Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Birding Around Boulder County On a Windy Day

April 30, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I decided to bird in Boulder County today.  Winds were not as strong as yesterday (but still 18 mph, gusts to 27 mph).  Temperatures reached the middle 60s.

A quick detour to Rocky Mountain Lake (Denver County) found the Long-tailed Duck swimming at the north end of the lake.

Winds in Boulder were much faster than Denver.  We eventually found the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Townsend's Warbler, and Plumbeous Vireo reported previously by many birders.

The Summer Tanager and Nashville Warbler escaped us.  The Golden-crowned Sparrow at Teller Lake # 5 also was a no show.

Traffic forced us to skip returning to Barr Lake (Adams County) to see if the Glossy and White-faced Ibis were still at the field east of 152nd and Picadilly Road.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Trip to Guanella Pass

April 28-29, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) in search of White-tailed Ptarmigan and Owls.

We hiked the four miles round trip to the top of the Pass.  Five Ptarmigan were found below the huge rock on the south-southeast hillside.  American Pipits and several White-crowned Sparrows were heard. 

Evidently, no Brewer's Sparrows have migrated up there yet?  The Brewer's Sparrows that nest up there are most likely to someday be split and called Timberline Sparrows.  They sound different and do look slightly different from the Brewer's Sparrows found on the plains.

Winds were quite fast 27 mph, gusts to 41 mph.  Temperatures were in the 20s.

We camped at Kenosha Pass (Park County); no owls were heard during the night.

Winds increased to 31 mph, gusts to 53 mph the next morning.  It started to snow late in the morning.

We briefly heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl up Michigan Creek Road (Park County) shortly after sunrise.  Getting out of our warm sleeping bags an hour before sunrise was close to torture, however, necessary.

A Dusky Grouse displayed right on Michigan Creek Road (Georgia Pass) about 0.3 miles west of the traditional American Three-toed Woodpecker and Northern Pygmy-Owl location.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was enticed to come out of the woods while we played a drumming recording (for only 20 seconds)!  He was up the trail at 4.1 miles west of the Michigan Creek Campgrounds.

Snow started to fall faster and we decided not to drive south to the Park County Reservoirs (Antero, Eleven Mile Reservoir & Spinney Mountain Reservoir).  More snow was predicted and we did not feel like driving on icy/snowy roads this afternoon.

Winds were 37 mph, gusts to 49 mph as we passed the road to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  A search for Northern Pygmy-Owls and Flammulated Owls around the Park will have to wait for another day.

Jackson Reservoir and Northeast of Barr Lake

April 27, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I accompanied two Illinois birders to Jackson Reservoir in search of Long-eared Owls.  Eventually we found three of them in the western Campgrounds.

A Cassin's Vireo and Black-and-white Warbler were seen between the Pelican and Cove Campgrounds.  Dozens of Marbled Godwit were along the western shore.

After dropping my birding companions off at the airport, I picked up Rebecca Kosten and we returned to Broomley Lane (152nd avenue).  Glossy Ibis had been reported earlier in the day just east of Picadilly Road.

A flock of 100+ White-faced Ibis was feeding quite close to 152nd avenue (just east of the old tree nursery at Picadilly Road).

Among the White-faced Ibis, I picked out at least three Glossy Ibis.  Two possible hybrid White-faced X Glossy Ibis were interesting also.

Other birds around the flooded field included a male Great-tailed Grackle and four Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 26, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal on this beautiful spring day.  Temperatures were in the high 60s, winds were calm.

It was such a pleasant day, that we decided to hike the 3 mile trail (round trip) to the Rod & Gun Club Bird Blind and Pond.  A Gray Flycatcher was fluttering about the cottonwoods just north of the bird blind.  A Willet stood on a small muddy island at the south end of the pond.

Bison including a newborn were quite close to the main road.  No uncommon birds came to the feeders (filled) at the contact station.

Burrowing Owls continue at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.  A few Horned Larks, two Swainson's Hawks, two Red-tailed Hawks and a Ferruginous Hawk were observed along the DIA Owl Loop.

Drive Around the DIA Owl Loop

April 25, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Finally kept my promise to my feet and did not put on hiking boots today.

While out doing chores (in sandals), I drove through the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County).  At least seven Burrowing Owls have set up summer residence at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.

