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.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Some Good Birds in Adams County

October 24, 2013

Richard Stevens:

This morning, Rebecca Kosten and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County).  It appears that Burrowing Owls have migrated.

The Red Phalarope found yesterday by John Breitsch was still at the flooded field north of Tower Road & 96th avenue.  A couple of Long-billed Dowitchers and many Killdeer were also there.

On the way home, we stopped at Barr Lake (Adams).  Neither the Red Phalarope nor Pacific Loon found there yesterday by Doug Kibbe could not be found at the boat ramp or the northern end of the dam.

After seeing the Red Phalarope at Tower Road, north of 96th avenue this morning, doing some chores, I returned at around 4:00 pm.  This time the Red Phalarope was mostly in the small pond on the west side of Tower Road (photos from 10 yards or so).  It did fly to the east side ponds several times.  When on the east side, I got photos of 19 Long-billed Dowitchers, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, 1 Least Sandpiper, 2 Western Sandpipers and 1 White-faced Ibis.  Dozens of Killdeer were also around.

It was too nice a day to head home, so I returned to Barr Lake.  I could not find the previously reported Red Phalarope and Pacific Loon at the boat ramp.  One Cattle Egret walked along the parking area!  There were even fewer birds when I scoped from the north end of the dam (near mile 6.0).  Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew around with many Ring-billed and California Gulls.  Western Grebes were many.  American Coots slightly less in number.  A surprise blue phase Snow Goose was also along the dam.

No owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop when I drove it about 30 minutes before sunset (which is coming earlier every day :-(

Back to Denver

October 23, 2013

Richard Stevens:

After a few hours of sleep, Jerry Petrosky, Bryan Ehlmann and I started back to Denver.

Our counts at the Park County lakes indicated that recent decent weather allowed the migrating ducks and loons to continue south.

Our total count was two Surf Scoters on Spinney Mountain Reservoir.  A Common Loon at Antero Reservoir.  No scoters or loons on Eleven Mile Reservoir.

Birding Around Buena Vista

October 21-22, 2013

Richard Stevens:

October 21, 2013

We camped along County Road 162 near the trailhead to Mt Princeton with the plan to climb it in the morning.  It was Jerry's last 14,000 foot mountain to claim all 54.

When we rose, Bryan heard a strange warbler in some pines near our campsite.  Further inspection found it to be a Grace's Warbler.  It turned out to be only the second one reported in Chaffee County.

Later Jerry Petrosky, Bryan Ehlmann and I walked around Buena Vista to rest our legs.  The walk around Buena Vista found a Lewis's Woodpecker along West Brookdale Avenue, south of North Pleasant Street.

Bushtits and two Juniper Titmice flew around the Buena Vista Overlook.

Four or five Pinyon Jays around the Ruby Mountain parking area.  Half a dozen Mountain Bluebirds were between Ruby Mountain and the Buena Vista Overlook.

Tonight, Alex B caught two Northern Saw-whet Owls and we put a spotlight on a third.

October 22

After another late start (trying to catch up on sleep), we decided to drive up Cottonwood Pass (Chaffee to Gunnison County).

Winds were again quite strong during the day; however, they died down after sunset.

A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes swam around Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison).  A walk around the Lake View Campgrounds (across the highway from the Reservoir) found an adult male American Three-toed Woodpecker.

Clark's Nutcrackers and Gray Jays were encountered on our return to Buena Vista.

We drove south to check on the lakes and Wildlife Areas around Salida.  Twenty+ Pinyon Jays were along the west side of Highway 285 (about 1.5 miles south of Buena Vista).  Nothing uncommon was found around Salida.  Although we did find one Great-tailed Grackle at Franz Lake Wildlife Area (Chaffee).

Tonight, Alex B caught three Northern Saw-whet Owls (one after midnight).

Park County Reservoirs

October 20, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky, Bryan Ehlmann and I headed south to scope the Park County Reservoirs.  We hoped the recent snowstorms and caused migrating ducks to stop and rest; we were not disappointed.

The handicap was winds of 20+ mph, gusts to 32 mph.  High waves and shaking scopes did not aid in identification of the many birds on the reservoirs.

Spinney Mountain Reservoir was the most interesting.  Three Surf Scoters and a pair of Black Scoters swam around the middle of the lake.  A Common Loon and Pacific Loon represented their family.

