Saturday, February 22, 2014

Search for Dusky Grouse, Inclement Weather Moves In to Mountains

February 22, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Weather in the mountains deteriorated rapidly today.  Josh Cummings and I hoped to find a Dusky Grouse and headed to Reynolds Park (Jefferson County).

Unfortunately, we hiked the whole loop Elkhorn-Raven's Roost-Eagles View-Oxen Draw without running into a Dusky Grouse.  That is 4.6 miles of icy trails with winds 27 mph.  An adult American Three-toed Woodpecker was found just northeast of the Eagle's View, Raven's Roost, Oxen Draw intersection.

I considered driving to Kenosha Pass (Park County) and searching there.  High winds and the possibility of a foot or two of snow, plus falling snow made us turn back toward Denver.

We stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  There was plenty of seed behind the trading post.  Three dozen+ Dark-eyed Juncos, two Song Sparrows and one White-crowned Sparrow wandered around.  After 10 minutes, the adult Golden-crowned Sparrow popped out of the bushes.  I took 22 photos, but light was poor so I am anticipating just witness shots.

After dropping Josh off, I drove toward the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).   The Greater Scaup were not on the Green Valley Recreation Center Pond?  Several thousand White-cheeked Geese roamed the field north of the park.  No Greater White-fronted Goose was among them.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop.  Winds measured steady at 25 mph, gusts to 31 mph as the sun set.

Trip to Mountains for White-tailed Ptarmigan

February 21, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Josh Cummings and I headed to the mountains at 5:00 am.  Temperatures were in the 20s; winds were 15-20 mph.

After looking for Rosy Finches in Summit County, eleven Barrow's Goldeneyes were relocated at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

Then we headed to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  It took less than an hour to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan walking the ridge (running east to west) just north of the large (and first) pullover south of Loveland Pass (along Highway 6).

We heard that another White-tailed Ptarmigan was found below the rocky ridge below the east side of Loveland Pass's Summit.  Without snowshoes, we decided to not try and relocate that bird.

I am a little bit worried as White-tailed Ptarmigan have been found now on six of my last trips to Loveland Pass.  All but one of those trips, Ptarmigan were found within 1.5 hours of arriving.  These percentages usually to not continue.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Drive Around Adams and Weld Counties

February 20, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Early on this cold (22 degrees) morning, I took Joyce Thompson out to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  After seeing two Long-eared Owls (did not want to disturb the 20 found on 2/18), I took her to the airport.

Later in the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove around Adams & Weld Counties.  Temperatures were still in the 20s; wind measured at 16 mph, gusts to 23 mph.

The two male Greater Scaup were still on the Green Valley Recreation Center Pond (Adams County).

Nothing unusual flew around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  The usual couple of Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks and one Ferruginous Hawk were found.  No Lapland Longspurs could be found among the few small Horned Lark flocks that we encountered.

A 5:00 pm, we drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Seventy eight+ Bison walked around the southeastern corner of the property.  Many Mule Deer and a few White tailed Deer were seen. 

However, birds were scarce.  Few birds swam on Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake (which just had their ice cover melted in the past two days).  Fifty+ gulls on Lake Ladora were all Ring-billed Gull.

No Long-eared Owls were found at dusk.  Longer days make waiting for dusk dangerously close to the 6:00 pm Arsenal closing time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pine Valley Ranch Park and Aurora Reservoir

February 19, 2014

Richard Stevens:

The day started out rising to a high of 65 degrees with winds less than 8 mph.  By late afternoon, a front came over the mountains and temperatures dropped to 42 degrees in less than an hour.

Joyce Thompson and I visited Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson County) this morning.  An adult female American Three-toed Woodpecker was just east of the Buck Gulch Trail at 400 yards south of Pine Lake.

Three species of nuthatches and a small flock of Pine Siskins were encountered.  A White-crowned Sparrow was around Pine Lake.

The highlight was a calling Northern Pygmy-Owl in the rocky ridge area along Strawberry Jack Trail, south of the Parkview Trail.  This is in Pike National Forest just south of the Pine Valley Ranch Park boundary.

After dropping Joyce off, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Unfortunately, most of the gulls were at an ice shelf at Senac Cove.  I was not willing to walk the 2.5 miles along the bike path to get a better look. 

Instead, I drove to the dam and scoped the ice-covered reservoir from there.  A Glaucous Gull, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and an adult Thayer's Gull were found scattered across the ice.