Regrettably, the flooded field, which attracted the Red Phalarope and many shorebirds along Tower Road, 0.1 miles north of 96th avenue, has dried up.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Search for Flammulated Owls In Teller County

April 22-24, 2014

Richard Stevens:

April 22

I broke another promise to my feet.  After the last 9 day birding trip, I promised not to put on hiking boots for two days.  The Northern Parula Sinton Pond required a search and I took off for Colorado Springs.

Unfortunately, the bird was not found; I missed it by a day.  Neither was the Rusty Blackbird reported a few days earlier.

Eighty miles from home, I decided to search for owls and other birds.  A drive up to Green Mountain Falls (Teller County) did not find any Black Swifts.  None was expected as they migrant late in spring; someone has to discover the "early date".

Manitou Lake was slow.  The Black Phoebe (4/20) and Rusty Blackbird (4/19) were not found.  A few common birds were not surprising.

A walk around the Manitou Experimental Forest found one Red-naped Sapsucker, no American Three-toed Woodpeckers, etc. 

After dark, I searched my five most successful locations for Flammulated Owls.  Three of the spots were quiet.  Two locations along Michigan Creek and Michigan Ditch added one Flammulated Owl each to my trip list.

April 23

A walk around Pikes Peak did not find any Rosy Finches or White-tailed Ptarmigan.  The rumor is that any White-tailed Ptarmigan on Pikes Peak were hunted to extinction years ago.  Other rumors have a few sightings in the past couple of years.  Neither was found.

In the afternoon, I hiked up the northwestern side of Pikes Peak (by way of the Crags Campground).  Again, no Ptarmigan or Rosy Finches were found.

Two Williamson's Sapsuckers were the highlight of my daylight birding.

After dusk, I managed to find two Northern Pygmy-Owls within a 1/2 mile of the Campgrounds.

April 24

Two additional Flammulated Owl locations were checked a couple of hours before sunrise; without success. 

The Flammulated Owl nesting tree at Mueller State Park appeared not to be occupied.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker hunted nearby and turned out to be the highlight of the day.

I should have checked my email.  A Little Blue Heron was reported a dozen miles to the east of my trek (at Mallard Pond, El Paso County).

Finally, I made it home and took off my hiking boots (hopefully for all day Friday)!

Long Grouse Trip Around Colorado

April 14-21, 2014

Richard Stevens:

April 14

Sandi & Bob Duchesne and I finally started on our 9/8 day grouse trip after birding in snow and blizzard conditions yesterday.  Total mileage: 3430 miles.

Loveland Pass was open when we arrived.  However, winds were 24+ mph with gusts measured at 37 mph.  Between clouds of snow blowing across the landscape, we still could not pick out a White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Plans to visit Loveland Pass later in the trip, did not materialize. 

After finding three species of Rosy Finches in Summit County, we continued to Jackson County and the Greater Sage-Grouse Leks along CR 26.  A 14 Greater Sage-Grouse came to the lek while after sunset (some snow falling).

April 15

We visited the 20 Road Leks (Routt County) at first light and watched a dozen Sharp-tailed Grouse "do their thing".  Only one female was picked out among the males running around in the tall grasses.

Next, we visited the 80 Road Leks in hope of finding one of the resident Dusky Grouse.  No Dusky Grouse displayed this morning.  Greater Sage-Grouse appeared to be done for the morning.  Sharp-tailed Grouse on the other hand were not.  We counted 14 Sharp-tailed Grouse still displaying at one of the leks.

No Barrow's Goldeneyes were found on the Yampa River (Moffat) as we passed on our way to Rifle (Highway 13).  Perch Pond was void of birds altogether.

After missing Chukar for 54 hours over 13 days, Coal Canyon's Chukars were generous.  A male Chukar stood on a larger rock near the parking area and called for over 30 minutes.  Another Chukar wandered below the rock (female?).

A dozen or so Black-throated Sparrows and dozens of Rock Wrens also sang around the parking area.  It was more Rock Wrens than I had ever observed in one spot before.

We had much time before sunset and drove to Baxter Pass Road.  Unfortunately, we could not locate any of the Sagebrush Sparrows found last week.  The resident Long-eared Owls were also missed. 

A stop at several locations in Grand Junction did not produce a Western Screech-Owl sighting.

Finally, we headed up the Grand Mesa.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were enticed to appear around the Powderhorn Ski Area this afternoon.  The highlight was a calling Northern Saw-whet Owl near the National Forest Sign a few miles south of the entrance to Powderhorn!

