Sunday, August 17, 2014

Return to Cameron Pass and Cherry Creek Reservoir

August 16-17, 2014

Richard Stevens:

A late call from three out of state birders Saturday afternoon and I was heading up to Cameron Pass (Jackson County).  Luck was with us; winds were calm.  Eventually we found three Boreal Owls in the cool night.  Unfortunately (or not) only one of the owls allowed us a quick look (less than four seconds).

The two easiest to relocate were (1) 300 yards northwest of the restroom parking area at the top of Cameron Pass and (2) 400 yards along the road/trail heading south from the Crags Campgrounds.

After returning to Denver and getting a couple of hours of sleep, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  I searched briefly and found the Little Gull in the southeast corner of the lake.  The main purpose was to take some photos of the Park for an article I am writing for September's "Colorado Field Notes".

I did enjoy some superb highlights however.  While photographing the 12 Mile Beaver Pond, I found a Green Heron.  It is the only report of one at the State Park that I have heard of in 2014.

While photographing the dam tower area, I walked under the trees just north of the tower to frame a lake shot.  I looked up and saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo staring down at me.  After a minute or so, it took off along the road/trail below the dam and disappeared when it reached the marina area. 

The cuckoo must have stopped by last night and with all the people around, stayed put until I stepped under the tree?

The road/trail below the dam is now completed.  One can now circle the whole lake on foot or bicycle.  Quite convenient, in past years, I walked 3/4 miles along the shaky rocks to circle the lake.

Dozens of Snowy Egrets were just north of the marina at the southern end of the dam road/trail.  Another dozen searched for food at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond.

I do not want to write to the cobirders listserve, but want to put on record a Jaeger flying around Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Did anyone else see one on Sunday afternoon?  I reserve which species I thought it was until another time.

A Drive Around Eastern Arapahoe County

August 16, 2014

Richard Stevens:

With seven Cassin's Kingbird reports for Arapahoe County in the past month, Rebecca and I decided to search for one for ourselves.  We drove East Jewell Avenue, past Murphy Creek Golf Course toward East Yale Avenue.  Reports of two Cassin's Kingbirds in the area yesterday did not help us find one.  The dozen or so kingbirds were all Western.  Fifty or so Lark Buntings feeding around the sunflowers along the road were all females or young males, no adult males.  Farther east, the road was closed because of bridge repair. 

We wanted to checkout Aurora Reservoir anyway, so we circled over to East Quincy Avenue, past the entrance to Aurora Reservoir and turned north on Watkins Road, then west on East Yale Avenue.  Hundreds of Lark Buntings, again females or young males flew around on both sides of the road.  Dozens of Mourning Doves accompanied them.

We continued west, then north, then west until reaching the same bridge under repair.  The return trip was more interesting.  An adult Red-headed Woodpecker flew to a fence post at the corner where East Yale Street turns from South to East.  Later the woodpecker returned to the few trees just to the west.

At 29801 E. Yale, we stopped to look at a Sage Thrasher.  It was here that we got our Arapahoe County Cassin's Kingbird.  It was hawking insects at the end of the driveway!

Aurora Reservoir was uneventful. Too many people and few birds moved about.

On Sunday, 8/17, Quincy Avenue will be closed from Robertsdale Road (first road east of Aurora Reservoir entrance) to Watkins Road.  Predicted to be a one-day closure for a reason that was not listed.

No Short-eared Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop on our drive home.  Burrowing Owls still at Quency Street prairie dog village.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Little Gull at Cherry Creek Reservoir

August 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

After getting a few hours of sleep and some chores done, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  The juvenile Little Gull was found with the help of my scope swimming in the middle of the lake.

Jerry Petrosky:
"When I pulled into the Lake Loop at Cherry Creek STP Rich Stevens had been watching the Little Gull for 15 minutes or so. It flew around the shore at the swim beach. By the time we got there, it flew over our heads once and went to the southeast corner. It remained there for the next half hour. The only place with no jet skis or boats.

