few birds were in Ovid Woods; the birds there were great.  A Black-throated Blue Warbler flew back and forth across Lodgepole Creek at just south of the High School.  A young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was farther south near Parker Avenue.

They never found the Eastern Whip-Poor-will seen 9/16 to 9/19.  The young male Purple Finch was found at feeders it visited on 9/18 and 9/19.

At nearby Ovid Sewage Ponds they found a male Red-bellied Woodpecker and White-throated Sparrow.

Before the thunderstorm, they searched for Sprague's Pipits along the Sedgwick County Roads south of I76.  None was found but they did find a late migrating Dickcissel along CR 32.5.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Limping Around Cherry Creek State Park, Arapahoe County

September 21, 2013

Richard Stevens:

For those keeping track (why would you want to?) several weeks ago, I broke a toe on a steel leg of my bed.  This morning I was at the hospital visiting a friend when I received the text message about a Red Phalarope & Arctic Tern at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

While rushing out of the hospital, I caught the broken toe on the elevator door and took off the toenail.  What the heck, it was almost healed (at least not hurting when I put on hiking boots).

Being only 8 miles from Cherry Creek Reservoir I drove over and limped down to the swim beach.  The Arctic Tern was perched on one of the nearby buoys.  Unfortunately, the Red Phalarope was not found among dozens of boats and jet skis.

I scoped from the various vantage points around the park that were car accessible, but gave up on walking.  The Red Phalarope was never found.

Sedgwick County Back to Denver, Walk-In-Areas

September 20, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Birding at Wildlife Areas is still limited by recent floods.  Bryan Ehlmann and I checked out the northern side of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) and found a Blackpoll Warbler.  A juvenile Sabine's Gull was over the lake.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owls did not call this morning.

Duck Creek Wildlife Area was about the only Wildlife Area open.  It is quite a ways north of the South Platte River, which has closed State Parks and Wildlife Areas along its banks.

A Bell's Vireo and Gray Flycatcher flew around Duck Creek.  It is getting late to find Bell's Vireos in Colorado.  We were quite happy to find one in September.

We spent the rest of the daylight visiting Walk-In-Areas in Logan & Sedgwick Counties.  See "Colorado Field Notes" for information on access on these birding gems.

We label the Walk-In-Areas by their southeastern corners (west-east X north-south rds).  Some of the interesting birds found included:

Sedgwick 30X9
White-throated Sparrow

Sedgwick 30X11
Field Sparrow

Sedgwick 8X55
Field Sparrow

Sedgwick 10X55
Bell's Vireo!
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Sedgwick 6X17
White-throated Sparrow (2)
Field Sparrow

Logan 30X93
White-winged Dove

Logan 28X85
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Townsend's Warbler!

Logan 4X77
Eastern Whip-poor Will

Note: We received a report from a friend in Ovid that they heard an Eastern Whip-poor-will 9/16 through 9/19. 

Ovid woods also had:
Red-bellied Woodpecker (9/15 through 9/20)
Eastern Bluebirds (4, 9/19 through 9/20)
Nashville Warbler (9/19)

Ovid was visited by a young Purple Finch on 9/19 & 9/20.  We are hoping it will hang around until Monday or Tuesday.

Driving North through Phillips to Sedgwick Counties

September 19, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I started out birding day at Frenchman's Creek Wildlife Area (Yuma).  We searched for about an hour for the Whip-poor-will species reported yesterday; without success.  No uncommon birds were found and we headed north.

Many birds flew around the Holyoke City Park.  Uncommon birds included a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.  We also found White-breasted Nuthatches, a House Wren and Cedar Waxwings.

The western windbreak at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) contained the resident Barn Owl.  Two Field Sparrows fluttered around the southwest corner.

Our birding day ended at the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  The northern sections along the South Platte River were still closed due to recent floods.  Regrettably, no Greater Prairie-Chickens or Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

A couple of Eastern Screech-Owls called while we sat at our friend's ranch near Julesburg.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Birding Along the Republican River, Yuma County

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

September 18, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Richard Stevens & Bryan Ehlmann birding the Eastern Plains

Another beautiful day in Wray.  Temperatures reached the middle 80s; winds were again mild.  The Republican River was quite birdy!

