Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 26, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I walked the south side of Aurora Reservoir from mile 1.0 to 3.5 and found Surf Scoters, several Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Thayer's Gulls (gulls in cove at mile 3.0).  Afterwards I drove to the north side and scoped the swim beach where another Lesser Black-backed Gull and Thayer's Gull was found among 600 gulls.  A Common Loon was to the east.

Hundreds of Gulls (mostly Ring-billed, dozens of Herring, and some California Gulls were at the swim beach, mile 3.0, the scuba area below the dam and scattered on the lake.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were accompanied by five Snow Geese and several Ross's Geese.  Other waterfowl included Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Mallards, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Western Grebes, Eared Grebes, Pied-billed Grebes and a few others I am forgetting.

At Cherry Creek State Park, I was able to confirm at least one Long-tailed Duck, the White-winged Scoter and a Barrow's Goldeneye.  Waves were quite high in the 14+ mph winds.  Long-tailed Ducks "sit low in the water" in my opinion.  The second one could still be there as well as the Red-necked Grebe. 

Gulls included Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Thayer's Gull and over a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls.  Many ducks and gulls were too far away to identify.

Additional waterfowl included hundreds of Common Mergansers, half a dozen Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Mergansers (their numbers went from a dozen to 90+ in the last two days), Bufflehead (first I have seen this fall), Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneye, etc.

A Northern Shrike was between the Prairie Loop and Cherry Creek where it crosses the main road (Lakeview Road).  A Great Horned Owl was here also.

No owls were observed as the drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) on the way home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Visit to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 25, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out owling at 3:00 am.  A search of previous locations of Northern Pygmy-Owls at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, White Ranch Open Space and Morrison Road along the east side of Red Rocks Park did not turn up any Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We did see one Great Horned Owl at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Later I stopped over at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) an hour earlier than yesterday.  The birds were probably the same today as yesterday; visibility was much better.  Winds gusts were over 20 mph at times.  I used the dam tower as a shelter from the wind.  Birds were probably closer to the Lake Loop, perhaps not.

White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Barrow's Goldeneye were mingled in the large raft of ducks (Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, Western Grebe, Eared Grebes and American Coots.

Many gulls hunkered down from the wind at the southwest marina.  At least one adult Thayer's Gull (probably two) and three+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls were among the group.  At least two Pelicans continued to "hang around".

High winds and waves made an accurate account close to impossible.

Note: Again looking at photos after returning home, I captured photos of the Red-necked Grebe, a possible second Long-tailed Duck, three+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes and many Bonaparte's Gulls.  Misses: Yesterday's Glaucous Gull.

Cherry Creek Reservoir in a Snowstorm

November 24

Richard Stevens:

Chores kept me busy until late afternoon.  I arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) at 4:10 pm.  A drive through a mini blizzard almost turned me around, however, the sun shone through the clouds at 4:15 to 4:28 pm.

The sunlight lit up the large raft of ducks in the middle of the lake.  I was able to pick out the White-winged Scoter and a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls before sunlight was lost.  If the Long-tailed Duck was out there, I could not find it.  For the first time since 11/2, no Common Loons were spotted.  Best viewing point was off the Lake Loop.

Temperature was 38 degrees at 4:15 pm.  Anemometer readings were steady at 12 mph.  It felt cold.

NOTE: After looking at the 200 digital photos I took, I notice that I had captured a Red-necked Grebe in three of them.  The camera has helped in finding gulls also.  I just take shots of as many groups of gulls as possible and examine the photos later.  A large white Gull turned out to be a Glaucous Gull and not a Herring Gull as I had expected.  Captured shots of two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Gull looking good for a Thayer's Gull.

Short Trip South of Denver, Scoters & Owls (none)

November 22-23, 2014

Richard Stevens:

November 22

Bryan and Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I headed south (target bird: scoters and Spotted Owls).

