Thursday, July 10, 2014

Search for Cherry Creek Reservoir Owls and Return to DIA Owl Loop

July 9, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I headed south to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) to search for the owls that Jerry Petrosky found on his 3-Owl day (7/5/2014).  I was not able to find the Eastern Screech-Owl or Long-eared Owl.  The Great Horned Owl was along the asphalt path running south to north, west of the Pipeline Trail (formerly the Shop Creek Trail).

The rest of the reservoir was slow; just the usual summer suspects wandered around the lake.  Temperatures were in the low 90s and it was overcast.

The last hour of daylight, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  Neither yesterday's Long-billed Curlew nor Short-eared Owl was relocated.   I did again count 11 Burrowing Owls along Quency Street.  Yesterday's Lark Bunting and Blue Grosbeak were not found.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

DIA Owl Loop

July 8, 2014

Richard Stevens:

After spending most of the day shuttling from the Hospital (injured relative) to the Chevy Dealership (recalled vehicle), I drove the DIA Owl Loop in search of Long-billed Curlews reported earlier by Chris Rurik.

Eleven Burrowing Owls were seen along Quency (when 96th Avenue turns from east of Tower to the north). 

I do not know if I found one of the two Long-billed Curlews reported by Chris.  I walked up the gravel road at the corner of 96th avenue and Quency Street (whether it is private or not, do not know; there is not a no trespassing sign, although I would not drive up it).

A Long-billed Curlew was observed as I reached the top of the hill.  About 10 minutes before sunset, a Short-eared Owl was flying over the fields to the east!

Other interesting birds included a female Blue Grosbeak, Vesper Sparrows outnumbering the Horned Larks, many Mourning Doves, a male American Kestrel, a Prairie Falcon (flyover), and a Ferruginous Hawk.

After sunset, the night air was so much cooler than the hot day.  I enjoyed a walk into Barr Lake State Park (Adams) from Picadilly Road to the new archery area to the boat ramp.  A Barn Owl screeched somewhere near mile 7.2 of the main trail!

It was a pleasant end to a rather stressful day!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Back In the Mountains

July 2-7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

July 2
I headed back to the northwest mountains and birded along the way.

The Eastern Wood-Pewee was along the Poudre River Trail, north of Spring Creek (Larimer).

The rest of the daylight hours were spent with a pleasant hike to Zimmerman Lakes (Larimer).  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers worked the trees just south of where the trail splits into a loop. 

A pair of White-winged Crossbills was found at the northeastern end of the lake.  They were not with the flock of 14 Red Crossbills encountered as I hiked to the lake.  A colorful pair of Pine Grosbeaks also flew about the north side of Zimmerman Lake.

I reached Cameron Pass at dusk.  No Boreal Owls called tonight.  None was heard as I hiked the road down to the Crags Campgrounds.  Winds were rather strong tonight (which did not aid in any success).  The Ranger Lakes Boreal Owl also did not call.

Wilson's Snipes whinnied along Highway 14 when I stopped at the various pullovers east of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

Note: Bryan & Sue Ehlmann birded Black Mountain today (north of Craig).  They enjoyed a great day which included a White-winged Crossbill and two Purple Martins (Mlodinow, 6/24; 40.757558,-107.361718) during daylight.  After dark, they found a Northern Pygmy-Owl (Mlodinow, 6/24; 40.7477772,-107.3582268) and Flammulated Owl.

July 3
Our plans had been to drive Buffalo Pass Road to the Summit, search for Three-toed Woodpecker, White-winged Crossbills and go owling.  As far as we could tell, Buffalo Pass Road was still closed.  Instead, we decided to meet along the Colorado River Road at McCoy.

Bryan and Sue came down Highway 131 from Steamboat Springs and I cut over Gore Pass Road north of Kremmling.  A couple of my stops along Gore Pass Road (Hwy 134) found a total of three American Three-toed Woodpeckers (Grand County).  A flock of Red Crossbills appeared to be accompanied by a White-winged Crossbill; however, I did not get a good look and left the bird unidentified.  Some Red Crossbills do show minor white wingbars.