The highlight today was the reports of two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds hanging around Wray.  We saw one at a friend's home and then heard about the second down the street.  Both were seen at similar times and definitely separate birds.  Ours was an immature male; the other was a female.

Immature male at private yard # 2, 9/15 to 9/19
Female at private yard # 4, 9/16 to 9/17

[That makes thirteen Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in this fall season!]

Our bird count at five yards along the Republican River included:
Golden-winged Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Tennessee Warbler (2 Locations)
Nashville Warbler (4, 3 Locations)
American Redstart (3, 2 Locations)
Blue-headed Vireo (2 Locations)
Cassin's Vireo (3, 3 Locations)
Red-eyed Vireo (1)
Baltimore Oriole (1)
Northern Cardinal (7, 4 Locations)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (2, 2 Locations)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1)
possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (1)
probable Alder Flycatcher (1)
Great Crested Flycatcher (1)

A return to Stalker Ponds found:
Blue-headed Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler

The Barn Owl and Eastern Phoebe were still at nearby Wray Fishing Unit.

After a late lunch, we were invited to bird a private ranch, which has an unnamed creek running through it.

Highlights included
Blue-headed Vireo
Nashville Warbler
Hermit Thrush
Barn Owl
Eastern Screech-Owl (2)
Greater Prairie-Chicken (1)
McCown's Longspurs (many)
Chestnut-collared Longspur (couple)

Wray Colorado Area, Yuma County

September 17, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Richard Stevens & Bryan Ehlmann birding the Eastern Plains

There are many birds on the eastern plains.  The mix appears to change daily.  Today we birded around the Wray area.

Stalker Ponds west of Wray was particularly good.  Birds included: Blue-headed Vireo, Magnolia Warbler, two Cassin's Vireos, an American Redstart, male Northern Cardinal, a female Red-bellied Woodpecker, and two Eastern Screech-Owls.  Misses included the possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher reported on 9/14.

At the nearby Wray Fishing Unit, two Eastern Phoebes and a Barn Owl continued.

We searched for uncommon sparrows at Sandsage Wildlife Area but found none.  A Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler and calling Eastern Wood-Pewee were the consolation birds, not bad!

We looked unsuccessfully for Greater Prairie-Chickens at dusk along Yuma County Road 45.

Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area and Hale Area, Yuma County

September 16, 2013

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

Richard Stevens & Bryan Ehlmann birding the Eastern Plains

Finally our daily thunderstorms stopped.  Today was a fantastic partly cloudy day with temperatures in the 70s and mild winds.

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded Flagler Reservoir; our target bird the possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

We did not find the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher but did see many nice birds.  These included an Alder Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler, two Nashville Warblers, a Blue-headed Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Baltimore Oriole.

It took awhile to get good looks at the Blue-headed Vireo before we saw the contrast behind the bluish gray head and greenish gray back.

Hale Ponds was hopping with birds.  We relocated the Alder Flycatcher along the Republican River, east of CR LL.5.

A Mourning Warbler and surprise Prairie Warbler were west of the Hale Ponds.

Below the Bonny Reservoir dam, we relocated a Cassin's Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird and Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Misses: the Yellow-billed Cuckoo found yesterday along the Republican River, just west of the Kansas border.  Any Common Poorwills at Hale Ponds.

In the late afternoon, we hiked the Republican River from highway 385 to the Foster's Grove Campgrounds.  It was quite productive with sightings of Great Crested Flycatcher, two Blue-headed Vireos, two Cassin's Vireos, two Red-eyed Vireos, a Townsend's Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Wild Turkeys, and a couple of House Wrens.

At dusk, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl!

