Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 26, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I walked the south side of Aurora Reservoir from mile 1.0 to 3.5 and found Surf Scoters, several Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Thayer's Gulls (gulls in cove at mile 3.0).  Afterwards I drove to the north side and scoped the swim beach where another Lesser Black-backed Gull and Thayer's Gull was found among 600 gulls.  A Common Loon was to the east.

Hundreds of Gulls (mostly Ring-billed, dozens of Herring, and some California Gulls were at the swim beach, mile 3.0, the scuba area below the dam and scattered on the lake.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were accompanied by five Snow Geese and several Ross's Geese.  Other waterfowl included Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Mallards, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Western Grebes, Eared Grebes, Pied-billed Grebes and a few others I am forgetting.

At Cherry Creek State Park, I was able to confirm at least one Long-tailed Duck, the White-winged Scoter and a Barrow's Goldeneye.  Waves were quite high in the 14+ mph winds.  Long-tailed Ducks "sit low in the water" in my opinion.  The second one could still be there as well as the Red-necked Grebe. 

Gulls included Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Thayer's Gull and over a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls.  Many ducks and gulls were too far away to identify.

Additional waterfowl included hundreds of Common Mergansers, half a dozen Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Mergansers (their numbers went from a dozen to 90+ in the last two days), Bufflehead (first I have seen this fall), Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneye, etc.

A Northern Shrike was between the Prairie Loop and Cherry Creek where it crosses the main road (Lakeview Road).  A Great Horned Owl was here also.

No owls were observed as the drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) on the way home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Visit to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 25, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out owling at 3:00 am.  A search of previous locations of Northern Pygmy-Owls at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, White Ranch Open Space and Morrison Road along the east side of Red Rocks Park did not turn up any Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We did see one Great Horned Owl at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Later I stopped over at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) an hour earlier than yesterday.  The birds were probably the same today as yesterday; visibility was much better.  Winds gusts were over 20 mph at times.  I used the dam tower as a shelter from the wind.  Birds were probably closer to the Lake Loop, perhaps not.

White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Barrow's Goldeneye were mingled in the large raft of ducks (Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, Western Grebe, Eared Grebes and American Coots.

Many gulls hunkered down from the wind at the southwest marina.  At least one adult Thayer's Gull (probably two) and three+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls were among the group.  At least two Pelicans continued to "hang around".

High winds and waves made an accurate account close to impossible.

Note: Again looking at photos after returning home, I captured photos of the Red-necked Grebe, a possible second Long-tailed Duck, three+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes and many Bonaparte's Gulls.  Misses: Yesterday's Glaucous Gull.

Cherry Creek Reservoir in a Snowstorm

November 24

Richard Stevens:

Chores kept me busy until late afternoon.  I arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) at 4:10 pm.  A drive through a mini blizzard almost turned me around, however, the sun shone through the clouds at 4:15 to 4:28 pm.

The sunlight lit up the large raft of ducks in the middle of the lake.  I was able to pick out the White-winged Scoter and a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls before sunlight was lost.  If the Long-tailed Duck was out there, I could not find it.  For the first time since 11/2, no Common Loons were spotted.  Best viewing point was off the Lake Loop.

Temperature was 38 degrees at 4:15 pm.  Anemometer readings were steady at 12 mph.  It felt cold.

NOTE: After looking at the 200 digital photos I took, I notice that I had captured a Red-necked Grebe in three of them.  The camera has helped in finding gulls also.  I just take shots of as many groups of gulls as possible and examine the photos later.  A large white Gull turned out to be a Glaucous Gull and not a Herring Gull as I had expected.  Captured shots of two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Gull looking good for a Thayer's Gull.

Short Trip South of Denver, Scoters & Owls (none)

November 22-23, 2014

Richard Stevens:

November 22

Bryan and Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I headed south (target bird: scoters and Spotted Owls).

A stop at Prospect Lake at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs found the trifecta of scoters; White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter & Surf Scoter!  We also saw two Greater Scaup and several Bonaparte's Gulls.

At our next stop, Big Johnson Reservoir, we saw two additional White-winged Scoters, a Long-tailed Duck and Common Loon.

We arrived at Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) late in the afternoon.  Gulls near the south marina included a Great Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Common Loons were observed off the sailboard launch area.

Bonaparte's Gulls flew around off the Fisherman's Point area, while no uncommon birds were at the north marina.  Misses included the previously reported Mew Gull and a wandering Red-necked Grebe.

After dark, Bryan and I drove up Phantom Canyon (Fremont).  No Spotted Owls called this night.  Our three "owl listening stations" did not pick up any sounds of Northern Saw-whet Owls (at previous spots) along Phantom Canyon Road.

November 23, 2014

The four of us enjoyed morning walks around the Canon City area.  A previously reported Williamson's Sapsucker was relocated at Centennial Park.  Unfortunately, no Rufous-crowned Sparrows were found during our 1.5 hour search along Tunnel Drive.

Weather followed predictions and started to turn toward the worse.  We had to nix plans to visit the Park County Reservoirs and instead headed back east and north to Denver. 

A stop at Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont) added a Juniper Titmouse and Bushtits to our trip list.  Misses: Pinyon Jays

Beaver Creek Wildlife Area was quiet.  No uncommon birds, no Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Search for Northern Pygmy-Owls, White-tailed Ptarmigan and Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 21, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed this beautiful fall day (61 degrees, calm winds except for Guanella Pass) with Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons.

We departed Denver at 3:00 am with the intention of going to Park County Road 58 in search of Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We did not make it to CR 58.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was found along Sugar Creek Road at approximately 1-1.5 miles south of Deckers Road (Douglas County).

All enjoyed the hike around Guanella Pass Road (Clear Creek).  Beautiful weather, fantastic scenery and eight White-tailed Ptarmigan.  For those wanting to attempt, as Bruce Neuman wrote yesterday, going from Georgetown is a better choice.  We accessed from Grant and had some problems with road conditions.  Bruce indicated that even with nice weather, the road will be closed on December 1.  After that date, a hike/snowshoe trip of 3.5 to 4 miles round trip will be required.

I ended my birding day back at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) for the three evening in a row.  Practice helps; I was able separate the uncommon birds from the hundreds of Eared Grebes, Western Grebes and Common Mergansers with less frustration than the last two days.  It took about 5 minutes to find the White-winged Scoter when I walked the Cherry Creek dam trail (about halfway to the dam tower).  The Long-tailed Duck was quite far off the dam (just as far from the Lake Loop).  I picked it out in another 10 minutes!  Thanks again to Alec Hopping for mentioning the Long-tailed Duck on Wednesday.

Gulls included three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 12+ Bonaparte's Gulls, a Thayer's Gull, dozens of California Gulls and hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.  The three Common Loons were also out there.

Return Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 20, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Personal business sent me to Rose Hospital.  Afterwards, I stopped by the Denver Zoo.  Unfortunately, landscapers have clear much of the brush that had attracted a few uncommon birds in the past.  Three Black-capped Chickadees were the highlight of an hour walk through the zoo.  Ferril Lake and Duck Lake were ice covered; no uncommon birds found at either.

I spent the last two hours of daylight at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Again, it was quite frustrating picking the Long-tailed Duck (found yesterday by Alec Hopping) out of the hundreds of Eared Grebes, Western Grebes and Common Mergansers.  Eventually the female was found after my seventh or eighth scan of the large raft of ducks.

The effort was well worth it.  Calm winds and temperatures in the 50s made the exploit rewarding.  A female type White-winged Scoter was also swimming along the near edge of the ducks.

Gulls found included Lesser Black-backed Gulls (3), Bonaparte's Gulls (23+), Thayer's Gulls (2) and many California and Ring-billed Gulls.  The three Common Loons were still out there also.  The two male Greater Scaups found yesterday, were missed today.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Long Day at Aurora Reservoir, Short Stop at Cherry Creek State Park

November 19, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bill Cryder took six hours to hike the 8.7 mile trail circling Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Temperatures reached into the 50s; winds were less than 4 mph.  On the way into the reservoir, we found a Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk perched on adjacent fence posts.

We counted 4500+ gulls at the swim beach.  This was less than 25 percent of the gulls there!  Eventually we recorded: two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, six+ Thayer's Gulls, two Bonaparte's Gulls, and a Mew Gull (cove at mile 3.0).  Of course many Ring-billed, California and Herring Gulls.

One Common Loon swam around mile 4.0.  Two Greater Scaup were at mile 1.0 to the swim beach area.  A Surf Scoter continued around mile 5.0 to the scuba cove.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I enjoyed a superb sunset and watching the hundreds of waterfowl swim around.  Winds were calm; the lake was like a mirror.

I thought finding the Long-tailed Duck in a conglomeration of 400+ Eared Grebes yesterday was a nightmare.  Today they were spread around the lake, making finding the Long-tailed Duck even more difficult.

The Long-tailed Duck was eventually spotted in the large raft of ducks, which included hundreds of Common Mergansers, some Common Goldeneyes and Eared Grebes.  She was over a hundred yards east of the middle of the road below the dam.

