Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Search for Douglas County Scott's Oriole Unsuccessful

Bryan Ehlmann (6/18/2014)

Rich Stevens and I searched unsuccessfully for the Scott's Oriole reported Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space.

Later we found a Yellow billed Cuckoo, MacGillivray's Warbler and Yellow Warblers at Hidden Mesa Open Space.

No Tricolored Heron at Cherry Creek State Park.  We did find a few Snowy Egrets and the male Black-chinned Hummingbird at the ranger's office.

Four Burrowing Owls were at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th Avenue.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From Jefferson to Douglas Counties

June 16, 2014

Richard Stevens:

As has been the case the past few months, I have had little time to update the Trip Blog.  Today (6/17) I am giving my feet a rest (no hiking boots) and catching up on paperwork.

I enjoyed a beautiful day, although hot, of birding in Jefferson and Douglas Counties.  All but one of my target birds was found.

My morning started at Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson County).  The Blue-winged Warbler was singing when I arrived at 9:30 am.  Unfortunately, the wind picked up and finding the yellowish bird in the moving yellow green leaves became quite difficult.

Eventually, the stunning bird was found in cottonwoods along the ditch, just west of the eastern property line.  Unfortunately, it stayed high in the trees and only witness photos were shot.  I had found the bird on previous visits; again, it had stayed high in the trees.  Another birder had mentioned that it stayed in the low Russian Olive Tree near the fence line on several occasions. 

From Welchester Tree Park, I headed south to the Cheesman Reservoir area (Jefferson).  The Acorn Woodpecker and two Red-headed Woodpeckers were found as soon as I jumped out of my car near the pullover along Stony Pass Road.

The Lewis's Woodpecker took much longer to find, but finally I found one (if there were more I had not heard).

Rich Stevens relocated the Blue winged Warbler at Welchester Park.  First heard in trees along the eastern ditch, next to Russian Olive Tree.  Later seen 20 yards along ditch, in Park.

It was quite hot in Denver today (near 90 degrees), which made the decision to stay in the cooler foothills an easy one.

A circuitous route took me to Highway 67 and Rampart Range Road.  The distinctive drumming of a male American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard as I exited my vehicle.  The male was located in less than a 10 minute search.  He was just northeast of the intersection and only 15 yards into the woods. 

Both Northern Pygmy-Owls and Northern Saw-whet Owls have been recorded near this intersection.  I set up two of my "owl listening stations" (for those who have read previous posts, or see "Colorado Field Notes" for details).

Before the clock turned to the next day, I found (relocated) a Northern Pygmy-Owl.  Regrettably, no Northern Saw-whet Owls could be found.  In all, I hiked about twelve miles up and down Rampart Range Road and highway 67.  The Listening Stations did not pick up any owls this night.

Return to Douglas and Elbert Counties

June 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove down to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas) about two hours before sunrise.  The wind was calm and skies were clear.  The thousands of shining stars make the trip a pleasure whether target birds are found or not.

The woods along Castlewood Canyon Road were filled with bird songs.  We heard a Least Flycatcher long before it was light enough to see any birds.  Unfortunately, no Northern Saw-whet Owls called this night/morning.

A couple of Elk walked the hillside across from the Winkler Ranch (located a few miles south of Castlewood Canyon State Park).  Five male Bobolink called, probably trying to get the attention of the two females that we observed.

Bluebirds flew about and several appeared to be taking advantage of the nesting boxes along Castlewood Canyon Road.  Ultimately, we found three species of bluebirds.  Half a dozen Mountain Bluebirds, four Western Bluebirds and one Eastern Bluebird fluttered about Castlewood Canyon Road.

Other birds observed from Castlewood Canyon State Park to Lake Gulch Road included many Vesper Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow, a Grasshopper Sparrow (heard only), Song Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat, Western Wood-pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Spotted Towhees and a Gray Catbird.

Back at the park, we hiked the Creek Bottom Trail from the Falls Spur to the Dam Ruins.  A Prairie Warbler attempted nesting along this trail in 2002 and 2008.  We found a Least Flycatcher (near where one was heard early in the morning). 

We also found an American Redstart across Cherry Creek along the Rim Rock Trail (most likely the one found by Bob Andrews a few days earlier).  Perhaps it is attempting to find a mate (or has) and nest?