We searched several hours for Boreal Owls.  While briefly hearing one call close to the Visitor's Center, no great evidence of them being around was collected.

A final stop at Powderhorn Ski Area did not produce a Northern Pygmy-Owl sighting and we left for the motel.

April 16

A drive up to the Campgrounds at the Colorado National Monument was quite satisfying.  We found Pinyon Jays in the Campgrounds and along the trail north of the Visitor's Center.  Juniper Titmice were also found at both locations.

Instead of driving the 23 miles through the Colorado National Monument, we decided to try for the Lucy's Warblers in Yellow Jacket Canyon instead.  The 280-mile trip took almost 6 hours to get to Cortez.  Then it took another 45 minutes to drive the 22 miles to Yellow Jacket Canyon.

Yellow Jacket Canyon is located in a high plains desert habitat.  Once we drove as far as possible in our 4-wheel drive, it required a hike of 1.2 miles to reach the lush riparian area along Yellow Jacket Canyon Creek. 

The trickle of this creek provides water for plush trees and wildlife (birds).  The canyon has an impressive bird checklist!

While we were never sure of previous instructions, the three of us hiked down the canyon to the last open gate.  Then we continued to the end of the trail (stopped by the creek, about another mile or so).  Rock Wrens continuously called from the rocky hillside as we made our way down the trail.

On the way back, we first heard and then observed two Lucy's Warblers.  One stayed high in the cottonwoods now leafing in the spring sun.  While the second Lucy's Warbler called from deep in the thickets.  (Look around the only large snag along the trail, east of the last open gate).

A Black-throated Gray Warbler and Ash-throated Flycatcher were also found high in the cottonwoods.  A couple of Bushtits also came by.  While a Gambel's Quail called from under the same bush as the sulking Lucy's Warbler.  Several Spotted Towhees flew across the trail in front of us.

The rare Colorado warblers and the beautiful scenery made the hike quite a superb experience!

April 17

Our goal today was to visit the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose) at dusk.  The six-hour drive back from Yellow Jacket Canyon left us with a few hours "to kill" (bird) before heading to the National Park.

We stopped at the Eckert Post Office and watched two Lewis's Woodpeckers fly about the cottonwoods to the south of the building.

Fruitgrower's Reservoir had a few American Coots and many Western Grebes.  No Clark's Grebes could be picked out among the grebes, which were quite far from the northern shore.

A single Bonaparte's Gull flew around the shallow field north of the reservoir proper.  Shorebirds were non-existent. 

Finally, we drove to the National Monument.  The gate at the Visitor's Center was open and we were allowed to drive to the western end of the park (South Rim Drive self-auto tour).

We listened for Northern Pygmy-Owls without hearing any (good place to check, highly successful on previous trips).

Eventually we found three Dusky Grouse.  The first was one of the most interesting sightings we ever experience.

A lone male was a good 90 yards in front of our vehicle.  When Bob stepped out of the car (behind the car), the Dusky Grouse ran down the road, circled the car, then attacked Bob.  The bird kept biting Bob's pants as I drove away to give them both room.

Bob tried to walk to the car, which was now 50 yards away.  The Dusky Grouse caught up with him and grabbed Bob's pants again.  Bob repeated the walk, and then ran toward the car, which I had moved another 50 yards up the road.

Finally, Bob broke out in a full run and reached the car.  Just a few yards ahead of the attacking Dusky Grouse, Bob jumped in the car and I took off.  The Dusky Grouse followed the car for another 30 yards or so, before giving up his chase. 

Clearly, we had accidentally entered the Dusky Grouse's territory.  The territory appeared to be quite large and defendable.

April 18

Our birding day started at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek (Gunnison County).  Winds were mild and temperatures were in the high 30s (it felt much warmer than last week's visit, 10 degrees).

We only observed seven Gunnison Sage-Grouse this morning.  Last trip there were 41+ birds, which departed shortly after sunrise.  This morning a couple of birds did not leave until an hour or so after sunrise.

Our trek continued east and we stopped at Monarch Pass (Gunnison).  Two male American Three-toed Woodpeckers drummed from the south side of highway 50.  Half a dozen Gray-crowned Rosy Finches fluttered about the firs while we watched the Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Then another male was drumming from the north side of highway 50.  Eventually this male flew to the south side of the highway and only 12 feet or so directly overhead!  He was low enough to give us good looks at his yellow crowned head!