A stop at Prospect Lake at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs found the trifecta of scoters; White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter & Surf Scoter!  We also saw two Greater Scaup and several Bonaparte's Gulls.

At our next stop, Big Johnson Reservoir, we saw two additional White-winged Scoters, a Long-tailed Duck and Common Loon.

We arrived at Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) late in the afternoon.  Gulls near the south marina included a Great Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Common Loons were observed off the sailboard launch area.

Bonaparte's Gulls flew around off the Fisherman's Point area, while no uncommon birds were at the north marina.  Misses included the previously reported Mew Gull and a wandering Red-necked Grebe.

After dark, Bryan and I drove up Phantom Canyon (Fremont).  No Spotted Owls called this night.  Our three "owl listening stations" did not pick up any sounds of Northern Saw-whet Owls (at previous spots) along Phantom Canyon Road.

November 23, 2014

The four of us enjoyed morning walks around the Canon City area.  A previously reported Williamson's Sapsucker was relocated at Centennial Park.  Unfortunately, no Rufous-crowned Sparrows were found during our 1.5 hour search along Tunnel Drive.

Weather followed predictions and started to turn toward the worse.  We had to nix plans to visit the Park County Reservoirs and instead headed back east and north to Denver. 

A stop at Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont) added a Juniper Titmouse and Bushtits to our trip list.  Misses: Pinyon Jays

Beaver Creek Wildlife Area was quiet.  No uncommon birds, no Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Search for Northern Pygmy-Owls, White-tailed Ptarmigan and Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 21, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed this beautiful fall day (61 degrees, calm winds except for Guanella Pass) with Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons.

We departed Denver at 3:00 am with the intention of going to Park County Road 58 in search of Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We did not make it to CR 58.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was found along Sugar Creek Road at approximately 1-1.5 miles south of Deckers Road (Douglas County).

All enjoyed the hike around Guanella Pass Road (Clear Creek).  Beautiful weather, fantastic scenery and eight White-tailed Ptarmigan.  For those wanting to attempt, as Bruce Neuman wrote yesterday, going from Georgetown is a better choice.  We accessed from Grant and had some problems with road conditions.  Bruce indicated that even with nice weather, the road will be closed on December 1.  After that date, a hike/snowshoe trip of 3.5 to 4 miles round trip will be required.

I ended my birding day back at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) for the three evening in a row.  Practice helps; I was able separate the uncommon birds from the hundreds of Eared Grebes, Western Grebes and Common Mergansers with less frustration than the last two days.  It took about 5 minutes to find the White-winged Scoter when I walked the Cherry Creek dam trail (about halfway to the dam tower).  The Long-tailed Duck was quite far off the dam (just as far from the Lake Loop).  I picked it out in another 10 minutes!  Thanks again to Alec Hopping for mentioning the Long-tailed Duck on Wednesday.

Gulls included three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 12+ Bonaparte's Gulls, a Thayer's Gull, dozens of California Gulls and hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.  The three Common Loons were also out there.

Return Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 20, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Personal business sent me to Rose Hospital.  Afterwards, I stopped by the Denver Zoo.  Unfortunately, landscapers have clear much of the brush that had attracted a few uncommon birds in the past.  Three Black-capped Chickadees were the highlight of an hour walk through the zoo.  Ferril Lake and Duck Lake were ice covered; no uncommon birds found at either.

I spent the last two hours of daylight at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Again, it was quite frustrating picking the Long-tailed Duck (found yesterday by Alec Hopping) out of the hundreds of Eared Grebes, Western Grebes and Common Mergansers.  Eventually the female was found after my seventh or eighth scan of the large raft of ducks.

The effort was well worth it.  Calm winds and temperatures in the 50s made the exploit rewarding.  A female type White-winged Scoter was also swimming along the near edge of the ducks.

