Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cherry Creek Reservoir to Downtown Denver to Barr Lake; Slow Birding, Nice day

May 26, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I spent an hour at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  However, no uncommon or "new" birds were found at the Lake Loop and Drainage to Bellevue.  Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area was "quiet" also.

After receiving a text message, we drove to downtown Denver and Commons Park.  We relocated the Cassin's Vireo that Greg Schrab had found around 6:50 am this morning.  The vireo was in the fern like trees along the eastern side of the park.  I will have to look up what kind of tree these are.  Migrating birds appear to prefer looking for insects in these trees.

After dropping Bryan off, I wanted a leisure hike to stretch my legs after too many days and miles in a car.  The 7 mile hike today at Barr Lake (Adams County) was nice.  Unfortunately, only a few birds were found.  I did enjoy a slow paced hike in cool but rain free weather.  Winds were mild and temperatures in the 60s in the afternoon.

Mosquitoes were flocking (guess a better word would be swarming).  Fortunately, I only was bit one time.  In a day or two or possibly a week, the Barr Lake trail will become a toll road.  The cost is blood.

Birding was quite slow until I passed the Pioneer Trail.  A Gray-cheeked Thrush walked along the fallen log at 40 yards northeast of the Pioneer Trailhead.  Before my camera booted up, a Swainson's Thrush chased after the Gray-cheeked Thrush, which jumped deep into the brush.

A Gray Catbird and several Bullock's Orioles were also in the area.  My target bird was a Baltimore Oriole.  In the past 15 years, six times a male Baltimore Oriole has been found between May 26 & May 29.  None was found today.

Continued northeast, a Tennessee Warbler and two Yellow Warblers were in the "fern like trees" near mile 7.4. 

The canal below the dam was not busy either.  An Olive-sided Flycatcher hawked insects near mile 6.6.

The Barn Owl was looking out of the nesting box at the banding station as I returned to the Visitor's Center footbridge.

A walk around the Niedrach Boardwalk found nothing to mention.

Thirty minutes before sunset, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  Nine Burrowing Owls were spread over three locations along the Loop.  No Short-eared Owl appeared this evening.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Looking for Migrants, Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 25, 2015

Richard Stevens:

The daily rains did not show up until after 5:00 pm today.  I took advantage of the partly cloudy skies and mild winds to checkout several birding locations for migrating birds.

A four hour walk around Barr Lake (Adams County) did not find any uncommon birds.  The usual nesting birds were starting to show up in numbers.   Western Kingbirds, House Wrens, Western Wood-pewees were back in good numbers.  A few Eastern Kingbirds, Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers also were counted.

In the two mile section between the southwestern end of the Niedrach Trail to the boat ramp 7 Swainson's Thrushes, 1 Hermit Thrush, 9 Yellow Warblers, 11 Western Wood-pewees, two dozen Western Kingbirds, 4 Eastern Kingbirds, 16 House Wrens, 3 Warbling Vireos and over dozen Bullock's Orioles were counted.

The riparian area below the dam from mile 7 to 6 was also slow.  Five Yellow-rumped Warblers, three Yellow Warblers, 29 Chipping Sparrows and one Common Yellowthroat were just about it.

I hoped birding would be more interesting at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  An American Redstart was at the southeastern corner of the Lake Loop (same area as Chestnut-sided Warbler and Northern Parula were recently reported).

Western Wood-pewees were everywhere.  I lost count at twenty two; there were many more than that.

The northwestern corner of the Lake Loop always seems to attract birds.  It is sheltered by a small hill.  Even when it is windy, this area can be quite calm.  Today I counted six Yellow Warblers, two Warbling Vireos, five Western Wood-pewees and a pair of Bullock's Orioles.

I walked east to the Cottonwood Creek wetlands where "yesterday's greenish empidonax" flycatcher was still in the area (between the tall cottonwoods and the willows east to the footbridge.  The bird was quite shy for a flycatcher; it took 45 minutes for me to see it clearly and take a couple of photos.

Rain started to fall rapidly and my birding day ended here.

P.S.  I did run across a nest with a Sharp-shinned Hawk laying on it (will have to get an eye on any successful nesting attempt).