While searching for the female Long-tailed Duck, I found two Greater Scaup.  At least ten American White Pelicans continue on the lake as do three Common Loons. 

More than a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls flew back and forth just below the dam.  Their tern like flight makes is easy to pick them out from the hundreds of gulls there.  Sure, their wing tips are an easy field mark to see; I look first for their distinctive flight patterns.

Once again, like last night, a Great Horned Owl flew into the cottonwoods around the dam tower's parking area (around 5:25 pm).

I will post photos of the Bald Eagle and Bonaparte's Gulls on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library later tonight.

Loveland Pass to Cherry Creek State Park

November 18, 2014

Richard Stevens:

A trip to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) was called off (thanks! I was not looking forward to the 4 mile hike in search of possible White-tailed Ptarmigan sighting).  As an alternate, we started earlier in the morning, well before sunrise, and drove to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties).

It helped to arrive before skiers and snowboarders.  We found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan from the first pullover on the west side of Highway 6 and south of Loveland Pass.  The birds were hunkered down under an evergreen tree about 20 yards east of highway 6.

After leaving my two birding partners, I stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  Two hours were spent relaxing by watching the birds visit below the platform feeder behind the Trading Post.  Temperatures were around 30 degrees, winds 10+ mph.

I sat on the Red Rocks Park trading post deck and watched the birds for two hours.  The Fox Sparrow appeared twice for a couple of minutes.  After an hour the Golden-crowned Sparrows appeared.  While waiting for a better view of the Fox Sparrow, a Harris's Sparrow appeared after an hour and 45 minutes.

I drove thru Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) the last hour of daylight.  Three Common Loons and a dozen+ Bonaparte's Gulls were observed.  I ran into Alec Hopping who asked if I had seen a Long-tailed Duck.  We drove over to the dam tower parking area and relocated the female Long-tailed Duck.  She was more or less with a group of Common Goldeneyes.

Witness photos of Fox Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow on the Colorado Birding Society's website.

Platte River Birding Area and Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 17, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I walked the Platte River Birding Area (S. Platte River, south of 88th avenue) in late morning.  Winds were 18+ mph, it was cold.  Both a male and female Barrow's Goldeneye were on the Platte River, just downstream of the "waterfall area".

Next I stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Uncommon bird count today included a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Thayer's Gulls, Bonaparte's Gulls and Common Loon.

I scoped the lake from the scuba beach area and the swim beach.  It was too cold to walk around the 8.7 mile trail around the lake.  The Surf Scoters were not relocated.  However, they were in one of the coves on previous visit and could still be out there.

A stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) relocated one of the Common Loons and 12+ Bonaparte's Gulls.

Additional Visits to Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 16, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) hoping that the uncommon birds were closer to shore today.  Temperatures were in the low 30s; winds were 10+ mph again.  It felt cold!

Unfortunately birds were again quite far from shore.  I did see three Surf Scoters, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, five Thayer's Gulls, a Bonaparte's Gull, a Greater White-fronted Goose among thousands of White-cheeked Geese, and the Common Loon.

Later I dropped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Conditions were a little better than previous visits.  Temperatures were in the high 20s; winds were 6 mph.  At least the air above the lake was mist/fog free.

I relocated two Common Loons and 14+ Bonaparte's Gulls.  Eared Grebes numbered in the hundreds.  Western Grebe count was less than a couple of dozen.  The Red-throated Loon and Pacific Loons appeared to have moved on to elsewhere?

Birding Around Arapahoe County the last three days

November 13-15, 2014

Richard Stevens (email sent to cobirders listserve):

I scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) late in the morning.  Temperatures were around 20 degrees; winds were 10+ mph.  I managed to get looks at a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greater White-fronted Goose, Common Loon and Bonaparte's Gull.

Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) has been different on my last three visits.  Two days ago (11/13), I arrived late in the afternoon.  The two Swans found by Don Beltz were hidden in the heavy fog hanging over the lake.  Only a couple of Common Loons and half a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls could be identified.

Yesterday (11/14), the skies were partially sunny and the lake was clear.  Bryan Ehlmann and I found a Common Loon (Breitsch, 11/11) and GREATER SCAUP on Lower Derby Lake at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  The Loon stayed close to the southwest corner and was out of view much of our visit.  Now and then, it swam north.

It was a loony afternoon when I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Skies were cloudy and winds 12+ mph.  It was a cold 31 degrees when I arrived.

Of course, I did not have my camera with me (never fails).  I stood 15 feet from a Least Sandpiper walking the sandy beach south of the western boat ramp.  I watched it for 20 minutes, as it seemed to ignore me.  I ran back to my car, found an old point and shoot camera used for digiscoping.  Two photos were added to the "recent witness link" on the Colorado Birding Society's website. 

While watching two Pacific Loons, a third loon rose to the east of the handicapped fisherperson dock.  It was a basic plumage Red-throated Loon.  The loon was too far away for photos; however, my little point and shoot did take video.  I was able to get 30 seconds of the Red-throated Loon swimming around before it started to dive often.  Video of the Pacific Loon and Common Loons were taken too.

Also on the lake, a Common Loon was off the swim beach and two additional Common Loons were in the eastern corner of the reservoir.  At least 16 Bonaparte's Gulls were flying around.

Today (11/15), anemometer readings were 16+ mph; temperatures were in the 20s (low 20s).  I could not find the Least Sandpiper.  Again heavy fog hung over the lake.  I scoped the few yards that could be seen off the shore around the reservoir.  I did see one Pacific Loon east of the northeast boat ramp.  While looking for a second, a female type Surf Scoter swam by just 10 yards off shore.

A Common Loon was again seen off the swim beach.  Bonaparte's Gull count was around fourteen.  Hundreds of Eared Grebes were below the fishing dock.  Only a couple of Western Grebes could be picked out of the mist.  Hundreds were on the lake yesterday and probably are still there.

I solve another mystery (at least to myself).  Reports of a Snow Goose or Ross's Goose the last couple of days, led to the photos added to the Colorado Birding Society's website (recent witness photos).  A Snow Goose stood around with Canada Geese near the ball fields at Greenwood Village Park (southwest of the Cherry Creek Reservoir dam).  Farther west of the ball fields, a Ross's Goose walked around with hundreds of Cackling Geese.  One of each!

I ran out of time and good weather to drive to Red Rocks Park for the Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrows, perhaps tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Unsuccessful Search for Murrelets

November 12, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out searching for Murrelets again.  The last Murrelet report in Colorado was 11/16/2008.  We did not change that.  Visibility was again poor on this cold day.  It snow off and on and the high temperature was a single digit.

Only one Common Loon and several Bonaparte's Gulls were found at Chatfield Reservoir this morning.  Nothing uncommon was found on nearby lakes: South Platte Park Reservoir, McLellan Reservoir, Coley Lake, Marston Reservoir and Harriman Lake.

We abandoned our search and drove up to the South Platte Birding Area (Platte River at 88th Avenue).  One Barrow's Goldeneye was observed south of the rapids about 0.5 miles south of 88th avenue.  The Surf Scoter found on Tani Reservoir on 11/8 was not relocated this afternoon.

Temperatures dropped below Zero degrees by the time we drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No owls or hawks were found as we drove the icy roads.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Unsuccessful Search for Murrelets Around Denver

November 11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out searching for Murrelets.  None was found.

Visibility was poor most of the day.  Temperatures went to a high 18 degrees; it was 12 degrees when we quit an hour ago.

Birds we did find included:

Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas)
Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Bonaparte's Gulls, Barrow's Goldeneye

Harriman Reservoir (Jefferson)
Bonaparte's Gull
missed: Long-tailed Duck

Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe)
Common Loon
Bonaparte's Gulls

Barr Lake (Adams)
too cold to stay long

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birding Before the Storm

November 10, 2014

Richard Stevens:

We managed to squeeze in a day of birding before the cold/snow hit the foothills.

Five of us drove up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County).  It took about 10 minutes to find a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan hiding from the high winds.  They were below the largest rock southeast of the parking area.  This is the fifth time in many trips that I have found them seeking shelter on the north side of this boulder.

After returning to Denver, I went by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Visibility was declining rapidly.  I did find one Common Loon and a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls. 

A Swamp Sparrow recording was played at the bird observation platform without getting a response.  Then I walked west and a Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails (about 20 yards west of the bird platform, Prairie Loop).

Visibility was poor along the DIA Owl Loop.  Roads were icy and a crept home.

A Sunday At Jackson Reservoir

November 9, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I birded most of the day a Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  Temperatures reached the middle 60s.  Winds were mild in the morning and calm in the afternoon.

 It was somewhat strange.  In the morning, I found the previously reported Red-throated Loon, a Pacific Loon and two Common Loons.

Then I spent a couple of hours walking around the western Campgrounds.  Eventually five Long-eared Owls were observed (may or may have a witness shot to put on the Colorado Birding Society's website, I have many photos from past visits to Jackson Reservoir and try not to disturb the Long-eared Owls by getting additional photos).