Antero Reservoir had a White-winged Scoter and Common Loon.  While another two Surf Scoters were observed on Eleven Mile Reservoir.  We had a flyover Rosy Finches (most likely a Brown-capped Rosy Finch) at Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

Misses included swans and jaegers.

Later with watched Alex B band owls at the BLM Land northeast of Buena Vista (Chaffee County).  No owls were caught this night.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pleasant Birding Day Around Denver

October 19, 2013

Richard Stevens:

This afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed the fabulous Colorado fall day with a birding trip around Denver.  Winds were mild; high temperature was around 60 degrees.

We stopped at Rocky Mountain Lake (Denver County) and found the immature/female Surf Scoter in about two minutes!  I believe it was a first county sighting for both of us.

Next, we continued to Lakewood where we found Knudsen getting his mail.  He had not seen the Lewis's Woodpecker since last Wednesday (10/16).  It saved us the time of waiting for a bird that surely was not going to show.

Our final stop was Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  We scoped the lake from the top of the dam (my preferred vantage point).  The Pomarine Jaeger flew around several times.

To our surprise, a Red-necked Grebe was in the middle of a raft of Western Grebes!   This could possibly be the same bird that Jacob Washburn found at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) last Monday (10/14).

We could not pick out a Sabine's Gull or Bonaparte's Gull.  A previously reported Common Loon was not found either.

A drive down Deer Creek Canyon Road did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls are traditional locations.

End of Our Eastern Plains Trip

October 17-18, 2013

Richard Stevens:

October 17

Weather continued to improve.  Winds were still 12-15 mph and gusts to 22 mph.

Jerry Petrosky, Bryan Ehlmann, Roger Danka and I drove the Sedgwick County Roads in search of Sprague's Pipits.  We relocated one along county road 30, east of CR 51.

We stopped at a private ranch (friend of Rogers) to look at his Long-eared Owls (which successfully nested early in the summer).  One of the owls was hidden in the homestead windbreak!  A flock of American Pipits caught our attention and Jerry picked out a Sprague's Pipit among them!

We hit two locations where Eastern Meadowlarks had been found on past visits.  None was found today.

Back at Roger's ranch, we enjoyed a fantastic barbecue (if not concerned with cholesterol levels).  A pleasant walk around the ranch after found two Field Sparrows, a Vesper Sparrow, Song Sparrows, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Our birding day ended with the resident Eastern Screech-Owl and Great Horned Owls calling just after dusk.

October 18

Last night's snowstorm appears to have moved out/scared away most birds.  We found few migrating birds today.

We returned to Denver by way of Holyoke (Phillips County), Haxtun and Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).

Places visited with little success in finding uncommon birds included Holyoke City Park, Holyoke Fishing Pond, Holyoke Cemetery, Haxtun City Park, and Haxtun Sewage Ponds.

Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area (Phillips County) was also slow.  A late migrating Vesper Sparrow, Song and White-crowned Sparrows were the only birds left from the interesting ones reported 10 days ago.

Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) was also slow.  The Sedge Wren and other interesting birds of last Monday (10/14) could not be relocated.  A White-throated Sparrow was with a flock of White-crowned Sparrows in the northeastern windbreak.

We stayed until dusk and found a highlight of our day.  A Short-eared Owl appeared just before sunrise and flew around the northwest corner of the Wildlife Area.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wandering Around Northeastern Colorado

October 16, 2013

Jerry Petrosky, Bryan Ehlmann and I wandered around northeastern Colorado today.  Skies were partly sunny, winds mild compared to yesterday.

Waves were still rather high on Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick Counties).  The Surf Scoters reported by Bill Kaempfer (10/13) could not be relocated.  A juvenile Jaeger flew by at least four times before we identified it as a Parasitic Jaeger.

Hundreds of gulls circled the reservoir; we could only pick out a Bonaparte's Gull as uncommon among the Ring-billed and California Gulls.

A Tennessee Warbler fluttered about the eastern Campgrounds.  A couple of meadowlarks caught our attention and time while we decided they were not Eastern Meadowlarks.

The resident Eastern Screech-Owls did not respond to our recording this morning.

We continued over to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) and walked the western and eastern sections along the South Platte River.  A Northern Cardinal flew quickly across the trail at 1 West.  A Blue-headed Vireo was low in the cottonwoods near 2 East.  While a young male Black-throated Green Warbler worked high in the cottonwoods between 6 & 7 East.