Gulls found included Lesser Black-backed Gulls (3), Bonaparte's Gulls (23+), Thayer's Gulls (2) and many California and Ring-billed Gulls.  The three Common Loons were still out there also.  The two male Greater Scaups found yesterday, were missed today.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Long Day at Aurora Reservoir, Short Stop at Cherry Creek State Park

November 19, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bill Cryder took six hours to hike the 8.7 mile trail circling Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Temperatures reached into the 50s; winds were less than 4 mph.  On the way into the reservoir, we found a Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk perched on adjacent fence posts.

We counted 4500+ gulls at the swim beach.  This was less than 25 percent of the gulls there!  Eventually we recorded: two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, six+ Thayer's Gulls, two Bonaparte's Gulls, and a Mew Gull (cove at mile 3.0).  Of course many Ring-billed, California and Herring Gulls.

One Common Loon swam around mile 4.0.  Two Greater Scaup were at mile 1.0 to the swim beach area.  A Surf Scoter continued around mile 5.0 to the scuba cove.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I enjoyed a superb sunset and watching the hundreds of waterfowl swim around.  Winds were calm; the lake was like a mirror.

I thought finding the Long-tailed Duck in a conglomeration of 400+ Eared Grebes yesterday was a nightmare.  Today they were spread around the lake, making finding the Long-tailed Duck even more difficult.

The Long-tailed Duck was eventually spotted in the large raft of ducks, which included hundreds of Common Mergansers, some Common Goldeneyes and Eared Grebes.  She was over a hundred yards east of the middle of the road below the dam.

While searching for the female Long-tailed Duck, I found two Greater Scaup.  At least ten American White Pelicans continue on the lake as do three Common Loons. 

More than a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls flew back and forth just below the dam.  Their tern like flight makes is easy to pick them out from the hundreds of gulls there.  Sure, their wing tips are an easy field mark to see; I look first for their distinctive flight patterns.

Once again, like last night, a Great Horned Owl flew into the cottonwoods around the dam tower's parking area (around 5:25 pm).

I will post photos of the Bald Eagle and Bonaparte's Gulls on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library later tonight.

Loveland Pass to Cherry Creek State Park

November 18, 2014

Richard Stevens:

A trip to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) was called off (thanks! I was not looking forward to the 4 mile hike in search of possible White-tailed Ptarmigan sighting).  As an alternate, we started earlier in the morning, well before sunrise, and drove to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties).

It helped to arrive before skiers and snowboarders.  We found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan from the first pullover on the west side of Highway 6 and south of Loveland Pass.  The birds were hunkered down under an evergreen tree about 20 yards east of highway 6.

After leaving my two birding partners, I stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  Two hours were spent relaxing by watching the birds visit below the platform feeder behind the Trading Post.  Temperatures were around 30 degrees, winds 10+ mph.

I sat on the Red Rocks Park trading post deck and watched the birds for two hours.  The Fox Sparrow appeared twice for a couple of minutes.  After an hour the Golden-crowned Sparrows appeared.  While waiting for a better view of the Fox Sparrow, a Harris's Sparrow appeared after an hour and 45 minutes.

I drove thru Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) the last hour of daylight.  Three Common Loons and a dozen+ Bonaparte's Gulls were observed.  I ran into Alec Hopping who asked if I had seen a Long-tailed Duck.  We drove over to the dam tower parking area and relocated the female Long-tailed Duck.  She was more or less with a group of Common Goldeneyes.

Witness photos of Fox Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow on the Colorado Birding Society's website.

Platte River Birding Area and Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 17, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I walked the Platte River Birding Area (S. Platte River, south of 88th avenue) in late morning.  Winds were 18+ mph, it was cold.  Both a male and female Barrow's Goldeneye were on the Platte River, just downstream of the "waterfall area".

Next I stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Uncommon bird count today included a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Thayer's Gulls, Bonaparte's Gulls and Common Loon.

I scoped the lake from the scuba beach area and the swim beach.  It was too cold to walk around the 8.7 mile trail around the lake.  The Surf Scoters were not relocated.  However, they were in one of the coves on previous visit and could still be out there.

A stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) relocated one of the Common Loons and 12+ Bonaparte's Gulls.

Additional Visits to Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 16, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) hoping that the uncommon birds were closer to shore today.  Temperatures were in the low 30s; winds were 10+ mph again.  It felt cold!

Unfortunately birds were again quite far from shore.  I did see three Surf Scoters, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, five Thayer's Gulls, a Bonaparte's Gull, a Greater White-fronted Goose among thousands of White-cheeked Geese, and the Common Loon.

Later I dropped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Conditions were a little better than previous visits.  Temperatures were in the high 20s; winds were 6 mph.  At least the air above the lake was mist/fog free.

I relocated two Common Loons and 14+ Bonaparte's Gulls.  Eared Grebes numbered in the hundreds.  Western Grebe count was less than a couple of dozen.  The Red-throated Loon and Pacific Loons appeared to have moved on to elsewhere?

Birding Around Arapahoe County the last three days

November 13-15, 2014

Richard Stevens (email sent to cobirders listserve):

I scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) late in the morning.  Temperatures were around 20 degrees; winds were 10+ mph.  I managed to get looks at a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greater White-fronted Goose, Common Loon and Bonaparte's Gull.

Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) has been different on my last three visits.  Two days ago (11/13), I arrived late in the afternoon.  The two Swans found by Don Beltz were hidden in the heavy fog hanging over the lake.  Only a couple of Common Loons and half a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls could be identified.

Yesterday (11/14), the skies were partially sunny and the lake was clear.  Bryan Ehlmann and I found a Common Loon (Breitsch, 11/11) and GREATER SCAUP on Lower Derby Lake at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  The Loon stayed close to the southwest corner and was out of view much of our visit.  Now and then, it swam north.

It was a loony afternoon when I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Skies were cloudy and winds 12+ mph.  It was a cold 31 degrees when I arrived.

Of course, I did not have my camera with me (never fails).  I stood 15 feet from a Least Sandpiper walking the sandy beach south of the western boat ramp.  I watched it for 20 minutes, as it seemed to ignore me.  I ran back to my car, found an old point and shoot camera used for digiscoping.  Two photos were added to the "recent witness link" on the Colorado Birding Society's website. 

While watching two Pacific Loons, a third loon rose to the east of the handicapped fisherperson dock.  It was a basic plumage Red-throated Loon.  The loon was too far away for photos; however, my little point and shoot did take video.  I was able to get 30 seconds of the Red-throated Loon swimming around before it started to dive often.  Video of the Pacific Loon and Common Loons were taken too.

Also on the lake, a Common Loon was off the swim beach and two additional Common Loons were in the eastern corner of the reservoir.  At least 16 Bonaparte's Gulls were flying around.

Today (11/15), anemometer readings were 16+ mph; temperatures were in the 20s (low 20s).  I could not find the Least Sandpiper.  Again heavy fog hung over the lake.  I scoped the few yards that could be seen off the shore around the reservoir.  I did see one Pacific Loon east of the northeast boat ramp.  While looking for a second, a female type Surf Scoter swam by just 10 yards off shore.

A Common Loon was again seen off the swim beach.  Bonaparte's Gull count was around fourteen.  Hundreds of Eared Grebes were below the fishing dock.  Only a couple of Western Grebes could be picked out of the mist.  Hundreds were on the lake yesterday and probably are still there.

I solve another mystery (at least to myself).  Reports of a Snow Goose or Ross's Goose the last couple of days, led to the photos added to the Colorado Birding Society's website (recent witness photos).  A Snow Goose stood around with Canada Geese near the ball fields at Greenwood Village Park (southwest of the Cherry Creek Reservoir dam).  Farther west of the ball fields, a Ross's Goose walked around with hundreds of Cackling Geese.  One of each!