Our troupe then continued south down Colorado River Road to Burns, then north again to Eagle County Roads 45 (Strubi Road) and CR 47 (Luark Road).  Last year we enjoyed success owling along these roads.

CR 47 was quiet; we turned around and took CR 45 as far as we could drive, then hiked into Routt County.  We hoped to reach an unnamed State Trust Land that few birders visit.  We did not make it.

Along the CR 45 drive, we set up (hid) our three "owl listening stations" at gps waypoints that were successful for owls last year.

A 4-wheel Jeep is definitely necessary for this trek.  Eventually we found (heard) a Northern Saw-whet Owl in Routt County.  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers was encountered along our hike also.

Our owl listening stations picked up a second calling Northern Saw-whet Owl.

July 4
We continued owling into the morning.  Caught a few hours of sleep and continued west to Derby Mesa Road in Eagle County.  We hoped to make it to McMillan Lake, which we failed to reach last year.  Lousy roads again prevented us from that goal.  Late summer or early fall (before snows) would probably be best to tackle this road.

Last year we barely were able to make it to Crescent Lake (Garfield County).  This year our goal was just to reach Emerald Lake (Eagle County).  Emerald Lake is too low to find White-tailed Ptarmigan; we did find a total of five American Three-toed Woodpeckers (Eagle County).

Rain forced us to give up on plans to do any owling and we continued toward Dotsero and Coffee Pot Road (Eagle County).  Then we continued up Coffee pot Road to Heart Lake.

July 5
We spent the night at Heart Lake and explored Heart Lake and Bison Lake during the day.  Three or four Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Bison Lake (Garfield County).  Heart Lake was slow. 

We backtracked down Coffee Pot Road and found Purple Martins at two locations close to where they were found in 2013.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found near one of the locations.

In the afternoon, we went back north and arrived at White Owl Lake an hour before sunset.  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers was encountered along the White Owl Trail.

After dark, we heard a Boreal Owl around the lake and a Flammulated Owl farther down the White Owl Trail.

July 6
After a few hours of sleep, we went back down to Coffee Pot Road and picked up our three owl listening stations.  We tried something different by wrapping the stations in plastic bags.  Unfortunately, wind blew the bags enough to cause much interference.  One station did pick up a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Misses: We did not find any Dusky Grouse or White-winged Crossbills since entering Eagle and/or Garfield County.

Forecast was for more rain.  We decided to head back to Colorado River Road and north to Sweetwater Lake (Garfield) and Dotsero Wildlife Area (Eagle).

Two Purple Martins were found along 151 Road (Garfield).

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found during a hike along Hack Lake Creek.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called within 400 yards of a gps waypoint taken in 2013.

Owling for the most part was a bust.

July 7
Family issues and a recall appointment for my car brought me once again back to Denver. Temperatures reached 100 degrees in Denver.  It was not much cooler in the mountains.  I did not make any stops.  The slow traffic along Frisco to Denver did not help in dealing with the heat.  I mis-calculated and never should have driven I70 at 5:00 pm. 

Only one detour (stop) was made on the way home.  I detoured west to Hanging Lake (Garfield County).  While climbing toward the top, I saw a Black Swift fly through the canyon.

Back Around Denver for a Few Days

June 29-30, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I had to return to Denver late Saturday night due to a family medical problem.  Bryan & Sue Ehlmann continued to conduct nesting studies in northwestern Colorado.

Yesterday, afternoon I received a text about a Canada Warbler at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  I searched the pipeline trail today for about two hours; without success.  Then explored the gps waypoint I was sent.  This morning I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir early.  I thought warbler might be singing; yesterday afternoon it was quite hot at 4:00 pm and few birds sang. 