While setting up camp, another Eastern Screech-Owl was heard back at Hale Ponds.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another Raining Day In Adams County

September 15, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Rain continued again today.  At times winds were 12 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

Bryan Ehlmann and I searched unsuccessfully for the Golden-winged Warbler found yesterday around the Barr Lake banding area (Adams County).  We continued to the boat ramp and found a Great Crested Flycatcher between the banding area and the Pioneer Trail.  This would be the highlight and one of few birds found today.  A Townsend's Warbler was seen down the Pioneer Trail.

The resident Barn Owl (mile 7.2) could not be found today.

Morgan-Smith Wildlife Area (Adams) had a Cassin's Vireo in the limited area we could check (the swollen S. Platte River discouraged much exploring).

Later we returned to Barr Lake and missed the Golden-winged Warbler again.

Long Search for a Prothonotary Warbler in Jefferson County

September 14, 2013

Richard Stevens:

The plan was to rest today with a short side trip to search for the Prothonotary Warbler at Main Reservoir.  I thought it was a first county sighting for me; later checking records, it would be the third Jefferson County bird and my sixth Colorado Prothonotary Warbler (memory is not as good as it once was, or I have just seen too many birds to remember, I go with the later!).

I would eventually see the bird, however only after five hours and then after another birder found it.  I walked the south side of Main Reservoir twice.  At the location where it was finally seen, I had stopped because of a call note that I could not recognize.  It could have been the Prothonotary Warbler, but I could not find the bird that called briefly at the time.  I knew it was not a Wilson's Warbler (two were in the area), but never guess what the bird was.

A young male American Redstart was found on my first pass through the area.  He eventually flew into the yard south of the trail.

After a third pass and a wait of two hours, the Prothonotary Warbler made a brief appearance from deep in the bushes!

My plan was to drive through Barr Lake (Adams) on the way home and search for a Golden-winged Warbler and Great Crested Flycatcher found earlier in the day.  About 30 minutes from Barr Lake, I ran into a heavy rainstorm and accompanying hail.  Instead, a quick detour got me home before saturated roads turned into rivers.

Birding In the Rain Weld County to Morgan County

September 13, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Jeff Poulin and I headed north to Crow Valley Campground (Weld) and Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) in search of some target birds.  The weather was overcast with some sprinkles of rain at times.  After yesterday's statewide thunderstorms, I thought we would run into soupy roads in the Pawnee National Grasslands.  Unfortunately, the roads dried out enough for us (with the exception where we had to turn around once in Adams County).

The conditions were superb for birding.  Regrettably, Crow Valley Campground was quite slow.  Few birds moved about the area except the northwest corner.  There we found dozens of birds with the highlight being a Cassin's Vireo. 

Other birds included Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwings, dozens of American Robins, Wilson's Warblers, Townsend's Solitaires, Western Bluebirds and several Plumbeous Vireos.

Misses included Long-eared Owls not found in the southwest corner or the Briggsdale Cemetery or the Washington Work Station.  We also looked unsuccessfully at the Briggsdale High School where one was reported a few days earlier.

Longspurs were also target birds; however, we could not find any along Weld County Road 96 to CR 69 back to highway 14.  Jeff found a great bird; an Upland Sandpiper was along the south side of CR 96 at 0.8 miles west of CR 77.

Sparrows were plentiful along the route.  Hundreds of Vesper Sparrows, dozens of Brewer's Sparrows, a few Lark Sparrows, and one Song Sparrow were found.  A dozen Lark Buntings were only immature males or females.

We also missed longspurs along Weld County Road 105 (turns into Morgan County Road 4) on the trip to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).

Unluckily, none of the previously reported Mountain Plovers were at the northwest corner of Jackson Reservoir (actually the Jackson Reservoir Wildlife Area).  We could see hundreds of shorebirds along the west side of the reservoir.  The recent rains made trekking through the mud to reach the west side impossible, so we drove around to the northwestern Campgrounds.

From the Campgrounds, we trudged through wet grass and sand for closer inspection of the western side.  The highlight for me was definitely a juvenile Ruddy Turnstone.