American Robins numbered at least 300.  A possible glimpse of a Varied Thrush kept my attention.  Over the next hour and a half, I tried to relocate the possible Varied Thrush, however was not successful.  The "Varied Thrush" and many Robins were between the Pelican Campgrounds and the cattail marsh to the south.

Next, I walked the dam looking unsuccessfully for the Black Scoters reported yesterday.  The strange part was that I was not able to relocate the Common Loons and Red-throated Loon found early in the morning.  They usually do not fly away in the middle of the day?  The lake is a big place; perhaps I just missed them from my vantage point?

Gulls included a Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, California Gulls and many Ring-billed Gulls.

Adams to Weld to Larimer Counties Some Nice Owling

November 8, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Another beautiful fall day in Colorado.  Winds were calm with temperatures in the high 60s.

Bryan Ehlmann and I were out and about before sunrise.  A Short-eared Owl was observed flying around the field at the south dead end of Gun Club Road (where it goes south from 112th avenue).  Eventually we watched in land in the field a good 200 yards south of the road (beyond the fence).

Next we drove to Barr Lake (Adams) hoping to relocate the Harris's Sparrow reported earlier by Cathy Sheeter (below the dam).  Unfortunately, we could not find it.  A Barn Owl was observed in the cottonwoods at mile 7.2 (above the dam).  The rumor of a Golden-crowned Sparrow along the east side did not pan out for us.

We walked the Platte River Birding Area at 88th Avenue (Adams) hoping to find an early Barrow's Goldeneye along the South Platte River.  None was found.  We did find a Surf Scoter on nearby Tani Reservoir (Adams).

Another Surf Scoter was found on Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld).  Best shot is to scope the lake from the East side off Weld County Road 47.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Bryan and I then drove to a friend's ranch west of Loveland (Larimer).  We set up our "owl listening stations" and sat in lawn chairs (covered with warm blankets).  Eventually, three Northern Saw-whet Owls and a Northern Pygmy-Owl were found.

If interested write me for directions on our "owl listening stations" and night vision goggles.  The stations cost about $1000/each to put together.  Goggles can be purchased online for about $4000/each.

A Quick Drive Around Adams County

November 7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) my target bird was the slated colored Fox Sparrow reported yesterday by Anne Esson.  While I did not find the Fox Sparrow, a White-throated Sparrow was found in the brush pile at the upper southeast corner of Lake Ladora.

A Great Egret continues to hunt for food along the south end of Lake Ladora.

A stop at Barr Lake (Adams) on my way home found at least one Lesser Black-backed Gull still there.  Misses: the Harris's Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow reported earlier in the day.

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 6, 2014

Richard Stevens:

My first stop back in Denver was Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping to find the lingering Lesser Black-backed Gull below the dam.  There was no photo op as many fisherpeople were below the dam.  Gulls were scattered all over this rather large lake.

Eventually one Common Loon, the Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Thayer's Gull and a lone Bonaparte's Gull were observed.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I enjoyed sitting at the bench at the north end of the Lake Loop and watching the hundreds of Western Grebes (at least one Clark's Grebe), Eared Grebes and gulls hunting for food.

There was something serene about watching all the birds hard at work.  No cars, people or wind to disturb the scene!

Two Common Loons continued on the lake.  Bonaparte's Gull count was 31+ birds.  A late migrating small tern "turned out" to be a Forster's Tern!

Again on the Colorado Eastern Plains

November 4-5, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made another brief trip to northeastern Colorado.  Our friend Roger Danka had a couple of nice surprises for us.

November 4

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir and walked the western and southern sides (Morgan County).  The highlight was a fall plumage Bay-breasted Warbler between Pelican and Cove Campgrounds!  (late dates are 11/7 (Boulder County) & 11/18 (Yuma County)

Two Long-eared Owls and one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls were also relocated.

On our trip to Julesburg, we stopped at six Walk-In-Areas north of Snyder (Morgan).  Nothing uncommon was found.  The trend this fall continued.  Few birds were moving about.  One Lincoln's Sparrow (WIA: 28:BB), a late Vesper Sparrow (WIA: 32:JJ), a dozen White-crowned Sparrows and a dozen or so Lapland Longspurs were just about it.

We spent the night at Roger Danka's ranch in Sedgwick County.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called shortly after sunset!

November 5

Roger surprised us this morning.  An adult male Purple Finch had been visiting his feeders since 11/3.  It made an early appearance this morning.  The second surprise event was a red form (eastern) Fox Sparrow.  Roger had been seeing it since 11/1.

The three of us wandered around Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) most of the morning and early afternoon.

The highlight was a Palm Warbler in the Russian Olive Trees in section 7 East windbreak.

Other nice sightings included a Harris's Sparrow, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Northern Cardinal (section 1-2 West), two Field Sparrows (section 6 East) and an Eastern Screech-Owl (6-7 East).

On the way back to Denver, we stopped at six Walk-In-Areas in Morgan County (mostly around Gary, CO).  Again, nothing uncommon stood out.  Lapland Longspurs were the most numerous bird of the drive.  We did find one McCown's Longspur (WIA: 30:F)

A Three Golden-crowned Sparrow Day!

November 3, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) hoping for photos of the two Golden-crowned Sparrows that have been there since the first of November.  Several wedding photographers used the steps near the feeder.  The adult Golden-crowned Sparrow made two quick appearances and the 1st winter bird only one.

With most of the day left, I decided to drive up to the Teller Lake # 5 parking area (Boulder).  After a 20 minute wait, I was rewarded with my third Golden-crowned Sparrow sighting of the day!  Misses: the previously reported Palm Warbler.

My birding day ended along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls came out tonight.

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 2, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Spent most of the day doing chores but managed an hour or so of birding.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull and 150+ American White Pelicans were observed from the closed boat ramp at mile 7.5; Barr Lake (Adams County).

At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), I scoped the lake several times.  It took four passes before I counted three Common Loons (two in the eastern corner, one west of the swim beach).  A Pacific Loon stayed along the handicapped fisherperson dock.

Three plus Bonaparte's Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull were also found.  The many (dozens) of California Gulls struck me as having many shades to their mantle color.

No owls showed along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) this evening.

Golden-crowned Sparrows at Red Rocks Park

November 1, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Do not have much time, I am on the way to give a bird talk.  Bryan Ehlmann and I returned this afternoon from several days birding on the eastern Colorado plains.  I dropped Bryan off and went to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County).  The chance to see two Golden-crowned Sparrows (an adult and first winter) was too much of a draw.

I did find a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow and two Song Sparrows.  The adult Golden-crowned Sparrow did finally appear.  By the time the professional wedding photographers were done, light was poor.  I put several shots of the Golden-crowned Sparrow on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library.  They were taken at 1/15 second shutter speed and hand held.  Not the best, okay.  My birding day ended with a Great Horned Owl calling in the distance!

Colorado Eastern Plains and Additional WIAs

October 30-31, 2014

Richard Stevens:

October 30

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the eastern plains to continue our survey of some of the many WIAs (Walk-In-Areas).  See locations and rules in Colorado Parks & Wildlife "2014 Small Game Walk-In-Atlas" found at Walmarts and other locations selling hunting licenses.

A stop at five WIAs did not find any uncommon birds (few birds at all).

Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington County) was a happy stop.  A Northern Mockingbird and White-throated Sparrow fluttered around the southwest corner.

Unfortunately many hunters were at the western end of Prewitt Reservoir (Washington County).  Bryan and I did wear hunters orange for much of our birding this trip (hunters appeared everywhere).

As a result, we decided to walk the eastern end of Prewitt Reservoir (Logan County).  A great fortune as an Eastern Towhee was found below the extreme eastern end.  After sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl called also below the dam!

When we arrive at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma) winds were calm and temperatures still in the 60s.  We celebrated with a hike along the Republican River from Highway 385 to Foster's Grove.

The riparian area was filled with bird calls and songs.  Eventually four Eastern Screech-Owls were located!

October 31

Bryan and I woke up to an Eastern Screech-Owl calling north of Hale Ponds (Yuma).  We walked the "pipit hill" below the Bonny Reservoir dam and relocated two Sprague's Pipits. 

Walking the Republican River from Yuma County Road LL.5 to Hale Ponds found few birds.  Two Northern Bobwhite were the first I had encountered in 2014.

The highlight was the longspur trifecta.  Lapland Longspur (6), McCown's Longspur (1), Chestnut-collared Longspur (1).

Most of the day was birding WIAs from Burlington to Seibert (Kit Carson).  In all we stopped at sixteen WIAs.  All were labeled "grass" cover.  Few birds were found.

Field Sparrow (2; 30:G & 26:N)
Lincoln's Sparrow (18:Q)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (16:X)
Short-eared Owl (14:Z)

No Birding To Report

October 29, 2014

Richard Stevens:

What no birding?  Yes, once in a blue moon/day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Coal Canyon (Magnificent Hummingbird) to Washington Park (Surf Scoter)

October 28, 2014

Another beautiful fall day, temperatures in the low 60s, mild winds.