It was by no means a good count as Senac Cove was too far away to identify the hundreds of gulls down there.  By 5:12 pm, most of the gulls flew off toward DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) or toward Cherry Creek State Park.

I drove the outside perimeter of DADS looking unsuccessfully for Short-eared Owls (until too dark to see).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ptarmigan in the Mountains; Owls on the Plains

February 18, 2014

Richard Stevens:

It was another marvelous winter day in Colorado.  Each like day is one less day of cruddy cold.  Spring no doubt will arrive soon.  Temperatures in Denver reached the middle 60s; winds were 12 mph, gusts to 16 mph.

Joyce Thompson and I went on a search for White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Fortune shined, it took less than thirty minutes (upon arrival) to find a pair of Ptarmigan below the evergreens on the east side of highway 6 (across from the first large pullover below the south side of Loveland Pass).

We stopped at a friend's home in Summit County and found three species of Rosy Finches and other mountain species.  Twelve Barrow's Goldeneyes swam on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond.

After dropping Joyce off, I thought about a place for a hike (too much time spent in moving car).  I chose Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams County); it was a great choice.

On the trip to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area, a brief stop at the Green Valley Recreational Center Pond relocated the two male Greater Scaup reported yesterday by Doug Kibbe.

Eventually I enjoyed a three-owl day at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area: Long-eared Owl, Great Horned Owl & Short-eared Owl.  My conservative Long-eared Owl count was 20 birds!  The Short-eared Owl appeared at the northeastern quadrant shortly after sunset.

It was a brilliant ending to a remarkable birding day.

Trip to the Mountains

February 16-17, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Yesterday, we headed up to Gould by way of Cameron Pass (Jackson County).  As in many cases, when winds are strong along the front range (26 mph, gust to 37 mph), winds on Cameron Pass was relatively quiet (6-8 mph).

On the way up, we searched for the Short-eared Owls recently reported along Weld County Road 7, north of CR 38.  Unfortunately, none was found. 

After dark, two Boreal Owls were heard just west of Cameron Pass.  Skies were clear; winds were quiet.  It was a spectacular night to watch stars, the waning moon and listen to birds calls filling the forest air!

Today before sunrise, we visited the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  About 12+ Rosy Finches briefly came to the feeders behind the building.  No Black Rosy Finches were among an even split of Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy Finches.

We returned to Denver by way of Walden, Kremmling and Silverthorne.  No Rosy Finches were found in our quick trip through Walden.  Only eight Rosy Finches (six Gray crowned, two Brown capped) were observed flying around Kremmling (Grand County).

Several hundred Rosy Finches flew around a private yard in Silverthorne (Summit County).  Another quick stop found fourteen Barrow's Goldeneyes at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

After returning to Denver, I detoured over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Glenn Walbek had seen this morning, the Iceland Gull, five Thayer's Gulls and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  These birds have been moving around from Aurora Reservoir to Cherry Creek Reservoir to Chatfield State Park.

Most of the gulls were in the center of the lake and the only sure identification I could make out was two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Don Beltz pointed out two American White Pelicans also in the center of the lake.  It is only the third February report of Pelicans at Cherry Creek State Park in the past 20 years.

While scoping the lake for the Common Loon reported by Gregg Schrab on 2/15 (not found) eleven adult and two sub adult Bald Eagles were counted.

I passed through the DIA Owl Loop on the way home.  No Short-eared Owls (too early in the day) and Lapland Longspurs could be found.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gulls and Brant, southwest Arapahoe County to Jefferson/Douglas Counties

February 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I enjoyed a successful trip south to Chatfield Reservoir and area.  Temperatures did not reach 58 degrees as predicted; the 46 degree day with winds 5 mph was not bad.

No gulls were on McLellan Reservoir when we passed by the lake that spans Arapahoe and Douglas Counties.

The Brant was found on the golf course directly north of Redstone Park, 1.4 miles south of McLellan Reservoir (Douglas).  It was across from our sighting last Saturday in the median of Town Center Drive.  Eventually the White-cheeked Geese and Brant flew back to Redstone Park.

A stop at South Platte Park Reservoir, 1.6 miles northwest of Redstone Park (Arapahoe/Jefferson) did not find any uncommon birds.  Six plus Greater Scaup were on Blackrock Lake, just east of the reservoir.

Another birder told us about a 2nd year Iceland Gull at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) and we headed over there.