Still today only Yellow Warblers were only warblers found.  Yesterday, as I walked the creek from the pipeline trail to the main road south I found an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron, many House Wrens and Yellow Warblers.  When I crossed the main road (on maps Lakeview Road) I found a Brown Thrasher and two Black-headed Grosbeaks.

After visiting Cherry Creek Reservoir, I went over to Clear Creek Canyon (Jefferson).  I did not relocate the Black-throated Blue Warbler reported to us yesterday.

Burrowing Owls continue at the prairie dog village at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.

North Park Birding

June 19-28, 2014

Richard Stevens (catching up on Blog after having almost no electrical outlets for the past week or so:

June 19
Rebecca Kosten and I started on a week or two birding trip to northwestern Colorado.  We stopped at Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail (Larimer) on the way up to Cameron Pass.

No White-winged Crossbills were found.  However, a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers worked the trees near the fork in the Trail.  A third Three-toed Woodpecker was heard farther up the trail (south of the intersection).  The trek was quite hot in spite of being in the mountains.

After dark, we listened for Boreal Owls near Cameron Pass (Jackson).  None made a sound this night.

June 20
Rebecca Kosten and I were up about two hours before sunrise and drove the gravel roads west of Coalmont in search of Greater Sage-Grouse.  None appeared this morning.  Plenty of Horned Larks flew around.

Later we drove the few roads in Walden without running into any uncommon birds.

One of the Red-necked Grebes was swimming around the southwest side of Lake John Wildlife Area (Jackson).  Presumably, the other is sitting on a nest; however, we did not see her.

Late in the afternoon, we drove up Ruby Jewell Road in the Colorado State Forest (Jackson).  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was near the intersection with the main road (Michigan River Road).

Be sure to study the calls of Wilson's Snipes and Boreal Owls.  We ran into many Wilson's Snipes especially up Ruby Jewell Road.  Eventually we did find a Boreal Owl about 0.4 miles up the road (this was after hiking about two miles up the road from Michigan Road).

On the way back, a Flammulated Owl responded to our recordings (about 0.2 miles from the main road, near the small clearing where we use to camp when still using a tent).

June 21
We rested most of today.  While watching the hummingbird feeders at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center we observed many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and two Rufous Hummingbirds.  Two additional Rufous Hummingbirds were found at the Store in Gould and the KOA Campgrounds.  No Calliope Hummingbirds have shown up yet.

The male American Three-toed Woodpecker was again found in the trees just north of Hwy 14 and the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

After dark, we walked around a bit from the top of Cameron Pass to about a mile east (Larimer).  There was no wind, which is unusual.  We could hear a pin drop, unfortunately, no owls.

June 22
We drove up Laramie River Road (Larimer County) today to check the Campgrounds for uncommon birds.  Magnificent Hummingbirds have been found at Tunnel Campgrounds (8/2010, 7/2011, 7/2012).  Unfortunately, none was found today.  We did see a male Calliope Hummingbird!

While we could not find any owls, we did see an American Three-toed Woodpecker, Townsend's Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Warbling Vireos and Williamson's Sapsucker.

On the way back to Gould, we stopped and made the leisure walk down to the Crags Campgrounds.  A Boreal Owl called somewhere south of the camping area.

June 23
We started our birding day about two hours before sunrise at Delaney Buttes Wildlife Area (Jackson).  Scoping the grouse lek was quite useful.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were seen walking around eating from the sagebrush.

Later we drove back to Lake John Wildlife Area in hopes of seeing both the Red-necked Grebes attempting to nest there.  Again only one of the grebes was found.

While looking unsuccessfully for shorebirds at Walden Reservoir a Caspian Tern flew by twice.  Then it appeared to head toward the Lake John/Delaney Buttes Wildlife Areas.

An afternoon drive down the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge Self driving tour found only a couple of Willets.  Half a dozen Sage Thrashers, dozens of sparrows (Vesper, Chipping Sparrow, one Savannah Sparrow), and flyover Golden Eagle were interesting.