Richard found a Red eyed Vireo in the cottonwoods west of the volleyball net, next to red and brown no swimming allowed sign.

The Little Gull is easy to pick out on the water, appearing dark and small. In flight the distinct wing pattern and tern like flight also easy to see. Would not expect it to leave the lake tonight!

Brief Trip Up Interstate 76

August 14, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a quick one and a half day trip up Interstate 76.

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) first walking the north side.  Two Common Terns flew around the northeastern corner.  Only one of the previously reported Caspian Terns was encountered.

A walk along the western Campgrounds did not find any Long-eared Owls or Eastern Screech-Owls.  A Great Horned Owl was northwest of the Visitor's Center.  A Townsend's Warbler flew around the Russian Olive Trees at Pelican Campgrounds.

Our trek continued northeast and we walked around the inlet canal at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties).  Nothing uncommon was found. 

Bird activity was at a minimum.  A Red-eyed Vireo was along the outlet canal below the dam.  At dusk, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl east toward the far eastern parking area.  We returned to the outlet canal and heard another Eastern Screech-Owl there.

At sunrise, we returned to Denver.

Barr Lake, Later Owling in the Foothills near Bailey

August 13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started at Barr Lake (Adams County).  Thirty minutes before sunrise, I walked in from Picadilly Road.  No Barn Owls were found along the windbreak at the State Park entrance.  Then I returned to my car at sunrise and drove to Visitor's Center.  While walking from the Visitor's Center to the banding station, a Barn Owl was observed along that hike.

Later, seven Burrowing Owls were relocated at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.

Late in the afternoon, I met an out of state birder and we went searching for owls in the foothills.  It was raining when we arrive at St. Marys Church in Bailey; previous reported Northern Pygmy-Owl not found.

The rain stopped when we arrive at the Northern Pygmy-Owl spot along CR 64 (approximately 3.5 miles east of Highway 285); previously reported Northern Pygmy-Owl not found.

We returned to St. Marys Church.  No owls found during a rainy downpour.

On the trip back to Denver, we detoured over to Reynolds Park (Jefferson).  A hike up Oxen Draw and then along Foxton Road between the two parking areas did not find any owls.

Side Note: Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons went early Thursday morning (8/14).  Skies were sunny after sunrise.  They found a Northern Pygmy-Owl at the CR 64 location; none was found at St. Marys Church.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Hike Around Aurora Reservoir

August 12, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I circled Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this afternoon.  It requires a 7.8-mile hike.  We took our time as temperatures were still in the low 80s at 8:00 pm when we drove the DIA Owl Loop.

A few interesting birds included a Pectoral Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper.  Other birds included a Loggerhead Shrike, Say's Phoebe, many Western Kingbirds, two Eastern Kingbirds, and a Virginia Rail (southwestern cattails).  Raptors included Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawks and a Prairie Falcon.

Misses included the Red-headed Woodpecker, Long-billed Curlew and Barn Owl reported yesterday by David Suddjian.

Grasses around the Aurora Reservoir were quite high, not where a Long-billed Curlew would be expected.  We scoped much of the shorter grasses around the nearby Arapahoe County Race Trail.  No Long-billed Curlews were found.

Additional Red-tailed Hawks, Swainson's Hawks, American Kestrels and another Prairie Falcon were observed during our drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County).  Burrowing Owls continue around the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.

We watched the Perseids meteor shower at Trussville between 114th & 120th.  Darkness was better here; the meteor shower put on a good show.  The only migrating birds that we could pick out were Chipping Sparrow (with their distinctive flight call).

Drive Around Eastern Arapahoe County

August 11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I decided to enjoy the afternoon cool down with a drive to Bennett and area (Arapahoe County).  We searched unsuccessfully for the Cassin's Kingbirds and Long-billed Curlew along Kiowa-Bennett Road.

We had found Cassin's Kingbirds in Arapahoe in the past.  A Northern Mockingbird along Arapahoe County Road 6 (at 4.4 miles east of Kiowa-Bennett Road) was a new county bird for us!  A Burrowing Owl was on a fence along CR 18 (2.0 miles east of K-B road).

