Sunday, July 26, 2015

Birding Around Jackson County

July 26, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Early before sunrise, Bryan and checked to see if the Boreal Owls were still near the nesting box they used on 6/26.  They were not.

Later we relocated the male American Three-toed Woodpecker whose territory appears to be across from the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (north of Hwy 14).

No Gunnison Sage-Grouse could be found along Jackson CR 31, Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

We stopped at a friend's ranch and heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl calling.  He has been harassing my friends for weeks.

Roy showed us several Dusky Grouse that wander his property and visit his feeders.

Birds On a Trip Up North

July 25, 2015

Richard Stevens:

The hot summer continues; winds were calm.  Bryan Ehlmann and I searched unsuccessfully for the Little Blue Heron(s) of Firestone Gravel Pits.  None was found.  We did see a Caspian Tern that eventually flew west toward St. Vrain State Park.

We did not relocate the Caspian Tern when we drove around it looking for a Little Blue Heron.  No Little Blue Heron was found there either.

After a text message about Baird's Sparrow(s) in Larimer County we headed north.  We managed to hear one shortly after arriving along County Road 5.  Baird's Sparrows seldom fly in the open and we did not wait to see one.

At least two Boreal Owls were heard while we walked along Highway 14, just west of Cameron Pass.  This is a good time to find them as parents verbally keep in touch with their fledglings.

Blue Grosbeak, Where are they?

July 24, 2015

Richard Stevens:

On the way back to Denver, Bryan Ehlmann and I looked for about an hour for the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Little Jumbo Reservoir.  We hoped for a better photo, however, never found the bird in the thick foliage.

Rebecca Kosten and I drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal hoping to get a photo of a Blue Grosbeak that has been reported for several weeks.  Weather gave us a break today.  Skies were overcast and temperatures were around 80 degrees.

Unfortunately, we missed the Blue Grosbeak again.  Hundreds of Chipping Sparrows were along most of the roads in the arsenal that had trees (64th avenue, 72nd avenue).  Fall is coming; Chipping Sparrows are dropping down from the mountains.

On the way to the arsenal, we heard the distinctive call of a Long-billed Curlew as we drove along 56th avenue.  We pulled over and observed two Long-billed Curlews quite out of place (near the shed between Havana and Peoria Streets.  Perhaps they were headed to nearby Havana Ponds?

Inside the arsenal, I managed to get nice photos of a Sage Thrasher who was grabbing bugs off 64th avenue (between the yellow pipe gate at Lower Derby Lake and the woodpiles half a football field to the east).

Three additional Sage Thrashers were observed during a drive through the Bison enclosure (two just inside the western entrance).

We drove the DIA Owl Loop in the cool afternoon and found eleven Burrowing Owls spread over three locations.

A Brief Northeastern Colorado Trip!

July 21-23, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a brief trip to Northeastern Colorado.  Owls were fledgling and rumors of an Eastern Meadowlark sparked our interest.  Weatherwise, it was hot with temperatures in the middle 90s; rains continued to hit the area most afternoons.

July 21

The report of a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee was intriguing.  We arrived at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County) shortly before sunrise.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard at a new location in the Wildlife Area (west of CR 55).  Eventually the Eastern Wood-Pewee was also found singing west of CR 55. 

We enjoyed a successful morning at the Wildlife Area finding seven Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Great Crested Flycatcher, two Eastern Bluebirds, Bell's Vireos, Field Sparrows, a Cassin's Sparrow, Baltimore Orioles, Northern Cardinal, Yellow-billed Cuckoo (both west and east of CR 55), Green Heron (thanks Bill Kaempfer) and Common Yellowthroat.

The afternoon was spent visiting two private ranches where our friends pointed out a Long-eared Owl with two young, Dickcissels at both ranches, a Barn Owl and another Great Crested Flycatcher.

Late in the afternoon, we drove over to Jumbo Reservoir and watched the field at the southeast corner.  Our wait was rewarded with a Short-eared Owl flying back and forth across the field.  Later an Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings play at the north side of Jumbo.