I had to drive up to Coal Canyon (Boulder County) to see the female Magnificent Hummingbird!  Fantastic find!  Thanks Adam Jack for his hospitality!

Afterwards, I walked around Golden, centered on Ford and 16th Streets.  In past years, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been found in the area.  None was found today; however, it could be a little early.  They usually show up in late November and December.

My next stop was Washington Park (Denver).  The female Surf Scoter was swimming around the south end of Grasmere Lake.  Thanks to Joe Roller for reporting the duck!

My day ended once again along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No owls were found this afternoon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Songbirds, Anyone, Part 2?

October 26, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) to search for the White-throated Sparrows reported yesterday.  Once again, we found no songbirds (areas checked: Plum Creek Delta, south marina sand spit, south of Kingfisher Bridge).

We stopped at the Heronry Overlook.  Quite a few additional birds were below and it took 20 minutes to separate the two Surf Scoters.  They drove almost constantly, which did not help the search.  No songbirds flew around the area.

We continued to Lair 'O Bear Park (Jefferson).  Not one bird (not one) was found as we walked the park for about an hour.  It was quite strange.  American Dippers are usually found along Bear Creek in the winter.  We guessed the weather has been too good farther upstream; dippers have not arrived yet.

For sure, we expected birds behind the Red Rocks Park Trading Post (Jefferson).  Again, not one bird put in an appearance.

A drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) on the way home, also found only a couple of Black-billed Magpies and one Northern Flicker.

It was a fantastic fall day with little wind and temperatures in the high 70s.  No birds, but a great day to be outside!

Looking for a Red-throated Loon

October 25, 2014

Richard Stevens:

As I passed Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County), I stopped to see if the Lesser Black-backed Gull was below the dam and at the scuba beach.  Unfortunately, it was present but quite far out in the water (too many anglers around).

I hoped to relocate the Red-throated Loon found earlier in the morning at Chatfield State Park.  Regrettably, it had flown before my arrival.  The two Surf Scoters below the Heronry Overlook were a nice consolation for the 45 mile drive to the park.

Later I scoped Spring Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson), Coley Lake (Arapahoe) and McLellan Reservoir (Arapahoe) without finding the Red-throated Loon.

It was another marvelous fall day with temperatures in the low 80s and calm winds!

Brief Trip to Northeastern Colorado, few songbirds

October 23-24, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a brief two day trip to northeastern Colorado.  The fall weather continued to be gorgeous with temperatures in the low 80s and mild winds.  Birding was a pleasure in spite of the lack of birds.

October 23

At first light we stopped at Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington County).  A male Rusty Blackbird walked around the small pond.  A White-throated Sparrow was found with several White-crowned Sparrows at the southwest corner of the property.

Most of our day was spent at Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds.  We skipped walking Pipit Hill figuring the Sprague's Pipits were gone.  Later we were found to be wrong as Sprague's Pipits were seen as late as 10/25.

The highlight was a chattering Winter Wren along the Republican River, just northeast of Hale Ponds.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers continued west of Hale Ponds.  A few Eastern Bluebirds also flew around the area.

A White-throated Sparrow was with several White-crowned Sparrows at the old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds.  After sunset, one of the Eastern Screech-Owls called back at Hale Ponds.

October 24

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I stopped at four of the Walk-In Areas (WIA) around Clarksville (Yuma) hoping for find an uncommon sparrow (such as any "ammodramus); without success.  With dozens of WIAs in the county, we concentrated on those along creeks (it this case, Coyote Creek).

We continued north into Washington County and again stopped at WIAs along Surveyor Creek and Twentytwo Slough; without finding any uncommon birds.  Only a few White-crowned Sparrows and the usual Red-winged Blackbirds and European Starlings were recorded.

We stopped at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) only to find many hunters at the inlet area.  Common sense dictated that we skipped walking through the area.

It worked out fine.  We walked the eastern end of the dam and found a Swamp Sparrow in the cattails!  Birding was slow and we moved on to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).

Birding was slow here also.  Nothing uncommon was found on the lake or the shore.  Two White-throated Sparrows fluttered about the northern Campgrounds.  We did find one of the Long-eared Owls, which appeared to have stayed all year (location to remain unnamed).

Finally a Songbird!

October 22, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I had to get out of the house on this beautiful fall day.

Another visit to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) found the Lesser Black-backed Gull too far from shore for a decent photo.  Today it was in the northwest corner, below the dam.

I spent several hours walking the shore at Barr Lake (Adams).  I ended up counting larger birds because of lack of shorebirds.  Four hundred sixty one American White Pelicans, no Brown Pelicans.  Nine hundred eight three Double-crested Cormorants, not one Neotropic Cormorant.  Too many Ring-billed Gulls to count.  One thousand four hundred plus Western Grebes, a couple of Clark's Grebes among them.  At least two Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued at the shrinking lake.

No birds were found at the banding station area.  The Barn Owls have fledged.  I did not even find the resident pair of Downy Woodpeckers today.

Finally, a couple of songbirds were encountered during the mile hike below the dam.  Twelve Yellow-rumped Warblers fluttered about outlet number 5.  An Orange-crowned Warbler was among them.  It has been years since I was excited by seeing an Orange-crowned Warbler (probably 20+ as it is has 22 years since it was a lifebird).  Songbirds have been quite scarce this fall.

No owls were found as I drove the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.

Songbirds Anyone?

October 21, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Where have all the sparrows gone?  I purchased a new camera Sunday and have not been able to find a sparrow at Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Creek Reservoir, Rocky Mountain Arsenal or Aurora Reservoir.

Between obligations and chores, I have managed to get a few hours of birding in the last three days.

Today, Tuesday I started at Aurora Reservoir where the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the northwest corner.  Later the many gulls swam out into the middle of the lake.  No sparrows were around the few trees along the southwestern and southern sides.

Next, I stopped at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson).  Except for a couple of magpies and one Northern Flicker, I saw nothing for an hour.  As I lamented about how this once top five birding location in Colorado has been deserted the last decade, a bird walked across the tree bridge trail, south of the boardwalk.  At first, I thought it might be a Worm-eating Warbler; however, after longer looks it turned out to be an Ovenbird.

The Ovenbird was first west of the tree bridge trail at 20 yards south of the south end of the boardwalk.  When Richard left, it had flown to the stacked pile of cut trees on the east side of the trail.

Deserting the foothills, I decided to look for Williamson's Sapsuckers at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).  My last dates for the park are 9/15, 9/16 & 10/12.  None was found today, nor any sparrows.

Unsuccessful Search for Swamp Sparrows

October 20, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I went to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping the Lesser Black-backed Gull would be at the scuba beach as it was on 10/15 (last Wednesday).  Unfortunately, it was in the middle of the lake, no photo.

My target bird today was a Swamp Sparrow (although a Winter Wren would have been nice); neither was found at previous cattail marsh locations at Cherry Creek Reservoir and Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

A two hour hike along the south side of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) did not find any little birds.  Black-billed Magpies, gulls and a couple of flickers appeared to be the only birds around.

I walked Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) for about three hours.  Only a couple of Killdeer walked the Havana Ponds mudflats.  The highlight was a flyover Prairie Falcon.

New Camera

October 19, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Sunday, with new camera I stopped by Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The Red-necked Grebe had been reported below the dam on Saturday.  As I had hoped, the many boats on the lake pushed the Red-necked Grebe in Jefferson County.  I had observed it a week ago in Douglas County.

A detour to Coors Pond added a Common Loon to my day list.  It was first found by Snyder on 10/18.

On the way home, I searched for the Burrowing Owl that had been along Picadilly Road (between 128th & 120th avenues).  I appeared to be gone; however, a Burrowing Owl was 300 yards north of 120th avenue at 0.5 miles east of Picadilly Road.

The highlight was an adult Ferruginous Hawk eating a prairie dog east of the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.  Two juvenile Ferruginous Hawks stood nearby and watched.  The adult did not appear to feed the younger.  After the adult flew, the juveniles did get a few bites.

I put photos of one of the juveniles on the Recent Witness Photos link on the CoBus website.  The photo is not the best; however, my range finder stated the bird was 100 to 110 yards from me.  I do like my new camera, now if only I could find a sparrow.

North Eastern Colorado Trip

October 16-18, 2014

Richard Stevens:

October 16

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to northeastern Colorado to catch the end of this fall's migration.

Nothing uncommon or new was found during a three hour walk at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  We did find a Northern Cardinal, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers and two Field Sparrows.  We returned after sunset and heard one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls calling.

At Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) the Pacific Loon was still swimming around in the middle of the lake.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were found flying around the southeast corner.

We stood at the southeast corner at sunset and watched for Short-eared Owls; without success.

October 17

Bryan and I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl calling before sunrise at Roger Danka's ranch (Sedgwick), then headed south down Highway 385.  A stop at Sand Creek Wildlife Area (Sedgwick County) and two WIAs along Sand Creek did not find any uncommon birds.