A walk along the Creek Bottom Trail from the Homestead Trail to Creek Bottom Trail found one of the few Ovenbirds in the park.  We looked closely at the Turkey Vultures flying overhead.  A Black Vulture was in the mix in July 2009.  A pair of Golden Eagles also flew down the canyon!

Our trip continued east.  We stopped at a friend's home along Highway 86 to say Hi!  She has a male Northern Cardinal again in her yard.  However, it did not visit her feeders during our stay.

No Dickcissels were found along Elbert Road today (4.1 miles south of highway 86).  We continued to another friend's ranch for the last part of our birding day.

Four Dickcissels and a pair of Bobolink were around his alfalfa fields and wet meadow.  We hope to confirm that one or both species nest here this summer (would be nice record)!

Common Poorwill have been observed on his property in the past.  In 2002, we found a nest and one egg.  In 2011, we observed an adult and young.  Common Poorwills were also recorded in 2000 and 2008.  Finding a nesting site is quite difficult and was a great find for us in 2002 & 2011!  Regrettably, none was found today.

Short-eared Owls have been observed in the past flying over the cattail marsh.  This evening, one quickly flew by about 5 minutes before sunset!

Long Search for Tricolored Heron, Cherry Creek Reservoir

June 14, 2014

This morning I went back and tried to look at all the water (lake, creek, ponds, puddles) that the tall weeds would allow.  The five hour search did not turn up a Tricolored Heron for me.  Much of the creek and parts of the lake are not viewable even with the bushwhacking that I did.

Concerning the Cassin's Vireo at the Prairie Loop inlet canal, I was able to watch it for a good five minutes.  Well aware that there were no June or July reports, I tried to examine the bird as long as it let me. A Plumbeous Vireo would have been more likely. 

However, there was contrast between the greenish back and gray-greenish head; a Blue-headed Vireo seemed to be more likely than a Plumbeous Vireo.  Yellow on sides of flanks also ruled out a Plumbeous Vireo.  There was not enough contrast between the head and back to call the vireo a Blue-headed Vireo.

Back to the Tricolored Heron, yesterday I commented that no Great Blue Herons were found (besides the Tricolored Heron).  On previous visits, up to a dozen or more Great Blue Herons have been around.  Again today, only one Great Blue Heron was found.  I wonder if the Tricolored Heron is somewhere with the missing Great Blue Herons?

Quick Search for Tricolored Heron, Cherry Creek Reservoir

June 13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Denver about 4:00 am after a long four day birding trip to Park and Chaffee Counties.  We spent much of the nights owling; sleeping a few hours in the morning is exhausting, not restful at all.  Only found the energy to spend an hour at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) searching for the Tricolored Heron; without success.  

I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and searched about an hour for the Tricolored Heron.  It was not found by me.  Sleep was more of a treat this afternoon.

A Wet Trip to Park and Chaffee Counties

June 9-12, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started a four day trip to Park and Chaffee Counties.  Owls were high priority as target birds.  Stormy weather put a damper on that.

June 9
Weather was interesting on this trip.  Afternoon showers put a damper on owling.  I have never experienced great success searching for owls after a late evening thunderstorm (they seemed to be the norm this week).

Having taken GPS waypoints on owls in the Manitou Experimental Forest and the west side of Pikes Peak a few weeks ago, we turned our attention to Lake George and west today.  The habitat between Lake George and Eleven Mile Reservoir appears to be a good one for Northern Saw-whet Owls.  Northern Pygmy-Owls should prefer the riparian areas along Highways 24 and 285.  No owls were found this night.

The highlight of our day was a flyby Purple Martin at Tarryall Reservoir (Park County).  We had no idea where it was headed or if it is nesting in the area.

June 10, 2014

We continued heading west after a couple of hours of sleep.  The three Park County Reservoirs added few birds to our trip list.  A Common Loon (Mlodinow, 6/8) was still on Antero Reservoir.

Buffalo Creek Campgrounds added a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers to our trip list.  Surely, they are nesting in the nearby Aspens.

Rough and Tumbling Creek was slow (below northwest side of Buffalo Peaks).  A couple of male Red Crossbills fed on the evergreens.  Birding was slow and we expected to find few/no owls in the area and continued to Buena Vista.

Lewis's Woodpeckers were found at two locations in Buena Vista (Chaffee County).  They wander around town, west of Highway 24.