July 22

Bryan and I decided to explore Little Jumbo Reservoir (Logan) in greater detail.  The area is quite wet from all the rains received this spring and summer.  We "geared up" in mosquito nets over our heads, long sleeves and pants and high boots.

The highlight was a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron along the stream and cattails east of Little Jumbo Reservoir and west of the road along the west side of Jumbo Reservoir.  Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are found many summers in the area.  There are probably more than birders know.  The search was quite difficult in 6 inches of water and mosquitoes buzzing around in hordes.

Other birds found during the night included Common Yellowthroats, Yellow-breasted Chats, a Baltimore Oriole, two Bell's Vireos, Spotted Towhees, Lincoln's Sparrow(s), Song Sparrows, two Virginia Rails and a Sora!

We rested in the afternoon with a barbecue at Roger Danka's Ranch (after a long shower to wash off the grime).  Two Eastern Screech-Owls called shortly after dusk.

July 23

Bryan and I explored areas east and south of Julesburg today.  Again, it was quite hot (almost 100) and thunderstorms rolled in the late afternoon.

We could not relocate a reported Eastern Meadowlark near the Julesburg Rest Stop.  DePoorter Lake added a Baltimore Oriole and White-throated Sparrow to our day list.  No Harris's Sparrows were found this trip.

Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop was interesting.  Another Baltimore Oriole and a Great Crested Flycatcher were the highlights.  We checked the areas where Common Ground-doves have been found in the past; without success.  No Eastern Towhees were found this trip.

Thunderstorms shorten our birding day.  Sitting under a porch and watching the lighting show was a relaxing end to our day.

Another Miss to Photograph a Blue Grosbeak

July 20, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Again we missed a Blue Grosbeak that had been reported several times before.

Burrowing Owls continue along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

Another Dickcissel Search in Arapahoe & Elbert Counties

July 19, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I went out looking for Dickcissel in Arapahoe & Elbert Counties.  We were on our way to a barbecue at a friend's home in Douglas County.

Temperatures were in the 80s early in the morning, but rose quickly to the middle 90s by afternoon.  It was pleasant at 7:00 am when we tried to relocate the Ash-throated Flycatcher reported the before along Gun Club Road, south of 112th avenue (Denver County).

The Ash-throated Flycatcher was not found.  Hundreds of Mourning Doves flew up from the fields as we drove down to 3rd Creek.  Two Burrowing Owls were at the prairie dog town just north of 104th avenue.  A Barn Owl was around the Gun Club Road Field Office.

We walked Gun Club Road for an hour without an Ash-throated Flycatcher sighting.  A Dickcissel sang from a Miner's Candle plant just south of 3rd Creek.  A Cassin's Kingbird was among the many Western Kingbirds perched on telephone wires. 

Our trek continued over to Hudson Road between 56th and 72nd avenues.  A Cassin's Kingbird was on the telephone wires just east of Hudson & 72nd avenue.  Several Sage Thrashers were also observed during the drive.  A No Trespassing Sign stopped us from driving further north on Hudson and we turned east to Imboden Road and then south to I70.

Another Dickcissel was encountered at Arapahoe County Road 137 (Bennett-Kiowa Road) on our drive south to Kiowa (Elbert County).  The farmer had started to cut his fields at the infamous Dickcissel field along Elbert Road (about 4.1 miles south of Hwy 86).   At least three Dickcissel were on the irrigation machinery.  Their songs filled the air.  Several Grasshopper Sparrows were also heard.

After the serenade, our troop turned westward to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County).  We circled around and searched for any remaining Bobolink on the Winkler Ranch located on the southwest side of the State Park.

Males usually leave the area in early July; we hoped a few females and young would still be around.  Only one Bobolink, an adult male, was observed.  He was about 1.2 miles south of the traditional breeding grounds.

Castlewood Canyon Road was lined with Vesper Sparrows and Tree Swallows.  Only a few Mountain Bluebirds remained; most are likely done nesting for this summer.

Wild Turkeys were numerous; we counted nineteen spread over four groups from north of the Winkler Ranch entrance to the southern end of the State Park.

