Monday, March 24, 2014

A Drive Around Adams County

March 23, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) on our way to visit a friend's ranch east of Prospect Valley.  At least six Long-eared Owls continue at the Wildlife Area.

No Burrowing Owls or Mountain Plovers have shown up at my friend's ranch yet.  Both species have nested in his fields the last seven or eight years.

After dropping Bryan off, Rebecca Kosten and I drove around Adams County on Sunday afternoon.  Winds were 8 mph, gusts only 10 mph.  The sun shone; temperatures reached the high 50s.

We checked to see if additional Burrowing Owls had joined the lone bird from yesterday.  He/she still appeared to be alone at the prairie dog town at 3.2 miles east of Tower Road and 96th Avenue.

It is hoped that the flooded field along Tower Road, just north of 96th Avenue will attract some migrating shorebirds in the next few weeks.  Today we only found about 14 Killdeer.

A drive through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal found few birds.  The Greater Scaup count on Lower Derby Lake was up from four to six today.

Hundreds of Gulls were on Lake Ladora.   Unfortunately, except for two dozen California Gulls, the rest were Ring-billed Gulls.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Arapahoe County In a Snowstorm

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached only 30 degrees today; winds were 6+ mph, gusts to 12 mph.  Around noon, it started to snow rather rapidly.

Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir State Park while doing chores.  The 10 minute delay which lasted 20 minutes was frustrating.  Road construction should last a week or more.

It was snowing quite hard when we scoped the telephone poles lining the southwest marina.  A Glaucous Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull made the effort worthwhile.  Visibility was poor; the plan drive to Aurora Reservoir was scrubbed.

As expected, the Burrowing Owl observed yesterday was not out in the inclement weather today (Saturday, 3/22).

Search for Williamson's Sapsuckers (Jefferson County) and Burrowing Owls (Adams County)

 Richard Stevens:

On 3/22, I sent the following emails to the "cobirders" listserve.  Temperatures today were in the 40s; winds were less than 8 mph.

Hello cobirders;

Rebecca and I spent two hours at Genesee Mountain Park looking for Williamson's Sapsuckers.

We hiked to the top of the mountain. Total of four birds were observed: two Crows, one Townsend's Solitaire and one White breasted Nuthatch. We heard Pygmy Nuthatches but never saw them. The lack of birds was eerie.

Early date for WISA is well past but none today.

In spite of little wind, it was quite cold.

Continued Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Hello cobirders;

Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop this afternoon. One Burrowing Owl was standing on a prairie dog mound between the road and the fence on the west side. This is the prairie dog town 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.

Today 3/21 beats my previous early date of 3/23.

We saw 14 other raptors: one Ferruginous Hawk (over looking the same town), a pair of Northern Harriers, one Rough legged Hawk (getting late for them), a pair of American Kestrels, two Bald Eagles, and six Red tailed Hawks.

No Short eared Owls appeared this evening.

Continued Good Birding!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Eastern Plains Trek

March 17-20, 2014

Richard Stevens:

March 17

It can only be said the winds were ridiculous today.  "Steady at 32 mph with gusts to 48 mph, putting our binoculars on birds to say the least, was quite difficult.  Winds increased as we headed east.

Bryan and I started out searching unsuccessfully for the Rusty Blackbirds reported yesterday below the dam at Barr Lake (Adams County).  Nor was the Lesser Black-backed Gull reported several times the last few days found.

A Barn Owl perched in the tall cottonwoods near mile 7.2.

Our "eastern plains" trek continued to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  More than half a dozen Long-eared Owls continue to "winter"/hide in the windbreak along the western Campgrounds. 

One of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls took exception to our recordings and called back.  We were actually hoping to attract some migrating sparrows.  No uncommon sparrows appeared, however dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos "attacked" us.

Two Wilson's Snipes were found along the Bijou Creek at their traditional location.  Riverside Park and Morgan Ponds had few interesting birds.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker wandered around Brush Wildlife Area.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owls did not appear today.

Our birding day ended at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  A Red-bellied Woodpecker wandered below the dam.  We did not relocate the Rusty Blackbirds reported by David Dowell on 3/16.

March 18

Winds were not as bad as yesterday, if you consider 28 mph with gusts to 38 mph.  Using a scope to look over fields was close to impossible.  Most of the birds we observed today were being blown rapidly away.