The plan was to go owling along the trails to Mt. Yale and Mt. Antero this night; so we drove up Cottonwood Pass (one of three or four in the State, this one in Chaffee County).

Several Gray Jays were observed as we headed up the pass.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was around the parking area for the Mt. Yale trail!

Another thunderstorm came through the area about an hour before sunset.  As predicted, owling was a bust.  Neither of us or our three "owl listening stations" picked up a calling owl.  We hiked up a mile or so of Mt. Yale Trail and then 2.5 miles up the Mt. Antero Trail; without success.

June 11, 2014

Most of the night was spent owling and we tried to catch up our missed sleep most of the morning and early afternoon.  Later in the afternoon, we drove up the road to Ruby Mountain (Chaffee).

Half a dozen Pinyon Jays flew around the parking area for Ruby Mountain.  They probably nest in the area. 

We continued to the BLM Land north of Salida and set up our "owling stations".  While we did not encounter any owls this night (after another thunderstorm), one of our wet owling stations did hear a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Note: we did not hear about the potential Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at the Chalk Creek Campgrounds until late in the afternoon.  It was a priority to check it out the next day.

June 12, 2014

First thing after getting up, we drove to the Chalk Creek Campgrounds.  Regrettably, there was no Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in view.  Later we heard that the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was not only seen on the water but also in the nearby trees.  Perhaps it is attempting to nest or has a mate on a nest?  We hope to examine that closer next week.

We backtracked into Gunnison County by way of Cottonwood Pass today.  Taylor Park Reservoir produced a Barrow's Goldeneye sighting.  Several Red Crossbills flew around the northeastern end of the lake.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed at the Lake View Campgrounds.  Another afternoon thunderstorm.  It is getting old.  Owling was unsuccessful this night.  We decided to return to Denver and hope for better weather later into next week.

We did go owling and checked six of the Campgrounds in Taylor Canyon.  The Pothole Reservoirs north of Taylor Park Reservoir were not accessible as the roads were quite wet and muddy.

Our "owling stations" set up along Cottonwood Pass did not "hear" any owls this night.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Short Day in Douglas County

June 8, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I planned to bird Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County), then head east into Elbert County.  We managed to hike part of Castlewood Canyon before the afternoon storms hit.  Winds 23 mph, gusts to 41 mph, hail, heavy rain and several tornados were reported in the area.  We saw none of the tornados thankfully.  Bryan and I were "caught" in the Firestone tornado a few years ago; that was enough for a lifetime.

Five male and two female Bobolink were in the field just south of the Winkler Ranch entrance.

We hiked the west side of Cherry Creek from the Castlewood Canyon Falls area to the old broken Cherry Creek dam.  A few years ago, a Prairie Warbler attempted to nest in the area.  We found a singing Least Flycatcher, Western Wood-pewees, a Yellow-breasted Chat, House Wrens, a Rock Wren, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

Best bird was an American Dipper!  It was not determined if he/she was nesting.

We arrived back at our car just as the downpour started.  Quarter side hail hit as we left Franktown for home.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Long Day in Boulder County

June 7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I covered quite a bit of ground today in Boulder County.

Our first stop was Boulder Creek at 75th Street.  The previously reported Black Phoebe and Eastern Phoebe were just west of 75th.  We searched the Walden Ponds for the Little Blue Heron reported on 6/5; without success.

We then scurried over to the White Rocks Trail off Valmont Road.  Only one of the two uncommon birds was relocated.  However, we did find the better, as a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called briefly from south of Boulder Creek.  The Eastern Phoebe was not around.

Across Valmont, we hiked the Teller Lake trail.  One Dickcissel sang in the field south of when the trail goes from running south and turns west.  No Bobolink were found here this trip.

Continuing southward, a Bobolink was observed flying in the field along Cherryvale, south of South Boulder Road.  A quick check around the Park Office did not find additional Bobolink (perhaps the Bobolink here south of Boulder Road were the ones reported farther Northwest on 5/23?)

Our next stop was the Eldorado Mountain Open Space.  Eventually we observed both the Grace's Warbler and a Lewis's Woodpecker along the hike!  A Red-eyed Vireo was found along the canal behind the Eldorado Post Office.

Heading toward Denver, we stopped at Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Jefferson).  Winds had picked up to 18 mph by this time in the afternoon.  Most interesting birds were a Veery and slate colored Fox Sparrow.