I ran out of time and good weather to drive to Red Rocks Park for the Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrows, perhaps tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Unsuccessful Search for Murrelets

November 12, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out searching for Murrelets again.  The last Murrelet report in Colorado was 11/16/2008.  We did not change that.  Visibility was again poor on this cold day.  It snow off and on and the high temperature was a single digit.

Only one Common Loon and several Bonaparte's Gulls were found at Chatfield Reservoir this morning.  Nothing uncommon was found on nearby lakes: South Platte Park Reservoir, McLellan Reservoir, Coley Lake, Marston Reservoir and Harriman Lake.

We abandoned our search and drove up to the South Platte Birding Area (Platte River at 88th Avenue).  One Barrow's Goldeneye was observed south of the rapids about 0.5 miles south of 88th avenue.  The Surf Scoter found on Tani Reservoir on 11/8 was not relocated this afternoon.

Temperatures dropped below Zero degrees by the time we drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No owls or hawks were found as we drove the icy roads.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Unsuccessful Search for Murrelets Around Denver

November 11, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I went out searching for Murrelets.  None was found.

Visibility was poor most of the day.  Temperatures went to a high 18 degrees; it was 12 degrees when we quit an hour ago.

Birds we did find included:

Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas)
Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Bonaparte's Gulls, Barrow's Goldeneye

Harriman Reservoir (Jefferson)
Bonaparte's Gull
missed: Long-tailed Duck

Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe)
Common Loon
Bonaparte's Gulls

Barr Lake (Adams)
too cold to stay long

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birding Before the Storm

November 10, 2014

Richard Stevens:

We managed to squeeze in a day of birding before the cold/snow hit the foothills.

Five of us drove up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County).  It took about 10 minutes to find a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan hiding from the high winds.  They were below the largest rock southeast of the parking area.  This is the fifth time in many trips that I have found them seeking shelter on the north side of this boulder.

After returning to Denver, I went by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Visibility was declining rapidly.  I did find one Common Loon and a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls. 

A Swamp Sparrow recording was played at the bird observation platform without getting a response.  Then I walked west and a Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails (about 20 yards west of the bird platform, Prairie Loop).

Visibility was poor along the DIA Owl Loop.  Roads were icy and a crept home.

A Sunday At Jackson Reservoir

November 9, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I birded most of the day a Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  Temperatures reached the middle 60s.  Winds were mild in the morning and calm in the afternoon.

 It was somewhat strange.  In the morning, I found the previously reported Red-throated Loon, a Pacific Loon and two Common Loons.

Then I spent a couple of hours walking around the western Campgrounds.  Eventually five Long-eared Owls were observed (may or may have a witness shot to put on the Colorado Birding Society's website, I have many photos from past visits to Jackson Reservoir and try not to disturb the Long-eared Owls by getting additional photos).

American Robins numbered at least 300.  A possible glimpse of a Varied Thrush kept my attention.  Over the next hour and a half, I tried to relocate the possible Varied Thrush, however was not successful.  The "Varied Thrush" and many Robins were between the Pelican Campgrounds and the cattail marsh to the south.

Next, I walked the dam looking unsuccessfully for the Black Scoters reported yesterday.  The strange part was that I was not able to relocate the Common Loons and Red-throated Loon found early in the morning.  They usually do not fly away in the middle of the day?  The lake is a big place; perhaps I just missed them from my vantage point?

Gulls included a Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, California Gulls and many Ring-billed Gulls.

Adams to Weld to Larimer Counties Some Nice Owling

November 8, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Another beautiful fall day in Colorado.  Winds were calm with temperatures in the high 60s.

Bryan Ehlmann and I were out and about before sunrise.  A Short-eared Owl was observed flying around the field at the south dead end of Gun Club Road (where it goes south from 112th avenue).  Eventually we watched in land in the field a good 200 yards south of the road (beyond the fence).