Bryan Ehlmann and I walked around two hours before sunrise at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties).  Eastern Screech-Owls were heard below the dam (west of the eastern parking area) and at the outlet area.

The rest of our morning was spent driving around Sedgwick in search of Eastern Meadowlarks, Sprague's Pipits and other early migrants.  We had heard that a Sprague's Pipit was found farther south in Lincoln County.  In the end, none of our target birds was found.

In the afternoon, we met Roger Danka and visited several ranches in Sedgwick.  Seven Long-eared Owls were found at one ranch.  Two additional were at a second ranch.  A pair of Rusty Blackbirds walked around the S. Platte River bank at private ranch #2!

Migrating birds have not reached Sedgwick County yet (nor were they expected).

We enjoyed a barbecue while listening to Roger's resident Eastern Screech-Owls.

March 19

Bryan Ehlmann and I stopped at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area and Jumbo Reservoir several times throughout the day.  Winds were not as bad as the past two days (10 mph, gusts to 14 mph, temperatures in the 50s).

One of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls called from the northern end of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick Counties0.  Two Long-eared Owls were found between Jumbo Reservoir and Little Jumbo Reservoir.

Then we went over to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  A male Northern Cardinal wandered about the 1W section.  While Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found at 1W, the Hwy 55 bridge and several eastern sections.

Two Eastern Bluebirds fluttered about the 7E windbreak.  While a White-throated Sparrow was found around the old tamarack pond area.

We wandered around searching unsuccessfully for Burrowing Owls.  It is a few days before our early dates of 3/25.

Our birding day ended as we stood at the southeastern corner of Jumbo Reservoir (Sedgwick County Roads 24.8 & 3).  While being entertained by a superb sunset, a Short-eared Owl was spotted flying over the field to the southwest.

March 20

Bryan Ehlmann and I stopped Sterling Reservoir (Logan County) on our return to Denver.  Birding was slow; at least the high winds of the last three days had slowed to 8 mph, gusts to 10 mph.

We found a Thayer's Gull with many Ring-billed and a few Herring Gulls off the dam.  A Barn Owl was found at the southern end.

We also stopped at several Upland Sandpipers locations of past years.  None was found.  No Burrowing Owls were around yet.  No American Woodcock sightings heard about by our friends.

It was an uneventful day, although great weather!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Drive Through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 16, 2014

Richard Stevens:

What a fantastic late winter day.  Temperatures reached the 60s; winds were less than 8 mph.

Rebecca Kosten and I went for a drive through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  At least two Greater Scaup were still on Lower Derby Lake.

Waterfowl numbers on Derby were much higher than a week ago.  The 38 Canvasbacks looked spiffy in their new plumage.  Redheads, Buffleheads, Lesser Scaups, American Coots, Gadwalls and Mallards were among the 600+ ducks.

Three species of mergansers were all represented with a pair of each and two extra male Red-breasted Mergansers.  Five Canada Geese were the only "branta" representatives.

Lake Ladora had about 300+ gulls flying around.  Two Herring Gulls and six California Gulls were the only non-Ring-billed.

Sixty or so Bison were close to the fences today, good for those with that interest.

Our highlight was found as we left the park.  Two Sage Thrashers stood on the top of rabbit brush just outside the western fence line, west of the wildlife drive information kiosk near the Visitor's Center.

A few Red-tailed Hawks, two Rough-legged Hawks, one Ferruginous Hawk and a pair of American Kestrels were along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Wandering Around South and East Arapahoe/Douglas Counties

March 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Yesterday, Bryan Ehlmann and I almost went to De Koevend Park along Little Dry Creek (Arapahoe County) in an attempt to relocate the Eastern Screech-Owl reported Gloria Nikolai.  By the time, we returned to Denver, both of us were just too tired to drive across town in the traffic.

Today we continued our owl searches and relocated the Eastern Screech-Owl at De Koevend Park (Arapahoe County).

Afterwards we hiked the Highland Canal from East Quincy Avenue to East Belleview Avenue (Arapahoe).  Another Eastern Screech-Owl was found south of Quincy Avenue.  The large cottonwoods along this route offer many places for the owls to nest.

After dropping Bryan off, I picked up Rebecca Kosten and we drove to the Walker Pit just west of Franktown (Douglas County).

