Thursday, December 31, 2015

Birding Around Denver

December 31, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I walked the Platte River Birding Area (Adams County) from 88th avenue to Hwy 224 and back, including a detour along Clear Creek to Washington Avenue.  Temperature peaked at 24 degrees; winds calm to 8 mph during the morning.

A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes is still on the South Platte River at 0.6 miles south of 88th avenue.  Just about, any of the common ducks that winter in Colorado were and can be found between 88th avenue & Hwy 224.

No Rusty Blackbirds, uncommon sparrows (Harris's, White-throated), wrens or shrikes were encountered.

Next, I hike Clear Creek from Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area (Adams) to the I76 bridges.  One American Dipper was between the bridges.  Thanks Bob Canter for the heads up.

On the way home, I scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) from the lower parking lot north of the swim beach.  Two Glaucous Gulls and at least two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were observed with many gulls to the east.

The lake is almost completely ice covered now.  Unfortunately, ice anglers kept most of the gulls quite far from shore.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) 30 minutes before sunset did not find any owls, Snow Buntings or Lapland Longspurs this afternoon.

Year lists start over tomorrow!  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Golden and Red Rocks Park

December 30, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove the DIA Owl Loop early this morning.  Target birds were owls and Snow Buntings.  Temperature was 5 degrees at sunrise; anemometer reading was 7 mph.

Hundreds of Horned Lark flew around 112th avenue between 114th avenue and Gun Club Road.  They flew up from the stubble south of the road.  With some patience, we finally found a Snow Bunting (after half a dozen attempts).  At least two Lapland Longspurs were among the flock.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this morning.  The Barn Owl sometimes found along Hudson Road was also a no show.

In the afternoon, I drove to Golden.  The Common Redpoll was in the tree by the streetlight in front of Ira Sander's home at 314 DeFrance Court. 

A Sharp-shinned Hawk flew into the evergreen in front of the house and all birds disappeared.  Later I relocated the Common Redpoll in the tallest tree in Ira's backyard.

While looking at the Common Redpoll, a Gray-crowned Rosy Finch (Hepburn's) was observed getting a drink in the gutter above my head.

Unable to get home (east of DIA) because of traffic, I drove over to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  I watched the feeder behind the trading post for an hour. 

No uncommon birds came along.  Many Dark-eyed Juncos were joined by three Spotted Towhees (2 males, female), four Song Sparrows and two White-crowned Sparrows.

At dusk, I searched for owls (mostly Long-eared Owls) at the south end of the park; without success.  Temperatures were now 17 degrees; winds were 5 mph.

I walked Morrison Road (just east of Red Rocks Park) from the southern to northern entrance.  No Northern Pygmy-Owls were found tonight.

Sterling Christmas Count CoBus version

December 29, 2015

Richard Stevens:

This year we (CoBus group) chose to time our Christmas Counts on the day or day after of the Audubon Christmas Counts.  Plenty of birders were conducting their counts.  We wanted to see what birds might have been missed.  On several occasions some uncommon and interesting birds have been found!

The Sterling Christmas Count CoBus version was this morning.  Temperatures barely reach double figures.  Fortunately, winds were calm to 5 mph.  It felt cold all day.

Highlights were a Snow Bunting and Short-eared Owl at Sterling Reservoir.  Full report will be in a future "Colorado Field Notes".

After returning to Denver, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  Shifting through 4000+ Horned Larks found zero Snow Buntings and two Lapland Longspurs.

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

One other highlight, a Snowy Owl that has been observed in eastern Adams County since 12/26, was still there tonight.  The location will remain undisclosed after several of us witnessed the disturbing behavior of the Snowy Owl found along 112th avenue. 

This owl is most likely the 112th avenue bird.

Crook Christmas Count CoBus version

December 28, 2015

Richard Stevens:

The CoBus group (Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn & Ray Simmons) conducted our Crook Christmas Count CoBus version today.  Winds reached 12 mph with temperatures barely reaching 20 degrees.  It was another cold day.

Before sunrise we found a Greater Prairie-Chicken north of County Roads 46 & 91.

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area is always a great place to bird.  The highlight was two Common Redpolls near the old Tamarack Pond area.

Other uncommon birds to come across included: two Northern Cardinals, 23 Eastern Bluebirds, five Long-eared Owls and five Eastern Screech-Owls.

The previously reported Red-bellied Woodpecker & Eastern Screech-Owl were relocated at Duck Creek Wildlife Area.

Unfortunately, we did not relocate the great birds found by Kathy Mihm-Dunning along Logan County Road 77, south of CR 62 (Sharp-tailed Grouse, Greater Prairie-Chicken & Short-eared Owl).

At dusk we heard two Eastern Screech-Owls on Roger Danka's Ranch (Sedgwick).

Slow Drive Along the DIA Owl Loop

December 27, 2015

Richard Stevens:

After lunch, Rebecca and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  The lakes were ice covered and void of birds.  The resident Bison turned out to be the highlight of the drive.

In the afternoon, I drove the DIA Owl Loop in search of Snow Buntings, Owls and Longspurs.  Regrettably, none was found.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Birding After the Snowstorm

December 26, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I went out on my own this morning to get a little birding in after yesterday's snowstorm.  Skies were mostly clear; the temperature hovered around 25 degrees.  Winds were 8+ mph.

Nine Greater Scaup were on Eaglewatch Lake (South Platte Park, near C470).

The two White-winged Scoters were back on nearby South Platte Park Reservoir.  They stayed in the Jefferson County section of the lake which does span Jefferson/Arapahoe Counties.

I did not find any uncommon gulls at Chatfield State Park (Jefferson/Douglas) just across C470 from South Platte Park Reservoir.  The three Long-tailed Ducks and Common Loon remained on the lake!

A quick drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) did not find any Snow Buntings or owls.

Birding Before Christmas Day Snowstorm

December 25, 2015

Richard Stevens: email sent to "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders,

Arapahoe County
Rebecca and I west out before the snow started.  We relocated a Glaucous Gull, 2+ Lesser Black-backed Gull & a Thayer's Gull at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Nothing uncommon seen at Barr Lake (Adams County).

Jefferson County
Ira Sanders still has a Common Redpoll & Rosy Finches coming to his feeders at 314 DeFrance Court, Golden.

Happy Holidays!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Up to Boulder, Search for Long-billed Thrasher

December 24, 2015

Richard Stevens: email sent to "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders,

Yesterday, Terry Michaels and I made the rounds along the front range.

Adams County
We started before sunrise watching a Short-eared Owl flying along third creek at Gun Club Road.  Raptors included the usual: 2 Prairie Falcons, 2 Ferruginous Hawks, 3 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Rough-legged Hawk and a pair of American Kestrels.

Jefferson County
We walked the fence line east of Wadsworth Blvd from 26th avenue to 30th avenue and back.  On the trip back, we briefly saw the Carolina Wren under a evergreen tree near Wadsworth Blvd & 29th Avenue.

Broomfield County
We relocated a Mew Gull with many Ring-billed Gulls, a few California Gulls and Herring Gulls at the Parkside Center Pond.  No uncommon gulls were at Siena Reservoir.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was at Glaser Reservoir.

Boulder County
Missed any thrasher at Union Reservoir.  We did see three Wilson's Snipe, four Song Sparrows, two Blue Jays and many Dark-eyed Juncos along the ditch into the park.

The Golden-crowned Sparrow was with half a dozen White-crowned Sparrows at the Teller Lake # 5 windbreak.  Missed the Harris's Sparrow.

Adams County
With some daylight left, we went to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  Eventually we saw four Long-eared Owls.  Be sure to see directions for the open access hours which are tricky at the Wildlife Area (Wildlife Area books at Walmart or Sporting Goods Stores).  Missed Short-eared Owls at dusk.

Continued Good Birding!

Trip to Fremont County

December 22-23, 2015

Richard Stevens:

December 22

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed south to Fremont County and a Spotted Owl search.  In the past, I have had good fortune to hear them in early winter.

We started late in the morning at the Arkansas Riverwalk (Fremont County).  The Western Screech-Owl still suns itself near the Raynolds Avenue parking area.

Our next target bird(s) were the sapsuckers that some years winter in the Canon City Area.  Our luck was not as good as hoped.  We missed the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers at Lakeside Cemetery and in Florence. 

Fortunately, we finally found one at Rouse Park.  Most likely one or two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers move around town throughout the winter.  Missed were the previously reported Williamson's Sapsuckers (Lakeside Cemetery, Holy Cross Abbey and Temple Canyon Park).

It took less than 15 minutes to find one of the Rufous-crowned Sparrows that reside at Tunnel Drive, west end of Canon City.

Nothing uncommon was found at the Kodak observation area, Royal Gorge.

At dusk, we headed down Phantom Canyon Road.  No Spotted Owls were found this night.  We did locate one Northern Saw-whet Owl near the Juno Oro.

December 23

We got a late start after owling most of last night.  Our hope to find a Northern Saw-whet Owl in Red Canyon Park and the Shelf Road did not succeed.

Highlights were a Bewick's Wren and 12 Pinyon Jays. 

Back on Phantom Canyon Road, we missed the great birds (Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Sage Thrasher, Greater Roadrunner & Northern Mockingbird) found by David Elwonger on 12/20.

Brush Hollow Wildlife Area was nicer to us.  Two Juniper Titmice, another Bewick's Wren, 20 Pinyon Jays, a pair of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and a Sage Thrasher were added to our trip list!

We did not relocate the Northern Saw-whet Owl this evening.  Better yet, a Spotted Owl was heard at one of the previous locations that I have GPS waypoints!

Drive Around the DIA Owl Loop

December 21, 2015

Richard Stevens:

After searching for owls all night in Larimer County, I drove the DIA Owl Loop before heading home for some sleep.

At 6:30 am, it was 27 degrees; anemometer reading was 3 mph.  Raptors were numerous.