A stop at the BLM Land at Highway 285 and Saguache County Road 390 was interesting.  While we found no Sagebrush Sparrows, a dozen Sage Thrashers sang from the sagebrush.  A male Black-throated Gray Warbler flew low over the brush and came within 20 feet of us.  He seemed out of place in this treeless habitat.  A Western Kingbird was the first of the season for us!

Our plans changed once again and we decided to search for our target Sagebrush Sparrows, perhaps White-tailed Ptarmigan and Boreal Owls in the San Luis Valley. 

I purchased the last copy of John Rawinski's "Birding Hotspots of South-central Colorado" that could be found at the Forest Service Office in Del Norte.  After consulting the book, it was determined that any access roads to White-tailed Ptarmigan and Boreal Owls were closed due to snow (at least for another month or so).

Instead, we drove Forest Roads 600 and 650 in search of Gray Flycatchers.  None was found; it was probably too early in the season for them to arrive in the valley.

Next, we drove into Conejos County and John James Canyon to search for Sagebrush Sparrows.  During a 3-mile hike into the canyon, no Sagebrush Sparrows were found.  We did see many Rock Wrens, two Sage Thrashers and one male Black-throated Sparrow.

Fortunately one the drive out of the canyon, a Sagebrush Sparrow perched on Sagebrush and allowed us excellent views.  The ravine about 1/2 mile from the open gate into the canyon supplied brief views of two additional Sagebrush Sparrows.

April 19

Our troop departed the San Luis Valley and took Highway 160 east toward Springfield.  Along the way, six Long-billed Curlews were found.

Two were along Baca County Road 16 at 0.4 miles north of CR R; another two were 0.1 miles north of CR R.

Cottonwood Canyon is always a pleasure to bird.  While no target birds were expected (we would have liked a Gray Flycatcher) the canyon is always filled with birds.  These included Canyon Towhees, Spotted Towhees, Eastern Phoebes, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, another Western Kingbird and Chipping Sparrows.  Even a couple of my nemeses Rufous-crowned Sparrows appeared for us!

The old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek road has been closed to birders for five or six years now.  Besides the Lesser Prairie-Chickens, it was always a good road to provide sightings of Cassin's Sparrows.  In the mornings, male Cassin's Sparrows would fly up and sing while performing their ritual mating flight.

With that in mind, I decided to stop at the gravel road running north from just east of the old Campo Lek Road.  Most years, six or seven species of sparrows can be seen along this road (within 1 mile of Baca County Road G).

It must have been early in the season, for only two species were observed.  Many Vesper Sparrows flew about the grasses.  Two Cassin's Sparrows were found among them!

While my companions went to dinner, I hooked up with Terry Michaels and Jerry Petrosky.  Terry had found a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the Fort Lyons Wildlife Easement along Bent County Road JJ, east of CR 19.  They did not find Black Rails.

I offered to "trade" a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher sighting for a Black Rail sighting.  We rushed west to the Wildlife Easement.  The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was farther west then its first location, however, we all saw it again!

Later I played a recording and two Black Rails responded!

April 20

While my trip companions went to Granada to see the Lesser Prairie-Chickens at the Arena Dust Ranch, I met Jerry Petrosky and we birded around Lamar.  It was a beautiful Easter morning with sunshine and little wind.

We found two Northern Cardinals and a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the Lamar Community College woods.  Then the Black-and-white Warbler found yesterday by Terry Michaels made an appearance!  We briefly observed a Hawk, which most likely was one of the Broad-winged Hawks reported earlier by Scott Sever.  Our looks were too brief to state for sure.

Jerry dropped me off and I walked from the motel to the small park (North Lake Park) along the Arkansas River, north of Lamar.  Few birds were on the water, however, a Harris's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow flew around the tall grasses to the south.

Later in the afternoon, Sandi & Bob Duchesne went to look at Greater Prairie-Chickens on the Bledsoe Ranch.  I instead chose to bird the Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond (Yuma County).

It was an excellent choice and chance.  The two Eastern Phoebes (probably nesting) were along the outlet canal along Yuma County Road FF.  A House Wren called from deep in the riparian area.

A Harris's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow were along the entrance road to the Fishing Unit.  Unfortunately, the area closed before I could walk deeper into the property.

Instead, I walked back to Stalker Ponds and enjoyed my best birding day ever there.  A Common Tern flew around the small lake and called constantly.  Several times, it flew directly overhead.