The Iceland Gull was still on the snow/ice covered lake when we arrived.  An adult Thayer's Gull was also out there.  I got talking to a fisherman/hunter about birds and learned of three good locations for Dusky Grouse in April/May.

While talking to him, a first year Great Black-backed Gull, young Glaucous Gull and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull flew to the marina area!

In addition, we checked Coley Lake in South Platte Park (Arapahoe) where Glaucous, Lesser Black-backed and Thayer's Gulls were reported yesterday.  Only one Thayer's Gull was identified.  Perhaps these gulls (yesterday's) were today's Chatfield Reservoir gulls? (2.0 miles from Chatfield Reservoir as the Gull flies to Coley Lake).

I wonder if the Aurora Reservoir gulls are spreading out now that the temperatures are rising and ice is melting.  We did not have time to get to Aurora Reservoir to see what was there before dark.

Instead we headed north up Wadsworth Blvd and stopped at Marston Reservoir (Denver County).  Only a couple of Ring-billed Gulls were here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Return to Barr Lake and Adams County

February 14, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I walked around below the Barr Lake dam for about two hours this afternoon.  The temperature reached around 49 degrees; winds measured at 7 mph.  I hoped for a photo of the Rusty Blackbirds that have been there for several weeks.

The cattails along the canal were "painted" with my binoculars without success in finding any Rusty Blackbirds.  Finally I opted to walk the east side of the canal (with the setting sun in my face, not good for photos).  A pair of Rusty Blackbirds was well hidden along the canal shore near outlet 8B.  It was a fortunate choice to change sides of the canal, as they could not be seen from the west side of the canal.

Several Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers flew by; one Red-tailed Hawk flew directly over my head at about 10 feet.  There were great views of his eyes inspecting me.  Interesting, I have not had one come that close before.  Perhaps there was a meal nearby?

Later I picked up Rebecca and we drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County).  The corner of 128th avenue and Tower Road was most interesting.  There are three hunting blinds here, although unoccupied today.  We seldom see geese at this corner because of the hunters. 

We enjoyed our own little Snow Goose Festival as we counted 8000+ White-cheeked Geese, six Snow Geese and one Ross's Goose.  Lamar's Snow Goose Festival this weekend is just too far from Denver for our travel.

While Rough-legged Hawks, one Ferruginous Hawk and five Red-tailed Hawks were observed along the Loop, no Lapland Longspurs were found among just a few Horned Larks.  No Short-eared Owls were spotted this evening.

Another Trip to Aurora Reservoir

February 13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

It was another mild winter day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached the high 50s.  Winds however were 21 mph with gusts to 36 mph.

I had not learned of any reports from Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) in four days and ventured over that way.

Few gulls were below the dam, more anglers than birds.  The few gulls scattered across the ice and snow covered lake were by and large Ring-billed Gulls and a few Herring Gulls.

An adult Thayer's Gull stood on the ice around the swim beach with a California Gull and many Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls.

A small open water area close to the swim beach held a couple of Common Mergansers, many White-cheeked Geese and half a dozen American Coots.

I could see through my scope many additional gulls were at the southeast corner at Senac Cove so I made the 2.5 mile hike over to get a better look.  Three Glaucous Gulls and at least four Thayer's Gulls were among hundreds of Ring-billed, dozens of Herring and another California Gull.

I did not see any dark mantled gulls or the Iceland Gull.

No owls flew around the rolling hills as I drove east of Aurora Reservoir and cut over to the DIA Owl Loop.  Hundreds of Horned Larks were around; no Lapland Longspurs were found.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Visiting a Few Parks on the East Side of Denver

February 12, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I decided to spend the day checking on some birding locations where few birds were expected.  The temperature barely reached 40 degrees today; winds 12 mph with only a few gusts to 16 mph.

About two hours were spent walking around the relatively new Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park in Centennial (Arapahoe County).  A Winter Wren was reported here last Saturday (2/8).

No wrens were found; none responded to my Winter Wren or Pacific Wren tapes.  A couple of Song Sparrows, Northern Flickers and 81 Mallards were just about all that was found.

Willows and a few cottonwoods line Cherry Creek as it passes through the park.  Perhaps a few interesting migrating birds will be found in spring.

My next stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I played Swamp Sparrow recordings at the cattail marshes near the bird observation area and the Cottonwood Creek area.  Nothing responded (well a couple of Song Sparrows appeared).

The reservoir was mostly ice and snow covered.  Only nine Ring-billed Gulls and a few dozen White-cheeked Geese were on the ice.