Other uncommon shorebirds included Pectoral Sandpipers, Marbled Godwits, Buff-breasted Sandpipers and a Semipalmated Plover.  Many common shorebirds were represented in good numbers (Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Baird's Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, and Wilson's Phalaropes).

Eventually our time was short and we headed back to Denver by way of the DIA Owl Loop.  No Burrowing Owls were found at the prairie dog village at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.  One reason may have been the two Ferruginous Hawks standing between the prairie dog mounds.

A Prairie Falcon, several Red-tailed Hawks and half a dozen Swainson's Hawks were also in the area.

Another highlight was 60+ Black Terns flying over the flooded field across the road (east) from the prairie dog town.

Our last highlight of the trip was a lone Burrowing Owl west of Tower Road at 0.5 miles north of 88th avenue.

Jeff and I split up and as I continued to dinner in Aurora, I passed the Arapahoe County Administration Building (Arapahoe County) at Alameda Street and Alameda Avenue.  A lone bird perched on a street sign caught my attention.  It was an Eastern Phoebe!

A nice surprise and a good ending to my birding day!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wet Return to Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir State Parks

September 12, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I wandered around Barr Lake State Park (Adams County) shortly after sunrise.  The downpour continued most of the morning.  Keeping our equipment dry was the biggest challenge.

As we figured, the birds were there and not moving around.  We got rather wet trudging through the wet grass at mile marker 7.2.  A quite wet Barn Owl hid in one of the cottonwoods.

Walking south of the boat ramp (mm 7.5), we found a pair of Townsend's Warblers down the Pioneer Trail (mm 8.1).  Just before reaching the banding area, we found a small loose flock of birds, which included a Western Wood-pewee, House Wren, Downy Woodpecker, Dusky Flycatcher, American Redstart and two Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Eventually we were tired of being soaking wet and went home.  The downpour might have been the strongest I have ever seen in Colorado.  Visibility made search for owls along the DIA Owl Loop impossible.

Late in the afternoon, Rebecca and I passed through (sort of) Cherry Creek State Park on our way to dinner.  A small group of 20 shorebirds below the eastern end of the northeast boat ramp included two Killdeer and one of the Pectoral Sandpipers, no Snowy Plover.

Unfortunately, the main road was closed between the 12 mile picnic area and the shooting range.  The southwestern entrance was also closed due to flooding.  We were not able to get to the southeastern mudflats.  We could see hundreds of shorebirds; unfortunately, they were too far away to identify.

Fog and rain was so thick that we could not see the southwest marina from the northeastern corner of the lake.  In addition, it was raining too hard to warrant walking around and looking for passerines.

Jefferson County to Adams County In the Rain

September 11, 2013

Richard Stevens:

The weather today was rainy most of the day; fortunately, winds were slow.  I enjoy birding in this type of weather much.  Some of my best bird count days are like today.

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed to Pine Valley Ranch Park/Pike National Forest to investigate a report of a singing Alder Flycatcher.  Instead of entering the area from Pine Valley Ranch Park, we entered from Pike National Forest to the south.  Two reasons, the park was not open an hour before sunrise and I hoped the hike would be shorter (it was not, but was flatter).

No "empidonax" flycatchers were unfortunately found.  A great consolation prize was a Northern Pygmy-Owl around the rocky "cliffs" (really just an outcropping) along the Strawberry Jack trail about 600 yards south of the Parkview trail.

About another 300 yards north, we heard an American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming below the trail (20 yards east).

Our next stop was Main Reservoir (Jefferson) back on the west side of Denver.  No one had found yesterday's Prothonotary Warbler and neither did we.

It was pouring down rain at Belmar Historic Park (Jefferson).  The Cassin's Vireo and two Townsend's Warblers (first found yesterday) were still at the western edge of the park.  Regrettably, the weather had not brought any additional migrating birds.

The rain continued.  I received a report that Cherry Creek Reservoir was slow.  We had to pass by anyway, so we stopped to show that some patience will be rewarded.  A Pectoral Sandpiper and Snowy Plover were in the southeast corner today (yesterday the northeast corner).