Loveland Pass to Genesee Mountain Park to Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 24, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Two Ohio birders and I headed to the mountains an hour and a half before the 5:39 am sunrise.  About 50 Brown-capped Rosy Finches and 3 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches were found in Silverthorne (no Blacks).

We backtracked to Loveland Pass and scoped the western, then eastern side of the Summit.  Two White-tailed Ptarmigan were spotted at the lower end of the ragged rocks several hundred yards of the east side.  A long and steep trek down the mountain was thankfully avoided.

We headed back to Denver before the hordes of holiday travelers started to arrive.  A stop at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) added another target bird to our list. 

A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was found just below the snag around the flagpole at the top of the mountain park.  Another pair was seen flying around the group picnic area when we returned to our car.

I was trying to take a photo of some Pygmy Nuthatches when a male Blackpoll Warbler was spotted (at the southern parking lot).

After dropping my birding companions at DIA (Denver International Airport), I headed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I ended up hiking from the northwest corner of the Lake Loop to the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands and back.

Yesterday's Chestnut-sided Warbler did not appear to be around.  I missed the Northern Parula reported earlier in the day.  Western Wood-pewees were quite numerous.  They appeared to be out fly catching everywhere.

The only "empidonax" flycatcher that I encountered was between the Prairie Loop and the Wetlands.  It was not a Dusky, Least or Cordilleran Flycatcher.  I brushed off the greenish back and wet dark head as a probable Willow Flycatcher.  Later I learned that other birders were stating that an Alder Flycatcher was in the area.  I believe I took four or five shots of the bird and will have to look at them later.  (I have about 2000 photos taken in the last three days that have not been inspected).

Back at the Lake Loop, I walked the drainage from Lake View Drive uphill/south to Bellevue Avenue and back.  The area was not as birdy as a few days ago.  A few Western Wood-pewees, six Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a Red-eyed Vireo were still around.  I hoped the Bobolink (5/19) was still around.  Unfortunately, I could not find it.

Just before returning to my car, a Gray Flycatcher was seen back at the Lake Loop.

A stop at the Ranger's Office area found two male Black-chinned Hummingbirds (and a female in a nest)!

Arapahoe County Birding

May 23, 2015

Richard Stevens:

The 4.6 mile hike at Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe County) would stretch my legs today.  The 2.3 miles to the turn around and then back might be considered "flat", however, the rolling hills require a good effort to make this hike.

I mentioned that to a ranger who stopped to see what I had found.  He thought the hike was quite flat; however, he was riding an ATV two miles from the trailhead.

My success was not as productive as Jerry Petrosky's experience of 5/20.  Western Wood-pewees continued to out number as species.  A Northern Waterthrush 120 yards south and east of the first trash bin from the trailhead was that far from the one that Jerry reported.

A Red-eyed Vireo was in the tall cottonwoods directly south of the cream colored house with twenty+ solar panels on its roof.

A Veery was just west of the second trash bin (next to a bench).  If the same one as Jerry's, it had moved 80 yards to the west.

The only other uncommon bird was a Dusky Flycatcher on the south side of the lake (just west of the 1.5 Km marker).

No Great-tailed Grackles, Bobolink or warblers (other than Yellow Warblers) found today.  The willow/Russian Olive tree grove had not birds today.  Ninety six American Crows roosted near the grove today.

Before the Quincy Reservoir trip, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) where a Chestnut-sided Warbler was reported.  When I arrived at 1:00 pm, a rainstorm with strong winds hit the Park.  The wind was blowing out of the south; I figured any birds were blown to the northwest corner of the Lake Loop.

The trees in this corner are down a small hill and somewhat protected from the winds.  Sure enough, I found seven Yellow Warblers, four Western Wood-pewees, two Warbling Vireos and the Chestnut-sided Warbler.

After my trip to Quincy Reservoir, I returned hoping to get a photo of the Chestnut-sided Warbler in calmer winds (earlier it stayed quite high in the cottonwoods).  Unfortunately, no one could relocate the bird.  A friend reported seeing it behind the rowing club building at 2:30 pm.

Birding was between 10 minute rain storms.  I also hiked part way up the Lake Loop drainage toward Bellevue, only got halfway before another downpour and turned around.

A Red-eyed Vireo was about 100 yards south/up hill of Lake View Drive.