A small horseshoe shaped mudflat at the western end held eleven Marbled Godwits and a Willet.  While a male Northern Cardinal sang from the Russian Olive trees just west of there.

I tried to circle the lake but found the trail blocked by a fence at the northwest corner.  Instead of backtracking along the southern side of the lake, I chose to walk the western and southern perimeter of the park.

It was a most fortunate choice.  A sparrow popped up several times from the tall wild grasses. I immediately could tell it was an "Ammodramus" sparrow by its shape.  It had a yellowish face with dark streaks across its breast and while belly.

In the four or five times it flew up, moved a dozen feet and dropped back down into the grasses, I could see that it was not a Le Conte's Sparrow.  Its face was not orange enough and it lacked a well-defined lateral throat stripe.

Several additional looks and I ruled out a Grasshopper Sparrow, as the breast stripes were dark and well defined.  Finally, it landed for about 20 seconds on top of a rabbit brush.  There was no rufous in the coverts and tertials.

My final look was the bird looking directly at me.  The narrow breast band with streaks and light yellow color of head, cinched the ID; it was a Baird's Sparrow!  A great end to my birding day!  I walked the two miles back to the Sandhiller Motel.

April 21

After Sandi and Bob returned from watching the Greater Prairie-Chickens display on the Bledsoe Ranch, we headed east, eventually hoping to search again for Chestnut-collared Longspurs near the Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld).

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) and found that two of the wintering Long-eared Owls continued at the Campgrounds.

We passed by the field at Weld County Roads 86 and 96.  We did not find the Mountain Plover, which has been reported there several times.

The rest of our short day was spent searching for Chestnut-collared Longspur; without success.  Many McCown's Longspurs, no Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Snowy Day on the Pawnee National Grasslands

April 13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Sandi, Bob and I delayed our trip to Loveland Pass today.  Snow predictions were up to 8 inches in Denver and 24 inches in the mountains.  Temperatures remained around 28 degrees; winds 14 mph, gusts to 26 mph.

Instead, we drove up to the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld County).  It snowed off and on during our trek.  No Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found at the field along highway 85 and Weld County Road 114.  A dozen McCown's Longspurs were there.

Approximately 450 McCown's Longspurs were observed on the gravel roads as we headed southeast toward Briggsdale.

One Mountain Plover was found (location to remain anonymous as it is on a traditional nesting field).  It has been on site since 3/29/2014.

Snow started to fall faster at 4:00 pm and we returned to Denver.

A Quick Drive Around Northern Denver

April 12, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Jerry Petrosky and I passed by Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County) and stopped for 30 minutes.  The Golden-crowned Sparrow and slate colored Sparrow briefly came out of the bushes and searched for food below the platform feeder.

Nothing else uncommon was seen.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) was slow. We could not relocate the Greater Scaup that had been around for several weeks.

Only a couple of Killdeer were at the flooded field along Tower Road, 0.1 miles north of 96th avenue.  Unfortunately, the flooded field is drying up rapidly.  We hoped a few migrating shorebirds would stop for food and rest.

Five Burrowing Owls were observed at the prairie dog village at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Another Grouse Trip, 2014

April 1-8, 2014

Richard Stevens:

April 1
Aaron Budgor, Marvin Kwit and I headed out to search for the gallinaceous birds of Colorado.

Our first stop was Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County).  Unfortunately, winds were 28+ mph, gusts to 40+ mph.  Blowing snow reduced visibility.  No White-tailed Ptarmigan were found.  We planned to return on our last day.  It should be noted that tunnel construction has created massive traffic jams.

After searching for mountain species in Silverthorne (Rosy Finches, Pine Siskins, Pygmy Nuthatches, etc) we continued north to Jackson County.

No Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County).

Our birding day ended under cloudy skies, winds 24+ mph and off and on snow.  No Greater Sage-Grouse appeared at the County Road 26b leks while it was still light enough to see them.

April 2
We returned to the Jackson County Road 26b leks.  Skies were partly cloudy, winds 10 mph, temperatures in the 20s.  Eventually 21 Greater Sage-Grouse, all males, came to the lek!

After breakfast, we drove east to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Pine Siskins, Red-winged Blackbirds and one Gray-crowned Rosy Finch came to the feeders behind the Visitor's Center.  Our target birds Pine Grosbeak and Gray Jays did not show up this morning.

On the drive to Steamboat Springs (Routt), we stopped at the road to the maintenance sheds on Rabbit Ears pass.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were enticed to make an appearance.