No Snowy Owl or Short-eared Owls appeared.

Prairie Falcon (3)
Peregrine Falcon (1 or 2)
Red-tailed Hawk (7)
Rough-legged Hawk (2)
Ferruginous Hawk (3)
American Kestrel (2)

No Snow Buntings were found in the hundreds of Horned Larks flying around.

Jackson County Birding (some Larimer County)

December 20, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard Stevens and I headed to Gould and Jackson County after the Bonny Reservoir Christmas Count.

We found a Boreal Owl at the Crags Campgrounds (Jackson) just before midnight (12/19).

An hour before sunrise we drove Jackson County Road 26 & 26b.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were found walking along CR 26, just north of CR 26b!

Twenty Rosy Finches (mostly Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, two Brown capped, no Black) were at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found drumming in the woods north of Highway 14 & the Visitor's Center.

We failed to find any American Dippers along the South Fork of the Michigan River.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl at the southern Campgrounds was a great consolation.

After dark, we heard Boreal Owls at Ranger Lakes and just west of Cameron Pass!

We stopped at the many Campgrounds and picnic areas along Highway 14 in Larimer County on the drive back to Fort Collins and Denver.

Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at Stevens Gulch & Stove Prairie Landing!

A Northern Pygmy-Owl & Northern Saw-whet Owl were found up Rist Canyon.

Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area Christmas Count CoBus

December 19, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

Six birders joined Richard Stevens and me on the Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area CoBus Christmas Count today. 

I will not list all the birds found, see a future "Colorado Field Notes" for that.

Highlights included the following:

Hale Ponds and Hale
Eastern Screech-Owl (2 at Hale Ponds)
Short-eared Owl (flying east of Hale Ponds)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (7, Hale Ponds)
Fox Sparrow (red form, Hale)
Eastern Bluebirds (16, various locations)

Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area
Common Redpoll
Eastern Screech-Owl (4)
Northern Cardinal (2)
Lewis's Woodpecker (2 Fosters Grove and 1 south side of Bonny)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (1 fosters grove, 1 south side of Bonny)

Undisclosed Location:
Northern Saw-whet Owl!

Birding Around Wray

December 18, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

Richard Stevens and I continued on to Wray in Yuma County last night.

This morning we chanced upon six Greater Prairie-Chickens along Yuma County Road 45, less than 0.6 miles east of Highway 385.

A walk around Wray Fishing Unit found the highlight of the day.  A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was flying around the windbreak toward the ranger's office.

We hiked down to Stalker Pond where only a few birds were found.  The best was a bright red male Northern Cardinal easy to pick out in the brown/yellow landscape.

Sparrows included a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, one White-throated Sparrow and one Lincoln's Sparrow.

A Marsh Wren rattled at us from the marsh as we returned along CR FF.

Northern Cardinals were found at several yards: a pair at private yard #1, a male at private yard #2 and two males at private yard #3.  A Harris's Sparrow was also at private yard #3.

Nothing was flying around Wray City Park, the Hospital or the Sandhiller woodlot.  Just before sunset, we drove the Yuma County PP-45 loop.  We saw a Short-eared Owl flying around just before PP connects to CR 45.  It was close to the same area one was found a few weeks ago.

After dark, we returned to private yard #2 and found an Eastern Screech-Owl.

Pawnee National Grasslands Christmas Count

December 17, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

The snow finally let up and eight of us conducted the Pawnee National Grasslands CoBus Christmas Count today.  Many roads had a foot of snow or drifts of more.  Temperatures never reached 30 degrees.

Highlights were:

Eastern Screech-Owl & Long-eared Owl at Crow Valley Campgrounds.
Northern Saw-whet Owl (2 private ranches)
Short-eared Owl (1 private ranch)
Snow Bunting (CPER land, CR 114)
Rosy Finches (8 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches visiting a private ranch since 12/14.
Brown Thrasher (late leaving Crow Valley Campground)

Other birds:
Snow Goose - 2
Cackling Goose - 2
Canada Goose - 100+
Wood Duck - 1
Sharp-tailed Grouse - 6 - (but not countable, however see new aba rules)
Great Blue Heron - 1 - flyover
Bald Eagle - 2 - flyover
Northern Harrier - 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 2
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 19
Ferruginous Hawk - 3
Rough-legged Hawk - 7
Golden Eagle - 2
American Kestrel - 14
Merlin - 1 male
Prairie Falcon - 2
Sandhill Crane - 10 - flyover
Killdeer - 4
Wilson's Snipe - 2
Ring-billed Gull - 6 - flyover
California Gull - 1 - flyover
Rock Pigeon - 62
Eurasian Collared-Dove - 28
White-winged Dove - 1
Mourning Dove - 78
Great Horned Owl - 2
Belted Kingfisher - 1
Green Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker - 4
Hairy Woodpecker - 2
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Northern Flicker - 14
Gilded Flicker
Northern Shrike - 3
Blue Jay - 21
Western Scrub-Jay - 1
Black-billed Magpie - 53
American Crow - 26
Common Raven - 4
Horned Lark - 600+
Black-capped Chickadee - 12
Mountain Chickadee - 4
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 4
White-breasted Nuthatch - 11
Brown Creeper - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Yellow-browed Warbler - 4
Mountain Bluebird - 4
American Robin - 10
European Starling - 140
American Pipit - 21
Cedar Waxwing - 8
American Tree Sparrow - 14
White-crowned Sparrow - 37
Lapland Longspur - 250+
Red-winged Blackbird - 124
Brewer's Blackbird - 8
Pine Siskin - 15
Evening Grosbeak - 1
House Sparrow - 1200+

More Snow

December 16, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Snow continued!

Christmas Counts canceled.

Snow and Cold All Day

December 15, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Snow and cold all day. 

Christmas Counts were postponed!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

First Annual DIA Christmas Count CoBus

December 14, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Eight of us conducted the first annual DIA Owl Loop Christmas Count CoBus.  Temperature reached the middle 40s; winds were 8 mph.

Participants: Bryan Ehlmann, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons, Dave King, Rebecca Kosten, Sue Ehlmann, Deborah Dorsey

Highlights included:

Short-eared Owls: third Creek & West Cargo Road (Adams County), Gun Club Road & 104th avenue (Denver).

Barn Owl (Hudson Road, Adams)

Long-eared Owl (near Bennett, Adams)

Snow Bunting (Haysmount Road, btw 114th & 120th avenues, Adams)

Lapland Longspurs were found:
Haysmount btw 114th & 120th (Denver) (8)
64th avenue (Adams) (10)
Hudson Road (2) (Adams)

Raptors included:
Ferruginous Hawk (3)
Red-tailed Hawk (3)
Rough-legged Hawk (2)
Prairie Falcon (3)
American Kestrel (4)

Thousands of Horned Larks were counted!

Another Owl Search

December 13, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I drove around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) in search of Snow Buntings and the Snowy Owl.  Neither was found.  The trip was scouting for tomorrow's Christmas Count CoBus.

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  Lapland Longspurs were found along Haysmount between 114th & 120th avenues & along 64th avenues.

Raptors included Ferruginous Hawks (2), Prairie Falcon (1), Red-tailed Hawk (2), Rough-legged Hawk (1) and American Kestrel (2).

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Another Owl Search!

December 12, 2015

Richard Stevens:

email to "cobirders" listserve:

Yesterday, Bryan Ehlmann and I relocated the DIA Snowy Owl.  It was at the north end of the short grass field along 64th avenue.  The field is east of the water department where 64th goes from a relatively flat gravel road and turns into a two track dirt road.  Tower Road to 56th avenue, north of Picadilly Road to 64th, east on 64th.  We did not report it because it was too late for anyone to get there before dark. 

We went back this morning before sunrise and the Snowy Owl was not there.  The owl was not found as we spent a couple of hours searching for it.  The owl was first photographed here on 11/29.  Later days, found at Tower Road & 96th and then Trussville and 114th.  When I find time, the plan is to put all the Snowy Owl sightings (2015) on the website map.

Next, we searched unsuccessfully for the Northern Pygmy-Owl reported along Lake Gulch Road in Douglas County. 

Our birding day ended by finding a Northern Saw-whet Owl in Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County). 

We set up two "owl listening stations" one of which attracted a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Snowy Owl Search

December 11, 2015

Richard Stevens:

While doing chores Bryan Ehlmann and I drove around DIA in search of the Snowy Owl that has been "missing" for two days.

Since the Snowy Owl had not been reported on the North side of DIA since 12/9, we decided to search the south side.  Temperatures were in the high 50s; winds were 12+ mph.

A flock of 20-24 Lapland Longspurs was encountered along 64th avenue, just east of the Water Treatment Plant (east of Picadilly Road).  Farther east, we counted 14 White-crowned Sparrows along the fence line.

Around 4:10 pm, we found the Snowy Owl in the field where 64th turns from a gravel road to a two track dirt road (perhaps a mile east of the Water Plant).

It appeared to capture something and fly to the high mound at the north end of the field.  We planned to return the next day to see if it was still around.

Gallinaceous bird and Owl Chase!

December 7-10, 2015

Richard Stevens:

December 7

Robert Allen and I took off to the northeast to "work on" his gallinaceous bird and owl list.

Passerines were in short supply at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  We enjoyed better fortune with a Pacific Loon and Lesser Black-backed Gull on the lake.

The resident Eastern Screech-Owl and two Long-eared Owls were relocated in the western Campgrounds.

We missed the Eastern Screech-Owl and Winter Wren at Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan).  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker flew from cottonwood to cottonwood along the northern border of the Wildlife Area.

We reached Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) with only a couple of hours of daylight remaining.  A Glaucous Gull stood on the ice with 800+ gulls.  The others were mostly Ring-billed, some California and a few Herring.

Shortly after sunset, we found our second Eastern Screech-Owl of the day (at the eastern end of the property.