On the trip back west, we stopped at the Interstate 70 Bennett Rest Stop only to find that is has been closed.  No parking signs were all along the road; we found no legal place to stop in order to bird the rest stop.

It was a beautiful evening.  The super Moon (something like 15 percent brighter than most full moons, closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth) lit up the sky.

We parked along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) and watched the Perseids meteor shower.  Many birds flew over (southern migration over the eastern side of Barr Lake).  The sounds were identified included many Chipping Sparrows and an Upland Sandpiper.  A dozen others had to be recorded as unknown.

Return from Northeastern Colorado

August 10, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and returned from our short trip to northeastern Colorado.  For the most part the day was uneventful. 

Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick Counties) presented few birds and no uncommon ones. 

A Mississippi Kite flew over Overland Park in Sterling (Logan).  We found a couple of Dickcissel along Logan County Road 46 on the way into Sterling Reservoir.  No uncommon birds were recorded at the reservoir.

We skipped Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) expecting many mosquitoes and few rare birds.

No Long-eared Owls were found at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  A Caspian Tern flew by along the western shore during the search for Long-eared Owls.  Half a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers flew around Pelican Campgrounds.

A detour to Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) found a male Red-bellied Woodpecker wandering around the northern border.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl was not enticed to appear today.

Our final stop was Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  Again, birding was slow.  No Long-eared Owls were found in the western windbreak.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Northeastern Colorado

August 9, 2014

Richard Stevens:

After yesterday's tremendous thunderstorms, Bryan Ehlmann, Roger Danka and I went out looking for birds that might have been stopped in their migration south.  We found many wet birds, few uncommon birds.

Most of our birding was on private ranches today.  Winds were calm in the morning; temperatures were in the high 70s.  By early afternoon, high winds and thunderstorms rolled in once again.

Because our highlights were on private lands, I will not list them all here.  Check the Colorado Birding Society's website for additions to the August uncommon bird listings.

Highlights today included: Dickcissels, Long-eared Owls, Short-eared Owl, Burrowing Owls, one Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Phoebes and a Harris's Sparrow.

We did hear an Eastern Screech-Owl call as we sat at the barbecue at Roger Danka's ranch.

Bonny Reservoir to Julesburg

August 8, 2014

Bryan Ehlmann and I heard one or two Eastern Screech-Owls on the North side of Hale Ponds at 4:30 am.  Then we hiked the Republican River from Hwy 385 to Foster's Grove.  Four additional Eastern Screech-Owls were found.

In Wray, we detoured over to the Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma County).  At least one of the Eastern Phoebes that nested along Chief Creek, east of County Road FF was still there.  The rest of the area did not yield any uncommon birds.

A Northern Cardinal was found around the picnic area of Stalker Lake.  The only shorebirds were Baird's Sandpipers.  Wray City Park was quiet and we continued north.

Holyoke City Park and the Cemetery did not have any uncommon birds.  A Bell's Vireo along the south side of Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area was our most interesting bird of the day.

A tremendous thunderstorm rolled in from the west as we continued north.  We did not stop at Sandsage Wildlife Area as the wind and rain continued.  Those storms ended our birding day.

Trip to the Eastern Plains

August 7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and my first stop of the day was a great one.  An empidonax flycatcher was perched near the northeast corner of Last Chance Rest Stop when we stopped.  It called twice and revealed that it was an Alder Flycatcher!

Many birds flew around this oasis of shade from the late morning sun.  The best was a Northern Waterthrush.  Others included a Brown Thrasher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and lingering House Wrens.

Our trek continued east to Bonny Reservoir and Area.  We enjoyed walks under the cottonwoods where it was pleasant and "cool".  With water levels down to a small fraction of what the reservoir used to be, mosquito populations appear to be significantly lower.