The earlier reported Eurasian Wigeon was still with a few American Wigeons in the northeast corner of the pond.

We passed Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home and stopped for 30 minutes.  Yesterday's reported Glaucous Gull was nowhere to be seen.  An adult Thayer's Gull was near the swim beach. 

Gulls come and go throughout the day; species can change at any time.  The predicted storm was rolling in from the west and we did not stay until sunset (departure at least an hour before).

Last fall I found a nice "shortcut" from Parker to Aurora Reservoir.  The route avoids the congested Parker Road to I225 route.  It goes through rural Douglas County into Arapahoe County.  Although the term "rural" is disappearing with the new homes popping up everywhere.  Leave a comment or email me if you would like directions.

Quiet Return to Denver

March 14, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Our eastern Colorado trip ended with little fanfare.  We had scouted our target areas suspecting that it was too early in the year for most of our desired birds.  About that thought, the Kiowa and Bent reservoirs were skipped.

A stop at Rocky Ford Wildlife Area (Otero County) added a Western Screech-Owl to our trip list.  Lake Henry and Lake Meredith access were closed to the areas we wanted to visit.

Limon (Lincoln County) added a few Lapland Longspurs and one McCown's Longspur, not much else.

The I70 Rest Stop at Bennett (Adams County) again had few birds, mostly House Sparrows.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kansas Back To Colorado

March 13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Northern Kansas, Oklahoma and southeastern Colorado enjoyed a beautiful late winter day.  Temperatures reached the high 60s; winds were steady 20 mph, gusts to 25 mph.

Bryan Ehlmann and I started our birding day at the eastern Elkhart, Kansas Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek.  Last year the number of Lesser Prairie-Chickens visiting the lek went from four early in the season to two by April.

Our fears that this lek has become a satellite lek (secondary for younger birds) may have come true.  This morning we only saw two birds.  We hope that it is merely early in the season and additional birds will visit later on in spring.

Few birds moved around the area.  Later in spring, the entrance road should have half a dozen or more species of sparrows, perhaps some Sage Thrashers and other birds.

We hiked over to the prairie dog town that is south and east of the oil tank road west of the oil tank along the main road.  Two Burrowing Owls were already on site there!

On the way back to Colorado, we drove several of the county roads north of highway 56.  We hoped for a Lark Bunting or Long-billed Curlew.  While neither of them was found, a single Mountain Plover walking around an agricultural field was a nice alternative!

We returned to Colorado by way of the Oklahoma County Roads north of Keyes.  We briefly hiked several roads/trails (Oklahoma) along the Cimarron River where owls might be.  Unfortunately, none was found and we continued north into Colorado.

From CR 45 and CR 2, we turned west to CR 36.  A detour to the Santa Fe Trail Aubrey Cutoff found two Vesper Sparrows flying around.

We then drove north to Baca County Road 36 and turned east toward the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken road (the lek road has been closed for years now due to lack of birds).  A Curve-billed Thrasher, a Burrowing Owl and several Vesper Sparrows were along CR 36 between the lek road and CR 36.

The dirt track leading north across from the lek entrance road is a good location for a walk.  In a few weeks or so, many sparrows traditionally will be observed in the tall grasses and on the fence line in the area.  None was there today.

Our target bird was a Cassin's Sparrow (early date is 4/16).  While we could not go up the lek road where they are usually observed performing their ritual mating flight in spring, there is another gravel road not far to the east (approximately 4.0 miles).  We hiked about two miles down this track without seeing any different birds (only a few Vesper Sparrows). 

In the past, I have found Lesser Prairie-Chickens down this dirt track.  It was a good place to camp for the night when desiring to visit the Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek the next morning.

By the way, a Northern Mockingbird was singing at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery (corner of CR 36 & G).

Our trek continued in a zigzag manner east and north and finally to Highway 160.  I have made several friends over the years and stopped at two ranches to say "Hi".  A Barn Owl was added to our trip list at one of them.

A White-throated Sparrow was found at Burchfield Wildlife Area (DD & 55.5 Roads). 

At Springfield, (we desperately needed gas, which almost turned into a terrible oversight), we drove south to the Washington Work Center.  Pasture G, across from the center, is a great location to find later in the year, nesting Burrowing Owls, possible nesting Long-billed Curlews and migrating Mountain Plovers, however not today yet.