It started to get dark before the last downpour stopped; I went home.

Eastern Plains Trip

May 20-22, 2015

Richard Stevens:

May 20-23, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a short three day trip to explore the eastern plains for migrating birds.  As had been the case for a couple of weeks now, birding was done between brief rainstorms.

May 20

Our trip started out quite well when we stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson County). 

We walked around the dam area to the southeastern end and eventually found a Hooded Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Great Crested Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher and two Dusky Flycatchers, and Olive-sided Flycatcher.  A male Chestnut-sided Warbler at the northeastern corner was definitely the highlight.

A stop at Fairview Cemetery in Burlington (Kit Carson) was a great choice.  A Gray-cheeked Thrush was discovered in the thicker bushes.

We arrived at Bonny Reservoir/Hale Ponds in late afternoon.  A couple of Red-bellied Woodpeckers flew around the cottonwoods as we set up camp.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called about 20 minutes after sunset.

We walked around Hale Ponds near the end of Civil Twilight with Whip-poor-wills in mind.  None was found; however, a Common Poorwill responded to our recordings.

May 21

Our long day started about an hour before sunrise.  Eventually we walked from highway 385 to the Kansas border and back.  We took our time and enjoyed the pleasant day of bird songs and sightings.  According to our GPS, with zig zags and all, we hiked 29.4 miles in total.  We both agreed it was a great day!  Bryan may be the only birder I know that would have done such a one day trek with me!  Thanks much buddy!

Bonny Reservoir is no longer a reservoir.  The area is now called the South Republican Wildlife Area. Colorado gave most of Bonny's water to Kansas (lost lawsuit).  Our trek took us along the southern side of the Republican River to Kansas and then back along the northern side. 

Highlights in the order we found them along our fifteen hour "walk" follow.  Later we found that a big miss for the day was a Bell's Vireo found by unseen birder Van Remsen.

Three Eastern Screech-Owls responded to recordings before sunrise (hwy 385 to Hopper Ponds).

Flocks of sparrows we encountered along Yuma County Road 2.  We checked the thin row of trees where Bell's Vireos had been recorded in past years; without success.  Hopper Ponds also had many sparrows.  A Great Crested Flycatcher was the only uncommon bird.

Our first highlight of the day was a male Prairie Warbler.  He was 30 yards into the woods northeast of where CR 2 turns from east to south.  A Blackpoll Warbler was another 30 yards or so toward the Republican River.

Several Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a male Baltimore Oriole were found from there to the old Wagon Wheel picnic area.  One or two Long-eared Owls were also in the area.

An Eastern Phoebe hawked insects at the old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds.  Our fourth Eastern Screech-Owl of the morning was here also.

No Northern Saw-whet Owls were found between the Bonny Dam and Hale.  At Hale (referred to as Hale Crossing by some birders) we added another Great Crested Flycatcher and Broad-winged Hawk to our day list.  We checked the tall Cottonwoods northeast of Hale for Cuckoos (both Yellow billed & Black-billed have nested here in past years).

The best bird at Hale Ponds was an calling Alder Flycatcher (highlight of our day).  Between Hale and Kansas we also encountered a calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo (would have been missed if he had not called), Mourning Warbler (willows along Republican River), Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush (also in the willows), Magnolia Warbler & American Redstart (Cottonwoods just west of Kansas), Olive-sided Flycatcher,  male Baltimore Oriole, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, seven Eastern Bluebirds, many flycatchers and wood-pewees.

Once back at the Bonny Reservoir dam, we hiked the north side of the Republican.  A Barn Owl was in the cottonwoods as we dropped down from the north end of the dam.

Two additional Long-eared Owls were in the windbreak east of the old Foster's Grove Campgrounds.  The Campgrounds themselves had many birds including two Northern Cardinals, an Eastern Phoebe, two Baltimore Orioles, and quite surprising, a Lewis's Woodpecker.

A flock of twenty Wild Turkey wandered just west of Foster's Grove.  Our third Great Crested Flycatcher called from the tall cottonwoods between F.G. and hwy 385.

Too many birds to mention, it was quite an enjoyable trek.  Both of us were exhausted when we reached our jeep.  We had no problem falling to sleep.