Other birds included 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, a small flock of Pine Siskins (probably rare here), 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers, a House Wren, Brown Thrasher, Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrows, a Vesper Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Ring-necked Pheasants, Townsend's Solitaires, Eastern Bluebirds (6), Mountain Chickadee (pair), Red-bellied Woodpecker (Pond area), Gray Catbird, and 1 American Tree Sparrow (confirmed).

Late in the afternoon, we checked for Greater Prairie-Chickens along Logan County Road 93 (previous sightings CR 44 to CR 49).  Finding none, we headed over to CR 46 & 89 and scoped the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens appeared, but we watched a Short-eared Owl fly below us along the valley.

Dreary Day on the Eastern Plains

October 15, 2013

Today was a dreary, wet and windy day.  We stopped at several friends' homes in Wray to check up on previous sightings.  Northern Cardinals were found at two of four stops.  Uncommon warblers and vireos numbered zero in Wray.  It became obvious that birding was going to be slow today and we made our way toward Julesburg.

Our hope to find a Sprague's Pipit (or two, which was optimistic) was not fulfilled.  The few pipits that "zoomed by" in the winds (20+ mph) were unidentified or American Pipits.

Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) was slow.  Not even the resident Barn Owl was relocated.  A Loggerhead Shrike was in the wild plum at the south-central edge.

We wandered slowly north and finally reached Roger's Ranch, quite happy to get out of the wind.

Search for Sedge Wrens

October 14, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann returned from his California trip yesterday.  Several Sedge Wrens were reported yesterday and along with Jerry Petrosky, we decided to try to relocate one or more of them.

Our first stop was a good one.  A Sedge Wren was relocated below the Flagler Reservoir dam (Kit Carson County).  While the Purple Finch reported Sunday was not found, we did find an Eastern Phoebe, Field Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow (northeast corner of the park).

Winds picked up in the afternoon.  We did not find the Golf Course Sedge Wren.  Few birds flew around Siebert.  We also missed the Sedge Wren reported along the Arikaree River (northwest of Idalia).

Few birds moved around Sandy Bluff S.T.L. (Yuma) and we ended our birding day at a private ranch farther north.  A Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl were our consolation prizes to additional Sedge Wrens.

Our birding day ended at private ranch in Yuma County.  A couple of Great Horned Owls were the highlight there.

Another Search for Owls in the Mountains

October 13, 2013

Richard Stevens:

We missed owls yesterday and Michael Roots, Dean Tyler and I gave it another try.  Today I picked Reynolds Park (Jefferson).  About 30 minutes before sunrise, we hiked along the Songbird trail in search of Northern Pygmy-Owls; without success.

We turned up (south) the Oxen Draw Trail and then picked up the Eagle's View Trail.  A female American Three-toed Woodpecker was just north of the intersection of the two trails.  Higher up we found a Dusky Grouse at the top (near the clearing) of the Eagle's View Trail.

A second Three-toed Woodpecker was found as we dropped down the Eagle's View Trail to the Elkhorn Trail (woodpecker was about 300 yards south of the old service road).

Fortunately, I had several GPS waypoints on previous Northern Pygmy-Owl sightings.  Shortly after sunset, we relocated one of the Northern Pygmy-Owls along Sugar Creek Road.

We stopped at highway 67 and Rampart Range Road.  Regrettably, no Northern Saw-whet Owls were called to us tonight.

Mountain Birding in Clear Creek & Summit Counties

October 12, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Visiting birders Michael Roots and Dean Tyler joined me on a trip to Guanella Pass.  While winds were rather strong (12-14 mph, gusts to 21 mph) on the foothills, winds on the pass were relatively calm (10 mph, normally 20+ mph, gusts sometimes into the 60 mph range).

We could not find a White-tailed Ptarmigan on the climb to the top of the southeast hill by way of the 603 Trail.  We scoped the southern side of the hill, without success, and then dropped down the east side to the Rosalie Trail.

Finally, I found two Ptarmigan peeking up from a bowl about 40 yards above the Rosalie Trail at 450 yards east and south of the 603 Trail.

Later we continued down to the Guanella Pass Campgrounds.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed on a tree along the road.  A flock of eight Red Crossbills stopped by to feed on the many pinecones.

We ended our day at Hunkidori and Saint Johns Trails (Summit).  No owls called tonight.

Return to Weld & Adams Counties

October 11, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky and I tried to relocate the warblers found yesterday at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams County).  While the Black-throated Blue Warbler was not relocated in an hour search, the Nashville Warbler was in the windbreak along ponds 6 to 7.