This time of year, we conduct bird counts at many of the Walk-In Areas on the eastern plains.  There are too many to visit all of them, so we concentrate on those along creeks.  While any birds are nice to find, our main target birds are sparrows (especially "ammodramus" sparrows).

The highlight of the day was a Blue-headed Vireo at the Holyoke Cemetery  We thought it a great "prize" until I looked up the previous sightings in the Colorado Bird database.  There have been 33 previous Blue-headed Vireo records in October just in the past 15 years.  Four of them were later than 10/17.  Duane Nelson found a Blue-headed Vireo in Las Animas on 11/11/2009 (late date).

A White-throated Sparrow was also found at the Cemetery and then we moved on to Wray.  Three White-throated Sparrows and two Field Sparrows were found at the Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma).

Two additional White-throated Sparrows and a Northern Cardinal (extrese western end) were encountered at Stalker Pond.  A visit to a friend's ranch added an Eastern Screech-Owl to our day list.

Later we heard another Eastern Screech-Owl at Hale Ponds as we set up camp.

October 18

A few nice birds flew around Hale Ponds on this gorgeous fall morning.  Two Field Sparrows were south of CR 4.  A Harris's Sparrow was in a brush pile along CR 4, west of Hale Ponds.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was also found around the Ponds.

Again, we enjoy little luck at WIAs in Yuma County.  We stopped at seven WIAs along Highway 36 around Joes and Kirk.  No "ammodramus" sparrows or others for that matter (only a few White-crowned Sparrows).

We detoured up to Woodrow in late afternoon.  The WIAs areas along Beaver Creek and Sand Creek were quiet.

Birding Around the Denver Area

October 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded around Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties on this fantastic fall day.  I am running out of adjectives to describe the beautiful fall weather Colorado is experiencing.  Several record high temperatures and calm winds make for wondrous days.  Regrettably, songbirds have been scarce.

Just before sunrise, we observed a Short-eared Owl flying over/between the hills along Queensburg Street, south of 114th avenue (Adams County).  A late migrating Burrowing Owl was found along Picadilly Road (about halfway between 120th and 128th avenues).

We found the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the scuba beach at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I was almost ready to take a photo when a jogging passed by and scare the gulls to the middle of the lake.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly a Northern Saw-whet Owl at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  We had narrowed its location down on several previous trips.  Today we were able to find the owl roosting in the middle of the afternoon!

After dropping Bryan off at home, I wandered back to Barr Lake (Adams).  A Bonaparte's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and three Barn Owls rewarded my efforts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Slow Afternoon at Cherry Creek State Park

October 14, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Adams County) after visiting relatives and friends in area hospitals.  Few gulls and Waterbirds were at the lake.  However, Western Grebes numbered in the hundreds.

Smoky Hill Picnic area was void of birds.  Sunny Skies, no wind and no birds was the experience today.

Slow Day In Adams County

October 13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams County) under sunny skies this trip.  My target, the Nashville Warbler banded yesterday (which was never found).  In fact few birds were around in still winds and temperatures in the high 50s.

Total land bird count in 3 hours: a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, one female Hairy Woodpecker, five Northern Flickers, and an assortment of Black-billed Magpies.

The highlight was a peek at the two young Barn Owls in the owl box near the banding station.  One of the adults was in the cottonwoods north of there.

I scoped the many pelicans, gulls, cormorants, etc on the mudflats.  Most were quite far away.  I could pick out two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Up to four have been reported and most likely were still out there.

A check along the DIA Owl Loop did not find any Burrowing Owls.  Two Ferruginous Hawks stood among the prairie dog mounds at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Barr Lake Bay-breasted Warbler & Boreal Owl In Mountains

October 11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Afternoon skies were cloudy with no rain and I decided to search for the Bay-breasted Warbler reported the last two days at Barr Lake (Adams County).

Very birds were found as I walked along the main trail from the Visitor's Center to the boat ramp.  My return trip was along the northern edge of the riparian area.  Again only a couple of birds (Northern Flicker, Black-billed Magpie, Barn Owl) were observed until I was at the southwestern edge of the banding area.

Here I found a late House Wren, two Rock Wrens, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers and a Swainson's Thrush.  While trying to photograph the thrush I noticed a small bird (warbler size) moving high in the canopy.

It took another 20 minutes to obtain satisfactory looks at the only warbler found today.  It was the Bay-breasted Warbler.  I even got glimpses of the band on its leg.  It was not possible to see this bird from the southern side (the main trail).  Look for it from the northern side.

Later, Rebecca Kosten and I drove up to Gould by was of Cameron Pass.  A Boreal Owl was heard approximately 400 yards northwest of the restroom at the Summit pullover.

October 12, 2014

It snowed quite a bit overnight and was predicted to continue throughout the day.  We winterized the cabin and decided to head for Denver.  There was no desire to hike around the Colorado State Forest or the Zimmerman Lake Loop (Larimer) in snow.  We did get quick looks at the resident American Three-toed Woodpecker that "hangs out" across (north) of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  No Rosy Finches were coming to the Visitor's Center feeders.

Arriving back in Denver late in the afternoon, we missed the early morning snow.  Under overcast skies, we detoured south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The Red-necked Grebe was still east of the south marina sand spit.  We looked briefly for the Surf Scoter but had been told by birders who spent hours searching, that it was not around or difficult to find.

Eastern Bird Trip

October 8-11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

October 8

Bryan Ehlmann and I started a couple day trip to the eastern plains to see what migration was continuing.  The weather today was overcast with temperatures in the 80s.  Conditions deteriorated as the week continued.

At dawn, we found a Greater Prairie-Chicken walking in the field near Yuma County Road BB & Highway 36.  This is the third time in five years that this area has provided a Greater Prairie-Chicken sighting!  Another location to search is the road going past the Fox Ranch Nature Conservancy.  Unfortunately, the ranch itself is closed to the public.

Three Sprague's Pipits were relocated at the infamous hill below the Bonny Reservoir dam.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and seven Eastern Bluebirds was east of Hale Ponds.

The Highlight was a Bay-breasted Warbler along the Republican River as we walked east from Yuma CR aLL.5.  Later we found a Nashville Warbler along the Republican River at 60 yards west of the Kansas border.

At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from east of Hale Ponds and north of the Republican River.  We heard another Eastern Screech-Owl along the River at 600 yards east of Hwy 385.

October 9

After just a couple of hours sleep, Bryan and I headed over to the Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond, west of Wray.  The day started off overcast; rains moved in later.

The highlight of the day would be a Winter Wren moving about the cattails and weeds below the Stalker Pond dam.  We missed the resident Northern Cardinals today.

A couple of White-throated Sparrows moved along the canal on the east side of Yuma County Road FF.  The Eastern Phoebe pair that probably nested along the canal appears to have left the area.  We missed the resident Barn Owls today.

Heading north, we stopped at the Holyoke City Park, which was quiet today.  The Holyoke Cemetery was hopping with birds.  The best birds being a skunking Hooded Warbler and a Tennessee Warbler.  Chipping Sparrows were counted in the hundreds!  A Lincoln's Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow was among them.

Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Phillips County) was quiet.  We could not find the resident Barn Owl or the Field Sparrows, which quite often wander the short grasses along the eastern border.

The last few hours of light were spent searching for pipits, Greater Prairie-Chickens and/or Sharp-tailed Grouse near Marks Butte and neighboring county roads; without success.

October 10

Another overcast morning and rain in the afternoon.  We discovered two Sprague's Pipits along Sedgwick County Road 15, north of Highway 138.  This is one of the best two locations in Sedgwick County to search for them (the other being CR 30 between CR 55 & CR 61).

After "getting our Sedgwick County Sprague's Pipit", we headed over to Pony Express Wildlife Area.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker fluttered about from cottonwood to cottonwood.  A Palm Warbler with its flicking tail was a surprise and the highlight.

We looked unsuccessfully for the on and off again Northern Cardinal at the Colorado Welcome Center along I76.  A Field Sparrow in the weeds on the east side of the property was a nice consolation.

Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop had another Red-bellied Woodpecker and not much else.  We checked unsuccessfully the Inca Dove spot of November 2011.

At dusk, we watched Sedgwick Draw (Logan) and were not disappointed.  A Short-eared Owl flew across the field just before sunset.

On the way to a friend's ranch, we drove the eastern road through Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  We were able to get an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond to our recording!  We also stopped at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recording here also!

October 11

We spent the night at Roger Danka's ranch again and woke to rain pouring down.  The forecast was for rain throughout the day.  Tired of birding in winds and rain, we decided to return to Denver.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Barr Lake and Adams County Birding

October 6, 2014

Richard Stevens:

After spending the last few days visiting relatives and friends in hospitals, I took the time today to walk around Barr Lake (Adams County).  It was a fantastic fall day with mild winds and temperatures in the high 70s.