My finally stop was Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Again, both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake were completely ice and snow covered.  No waterfowl was found at either.

Nothing responded to recordings of Swamp Sparrows at the Mary Lake cattails or Lake Ladora cattails.

Highlights were a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and the bison.  No Long-eared Owls called at dusk thus night.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trip to Colorado Springs, Beautiful Winter Day in Colorado

February 11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed the mild Colorado winter day with a drive south to Fountain Creek Regional Park (El Paso County).  Temperatures went into the middle 40s (highs the last two days were 21 and 27 degrees).  Winds were mild, less than 5 mph.

I walked from the Visitor's Center parking area (break ins at the northern parking area) and observed the Swamp Sparrow in the cattails just south of the footbridge below the Visitor's Center.

No one had found the American Woodcock (7:00 am to when I arrived 1:30 pm).  It had been found the last two days along Fountain Creek, below the cement gazebo south of mile marker 18. 

I continued north to mile marker 18 and walked west to Fountain Creek.  The Winter Wren was chattering and popped out of the short grasses between the forks in the creek.

Returning to the American Woodcock, I stayed until 3:30 pm.  No positive sightings were reported.

After an early dinner in Colorado Springs, I took highway 83 back to Denver and detoured through Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  One Northern Saw-whet Owl responded to my recordings (played just south of the falls area).

Owling In Weld and Morgan Counties

February 10, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I decided to give the Riverside Reservoir (Weld County) Snowy Owl another opportunity to show itself to us (trip eight for me, I think, may have lost track?).

Again, we missed finding the elusive owl.  Perhaps the white owl is standing on the white patches of snow scattered across the prairie?

I talked to all three birders who reported the bird.  They all saw it on the ground and all reported it for only a few minutes.  It disappeared and was not relocated later on the same day.

We still think it spends the nights on the frozen Riverside Reservoir, which is private (no access).

With only a couple of hours of daylight remaining, we drove over to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).

No Short-eared Owl appeared at sunset.  Later we heard/observed two Great Horned Owls, 4+ Long-eared Owls and an Eastern Screech-Owl.

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Sixth Unsuccessful Trip In Search of the Weld County Snowy Owl

February 9, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I took off by myself early this morning in a heavy fog.  The high today did not reach 20 degrees.  Winds were 14 mph, gusts to 21 mph.  The fog never really cleared up and there was light snow on several occasions.

A Long-eared Owl first reported yesterday by Jacob Washburn was found at the Crow Valley Campground Work Center.  I walked around looking unsuccessfully for Northern Saw-whet Owls, which from time to time do winter in the evergreen trees.

I did see a Northern Saw-whet Owl at a nearby friend's ranch.  We had observed it on 1/12; I stopped by just to say "Hi".  He had two Brown-capped Rosy Finches yesterday; they did not come by during my stop today.

From Pawnee National Grasslands I headed to Riverside Reservoir area (Weld County) and searched three hours for the Snowy Owl reported again yesterday (along CR 89, around CR 51).  Of course, I missed it for the sixth time.  Many Horned Larks and several small flocks of Lapland Longspur were observed.

Returning home, I picked up Rebecca Kosten and we headed to dinner in Denver.  While driving through the DIA Owl Loop we had two highlights.  A dark morph Rough-legged Hawk is uncommon for us. 

A flock of 100+ Lapland Longspurs was found northwest of the first 90 degree bend of 96th avenue (after it runs east from Tower Road).  Note: 96th avenue turns into Quency Street here; however, I have never found a street sign indicating such.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Four Owl Day in Weld County

February 8, 2014

Email to Richard Stevens:

Hello Richard,

Ray (Simmons) and I took your advice and had a four owl day in Weld County.

First we saw the Northern Saw whet Owl at your friend's ranch.  Then picked up a Long eared Owl at the Work Center at Crow Valley Campground. 

Finally again on your advice we drove the county roads north of Lower Latham Reservoir.  A Short eared Owl was on a post north of county road 50 and east of county road 51.  A Great Horned Owl was near county road 51 and 48!

Thanks, we did not have to hang around until sunset for Short-eared Owls south of Lower Latham Reservoir!

Jacob (Washburn)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Greater Scaup (Arapahoe County); Brant (Douglas County)

February 8, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I were looking to get out in the sun and decided to see if  the three Long-tailed Ducks were still at South Platte Park Reservoir.