May 22

I wrote up to an Eastern Screech-Owl called at 4:30 am (Hale Ponds).  At dawn, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called northwest of the western Hale Pond (not same area as yesterday's cuckoo).

Our tired legs convinced us to return to Denver by way of I70 and not follow our original plans to head north to Wray.  Predicted thunderstorms had much to do with this decision.

The area is now called the South Republican Wildlife Area.

A two hour stop at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) found a Hooded Warbler, Northern Waterthrush (5/20), Great Crested Flycatcher (5/20), Least Flycatcher (5/20), Dusky Flycatcher (5/20) and a Nashville Warbler.

After dropping Bryan at home, I decided to stretch my legs at Barr Lake (Adams County).  My hike was cut short at one hour when it rained again.

Before the rain, I walked from the Visitor's Center footbridge to the banding station and back to the west side of the Niedrach Trail.  A Northern Waterthrush was under the logs just north of the fixed scope, north of the footbridge (mile 9.0 or 0.0).  A Red-eyed Vireo wandered around at mile 8.8.

The real surprise was a Gray-cheeked Thrush under the row of cottonwoods at the southeast corner of the Niedrach boardwalk loop.  Many birds, although no uncommon, were at the Loop: Yellow-rumped Warblers, Warbling Vireos (2), Bullock's Orioles (4), Red-winged Blackbirds.

Return to Elbert County and Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 19, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann had an unremarkable day in eastern and southeastern Elbert County.  It was when we passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) when our day became quite exciting.

Hundreds of sparrows were fluttering about the Lake Loop.  A pair of Mallards swimming up and down the paved path (Lake Loop road to eastern side of the reservoir) was quite amusing.  Overnight rains turned much of the park into water soaked wetlands.

As we walked the eastern side of the Lake Loop, a loose flock of birds at the southeast corner caught our eyes.  Five Yellow Warblers, two Western Tanagers and a vireo worked the tall cottonwoods along the drainage.  The yellow spectacles, bright yellow throat and white belly belonged to a Yellow-throated Vireo!

It has been years since water has flowed in the small willow lined drainage.  Four Black-capped Chickadees, a Lazuli Bunting, three additional Yellow Warblers and two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers popped up from the thick willows 10-20 yards north of Lakeview Drive (the main road through the Park).

Every 10 yards or so farther south, dozens additional birds emerged from the willows.  A Blackpoll Warbler and Clay-colored Sparrow flew up to the last thin cottonwood just north of Lakeview Drive.

So many birds came out of the willows; we could not stop continuing south across the road.  From Lakeview Road to Bellevue Avenue (perhaps 0.6 miles hike) we observed dozens of Western Kingbirds, one Cassin's Kingbird, a dozen Western Wood-pewees, another seven Western Tanagers, two Clay-colored Sparrows, seven Brewer's Sparrows, and another four Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

The uncommon birds encountered made the uphill hike quite memorable.  In order of appearance:

Shortly after crossing Lakeview, a little gray bird jumped from the stream to the willows.  A Bell's Vireo preened and dried off and allowed us over two minutes viewing!  The distinct two wingbars, white eyebrow and broken eye ring, long gray tail separated it from Blue-gray Gnatcatchers with black tails and Gray Flycatcher with complete eye ring, no eyebrow.

About 15 yards south, at first glance we thought another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  The gray bird lacked the black tail, white outer tail feathers of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, only had one distinct wing bar and a complete white eye ring.  It was a Gray Flycatcher.

Continuing south another 20 yards, several White-crowned Sparrows popped up.  A Northern Waterthrush followed them to the lower branches of a cottonwood tree.

As we continued south, where there is a large break in the thick willows, sparse cottonwood area of the riparian area to Russian olive trees and cattails, we thought a male Bobolink had flown up and dropped back into the taller wet grasses.  We dismissed it with only a few seconds look and continued along the eastern side of the Russian olive trees.

A Plumbeous Vireo, eight Yellow-rumped Warblers, three Yellow Warblers, a Spotted Towhee, Brown Thrasher, and Warbling Vireo were found before reaching Bellevue Avenue.

Our hike continued back north along the west side of the drainage.  When we reached the large break again, a male Bobolink popped out of the grasses and perched on a miner's candle plant.