Spotted Towhees, Common Yellowthroats (along Cherry Creek), a Cordilleran Flycatcher, a pair of Lazuli Buntings were also seen.  The Lewis's Woodpecker that has been reported several times this summer eluded us.

Daylight ended with a delicious barbecue put on by our friend.  It surely raised the cholesterol count of all of us, but so good!

On the way home we "drove through" Castlewood Canyon State Park at a crawling pace.  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls were found.

Search for Barn Owls in Adams County

July 18, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I decided to search for the Barn Owls and Cassin's Sparrows reported yesterday by Jeff Dawson in Adams County.

Temperatures in the high 70s early in the morning made the drive through Adams County quite pleasant.  We enjoyed driving country roads that the two of us seldom explore.  Western Kingbirds and Mourning Doves appeared to be everywhere.

Arriving at Leader, we found a "ghost town" of abandoned buildings.  The no trespassing signs were not inviting.  We walked around on the County Roads and identified two Cassin's Sparrows among Vesper Sparrows and a few Grasshopper Sparrows.

At least one Cassin's Kingbird was picked out of two dozen Western Kingbirds all hawking insects.

After a reasonable hour, I walked up to a nearby farmhouse and obtained permission to count birds back at the abandoned farm at the corner of 112th avenue and Behrens Road.  We relocated three of the seven Barn Owls reported by Jeff Dawson the day before.

Waterton Canyon Phoebes

July 17, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Returning from our western slope trip, Bryan Ehlmann and I detoured to Waterton Canyon.  The Black Phoebe and Eastern Phoebe were in the same location as the past few days (next to the fenced in outlet canal).

During the 0.6 mile hike up the Canyon we relocated an American Redstart, saw five Lazuli Bunting, two Indigo Buntings, Yellow-breasted Chats, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, and many swallows.  I again missed seeing any Blue Grosbeak.

Mostly I spent the hot day resting from the long grueling western slope trip.

Western Slope Trip

June 14 to July 16, 2015

Summer 2015:

Richard Stevens:

A long summer trip to the western slope saw many thunderstorms most late afternoons.  These did not aid in our nightly owling trips.  I have found that even if the skies clear, owls are not very vocal after a lightning storm.  We set up our "owl listening stations" most nights and then went owling.  Our counts were not as high as past summers.

I took notes during the long trek.  Access to computers was quite limited.  I chose not to carry a computer with me (hours left alone in a car, tends to tempt break-ins, high temperatures heat up the car during the day).  Since the account is dated, I will only summarize our experiences so that I have a record for myself.  Whether this is interesting to others, I doubt.

Bryan and I started our long "Western Slope" trip today.

June 14

Bryan and I arrived at Rouse Road (Santa Clara Creek area, Huerfano County) before sunrise.  Eventually we found one Grace's Warbler and one Hepatic Tanager.

Two Eastern Phoebes were relocated just past Wahatoya Creek on the north side of CR 358.  We heard the Black-billed Cuckoo on the east side of Wahatoya Creek, however never did see it.

Our birding day ended at Lake Dorothy (Las Animas).  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls were found after dusk.

June 15

Our morning at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) was quite productive.  Birds found included: a Painted Bunting (Mlodinow, 5/18), two Yellow-billed Cuckoos, four Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a Lewis's Woodpecker, three Eastern Phoebes, two Mississippi Kites, a Long-eared Owl (southern draw), Bewick's Wrens and Ladder-backed Woodpecker (pair).

We slowed our hectic pace and took time to barbecue a hot meal.  In the afternoon, we drove to nearby Carrizo Mountain.  The highlight of our trip, a Lesser Nighthawk was flying around with five Common Nighthawks!

Later we found two Western Screech-Owls back at Cottonwood Canyon (near Carrizo Creek).

June 16

This morning Bryan and I hiked the Picture Canyon area, North and Sand Canyons (Baca).  Highlights included: Painted Bunting (Kaempfer, 5/9), Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Curve-billed Thrasher, Greater Roadrunner (Picture Canyon), Vermilion Flycatcher (North Canyon) and Scott's Oriole (Sand Canyon).

