Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Coal Canyon (Magnificent Hummingbird) to Washington Park (Surf Scoter)

October 28, 2014

Another beautiful fall day, temperatures in the low 60s, mild winds.

I had to drive up to Coal Canyon (Boulder County) to see the female Magnificent Hummingbird!  Fantastic find!  Thanks Adam Jack for his hospitality!

Afterwards, I walked around Golden, centered on Ford and 16th Streets.  In past years, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been found in the area.  None was found today; however, it could be a little early.  They usually show up in late November and December.

My next stop was Washington Park (Denver).  The female Surf Scoter was swimming around the south end of Grasmere Lake.  Thanks to Joe Roller for reporting the duck!

My day ended once again along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No owls were found this afternoon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Songbirds, Anyone, Part 2?

October 26, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) to search for the White-throated Sparrows reported yesterday.  Once again, we found no songbirds (areas checked: Plum Creek Delta, south marina sand spit, south of Kingfisher Bridge).

We stopped at the Heronry Overlook.  Quite a few additional birds were below and it took 20 minutes to separate the two Surf Scoters.  They drove almost constantly, which did not help the search.  No songbirds flew around the area.

We continued to Lair 'O Bear Park (Jefferson).  Not one bird (not one) was found as we walked the park for about an hour.  It was quite strange.  American Dippers are usually found along Bear Creek in the winter.  We guessed the weather has been too good farther upstream; dippers have not arrived yet.

For sure, we expected birds behind the Red Rocks Park Trading Post (Jefferson).  Again, not one bird put in an appearance.

A drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) on the way home, also found only a couple of Black-billed Magpies and one Northern Flicker.

It was a fantastic fall day with little wind and temperatures in the high 70s.  No birds, but a great day to be outside!

Looking for a Red-throated Loon

October 25, 2014

Richard Stevens:

As I passed Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County), I stopped to see if the Lesser Black-backed Gull was below the dam and at the scuba beach.  Unfortunately, it was present but quite far out in the water (too many anglers around).

I hoped to relocate the Red-throated Loon found earlier in the morning at Chatfield State Park.  Regrettably, it had flown before my arrival.  The two Surf Scoters below the Heronry Overlook were a nice consolation for the 45 mile drive to the park.

Later I scoped Spring Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson), Coley Lake (Arapahoe) and McLellan Reservoir (Arapahoe) without finding the Red-throated Loon.

It was another marvelous fall day with temperatures in the low 80s and calm winds!

Brief Trip to Northeastern Colorado, few songbirds

October 23-24, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a brief two day trip to northeastern Colorado.  The fall weather continued to be gorgeous with temperatures in the low 80s and mild winds.  Birding was a pleasure in spite of the lack of birds.

October 23

At first light we stopped at Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington County).  A male Rusty Blackbird walked around the small pond.  A White-throated Sparrow was found with several White-crowned Sparrows at the southwest corner of the property.

Most of our day was spent at Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds.  We skipped walking Pipit Hill figuring the Sprague's Pipits were gone.  Later we were found to be wrong as Sprague's Pipits were seen as late as 10/25.

The highlight was a chattering Winter Wren along the Republican River, just northeast of Hale Ponds.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers continued west of Hale Ponds.  A few Eastern Bluebirds also flew around the area.

A White-throated Sparrow was with several White-crowned Sparrows at the old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds.  After sunset, one of the Eastern Screech-Owls called back at Hale Ponds.

October 24

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I stopped at four of the Walk-In Areas (WIA) around Clarksville (Yuma) hoping for find an uncommon sparrow (such as any "ammodramus); without success.  With dozens of WIAs in the county, we concentrated on those along creeks (it this case, Coyote Creek).

We continued north into Washington County and again stopped at WIAs along Surveyor Creek and Twentytwo Slough; without finding any uncommon birds.  Only a few White-crowned Sparrows and the usual Red-winged Blackbirds and European Starlings were recorded.

We stopped at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) only to find many hunters at the inlet area.  Common sense dictated that we skipped walking through the area.