We did not relocate the Black-and-white Warbler I found yesterday at the Abilene Campgrounds, but one of the Townsend's Warblers fluttered about deep in the woods behind campsite # 16.

It was still pouring down rain when we passed through the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No owls were out and about.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Arapahoe County Birding at Aurora Sports Park and Cherry Creek State Park

September 10, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I walked the riparian area along Sand Creek at Aurora Sports Park, Adams County.

Temperatures under cloudy skies were in the high 50s.  Winds were 6 mph, gusts to 11 mph.

It was not as birdy as we expected.  Highlights included a Tennessee Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler & Red-eyed Vireo.  I hope that the front coming through will bring additional birds tomorrow.
A couple of emails to the Colorado Birding Society's listserve
Read "cobirders" at:


I ran into a limping old man at the Cherry Creek State Park. It was Rich Stevens :-)

He and I walked from the Abeline Campgrounds to the dam and then the northeastern boat ramp.

A few interesting birds included;

A Black and White Warbler and Townsend's Warbler between camp sites 13 & 14.

Another Townsend's west of the dried up pond west of the swim beach. Yet another Townsend's below picnic shelter # 6.

No other warblers found. Richard was going to limp around the mudflats; I have to leave. Rich broke a toe yesterday; that's the cause of the limp.

No shorebirds but plenty of mudflats.

Good Birding!

Jerry Petrosky; Colorado Birding Society
Denver, CO

Hello cobirders;

Before the rain hit Cherry Creek Reservoir, as Jerry so kindly put it, I limped around the mudflats.

Two large flocks of shorebirds were encountered.  One flock was below the northeastern end of the boat ramp parking area.  This flock moved toward the boat ramp when a dog walker came by.  It included a Pectoral Sandpiper, two Killdeer, a Stilt Sandpiper, a Spotted Sandpiper, 62 peeps (Western, Semipalmated, and two Least), 17 Baird's Sandpipers and a Snowy Plover.

I had to walk around to the bird platform area and to the southeast corner to see the second flock.  It contained another juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (looked different from the first), 71 peeps, a Solitary Sandpiper, 21 Baird's Sandpipers and 9 Killdeer.

I put a photo of the first Pectoral Sandpiper on the recent witness photos page of the Colorado Birding Society's website (this page is an orphan page, no links to other pages)

Later a Great Horned Owl was found 40 yards south of the southeast corner of the lake.

Continued Good Birding!

Richard Stevens; Director, Colorado Birding Society
Denver, Colorado

A Day in Adams County

September 9, 2013

Richard Stevens:

After skipping a day of birding (yes it happens, temperatures were in the high 90s yesterday, birds were hiding also), Rebecca and I went over to Barr Lake (Adams County) to search for the possible Swainson's Warbler.

Waiting two days to search did not help our cause; we never found a possible Swainson's Warbler.  It was cooler this morning, however still 82 degrees at 10:00 am.

We did find a Black-and-white Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo (possibly Cathy Sheeter's bird) at the south end of the Niedrach Trail boardwalk (actually in the trees just to the south/west of the end of the boardwalk).

Nothing else uncommon was found.  I broke my toe last night (on the metal leg of the bed) and any additional walking was too painful.  Hence, we did not get to check out the distant shore for any migrating shorebirds.

We drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) and saw exactly three birds.  Two Black-billed Magpies and an European Starling.  Nothing was moving around; not even deer or bison was found.

Burrowing Owls are still along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls appeared at sunset.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Birding Around Aurora, Arapahoe & Adams Counties

September 6, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I checked out Aurora Sports Park (Arapahoe County) early this morning.  Temperature was 51 degrees (nice)!

Whenever I am on the Colorado plains, it reminds me of the pioneers who braved the trip across Colorado.  This morning it was almost cold at 51 degrees.  Later in the day, the temperature reached 97 degrees.  What tremendous conditions the early visitors had to endure (without cars, air conditioners, known water supplies, not to mention rattlesnakes).