The day was overcast; temperature remained in the low 80s.  The day was quite enjoyable with some superb bird sightings!

June 17

Bryan and I spent the day on a friend's ranch in Furnish Canyon (Baca).  We enjoyed quite a few uncommon and common bird sightings.

The Vermilion Flycatcher pair successfully nested   Two young birds were about to fledge!  It was a treat to see four Vermilion Flycatchers together in Colorado!

Other birds included: Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Bewick's Wrens, Eastern Phoebes, Cooper's Hawk, Common Nighthawks, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and Chihuahuan Ravens.

After dark, we relocated a Northern Saw-whet Owl on my friend's ranch!

June 18

Bryan and I returned to Cottonwood Canyon before sunrise and heard a Western Screech-Owl calling near Carrizo Creek.

A detour to Carrizo Mountain relocated the Lesser Nighthawk first found on 6/15!

Back at Cottonwood Canyon, the usual sightings were a repeat of 6/15: Painted Bunting, Northern Cardinal, two Yellow-billed Cuckoo, three Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Lewis's Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebes, Mississippi Kite and Bewick's Wrens.

Our southern trip ended as we turned north.  A male Hooded Warbler was a great surprise at Burchfield Wildlife Area (Baca).

We entered Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) from the south side of the dam.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Ladder-backed Woodpecker were on the north side of the outlet.  A Barn Owl peeked out of the rocky cliff south of our vehicle.

A stop at Lake Hasty on our trip west found a Greater Roadrunner on the rocks just below the road drops down to the Campgrounds (Bent).

June 19

Bryan Ehlmann and I searched Blue Lake (Bent/Kiowa Counties) for shorebirds.  Regrettably, none was found.  No Least Terns or Mountain Plover were encountered either.

A call from a friend in Pueblo got us to detour to her home.  Two young male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were visiting her feeders.  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are recorded as nesting along the Arkansas River in Pueblo.

Continuing west, we stopped at Valco Ponds (Pueblo) and relocated the Bell's Vireo that has been around for almost a month.  Search around pond # 3.

No uncommon gulls were found at either the southern or the northern marina at Pueblo Reservoir.  A Curve-billed Thrasher ran around at the north marina.

A trip down the Swallows Road added Scaled Quail and another Curve-billed Thrasher to our day list.  A drive to the Swallows cemetery was a disappointing bust.

The rest of our day was spent searching for Spotted Owls up and down Phantom Canyon (Fremont); without success.

June 20

Bryan and I camped at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area (Fremont) and heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl about an hour before sunrise!

In several hours at Temple Canyon Park (Fremont) we found a Gray Vireo, two Gray Flycatchers, a flock of 10 Pinyon Jays and a Black-throated Gray Warbler.

Misses in Fremont County on our way to Chaffee County included the Western Screech-Owls along the Arkansas Riverwalk, the Black-throated Sparrows along Hwy 120, the Black Phoebe at Florence River Park, the Green Heron at the Holcim Marsh, and any owls at Red Canyon Park.

June 21

Bryan and I birded mostly Chaffee County today.  We started several hours before sunrise and relocated two Northern Saw-whet Owls on the BLM Land north of the Buena Vista overlook.  Our "owl listening stations" picked up another two east of the overlook.

Four Black-throated Gray Warblers were at the Buena Vista Overlook.

Lewis's Woodpeckers were relocated at North Pleasant Street in Buena Vista.  One of the Eastern Phoebes was still hanging around the Sands Lake Wildlife Area.

Gray Jays and an American Three-toed Woodpecker were found at the closure gate (opened during summer) up Cottonwood Pass.

Twenty Pinyon Jays were relocated at Pinyon Hills.

The highlight was relocating the Grace's Warbler first found by Christian Nunes up Chaffee County Road 250!  After dark, we briefly heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Owling around Poncha Pass (Chaffee) was a bust as a thunderstorm blew through around 10:00 pm.

June 22

Bryan and I started our day about two hours before sunrise at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument (Alamosa).  A Western Screech-Owl responded to our call while we hiked around the northeastern Campgrounds.