The only "new" bird observed on the hike back to our car was a Tennessee Warbler moving about with six to eight Yellow-rumped Warblers in one of the taller cottonwoods just south of Lakeview.

Several birds were left as "unidentified".  Two "empidonax" flycatchers were neither a Dusky Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, nor Cordilleran Flycatcher.  Beyond that, we could not decide.

One Wood-Pewee looked quite different from the others.  Eleven Wood-Pewees had darkish bills and dull wingbars.  One Wood-Pewee had quite thick white wingbars and conspicuous orangish bill; an Eastern Wood-Pewee?  It never made a sound in the 10 minutes we watch it.

Night Owling Boulder County

May 17, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I enjoyed a four owl all night hike in Boulder County.  We walked along quite muddy trails along Boulder Creek and up Skunk Canyon by way of the Mesa South Trail system.

The major problem is where to park?  I believe the parking area at Mesa Trailhead is day use only (could be wrong)?  We have been this hike at least twice a year for the past six years.  Arrangements to park at a private driveway allow us access without trespassing.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was found as we hiked west toward the Mesa South Trailhead.  In order of discovery, we eventually found a Northern Pygmy-Owl and Flammulated Owl on the trip up and a Northern Saw-whet Owl on the return trip.

Except for slippery trails and muddy shoes, the trip was quite enjoyable.  We returned to our car just before sunrise.

After a few hours of sleep, I hiked several miles at Barr Lake (Adams).  The Barn Owl was back at the nesting box near the banding station.  Only a couple of Bullock's Orioles have returned to their nesting territories.  House Wrens and Western Wood-pewees were the most numerous birds.

An Olive-sided Flycatcher hawked insects as I walked down the Pioneer Trail.  The female Osprey (I assume) is on the nesting platform, while the male (I assume) was standing sentinel in a dead cottonwood south of the platform.

Several wet Burrowing Owls were observed along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Elbert and Douglas Counties

May 16, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I birded most of the day in Elbert County.  We found some interesting birds, most unlikely to be relocated.  Our day list in Elbert County included American Redstart, Eastern Phoebe, Gray-cheeked Thrush & Long-billed Curlew.

The Gray-cheeked Thrush at Box Elder Creek at County Line Road (just west of CR 29) could possibly be relocated.  Bring a scope; the thrush was under the willows about 30 yards south of County Line Road.

Some birds that can be found again were along Castlewood Canyon Road in Douglas.  At the Winkler Ranch we found five male and two female Bobolink, four pairs of nesting Western Bluebirds, two pairs of nesting Mountain Bluebirds (in bluebird boxes), ten Wild Turkey (along road when it runs east to west and one or two Lewis's Woodpeckers (look for snags along road).

We hiked Cherry Creek from the old homestead to the parking area for the Falls.  An Ovenbird & Least Flycatcher were the highlight.  Turkey Vultures and a Golden Eagle circled overhead.

No Northern Saw-whet Owls could be found this evening.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Aurora Sports Park and Rocky Mountain Arsenal

May 15, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I decided to hike a loop through Aurora Sports Park this morning.  The park has erratic hours, beware when entering the park.  The supervisor of the park told me that even if the entrance gate is close, I could drive in through the exit gate.

This gate is locked at 6:00 pm each evening.  Several times in the past, I birded the park this way.  Many people park outside the gate and walk in.  This would only add 0.3 miles to a hike and probably is safer.

A few days ago, I was locked in the Cherry Creek Reservoir Shooting Range when the manager decided to close early (4:00 pm instead of the listed 7:00 pm).  With this in mind, I parked outside the gates of Aurora Sports Park this morning.

I hiked the eastern side of the riparian area along Sand Creek 1.3 miles to the end of the park, and then returned along the western side of Sand Creek through the woods.  Bring waterproof boots, it was quite wet.

The woods were quite birdy today; although most were common birds, many American Robins, House Wrens and Red-winged Blackbirds.  Half a dozen House Wrens were scattered in the bushes along the Creek.

Several flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers were scattered along the trek.  A female Tennessee Warbler and an Orange-crowned Warbler were among one flock.  A Cassin's Vireo was loosely associated with a second flock (300 yards south of the bend in Sand Creek (flows north then turns west).