On the northern side, Foster's Grove to Highway 385, we found a male Northern Cardinal at the Campgrounds and a Great Crested Flycatcher (calling) several hundred yards to the west.  An Eastern Screech-Owl was enticed to come out of his nesting hole with a little help from a recording.

On the southern side of Bonny, a walk along the closed road added a male Red-bellied Woodpecker and male Baltimore Oriole to our trip list.  It is getting late to see any adult male Orioles and he made a good highlight to our day.

At Hale, we found four Eastern Bluebirds hawking insects along the Republican River.  An hour search/walk along the River did not find any Cuckoos (Yellow-billed Cuckoos nested earlier east of CR LL.5.  A dozen years ago, a Black-billed Cuckoo pair nested in the tall cottonwoods.  I have not heard of any since (but look every time I am in the area).

On the way to Hale Ponds, we caught two Dickcissels singing from the fence line along Yuma County Road 4.

Five Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found around the Hale Ponds.  We also found two Yellow-billed Cuckoos, which would have been missed if they had not been calling.  It took quite a while to see one of them even after knowing which tree he was perched.

At dusk, we enticed a Common Poorwill to respond to our recording (played at the southwest corner of Hale Ponds).  Would have preferred a Whip-poor-will, one cannot always be choosy.  No Short-eared Owls flew around the hills south of Hale Ponds (as they sometimes will do).

Misses: we did not find any Long-eared Owls at Bonny or Hale this trip.  The Hale windbreak has taken quite a beating from weather and age.  It is not as thick as once was.

After dark, we walked Hale Ponds and the Republican River and found/heard at least two Eastern Screech-Owls.

Casual Day Around Arapahoe & Adams Counties

August 6, 2014

Early this morning I took a leisure walk around Aurora Sports Park (Arapahoe County).  Many Western Kingbirds were hawking insects around the soccer fields.  Two Eastern Kingbirds were at the southeastern corner of the park.

I hiked Sand Creek as it ran through the riparian area.  The highlight was a Red-eyed Vireo that was along the creek at 20 yards south of where Sand Creek turns west after running north.  A Brown Thrasher was found about 50 yards south of this corner.

Later on my way to the DIA Owl Loop (Adams), I detoured to the flooded field along Tower Road, just north of 96th avenue.  The previously reported Pectoral Sandpiper was walking between the clumps of grasses scattered in the shallow pool.

Many additional shorebirds were also feeding in th
e shoul.  These included two Snowy Plovers, a dozen Baird's Sandpipers, a Least Sandpiper, two Western Sandpipers, four American Avocets and the usual dozen or so Killdeer.

Along the DIA Owl Loop, I found a Swainson's Hawk checking out a nest.  A second Swainson's Hawk circled overhead.  It seems late in the season for them to nest, perhaps not?

Nine Burrowing Owls were found at the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.  I missed the reported owls at Trussville Road & 114th avenue and at Tower Road and 112th avenue.

Finally, I drove over to the riparian area at 96th avenue and Box Elder Creek.  Jerry Petrosky and a couple of other birders have reported Red-headed Woodpeckers here in the past few weeks.  Jerry also saw an Upland Sandpiper in the field northeast of the creek. 

Unfortunately, I found neither bird.  However, the airplanes taking off at DIA were quite entertaining.

Thunderstorms rolled in once again in the afternoon; they ended my birding day.

An Oklahoma Birder Up Mt. Evans

August 5, 2014

Richard Stevens:

At 5:00 am, I met Oklahoma birder Terry Underhill and we arrived at Mt Evans Summit (Clear Creek County) a half-hour after sunrise.

We could not find the 15 White-tailed Ptarmigan that Bruce Montagne (of Michigan) found down the west side of the gravel pullover/parking lot, just downhill of the paved parking lot at the top of Mt Evans Road.  Many American Pipits and a Mountain Sheep were there.

We walked around the field east of the Summit Lake Parking lot for about 1.5 hours before finding two White-tailed Ptarmigan.  The Ptarmigan were east of the orange metal sign (road damage); not the electric sign of same message.