December 8

Robert and I birded Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) most of the morning (after driving Hwy 55, Fleming Road first in an unsuccessful search for Greater Prairie-Chickens).

The Winter Wren Bryan Ehlmann and I found on 11/23, was pretty much in the same area today!

Other birds found included two Long-eared Owls, a male Northern Cardinal, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 12+ Eastern Bluebirds, an Eastern Screech-Owl and a Field Sparrow.

A quick stop at nearby Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) relocated the Long-tailed Duck (Mihm-Dunning, 11/29) a Thayer's Gull and dozens of Greater White-fronted Geese.

We stopped at Ovid Woods (Sedgwick) briefly and added a Red-bellied Woodpecker to the trip list.  Misses included the Rusty Blackbirds and Purple Finch Bryan and I had found two weeks earlier.

Ten minutes at the Ovid Sewage Pond area found only one White-throated Sparrow (no Harris's Sparrows).

We bypassed many good birding areas to be at Yuma County Road 45 about an hour before sunset.  Five Greater Prairie-Chickens walked in the field south of CR 45, 0.2 miles east of Highway 285.

Then we returned to Denver.

December 9

Instead of going to bed after an all night drive from Hale (Yuma County) we drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) to get an update on the Snowy Owl.  It was almost in the same spot as 12/5!

The Burrowing Owl that was reported on 12/7 was not around this morning.

Robert and I came up with this crazy idea and headed toward Cameron Pass in Jackson County.

A quick stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) added a Great Horned Owl to our day list.

Heading toward Fort Collins we stopped at a traditional Long-eared Owl location in Boulder County and added two of them to our list.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was relocated at Spring Canyon Community Park in Fort Collins.

Then we visited a friend's ranch west of Fort Collins (Larimer) and picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl he had staked out for us.

A detour to Wellington Wildlife Area added another Long-eared Owl and a Short-eared Owl to our crazy plan.

At 11:10 pm we relocated a Boreal Owl just west of Cameron Pass (Jackson)!

Not bad, even missing Northern Saw-whet & Burrowing Owl we enjoyed our seven owl Day!

December 10

Robert and I started out around 4:30 am, after three hours sleep and parked along Jackson County Road 26.  Unfortunately, no Greater Sage-Grouse appeared this cold cold morning.

We detoured over to Steamboat Springs (Routt) and found three Sharp-tailed Grouse at their traditional wintering grounds.

On the drive back to Denver (by way of Fort Collins, I70 has too much construction) we stopped at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  We missed the previously reported White-throated Sparrow; twelve Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and four Brown-capped Rosy Finches were our consolation.

After dropping Robert off at the airport, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  Unfortunately, the Snowy Owl had not been seen since 12/9.  The Burrowing Owl had not been reported since 12/7.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight, while I parked along West Cargo Street at 0.2 miles south of third Creek (Adams).

Lake Loveland to Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 6, 2015

Richard Stevens:

It was another beautiful, warm winter day in Colorado!

I drove up to Lake Loveland (Larimer) in the morning to see if the two Dunlin were still around.  Yes, they were at the north end of the lake.  One of the previously reported Lesser Black-backed Gulls was also there!

In the afternoon, I spent the last two hours of daylight scoping Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I found GLAUCOUS GULL (Walbek, 12/5), two THAYER'S GULL (Madsen, 11/18), 22+ BONAPARTE'S GULL (Petrosky, 10/29), LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Stevens, 11/13) & BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (Stevens, 11/18).

I missed the previously reported Mew Gull.  Later I found out that Loch Kilpatrick had spotted a Long-tailed Duck earlier in the day.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Search for Snowy Owl along DIA Owl Loop, Adams County

December 5, 2015

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful afternoon.  Temperature was around 42 degrees at 4:00 pm; winds were calm.

I managed to get in a couple of hours searching for the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) Snowy Owl.  However, I did not find it (nor heard of a sighting).

Four birders were out looking for Short-eared Owls (do not know if they found any).

As luck would have it, I observed a Short-eared Owl flying along the fence line below the hill at 96th avenue & West Cargo Road.  It flew back and forth several times and then continued south across 96th avenue.

Sixteen minutes later, it was spotted at the east dead end of 88th avenue.

Raptors encountered: 
Ferruginous Hawks (2)
Red-tailed Hawk (2)
Rough-legged Hawk (1)
Prairie Falcon (1)
American Kestrel (2)

Earlier in the morning, I hiked the South Platte Birding Area (Adams) from 88th Avenue & Colorado Blvd to 72nd Avenue.

Many of the common ducks are found wintering along the South Platte River.  Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were found on the Platte and later on Tani Reservoir.

No Long-tailed Ducks were around today.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gulls at Aurora Reservoir

December 4, 2015

Rebecca Kosten:

Richard Stevens and I circled Aurora Reservoir this morning.  Thousands of gull are there now.  Highlights were a Lesser Black backed Gull, two Thayer's Gulls and Greater White fronted Goose.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Search for Snowy Owls in Weld & Morgan Counties

December 3, 2015

Richard Stevens:

What a fantastic winter day in Colorado!  Winds were never higher than 8 mph; temperatures reached the low 40s.

Bryan Ehlmann and I exhausted the morning looking for Snowy Owls in the Weld County 8 & CR 23 area.  The previously reported Snowy Owl was not found.

We did drive into Morgan County as far east as Riverside Reservoir.  A several hour search north and east of the reservoir did not turn up any Snowy Owls.

An hour before sunset, we traveled around Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld).  A Marsh Wren was found along County Road 48. A Short-eared Owl was spotted just after sunset!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gulls, Arapahoe to Douglas to Arapahoe Counties

December 2, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Trying to avoid Denver's traffic, I birded mostly east and south of town today.  Temperatures reached 48 degrees; winds were less than 6 mph where I birded.

Thousands of gulls filled Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Hundreds at a time flew north to nearby DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) while just as many returned at the same time.

I did not circle the reservoir today.  Hundreds of gulls stood on the shore at mile 2.0 and 3.0 and were too far away to ID.  Six hundred+ stood on the shore below the parking area north of the swim beach.  In this group, I found a Thayer's Gull and Mew Gull.

Another five hundred+ were on the scuba area beach at the northeast corner of the reservoir.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was with them.

I did hike the 3/4 mile from the scuba beach to the northwest corner of the reservoir.  One thousand two hundred+ gulls here included another Thayer's Gull and two Bonaparte's Gulls.

Swinging south, I drove the "back way" into Parker and stopped at McCabe Meadows Park and Bar CCC Park (Douglas County).  A nice selection of the ducks, which historically winter in Colorado, was on the McCabe pond.  I did not find the previously reported Barrow's Goldeneye or Greater Scaup.

Bar CCC Pond was almost completely covered with ice.  No ducks, a Thayer's Gull was among the 83 gulls standing on the ice.

My next and final stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were calm and scoping the birds was easy.  One Common Loon swam in the southeast corner of the lake.  A male Barrow's Goldeneye continues in the middle of the reservoir.

Most of the gulls were on the ice off the southwest point of the swim beach.  Here I saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull and at least six Bonaparte's Gulls.  If the Mew Gull was present, I could not pick it out in the thousands of gulls.

Three adult Bald Eagles stood on the ice watching the many gulls.  The gulls must have been nervous as they flew up, circled and returned many times.

After sunset, I searched for the resident Great Horned Owls and Eastern Screech-Owl west of the Shop Creek trail without success.

Jackson Reservoir and Barr Lake

December 1, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Peter Wynn and I enjoyed a morning walk around Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  Winds were 6 mph; temperatures were in the high 30s.

We managed to relocate the resident Eastern Screech-Owl & two Long-eared Owls along the western side!  While scoping the lake we found a 4th cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull & several Bonaparte's Gulls.

Passerines in the Campgrounds were scarce.  No Varied Thrushes were found among the many American Robins.  Four Yellow-rumped Warblers represented the warblers. 

No uncommon sparrows could be found among the small flocks of White-crowned and American Tree Sparrows.  A few Song Sparrows were reacted to our pishing.  A Common Yellowthroat popped out of some cattails near the shore.

After dropping Peter off, I ended my birding day below the dam at Barr Lake (Adams).  The walk was quite rewarding.

My target birds were Winter Wren, Rusty Blackbird & Long-eared Owl.  No Winter Wren was found.  While pishing, I heard the rattle of a wren.  Unfortunately, when it came out of the cattails, it was a Marsh Wren.  A second bird also rattled about 10 yards away.

I found a female Rusty Blackbird searching for food on the muddy bank with a couple of Song Sparrows.  They were along the "canal" that runs east from the footbridge below the dam (approximately mile 6.6 for those familiar with the mile markers).

Then two additional female Rusty Blackbirds were found in the cottonwoods south of the footbridge.

Near sunset, I looked carefully at the thicker bushes.  A Long-eared Owl was well hidden at the eastern end of my walk.

On the way back to my car (parked at the old stone house parking area), three Great Horned Owls were heard calling.

Then at the northern end of the hike, a second Long-eared Owl responded to my recordings!  Unfortunately, the owl was on the opposite side of the canal.  I did not approach to get a look at the bird.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cherry Creek Reservoir Loons

November 30, 2015

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I managed to get to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) around 3:00 pm.  Winds were 8 mph; temperature was 27 degrees.

Eventually I did find the Red-throated Loon reported this morning by Karl Stecher.  I also found a Pacific Loon, Common Loon & 12+ Bonaparte's Gulls.

The Pacific Loon used up a good 30 minutes of the daylight.  It would dive for almost a minute and come up for only a count of two or three, then dive again.  Finally, it surfaced and stretched its wings.  When it rose out of the water, I clearly saw a chinstrap (dark necklace).

The Red-throated Loon was not found until after sunset.  The raised bill and whitish face being unmistakable. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Search for Snowy Owls In Arapahoe County

November 29, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I drove eastern Arapahoe County in search of Swans and Snowy Owls this afternoon.  I Snow Bunting would have been nice.