The afternoon was spent visiting two private ranches in Weld County (updating bird counts now late into the fall season).  No warblers were found?  We did relocate two Long-eared Owls where they nested this summer.

In the evening, Jerry and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Burrowing Owls were found and maybe gone for the year (will check one additional time before giving up the search).  Raptor count was 14+ Red-tailed Hawks, 2 American Kestrels, 1 Prairie Falcon and 1 Ferruginous Hawk.

The highlight was a small pond at the corner of Tower Road & 96th avenue.  Quite a few shorebirds took advantage at the temporary pond to search for food.  The count included 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, 4 Stilt Sandpipers, 31 Long-billed Dowitchers (4 of which were adults in non-breeding plumage), 2 Baird's Sandpipers, 2 Killdeer and a Sanderling.

The fields either side of Tower Road about a 1/4 mile farther north of 96th avenue.  Winds picked up and traffic along Tower Road was quite busy.  We could not safely stop along Tower Road to get an accurate count.  At least two Ruddy Ducks surprised us by being in these rather shallow ponds.

Trip Around Weld and Adams Counties

October 10, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Headed back toward the plains today and made a stop at Chambers Lake (Larimer County).  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers flew about the eastern side about 1/2 down the lake.

Once down on the plains, I detoured to Douglas Reservoir.  A dark juvenile Jaeger flew along the western side of the lake.  It flew down to the private end and a species ID was not possible.

My next stop was Grandview Cemetery (Larimer).  Luck is sometimes quite nice.  Two birders were looking at the Cape May Warbler when I arrived.  Others spent hours searching for the bird.

Crow Valley Campgrounds (Weld) had a few interesting birds.  The highlight was a red form Fox Sparrow first reported a few days ago.  A White-throated Sparrow was in the bushes at the northwest corner.  Unfortunately, the Chestnut-sided Warbler was not relocated.

My birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams County).  First, I checked the cottonwoods along the southern ponds, which are usually the most productive for migrants.  In one loose flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers (about 22), I found a female Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Not much else was around so I checked out the southern sections.  A Nashville Warbler was in the windbreak along pond # 6.  A Long-eared Owl was also encountered along the southern windbreak (location to remain vague as photographers bothered the owls earlier this year).

A Few Days of Owling In Jackson County

October 5-9, 2013

Richard Stevens:

October 5

It was a typical Colorado fall day.  Winds were 6-8 mph, sometime gusts to 19 mph. 

I rode my bike around Aurora Reservoir (about 8.7 miles along the bike path).  Most of the 200+ gulls were Ring-billed Gulls; only a Lesser Black-backed Gull was uncommon.  California Gull count was around two dozen.

The highlight was a Red Phalarope in the cove at mile 4.0!  Whether this was the Cherry Creek Reservoir or Chatfield Reservoir bird, there is no way to determine.

A flock of Sandhill Cranes (about 10-14) called overhead as they continued south.  No scoters or loons or uncommon birds were on the lake.  A few Ruddy Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks and a Blue-winged Teal were mixed in with common ducks (Mallards, Gadwall, etc).

October 6

I headed up to Gould for a couple of days of owling and solitude.  At dusk I hiked about two miles up the road south of the Crags Campgrounds (Jackson County).  On the trip back, my torch lit up the eyes of a Boreal Owl about 20 yards south of the Campgrounds.

October 7

I rose early enough to drive Jackson County Road 26 about 30 minutes before sunrise.  No Greater Sage-Grouse were encountered.

Continuing west, I scoped Walden Reservoir from the south, east and north sides.  A lone Surf Scoter was the most interesting bird on the partially ice covered lake.

After lunch in Steamboat Springs, I checked several of the locations where Bohemian Waxwings have been found in past falls.  Unfortunately, none was found.

Steamboat Lake State Park was quite, bird wise.  Forest Road 550 was devoid of birds.  In past years, White-winged Crossbills are sometimes found in the Mountain Park.

Rabbit Ears Pass did not offer any White-winged Crossbills either.  The resident American Three-toed Woodpeckers were not found along the Pass' County Maintenance Road.

A dusk I drove to Michigan Road and Ruby Jewell Road and hiked about 3 miles east.  Regrettably no Boreal or Flammulated Owls called tonight. 

(For those reading past posts, I set up my three "owl listening stations" on the walk into the Colorado State Forest and picked them up four hours later.  The stations picked up no owl sounds).