Bryan and I walked the eastern edge of the Sand Creek riparian area to the southern border of the park (about 1 mile).  A Great Horned Owl called near the southern end.

Then we entered the woods, followed the Sand Creek back to the north end, and turned west to the maintenance office (in all about a 3 mile hike).

Birds were few and far between.  One flock of 4 Black-capped Chickadees, a Wilson's Warbler, an Orange-crowned Warbler and Cassin's Vireo was the highlight of the trek.

I dropped Bryan off and headed to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A stop at Star K Ranch (Adams) found no sign of migration, yet, hopefully soon.  The highlight was a Brown Thrasher along the southern marsh area.  Star K Ranch is just north of another section of Sand Creek and west of Aurora Sports Park.

I scoped the mudflats at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and did not find any uncommon birds.  Thirty minutes at the Smoky Hill group picnic area found only a female Yellow Warbler and a couple of House Finches.  Temperatures started to rise rapidly around this time (noon).

Extended Eastern Birding Trip for Fall Migration

August 30 to September 5, 2013

Richard Stevens:

August 30, 2013

Bryan Ehlmann and I planned on a two day trip to northeastern Colorado to look into the advancement of fall migration along the Colorado eastern border.  As you will see, birding was so good that we stayed longer.  Only forecasted 105 degree temperatures in Wray for September 6th persuaded us to return to Denver.

As we made a quick walk between the boat ramp and dam at Barr Lake (Adams County), a text message about a Curlew Sandpiper at Jackson Reservoir was received.  We almost ran to our car and tried to stay under the speed limit during the rush to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).

The Curlew Sandpiper was not difficult to find.  Several birders had their scopes pointed in the direction of the bird.  It was the second Morgan County sighting (the other 8/23/2012).

It was only the fourth Colorado State record and my third State Curlew Sandpiper.  I had missed the Kiowa County bird of 6/30/1998.  However, I had the first State sighting (8/7/1996, single person sighting hence not a record) and saw the Prewitt Reservoir bird (9/17/2005) and the first Morgan County sighting.

Bryan and I then hiked the northeast and southeast corners of the reservoir and added many interesting birds to our day list.  These included Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalaropes, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, and Pectoral Sandpipers. 

While we did not find the previously reported Mountain Plovers at the northeast corner, three Mountain Plover in the field just outside of the State Park (walking around at County Roads CC & 5.

As we left Jackson Reservoir, we scoped the mudflats at nearby Andrick Wildlife Area.  Two Black-necked Stilts, several Killdeer and two Pectoral Sandpipers were there.

For a change, it was not raining at dusk.  The cool, calm evening prompted us to walk around Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties) after dark.  Many bird songs filled the air.  Eastern Screech-Owls were heard below the dam (east of the ranger's home) and at the western inlet canal!

August 31, 2013

At first light, Bryan and I drove Logan County Road 93.  While we did not find the ten Greater Prairie-Chickens reported last week by Bill Kaempfer, three wandering birds were quite satisfying.  (Search four to five miles south of I76).

Little Jumbo Reservoir was a gold mine of birds today.  We relocated a Bell's Vireo and found a fall male Magnolia Warbler in the riparian area along the eastern side of the lake.

Many common birds included a Brown Thrasher, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, eastern White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wrens, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Barn Owl.

Nearby Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) added a couple of interesting birds.  A Canada Warbler fluttered about with several Yellow-rumped Warblers in the north side woods.  A Black-bellied Plover walked around the southwest shore.

Forster's Terns, Black Terns and Ring-billed Gulls flew over the lake.  The previously reported pair of Common Loons could not be found.

A drive around the county roads northeast of Jumbo Reservoir did not find any Dickcissels at last year's locations.  We stood around Sedgwick Draw (Sedgwick) at dusk; no Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Only one Eastern Screech-Owl answered our recordings played at three known nesting spots.