It worked out fine.  We walked the eastern end of the dam and found a Swamp Sparrow in the cattails!  Birding was slow and we moved on to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).

Birding was slow here also.  Nothing uncommon was found on the lake or the shore.  Two White-throated Sparrows fluttered about the northern Campgrounds.  We did find one of the Long-eared Owls, which appeared to have stayed all year (location to remain unnamed).

Finally a Songbird!

October 22, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I had to get out of the house on this beautiful fall day.

Another visit to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) found the Lesser Black-backed Gull too far from shore for a decent photo.  Today it was in the northwest corner, below the dam.

I spent several hours walking the shore at Barr Lake (Adams).  I ended up counting larger birds because of lack of shorebirds.  Four hundred sixty one American White Pelicans, no Brown Pelicans.  Nine hundred eight three Double-crested Cormorants, not one Neotropic Cormorant.  Too many Ring-billed Gulls to count.  One thousand four hundred plus Western Grebes, a couple of Clark's Grebes among them.  At least two Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued at the shrinking lake.

No birds were found at the banding station area.  The Barn Owls have fledged.  I did not even find the resident pair of Downy Woodpeckers today.

Finally, a couple of songbirds were encountered during the mile hike below the dam.  Twelve Yellow-rumped Warblers fluttered about outlet number 5.  An Orange-crowned Warbler was among them.  It has been years since I was excited by seeing an Orange-crowned Warbler (probably 20+ as it is has 22 years since it was a lifebird).  Songbirds have been quite scarce this fall.

No owls were found as I drove the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.

Songbirds Anyone?

October 21, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Where have all the sparrows gone?  I purchased a new camera Sunday and have not been able to find a sparrow at Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Creek Reservoir, Rocky Mountain Arsenal or Aurora Reservoir.

Between obligations and chores, I have managed to get a few hours of birding in the last three days.

Today, Tuesday I started at Aurora Reservoir where the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the northwest corner.  Later the many gulls swam out into the middle of the lake.  No sparrows were around the few trees along the southwestern and southern sides.

Next, I stopped at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson).  Except for a couple of magpies and one Northern Flicker, I saw nothing for an hour.  As I lamented about how this once top five birding location in Colorado has been deserted the last decade, a bird walked across the tree bridge trail, south of the boardwalk.  At first, I thought it might be a Worm-eating Warbler; however, after longer looks it turned out to be an Ovenbird.

The Ovenbird was first west of the tree bridge trail at 20 yards south of the south end of the boardwalk.  When Richard left, it had flown to the stacked pile of cut trees on the east side of the trail.

Deserting the foothills, I decided to look for Williamson's Sapsuckers at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).  My last dates for the park are 9/15, 9/16 & 10/12.  None was found today, nor any sparrows.

Unsuccessful Search for Swamp Sparrows

October 20, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I went to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping the Lesser Black-backed Gull would be at the scuba beach as it was on 10/15 (last Wednesday).  Unfortunately, it was in the middle of the lake, no photo.

My target bird today was a Swamp Sparrow (although a Winter Wren would have been nice); neither was found at previous cattail marsh locations at Cherry Creek Reservoir and Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

A two hour hike along the south side of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) did not find any little birds.  Black-billed Magpies, gulls and a couple of flickers appeared to be the only birds around.

I walked Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) for about three hours.  Only a couple of Killdeer walked the Havana Ponds mudflats.  The highlight was a flyover Prairie Falcon.

New Camera

October 19, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Sunday, with new camera I stopped by Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The Red-necked Grebe had been reported below the dam on Saturday.  As I had hoped, the many boats on the lake pushed the Red-necked Grebe in Jefferson County.  I had observed it a week ago in Douglas County.

A detour to Coors Pond added a Common Loon to my day list.  It was first found by Snyder on 10/18.

On the way home, I searched for the Burrowing Owl that had been along Picadilly Road (between 128th & 120th avenues).  I appeared to be gone; however, a Burrowing Owl was 300 yards north of 120th avenue at 0.5 miles east of Picadilly Road.