October 8

For a change of pace, I drove down to the Teller City Ghost Town south of Gould.  Beware; that this road requires a 4-wheel drive to get to the ghost town (even then, much care is required not to damage your vehicle).

Before heading down there, a quick drive to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center to look for Rosy Finches (none found) did find a White-throated Sparrow beneath the feeders behind the building.

The ghost town has well established paths between the broken down buildings of this old historical silver mining town (and a self-guided tour).  Now and then, we have found American Three-toed Woodpeckers or Northern Pygmy-Owls in the area.  Today, only a male American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered.

The trip was quite birdy; the list included three species of nuthatches, Red Crossbills, Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers, Pine Siskins, Clark's Nutcrackers, Gray Jays and a few more I am probably forgetting.  The self-guided tour is a pleasant walk for those able to get to the area.

After enjoying a leisure morning at the ghost town, I continued south toward Baker Pass.  Along the way I set up the three "owl listening stations" and proceeded to Jack Creek trailhead (CR 21 EE).  Nothing uncommon was found in a short walk around Jack Creek and I continued to Forest Road 758.

While the owl listening stations failed to pick up an owl, I did get a Northern Pygmy-Owl to respond to my recordings (about 1/2 mile south of Teller City).

October 9

A final day to enjoy the sights and birds below Mt Richtohfen near Cameron Pass (Jackson County).  I arrived back at the cabin about an hour after sunrise and got a late start to my day. 

The White-throated Sparrow did not appear at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Only a few of the usual suspects came to the feeders (and no Rosy Finches).

Today I hiked down the Michigan Ditch trail (below Mt. Richtohfen) for about six miles.  The unusual birds passed the trail, nothing uncommon.

The Boreal Owls that had used one of my nesting boxes were long gone.  A Dusky Grouse ran across the trail at about 4.2 miles from highway 14.

While the 12 mile trip was quite enjoyable, winds less than 4 mph, temperatures in the 50s, few birds were encountered.

On the trip back, I did hear Boreal Owls at two locations; neither birds were picked up in my spotlight.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Crow Valley Campground to Jackson Reservoir

October 4, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Colorado woke up to snow covering the ground this morning.  I have been leading many bird trips recently and had to get out on my own today (sometimes miss the solitude and quiet).  I headed up to Crow Valley Campground (Weld) to see what birds were "grounded" by the storm.  Unfortunately, the place was not as exciting as was hoped. 

A Townsend's Warbler fluttered about in the northwest corner.  A few Wilson's Warblers and a Hammond's Flycatcher were in the southwest corner. The highlight was a Long-eared Owl in the evergreens at the southwest corner.  In my experience, the first birder(s) visiting that corner in the morning are the ones to see the Long-eared Owl.  It moves unto private property after seeing any birders.

I was not able to relocate the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker reported last Monday. 

My intention was to head west and look for the Northern Parula that has been at Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins (9/26 to 10/3).  However, since no one had reported it by noon, I decided to head back to Denver by way of Jackson Reservoir instead.

The Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) had a few interesting birds.  A Cassin's Vireo, Townsend's Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Hammond's Flycatcher were eventually found. 

The Long-eared Owls are back for the winter.  One or two never left; unfortunately, we were not able to confirm breeding this year (we do have records of a successful attempt a few years ago).

I scoped the lake from the northwest corner.  There were plenty of shorebirds but nothing outstanding.  One Pectoral Sandpiper was probably the most interesting.  Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Western Sandpipers, Baird's Sandpipers and a Snowy Plover were others.

One or two Common Terns flew around.  A Sabine's Gull flew by once and disappeared to the southwest corner.  An adult Bald Eagle also came by.

My final stop of the day was Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Few passerines other than American Robins and a half dozen Dark-eyed Juncos flew around the western windbreak.  Another possible Hammond's Flycatcher was west of pond 7.  At least one Long-eared Owl can be found here also.

A Quick Trip Over to Barr Lake State Park (Adams County)

October 3, 2013

Richard Stevens:

I did not have much time to bird today but had to get out for a little while in the nice weather since a snowstorm is coming tomorrow. 

A walk along the southeast side of Barr Lake (Adams County) found only a few birds.   A Hermit Thrush and Long-eared Owl were in the area where the resident Barn Owl(s) are usually found (mile 7.2).

Along the DIA Owl Loop, at least one Burrowing Owl was still at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.