No Swans were at Aurora Reservoir.  A good collection of gulls included a Thayer's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull (scuba beach) and Mew Gull (swim beach).  An adult Bald Eagle was eating in one of the tall cottonwoods below the dam.

No Snowy Owls found.  We did receive a report of a Snowy Owl that stood on the sprinkler system on the east side of the East Quincy Energy Park yesterday afternoon.  It was not around today.  This is not the same Snowy Owl reported by Tony Hake yesterday).  The Energy Park is on CR 30 (Quincy Avenue) about a mile east of CR 97.

A detour down the Range View Campus road found a Ferruginous Hawk and dark morph Red-tailed Hawk.  Two Lapland Longspurs were in a flock of 100-150 Horned Larks.

Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, American Kestrels were along E. Yale Avenue between CR 97 and Smith Road.

One or two Lapland Longspurs along CR 30, east of CR 139 accompanied another flock of Horned Larks.

The few times I stepped out of my car into the 21 degree temperature, it felt quite cold.

Search for Snowy Owls in Adams County

November 28,, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I drove around Adams County today in search of Snowy Owls and Snow Buntings.  Neither was found in about four hours.

Nothing uncommon came to the feeder area at the Barr Lake Visitor's Center.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was observed flying off the boat ramp.

Highlights of the afternoon were a Short-eared Owl along 112th Avenue, east of Trussville and a Prairie Falcon on the wind sheer monitor along 120th avenue, just west of the DIA fenced runway.

A late Lincoln's Sparrow was found in brush along 138th Avenue while I was searching for Great-tailed Grackles.

Six Great-tailed Grackles were at the town of Barr (just south of the railroad tracks on Lake Street).

Adams to Arapahoe to Adams County

November 27, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I stopped by Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) and relocated the Common Loon and male Barrow's Goldeneye on Lake Ladora.  I could not find the Winter Wren that spent several days along the south side of Marys Lake.

Few birds other than Western Grebes were seen on Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). 

While searching for shorebirds along the shore at the West shades picnic area, I observed a Snow Bunting walking along the sandy shore.  Eventually it flew up, circled overhead and then landed in the median of the road south of the picnic area.  When it flew up again, I left.

Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were on LakeCrest (Adams).  One Greater White-fronted Goose was among the horde!

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) tonight.

Search for Snowy Owls in Weld County

November 26, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I drove around southeastern Weld County and Adams County to see if the recent snowstorm had brought a Snowy Owl.  None was found.

Shortly after sunset, we watched a Short-eared Owl flying over the field west of Gun Club Road at 2.7 miles south of 112th avenue.

Colorado Eastern Plains Trip

November 23-25, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the eastern plains for three days.  Weather was fair, partly sunny skies, temperatures in the 50s.  It did get cold at night.

November 23

We drove up I76 skipping some nice birding spots (Jackson Reservoir, Prewitt Reservoir).  Our first stop at sunrise was Sterling Reservoir.  We found a Barn Owl and relocated the White-winged Scoter reported the day before.

Much time was spent at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  Highlights were a Winter Wren and Harris's Sparrow.  Resident birds spotted included 24+ Eastern Bluebirds, 2 Northern Cardinals, 7 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Field Sparrow and 2 Long-eared Owls.  Eastern Screech-Owls called at two locations.  A late Orange-crowned Warbler and Hermit Thrush were  somewhat a surprise.

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  The previously reported Black Scoter was a Sedgwick County highlight!  Ten Greater White-fronted Geese, two Ross's Geese and 25+ Bonaparte's Gulls were also found.

No Short-eared Owls appeared after sunset.

November 24

Our birding day started at the town of Ovid (Sedgwick County) today.  Definite highlight was a Purple Finch in the southern Ovid Woods.  It eventually flew into town where we could not relocate it.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker and White-winged Dove were at the northern Ovid Woods.

A short walk over to the Ovid Sewage Ponds added a Harris's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow to our day list!

A second highlight of the day occurred when we headed south to Holyoke.  A Rusty Blackbird walked along the canal along the south side of Holyoke Fishing Pond.

The other birding spots usually visited in Holyoke (Cemetery, Washington Golf Course pond, City Park) had few birds.

About 30 minutes before sunset, we drove Yuma County Road 45 in search of Greater Prairie-Chickens.  None was found today.  A Short-eared Owl was observed flying east of the intersection of CR 45 & CR PP.

November 25, 2015

Earlier in the morning, a walk around Sandsage Wildlife Area (Yuma) found a Harris's Sparrow and Eastern Screech-Owl.

Another Harris's Sparrow and Northern Cardinal were encountered at Wray Fishing Unit.

Before heading back to Denver, Bryan and I spent the morning birding Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).

About an hour before sunrise, an Eastern Screech-Owl called north of Hale Ponds.  Two hours earlier, we found an Eastern Screech-Owl along the Republican River at 600 yards east of Highway 385.

A Northern Cardinal and two Long-eared Owls were found around Foster's Grove Campgrounds.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found along the gated road on the south side of the old reservoir.  Another Long-eared Owl was also in the area!

We worked our way back toward Kansas and found another Red-bellied Woodpecker below the Bonny Reservoir dam (near Hale).  Four Eastern Bluebirds were also here (sometimes referred to Pipit Hill area).

An attempt to see the Eastern Screech-Owl that called north of Hale Ponds early in the morning was not successful.  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were in the general area.

Two highlights of the day were the result.  A red form of Fox Sparrow popped up from the brush near the only ranch house south of CR 4 (just southwest of Hale Ponds)! 

A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found at an undisclosed location.  I hope that it was stay around for our Christmas Count!

We stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) on the drive home.  No owls were found this evening.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rocky Mountain Arsenal to Cherry Creek Reservoir to DIA Owl Loop

November 22, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I motored over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) this afternoon to search for the three Tundra Swans reported yesterday.  Unfortunately, I never found any Swans.  The temperature never quite reached 60 degrees today; but it did come close.  Winds were calm to 5 mph; it was a pleasant day to bird.

While searching for the previously reported male Barrow's Goldeneye, which was on Lake Ladora, I also spotted a Common Loon.  The many geese on Lower Derby Lake included three Snow Geese.

Looking for a place to relax and watch the sunset, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) was chosen.  Regrettably, I forgot that weekends are not great for relaxing here.  Dozens of people including three couples with a couple of dogs each walked the swim beach. 

As a result, the gulls stayed out on the water, quite far from the swim beach.  I was again not able to find the Mew Gull reported by Glenn Walbek yesterday.  A Thayer's Gull was picked out of the hundreds of gulls between the dam tower and beach. 

Scoping the lake from the east shades picnic area; I did find the Red-throated Loon in the most eastern quadrant of the lake and a Common Loon, which stayed in the western half.  At least a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls flew around; no Little Gulls appeared to be among them.

Frustrated with all the dog walkers, I drove the DIA Owl Loop north of the airport.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  Raptors included two Ferruginous Hawks, two Red-tailed Hawks, two American Kestrels and a Rough-legged Hawk.  No unusual birds were found in the two large flocks (100+) of Horned Larks encountered.

Araphoe County Reservoirs to the Adams County DIA Owl Loop

November 21, 2015

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful fall/winter day after receiving 8 inches of snow last night.  Temperatures reached 44 degrees (high 30s by noon); winds hovered around 6 mph.  Partly sunny skies and little wind made for a pleasant birding day.

I entered Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) from the south side and hiked down to miles 1.5 to 3.5.  Most of the gulls were on the shore at Lone Tree Cove (mile 3.0).  Lately thousands have been at Senac Cove (mile 2.0); only a few hundred were there today.

Uncommon gulls included a Mew Gull first reported by David Dowell on 11/14/2015.  Also, found were the Lesser Black-backed Gull, which has been around since at least 11/12/2015.  I scoped 3-4 thousand gulls, could not find the Thayer's Gull of 11/9 & 11/19/2015.

The Common Loon (Michaels 10/15) was swimming around near mile 4.0.  A Bald Eagle perched on the tall cottonwoods below the dam.

Next, I visited Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

Oops, yesterday during the snowstorm I saw a loon rather close to the handicapped fishing dock.  I was lazy, did not scope the bird and thought it was the Pacific Loon that had been around 10/25 to 11/19.  Fortunately, I took photos and looked at them this morning.  The Red-throated Loon reported today by Glenn Walbek was on the lake yesterday afternoon!

I scoped the gulls at the swim beach; however, did not relocate the Mew Gull reported this morning by Glenn Walbek.  Five Bonaparte's Gulls walked around the swim beach along with Ring-billed, California and Herring Gulls.

When leaving the park, I noticed from a distance a rather large "Hawk" at the northern end of the dam road.  Closer views showed it to be a crow.  Even closer views found it to be a large Common Raven (calling from time to time).  Common Ravens are rather uncommon at Cherry Creek Reservoir and Arapahoe County.  They have been found in the past.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County) about an hour before sunset.  While parked along Gun Club Road at 1.2 miles south of 112th avenue, I observed a Short-eared Owl flying about 50 yards west of the road!  It was a nice ending to a superb birding day!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Unsuccessful Search for "Myiarchus flycatcher" and Tundra Swans

November 20, 2015

Richard Stevens:

After not finding the mysterious Chatfield Botanic Gardens flycatcher, I scoped several reservoirs on the way home.  Perhaps the missing Boulder County Tundra Swans had stopped?

The morning started with temperatures in the low 40s; winds were 3 mph from 6:00 am to 11:00 am.  Shortly after 11:00 am, anemometer readings jumped to 20 mph with gusts to 39 mph.  Wow!

My approach for a search of the "Myiarchus flycatcher" at the Botanic Gardens was to scope the riparian area from sunrise (6:50 am) to 9:00 am when the Gardens opened.  Then I walked the area quickly in the next two hours.  Before setting out, I set up a "feeding station" of mealy worms and crickets.