Temperatures reached into the high 50s.  Winds started out at 14 mph; by 3:00 pm, flags were limp.

We stopped at South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe County) where perhaps 10 percent was open water.  I counted 7+ Greater Scaup among many Lesser Scaup, Redheads, Common Mergansers, many Red-breasted Mergansers, and Common Goldeneyes.

Farther west the largest group of Herring Gulls I have ever observed in Colorado.  Many Ring-billed Gulls were also there.  The highlight was a smaller pink legged Gull among the Herring Gulls.  An adult Thayer's Gull posed for photos!

After leaving South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe County), I drove over to Redstone Park (Douglas County).  To the birders at South Platte Park Reservoir who had spent three hours missing the Brant in Chatfield State Park, sorry I did not take down your cell phone number.  I figured the ball fields at Redstone Park were snow covered and no geese would be there.  That was the case; however, as we left the park I noticed 20+ White-cheeked Geese feeding on the median in Town Center Drive (across from the park entrance).  A small goose with them........the Brant!

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Warmer Day at Aurora Reservoir

February 7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores I stopped by Aurora Reservoir for the second day in a row.  Probably 98 percent of the reservoir is snow and ice covered.  Three fishermen around the small open area at the western end of the dam kept gulls and geese away.  About 3 dozen American Coots took advantage of the opening in the ice.

Temperatures almost reached 40 degrees today.  Winds were less than 6 mph.  It was great after yesterday's -1 degrees!

The Gull action was at the south south-western edge of the reservoir.  Many hundreds of gulls included 3 Glaucous Gulls and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. 

I am almost sure the Iceland Gull was there also (I was just a little too far away to be 100 percent sure.  An almost completely white Gull the size of a California Gull, pink legs, some gray in mantle, lacked cream/light brown color on primaries expected on 2nd cycle Thayer's Gulls.  A closer look would have helped).

The gulls were and probably will be tomorrow (Saturday) about a 2.5 mile hike from the swim beach (if one stays on the bike path; I personally never walk on snow covered ice, although a dozen people were out there today).  It would be about a 2.0 mile hike from the southern entrances of the park.  Saturday's usually bring even more fishing people than weekdays.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cold Day at Aurora Reservoir and the DIA Owl Loop

February 6, 2014

Richard Stevens:

After spending yesterday indoors (8 degrees, 10 mph winds), some fresh air and birding were much needed.

I stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) twice.  Just before noon, the temperature was -1 degrees.  The only uncommon gulls found were two Lesser Black-backed Gulls at the west end of the dam. 

I returned after visiting with Bill Cryder who lives south of the reservoir.  At 3:00 pm, the temperature now was -7 degrees.  Only one of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls was still there.  My stay only lasted less than 30 minutes before giving up in the wind chill.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop did not find any owls.  Horned Larks numbered about 410+; again, I missed any Lapland Longspurs that might have been in the area.

Raptor species were represented by Ferruginous, Rough-legged, Red-tailed Hawks and two American Kestrels.

Warmer weather is expected soon!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

American Three-toed Woodpecker and Northern Pygmy-Owl Searches

February 4, 2014

Richard Stevens:

It snowed most of the day.  Winds were 6 mph, gusts to 10 mph.  Ryan Purefoy and James Lee had one more day to bird in Colorado (before heading back to Missouri).

We left Denver about an hour before sunrise and drove the snowy roads to Sedalia and highway 67 south.  Stops at several locations where waypoints (Northern Pygmy-Owl sites) had previously been recorded, did not find any owls in the falling snow.

We stopped at Rampart Range Road and Highway 67.  No owls appeared today, however, we did find one of the American Three-toed Woodpeckers that reside in the area (about 60 yards east of Rampart Range Road).

Returning to Denver, we detoured to Lair 'O Bear Park (Jefferson) another location to find Northern Pygmy-Owl.  Again, we had no success.  Two American Dippers worked the icy and cold Bear Creek.

We gave White Ranch Open Space (also Jefferson County) a shot, again coming up short of any Northern Pygmy-Owl sightings.

White-tailed Ptarmigan and Rusty Blackbird Searches

February 3, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Ryan Purefoy, James Lee, and I took advantage of a nice winter day and headed into the mountains.  We found three species of Rosy Finches in Summit County and six Barrow's Goldeneyes at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County).

Then we drove up Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  We enjoyed one of the faster attempts at finding White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Two Ptarmigan were seen along the ridge running north from the first (and large) pullover on the west side of highway 6, south side of the Pass.