The only thrush along the route turned out to be a Hermit.  A Yellow-breasted Chat was near the western end of the park.

After receiving a text message about a Townsend's Warbler in downtown Denver (18th & Grant), I drove down and walked around the small greenway plaza.  Unfortunately, the Townsend's Warbler was not found.

On the way home, I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  Nothing uncommon was on Lake Ladora; however, a Plumbeous Vireo fluttered about the riparian area at the southwest corner.

My plan to hike the 4 mile round trip to the Rod and Gun Club Pond was canceled when Rocky Mountain Arsenal was hit with a downpour of rain and quarter sized hail.  That ended my birding day.

Welchester Park to Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 14, 2015

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started in late morning at Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson County).  The woods in the northeast corner are quite thick.  A previously reported Blue-winged Warbler moves along the creek from the northeast corner and the private property to the east.

It helped much that the Blue-winged Warbler has a loud song.  Even after hearing the bird sing, it took a few minutes to locate it deep in the cottonwood trees!

On the trip back to my car, House Wrens, House Finches, a Plumbeous Vireo, a male Western Tanager and a Black-headed Grosbeak were encountered.

I also saw another vireo, twice for 3-5 seconds each time.  I would have called it a Yellow-throated Vireo with better looks.  Hopefully, someone will see the bird and confirm the sighting.

Rebecca Kosten was at a friend's home near Washington Park (Denver).  They saw a Palm Warbler in the front yard.  Later they watched it fly across the street to Washington Park.  After picking Rebecca up, we walked around the southern end of the park for about an hour.  No Palm Warbler was found.

We then drove to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and walked around for about two hours in the search of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which has been around for a week or so.  Our hike was around 4.2 miles from the Bellevue Wetlands Pond to East Caley Avenue and back.

No Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was found.  A small flat-headed sparrow caused us pause along the shooting range fence near Bellevue & Peoria.  Eventually we got enough views to identify it as a Grasshopper Sparrow.

Many Chipping Sparrows, a few Vesper Sparrows and a couple of Brewer's Sparrows were scattered on the grasslands south of the shooting range.  A Plumbeous Vireo was in the trees around the pond east of the Heron Pond along Peoria Street.

A male Lazuli Bunting, two Wilson's Warblers and a Yellow-breasted Chat added color to the green riparian area at the southern footbridge over Cherry Creek.

We ended our birding day at the Cherry Creek Reservoir swim beach.  A lone Least Sandpiper was the only shorebird.  Many Chipping Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers flew around from the swim beach to the smoky hill picnic area.

What we first thought was an Orange-crowned Warbler, was identified as a female Tennessee Warbler in the locust trees west of the picnic pavilion.  Its white undertail coverts separated it from the Orange-crowned Warbler with yellowish undertail coverts.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Sunny Day in Elbert County

May 13, 2015

I tried to duplicate David Suddjian's superb drive around Elbert County yesterday.  I did not come close.  However, a few interesting birds were flying around.

David's birds that I was able to relocate included a Dusky Flycatcher at Bijou Creek and CR 117 and a Field Sparrow near Bijou Creek and CR 170.  Target misses included the Chestnut-sided Warbler near Bijou Creek and CR 125 and the Mourning Warbler at Bijou Creek and CR 170.

The highlight of my drive around Elbert County was a Mourning Warbler at Box Elder Creek along County Line Road (spot where Northern Parula & Tennessee Warbler were found last week).

My luck improved at Barr Lake (Adams County) in spite of the late afternoon hike.  In my experience, birds follow the direct sunlight and I assume insects.  Barr Lake's main road is usually more active in the morning with its eastern sun.  The afternoon direct sunlight is on the side of trees inaccessible due to water levels. 

In order of sightings, walking from Visitor's Center footbridge to boat ramp (mile 7.5):

A Blackpoll Warbler was at mile 8.9 loosely associated with two Black-capped Chickadees and three Yellow-rumped Warblers.

A Hermit Thrush at mile 8.8.  Then a Nashville Warbler deep in the chokecherry bushes at mile 8.7.

The Barn Owl was at the banding station (mile 8.5).  One Osprey (female?) on nesting platform with the other (male) perched overhead along the shore.