Then we hiked to the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  Time for a rest, we sat and waited about an hour before eight Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew around the rocky hillside.  They briefly landed a couple of times.

Many hummingbirds came to the three feeders hanging on the Echo Lodge.  Most were female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds with a few adult males.  Half a dozen Rufous Hummingbirds, again mostly females also visited.  One female Calliope Hummingbird was harassed each time it tried to drink some the nourishment.

No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at the Echo Lake Campgrounds.  We then hiked downhill along the Captain Mt Trail and found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming (about 20 yards from trailhead).

It started to rain rapidly.  I could only briefly find one Barrow's Goldeneye on Echo Lake.

Heading back toward Denver, we detoured to Mt. Falcon Park (Jefferson County).  The rain had stopped the park was quite birdy.  Dozens of Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds, Pygmy Nuthatches and a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, White-breasted Nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees were between the upper parking lot and restrooms.  One female Western Tanager was south/below the parking lot.

I then walked the Parmelee Trail south from the restrooms.  A Green-tailed Towhee family, many Lark Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow were added to additional bluebirds and Chipping Sparrows.  A Dusky Grouse was downhill/south of the yellow metal sign (downhill people yield to uphill traffic).

Ending Our Summer Mountain Birding Trip

August 1-4, 2014

Richard Stevens:

August 1

Bryan and I returned to Big Green Mountain Falls (Gunnison).  Plans had changed because of predicted inclement weather or we would not have backtracked.  A Black Swift was found flying around this isolated/out of the way Waterfall.  It is a beautiful spot to visit!

Williamson's and Red-naped Sapsuckers flew around Silver Jack Campgrounds.  A search for Hooded Warblers came up empty.  They successfully nested here in 2013.

Cowboy Lake added a female and two young Dusky Grouse and another pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers to our trip list.  A Boreal Owl was the only owl heard tonight.  Our "owl listening stations" did not pick up any owl sounds.

August 2

Today we headed to Kebler Pass by way of Crawford.  A friend had heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo on his ranch along Highway 133 about a month or so ago.  Bryan and I were not able to find it.  He also had several Purple Martins fly over a week ago; there was no sign of them today.

We detoured to McClure Pass before heading down Kebler Pass (Gunnison).  Purple Martins had nested below the pass in previous years.  None was found today.  A detour to the road to Marble found a dozen Band-tailed Pigeons; no Purple Martin flew around the waterfall below Chair Mountain.  News of road damage on Schofield Pass encouraged us to skip driving it this trip (White-tailed Ptarmigan found in the past, 4-wheel drive vehicle a must under "good conditions").

Success for Purple Martins was better on Kebler Pass.  We relocated the Purple Martin found a week or so ago by Dennis Garrison.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was west of the old cemetery.

We ended our birding day by setting up our "owl listening stations" and having a barbecue on Ohio Pass.  One station picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl calling!

August 3

Before leaving Gunnison County, Bryan and I drove down Gunnison County Road 38.  Ten Gunnison Sage-Grouse were 1/2 mile or so north of the intersection with CR 38a.

A drive around Buena Vista (Chaffee) found three Lewis's Woodpeckers.  One at S. Railroad Street and Marquette Avenue and two at Four Elk Creek at Wagon Trail Road.  The Williamson's Sapsucker reported along CR 307 by Jeff Witters on 8/1 was not relocated.

Unfortunately, the news of the Black-throated Gray Warbler at the Salida Ball Fields did not reach us until we passed through town.

A stop at Trout Creek Pass (Park County) found our first American Three-toed Woodpecker of the day!

Antero Reservoir was slow.  The couple of shorebirds were too far away to identify.  The Common Loon found by Steve Mlodinow on 6/8 was still there.

Our birding day ended up Georgia Pass Road (Park County).  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at his usual spot (4.1 miles west past the Michigan Creek Campgrounds).

Our three "owl listening stations" were set up along Michigan Creek Road and we continued to Georgia Pass. 