It was not as "birdy" as hoped; however, a few nice birds kept my interest.  A single Sabine's Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull flew along the southern shore, making several passes during my visit.  Both gulls had been reported previously (Sabine's, Stevens 9/15 & Lesser Black-backed Gull (Madsen:Clasen, 9/23).

Many shorebirds were on the mudflats and sand spit.  Unfortunately, most of the uncommon ones appeared to have moved on elsewhere.  One Semipalmated Plover was the most interesting.

On the trip back to the banding station riparian area, two Barn Owls flew around near the northern point (north of banding station).

Passerines were few in the riparian area.  I did find one Townsend's Warbler with a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers at the western edge of the banding station area.  A few Chipping Sparrows remained (not as many as last week).  At least one House Wren and empidonax flycatcher were still around.

Neither the previously reported Swamp Sparrow nor Common Tern was found by me.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop was uneventful.  For the second trip, I could not find a Burrowing Owl at the Quency Street prairie dog town. Again, two Red-tailed Hawks stood in the middle of the town.  My late dates are 10/27, 10/4, 10/3, 10/1.  Burrowing Owls could be gone here for 2014.  No Short-eared Owls were observed today.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cherry Creek Reservoir Again

October 2, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Once again, I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) after visiting a sick relative.  At least two Sabine's Gulls and two Common Terns were still flying around the lake.

I detoured over to the pond off Iliff Avenue and Harvard (Toll Gate Creek drainage) where 650 Common Grackles were reported yesterday.  None was there today.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 1, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I again drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir on the way to the hospital to visit a relative.

In the hour I spent at the State Park I observed at least three Sabine's Gulls and two Common Terns.  The only non-resident birds at the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area were three Yellow-rumped Warblers.  No uncommon gulls were on the swim beach.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 30, 2014

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) to see if any interesting birds had dropped down at the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area.  Only half a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers were observed fluttering about.  Scope the lake and one can see a couple of Sabine's Gulls and a couple of Common Terns as well as at least one Black Tern & Forster's Tern.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cherry Creek Reservoir, the last three days.

September 23-25, 2014

Richard Stevens: 

A family medical situation has reduced my birding to 1 or 2 hours a day for the next week or so.  There was no time today (9/25).  Two birders searched today for the possible Pine Warbler at Cherry Creek Reservoir (see 9/24).  They did not find one.

Previous birding:

September 24, 2014

Email sent to "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders;

I managed to get in an hour of birding Wednesday.  As I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County), I scoped the lake from the southwest marina and walked around the Smoky Hill Group Picnic area.  At least three Sabine's Gulls flew around below the dam.  A flock of 30 plus 1 Yellow-rumped Warblers was at the Picnic area.  A Plumbeous Vireo and Cassin's Vireo searched for food in the locust trees.  Last seen, the vireos were flying along the trees at the western side of the parking area.

Continued Good Birding!

The "plus 1" warbler:  I was almost positive that I glimpsed a Pine Warbler in the evergreen trees west of the group picnic area.  It only allowed two views and only for a couple of seconds each.  I ran out of time and could not pursue a definite ID.

September 23, 2014

Due to family medical situation, my birding is reduced to an hour or so for the near future.  I passed through Cherry Creek State Park again late in the afternoon.  A couple of Sabine's Gulls were seen off the marina.  A Townsend's Warbler was at the south end of the swim beach.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cherry Creek Reservoir, Barr Lake and the DIA Owl Loop

September 22, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Email sent to cobirders listserve:

"Hello cobirders;

While out doing chores I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  The pair of Caspian Terns photographed yesterday was gone.  A Sabine's Gull was standing on the poles outlining the marina.  Perhaps the two Caspian Terns Dan Stringer found at Barr Lake (Adams) were yesterday's birds.  I had an adult and juvenile yesterday as he did today.  Photos of Caspian Terns are on the "recentwitnessphotos" link on CoBus website.

A downpour prevented me from looking for passerines at Smoky Hill Group Picnic area.

Continued Good Birding!"

After the rain stopped, we went to Barr Lake (Adams County), and then drove the DIA Owl Loop.

The pair of Caspian Terns could be seen with the help of a scope off the boat ramp.  At least two Burrowing Owls continue at the Prairie Dog Village at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.  No Short-eared Owls were found this afternoon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Birding and Owling In Park County

September 17-21, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Sept 17
Bryan Ehlmann and I headed to Park County for a few days of birding and owling.  Driving South on Highway 285 toward Park County, we made a detour at Grant and continued to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek).  It took about two hours, we finally found two White-tailed Ptarmigan up the Rosalie Trail (80 yards south/uphill of the 603 trail).

A few White-crowned Sparrows continued to flutter about the clumps of willows.  A Prairie Falcon made a rapid trip across the partly cloudy sky.  It is almost time for them to fly to lower wintering grounds.  A female/young Wilson's Warbler was a little bit of a surprise in the willows along the boardwalk to the lake below the parking area.

After setting up camp at the Guanella Pass Campgrounds, we wandered around and up the Lost Silver Dollar Trail.  An adult and young male American Three-toed Woodpeckers were near the intersection of Guanella Pass Road and the L.S.D. trailhead.

After dark, we set up our three "owl listening stations", then drove north down the road and searched for owls.  Unfortunately, none was found (we have not had time to check the owl recordings yet).

Sept 18
After a few hours sleep (after sunrise), our trek continued south into Park County.  While nothing exciting was found at the three Park County reservoirs, a few interesting birds were encountered.

The Parasitic Jaeger reported two days earlier was not found at Antero Reservoir.  A Common Loon swam at the north end of the lake.  Two Sabine's Gulls flew along the eastern shore.  Killdeer, a Least Sandpiper, two Western Sandpipers, and half a dozen Baird's Sandpipers were the only shorebirds that were found.

Vesper Sparrows, a few White-crowned Sparrows and a couple of Song Sparrows flew about the native grasses surrounding the reservoir.  A couple of Common Nighthawks buzzed overhead.

An "ammodramus" sparrow kept our attention for about 30 minutes before we had to settle that it was a Grasshopper Sparrow (hoped for a Baird's Sparrow).

A Common Tern was observed flying along the Spinney Mountain Reservoir shore as we approached.  It turned (no pun intended) out to be the only interesting bird here.  A couple of American Avocets and three Baird's Sandpipers completed the shorebird count.

Eleven Mile Reservoir was slow also.  We did find another Common Tern and two Sabine's Gulls.  Shorebirds were scarce.  Sparrows were mostly Vespers.

We detoured over to Buffalo Pass Campgrounds where a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was observed flying around the Aspens.  On the way to Rough and Tumbling Creek, several Pinyon Jays flew by.  Rough and Tumbling Creek added four Red Crossbills, a Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Plumbeous Vireo to our day list.

A stop at Trout Creek Pass was uneventful.  No Pinyon Jays were around the Buena Vista Overlook or KOA Campgrounds (Chaffee).

After dark, we set up the "owl listening stations" on BLM land northeast of Buena Vista.  A first listening, no owls were recorded this night.  Meanwhile we headed south to Ruby Mountain.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl was drawn to our recordings (about 0.2 miles north of the parking area).

Sept 19
After another late start, Bryan and I headed back into Park County.  A couple of stops along Highway 24, found a Golden-crowned Kinglet and three species of nuthatches in sparse pine forest habitat.

It had been a few years since I drove up Weston Pass.  The afternoon and night proved quite interesting.  A Dusky Grouse walked around the Weston Pass Campgrounds.  A male Three-toed Woodpecker was also found there.  Later we heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl calling.

As we drove to the Summit, we set up our "owl listening stations".  Two of which did pick up Northern Pygmy-Owls responses.  When we played a recording at the "upper Campgrounds", a Boreal Owl called to us!

At sunrise, we set up our tents back at the lower Campgrounds and caught a few hours of sleep.

Sept 20
This day we headed up Michigan Creek Road.  A couple of Red-naped Sapsuckers, a male Williamson's Sapsucker and a Dusky Grouse were found at the Campgrounds.

Then we walked around the "traditional" Three-toed Woodpecker spot (4.1 miles west of the W.P. Campgrounds).  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers worked the trees here.  A dusk, we played our recordings at the end of the undefined trail/road; without getting any response.

We hiked up Michigan Creek Road to the first set of switchbacks.  A Dusky Grouse was seen crossing the road.  Back at the "parking area" a Northern Pygmy-Owl did call in response to our recordings.

Sep 21
We ended up setting up our tents in a pouring rain (just before sunrise).  The rain finally stopped around noon; however, more was predicted for the late afternoon, which made our decision to return to Denver an easy one.  Both of us were exhausted from the downpour last night.

A stop at Kenosha Pass Campgrounds added another American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list.  The rest of the day was described in an email to the "cobirders" listserve:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded in Park County the last five days.  We enjoyed success in finding a few uncommon birds and owls.  Most were reported to the Colorado Birding Society's RBA.  I hope to find time to update the CoBus Trip Blog later tonight.

On the way back to Denver today (Sunday) we made several stops.  The Red Phalarope was not far off the eastern side of the marina sand spit at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The phalarope was in Douglas County.  If it moves west, I will think about returning for a Jefferson County sighting.