The highlight was an adult Ferruginous Hawk eating a prairie dog east of the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.  Two juvenile Ferruginous Hawks stood nearby and watched.  The adult did not appear to feed the younger.  After the adult flew, the juveniles did get a few bites.

I put photos of one of the juveniles on the Recent Witness Photos link on the CoBus website.  The photo is not the best; however, my range finder stated the bird was 100 to 110 yards from me.  I do like my new camera, now if only I could find a sparrow.

North Eastern Colorado Trip

October 16-18, 2014

Richard Stevens:

October 16

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to northeastern Colorado to catch the end of this fall's migration.

Nothing uncommon or new was found during a three hour walk at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  We did find a Northern Cardinal, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers and two Field Sparrows.  We returned after sunset and heard one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls calling.

At Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) the Pacific Loon was still swimming around in the middle of the lake.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were found flying around the southeast corner.

We stood at the southeast corner at sunset and watched for Short-eared Owls; without success.

October 17

Bryan and I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl calling before sunrise at Roger Danka's ranch (Sedgwick), then headed south down Highway 385.  A stop at Sand Creek Wildlife Area (Sedgwick County) and two WIAs along Sand Creek did not find any uncommon birds.

This time of year, we conduct bird counts at many of the Walk-In Areas on the eastern plains.  There are too many to visit all of them, so we concentrate on those along creeks.  While any birds are nice to find, our main target birds are sparrows (especially "ammodramus" sparrows).

The highlight of the day was a Blue-headed Vireo at the Holyoke Cemetery  We thought it a great "prize" until I looked up the previous sightings in the Colorado Bird database.  There have been 33 previous Blue-headed Vireo records in October just in the past 15 years.  Four of them were later than 10/17.  Duane Nelson found a Blue-headed Vireo in Las Animas on 11/11/2009 (late date).

A White-throated Sparrow was also found at the Cemetery and then we moved on to Wray.  Three White-throated Sparrows and two Field Sparrows were found at the Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma).

Two additional White-throated Sparrows and a Northern Cardinal (extrese western end) were encountered at Stalker Pond.  A visit to a friend's ranch added an Eastern Screech-Owl to our day list.

Later we heard another Eastern Screech-Owl at Hale Ponds as we set up camp.

October 18

A few nice birds flew around Hale Ponds on this gorgeous fall morning.  Two Field Sparrows were south of CR 4.  A Harris's Sparrow was in a brush pile along CR 4, west of Hale Ponds.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was also found around the Ponds.

Again, we enjoy little luck at WIAs in Yuma County.  We stopped at seven WIAs along Highway 36 around Joes and Kirk.  No "ammodramus" sparrows or others for that matter (only a few White-crowned Sparrows).

We detoured up to Woodrow in late afternoon.  The WIAs areas along Beaver Creek and Sand Creek were quiet.

Birding Around the Denver Area

October 15, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded around Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties on this fantastic fall day.  I am running out of adjectives to describe the beautiful fall weather Colorado is experiencing.  Several record high temperatures and calm winds make for wondrous days.  Regrettably, songbirds have been scarce.

Just before sunrise, we observed a Short-eared Owl flying over/between the hills along Queensburg Street, south of 114th avenue (Adams County).  A late migrating Burrowing Owl was found along Picadilly Road (about halfway between 120th and 128th avenues).

We found the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the scuba beach at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I was almost ready to take a photo when a jogging passed by and scare the gulls to the middle of the lake.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly a Northern Saw-whet Owl at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  We had narrowed its location down on several previous trips.  Today we were able to find the owl roosting in the middle of the afternoon!

After dropping Bryan off at home, I wandered back to Barr Lake (Adams).  A Bonaparte's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and three Barn Owls rewarded my efforts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Slow Afternoon at Cherry Creek State Park

October 14, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Adams County) after visiting relatives and friends in area hospitals.  Few gulls and Waterbirds were at the lake.  However, Western Grebes numbered in the hundreds.

Smoky Hill Picnic area was void of birds.  Sunny Skies, no wind and no birds was the experience today.