At the willows, mile 7.8, I was trying to choose whether the thrush I was looking at was Swainson's or Hermit (turned out to be Swainson's Thrush).  Another thrush popped out of the underbrush and was a Gray-cheeked Thrush!

I forgot to scope the lake to see if the Common Loon was still present.

The birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop.  At least five Burrowing Owls were spread over three locations.  About 10 minutes after sunset, a Short-eared Owl flew around the field west of Gun Club Road (south of 96th avenue).

Back to Weld County

March 12, 2015

Richard Stevens

Terry Michaels and I returned to Weld County.  Then I searched unsuccessfully for the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

A Wet Weld County

March 11, 2015

Terry Michaels and I spent the day driving the wet roads in Weld County.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 10, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams County) today after some of last night's snowstorm melted.  It was disappointing after yesterday's great birding day.  No new sightings were found.

The highlights were relocating the Northern Waterthrush hidden in the bushes south of the Niedrach Trail and the Cassin's Vireo, which was now at mile 8.4, north of yesterday's location at the banding station.

Spotted Towhees numbered eight, Green-tailed Towhees four, Common Yellowthroat two, Bullock's Orioles five, Warbling Vireo one, Western Kingbirds many.

Misses: I could not relocate the Hooded Warbler and Black-throated Gray Warbler from yesterday.  I forgot to mention yesterday, that while walking the main trail I Mississippi Kite flew over.  One was reported yesterday morning at Cherry Creek State Park; no way to know if this was the same bird late in the afternoon (the two sightings were 20 miles apart).

On the way to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), I observed three Burrowing Owls along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

The main road at Cherry Creek Reservoir was flooded at Lakeview Drive and Cherry Creek.  I first entered from the western entrance and drove the road to the shooting range; without seeing the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  Many of yesterday's sparrows, kingbirds and shrikes were now along the shooting range road.  A male Ring-necked Pheasant walked along the western fenceline.

I stopped at the trailhead to the Bellevue wetlands and walked over to see if any shorebirds were there.  Water level was too high for any shore; however, I did see the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher southeast of the pond.

Next, I left the park and reentered from the eastern/northern entrance, then drove to the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area.  Finding few birds, mostly Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows there, I decided to walk over to the pond northwest of the swim beach.  Green Herons once nested here.

No Green Herons were around the pond filled high to the brim from snowmelt.  Hundreds of birds flew around the cottonwoods, willows and gooseberry bushes.

Among these birds were:

Sixteen Black-capped Chickadees, thirty seven Yellow-rumped Warblers, two Orange-crowned Warblers, twenty Western Kingbirds, two Green-tailed Towhees and White-crowned & Song Sparrows.

Highlights were a Palm Warbler (perhaps the same one that Loch Kilpatrick had found early in the day at the Group Picnic Area).  A Red-eyed Vireo fluttered about on the edge of the Yellow-rumped Warbler flock.  I would have missed a Blackpoll Warbler if not for trying to count the Black-capped Chickadees.

Empidonax Flycatchers were represented by a Cordilleran Flycatcher (with its tear drop eye ring) and a Dusky Flycatcher (pumping its tail downward).  Both called twice and allowed comparisons and positive identification!

On the way back to my car at the group picnic area, I ran into nine Say's Phoebes, another half dozen Western Kingbirds, one Cassin's Kingbird and three Loggerhead Shrikes!

No shorebirds could be found on the limited exposed shore (too much water).  Two Bonaparte's Gulls, an adult Bald Eagle and an Osprey flew by during my visit.

Jackson Reservoir and Barr Lake

May 9, 2015

Richard Stevens:

There was a downfall of birds at Barr Lake this afternoon.  I walked around in the rain for three hours and found the following.  BTW, some of my most successful/enjoyable birding days have been during rain.
Birds counted from the Visitor's Center footbridge to the Pioneer Trail, 1.0 miles away. 
Seven male, three female Spotted Towhees
Four Green-tailed Towhees
1st year Bullock's Oriole
two Western Kingbirds

A Mississippi Kite flying overhead was quite a surprise.  Mississippi Kites have only been reported twice other times in Adams County.  Both those sightings were at Eastlake Reservoir # 3.