We hiked about 1.5 miles northwest of Michigan Creek Road (CR 54) along the trail past Michigan Lake.  Several super highlights included a White-winged Crossbill near Michigan Lake and two White-tailed Ptarmigan at 0.6 miles above the Lake!

After dark, we found a Flammulated Owl near a GPS waypoint taken last year.  Our "owl listening stations" picked up two Northern Pygmy-Owls (between the American Three-toed Woodpecker location and the trail to Michigan Lake).

August 4

Bryan and I chose to attempt relocating birds previously reported by David Suddjian on Lost Park (Park County).  We could not find the Lewis's Woodpeckers and Williamson's Sapsuckers along Forest Road 211.  The Lewis's Woodpecker would have been a superb find for Park County (first county bird for both of us).

We did relocate one of the American Three-toed Woodpeckers along Forest Road 431.

With little success, we decided to hike up Twin Cone trail off Kenosha Pass.  A Dusky Grouse ran across the road at 0.3 miles east of Highway 285.  We found our Williamson's Sapsucker in the Aspen Grove where the road/trail turns from south to east.

An Ovenbird sang with the marsh about 200 yards after the turn to the east!  This is a well-defined trail; we were comfortable returning in the dark.  Flammulated Owls were heard between the cabin area and the closed gate near Kenosha Pass.

Our "owl listening stations" picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl at the Campgrounds.  No Boreal Owls would respond to our recordings.

Continued Birding In the Mountains

July 27-31, 2014

Richard Stevens:

July 27

Coaldale and Hayden Campgrounds hold great birding memories for me.  When I first stopped here twenty years ago, I enjoyed a fantastic spring day.  In the half-mile walk between the Campgrounds, I found 100+ Evening Grosbeaks, 50+ Western Tanagers and 25+ Black-headed Grosbeaks.  The road was lined with Wild Plum bushes; the aroma was intoxicating.

We managed to find the common birds, Western Tanagers, Evening Grosbeaks, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Warbling Vireos, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers was down the dirt track running south, just before the main road turns west to Coaldale Campgrounds.

Bryan and I continued our successful trip and decided to enter Gunnison County by way of Marshall Pass.  Another pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers was found near the Summit of Marshall Pass. 

We checked on a Purple Martin nesting tree (6/20/2010) and found no activity (Saguache County).  A past Northern Pygmy-Owl nesting tree (8/4/2008) was also quiet.  One of four Flammulated Owl nesting sites was a success.  An owl called briefly in response to our recording.  Unfortunately, it started to rain, which made setting up our "owl listening stations" a waste of time.

July 28

Everything was wet from last night's thunderstorm; skies were clear and temperatures in the 60s.  Bryan and I drove up Cumberland Pass.  Pinyon Jays were once again found along the road.  Two White-tailed Ptarmigan were encountered along our hike at the top of the pass.

Five American Three-toed Woodpeckers were observed around Mirror Lake.  After dusk, we relocated a Northern Pygmy-Owl that has nested near Tin Cup (Gunnison County) four of the last seven years.

July 29

Another break in the weather was predicted, Bryan and I drove back to Old Monarch Road (Gunnison County).  I had always wanted to explore this road for owls and of course other birds.  Lack of time and a 4-wheel drive vehicle (a must) limited my opportunities.  Weather conditions were predicted to be favorable.

Several pairs of American Three-toed Woodpeckers, flocks of Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, and other mountain species were observed.  A pair of White-winged Crossbills was above the Monarch Valley Ski Resort (at N 38 29.835, W 106 22.559).

When we reached the Monarch Ski Area Rest Stop along Highway 50, we found another three male and a female American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Late in the afternoon, we made a major hike into the Gunnison National Forest.  Regrettably, no owls were encountered.  Our three "owl listening stations" did not pick up any owl calls tonight.

July 30

We stayed up owling all night and drove Gunnison County Road 38 before heading for some shuteye.  Five Gunnison Sage-Grouse were observed on the west side of the road just north of CR 38a.  We continued south down CR 38 into Saguache County; no additional Gunnison Sage-Grouse were found.