The flycatcher did not appear.  The only guests at my feeding station were two Blue Jays.  It was worth a try.  The mini-storm front shut down my search.

I drove across Wadsworth to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) hoping the flycatcher had made the short trip to the east.  It was not found around the balloon launch area, the swim beach or the old nature center.

A brief scope of the lake from above the dam found two Red-necked Grebes and a Common Loon.  Wind gusts produced some high waves limiting waterfowl identification a bunch.

Winds at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) were 13 mph, gusts to 23 mph; temperatures hovered around 35 degrees.

The Pacific Loon was slowly cruising along near the eastern shades area, north side of the lake.  Several Bonaparte's Gulls fought the high winds and drove for food.  The Barrow's Goldeneye was off the Lake Loop.  Hundreds of Western Grebes, some Common Mergansers and Eared Grebes bobbed up and down below the dam.

Aurora Reservoir was my final shot/hope to find the "missing" Tundra Swans.  None was found.  A Common Loon swam below the dam.  Most of the gulls stood on the shoreline at mile 2.5.  Steadying my scope was difficult, but there was no desire to walk that distance in the high winds.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was the only Gull that could be definitely identified.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) around sunset.  Snow fell lightly with winds clocked at 14 mph.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Eastern Arapahoe County Today

November 19, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures hovered around the middle 40s most of the day.  Winds were 5-9 mph also most of the day.

I started out toward the Chatfield Botanic Gardens with a stop at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Two Common Loons swam around at the 3.0-mile cove. 

I walked down from the south side and scoped the shoreline at 2.5-mile marker.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull was easy to pick out of the three+ thousand gulls there.  A Thayer's Gull was a little more difficult.  If the Mew Gull reported a few days earlier was still there, I could not find it.

Receiving a text message that more than half a dozen birders could not find the "Myiarchus flycatcher" at the Botanic Gardens (Jefferson), I decided to drive the eastern Arapahoe County Roads and skip a drive through traffic to Chatfield Reservoir.

The day was not exciting; however, a drive in the country with little traffic is much preferred to the horrific traffic in Denver now.

A Northern Shrike was found east of CR 97.  I stopped at Box Elder Creek & CR 30, could not entice the resident Eastern Screech-Owl to call.

A couple of Lapland Longspurs were found around the small Pond along Arapahoe County Road 30 (west of Manila Road).

Only Blue Jays greeted me at Comanche Creek & CR 30.  A couple of Gadwalls and Killdeer were at Little Comanche Creek & CR 30.

A pair of Great Horned Owls was found at Bijou Creek & CR 30.  A flock of 200+ Horned Larks at Rattlesnake Creek and CR 38 was accompanied by two or three Lapland Longspurs.  I would have sworn a McCown's Longspur was with them; however, without complete certainty, I did not record it.

I took CR 38 east to Deer Trail, then backtracked along I70 to Strasburg.  Days are too short; daylight is a valuable commodity this time of year.  My birding day ended driving roads north of Strasburg in search of Owls (Short-eared mainly); without success.

El Paso to Douglas to Arapahoe Counties

November 18, 2015

Richard Stevens:

If only, if only Terry and I had heard about the Inca Dove in Colorado Springs, Bryan and I would not have made the trip today.

Fortunately, another birder who did not give his name was looking at the Inca Dove when we arrived.  We were grateful to miss spending hours searching for the dove!

We returned to Denver by way of Highway 83.  A detour and 30 minute search did not turn up the American Three-toed Woodpecker in Black Forest Regional Park (El Paso).

We drove the western side of Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  Nothing uncommon appeared.  We did see a flock of four Pine Grosbeaks.

A stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) found only a Barrow's Goldeneye and six Bonaparte's Gulls.  No loons were found.  They did "show up" the following day leaving us wondering where they were this day.

Trip Into the Mountains of Park, Chaffee & Gunnison Counties

November 14-17, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I made a short trip to Park, Chaffee and Gunnison Counties.  We encountered a variety of weather as is expected this time of year.  High wind speeds, blowing snow at times while at other times it was calm and sunny.  That is Colorado!

November 14
Terry Michaels and I headed down Highway 285 into Park County.  We stopped at various locations where Northern Pygmy-Owls have been reported in the last month.  Unfortunately, the only uncommon bird found was an American Three-toed Woodpecker at the Kenosha Pass Campgrounds (Park).

Detours to Spinney Mountain Reservoir & Eleven Mile Reservoir were not exciting.  No scoters were found.  A couple Common Loons (one each at both reservoirs) was the highlight.

A few Pinyon Jays were found around the Ruby Mountain parking lot (Chaffee County).

After dark, we set up two of our "owl listening stations" along County Road 300, and then drove north to the Buena Vista Overlook and the BLM Land north of there.  Eventually we found two Northern Saw-whet Owls north of the overlook.

The "owl listening stations" were ineffective.  Northern Saw-whet Owls are usually quiet during migration.  We would have been surprised it one had called.

November 15

Our birding day started late after staying up most of last night owling.  We drove around Buena Vista in search of Lewis's Woodpeckers and such.  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were found along North Pleasant Street. 

The ice pond was a bust and we turned south.  Eight Pinyon Jays were observed flying around the west side of Highway 285 at approximately 3.0 miles south of Hwy 285 & Hwy 24.

At Hwy 285 & Hwy 50, we headed west to Monarch Pass.  We walked around the eastern side of the summit and found an American Three-toed Woodpecker both on the west and east sides of Hwy 50.  A flock of Rosy Finches (seventeen Gray crowned & four Brown capped) flew around the rest area.

Another flock of five Gray-crowned Rosy Finches flew around the Monarch Valley Ski Resort (Gunnison County).  Somewhere in this area, there probably are feeders that attract them all winter; we could not find it.

Late in the afternoon, we drove Gunnison County Road 804 (road to the Waunita Hot Springs Leks).  Regrettably, no Gunnison Sage-Grouse were found.

 November 16

Terry and I got up an hour before sunrise and drove Gunnison County Road 38.  Unfortunately, no Gunnison Sage-Grouse could be found.

Then we drove up Highway 135 to CR 730 to CR 7.  A snowshoe trip of less than 0.75 miles found two Gunnison Sage-Grouse at the Miller Ranch Wildlife Area.  This is a fantastic snowshoe trip for those birders with energy to burn.  The quietness of no traffic, only the wind blowing through the trees is mesmerizing.

Later we went owling up Highway 135 (along Gunnison CR 742 north of Almont).  Stops at four Campgrounds/picnic areas did not find any owls this night.

November 17

Early in the morning, Terry & I searched unsuccessfully for Rosy Finches in Crested Butte (Gunnison County).  Only a couple flew overhead, not landing anywhere.

The "Rosy Finch spot" north of Gunnison also did not provide looks at Rosy Finches today.

Forecasted approaching snowstorms made our decision to return to Denver an easy one. 

A quick detour to Spinney Mountain Reservoir & Eleven Mile Reservoir did not add new birds to our trip list.

We missed finding the resident American Three-toed Woodpeckers and Northern Pygmy-Owls up Michigan Creek Road.

The Kenosha Pass American Three-toed Woodpecker was not found again today.

We tried to get up Guanella Pass road from the Grant side.  Road conditions were too slippery and snow started to fall.  High winds, cold temps and blowing snow canceled our owling for the night.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Aurora & Cherry Creek Reservoirs

November 13, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I reversed the direction of my chores today (opposite of yesterday) and passed through Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) first.  It was another beautiful day.  Anemometer readings were 8 mph; the temperature reached the high 50s.

I was able to relocate the Red-necked Grebe and the Common Loon at Aurora Reservoir.  Gulls were scattered over the lake.  A quick scoping found no large white gulls or black backed gulls.  No scoters were found today either.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), I scoped the lake from the three sides of the Lake Loop.  Two Common Loons were in the extreme southeastern corner.  The Pacific Loon was swimming around off the swim beach.  I did not search for Bonaparte's Gulls; however a Lesser Black-backed Gull was swimming near the southwest marina.

Hundreds of Western Grebes continue, a few Eared Grebes & Pied-billed Grebe.  I did not find any scoters or Red-necked Grebes. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Birding Arapahoe County Reservoirs and Some Owling

November 12, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Around noon today, I made a brief stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  I found nothing from the Mountain Loop or Lake Loop, and then stopped at the northeast boat ramp.

From the boat ramp, I saw the Pacific Loon, one Common Loon and had a flyby Bonaparte's Gull.  No scoters were observed.

Next, I drove out to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and made the long slow 1.2 mile walk down to mile 2.5.  At least four thousand gulls stood on the shore.  No big white gulls, one black backed Gull too small for a Great Black-backed Gull (it was later identified as a Lesser Black-backed Gull).

The gulls flew when a person in a canoe decided to dock his boat on the point.  The flight of the gulls was quite impressive, but ended my Gull search.

The highlight of the worthwhile hike was a Red-necked Grebe.  The bird swam next to a Western Grebe and an Eared Grebe; that offered a great comparison of size of all three.

A Surf Scoter swam around in the cove at mile 3.0.   I scoped the lake for an hour looking for additional scoters, without luck.  Thought maybe if there were two additional Surf Scoters, they may have been the three found at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Tuesday.  A Common Loon was below the northwestern corner below the dam.

At sunset, I drove to Coal Creek to do some owling.  I picked this particular area because I have seen Barn Owls flying around under the streetlights at the ranch's buildings.  The area also appears good for Short-eared Owls hunting at the back of DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site), the surrounding hills or along Coal Creek. 

On Monday, I found an Eastern Screech-Owl along Coal Creek.  Tonight another Eastern Screech-Owl responded to my recordings.  This owl was 600+ yards farther north than Monday's owl.