My average success rate time is around 2 hours.  Many times, we have spent 4-6 hours searching.  I enjoyed this attempt much and was quite grateful.

After dropping the Missouri birders off at their hotel, I passed Barr Lake State Park (Adams County) on the way home and therefore stopped.  A walk along the canal below the Dam was quite successful (under partly sunny skies and temperatures in the high 30s).

A Rusty Blackbird walked the western shore, just south of the road across the canal (south of blind 6).

I continued south on the east side of the canal (which allowed for better viewing of the canal shores).  No additional Rusty Blackbirds were found to the end of the tree line (two had been reported around blind # 4).

Returning to the western side of the canal, I heard a Rusty Blackbird call in the cattails around blind # 5.  Another Rusty Blackbird was heard just north of blind 6 (closer to blind 7).  The shore here is wide and muddy, where one might expect a Rusty Blackbird to hunt for food.

Four Song Sparrows were also observed along this trek.  It is also a good idea to look closely at the thicker bushes along the canal.  Today a Long-eared Owl was well hidden in the thick bushes near blind # 5.

Super Bowl Sunday, No Birding!

February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday  Great game by the Seattle Seahawk's defense!!!

A Trip to Southeastern Colorado, A Snowy Owl!

January 30 to February 1, 2014

Richard Stevens:

January 30

Bryan Ehlmann and I wanted to make a run for the Snowy Owl in Lincoln County, hoping to miss the snowstorms previously and those to come.  We left Denver at 2:30 am, planned to drive the Snowy Owl location before sunrise.

This was a great decision.  When we arrived, we observed the Snowy Owl flying across highway 94 (from south to north) just east of Lincoln County Road 11 (west of Horse Creek).  It disappeared as quickly as it appeared (did not hear of additional sightings this Thursday).

Snow was predicted behind us; we decided to continue south.  A stop at Rocky Ford (Otero) found many Eurasian Collared-Doves and one White-winged Dove.  No Inca Doves (our target) could be found.

A detour to La Junta and our trek continued south to Kim and Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  We relocated Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a Greater Roadrunner, Canyon Towhees and Chihuahuan Ravens in Cottonwood Canyon.  The previous seen Winter Wrens and reported Swamp Sparrow were not found.

At dusk, we found a Western Screech-Owl near the camping area and a Great Horned Owl farther west.

January 31, 2014

After spending the night in Springfield, Bryan and I drove south to the old Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek area (Baca County).  It was a long shot to find one; we did not.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was in a windbreak at a friend's ranch east of the old lek road.

Heading north, a stop below Two Buttes Reservoir dam found two interesting birds.  A Barn Owl hid in one of the crevasses along the northern rocky wall.  A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker flew around the taller cottonwoods.

We walked the Lamar Community College woods where a Red-bellied Woodpecker was found at the northern end and a pair of Northern Cardinals was seen at the southern end.  A Brown Thrasher was probably the most uncommon of the birds we found.

We ended our birding day at Mike Higbee Wildlife Area east of Lamar.  Two Harris's Sparrows were observed fluttering about Clay Creek.

While it was snowing back in Denver, Lamar saw no snow and temperatures in the middle 20s today.

February 1, 2014

We spent the night in Lamar delaying a drive back into the snowstorms that were hitting Denver.

A quick stop at Mike Higbee Wildlife Area (Prowers County) did not relocate the two Harris's Sparrows found yesterday.  A pair of Rusty Blackbirds walking near the highway 50 Bridge was a nice consolation!

We then headed back toward Denver by way of highway 94 to relocate the Snowy Owl.  Our luck was not as good today; the bird was not found.

Back in Denver, after dropping Bryan off, I picked up Rebecca Kosten and drove the DIA Owl Loop (extended version: Bromley Lane, east to Haysmount Road, south to 120th avenue, then the Loop [120th, Trussville south to 114th, east to Quency Street, south to 96th avenue]).

We counted over 1000 Horned Larks before giving up on an exact count.  Many stops did not find one Lapland Longspur among them.  Another birder about an hour ahead of us reported dozens, perhaps hundreds of Lapland Longspurs.  Our luck was not as fortunate.

Our raptor count was great (species represented: Ferruginous, Rough-legged, Red-tailed, American Kestrel, Prairie Falcon).  We kept our eyes open for Snowy Owls and Snow Buntings; neither appeared.