(I found out later that a Mississippi Kite was seen flying over Cherry Creek State Park in Arapahoe County about seven hours earlier (2nd county record).  The Barr Lake bird may have been the same bird (it is only 20 miles between the two reservoirs).

Continuing Northeast along the main road, several birds were found in one of the taller willow trees near the banding station (mile 8.5)
Cassin's Vireo
Plumbeous Vireo
Warbling Vireo

Several birds moved about low to ground around gooseberry bushes at mile 8.3
Hooded Warbler
Spotted Towhee
Green-tailed Towhee

Just before reaching the Pioneer Trail (mile 8.1) another "group" of birds were encountered. 
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warblers (9)
Black-throated Gray Warbler

I then walked down the pioneer trail to the bird blind.  Assuming it was the female Osprey on the platform nest to the west, the male was in the tree just off the bird blind.

While returning to footbridge, I spotted a Brown Thrasher at mile 8.9.  Its face was quite gray; the thought that it could be a Long-billed Thrasher came to mind.  The bill appeared longish; however, with no comparison in regard to size, no conclusions could be drawn.  With additional looks, the color of the thrasher leaned toward calling it a Brown Thrasher.

After reaching the footbridge, I continued southwest on the Niedrach boardwalk trail.  Just south of the footbridge a male Wilson's Warbler, Hermit Thrush and two Orange-crowned Warblers fluttered about the cottonwoods.

At the southwest end of the boardwalk at the footbridge, a male Common Yellowthroat popped out of the brush.  A Dusky Flycatcher was another 100 yards to the southwest.

Once at the boardwalk, I observed a Western Wood-pewee and another Common Yellowthroat.  My hike continued to the southwest end of the boardwalk and another 200 yards to the willow field.  A third Common Yellowthroat was encountered there.

I looked closely at the water's edge while peering through the willows.  Movement along the shore proved to be that of a Northern Waterthrush at southwest end of footbridge.

Rain continued to get heavier and I ended my birding day.  It was assumed that no Burrowing or Short-eared Owls would be out during the downpour.

Earlier in the day, Bob Varnon and I drove out to Jackson Reservoir in Morgan County.  We enjoyed several uncommon bird sightings. Weather was better than I found later at Barr Lake.

Birds found
Red-necked Phalaropes
Wilson's Phalaropes
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Spotted Towhees
Green-tailed Towhee
Plumbeous Vireo
Common Yellowthroat
American Robins, dozens
Plumbeous Vireo
Yellow-rumped Warblers
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
White-throated Sparrow
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Eastern Screech-Owl
Long-eared Owl
Great Horned Owl
Bonaparte's Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Franklin's Gulls

At Andrick Wildlife Area
American Bittern

Grouse and Owl Trips

May 3 through 8, 2015

CoBus Grouse and Owl Trips

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Pine Valley Ranch Park, Barr Lake and DIA Owl Loop.

May 2, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson County) in the late morning.  We did not walk up Buck Gulch Trail in search of American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  No Three-toed Woodpeckers were along the hillside above Pine Lake today.

A small flock of sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Wilson's Warbler had another surprise for us.  An adult Nashville Warbler fluttered about the willows also!

A hike west down the Narrow Gauge Trail found an American Dipper under the footbridge.  At the western end gate, I played a Northern Pygmy-Owl recording.  To our surprise, a Northern Pygmy-Owl called back!

After dropping Bryan off, I drove over to Barr Lake (Adams County).  After reaching the Osprey platform about 0.5 miles northeast of the Visitor's Center footbridge, I returned.  Two Ospreys were still on the nesting platform.

A Barn Owl was in the owl box by the banding station.  I played a White-eyed Vireo recording and the previously reported White-eyed Vireo answered!  I only was able to get a couple of quick looks before it disappeared in brushes in the water.

Several Swainson's Hawks, many House Wrens, a Song Sparrow and Lincoln's Sparrow were encountered during the hike.

A Common Loon was again observed from the Niedrach Boardwalk.  It was quite a bit farther out than when I photographed it on 4/10 (photos on Colorado Birding Society's website: (recent witness photos) link.

Nine Burrowing Owls were spread across four locations along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County). I would speculate that most of the females are in burrows lying or on eggs.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this afternoon.