Slow Day In Adams County

October 13, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams County) under sunny skies this trip.  My target, the Nashville Warbler banded yesterday (which was never found).  In fact few birds were around in still winds and temperatures in the high 50s.

Total land bird count in 3 hours: a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, one female Hairy Woodpecker, five Northern Flickers, and an assortment of Black-billed Magpies.

The highlight was a peek at the two young Barn Owls in the owl box near the banding station.  One of the adults was in the cottonwoods north of there.

I scoped the many pelicans, gulls, cormorants, etc on the mudflats.  Most were quite far away.  I could pick out two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Up to four have been reported and most likely were still out there.

A check along the DIA Owl Loop did not find any Burrowing Owls.  Two Ferruginous Hawks stood among the prairie dog mounds at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Barr Lake Bay-breasted Warbler & Boreal Owl In Mountains

October 11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Afternoon skies were cloudy with no rain and I decided to search for the Bay-breasted Warbler reported the last two days at Barr Lake (Adams County).

Very birds were found as I walked along the main trail from the Visitor's Center to the boat ramp.  My return trip was along the northern edge of the riparian area.  Again only a couple of birds (Northern Flicker, Black-billed Magpie, Barn Owl) were observed until I was at the southwestern edge of the banding area.

Here I found a late House Wren, two Rock Wrens, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers and a Swainson's Thrush.  While trying to photograph the thrush I noticed a small bird (warbler size) moving high in the canopy.

It took another 20 minutes to obtain satisfactory looks at the only warbler found today.  It was the Bay-breasted Warbler.  I even got glimpses of the band on its leg.  It was not possible to see this bird from the southern side (the main trail).  Look for it from the northern side.

Later, Rebecca Kosten and I drove up to Gould by was of Cameron Pass.  A Boreal Owl was heard approximately 400 yards northwest of the restroom at the Summit pullover.

October 12, 2014

It snowed quite a bit overnight and was predicted to continue throughout the day.  We winterized the cabin and decided to head for Denver.  There was no desire to hike around the Colorado State Forest or the Zimmerman Lake Loop (Larimer) in snow.  We did get quick looks at the resident American Three-toed Woodpecker that "hangs out" across (north) of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  No Rosy Finches were coming to the Visitor's Center feeders.

Arriving back in Denver late in the afternoon, we missed the early morning snow.  Under overcast skies, we detoured south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The Red-necked Grebe was still east of the south marina sand spit.  We looked briefly for the Surf Scoter but had been told by birders who spent hours searching, that it was not around or difficult to find.

Eastern Bird Trip

October 8-11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

October 8

Bryan Ehlmann and I started a couple day trip to the eastern plains to see what migration was continuing.  The weather today was overcast with temperatures in the 80s.  Conditions deteriorated as the week continued.

At dawn, we found a Greater Prairie-Chicken walking in the field near Yuma County Road BB & Highway 36.  This is the third time in five years that this area has provided a Greater Prairie-Chicken sighting!  Another location to search is the road going past the Fox Ranch Nature Conservancy.  Unfortunately, the ranch itself is closed to the public.

Three Sprague's Pipits were relocated at the infamous hill below the Bonny Reservoir dam.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and seven Eastern Bluebirds was east of Hale Ponds.

The Highlight was a Bay-breasted Warbler along the Republican River as we walked east from Yuma CR aLL.5.  Later we found a Nashville Warbler along the Republican River at 60 yards west of the Kansas border.

At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from east of Hale Ponds and north of the Republican River.  We heard another Eastern Screech-Owl along the River at 600 yards east of Hwy 385.

October 9

After just a couple of hours sleep, Bryan and I headed over to the Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond, west of Wray.  The day started off overcast; rains moved in later.

The highlight of the day would be a Winter Wren moving about the cattails and weeds below the Stalker Pond dam.  We missed the resident Northern Cardinals today.

A couple of White-throated Sparrows moved along the canal on the east side of Yuma County Road FF.  The Eastern Phoebe pair that probably nested along the canal appears to have left the area.  We missed the resident Barn Owls today.