Our final stop was the Apex Trail near Golden (off I70).  Several Lazuli Buntings, one Indigo Bunting (male), Spotted Towhees and another Red-eyed Vireo were observed there.

Birding East of Denver

June 6, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went to check on a Short-eared Owl nesting spot.  A pair appears to be successfully nesting in Weld County.  We do not want to approach the nest to see if there are eggs.  We assume a female has been on the nest for about a week now.  Some young need to pop out to confirm successful breeding.

Later we hiked Barr Lake (Adams) from the Visitor's Center to the boat ramp.  Mosquitoes are plentiful now.  Even the 14 mph winds (gusts to 23 mph) did not keep them from attacking us.  A male Summer Tanager was south of the banding station.  The Barn Owl stuck his head out of the nesting box near the banding station.

Many regular summer visitors are now around.  These include Yellow Warblers, Warbling Vireo, Eastern Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Western Wood-pewee, and Snowy Egrets.

A visit to a friend's ranch in Weld County added a Long-eared Owl and Mountain Plover to our day list.  The Long-eared Owls have a nest.  However, again we do not want to approach the nest to see if there are any eggs.  If there are, young should be hatching any day?

A Mountain Plover female (we assume) has laid three eggs in our friend's field.  Every now and then, she gets up and walks around eating.  Give us a chance to advance closer to determine progress.  The hope is that the recent hailstorms do not hurt her or crack her eggs.  We have not been there when it has hailed.  She must sit on the nest when hail comes?

Our birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  The northern sections are closed until July 15th.  We did not relocate a previously reported Green Heron (assuming it was found at the southern sections).

The hike was a pleasant end to our birding day.  Winds at 23 mph, gusts to 36, kept mosquitoes down to just a few.  The only rain we saw all day was while driving between Prospect Valley and Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  After dark, a tornado did come through the area (glad we were home)!

Eastern Plains Bird Trip

May 29 to June 5, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started yesterday on a northern to southern Colorado trip.  While most of the state experienced thunderstorms with accompanying hail, we missed most of it.  The few rainstorms encountered happened while we were driving from one location to another.  Winds on the other hand were another story.  Many days anonometer readings were 12-14 mph, gusts to the high 20s.  Temperatures reached 90 degree on several days.

May 29

Bryan Ehlmann and I continued our eastern Colorado trip in Logan & Sedgwick Counties today.  Temperatures reached into the 80s, winds clocked at 8 mph, gusts to 11 mph.

We missed Upland Sandpipers along Highway 138, but did find two White-rumped Sandpipers at Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan).  A Bell's Vireo and American Redstart were found at Little Jumbo Reservoir.

Most of the day was spent at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Migration is slowing down but not quite over.  Summer residents appear to have arrived in force.

A Black-throated Green Warbler (migrant) was relocated (Washburn:Simmons, 5/26).  A Veery and Wood Thrush were found near section 10 East.  A Northern Waterthrush was relocated in the same area.

Summer residents included Bell's Vireos, Field Sparrows, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Northern Cardinals Baltimore Orioles and two Eastern Screech-Owls.

Late in the afternoon, we found a Nashville Warbler in the northern woods at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  A Common Tern was observed flying over the shore.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called from the border of Jumbo Reservoir and private property in the northwest side.

Eastern Screech-Owls called on Roger Danka's ranch (Sedgwick) after an hour after sunset.

May 30

The day started out with calm winds and temperatures in the 60s.  By late afternoon, temperatures rose to the middle 80s and winds were measured at 14 mph, gusts to 23 mph.  At dusk, a severe rainstorm hit Yuma County (gust over 34 mph).

Our first stop of the day was Sand Draw Wildlife Area.  The resident Barn Owl was again in the western windbreak.  Two Field Sparrows fluttered about the eastern fence line.

The Holyoke area was interesting, although not as birdy as the past couple of weeks.  No shorebirds were at the Holyoke Fishing Pond; however, a Bell's Vireo was singing.

A Yellow-throated Vireo was found at the Holyoke Cemetery.  A Dickcissel sang just outside of the property line.

The best location in Holyoke has been the east end of Akron Street.  Today we only found a Nashville Warbler.

We detoured to Haxtun on our trip south and found a rare Phillips County Philadelphia Vireo at the City Park.

Yuma was quiet and we turned back east to Wray Fishing Unit.  Most of the recent sightings had moved on; we did relocate the Eastern Phoebes at the outlet canal off CR FF.5.  A Great Crested Flycatcher was along the entrance road.