Raptors were well represented with two Ferruginous Hawks, a Swainson's Hawk, two Red-tailed Hawks, a male American Kestrel and a Prairie Falcon.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Successful Day In the Mountains, Three Owl Day

October 2, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Yet another gorgeous fall day in Colorado impressed my out of state birders.  Sean Cooper and Kevin Willis joined Jerry Petrosky and me for an early morning search for Northern Pygmy-Owls.

We stopped and played a tape (still dark out) at highway 67 and Rampart Range Road.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl called back for a great start to our day!  In the dark, we were not able to see if any of the resident American Three-toed Woodpeckers were around.

I looked respectable (as if I knew what I was doing) when a Northern Pygmy-Owl was found along Sugar Creek Road, south of Sedalia.  It was less than a mile from previously sightings (GPS waypoints).

With most of the day ahead of us, we decided to continue toward Cheesman Reservoir and search at the infamous "woodpecker" spot.  Recent sightings have included Acorn Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Lewis's Woodpecker and Williamson's Sapsuckers. 

Unfortunately, only a lone Lewis's Woodpecker was found today.  We did see a Great Horned Owl and Wilson's Warbler not far from the Cheesman Canyon trailhead.

A quest for a Flammulated Owl was a baffling problem.  Normally I would head up to Pennock Pass (Larimer) where they are reasonably easy to find into the middle of October (or later).  The recent floods in Colorado have closed down many roads in Boulder & Larimer County (including Buckhorn Road, aka Pennock Pass).

I have found Flammulated Owls near Kenosha Pass.  A beautiful warm day, mild winds lured us into a hike up the Twin Cones trail.  We never encountered a Flammulated Owl but observed some interesting birds.

A Dusky Grouse walked across the trail just west of the first gate.  Red-naped Sapsuckers fluttered about the Aspens (where the trail turns from south to east).  A lone hummingbird, most likely a young Broad-tailed zipped passes us. 

A Hermit Thrush perhaps late in migrating south, surprised us just east of the cabins and official trailhead (a good 2.5 mile walk from the parking lot at hwy 285 and Kenosha Pass).

A flock of ten Red Crossbills stopped us on our return hike.  Unfortunately, none was a White-winged Crossbill.  Another Great Horned Owl was heard at the Kenosha Campgrounds; regrettably, no Flammulated Owls called.

Guanella Pass and White-tailed Ptarmigan

October 1, 2013

Richard Stevens:

What a fantastic fall day in Colorado.  A snowstorm is predicted for Friday; however, today we enjoyed the calm before the storm.

Jerry Petrosky, visiting birders Sean Cooper and Kevin Willis and I enjoyed a hike at Guanella Pass.  Our target bird was the elusive White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Our choice of location was determined by whether Mt. Evans Road is closed for the season?

Guanella Pass provides a spectacular view of the western side of Bierstadt and Mt. Evans.  It is one of my favorite places in Colorado.  A slight dusting of snow made the view even more striking.  Conditions were spectacular with temperatures in the 50s and mild winds (unusual for this elevation, 11,669 feet).

We stayed just a short hour.  Jerry found a Ptarmigan shortly after our trek up the southeast hill.  The male bird jumped up on a boulder, just southwest of the junction of the Rosalie & 603 trails.

A couple of White-crowned Sparrows were still around (they nest up here).  We searched for a Brewer's Sparrow, which also nests here; without success.  There are rumors of the split of Brewer's Sparrows into Plains Brewer's and Timberline Brewer's.

About a dozen years ago, I heard a Brewer's Sparrow in the willows at Guanella Pass.  It sounded quite different from the "normal" song heard on Pawnee National Grasslands.  At the time, I did not know about a split.  When Jim Rising (Sparrows of North America) asked for a photo, I learned about the possibility of two species.

On the way back to Denver, we passed Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson) and decided to try for an American Three-toed Woodpecker and a possible Northern Pygmy-Owl.

The Three-toed Woodpecker was an "easy" find for a change.  A male wandered around below the switchbacks along the Strawberry Jack Trail (just east of the Buck Gulch Trail).  This intersection is sometimes good for a Northern Pygmy-Owl, but not today. 

Other birds observed included three species of nuthatches (Red-breasted, White-breasted & Pygmy), Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, and a small flock of Pine Siskins.

We hiked along the Narrow Gauge Trail to the closed gate (another good spot of Northern Pygmy-Owl), again without success.  A lone American Dipper was under the farthest western bridge. 

We returned to Denver under another of Colorado's colorful fall sunsets.