As a consolation, a flock of 24+ male and female Red Crossbills flew back and forth across the road.  A male White-winged Crossbill was of great interest!

We drove around Steamboat Springs in search of the Sharp-tailed Grouse that winter around town.  Unfortunately, we could not find any.  Again, Pine Grosbeaks also escaped us.

April 3

Our day started at the 20 Road Leks in Routt County.  Eventually 21 Sharp-tailed Grouse flew to the lek and displayed.

On the trip back to Steamboat Springs, we detoured to the 80 Route Leks.  Several reports of Sharp-tailed Grouse and Greater Sage-Grouse have come in this spring.  We found the road muddy and not passable in our 4-wheel drive vehicle due to snowdrifts.

After breakfast, we turned around and headed to Craig (Moffat).  Just outside of town, a dark Hawk with wide tail bands attracted our attention.  At first, we thought it to be an adult Common Black Hawk.  Unfortunately, after further review we decided it was an adult dark morph Broad-winged Hawk.

NOTE: later we looked at the only photo I took before the hawk flew over the mountain.  It clearly showed an adult Zone-tailed Hawk!!!

No Barrow's Goldeneyes were found along the Yampa River south of Craig (where they had wintered).  No birds were on Perch Pond about 20 miles south of Craig.

We continued to Coal Canyon at Cameo.  A 30-minute search for Chukar was not successful and it was decided to try again tomorrow morning.

Our search for Boreal Owls on the Grand Mesa needed complete dark.  With hours to spare, we searched unsuccessfully for American Three-toed Woodpeckers at the Powderhorn Ski Area (Mesa County), and then continued to the Grand Mesa Lodge.

The feeders at the Grand Mesa Lodge were empty and odds of finding a Pine Grosbeak or Gray Jay seemed futile. 

We continued south into Delta County and Fruitgrower's Reservoir.  The lake itself had few birds (Western Grebes, American Coots).  The swallow flooded field to the north hosted Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal and Green-winged Teal.  Two Willets were considered early migrants.

Several dozen Sandhill Cranes were found below the dam on the west side of the reservoir.  A stop at nearby Evelyn Horn's home did not find any Lewis's Woodpeckers flying around her large cottonwoods.

As luck would have it, we stopped for gas next to the Eckert post office.  A Lewis's Woodpecker flew around the trees behind the building adding a nice bird to our trip list.

With an hour of sunlight remaining, we returned to the Grand Mesa.  No Dusky Grouse appeared along Highway 65 as we drove to the summit (sometimes they do walk across the highway at dusk).

We checked the road east of the Visitor's Center and stopped at many of the pullovers along the snow-lined highway.  Only one Boreal Owl called briefly this night. 

Winds were calm and the temperature was 0 degrees during our search.  In my experience (about 40 trips), I have never had success on the three nights when there was no wind.  This I cannot figure out, as it would seem it was a perfect night for them to call?

April 4

We were back at the closed gate up Coal Canyon early this morning.  Winds were 5+ mph, temperatures in the middle 20s.  No Chukar were lured out this morning.  One Chukar did call from the rocky hillside behind the old stone house near the entrance to the canyon.   It was never seen, just tempting us to stay longer.

Instead of driving the while 23 miles of the Colorado National Monument, we drove to the Campgrounds from the northern (western) entrance.  Shortly we found our target birds, Juniper Titmice and Pinyon Jays.   It was too early for Gray Flycatchers and Gray Vireos; perhaps they will be around next week.

Several Gambel's Quail were walking around the subdivision just outside the southern (eastern) entrance as we passed by.

Our next stop was a two hour drive down Escalante Canyon (Delta).  It is a frustrating trip for me because my record was 54 hours of missing Chukar over 13 days.  FRUSTRATING!

We drove, walked and scoped the hillside, never found a Chukar.  Then as we departed my not too favorite canyon, two Chukar were found in the long, green cultivated field just east of the old goat farm.  Chukar are not extinct after all!

Our final stop of the day was to be the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose County).  We found the gate closed at the Visitor's Center (best, more Dusky Grouse are found at the western end of the South Rim Drive).  Snowdrifts close the south rim drive at the Visitor's Center most years until late May.

On advice of another birder, we walked west past the closed gate (legal to walk).  A Dusky Grouse was found about 1/2 mile in around the only taller evergreen along the south side of the road.