Instead of taking the "boring" drive up Highway 285 to Lamar, we detoured back northeast to Turk's Pond.  Here we found the first warblers of our trip.  Just two Yellow-rumped Warblers, we had to start somewhere.  Just a few more weeks (or days) and warblers, vireos and sparrows should be entering southern Colorado.

Our interesting drive along the Baca County Roads took us into Prowers County and Holly.  Along the way, we found all three longspurs (mostly Lapland, a dozen McCown's and two Chestnut-collared).

We also added another Barn Owl (private ranch, Baca County) and two Eastern Screech-Owls (another private ranch, Prowers County).

At Holly we detoured east to the Holly Rest Stop (target bird Northern Bobwhite was not found).  We stretched our legs along the old Highway 50 road.  Our reward was a Field Sparrow about 200 yards west of the rest stop).  Misses, Northern Cardinals and Burrowing Owls (which nest in the large prairie dog town north of hwy 50).

After visiting a friend in Granada, we arrived in Lamar after dark.

Search for Gallinaceous Birds On the Eastern Colorado Plains

March 10, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I started our day back at the Yuma County Road 45 Greater Prairie-Chicken Leks.  At least five male birds displayed this morning.  No females were picked out.

Afterwards we drove CR 45 to CR 42 near the Kitzmueller Ranch.  Another male Greater Prairie-Chicken was observed crossing the road (near the Wray Museum Lek).

Passerines were again few today.  Temperatures reached the low 50s while winds were steady at 15 mph.

A White-throated Sparrow was at the eastern end of the motel parking area (Clay & North Railway Streets).

A search for the Barn Owl(s) at the Wray Fishing Unit/Stalker Ponds did not find them.  However, a Northern Cardinal was seen flying around Stalker Ponds.

A Harris's Sparrow was among many White-crowned, Song, and American Tree Sparrows at Sandsage Wildlife Area.

We stopped at a friend's ranch south of Yuma and were informed that Greater Prairie-Chickens had returned to his property (six to eight for a week or so now).  When in the area, I have to stop at the Main Event Bar & Grill in Yuma.  They have a fantastic breakfast burrito.

Beecher Island had no uncommon birds.  The history here is interesting and worth the stop (if you are into Colorado western history, it is the site of the last Indian battle of the west).

Once we arrived at Bonny Reservoir/Hale Ponds, three species of owls were found (and little else).  Long-eared Owls near Hale, later a Short-eared Owl flying over the field south of the maintenance area and Eastern Screech-Owl called during the night.

March 11, 2014

Bryan Ehlmann and I walked part of the Republican River (both east and west of the old Bonny Reservoir) this morning.  Temperatures today reached the low 50s; unfortunately, winds were 30 mph with gusts to 44 mph (seeing birds other than perched owls were quite difficult).

Two Eastern Screech-Owls called north of Hale Ponds (before sunrise).  A Short-eared Owl flew (or was blown) over the rolling hills south of the old wagon wheel Campgrounds area.  Long-eared Owls were found at Hale and the north side of Bonny Reservoir.

We looked for Barn Owls at their traditional nesting spots and Northern Saw-whet Owls at their wintering spots; without success.

Few passerines were found at the several old Campgrounds.  The draining of Bonny Reservoir has definitely harmed this once fantastic birding area.

We eventually found another Eastern Screech-Owl between highway 385 and the old Foster's Grove Campgrounds.  Six Wild Turkeys wandered along Yuma County Road 3.  For a brief time we thought an Eastern Meadowlark was singing just east of highway 385 & CR 3.  Once we put our binoculars on it, identification was a Western Meadowlark (singing the "wrong" song).

Moving South into Kit Carson County, we stopped at Fairview Cemetery in Burlington.  Unfortunately, no warblers were there today.  A Great Horned Owl was watching us from one of the pine trees.

Great-tailed Grackles were making racket at the McDonald's Restaurant.  Our first Red-headed Woodpecker of 2014 was seen at Parmer Park (northeast corner of hwy 385 & I70).

The rest of our day was uneventful.  Lapland Longspurs and two McCown's Longspurs were found on the drive to Lamar.