No Short-eared or Barn Owls tonight, perhaps one will show up on my next visit?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Snowy Day at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 11, 2015

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I made time for a drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  I scoped the reservoir from the Lake Loop for approximately an hour.  Then I stopped at the Mountain Loop, southwest marina, northeastern boat ramp and the parking area at the dam tower.

All the uncommon birds encountered yesterday looked to have vanished.  No loons or scoters were observed.  A few Bonaparte's Gulls flew around in the 12 mph winds, gusts to 18 mph.

Last night's snowstorm definitely changed the mix of birds at the reservoir.

No Short-eared Owls appeared as I passed through the DIA Owl Loop on the way home.

Fantastic Fall Day at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 10, 2015

Richard Stevens:

On perhaps one last nice day before winter comes to Colorado, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to see if the Black Scoters first found Saturday were still around.  The Black Scoters were never reported by anyone today.

I scoped the reservoir from the Lake Loop for about two hours.  The Pacific Loon was cruising in the northeastern section.  Half a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls flew overhead during my scoter/loon search.  Somehow, the Common Loons were missed.

Finally, a stop at the Mountain Loop found three scoters.  Were the two Black Scoters joined by a third?  All three kept their heads in their backs for 35 minutes.  Finally, a noisy helicopter flew over and the scoters briefly looked up to the sky.  All three scoters were Surf Scoters!

After a late lunch, I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir looking for a photo opportunity and hoping the scoters were closer to shore.  By now, the scoters were no longer off the Mountain Loop. 

I again scoped the reservoir from the Lake Loop.  The three Surf Scoters had traveled to the extreme southeastern corner of the lake.  Just north of the trio, three Common Loons swam and dove for food.  Then I noticed the silvery back of the head of a Pacific Loon, just north of the Common Loons!

Regrettably, the birds were farther away than before; there were no photography opportunities.

After dark, I returned to Coal Creek for some owling.  The Eastern Screech-Owl did not respond tonight.  However, the two Great Horned Owls called as they did last night.

My fantastic birding day finally ended.  Winds were 8 mph to calm most of the day; temperatures reached the low 60s.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Birding Around Arapahoe County

November 9, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) in the early afternoon.  Winds were 6 mph; temperature was 52 degrees. 

The waves made it difficult to pick out the waterfowl on the lake.  It appeared that bird numbers were down quite a bit from yesterday.

I scoped the reservoir at least three times.  The Pacific Loon swam in the extreme southeast corner.  He would dive for a minute at a time, surfacing for only a few seconds and disappearing again.

I would not find yesterday's Black Scoters.  Rumors that at least one had been seen around 8:00 am this morning were not confirmed by the couple of birders out with scopes.

Hundreds of American White Pelicans stood on the poles outlining the southwest marina.  A few Bonaparte's Gulls flew around the reservoir and drove often for the many shad in the lake.

After lunch, I headed to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I stopped and scoped Quincy Reservoir along the way.  The reservoir is now closed until May 2016; a scope is required.  Nothing uncommon was found.

Winds were 8 mph at Aurora Reservoir.  I scoped the lake several times from the swim beach parking area and later from above the scuba beach parking area.  No scoters were found.

My search for scoters was so focused that I did not notice that the whole 45 minutes at the swim beach I see that an adult Red-tailed Hawk stood on a "no parking sign" less than 20 feet from me.  My presence did not seem to disturb him in the least.

A single Common Loon swam below the northwest corner.  If 1500 gulls were at the reservoir last week, the numbers have quadrupled today.  Thousands of gulls stood on the shore at mile 2.5, another thousand at mile 2.0.  Besides the hundreds swimming on the lake, another thousand plus stood at the scuba beach.

I was not able to hike to miles 2.5 & 2.0.  From the far distance at the swim beach, I could only see that no Black backed Gulls or large white gulls were in the mix.

No black backed or large white gulls were at the scuba beach.  Because I was closer to the gulls here, I did pick out a pink legged Gull, which turned out to be a Thayer's Gull.  At least one Bonaparte's Gull flew by as it circled the reservoir.

Hundreds of gulls flew in waves back and forth to DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) which is perhaps just a mile north of the reservoir.

A drive along the Jewell-East Yale Loop (Arapahoe) found only one American Kestrel, no other birds.

About 30 minutes before sunset, I stopped and walked a section of Coal Creek.  I had planned to search for Screech Owls several times this summer, but never found the time.  The wind had died down by now.  It was calm under a colorful sunset.

I walked about 2 miles, stopped and played an Eastern Screech-Owl recording about every 0.1 mile.  At one stop, an Eastern Screech-Owl responded (location better left undisclosed).

Two Great Horned Owls were also heard and seen calling from one of the old cottonwoods lining the Creek.  Twice last summer Red-headed Woodpeckers were also found in the area (only once by me).  Only Northern Flickers were found today.

As the sun set (beautiful sky tonight), I scoped the horizon for additional owls (Short-eared or perhaps Barn).  A rancher drove by and asked what I was looking to find.  I told him owls.  He invited me back to his ranch and my birding day ended with a peek at a Barn Owl!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 8, 2015

My two posts to the "cobirders" listerve today.  What a beautiful fall day.  No/little wind and temperatures in the high 50s!

"Hello cobirders;

Rebecca Kosten and I drove to Cherry Creek reservoir to look at the scoters found by Chris Rukik.

The scoters were in the center of the lake, of course; a scope is required.

One is an adult female Black Scoter; the other is a first year male Black Scoter.

Also there were 14+ Bonaparte's Gulls and three Common Loons and one Pacific Loon.

Contined Good Birding

Hello cobirders;

After leaving Cherry Creek Reservoir, Rebecca and I stopped at Barr Lake (Adams County).  Three Long-billed Doeitchers and two Greater White-fronted Geese were off the Niedrach Boardwalk overlook.  A Common Loon and Bonaparte's Gull were seen from the boat ramp.  We did not find a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Three Red-tailed Hawks and two Ferruginous Hawks

Just after sunset, we saw a Short-eared Owl flying west of Gun Club Road at 1.6 mles south of 112th aveneue.

Continued Good Birding! "

Brief Drive Through Cherry Creek State Park

November 7, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Back on the birding trail, Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) in the afternoon.  At least eight Bonaparte's Gulls flew around below the dam.

We only scoped the lake for 30 minutes.  No loons or Red-necked Grebes found among hundreds of Western Grebes.

Winds were less than 5 mph; temperature hovered around 50 degrees.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Not Birding in Colorado, First half of November

October 30, 2015

I will not be birding in Colorado for the first half of November. No updates at least until the weekend of  November 14-15

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

October 29, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I spent the last 2.5 hours of daylight at Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Winds were 15 mph, gusts to 21 mph; temperature was 56 degrees at 1700 hours.  I pushed the closing at sunset time limit; however, I did get out before the gate was closed.

At first, I was going to walk the Prairie Trail to Havana Ponds hoping for some shorebirds at the mudflats.  Winds at the trailhead were at least 15 mph.  Changed my mind and drove to Lower Derby Lake.

Hundreds of waterfowl were on the lake.  A good mix with Mallards, Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail Ducks, American Wigeons, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaups, one Greater Scaup, Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers, and Common Goldeneyes.

The wind continued to strengthen so I decided to walk around Marys Lake, which is down in a depression.  Perhaps a Swamp Sparrow could be found?

A walk along the ditch/canal along the southern side of Lake Mary was enjoyable.  The first bird I found will be described later.  I ran into a Wilson's Snipe, two Virginia Rails, fourteen Song Sparrows and a wren.

A short tailed, quite dark brown wren lacked the white back streaks of a Sedge Wren or Marsh Wren.  It was also too dark brown in color.  It was a Winter Wren.  It rattled several times and sounded like a Winter Wren and not a Pacific Wren.

When I reached the western end of the drainage, I crossed over to the north side of the ditch and returned to the east end of Marys Lake.  A Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails near the northwestern end of the detour loop going northward toward the lake.

Now the mystery shorebird. It was the size of a pump Killdeer.  As it walked along a muddy clearing in the eastern end of the ditch, it appeared to be an overall grayish bird with a short bill and dull greenish relatively short legs.  When it flew (only about 10-15 feet to the west), it again appeared to be quite gray, darker gray wings with a pale gray tail.  A whitish wing stripe was quite evident on gray pointed wings that were darker at the tips.

A female non breeding Ruff looks similar to the description except would show white "U" shaped upper tail coverts.  A Dunlin would also have a whitish tail with darker center stripe.  A Red Knot would be long winged as this bird and have a grayish tail, short straight bill.  

Would a Red Knot be walking along a muddy shore of a swallow stream?

Comments welcomed!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Aurora Reservoir

October 28, 2015

Richard Stevens:

While at doing chores, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir in eastern Arapahoe County.

Most the gulls were again on the shore at mile 2.0.  A hundred or so gulls were south of the marina (southwest corner).  At least on Bonaparte's Gull flew around the marina and swim beach.  At least two Franklin's Gulls flew from mile 2.0, north toward DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site).

The Common Loon was again in the cove at mile 3.5.  Some Western, Eared, and Horned Grebes swam in the middle of the lake.

Anyone want to comment on the situation where Aurora Reservoir has more gulls than grebes while Cherry Creek Reservoir (9 miles to the west) has more grebes than gulls?  Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bear Creek Park and an Arvada Hummingbird Search

October 27, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Our birding day and an editorial comment at end of email:

Rebecca Kosten and were at Bear Creek Park (off Kenyon, Jefferson County) early this morning.  The Palm Warbler was with a flock of 10-12 Yellow-rumped Warblers east of the pond.  See editorial or suggestion to new birders at the end of my email.

Later we spent three hours at the Arvada yard (Jefferson) where a Ruby-throated Hummingbird had been reported the past two days.  It did not appear between 10:30 am and Noon or from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.  When it started to rain, we left.

We skipped Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) when another birder mentioned that he had found few birds there today.  Instead, we drove over to Barr Lake (Adams).  Unfortunately, bird activity was slow there also.