After the Fishing Unit closed, we walked the eastern canal and found a Grasshopper Sparrow.  Stalker Pond was also slower than past weeks.  A lone Northern Cardinal was found at the west end of the property.

Nothing uncommon was seen at the Wray City Park.  Pouring down rain changed our plans to scope the Yuma County Road Greater Prairie-Chicken lek.

May 31

Bryan Ehlmann and I scoped the CR 45 Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek at first light.  At least two male birds are still coming to the lek and displaying.  My personal late day was May 23rd (normally I do not visit the lek in late May).  Some unknown birder did report seeing a displaying bird on June 4, 2000.

Migration appears to be slowing down.  The two Eastern Phoebes continue at the Wray Fishing Unit outlet canal.  They may be nesting although we have not been able to find a nest (will keep an eye out for young later in the summer).

A Northern Cardinal flew around the picnic area at Stalker Pond.  No shorebirds were on the limited mudflats at the west end of the property.  Nashville Warbler flew around the cattails below the dam.

Our trek continued south and we visited five ranches on the way to Bonny Reservoir.  Along the way, Beecher Island provided some interesting birds.  A Great Crested Flycatcher, singing Bell's Vireo and Eastern Phoebe entertained us there.

We found a Golden-winged Warbler at private ranch # 5.  A Magnolia Warbler was at private ranch # 4.  While private ranch # 2 had a Palm Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler.  Private ranch # 3 was a bust this trip.  Just before dusk, we found four Bobolinks at private ranch # 1 where a Short-eared Owl came out about 10 minutes before sunset.

Our birding day did not end until midnight.  Eventually we found four Eastern Screech-Owls spread along the Republican River at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area.

June 1

An hour before sunrise, an Eastern Screech-Owl called at Hale Pond.  It is always a great way to
get a wake up call!

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent most of the day hiking Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area and Hale Ponds.  Our hike started at CR 2 and Hwy 385, along the south side of Bonny Reservoir, to Hale Ponds and the Kansas border.  Our return trip was the Republican River to the north side of Bonny Reservoir back to Hwy 385.

It was a long and enjoyable day.  According to my GPS, we hiked 28.6 miles!  It has been awhile since I have covered that much ground in one day.  Getting to sleep this night was not a problem.

There were many interesting bird sightings along the trek.  A male Prairie Warbler and Bell's Vireo along County Road 2 were great highlights.  The Prairie Warbler was 25 yards northeast of where CR 2 turns from going east to south (later, shortly turning east again).  The Bell's Vireo was in the short bushes farther west.

Warblers and Vireos were scarce today.  In the order we found birds:

A Great Crested Flycatcher was at Hopper Ponds.  A few Spotted Towhees were seen also.  Unfortunately, no uncommon sparrows ("ammodramus", Baird's, LeConte's, Sharp-tailed or Henslow's).  Two Grasshopper Sparrows were found.

Then the Bell's Vireo and later the Prairie Warbler were found along CR 2.  A Baltimore Oriole and Red-bellied Woodpecker were observed along the closed section of road that runs along the south side of the now empty Bonny Reservoir.  No Long-eared Owls were found at the thick evergreen area of the Wagon Wheel Picnic area.

A Northern Cardinal was the highlight at the old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds.  Eastern Screech-Owls appeared to have abandoned the same area (or at least could not be enticed into showing themselves).

Not much time was spent looking at the evergreens below the dam (sometimes a good place to find a Northern Saw-whet Owl).

Four Eastern Bluebirds were at Hale (near CR LL.5 and CR 4).  We searched quite awhile at the area with large cottonwoods along CR 4, just east of Hale for cuckoos.  Black-billed Cuckoos once nesting here.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was well hidden in the cottonwood leaves (not quite good enough, Bryan spotted it).  A Great Crested Flycatcher was found lower in the same trees.  A male Red-headed Woodpecker carried food although the sighting was lost before its destination was determined.

We did not know at the time, however, no uncommon warblers or vireos would be found.  A bonus bird was a Dickcissel in the field just east of Hale Ponds.  Three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, seven Eastern Bluebirds, and a few additional Eastern Bluebirds were between Hale Ponds and the Kansas border.

Returning west, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was observed with a branch in its beak (north of the most northwestern Hale Pond).  House Wrens were common and making much racket.