Heading north, we stopped at the Holyoke City Park, which was quiet today.  The Holyoke Cemetery was hopping with birds.  The best birds being a skunking Hooded Warbler and a Tennessee Warbler.  Chipping Sparrows were counted in the hundreds!  A Lincoln's Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow was among them.

Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Phillips County) was quiet.  We could not find the resident Barn Owl or the Field Sparrows, which quite often wander the short grasses along the eastern border.

The last few hours of light were spent searching for pipits, Greater Prairie-Chickens and/or Sharp-tailed Grouse near Marks Butte and neighboring county roads; without success.

October 10

Another overcast morning and rain in the afternoon.  We discovered two Sprague's Pipits along Sedgwick County Road 15, north of Highway 138.  This is one of the best two locations in Sedgwick County to search for them (the other being CR 30 between CR 55 & CR 61).

After "getting our Sedgwick County Sprague's Pipit", we headed over to Pony Express Wildlife Area.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker fluttered about from cottonwood to cottonwood.  A Palm Warbler with its flicking tail was a surprise and the highlight.

We looked unsuccessfully for the on and off again Northern Cardinal at the Colorado Welcome Center along I76.  A Field Sparrow in the weeds on the east side of the property was a nice consolation.

Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop had another Red-bellied Woodpecker and not much else.  We checked unsuccessfully the Inca Dove spot of November 2011.

At dusk, we watched Sedgwick Draw (Logan) and were not disappointed.  A Short-eared Owl flew across the field just before sunset.

On the way to a friend's ranch, we drove the eastern road through Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  We were able to get an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond to our recording!  We also stopped at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recording here also!

October 11

We spent the night at Roger Danka's ranch again and woke to rain pouring down.  The forecast was for rain throughout the day.  Tired of birding in winds and rain, we decided to return to Denver.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Barr Lake and Adams County Birding

October 6, 2014

Richard Stevens:

After spending the last few days visiting relatives and friends in hospitals, I took the time today to walk around Barr Lake (Adams County).  It was a fantastic fall day with mild winds and temperatures in the high 70s.

It was not as "birdy" as hoped; however, a few nice birds kept my interest.  A single Sabine's Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull flew along the southern shore, making several passes during my visit.  Both gulls had been reported previously (Sabine's, Stevens 9/15 & Lesser Black-backed Gull (Madsen:Clasen, 9/23).

Many shorebirds were on the mudflats and sand spit.  Unfortunately, most of the uncommon ones appeared to have moved on elsewhere.  One Semipalmated Plover was the most interesting.

On the trip back to the banding station riparian area, two Barn Owls flew around near the northern point (north of banding station).

Passerines were few in the riparian area.  I did find one Townsend's Warbler with a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers at the western edge of the banding station area.  A few Chipping Sparrows remained (not as many as last week).  At least one House Wren and empidonax flycatcher were still around.

Neither the previously reported Swamp Sparrow nor Common Tern was found by me.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop was uneventful.  For the second trip, I could not find a Burrowing Owl at the Quency Street prairie dog town. Again, two Red-tailed Hawks stood in the middle of the town.  My late dates are 10/27, 10/4, 10/3, 10/1.  Burrowing Owls could be gone here for 2014.  No Short-eared Owls were observed today.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cherry Creek Reservoir Again

October 2, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Once again, I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) after visiting a sick relative.  At least two Sabine's Gulls and two Common Terns were still flying around the lake.

I detoured over to the pond off Iliff Avenue and Harvard (Toll Gate Creek drainage) where 650 Common Grackles were reported yesterday.  None was there today.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 1, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I again drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir on the way to the hospital to visit a relative.

In the hour I spent at the State Park I observed at least three Sabine's Gulls and two Common Terns.  The only non-resident birds at the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area were three Yellow-rumped Warblers.  No uncommon gulls were on the swim beach.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 30, 2014

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) to see if any interesting birds had dropped down at the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area.  Only half a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers were observed fluttering about.  Scope the lake and one can see a couple of Sabine's Gulls and a couple of Common Terns as well as at least one Black Tern & Forster's Tern.