Early in the afternoon, we stopped by a friend's ranch and found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo nest that he had staked out.  At a stop at another friend's ranch, Bill informed us that no Yellow-billed Cuckoos were heard or seen this year.  He also had not heard the Western Screech-Owls, which had nested for half a dozen years on his ranch.

At a third private ranch, we did succeed in seeing a Western Screech-Owl.

July 31

Today, Bryan and I traveled down Cimarron Road (Gunnison County).  It is a good road to find American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  Six Three-toed Woodpeckers total at three of our stops.

Another pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers was along the road to Fish Creek Reservoir.

Our birding day ended after midnight (8/1) back at Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose County).  The walk to the overlook at the west end of the South Rim Drive was quite productive.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called along the trail (at approximately just short of halfway). 

We were able to find and see a second Northern Pygmy-Owl west of the overlook.  They have nested here many years.  Several Common Poorwill were on the road as we drove to the Eastern Campgrounds.  The night was still but filled with bird sounds when we settled down for some needed much needed sleep.

Search for Scissor-tailed Flycatcher & Black-throated Sparrows

July 25-26, 2014

Richard Stevens:

July 25

Bryan Ehlmann and I enjoyed a good start to our birding day.

In Fremont County, we saw the male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher feeding the female who was sitting on the nest; 5:58 am.  We parked at the driveway of the ranch for sale, about 0.1 miles north of the nesting tree.  One of the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers called constantly from 5:48 am to 5:53 am and flew down to the driveway.  Later determined to be the male, it landed less than 10 yards from their car.  After a couple of minutes, it flew up to the telephone wires above the car.  In order to not disturb the birds, we drove the car farther north and they watched the male fly back to the nesting tree.  Clearly the birds are aware of nearby people.

As we drove down Forest Road 386, stops were made at several Aspen Groves.  Grace's Warblers were found at two of the stops.  American Three-toed Woodpeckers were observed at two locations along hwy 67 between Custer County Line and Hwy 165.  Williamson's Sapsuckers at two locations and Red-naped Sapsuckers at three locations.

Then we headed Beulah (Pueblo County) and Pueblo Mountain Park.  The two adult Acorn Woodpeckers fed young in a Ponderosa Pine near the parking lot at Pueblo Mountain Park.  A Grace's Warbler was within 200 yards of the old tennis courts. 

Three large groups of Scaled Quail were observed along Pueblo County Road 201 on the way to Pueblo.  We drove northeast though Pueblo and back to Pueblo West where the two Black throated Sparrows were relocated below Liberty Point, Pueblo West.  The Sparrows were in and under the two trees 10 yards northwest of the orange marker with #10 on it, along the dirt track off Greenbrier Drive.  A good mile from east saddle brook drive.  The sparrows moved six trees farther south as the guys left.

A break in afternoon thunderstorms allowed us to search for owls in Fremont County.  A Spotted Owl was found in Phantom Canyon (about 2:00 am).  We backtracked to Beaver Creek Wildlife Area and found a Northern Pygmy-Owl before getting a few hours of sleep.

July 26

After getting some needed sleep, we walked around Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont) for several hours.  Highlights not only included Juniper Titmice but also a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Nothing uncommon was found in Penrose and we returned to Phantom Canyon.  Again, we found a Spotted Owl (most likely the same one discovered last night).  No additional Spotted Owls called as we drove to Victor and back.

Just north of Highway 50, we stopped at one of my favorite owl locations and heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl at Oro Juno while walking a section of Phantom Canyon Road.  We camped at another of my favorite locations, Hayden Campgrounds south of Coaldale (Fremont County).

No owls called along the road and we hit the sack just about the time the sun rose.

Unsuccessful Owling Around Montezuma, CO

July 21-22, 2014

Richard Stevens:

After resting most of Monday, Bryan and I tried to go owling around Montezuma, CO (Summit County).  We spent a wet night (no surprise, thunderstorms again late in the day) at the tree line up St. Johns Trail.