After sunrise, we found Juniper Titmouse and four Pinyon Jays.  Then we headed to Zapata Falls (just outside of the park).  Only one Black Swift was seen flying around the falls.  Perhaps we arrived too late; they tend to fly off in search of food as the day progresses.  Several Pinyon Jays were also in the area.

Our trip continued south to John James Canyon (Conejos).  Sagebrush Sparrows were numerous (10).  Black-throated Sparrows (6) and Sage Thrashers (9) were not far behind in numbers.

Again, we had to deal with late afternoon Thunderstorms.  Owling produced no results.  We did not put out our "owl listening stations" which are too expensive to expose to rain.

June 23

We drove the Forest Roads north of Del Norte (Rio Grande) before temperatures rose.  On several stops, we hiked around looking for Bendire's Thrashers; without success.  Our excitement rose when a Curve-billed Thrasher was spotted; it took awhile to distinguish it from the rarer Bendire's.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was spotted during a stop on the east side of Wolf Creek Pass (Mineral).  Two Black Swifts were observed flying around Treasure Falls.  Most likely, they nest behind the falls.

After dark, two Boreal Owls responded to our recordings played on the west side of the Pass.  A Dusky Grouse ran across the road as we pulled into Park Creek Campgrounds.  Later we heard a nearby Flammulated Owl.

June 24

We had to deal with thunderstorms off and on today.  In no particular order, we recorded in Mineral County:  Northern Saw-whet Owl (1) at West Fork Campgrounds; a Northern Pygmy-Owl at Wolf Creek Campgrounds; a Flammulated Owl at Big Meadows Campgrounds.

In Hinsdale County: a Dusky Grouse at Cimmarrona Campgrounds and an American Three-toed Woodpecker at Williams Creek Reservoir.

June 25

Highlights today included three American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a Dusky Grouse along Lime Creek Road and Ivy Campgrounds (Mineral).

Northern Pygmy-Owl, Warbling Vireo and Cordilleran Flycatcher at Palisade Campgrounds. (Mineral).

Another Dusky Grouse at North Clear Creek Campgrounds and two Grace's Warblers and a Flammulated Owl at South Clear Creek Campgrounds (Mineral).

June 26

More thunderstorms, won't they ever stop?  It has been quite a wet spring and summer.

Bryan and I birded one of my favorite places today; Slumgullion Pass and Campgrounds (Mineral).  We walked a couple of miles either side of the Summit and found a male White-winged Crossbill west of the Pass.  A Dusky Grouse was seen 1.2 miles east of the Pass's Summit.

After dark, we saw three Boreal Owls at the Campgrounds and may have heard another three (which were quite far from the Campgrounds).

June 27

Back in Hinsdale County, Bryan and I found an American Three-toed Woodpecker at Nellie Creek Trail.  After dark, we heard a Boreal Owl at Yellowstone Gulch (north of Capitol City).

Much hiking resulted in few uncommon bird sightings.  No seeing any vehicles or other people the whole day was a treat!

June 28

Bryan and my trek along Engineer Pass (Hinsdale/San Juan/Ouray Counties) was quite interesting today.  A 4-wheel drive vehicle is necessary to make this trip.  The scenery alone is worth the trip.  Birds are a nice bonus.

Today we birded from Capitol City to the North Fork Cutoff.  Highlights included:

Hinsdale County: two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a Boreal Owl.

San Juan County (North Fork Cutoff): Northern Pygmy-Owl, American Three-toed Woodpecker and four Brown-capped Rosy Finches.

Ouray County: Northern Pygmy-Owl, American Three-toed Woodpecker, two Brown-capped Rosy Finches.

Fantastic trip, no people, no cars, sounded by bird songs and clear air!

June 29

Today Bryan and I birded Cinnamon Pass from the North Fork Cutoff toward Lake City.

We made several long hikes.  I always wanted to add a White-tailed Ptarmigan to my Hinsdale County list.  Today we did it; however, it required a strenuous four mile hike to succeed!

To wind down afterwards, we walked around Burrows Park town site.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was added to our day list.  Owling was again a bust as rain and some snow felt after dark.