March 12, 2014

Bryan Ehlmann and I explored Lamar, CO (Prowers County) early in the morning.  While temperatures started around freezing, the day warmed up to the low 50s.  Winds were steady at 10 mph, gusts to 21 mph.

Two male and a female Northern Cardinals were found at the south end of Lamar Community College Woods.  While a male Red-bellied Woodpecker moved about the northern half.  Misses included White-winged Doves and Carolina Wrens.  I have not heard if the Carolina Wrens have been spotted this year (late May, 2013 is the last report I can find).

Great-tailed Grackles continue to harass people's ears at the Lamar Walmart.  No uncommon sparrows were found at the Mike Higbee Wildlife Area east of town.

We skipped Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca County) as construction has shutoff most access (it is possible to walk about the rocky cliffs and peer down into the area).

We took my favorite route to Cottonwood Canyon (Highway 160 to Baca CR 10, then south).  Soon in spring, Long-billed Curlews and Mountain Plovers may be seen between Hwy 160 and CR M (especially around CR R to T, if past years are repeated).

At M, we detoured eleven miles east to CR 18 and then south to Picture Canyon.  After Cottonwood Canyon, this is one of my favorite birding and camping places in Colorado.

Besides the Pictographs, birding can be quite good.  Today we found a Rufous-crowned Sparrow in the short rocky hills south of the parking (Picnic) area.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was calling from the short rocky hills west of the Pictograph area.  Misses, no Greater Roadrunners were around today.

Then we headed to Cottonwood Canyon (with a short stop at the Carrizo Creek Picnic area, no Greater Roadrunners along this road today).

Cottonwood Canyon is a superb location for Canyon Towhees, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Lewis's Woodpeckers, possible Red-headed Woodpeckers, Bewick's Wrens, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Chihuahuan Ravens, Greater Roadrunners (some years), and Western Screech-Owls.  Later in spring, Eastern Phoebes, Lark Sparrows, House Wrens, Lazuli Buntings, Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Common Poorwills, and with luck Painted Buntings and/or Northern Cardinals will visit.

Today we found six Chihuahuan Ravens, two Rufous-crowned Sparrows (1.4 miles southeast of camping area at CR 5 and Carrizo Creek), one Eastern Phoebe and a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker (last two along Carrizo Creek).  After dark, two Western Screech-Owls were found.

Pre-Tour for Gallinaceous Birds

March 9, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed east to complete our pre-tour inspection of the gallinaceous birds sites around Colorado.  Greater Prairie-Chickens, Lesser Prairie-Chickens, Northern Bobwhite, and Scaled Quail were our targets this trip.

Weather was pleasant for late winter.  Temperatures in the high 40s; winds were less than 10 mph.

We stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) on our way out of town.  It was our last chance to observe the gulls that have been wintering here (ice cover is disappearing and many of the gulls are scattering to other reservoirs).

Several hundred gulls stood on the shrinking ice shelf.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was among hundreds of Ring-billed, dozens of Herring and dozens of California Gulls.  There was no sign of the Glaucous Gull or Mew Gull reported recently.

We passed by Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) on the trip east (required backtrack because of forgotten equipment).  A quick hike down to the windbreaks along Ponds 6 to 8 found seven Long-eared Owls.  The recently reported Greater Scaup was not found (only ponds 5 through 8 were checked).

No Burrowing Owls are at the Prospect Valley Prairie Dog town (Weld County).  No Long-eared Owls were found at Bennett (Arapahoe County).  Bennett Rest Stop had few birds.  Few birds were visiting the Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington County).

Rainbow Park in Wray had few birds; however, we observed a pair of Rusty Blackbirds along the Republican River when we walked back to the Sandhiller Motel.  We had noticed a Great Horned Owl in the tall cottonwoods north of the River and west of highway 385.

Our birding day ended with a drive down Yuma County Road 45.  Two Greater Prairie-Chickens displayed on the lek.  Several others were heard north of CR 45 (over hills, not observed).

Birding Around Adams County

March 8, 2014

Richard Stevens:

There was a break in the snowy weather today.  No snow, temperatures in the 40s, winds 10 mph.

Rebecca Kosten and I passed by the South Platte Birding Area and Rocky Mountain Arsenal (both Adams County) while returning from the S. Platte River at the downtown aquarium (Denver County).  It was a rather chilly day, temperatures in the low 40s; winds were less than 10 mph.