No Greater Sage-Grouse were found along the Loop or behind the Visitor's Center.  A Prairie Falcon stood on a fence post at the entrance road to the Visitor's Center.

June 24
We received a lead on a Northern Saw-whet Owl at a private ranch in Jackson County and of course headed that way.  Sure enough, the owl called most of the morning.  It was a good start to our birding day: making a couple of new friends and a bonus: Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Most of our day was spent wandering the gravel roads north of Lake John & Delaney Buttes Wildlife Areas.  The most common birds were Vesper Sparrows.  We also ran across Brewer's Sparrows, Sage Thrashers, and one Clay-colored Sparrow!

Returning to Walden, we had to pass Lake John Wildlife Area and once again tried to see two Red-necked Grebes.  Our luck continued, only one grebe was found.

The usual hummingbirds appeared back at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (still no Calliope Hummingbird).  A slate colored Fox Sparrow popped out of the willows behind the Visitor's Center.  The male American Three-toed Woodpecker could be heard drumming to the north, across Hwy 14.

After dark, we investigated Ranger Lakes and relocated the Boreal Owl reported a few days earlier.  Then we called it an early evening.

June 25
Bryan & Sue Ehlmann joined up this morning and we headed to the Teller Ghost Town (Jackson).  If Burrowing Owls are nesting again this year along Jackson County Road 21, we could not find them.

I always enjoy a walk around the self-guiding tour at the Teller Ghost Town.  There is great history about this old silver mining town.  Now and then, an interesting bird is encountered.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was again found at the northwest corner of the trail.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called at the southwest corner.

At dusk, a Dusky Grouse was observed running across the road near the entrance.

We did wandered south down Jackson County Road 21 toward Owl Mountain.  Forest Roads 792 & 771 were still not passable.

Bryan and I set up our three "owl listening stations", then walked up the closed Forest Road 792.  We found a Flammulated Owl and Boreal Owl within a mile hike before turning around (muddy and snow drifts).

Later Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings back on CR 21.  Our owl listening stations picked up another Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Note: a 4-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended for exploring this area.

June 26
Our group enjoyed a late day after owling all of last night.  After some great barbecue, we walked around Gould and the Campgrounds to the south.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming at the Aspen Campgrounds.  A couple of Olive-sided Flycatchers and an American Dipper (South Fork of Michigan River) were also found.

Bryan and I went out owling at the northwest end of Michigan River Road (Jackson CR 41).  Four Boreal Owls were encountered.  This included a juvenile at one of our nesting boxes along the North Fork of the Canadian River!

June 27
Today, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I went to the northern border of Colorado above Steamboat Springs.

We drove around Forest Road 550 (Routt County) and found a pair of White-winged Crossbills 2.1 miles northeast of CR 129.

A female and two young Dusky Grouse were along Forest Road 550 near the intersection of Trail 1149.1B.

Bryan and I hung around until dark while the others went back to Steamboat Springs for dinner.  We found no owls this night.  Our three owl listening stations did not pick up any owl sounds either.

Note: Use of "others", I seem to get in trouble if I use "ladies", "girls" or "women" (have run out of synonyms)?

June 28
Another all night owling trip today started after Noon for us. We wandered around Steamboat Springs (Routt County), Steamboat Lake State Park, Pearl State Park and Catamount Lake.  Few uncommon birds were found.

A couple of pairs of Sandhill Cranes were found at Steamboat Lake State Park.  I believe they nest on the property.  A Lesser Yellowlegs and Least Sandpiper were probably early migrants.

The highlights at Pearl Lake State Park were a Long-eared Owl, American Three-toed Woodpecker & Williamson's Sapsucker.

A few Yellow-headed Blackbirds at Catamount Reservoir were our only Routt County sightings this trip.  Shorebirds were non-existent. 

The plan was to drive Buffalo Pass Road tomorrow.  A Family emergency forced me back to Denver.