While we scoped the lake for the Red Phalarope, two Sabine's Gull were observed flying below the dam, just north of the Plum Creek Delta.

We hurried to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping to get a second Red Phalarope for the day.  While we never found it, one Sabine's Gull was found flying around below the dam.

A greater surprise was three terns on the poles outlining the southwest marina.  The smallest had a black bill, reddish legs, uniform neck, breast and belly of a Forster's Tern.  The larger were an adult Caspian Tern (large reddish bill and streaked black crown) and a juvenile Caspian Tern (slightly less reddish bill, spotted back).

Dark overtook us before we were able to explore the rest of the park.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir State Parks

September 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I spent four hours at Barr Lake (Adams County).  Many birders moving around this morning including two Sabine's Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, eight Pectoral Sandpipers, two Barn Owls (banding station), three Townsend's Warblers, Least Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher and Western Wood-pewee.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull was found yesterday by Jerry Petrosky; he wanted another opinion before reporting the Gull.

While my stay at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on Saturday was seven hours, I only stayed about an hour today.  At least half a dozen Sabine's Gulls and a Caspian Tern were new for me.  A Common Tern and two Townsend's Warblers were left overs from Saturday.

Aurora Reservoir to Castlewood Canyon State Park

September 14, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I conducted a two man fall count at Aurora Reservoir this morning.  The 8.8-mile trail around the reservoir has few trees and few birds.

Highlight was a Mew Gull with many Ring-billed Gulls at the southwest marina area.  We did see several Western Kingbirds and a Say's Phoebe.

Later we decided to head to Castlewood Canyon State Park and the Winkler Ranch.

A stop at Whispering Pines Park found a Black-and-white Warbler east of the restrooms.

A walk along the Cherry Creek trail (trailhead east of Walker Pit) added a Townsend's Warbler (cottonwoods west of trail) and Cassin's Vireo (willows east of trail) to our day list.

Bobolinks appear to be long gone from the Winkler Ranch.  A few Western Bluebirds were along Castlewood Canyon Road (missed Mountain and Eastern).  Half a dozen Vesper Sparrows and a Savannah Sparrow were also found.

After dark, we relocated one of the Northern Saw-whet Owls at Castlewood Canyon State Park.

Day to Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 13, 2014

Email to cobirders listserve Richard Stevens:

Hello cobirders;

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent the last couple of weeks driving around mostly northern Colorado.  I took advantage of the great late, cool summer day to circle Cherry Creek Reservoir on foot.  While enjoying birding with others, the solitude today was a refreshing treat.

I started at the Dam Tower parking area and headed south.  The few gulls flying around were Ring-billed and California Gulls (in lesser numbers).  A few Snowy Egrets hunted for food at the base of the dam.  A Common Tern and two Black Terns flew around the south side of the lake (resting several times of the buoys.

A Western Kingbird and Say's Phoebes hawked insects around the southwest marina.  I scoped the lake often during the trek.  While eyes were kept open for a possible phalarope, However, I did not see the two Red-necked Phalaropes reported by Glenn Walbek sometime during the day.

Probably the highlight of the day was a male Hooded Warbler deep in the thickets just east of the Mountain Loop Parking Area.  A thrush stayed hidden most of the time in the willows and remained unidentified.

Many Chipping Sparrows and four Yellow-rumped Warblers fluttered around the Lake Loop.  Several Song Sparrows and a Common Yellowthroat sang from the cattails between the Lake and Prairie Loops.

The tall cattails at the Bird Observation Platform made scoping the lake from here quite frustrating.  A Virginia Rail walked the shore below the rocks.

The Eastern Phoebe reported yesterday by Schrab around the Cottonwood Creek Footbridge was not relocated.  Two Great Blue Herons and three Black-crowned Night-Herons waited patiently for prey to swim by north of the footbridge.

A few Barn Swallows flew over the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.  No Green Herons appeared among the cattails.

A Plumbeous Vireo flew about the southern end of the Pipeline Trail.  While a Black-crowned Night-Heron and a Great Horned Owl hunted along Cherry Creek just south of the Pipeline Trail.

Tall cattails at the southeastern end of the lake made seeing any shore (if there was any) at this end.  Two dozen American White Pelicans were seen through the foliage as it was blown by the wind.

I scoped the reservoir from the northeastern end and found no uncommon gulls or the phalaropes.  A few additional Song Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow popped out of the willows along the picnic area west of the boat ramp.

Finally reaching the Smoky Hill Group Picnic area, many birds were observed flying around.  The best location was the small group of trees at the south end of the swim beach.  It was here that a Tennessee Warbler, six Orange-crowned Warblers, two Wilson's Warblers, one Yellow Warbler and dozens of Chipping Sparrows were observed.

Four additional Orange-crowned Warblers, a Wilson's Warbler and Cassin's Vireo were in the evergreen trees closer to the picnic pavilion.

Hundreds of people scattered on the swim beach limited gulls to less than two dozen Ring-billed.  A dozen Chipping Sparrows and a young American Redstart moved around the trees at the northwest corner of the swim beach.

Dozens additional Chipping Sparrows, two Song Sparrows, a Spotted Towhee and two Orange-crowned Warblers popped out of the willows along the shore at the Dixon Grove Picnic area.

Finally, many birds were found in the willows along the lake edge from Dixon Grove to the Dam Tower.  These included another five Orange-crowned Warblers, half a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Green-tailed Towhee.

I drove through the Campgrounds but did not stop.  No additional interesting birds came out.

Continued Good Birding!

Back to Northeastern Colorado

August 19 to September 11, 2014

I was without a computer most of this time.  We were either staying in cabins or tents without electricity or owling all night.  This quick summary is so I have a record of those days.

September 6 to 11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

September 6-7

Bryan, Roger and I had better fortune today.  Two Sprague's Pipits were found along Sedgwick County Road 59 (between 30 & 26).

Later we walked around DePoorter Lake and found a male Black-throated Green Warbler (southern border) and two Field Sparrows southwest hillside.

Our Sprague's Pipit search continued on 9/7, without success.  We did find a Philadelphia Vireo at the Julesburg Elementary School, missed the Northern Cardinal.  The Field Sparrows were still at DePoorter Lake, missed the Black-throated Green Warbler.

September 8, 2014
We decided to head back west today.  Most of the morning was spent around Sterling.  A Mourning Warbler was found at Overland Park. While a Blue-headed Vireo and Cassin's Vireo fluttering about the museum across the highway from the park.  A Blackburnian Warbler and Tennessee Warbler were found at Pioneer Park, missed the resident Eastern Screech-Owls.

We walked around Crow Valley Campground (Weld) in the afternoon.  It was quite birdy today: Cassin's Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, American Redstart and Townsend's Warbler, missed a reported Eastern Wood-Pewee.

 September 9

Bryan and I walked Pawnee National Grasslands after dark last night.  Birds we heard flying overhead included many Chipping Sparrows and an Upland Sandpiper.  Others we could not identify.

After a late start, we walked the field at the southeast corner of Highway 85 and Weld County Road 114.  Chestnut-collared Longspur traditionally nest in this field.  This year they have been scarce however.

The rest of our day was spent in Wyoming along a road where Chestnut-collared Longspurs are reported to be common.  We did find two, then headed to Cheyenne for a motel.

September 10

Back in Colorado today, we stopped at a friend's ranch north of Grover to say "Hi" and then walked around the town.

It was a good stop: Cassin's Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, a Townsend's Warbler and a Broad-winged Hawk.

Next we stopped at the Centrail Plains Experimental Range and walked to Owl Creek (from dirt road about a mile north of the CPER office.  The hike was quite productive.  We found a female Black-throated Blue Warbler and Cassin's Vireo north of the trail/creek intersection.  A Short-eared Owl was found about 0.5 miles south of the intersection.  For those familiar with the area, Snow Buntings have been found at least three winters around the old buildings.

September 11

We camped at Murphy's pasture and again walked around listening to the birds migrating overhead.  Chipping Sparrows dominated the night.  A Great Horned Owl called west of our campsite.

Crow Valley Campground was not as interesting today.  We relocated a Cassin's Vireo and several Townsend's Warblers.

A detour to Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer) added two Long-eared Owls to our trip list.

Then headed for home, tired but happy with our northern birding expedition.

Back to Northern Colorado

September 4-5, 2014

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed back to Jackson County.  A stop at a friend's ranch west of Loveland (Larimer) did not find one of his resident Northern Saw-whet Owls that he called about yesterday.  A second report of a Northern Saw-whet Owl at a private ranch in Jackson County also did not pan out.

After dark, we relocated a Boreal Owl along Ruby Jewell Road at 0.4 miles east of the Michigan Creek Road.  The Flammulated Owl called again at 0.2 miles up Ruby Jewell Road.

On 9/5, we once again found the male American Three-toed Woodpecker north of hwy 14 (across from the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center).  Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was found along the east side of Chambers Lake (Larimer) as we headed to Pawnee National Grasslands.