Next we drove to Barr Lake (Adams) hoping to relocate the Harris's Sparrow reported earlier by Cathy Sheeter (below the dam).  Unfortunately, we could not find it.  A Barn Owl was observed in the cottonwoods at mile 7.2 (above the dam).  The rumor of a Golden-crowned Sparrow along the east side did not pan out for us.

We walked the Platte River Birding Area at 88th Avenue (Adams) hoping to find an early Barrow's Goldeneye along the South Platte River.  None was found.  We did find a Surf Scoter on nearby Tani Reservoir (Adams).

Another Surf Scoter was found on Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld).  Best shot is to scope the lake from the East side off Weld County Road 47.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Bryan and I then drove to a friend's ranch west of Loveland (Larimer).  We set up our "owl listening stations" and sat in lawn chairs (covered with warm blankets).  Eventually, three Northern Saw-whet Owls and a Northern Pygmy-Owl were found.

If interested write me for directions on our "owl listening stations" and night vision goggles.  The stations cost about $1000/each to put together.  Goggles can be purchased online for about $4000/each.

A Quick Drive Around Adams County

November 7, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) my target bird was the slated colored Fox Sparrow reported yesterday by Anne Esson.  While I did not find the Fox Sparrow, a White-throated Sparrow was found in the brush pile at the upper southeast corner of Lake Ladora.

A Great Egret continues to hunt for food along the south end of Lake Ladora.

A stop at Barr Lake (Adams) on my way home found at least one Lesser Black-backed Gull still there.  Misses: the Harris's Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow reported earlier in the day.

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 6, 2014

Richard Stevens:

My first stop back in Denver was Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) hoping to find the lingering Lesser Black-backed Gull below the dam.  There was no photo op as many fisherpeople were below the dam.  Gulls were scattered all over this rather large lake.

Eventually one Common Loon, the Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Thayer's Gull and a lone Bonaparte's Gull were observed.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I enjoyed sitting at the bench at the north end of the Lake Loop and watching the hundreds of Western Grebes (at least one Clark's Grebe), Eared Grebes and gulls hunting for food.

There was something serene about watching all the birds hard at work.  No cars, people or wind to disturb the scene!

Two Common Loons continued on the lake.  Bonaparte's Gull count was 31+ birds.  A late migrating small tern "turned out" to be a Forster's Tern!

Again on the Colorado Eastern Plains

November 4-5, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made another brief trip to northeastern Colorado.  Our friend Roger Danka had a couple of nice surprises for us.

November 4

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir and walked the western and southern sides (Morgan County).  The highlight was a fall plumage Bay-breasted Warbler between Pelican and Cove Campgrounds!  (late dates are 11/7 (Boulder County) & 11/18 (Yuma County)

Two Long-eared Owls and one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls were also relocated.

On our trip to Julesburg, we stopped at six Walk-In-Areas north of Snyder (Morgan).  Nothing uncommon was found.  The trend this fall continued.  Few birds were moving about.  One Lincoln's Sparrow (WIA: 28:BB), a late Vesper Sparrow (WIA: 32:JJ), a dozen White-crowned Sparrows and a dozen or so Lapland Longspurs were just about it.

We spent the night at Roger Danka's ranch in Sedgwick County.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called shortly after sunset!

November 5

Roger surprised us this morning.  An adult male Purple Finch had been visiting his feeders since 11/3.  It made an early appearance this morning.  The second surprise event was a red form (eastern) Fox Sparrow.  Roger had been seeing it since 11/1.

The three of us wandered around Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) most of the morning and early afternoon.

The highlight was a Palm Warbler in the Russian Olive Trees in section 7 East windbreak.

Other nice sightings included a Harris's Sparrow, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Northern Cardinal (section 1-2 West), two Field Sparrows (section 6 East) and an Eastern Screech-Owl (6-7 East).

On the way back to Denver, we stopped at six Walk-In-Areas in Morgan County (mostly around Gary, CO).  Again, nothing uncommon stood out.  Lapland Longspurs were the most numerous bird of the drive.  We did find one McCown's Longspur (WIA: 30:F)

A Three Golden-crowned Sparrow Day!