June 30

Bryan and I turned around today and birded Animas Forks Ghost Town (San Juan).  A Long-eared Owl was a surprise (although I had one here a few years ago).

Our trip lead us south from the Ghost Town toward Silverton.  We found an American Three-toed Woodpecker while walking down Eureka Gulch Road. 

The long hike up Minnie Gulch Road added another White-tailed Ptarmigan to our trip list and our San Juan County list!

Owling was again a bust tonight.

July 1-3, 2015

Bryan and I were joined by Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons, Rebecca Kosten, Sue Ehlmann, Dave & Mary King; we went to the Uncompahgre Plateau (Mesa).

Several unique habitats are found on the Plateua and they attract many birds. 

Over the three days we enjoyed some great birding and companionship, found:

Grace's Warblers (3) --Divide Forks
Williamson's Sapsucker (2) --Divide Forks
Lewis's Woodpecker (2) --Divide Forks
Flammulated Owl (2) --Windy Point to Columbine Campgrounds
American Three-toed Woodpecker (4) --Windy Point to Columbine Campgrounds
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1) --Jacks Canyon
Northern Pygmy-Owl (1) --Jacks Canyon
Flammulated Owl (1) --Jacks Canyon
Grace's Warbler (2) --Jacks Canyon
Williamson's Sapsucker (2) --Telephone Trail
Grace's Warbler (3) --Telephone Trail
Purple Martin (2) --north of Telephone Trail
Northern Pygmy-Owl (1) --north of Telephone Trail

July 4, 2015

The CoBus group celebrated the 4th in Delta with a huge barbecue and a rest from birding!

July 5-8, 2015

The CoBus group switched to the Grand Mesa (Mesa/Delta Counties) for these four days and nights.

Highlights included:

White-winged Crossbill (male) --Mesa/Delta County Line
American Three-toed Woodpecker (2) --Visitor's Center
Boreal Owl (2) --Visitor's Center
Boreal Owl (2) --Grand Mesa Lodge area
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1) --North of Island Lake
Dusky Grouse (adult, 3 young) --Skyway trail
Boreal Owl (1) --Spruce Grove Campgrounds
Boreal Owl (2) --south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1) --Spruce Grove Campgrounds
Northern Pygmy-Owl (2) --Powderhorn Ski Area
American Three-toed Woodpecker (2) --Powderhorn Ski Area
Northern Saw-whet Owl    (2, locations) --north of Powderhorn Ski Area

July 9

Several birders returned to Denver while Bryan and I continued north with Douglas Pass (Garfield) as a goal.

We spent most of the day in Mesa County around Vega Reservoir and Collbran.  Vega Reservoir was slow.  We relocated a Black Phoebe and Least Flycatcher along Pe 3/10 Road.  However, we could not find the Purple Martins reported up Buzzard Divide (CR 71 4/10).

Jerry Creek Reservoirs were also slow.  Not finding any Chukar, we continued north to Coal Canyon (Mesa).  Three Chukar and two Pinyon Jay were found over the hill at the second pipe gate parking area.  Black-throated Sparrows and Rock Wrens were numerous.

A Townsend's Warbler was at a pullover just south of the Summit.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found at an owl box used in previous years.

After dark, we found two Flammulated Owls near the Summit.  No Boreal Owls were encountered.

July 10

One of the Flammulated Owls was not found until after midnight of 7/9.  We went back for photos of the Northern Saw-whet Owl at sunrise.

Continuing north again, we searched unsuccessfully for the previously reported Scott's Oriole and Sharp-tailed Grouse along CR 123 and the road to Deer Lodge Park (Moffat).

We found no place to owl and retired early for a change.

July 11

Gray Vireo and ten Pinyon Jay were encountered along the Dinosaur National Monument Service Road (Moffat).

We thought about going for Ruff Grouse at Wild and Hoy Mountains.  Several inquiries led us to believe that with all the rain this spring/summer the area would be difficult to maneuver.  The plan was abandoned.  They were a lifebird for Bryan, but not for me.