While my companions photographed the displaying male, I continued west and found another Dusky Grouse about 0.2 miles farther down the road (near the only evergreen tree along the north side of the road).

On the drive out, we found a third male Dusky Grouse displaying along the south side of the road (at about 0.25 miles west of the intersection with the Campgrounds).  In my experience, most of the Dusky Grouse remain "loyal" to their displaying spots and should be easy to relocate on future trips (of course giving them plenty of room to "do their thing", it is mating season).

April 5

An hour before sunrise we sat in our vehicle at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek (temperature was 18 degrees).  Rule prohibit running of cars (because of noise that might disturb the birds).  Fifteen minutes before sunrise, two Gunnison Sage-Grouse were seen walking toward the road.  They were perhaps 15 yards from us.  Light was poor, views were just slightly better than silhouettes.

After sunrise, grouse started to fly away and we counted another 39 Gunnison Sage-Grouse that had stayed behind willows and out of view.

As we turned east, we stopped at the Monarch Ski Area pullover on the south side of Highway 50 (just west of the Monarch Summit).  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker responded within 20 seconds of a recording being played!

We rushed to get to the Elkhart, Kansas Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek.  When we realized that arrival was not going to be before dark, we slowed down.  Several Ferruginous Hawks, Common Ravens and Chihuahuan Ravens were observed along highway 160.

Pasture G across from the Washington Work Center seven miles south of Springfield did not host any Mountain Plovers yet.  A dozen Burrowing Owls were counted.

April 6

At first light, we sat in the Elkhart, Kansas Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek.  It was raining this morning; temperatures were in the high 30s.

No Lesser Prairie-Chickens could be seen out the lek windows.  We heard several Lesser Prairie-Chickens to the south and peeked out the lek.

One Lesser Prairie-Chicken walked along the southern ridge.  A second Lesser Prairie-Chicken perched on a candelabra cactus.  When a Short-eared Owl flew over, the second bird disappeared.

We needed to be in Wray (Yuma County) by 4:00 pm, which left little time to stop and bird along the way.  My companions later went to look for Greater Prairie-Chickens while I decided to stretch my legs after days of sitting in a car.

I walked from the Sandhiller Motel to Stalker Pond and the Wray Fishing Unit and back (about 8.2 miles before I was done).

The previously reported Northern Cardinal and Eastern Phoebe were not found at the Wray City Park.  A Harris's Sparrow was singing along the Republican River about 0.1 miles west of the Park.

Stalker Pond was slow.  Two hours before sunset the light spread across the park; the scenery was quite photogenic.  A Harris's Sparrow and with nine White-crowned Sparrows popped out of the large woodpile at the southwest corner of the park.  Unfortunately, the Northern Cardinal reported yesterday was not around.

A House Wren buzzed from the cattails between Stalker Pond and the Fishing Unit.

Wray Fishing Unit, which was just south of Stalker Pond bustled with birds.  A pair of Canada Geese and a Greater Yellowlegs walked around the most western pond.  The Greater Yellowlegs called constantly even when quite far from me.

A male Northern Cardinal sang from the windbreak north of the main road.  This may have been the Stalker Pond cardinal.  A Barn Owl flew out of the western end of the same windbreak.  Meanwhile I could hear a Great Horned Owl calling from the eastern end of the windbreak.

As I walked out of the property, a Marsh Wren called from the cattails below Yuma County FF.  Two Eastern Phoebes flicked their tails along the outlet canal under CR FF, east side of the road.

On the way back to the motel, there was a sad sight.  A stunning adult Rough-legged Hawk was hit by a semi-truck barreling down highway 34.  Regrettably, the Rough-legged Hawk did not survive.

April 7

My companions returned to photograph the Greater Prairie-Chickens north of Wray.  Meanwhile I searched for the Harris's Sparrow reported a few days early (not found).

After breakfast, the three of us continued east toward Crow Valley Campgrounds.  A large flock of longspurs (150+) was encountered along Weld County Road 105, about a mile south of Highway 14.

Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) was quiet.  We found no longspurs or plovers along the self driving car tour.  The fields at highway 14 and county road 51 also entertained no plovers or Burrowing Owls.

As we returned toward Denver, we again passed by the "hot" longspur spot.  Two or three Chestnut-collared Longspurs were observed among the many McCown's Longspurs.

A detour to Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) found only a couple of American Avocets on the flooded field along county road 48.  Beebe Draw Ponds was even slower.  No shorebirds were in the area.