No additional species were found; we reached the northeastern end of the dam and continued west.  The sight of the once superb birding area of Bonny Reservoir is quite pitiful.  The Republican River/reservoir is now just a weed lined trickle of a stream.

An American Redstart fluttered about at North Cove.  We thought we heard a Bell's Vireo at the western end of the North Cove Nature Trail; however, it was never seen.

A check at Pikes Point did not find any of the Barn Owls that once nested here.

Foster Grove had another Northern Cardinal, fourteen Wild Turkey, another Great Crested Flycatcher, an Eastern Phoebe, two Lincoln's Sparrows, and a Grasshopper Sparrow.

The once flourishing marshes along the Republican River and now completely dry.  They once hosted Least Bitterns, American Bitterns, Virginia Rails, Sora and migrating uncommon birds.

Our final bird was another Great Crested Flycatcher about 400 yards west of Fosters Grove.

 June 2

Our plans had been to carry on south to Picture Canyon (Baca); however, a report of a Laughing Gull in Elbert County could not be ignored.  Once again, we got up in the middle of the night and headed back west.

The Laughing Gull was eventually observed flying over a private reservoir near Agate (Ball Reservoir).

We proceeded west for breakfast and a shout out to a friend in Kiowa.  Along the way, we checked several traditional Mountain Plover fields without finding any.  A stop at Joe Tembricks favorite Common Poorwill spot was not successful either.

A walk around the Elbert County Museum in Kiowa found a Tennessee Warbler.  Whether it was the same bird we observed on 5/17 could not be determined.  It seemed unlikely that a migrating Tennessee Warbler would hang around that long.  However, the Blue-winged Warbler at Welchester Tree Park back in Denver has been there now from 5/23 through 6/7.

Later, two Dickcissel were picked out of the alfalfa/weeds in the field about five miles south of town.

Our route had been Hwy 86 to Elbert Road, then south to Hwy 24.  It turned back Northeast along Hwy 24 to Calhan.  The Paint Mines Interpretive Park had been quite birdy in early May, not so much today.  A Rock Wren and Northern Mockingbird were all that were found.

Nothing uncommon was found at Ramah Wildlife Area (El Paso).  Once a great birding area, our drought has taken its toll on the property.

Instead of taking major highways, we drove back county roads south and east.  Stops at several State Trust Lands and Walk-In-Areas found few uncommon birds.  Most WIA are closed until September 1 and had to be scoped from the county roads.  Highlights were sightings of McCown's Longspurs at two locations (no Mountain Plover were found).

A lone sandpiper at Karval Reservoir Wildlife Area (Lincoln) turned out to be a White-rumped Sandpiper!  An Eastern Phoebe hawked insects at Hugo Wildlife Area (Lincoln).

Our birding day ended at Vogel Canyon (Otero).  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow was pished into showing itself.  A Northern Mockingbird and Greater Roadrunner were found around the parking area.  On the way out, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying across the road.

June 3

Bryan and I spent most of the day in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  The usual suspects were easy to find.  We encountered Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Canyon Towhees, Bewick's Wrens, Lark Sparrows, Cooper's Hawks, Chihuahuan Ravens, Red-tailed Hawks, Spotted Towhees, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and a Black-chinned Hummingbird.

More uncommon birds (now days) included Mississippi Kites, Lewis's Woodpeckers, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and Eastern Phoebes.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was found up a southwest draw.  A Western Screech-Owl was enticed out of its nesting hole.

Having found all our target birds, we drove over to Carrizo Mountain.  Several times in past years, Lesser Nighthawks have been found here, unfortunately none was found today.  Several Cassin's Sparrows flew around the edge of the gravel road on the way.

Our birding day ended at Picture Canyon (Baca).  We had enough daylight to walk down and find one of the previously reported Painted Buntings.  The males are extremely colorful!

Rufous-crowned Sparrows and Bewick's Wrens were found along the eastern cliffs.  A Greater Roadrunner ran across the main road as we made a short walk back to the entrance.

No Western Screech-Owls were enticed to call this night.

June 4

After a few hours sleep at Picture Canyon (legal to camp at the parking area, Baca County), Bryan and I spent most of the day exploring the area.  After Monday's 28 mile hike, the 16 miles we hiked today seemed like a walk in the park (really, not quite so, it was another long day)!