Instead we explored Black Mountain (Moffat), perhaps the reported Black-backed Woodpecker could be relocated?  In reality, birding was quite slow.  We found one Dusky Grouse and a slate colored Fox Sparrow.  It was disappointing to find zero woodpeckers.

A thunderstorm quenched any idea of owling.

We searched the infamous "owling spot" near Maybell, found no owls.

July 12

At first light we drove Moffat County Road 3 searching for grouse and sparrows.  On two separate occasions, we observed Greater Sage-Grouse crossing the road (near the Timberlake Lek area).

A greater surprise was a Sharp-tailed Grouse perched on a fence post along Moffat County Road 2.  Other surprises included a pair of Grasshopper Sparrows along CR 2 and the most northern Sagebrush Sparrow that I have seen along 101 Road.

Vesper Sparrows were numerous along both roads.  Our count was well over 200 birds.

A brief stop at Loudy Simpson Park (Moffat) found few birds.  Least Flycatchers have been reported here in the summer.

Our birding day extended into Monday with owling near De Beque (Garfield).  We found single Northern Saw-whet Owls at two locations.  Our "owl listening stations" picked up a third one.

July 13

A drive up the Colorado River Road (Eagle) found Juniper Titmouse and Bushtits.  We turned off at CR 600 and took it to White Owl Lake (Garfield).

American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at three stops (one in Eagle County, two in Garfield County).

Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were on White Owl Lake when we arrived.  After dark, two Flammulated Owls and three Boreal Owls responded to our recordings.

July 14

Bryan and I continued east and headed to Mt of the Holy Cross.  Four American Three-toed Woodpeckers were come across along Eagle County Road 707.  A Dusky Grouse was about a mile north of the Campgrounds.

For a change, no thunderstorms rolled in this evening.  We went owling after dark and found a Northern Pygmy-Owl north of the Campgrounds.  Two Flammulated Owls were observed (!) along Notch Mountain Creek.

July 15

Birding was quite interesting in Eagle County today.  An adult and three young Dusky Grouse were encountered along Gold Park Road.  A pair of Purple Martin (most likely nesting) were discovered along Homesteak Creek.  A rare daylight sighting of a Northern Pygmy-Owl was also along Homesteak Creek.

After dark we heard two Flammulated Owls along Missouri Creek Road.

The idea of finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan along the trail to the top of Mt Holy Cross was tempting.  In the end, the lack of time squelched the idea.  I had found a White-tailed Ptarmigan when climbing Mt Holy Cross years ago.  It would have been a new county bird for Bryan.  Photographs would have been nice.

July 16

Bryan and I ended our long western slope trek with a drive up Shrine Pass Road (Summit County).  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording.  American Three-toed Woodpeckers (2) and a pair of Pine Grosbeaks were also observed along the road.

The highlight was definitely a male White-winged Crossbill flying overhead at one of the stops!

Owling was again a bust.  A thunderstorm rolled in shortly after dusk.  Shrine Pass Road became a mess of mud and water.

Dickcissel and Bobolink Search in Elbert & Douglas Counties

June 13, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I decided to bird in Elbert County today.  Temperatures reached the high 80s; winds were less than 6 mph.  Thunderstorms did not roll in until after 6:00 pm.

A quick drive through Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) found few birds in the park.  Seven male Bobolink and at least two females were in the field south of the Winkler Ranch entrance. 

Both Western and Mountain Bluebirds lingered around the bluebird boxes along Castlewood Canyon Road.  It did appear that more Tree Swallows were occupying the boxes than a few weeks ago.  The previously reported Lewis's Woodpecker(s) was again missed by us.

We scoped the "Dickcissel/Bobolink" fields south of Kiowa (Elbert County) for about an hour.  Only one definite Dickcissel was spotted.  Several other possible birds did pop up from the fields.  At least one Grasshopper Sparrow sang on the south side of Elbert Road.

Nothing uncommon was found in Kiowa or along CR 125 to the north.  We drove to the eastern side of Elbert County stopping at west, middle and east Bijou Creek.  Again, few birds were spotted.  Ball Reservoir had little activity.

Our plan was to past through Castlewood Canyon State Park on the way home.  Huge thunderclouds over the area changed our plans.  Instead, we took I70 back to Denver.