We did not relocate today the Long tailed Duck and American Dippers along the South Platte River near the Ocean Journey Aquarium, Water Street, Denver County.

Then we hiked upstream along the S. Platte River from Colorado Blvd and 88th avenue.  No Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the river.  However, on our return trip a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was found on the northern West Gravel Lake (note they could move to the southern or western lakes or the river or East Gravel Lake, all are ice free now).

We drove through the arsenal in search of the recently reported Thayer's Gull.  No Thayer's Gull, we found a male Greater Scaup among dozens of ducks on Lower Derby Lake.  Ducks included high number of Canvasbacks, Redheads, Mallards, Gadwall, American Coots, one Western Grebe and one Horned Grebe.

A Double-crested Cormorant was perched above Lake Ladora.  Eight three gulls were all Ring-billed.

A Snowy Trip Around Denver

March 7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

A relatively mild winter continued.  Temperatures almost reached 40 degrees; winds were 12 mph, gusts to 19 mph.  It started to snow around 1:00 pm.

Rebecca and I drove down to the southwest corner of Denver today.  The Brant was seen covered in snow at the southeast corner of Redstone Park (Douglas County).

The male Barrow's Goldeneye continued to swim around below the dam at the northwest corner of Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).

Two Greater Scaup swam around the southeast corner of the South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

Snow was heavier when we reached Littleton Historic Park (Jefferson County).  The male Greater Scaup was swimming around with half a dozen Ring-necked Ducks at the southeast corner of Ketring Lake.

Snowfall was heavy enough by 4:30 pm to cover the car windows in 15 minutes.  Visibility was reduced and we drove the 30+ miles home.

Scouting for Grouse Trips

March 4-6, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Jan Usher and I decided to try for the grouse in the northwestern quadrant of Colorado.  We hoped to sneak in and out of the mountains between snowstorms.  For the most part, we missed the heavy stuff, however were forced to drive on some snowy roads.

March 4

We had no luck finding any White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County).  Winds were 30+ mph and visibility was poor.  Jan could not walk far in the high altitude, which limited the areas searched to those along Highway 6.

All three Rosy Finches, Pine Grosbeaks, Clark's Nutcrackers, three species of nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, and Black-capped Chickadees were found in Silverthorne (Summit County).

Seven Barrow's Goldeneyes were swimming on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond.

We arrived at the Jackson County Road 26 Greater Sage-Grouse leks in a snowstorm.  No Greater Sage-Grouse came out in the bad weather (must be smarter than us).

March 5

We spent the night in Craig and headed north to the Greater Sage-Grouse leks about two hours before sunrise.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were found along Moffat County Road 4 (just east of the cattle guard).

We heard Greater Sage-Grouse booming at the Timberlake Lek.  Visibility was poor and they were too far away to see.

Back in Craig after a terrible breakfast at Village Inn (why do I eat there?), we drove down Ranney Street to Loudy Simpson Park (Moffat).  Nothing was moving around the park; however, two Bohemian Waxwings were in the cottonwoods along Ranney Street (Highway 394) just south of Loudy Simpson Park and the Yampa River.

A drive down highway 13 to the Yampa River found six Barrow's Goldeneyes swimming upstream of the highway.

We checked the 80 Route for road conditions.  There is no way to get to the Greater Sage-Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse and Dusky Grouse locations down the road.  It appears that access maybe late May this year.

No Sharp-tailed Grouse came to the 20 Road leks (Routt County) at sunset.

March 6, 2014

Back at the 20 Road Leks (Routt County), Jan and I enjoyed success this cold morning (21 degrees at 9:00 am).  Two Sharp-tailed Grouse flew from the east and landed at the leks west of 27 Road (do not know why locals call it the 20 Road leks)?

Most of the rest of our day was spent around Steamboat Springs.  The highlight was 40+ Bohemian Waxwings at the Yampa River Crossing at Routt County Road 22.

Pine Grosbeaks and Evening Grosbeaks were found in the Fish Creek area.  We missed Sharp-tailed Grouse which sometimes roost and feed in the area.

The American Three-toed Woodpecker pair that live along the maintenance shed road on Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand County) did not appear today.  No Red or White-winged Crossbills were found either.

At sunset, we watched two Greater Sage-Grouse on the CR 26 Leks.