September 1, 2013

Bryan and I once again modified our birding plans (to head to Julesburg) when we received a text message about a Vermilion Flycatcher in Sterling.  Instead, we stayed the night in town and sat in front of the VEFL yard for two hours at sunrise.  Unfortunately, the Vermilion Flycatcher did not appear.  We supplied out cell phone number to the homeowner and struck out for Sterling Reservoir (Logan).

A Barn Owl flew out of the trees around the Campgrounds.  The riparian area around the picnic area added a male Northern Cardinal to our trip list.

The only additional uncommon bird was a Common Tern flying over the lake.  No uncommon gulls could be picked out of the hundreds along the northwest shore (private land, no public access).  Sabine's Gulls are a possibility this time of year.

Pioneer Park on the west side of Sterling was quiet birdwise.  Not even the resident Eastern Screech-Owl could be enticed to come out of its tree.

Overland Park on the east side of town was equally slow.  The park is extremely dry this year in spite of the almost daily thunderstorms.  The Overland Park Museum across the street was a little better.  A Blue-headed Vireo flew around the trees south of the parking lot.

Bravo and Footbridge Wildlife Areas (Logan) were briefly birded without any uncommon birds found.  Today was the first day of dove hunting season.  We tried to stay as far away as possible from the eager hunters.

September 2, 2013

Our birding day started with a return to Logan County Road 93.  Today we only found one Greater Prairie-Chicken (better than none)!

Only day two of 2013 dove hunting season, however we could not resist birding Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Eventually we hiked the fourteen miles round trip from Highway 55 to Logan County Road 93.  Another mile was added when we hiked western sections also.

We stayed along the S. Platte River on the trek east and near the southern edge of the riparian area on the trip back west.  The dove hunters were mainly interested in the rows of trees along the open fields where most of the doves prefer.

Talking to friends who are dove hunters, the first two days of dove hunting season are the most crucial to success.  Shortly after those days, the doves "figure out" it is time to disappear.  For the most part, they do not hide in numbers in the woods but appear to go around homes where hunting is prohibited.

Birding was fantastic today.  Our day list in the Wildlife Area included: one Bell's Vireo, a Blue-headed Vireo, two Townsend's Warblers, two Black-and-white Warblers, an Ovenbird, a Northern Waterthrush and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  If the cuckoo had not called, we never would have found it.

Our superb success at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area induced us to return to Little Jumbo Reservoir.  Every direction we turned birds were flying about.  Added to our day list: Magnolia Warbler, Ovenbird, Bell's Vireo (2), Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo and 2 American Redstarts.

Nearby Jumbo Reservoir was also magnificent with many birds to scope.  Another Magnolia Warbler, two Black-and-white Warblers and two American Redstarts were in the northern woods (apparently, the Canada Warbler had moved on elsewhere).  A young Baltimore Oriole flew around the eastern Campgrounds.

Heading east, a stop at the Julesburg Elementary School found a Chestnut-sided Warbler, another young Baltimore Oriole and two American Redstarts (as suggested, birding here during school hours is not recommended).

DePoorter Lake was slow in the hot afternoon.  Nearby Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop was also quite.  Two Chimney Swifts flew overhead.

Two Eastern Screech-Owls called after dark when we walked with Roger Danka on his ranch.

September 3, 2013

Our fall migration journey turned southward today.  At first light, Bryan and I traipsed around the windbreak at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick County).

A Barn Owl flew out of the southern evergreens and landed farther north (we did not pursue, not wanting to scare it away from the isolated oasis of trees).

A Blue-headed Vireo was in the deciduous trees along the southern end of the Wildlife Area.  This was one of the few visits to Sand Draw where I did not see a Field Sparrow.

Our next stop was the town of Holyoke.  A Mississippi Kite and several Chimney Swifts flew over Holyoke City Park.  A Cassin's Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo were high in the tall trees surrounding the park.  Nothing uncommon was found at the Civic Center.

A lone American Redstart flew around the Holyoke Cemetery.  A singing Dickcissel was probably the same one reported on 9/1 by Steve Mlodinow.