Editorial comment/hint to inexperienced birders:

We watched the flock of warblers at Bear Creek from about 20 yards.  Most of us carry binoculars and can see birds from 40-50 yards and attempt to identify them from 10+ yards.

I was just a few seconds from getting a photo while my digital camera was booting up, when another birder walked up and stood under the tree with the warbler flock.  The birder stood there and thumbed through her field guide.  The flock took off and flew to the east.  We did wonder if that birder saw the Palm Warbler before it was scared away.  It is not necessary to approach so closely to birds! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Aurora Sports Park and DIA Owl Loop

October 26, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Early this morning I walked into Aurora Sports Park (Arapahoe) and hiked Sand Creek from the south end of the park to the north end.  None of yesterday's warblers was found. 

The hike requires much bushwhacking and some mud.  Few birds were found.  The highlight was a pair of Spotted Towhees (not much of a highlight).

I did not have much time to bird in the afternoon.  I drove some of the eastern Arapahoe County Roads.  Then I returned by way of the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  Winds were 10 mph; temperatures reached the high 50s only.  It was a pleasant cloudy fall Colorado Day.

A Merlin was encountered along Hudson Road between 26th and 56th avenues.

A Lapland Longspur was along Gun Club Road, south of 112th avenue.  No Short-eared Owls showed this evening.  Burrowing Owls appear to have migrated.

Raptors included Rough-legged Hawks (2), Ferruginous Hawks (3), Red-tailed Hawks (2) and an American Kestrel.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Some Aurora Parks and Reservoirs

October 25, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I took two non-birding friends to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to see the Bison, success on that!

I was told that Chipping Sparrows have been reported at four or five locations in the past week, including Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  A small flock of sparrows around the downed dead limbs and trees just east of Lower Derby Lake included two Chipping Sparrows, a Lincoln's Sparrow and two Song Sparrows!

I thought that was quite late for Chipping Sparrows; after checking records there are 34 additional Chipping Sparrow records in the last 25 years after October 25.  Several records are on December 31 (I have not check Christmas Counts which probably add additional records).

After dropping our tired friends at home, Rebecca and I drove toward Aurora.  A late migrating female or immature male Lark Bunting was along East Yale Avenue at 0.1 miles east of Smith Road.  One Vesper Sparrow and Rough-legged Hawk were also observed along Yale Avenue.

Nothing uncommon was on Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Aurora Reservoir was a little more interesting.  A female/immature Surf Scoter swam along mile 2.0.  The Common Loon was below the northwest corner of the dam.  No uncommon gulls were encountered.

Late baseball games kept Aurora Sports Park (Arapahoe) open.  I had on shorts and sandals; thereby negating a walk along Sand Creek.  Perhaps I can return tomorrow morning to search for the warblers found today?

Barr Lake to Aurora Reservoir

October 24, 2015

Richard Stevens:

A walk around Barr Lake (Adams) in the afternoon found no uncommon birds were found when I hiked to the banding station and then to the northwest end of the peninsula.  Best bird was a Hermit Thrush in the willows south of the banding station.

A quick drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) found no Burrowing Owls.  I believe they are gone for 2015.  The prairie dog town at third Creek & Quency Street (previously called 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th) had ten raptors.

The count included four Rough-legged Hawks, two Red-tailed Hawks, two Ferruginous Hawks and two adult Bald Eagles (flying overhead).

I drove over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and walked from the Visitor's Center to the dam tower (about 1.2 miles one way).  Then I scoped the lake for an hour. 

The Red-necked Grebe found earlier in the week was not picked out of the 980+ Western Grebes swimming off the dam.  However, at least one Clark's Grebe was among them.

The Common Loon I found yesterday was in the middle of the lake today.

Sunset at Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 23, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Late in the afternoon, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake for an hour or so until sunset.  Hundreds of Western Grebes, Eared Grebes and American Coots swam below the dam.

A Common Loon was "hidden" in the middle of the raft of grebes.

A Final Fall Trip to the Eastern Plains for Migrating Birds

October 20 to 23, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to the eastern plains for another (final?) search for this fall's migration.  Reports of many uncommon birds last weekend spurred our enthusiasm. Forecasts of afternoon rains proved accurate later in the week.

October 20

A Winter Wren (Kellner, 10/17) was relocated along the west side.  Nearby a Wood Thrush hunkered below in the same bushes.  We did not relocate the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker or Blue-headed Vireo.

Fairview Cemetery at the north end of Burlington (Kit Carson) was also slow.  We did find a female Black-and-white Warbler was not the same bird (a male) we found on 10/13.

At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from the northeastern end of Hale Ponds (Yuma).

October 21

Birding was special today.  It rained most of the day.  My favorite and most successful birding seems to happen during rainy times.

Bryan and I watched a sparrow fly across Yuma County Road 2 where the road makes a sharp right then left turn east of highway 385.  It took another hour to obtain sufficient looks at the bird that kept diving into the grasses.

We knew right away that it was an "ammodramus" sparrow, but which one?  Eventually we observed the orangish eye stripe and dark lateral throat line of the Baird's Sparrow.  Grasshopper Sparrows show grayish eye lines and lack the strong throat stripe.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found along the gated road that runs along the south side of the old Bonny Reservoir (now almost drained of water).  Our target birds were warblers, vireos and other passerines.  We did not spend time searching for owls this trip.

Around noon, we drove to a friend's ranch to say "hi".  He rewarded us by pointing out a Varied Thrush that was first discovered two days earlier!

In the afternoon, a flock of 14 Yellow-rumped Warblers perked our interest.  A Bay-breasted Warbler was loosely associated with the flock.   It appeared to be a non-breeding male.  The flock was along the Republican River at 300 to 500 yards east of Yuma County Road LL.5.  Unfortunately, I was not carrying my camera because of the rain.

Seven Eastern Bluebirds were along the Hale Ponds Road at 200 yards west of Kansas.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called again at 0.2 miles west of Kansas.

October 22

We woke up to cloudy skies; however, the rain would return in the afternoon.  Winds were 12 mph, gusts to 19 mph by noon.

We did not find any Sprague's Pipits in a 15 minute stop at "pipit hill" below the Bonny Reservoir dam.  A brief search for the Bay-breasted Warbler was also not successful. 

We stopped at Beecher Island (Yuma) on our way north.  A Field Sparrow and two White-throated Sparrows were along the Arikaree River (Yuma).

We dropped a six pack of Dr. Pepper off at a friend's home in Wray and observed a pair of Northern Cardinals.  Then we headed to Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond. 

The fishing unit has strict hours so we birded it first.  No uncommon passerines were found; one of the resident Barn Owls was the consolation sighting.

A male Northern Cardinal continued to wander around Stalker Pond.  The only shorebirds were Killdeer.  The only wren was a Marsh Wren.

Nearby Sandsage Wildlife Area again had a Harris's Sparrow and two White-throated Sparrows.  The dozens of sparrows did not include any rare ones.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker(s) found at Wray City Park (10/14) and later at Wray Community Hospital (10/15) could not be relocated.

Rain and wind cut our birding short and we continued north to Sedgwick County.  It was dusk when we passed by Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).  An owl flew out of the windbreak and surely was a Barn Owl.  It was too light and small for a Great Horned Owl and did not fly like a Short-eared Owl.

October 23, 2015

We woke up to fog and mist over the eastern rolling hills this morning.  Winds were 24 mph, gusts to 36 mph by 9:00 am.  It stayed windy throughout the day.

Several hours were spent driving the roads through the sand hill area of Sedgwick County.  Eventually we found two Sprague's Pipits on private property (after obtaining permission from the landowner to drive his roads).

Birds encountered at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) included Nashville Warbler, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Field Sparrows, one Harris's Sparrow and an Eastern Screech-Owl.

The high winds encouraged us to return to Denver early afternoon.

Bear Creek Park, Greenbelt and Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 19, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I started birding at Bear Creek Park (Jefferson) at sunrise.  Winds were 6 mph; temperatures were in the low 50s.

One Eastern Screech-Owl called from the tall cottonwoods below the parking area off Kenyon Street.  Few passerines flew around this rather long, large park.

Our next stop was Bear Creek Greenbelt (Jefferson).  We circled the lakes looking in the cattails for the Swamp Sparrow reported by Art Hudak on 10/17; without success.

Then we walked around the large dried cattail fields north of the two lakes.  Finally, a Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails in response to my recordings.  The sparrow was at the north end of the boardwalk, not far south of Estes Street.

Later we stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake for two hours (from the swim beach area).  A Red-necked Grebe swam along the border of a raft of 700+ Western Grebes.  Dozens of Eared Grebes and a few Horned Grebes were in the same area.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Eastern Arapahoe and Adams Counties

October 18, 2015

Winds today were 8 mph, gusts to 11 mph.  High temperatures were around 77 degrees.

Rebecca Kosten went by Aurora Reservoir while doing chores.  We observed the Common Loon through our scope.  Unfortunately, most of the gulls were on the shore at mile 3.0, way too far away to identify any Sabine's Gulls (reported yesterday).  We chose not to make the long 3 mile hike today for a closer look.

On the way home, we took Quincy Avenue to Arapahoe CR 97, to Hudson Street to Imboden Street to the DIA Owl Loop.  No Burrowing or Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  A late migrating Loggerhead Shrike was along East Yale Avenue at 1.2 miles east of Smith Road.

Raptors included four Ferruginous Hawks, six Red-tailed Hawks, two Rough-legged Hawks and one Swainson's Hawk (Owl Loop).  Not often to see Rough-legged Hawk and Swainson's Hawk on the same day and during a short drive.  The Swainson's Hawk was a juvenile.

Shorebirds and Cranes at Barr Lake

October 17, 2015

Saturday afternoon I walked around the Visitor's Center side of Barr Lake (Adams County).  Winds were out of the southeast at 18 mph, gusts to 24 mph; high temperature reached 79 degrees.