No owls were found.  Because of recent road closures, our trek took much time and yielded little results.

A.M. Bailey to Quandary Peak

July 19-20, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I walked from A.M. Bailey to Quandary Peak over the two days.  No unexpected passerines were encountered.  The search for owls was greatly hindered by afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

We arrived at our pickup point near Quandary Peak, wet and tired.

A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary

July 17-18, 2014

Sue Ehlmann:

Back from a long couple of weeks in the mountains, I left Bryan and Rich Stevens at A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary. They plan to walk south to Quandary Peak more or less.

On 7/17, they found an American Three-toed Woodpecker about 1/3 the way from the trailhead to the bird sanctuary. It is approximately 1.2 miles from the trailhead to A.M. Bailey.

At dusk on 7/17, they found a Northern Pygmy-Owl northwest across the creek.

On 7/18, they found a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers again northwest across the creek. Later they found a female White-tailed Ptarmigan with three young up the Ptarmigan Trail. GPS about 0.6 miles up the trail from the intersection of the main trail and the trail to A.M. Bailey.

Other birds seen in the area: Fox Sparrow, MacGillivray's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hammond's Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Red-naped Sapsucker, Williamson's Sapsucker.

Vail Pass Area

July 16, 2014

Richard Stevens:

On the way to A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary (Summit County), Bryan Ehlmann and I explored Line Shack Road and Vail Pass.  Without a doubt, the highlight was two male White-winged Crossbills near Minturn.

We observed another White-winged Crossbill up the Shrine Pass trail (Vail Pass, Summit County).

A stop by a friend's home did add some mountain species to the start of our trip.  Best were six Brown-capped Rosy Finches and four Band-tailed Pigeons.

Afternoon thunderstorms did not allow us to go owling or put out our "owl listening stations".

My Favorite Hike, Spruce Creek Trail

July 14-15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

During these two days, Bryan Ehlmann and I explored one of my favorite hikes in Colorado.  I have visited the Spruce Creek Trail (Mohawk Lakes, Waterfall and Pacific Peak) over 36 times in the past 20 years.  Wildflowers are in bloom in July and many of the mountain species line the trail and waterfalls.  Columbines were plentiful (Colorado State Flower).

The box canyon at the top is a pleasant, calm, isolated place to escape the hordes of people back in Denver.  Plenty of birds are around to peak a birders interest.

Over the two days, we found the following:

White-tailed Ptarmigan --above upper Mohawk lake (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/15
Brown-capped Rosy Finch (28) --pacific tarn lake (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/14-15
American Three-toed Woodpecker (5) (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/14-15
Boreal Owl (2 heard) --south of Mohawk falls (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/14-15
Flammulated Owl (2) --south of upper parking lot (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/14
Northern Pygmy-Owl (2) --north of upper parking lot (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/14
Dusky Grouse (2) --south of upper parking lot (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/14
Williamson's Sapsucker (pair) --north of upper parking lot (Stevens:Ehlmann) first 7/14

A four-wheel drive is required to get to the upper parking area.  Otherwise, it takes a four-mile hike to get to this parking area.  The climb to the box canyon is another couple of miles and not for those out of shape.  The views along the way and at the top are spectacular as the box canyon is bordered by Pacific Peak and Mount Helen.

Birding In Eagle County

July 10-13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent four days wandering around Eagle County.  Lack of electricity/internet for most of July did not allow me to update the Blog.  I did not take my laptop on this trip in fear that anything left in our jeep would tempt someone to break into it.

The two days we spent below Mount of the Holy Cross were the most interesting.  Highlights included:

Dusky Grouse: Gold Park Road
Northern Pygmy-Owl: Campgrounds
Flammulated Owl (2): Missouri Creek Road

Birding and especially owling were again hampered by severe afternoon thunderstorms.  It was the trend for July, summer of 2014.