The circuitous route taken was necessary to see most of our desired spots.  Still there are many locations to checkout and we missed a dozen or so (it required another 6 miles or so of hiking).  In addition, it probably is more desirable to make this a two day adventure.  It is possible to drive into Sand Canyon, reducing the hiking by 8 miles or more.

If you plan to hike Holt and Sand Canyons, bring plenty of water.  We both drank over a gallon along the trek and could have used more (although, water that is 90 degrees is bad, we both had great respect for the pioneers that crossed Colorado's plains in summer).

Our route was not quite along the easy trails.  It is possible to hike up some of the draws and circumvent the open level trails/roads.  We expected most of the interesting birds to be in the draws, which provide some shade and protection from the rising temperatures.

This proved to be the case.  Holt Canyon while interesting is not quite up to the standard of Sand Canyon.  However, we did see half a dozen Northern Mockingbirds, Bewick's Wrens, two Greater Roadrunners, and a covey of Northern Bobwhite (seven birds, Bobwhite are uncommon to rare anywhere in Colorado, but much so in Baca County).

More uncommon was a pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers at a small stand of trees in one draw (In the area called Hells Half Acre).  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow sang near the Natural Arch trail.

If you acquire a topo map, it shows a multiple number of springs in this seemingly dry area of Colorado.  Birds tend to gather around these areas.  Regrettably, it requires much hiking to inspect each of these springs.

One spring near the Oklahoma border has provided Vermilion Flycatcher records at least four times in the past twenty years.  There could have been additional sightings if the area was birded more often.  I have recorded two records, one a male and one pair that successfully nested in North Canyon (2002).

A ran across another male Painted Bunting in Sand Canyon.  Perhaps he was one of the three reported a few weeks ago back in Picture Canyon.  The area needs more birder visits.  No telling how many Painted Buntings come here each year.  Our sixteen mile trek barely did the area justice concerning an accurate bird count.

Additional Northern Mockingbirds, Bewick's Wrens, Rock Wrens, Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunners, Say's Phoebes, Canyon Wrens, Golden Eagles, Chihuahuan Ravens, and Brown-headed Cowbirds were recorded.

Our hope to find Scott's Orioles reported on 5/21/2014 did not come about.  Surely a few are down one of the many draws?  A second pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers (nesting) was found as we turned back east along the Oklahoma border.  Our Curve-billed Thrasher count for the day was eight!  They appear to be doing well in the southeastern Colorado canyons.

Finally we reached our vehicle, totally exhausted from the mileage and sun both sapping our energy.  It was quite an enjoyable day!

We caught a few hours sleep back in Cottonwood Canyon, not before listening to a Western Screech-Owl calling!

June 5

Much territory had to be covered today.  We really needed one additional day here in the southeastern corner.  However, Bryan had to be back in Denver tomorrow afternoon (later he found out that his meeting was put off for a month and we could have taken the extra day, too bad). 

Our first stop was Furnish Canyon (Baca) and a visit to a friend's ranch.  We arrived in the canyon about two hours before sunrise.  A Western Screech-Owl called from the entrance to the ranch!

It was a fantastic stop. He had a nesting pair of Vermilion Flycatchers (for the third time since 2002).  Later he took us to a pair of nesting Hepatic Tanagers.  Better still, he showed us a Northern Saw-whet Owl, which he believed, was nesting on his property!

Sightings that are more common included Juniper Titmice, Gray Vireos, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, and Cassin's Sparrows.

Finally, it was time to head back; we probably missed some interesting birds.  There is never enough time.

We wanted to search for the Wood Thrush reported a few days ago in Colorado City (Pueblo).  Unfortunately, it eluded us (as did the Red-eyed Vireo).

Our day was timed to end up around the St. Charles Trail (Pueblo) about an hour before sunset.  We hiked about a mile up the trail hearing any Flammulated Owls.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was also encountered.

A Dusky Grouse walked along highway 165 when we returned to our vehicle. 

After sunset and civil twilight, our birding (owling) started in earnest.  Eventually two Northern Saw-whet Owls were found along the South Creek Trail (Pueblo).  Flammulated Owls have been found here in the past, none today.

Our luck changed at the Davenport Campgrounds.  A Flammulated Owl flew in quickly in response to Bryan's imitation call.

No additional owls called at Ophir Creek, Florence and Smith Circle Campgrounds (Pueblo).