November 3, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) hoping for photos of the two Golden-crowned Sparrows that have been there since the first of November.  Several wedding photographers used the steps near the feeder.  The adult Golden-crowned Sparrow made two quick appearances and the 1st winter bird only one.

With most of the day left, I decided to drive up to the Teller Lake # 5 parking area (Boulder).  After a 20 minute wait, I was rewarded with my third Golden-crowned Sparrow sighting of the day!  Misses: the previously reported Palm Warbler.

My birding day ended along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls came out tonight.

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 2, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Spent most of the day doing chores but managed an hour or so of birding.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull and 150+ American White Pelicans were observed from the closed boat ramp at mile 7.5; Barr Lake (Adams County).

At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), I scoped the lake several times.  It took four passes before I counted three Common Loons (two in the eastern corner, one west of the swim beach).  A Pacific Loon stayed along the handicapped fisherperson dock.

Three plus Bonaparte's Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull were also found.  The many (dozens) of California Gulls struck me as having many shades to their mantle color.

No owls showed along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) this evening.

Golden-crowned Sparrows at Red Rocks Park

November 1, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Do not have much time, I am on the way to give a bird talk.  Bryan Ehlmann and I returned this afternoon from several days birding on the eastern Colorado plains.  I dropped Bryan off and went to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County).  The chance to see two Golden-crowned Sparrows (an adult and first winter) was too much of a draw.

I did find a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow and two Song Sparrows.  The adult Golden-crowned Sparrow did finally appear.  By the time the professional wedding photographers were done, light was poor.  I put several shots of the Golden-crowned Sparrow on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library.  They were taken at 1/15 second shutter speed and hand held.  Not the best, okay.  My birding day ended with a Great Horned Owl calling in the distance!

Colorado Eastern Plains and Additional WIAs

October 30-31, 2014

Richard Stevens:

October 30

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the eastern plains to continue our survey of some of the many WIAs (Walk-In-Areas).  See locations and rules in Colorado Parks & Wildlife "2014 Small Game Walk-In-Atlas" found at Walmarts and other locations selling hunting licenses.

A stop at five WIAs did not find any uncommon birds (few birds at all).

Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington County) was a happy stop.  A Northern Mockingbird and White-throated Sparrow fluttered around the southwest corner.

Unfortunately many hunters were at the western end of Prewitt Reservoir (Washington County).  Bryan and I did wear hunters orange for much of our birding this trip (hunters appeared everywhere).

As a result, we decided to walk the eastern end of Prewitt Reservoir (Logan County).  A great fortune as an Eastern Towhee was found below the extreme eastern end.  After sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl called also below the dam!

When we arrive at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma) winds were calm and temperatures still in the 60s.  We celebrated with a hike along the Republican River from Highway 385 to Foster's Grove.

The riparian area was filled with bird calls and songs.  Eventually four Eastern Screech-Owls were located!

October 31

Bryan and I woke up to an Eastern Screech-Owl calling north of Hale Ponds (Yuma).  We walked the "pipit hill" below the Bonny Reservoir dam and relocated two Sprague's Pipits. 

Walking the Republican River from Yuma County Road LL.5 to Hale Ponds found few birds.  Two Northern Bobwhite were the first I had encountered in 2014.

The highlight was the longspur trifecta.  Lapland Longspur (6), McCown's Longspur (1), Chestnut-collared Longspur (1).

Most of the day was birding WIAs from Burlington to Seibert (Kit Carson).  In all we stopped at sixteen WIAs.  All were labeled "grass" cover.  Few birds were found.

Field Sparrow (2; 30:G & 26:N)
Lincoln's Sparrow (18:Q)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (16:X)
Short-eared Owl (14:Z)

No Birding To Report

October 29, 2014

Richard Stevens:

What no birding?  Yes, once in a blue moon/day.