Yet a third Northern Saw-whet Owl was reported to us by a friend who has a ranch north of the Pawnee National Grasslands.  Once again, it was gone by the time we arrived.  A bonus was a young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak visiting his feeders.

A Short-eared Owl was found on the north side of Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) when we went to check for shorebirds along CR 48 and CR 42 (Beebe Draw Ponds).

We continued east to Sedgwick County for another search for Sprague's Pipits.

Northeastern Fall Count

August 30 to September 3, 2014

Richard Stevens:

August 30

A group of eight birders headed to northeastern Colorado for a weekend of birding.

We relocated Short-billed Dowitcher (Kellner, 8/22) was relocated at Red Lion Wildlife Area.

Eventually we found at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan): found: Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Field Sparrows, an Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinals and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

At Jumbo Reservoir: Cassin's Vireo & Red-eyed Vireo and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

At dusk, we found a Greater Prairie-Chicken walking around the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.

Later we enjoyed a fantastic barbecue at Roger Danka's ranch!  Cholesterol tastes good!

August 31

Our group wandered around Sedgwick County in an unsuccessful search for Sprague's Pipits and Eastern Meadowlarks.

A Northern Cardinal was found across the street from the Julesburg Elementary School.

September 1
Most of our friends went home after yesterday's barbecue.  Bryan and I continued to wander northeastern Colorado.

The highlights today were two Baird's Sparrows on a private ranch in Logan County and another two or three at a private ranch in Sedgwick County.  Most I have observed in one day in Colorado.

Both Sprague's Pipits and Eastern Meadowlarks were missed; however, we did not care!

September 2

We returned to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) today.  Many interesting birds moved about.  These included: Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Northern Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Black-and-white Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, Field Sparrows and an Eastern Screech-Owl.

Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area was good to us also.  Birds found included: Cassin's Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and two Eastern Bluebirds.

A stop at the Ovid Woods added a Blue-headed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler and Baltimore Oriole.

September 3

Bryan and I headed back to Denver at 3:00 am by way of Highway 385 to I70 to Hwy 71 to Hwy 24.  We managed to find one of the Baird's Sparrows along Drennan Road (El Paso) for our fifth Baird's Sparrow of the trip (spread over three counties)!

We scoped Big Johnson Reservoir (El Paso) and found a Pectoral Sandpiper and Burrowing Owls (along the Blue Stem Trail).  Missed loon and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

At dusk, we passed through Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  A Northern Saw-whet Owl responded to our recordings played near the old falls area.

Trip to Clear Creek County

August 29, 2014

Richard Stevens:

We returned to Denver an hour after sunrise.  I dropped Bryan off and took off for Clear Creek County with a birder from Illinois.

Four Brown-capped Rosy Finches were found at the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  The male American Three-toed Woodpecker was again found about 40 yards east of the Captain Mt Trailhead. 

Not finding any White-tailed Ptarmigan on Mt Evans, we continued over to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County).  Luck was with us.  Two White-tailed Ptarmigan were observed on rocks below the eastern side of the Rosalie Trail.

North Park Trip

August 24 to 28, 2014

Richard Stevens:

August 24, 2014
Bryan Ehlmann and I headed to Jackson County at 6:00 pm on August 23.  A Boreal Owl was heard northwest of the Cameron Pass restroom pullover.

We drove Jackson County Roads 26 and 26b at first light.  No Greater Sage-Grouse were found.  Hundreds of Horned Larks were around.

Later, we relocated Willets and two Red-necked Phalaropes along the self-driving auto tour in Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

A check of Lake John Wildlife Area did not turn up any of the Red-necked Grebes that attempted to nest earlier in the summer. No uncommon birds appeared at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders in the afternoon.  The American Three-toed Woodpecker that roams the forest north of the Visitor's Center was relocated.

August 25, 2014
Today Bryan and I returned to the Teller City Ghost Town.  One of the resident American Three-toed Woodpeckers was found at the northwest corner of the self-guided walking tour. 

We set up our "owl listening stations" south of the area.  None of the three stations picked up any owl sounds this night.

August 26, 2014
Bryan and I drove to the top of Buffalo Pass (Routt) today.  There are many birding opportunities, too many places to stop to cover in one day (which is all that we had).

We eventually found along Buffalo Pass Road: White-Winged Crossbill, five American Three-Toed Woodpeckers & Flammulated Owl.

Owling on Rabbit Ears Pass after dusk was a bust.  Again, our three Owling Stations picked up no owl sounds.  We were not able to find any on our own.  Others have reported Boreal Owls and Northern Pygmy-Owls in the area.
August 27-28, 2014
Today we drove around the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge starting at dusk.  Three Greater Sage-Grouse were found on the east side of Highway 125.

The self-driving auto tour on the west side added Sage Thrashers, Vesper Sparrows, Brewer's Sparrows, and a Willet to our day list. 

Later we watched the male American Three-toed Woodpecker across (North) from the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  A few hummingbirds mostly Broad-tailed Hummingbirds (female and young) continue to visit their feeders.

After dark, we went owling in the Colorado State Forest.  We found a Flammulated Owl along Ruby Jewell Road, 0.3 miles east of the Colorado State Forest main road.  A Boreal Owl was south of the Crags Campgrounds.

Starting late in the day 8/28, we walked to the North Fork of the Canadian River in the Colorado State Forest.  Three Boreal Owls were eventually encountered.

Southeastern Colorado Trip

August 19 to 22, 2014

Richard Stevens:

August 19, 2014
Bryan Ehlmann, three Florida birders and I headed to Las Animas County by way of Interstate 25.  We stopped to go owling in Custer County.

Eventually we found two Northern Saw-whet Owls along the South Creek Trail.  A Flammulated Owl responded to our recordings played at the Davenport Campgrounds.

August 20, 2014
Our troop camped at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca County) for the night.  A Western Screech-Owl was heard calling about 5:00 am.  Later we found Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Rufous-Crowned Sparrow, Mississippi Kite & Lewis's Woodpecker.

In the afternoon, we drove over to Picture and Sand Canyons.  No Painted Buntings were around.  We did add another Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Curve-billed Thrashers and a Greater Roadrunner to our trip list.

August 21, 2014
We camped back at Cottonwood Canyon and again found a Western Screech-Owl (this time around 10:00 pm.

In the morning we found a Cassin's Vireo, Gray Vireo, Lazuli Bunting in Cottonwood Canyon, then headed to Gunnison, Colorado.

Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were relocated north and south of highway 50, near the Monarch Ski Area Rest Stop.

August 22, 2014
At first light we drove Gunnison County Road 38 at dawn and found five Gunnison Sage-Grouse north of CR 38A.  Our friends had to catch a 9:00 pm flight out of DIA and we rushed back to Denver. 

Along the way, a quick stop was made at Antero Reservoir (Park).  The only interesting bird was a Common Loon. 

Afterwards, I made it to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) before Friday traffic halted the trip home.  Scoping Cherry Creek Reservoir for about two hours, I did not find the previously reported Little Gull. 

It was a good afternoon for terns.  Eighteen Black Terns stood on various buoys.  Two Common Terns scared off four Black Terns off one buoy.  While watching them, a Caspian Tern pushed the Common Terns off.  At least two Forster's Terns also flew around.  A Townsend's Warbler was flying around the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Return to Cameron Pass and Cherry Creek Reservoir

August 16-17, 2014

Richard Stevens:

A late call from three out of state birders Saturday afternoon and I was heading up to Cameron Pass (Jackson County).  Luck was with us; winds were calm.  Eventually we found three Boreal Owls in the cool night.  Unfortunately (or not) only one of the owls allowed us a quick look (less than four seconds).

The two easiest to relocate were (1) 300 yards northwest of the restroom parking area at the top of Cameron Pass and (2) 400 yards along the road/trail heading south from the Crags Campgrounds.

After returning to Denver and getting a couple of hours of sleep, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  I searched briefly and found the Little Gull in the southeast corner of the lake.  The main purpose was to take some photos of the Park for an article I am writing for September's "Colorado Field Notes".

I did enjoy some superb highlights however.  While photographing the 12 Mile Beaver Pond, I found a Green Heron.  It is the only report of one at the State Park that I have heard of in 2014.

While photographing the dam tower area, I walked under the trees just north of the tower to frame a lake shot.  I looked up and saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo staring down at me.  After a minute or so, it took off along the road/trail below the dam and disappeared when it reached the marina area. 

The cuckoo must have stopped by last night and with all the people around, stayed put until I stepped under the tree?

The road/trail below the dam is now completed.  One can now circle the whole lake on foot or bicycle.  Quite convenient, in past years, I walked 3/4 miles along the shaky rocks to circle the lake.

Dozens of Snowy Egrets were just north of the marina at the southern end of the dam road/trail.  Another dozen searched for food at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond.

I do not want to write to the cobirders listserve, but want to put on record a Jaeger flying around Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Did anyone else see one on Sunday afternoon?  I reserve which species I thought it was until another time.