While I did not find the two White-throated Sparrows reported Friday near the banding station, a Warbling Vireo was found below the banding table.

Two guys were fishing at the end of the peninsula where I found the Black-bellied Plover yesterday; so I did not attempt to look.  Instead, I walked southwest to the Niedrach boardwalk.  Two Spotted Sandpipers popped up from the plants along the shore.

Hundreds of Sandhill Cranes were flying in to the shore just south of the boardwalk.  At the shore just west of the stationary scope, a flock of shorebirds wandered back and forth.  The flock included twenty two Long-billed Dowitchers, nineteen Baird's Sandpipers, two Least Sandpipers, two Greater Yellowlegs, one Sanderling and the Black-bellied Plover.  Eventually they flew to the island to the northwest.

Sandhill Cranes continued to fly in when I departed.  A conservative count was 900-1000.  I did not have my scope and skipped trying to figure out the birds on the lake.

Next, I drove to Gun Club Road south of 112th avenue.  No Burrowing Owls or Prairie Dogs were around at the village 1.6 miles south of 112th.  Two Ferruginous Hawks standing on the prairie dog mounds did not invite any other wildlife activity.

Finally, I scoped the prairie dog village at third Creek & Quency Street (formerly called the village at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue).  No Burrowing Owls however plenty of raptors.  Five Ferruginous Hawks, three Rough-legged Hawks, two Red-tailed Hawks and seven Northern Harriers were in the area.  Yesterday, there had been no Rough-legged Hawks, but two Swainson's Hawks.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening as I watched the fields to the east until civil twilight (about 21 minutes after sunset).

Washington Park, Barr Lake and DIA Owl Loop

October 16, 2015

Around mid morning, I headed over to Washington Park (Denver County) to look for the Chestnut-sided Warbler reported yesterday.  Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack, the park has hundreds of old tall cottonwoods.  Finding a warbler that prefers to stay high in the trees appeared to a daunting task (if the bird was even still in the park).

I never found a warbler of any type.  A pipit moving from spot to spot in the large open field section kept me running around for an hour.  It never allowed close approaches.  Identification was difficult.  Once I was close; however a dog walker beat me to the pipit and it once again flew. 

Finally, I did get close, observed the lightly streaked grayish back, and well defined grayish cheek of an American Pipit.  Sprague's Pipits have whitish streaked backs and undefined cheeks giving the birds a blank look.

Afterward, I went to Barr Lake (Adams County).  No warblers or vireos were around (12 mph winds not helping my birding).

I walk out to the northwest end of the peninsula at the banding station found a small flock of shorebirds.  These included 22 Baird's Sandpipers, 2 Least Sandpipers and a Black-bellied Plover.

Scoping the lake added a Common Loon and 2 Greater White-fronted Geese to my day list.

A check along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) found only one Burrowing Owl at the location along Gun Club Road at 1.6 miles south of 112th avenue.  No Short-eared Owls appeared when I watched the fields along third creek until well after sunset.

Search for Uncommon Sparrows in Yuma County

October 13-15, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann and I trip to the eastern plains this time in Yuma County for a search of uncommon sparrows and pipits.  Winds were 10 to 14 mph, gusts to 22 mph most of the trip.

October 13, 2015

Our first stop was Flagler Reservoir just before sunrise.  No Short-eared Owls hunted the fields west of the Wildlife Area this morning.  Highlight was a Broad-winged Hawk, probably one of the seven reported a few days earlier.

A few other birds seen were a late House Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler and Brown Thrasher.

Fairview Cemetery at the north end of Burlington (Kit Carson) offers an interesting bird now and then.  Today we found a Black-and-white Warbler and an "empidonax flycatcher".

Note: later a study of our photos (also sent to an expert) indicated that the flycatcher was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher!

A stop at a friend's ranch in Yuma County found a Long-eared Owl in the windbreak around his house.

A stop at "pipit hill" near Hale found two of the six Sprague's Pipits reported by multiple birders since we first found them on September 24!  Half a dozen Eastern Bluebirds were also in the area.  Another four Eastern Bluebirds were just north of Hale.

Wagon Wheel Campgrounds was slow today.  We missed finding any Common Poorwills at Hale Ponds.  A nice consolation was an Eastern Screech-Owl that called shortly after sunset.

October 14, 2015

Our day started out with a bang!  A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found in Wray City Park.  We took quite a while to make sure it was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and not a Red-naped Sapsucker.

The goal today was to check on several locations of uncommon sparrows (including Sharp tailed) north and east of Wray.

We also stopped at three friend's homes to see what their feeders have been attracting.  Sightings included: at private yard # 3: two male Northern Cardinals and a Harris's Sparrow; at private yard # 1 a pair of Northern Cardinals.  A red form of Fox Sparrow had been here two days earlier; it did not show today.

The three Walk-In-Areas visited added no birds to our day list.  At sunset, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl at private yard # 2.

October 15

Just before sunrise, we watched a Greater Prairie-Chicken cross County Road 45 around 1.6 miles east of Highway 385.

We walked around Sandsage Wildlife Area for an hour and found dozens of sparrows.  Only one Harris's Sparrow and one White-throated Sparrow were among the many White-crowned Sparrows, half a dozen Song Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow.

Stalker Pond and Wray Fishing Unit had few birds of interest.  Earlier we missed relocating the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker found yesterday at Wray City Park.  A stop at the Wray Community Hospital was more successful.  The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker fluttered about the western side.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Urban Eastern Screech Owl Search

October 14, 2015  Terry Michaels:

Today was a search for Eastern Screech Owls across the Denver area.  It saw success and failure.  Some of the searches were during the hottest parts of the day when temperatures reached 80 degrees.

Sites will remain unpublished to limit disturbance to the owls.  Some of the sites are published on other venues if one searches the internet.

In the order of my journey:

Van Bibber Park, Jefferson County: GPS coordinates got me within 61 feet of Tuesday's sighting.  Only a few cottonwoods were there.  An Eastern Screech Owl appeared within 30 seconds of playing a recording.  I did scope the park for other birds because a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was found here 8/25/2012, but none today.

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (private property): Rich Stevens has been watching a pair since March.  One responded to my recording today.

Welchester Tree Park, Jefferson County: One was found in June; none found today.

Ketring Park, Jefferson County: I watched the tree where we saw an Eastern Screech Owl back in May.  None showed up today.

Bear Creek Greenbelt: Up to five were seen this spring.  None were tempted to show today.

Highline Canal at Colorado Blvd, Jefferson County: A local resident knows Rich Stevens well and put me onto two active trees.  An Eastern Screech Owl was looking out of an old cottonwood tree when I arrived.

DeKoevend Park, Arapahoe: Got lucky as one of the two resident owls peeked out as a recording was played for 30 seconds.

Big Dry Creek, Arapahoe County: The Eastern Screech Owls did not come out at the hot part of the afternoon.

Little Dry Creek, Arapahoe County: One has been reported the last two days.  GPS coordinates did not work out late this afternoon.

Four out of nine, it wasn't too bad an escapade!

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Drive Around Eastern Arapahoe and Adams Counties

October 12, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I drove the countryside roads in eastern Arapahoe and Adams Counties this afternoon.  Nothing rare was found.  Temperatures were in the high 70s; anemometer readings at 13 mph; gusts to 20 mph.  We always enjoy the rides on the "eastern plains", especially since unoccupied lands are disappearing rapidly.

The Jewell-Yale Loop was quiet this afternoon.  A House Wren was along E. Yale under the trees and dead limbs on the only tree east of Smith Road.  A Rock Wren was 100 yards east of there.  Eight Vesper Sparrows flew up from the cut fields.

Seven Red-tailed Hawks were counted along Arapahoe County Road 97, north of Yale, south of 6th avenue (Arapahoe).

Continuing north to Hudson Road, another Rock Wren was at the Solar Farm several miles north of I70.  A Prairie Falcon was on a telephone pole about 1.5 miles north of 26th avenue.

A Harris's Sparrow was under the trees/downed limbs on the east side of Hudson Road at 0.6 miles south of 72nd avenue (note, I had no recorder or pen and was just remembering locations.  If the trees were not here, they were 0.6 miles south of 56th avenue).

At Hudson & 72nd avenue, we turned east.  At the first clearing under the metal telephone poles, about 0.6 miles west of Imboden Road, we encountered 100+ Horned Larks and three Chestnut-collared Longspurs (Adams County).  An interesting observation, most of the Horned Larks walked in the shadows of the telephone poles while the Chestnut-collared Longspurs searched for food in the sunny areas.

Another Prairie Falcon was seen at 0.3 miles south of 96th avenue & Imboden Road.  A stop at 96th avenue and Box Elder Creek found no birds (site of several Red-headed Woodpecker sightings in the past year).

Our route was Imboden to 120th avenue, west to Trussville, south to 114th, west to Gun Club Road, detour down Gun Club, then back east to Quency Road, south to 96th, east to Tower Road.

No Burrowing Owls were found at Trussville Road & 114th avenue or Third Creek & Quency (the old prairie dog village at 3.4 miles east of Tower & 96th).  Two Burrowing Owls were west of Gun Club Road at 1.5 miles south of 112th avenue.  I was asked yesterday to check for Burrowing Owls along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County).

At the Third Creek/Quency Road site, we did see two Swainson's Hawks and three Ferruginous Hawks. All were standing around while one Swainson's Hawk ate a prairie dog. 

The interesting behavior, Swainson's Hawk over Ferruginous Hawk, followed the article I wrote for "Colorado Field Notes" August 2013 p. 52 on Raptor Habitat Selection and Behavior.  The Swainson's Hawk covered the prairie dog with one wing and ate while the other hawks watched (waiting their turn?).

No Short-eared Owls were found this evening after the four Northern Harriers disappeared at dusk.