Later we heard a Boreal Owl at Cameron Pass.

Afternoon Trip to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

March 3, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Snowy and cold weather limited our choice of birding locations today.  Jan Uster and I went to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  We managed to relocate 10 Long-eared Owls mostly in the windbreak along Ponds 6 to 8.

Several were in the windbreak at Pond 13 and a Great Horned Owl was in the cottonwoods at Pond 12.

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Snowy Day at Reynolds Park

March 2, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Jan Uster and I drove up to Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) and arrive 30 minutes before sunrise.  No Northern Pygmy-Owls could be found this morning.

Later we hiked up to the top of Eagle's View.  A female American Three-toed Woodpecker was just northeast of the intersection of the three trails: Oxen Draw, Eagle's View & Raven's Roost.

We missed Dusky Grouse and Northern Pygmy-Owls.  All three species of nuthatches and two Red Crossbills were encountered.

We stopped and relocated the Brant at Redstone Park (Douglas County) on the trip back to Denver.

A Snowy Day Around Denver

March 1, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I birded a little around Adams County today.  Snow and temperatures in the 20s limited our drive.

Little moved around Barr Lake.  Thousands of geese were in the field at the corner of Tower Road and 128th avenue.  These included five Snow Geese and one Ross's Goose.

Few birds moved around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake are still ice covered.  Nothing responded to recordings played at the Ladora cattails (Virginia Rail tape) or Marys Lake (Swamp Sparrow tape).

Bison were the highlight of our drive.

A Few Snowy Days In the Northern Mountains

February 23 to 28, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I spent a few days up in the mountains.  We stayed inside during several snowstorms.  Between the storms, I was able to snowshoe around several areas.  When winds died down, the quiet forest had only birds singing and the sound of the snowshoes moving through the powder.

On the trip up on 2/23, we stopped and heard two Boreal Owls calling at dusk south of the Crags Campgrounds, just west of Cameron Pass (Jackson County).

On 2/24, we drove into Steamboat Springs.  The female American Three-toed Woodpecker cooperated and flew over the maintenance shed road off highway 40 (Grand County).  The several crossbills that flew around were all Red Crossbills. White-winged Crossbills have been reported in the area again this winter.

Thanks to Teresa Moulton, we relocated the 22+ Bohemian Waxwings at the Yampa River Crossing at Routt County Road 22!

A friend and I took his snowmobiles north of Steamboat Springs.  Unfortunately, we did not run into any Dusky Grouse.

On 2/25, we drove up Jackson County Road 26 toward the Greater Sage-Grouse leks.  A Greater Sage-Grouse crossed CR 26 at approximately 200 yards west of highway 14.  It was a good thing, as the road was too snow covered to make it to the leks.

Later we saw 14+ Rosy Finches (no Black Rosy Finches) coming to the feeders behind the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

It was snowing quite heavy in the afternoon and we retreated to the warm cabin.

On 2/26, it snowed most of the day.  During a short lull, I drove back to Larimer County and snow shoed up the Zimmerman Lake Trail.  Regrettably, no White-winged Crossbills were run across.  I did savor much the solitude of the snow covered trail and forest.

On 2/27, snow continued most of the day.  We made it over to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center and again observed 14+ Rosy Finches (no Black).

We did not find the resident American Three-toed Woodpecker that wanders the north side of highway 14 (across from the Visitor's Center).

I cross-country skied into the Colorado State Forest to North Michigan Reservoir.  Nothing uncommon was encountered.

After dark, I heard two Boreal Owls calling just west of Cameron Pass (Jackson County).

On 2/28, there was a brief break in the weather and we headed back to Denver by way of Fort Collins.

We had heard about the Long-tailed Duck near downtown Denver and stopped there before turning for home.

February 28, 2014

Email sent to cobirders by Jacob Washburn:

Hello birding people,

Ray Simmons and I went to Water Street and the aquarium. Who do we meet but Rich and Rebecca Stevens. At 5:00 pm it was too dark for good photos, only witness shots. The Long tailed Duck was on the S Platte River just south of the aquarium.

For those not familiar with the convoluted streets down there: take 15th street (not Colfax) west to Platte Street (REI on southeast corner). Follow Platte Street south, turns into Water Street. Just north of the aquarium there is a parking lot on left, east. Walk south down path. This is Denver County.