April 8

The final day of our long trip.  We opted out of searching for White-tailed Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass, correctly deciding that the construction and traffic would add too many hours to the trip.

Instead, we resolved to drive to Boulder County and Fawnbrook Inn.  While a few Evening Grosbeaks, many Pine Siskins and dozens of Cassin's Finches came to the feeders, no Pine Grosbeaks or Gray Jays were found.

Farther up the road, we detoured down Wild Basin Road (part of Rocky Mountain National Park).  Two Gray Jays briefly crossed the road.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker called near the traditional "woodpecker snag" (about a mile west of the entrance station).

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker worked the trees about a 1/2 mile west of the large picnic area (0.2 miles west of the entrance station).

We abandoned hope of seeing any Pine Grosbeaks and headed toward DIA Airport.

Our final target bird was a Baird's Sandpiper.  None was found as we passed and scoped  Walden Ponds (Boulder), Boulder Reservoir (Boulder), and Teller Lake # 5.  Our last hope was the flooded field along Tower Road (about 0.1 miles north of 96th avenue).  None was found and Baird's Sandpiper sightings will have to wait for another trip.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Trip to Reynolds Park and Highline Canal

March 30, 2014

Richard Stevens:

One day to rest before leaving for another week.  The weather today was fantastic.  Temperatures reached the high 60s; winds were mild.  I did not do much resting however.  Below are posts to "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders,

Jefferson County
Richard Stevens and all found at Reynolds Park:

American Three-toed Woodpecker: female, northeast of the Oxen Draw, Raven's Roost, Eagle's View trails
Williamson's Sapsucker: Raven's Roost trail, just south of the old service road
Northern Pygmy-Owl: Songbird trail, between the two parking lots
Misses: no Dusky Grouse found on the three trail loop

Good birding!

Hello cobirders;

Rebecca and I went to Quincy Avenue and the Highline Canal when the Northern Cardinal was reported.

Rebecca thought she saw a female Cardinal in the thick bushes with dark yellow leaves east of the canal, just south of Quincy Avenue. The sex of the Cardinal was not known to us so we thought this could be the bird. I got a glimpse of the right color for a female but neither of us were able to get good looks.

A few minutes later a beautiful male Cardinal jumped up on the dark red machine behind the feeder on the east side of the canal. He stayed in view for about four minutes and then flew south to the tree by the green footbridge.

We parked at the parking lot at the end of Dahlia Street (south of Quincy).

Keep a lookout for Eastern Screech Owls they are nesting in the older cottonwoods between the Dahlia parking lot and Quincy. Although we did not see any this afternoon, we have seen them in 2014.

Contined Good Birding!

Grouse Trip

March 24-29, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I have a one day layover in Denver before starting another grouse trip.  There is no time to go into details on this trip.  Hopefully, I will have more time next week to get into particulars of a grouse trip.

March 24
++++Loveland Pass
White-tailed Ptarmigan: hill west/hwy 6/across from 2nd pullover/east/hwy 6/south of Summit of Pass
Rosy Finches: three species about 100 birds
Barrow's Goldeneyes: several at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant
++++Jackson County Road 26b Leks
Greater Sage-Grouse: Fourteen males and two females

March 25
++++Twenty Road Leks
Sharp-tailed Grouse: only two birds, well after sunrise
++++Coal Canyon
Chukar: two birds just north of closed pipe gate
++++Grand Mesa
Boreal Owls: three spread over two locations

March 26
++++Colorado National Monument
Pinyon Jays: at Campgrounds
++++Escalante Canyon
Black Phoebe: along creek, just east of Pinnacle Rock
++++Fruitgrower's Reservoir
Sandhill Cranes: many
Common Loon
++++Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park
Dusky Grouse: one along south rim drive, east of Campgrounds entrance

March 27
++++Waunita Hot Springs Lek
Gunnison Sage-Grouse: only half a dozen birds
++++Swallows Road
Curve-billed Thrasher: 2
Scaled Quail: 2
++++Elkhart, KS
Lesser Prairie-Chickens: only two birds

March 28
++++Yuma County Road 45 Leks
Greater Prairie-Chickens: nine males displaying

March 29
++++Pawnee National Grasslands
Mountain Plover: one along CR 96
Mountain Plover: one at traditional nesting sites (will remain unnamed)
++++Loloff Reservoir
Tundra Swan
++++near Lower Latham Reservoir
Short-eared Owl: one north of reservoir