The Fishing Ponds were empty of birds and we continued south.

It was going to be too late in the day to visit friends in Wray, so we bypassed Wray and headed to Beecher Island.  I have always wanted to do some owling but never been in the area at dusk.

A female Baltimore Oriole and Blue-headed Vireo were found a Beecher Island when we arrived.  No owls responded to our recordings played at dusk (my most successful time to find calling Eastern Screech-Owls is 20-60 minutes after sunset and again 60-20 minutes before sunrise).

September 4, 2013

Bryan and I walked around the Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma) at sunrise.  While we found no Eastern Screech-Owls, a Barn Owl looked down on us from a high perch west of the ranger's home.

A molting male Summer Tanager was in the windbreak along the entrance road.  Yet another female Baltimore Oriole flew around the buildings.

Stalker Pond was more interesting.  A Wood pewee was nice enough to sing, letting us know he was an Eastern bird!  A Red-eyed Vireo, rattling House Wrens, and a silent Wood pewee caught our attention.

Almost obligatory stops at three friend's homes in Wray added three male, two female Northern Cardinals, dozens of Eurasian Collared-Doves, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Baltimore Orioles, and another Summer Tanager to our trip list.

Finally, after declining many offers of food and inviting conversations, Bryan and I motored down to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).

A walk under the trees along the northern side of the trickle called the Republican River (from Highway 385 to the old Foster's Campgrounds) found some interesting birds.  A Great Crested Flycatcher called briefly and gave us fits trying to locate it in the leaves moving around in the 6 mph winds.

An American Redstart and male Northern Cardinal were around the Campground area.  I played an Eastern Screech-Owl recording trying to draw out some passerines.  Instead, an Eastern Screech-Owl emerged from an old cottonwood, quite upset that I had awakened him.

Other birds encountered included two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Bullock's Oriole, a young molting Blue Grosbeak, another Baltimore Oriole and half a dozen House Wrens.

An American Redstart and Magnolia Warbler were along the Republican River below the dam (north of Hale, CR 4).  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo responded to our recording (played at our campsite at the northwestern Hale Pond).

No Common Poorwills called at dusk; however, an Eastern Screech-Owl was a nice consolation!

September 5, 2013

Temperatures continued to rise the last few days. It may have reached 100 degrees yesterday?

Bryan and I walked my "4 mile Hale Pond route" starting at 30 minutes before sunrise.  Another Yellow-billed Cuckoo was found (this time, just west of the Kansas border).  Red-bellied Woodpeckers numbered five or more.  We managed to find the Eastern Screech-Owl who called last night (GPS waypoints).

A flock of 7 Eastern Bluebirds flew back and forth across County Road 4 (again just west of the Kansas border).

Later we visited a friend in Kansas and were invited to a late breakfast.  He had gone to high school with my parents (Mankato High, MN).  This I discovered about 12 years ago when I was walking my Hale Pond loop during a downpour.  He drove a rickety old truck sliding down CR 4, which was a soupy mess, stopped to ask what the heck I was doing (other than trying to stay on my feet in the slippery mud). 

I introduced him to birding and mentioned Minnesota sometime in the conversation. He mentioned Mankato High School, which my parents had attended.  In short, the world can be a small place and we have been friends ever since.

Once again, I am off track.  After breakfast, Bryan and I birded the Burlington Cemetery.  It has a great bird list, however nothing moved about today.  Burlington's other two "hotspots" were also slow.

Tomorrow's temperatures were predicted to reach 105 and we decided to head back to Denver.

Our next stop was Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson County).  A Broad-winged Hawk had found shade in the trees below the dam.  A Great Crested Flycatcher, Cassin's Vireo, American Redstart and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were in the eastern windbreak.

Unfortunately, we could not find the Carolina Wren reported on 8/31.  That would have been a great Kit Carson County bird.

Our final stop was the Rest Stop along I70, just outside of Bennett.  Every now and then, an interesting bird shows up here.  Today we found an Olive-sided Flycatcher and another Cassin's Vireo!