We stopped at the now defunct Bennett Rest Stop.  No trespassing signs surround the area; however, we scoped the oasis of trees from the perimeter.  Eventually we found a Northern Cardinal, Long-eared Owl, two Black-headed Grosbeaks and plenty of Eurasian Collared-Doves.

It is unfortunate that the area was closed down.  With few trees nearby, the birds here should stay around.  Beware, do not trespass, the State patrol came by.  After explaining that we were not breaking the law by walking the road shoulders around the area, he eventually left but delayed our birding for 45 minutes.

Thunderstorms started before we reached Barr Lake (Adams) and the DIA Owl Loop.  We skipped both and headed for home.

Return to Denver On to Loveland Pass

June 12, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan and I headed back to Denver long before sunrise today.  We both looked forward to clean sheets on soft beds after days in tents, afternoons of rain, mosquitoes and tree pollen (pollen was falling under all the firs where our owl nesting boxes are located).

A detour to Hwy 85 and Weld CR 114 found two Chestnut-collared Longspurs on our trip home.

Bryan was more fortunate than I who had committed to a trip to Loveland Pass today.

Fortunately, the White-tailed Ptarmigan search on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) was quick.  It took only 20 minutes for me to find two for my three birding companions.

A stop at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) on the trip back to Denver found three Williamson's Sapsuckers, no Dusky Grouse.

The Blue-winged Warbler was singing at the northeast corner of Welchester Tree Park when we arrived.

Finally, I arrived home and slept the rest of the day.

Colorado State Forest Owl Survey

June 3-12, 2015

Richard Stevens:

After a few days rest, Bryan Ehlmann and I headed to the Colorado State Forest (Jackson) where I monitor 155 owl boxes (number is down because of logging in the forest).

We took the chance that Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (Larimer) would be open (officially it was, but nightly snowstorms could close it down).

We left in the afternoon and went owling in Rocky Mountain National Park after dusk.  Our arrival at Cow Creek was timed so that our hike to the three trailheads about a mile from the parking area would end just before dusk.

A search for Flammulated Owls along Cow Creek was not successful.  After civil twilight, we heard two Northern Pygmy-Owls near the wooden stairs (about 0.7 miles from the trailhead).

Later we found two Boreal Owls in the hidden valley area of Rocky Mountain National Park proper.

June 4

A walk through the snow at Medicine Bow Curve found two White-tailed Ptarmigan perhaps 200 yards from the pullover.

Nothing uncommon was found as we dropped down to Granby (Grand).  A Common Loon was found swimming around Lake Granby (from a pullover at the 1/3 western end of the lake).

We enjoyed a good meal in Granby and then drove up Muddy Pass Road (Grand).  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found east of Muddy Pass Lake.  After dark we found our only Boreal Owl of the night around the lake.  Our "owl listening stations" that were set up along Muddy Pass Road, either side of the Lake did not pick up any owl calls this night.

June 5

After a couple of hours of sleep, Bryan and I drove to Ruby Jewell Road in the Colorado State Forest.  One Boreal Owl, zero Flammulated Owls called this morning.

We then rushed to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson) and drove around searching for Greater Sage-Grouse.  Eventually two Greater Sage-Grouse were found wandering along Jackson County Road 32.

June 6-11

Over the next six days we used our telescoping mirror to look in the 137 owl boxes that have survived de-foresting in the Colorado State Forest (originally there were 155).

Final count was nine Boreal Owls (only one in a box, the rest encountered during our night owling sessions).  Three Flammulated Owls were also run across during these searches.

Other highlights included an American Three-toed Woodpecker at the closed gate along CR 41 on 6/9.  A Veery was here on 6/10.

On the morning of 6/11, two Greater Sage-Grouse were found along Jackson CR 26, downhill/north of CR 26b.

Later on the morning of 6/11, we again found the male American Three-toed Woodpecker that has territory north of highway 14, across from the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

No Rosy Finches were found during several stops during the week at the Visitor's Center.

Trip to Southern Colorado

May 27-31, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I made a brief trip to southern Colorado then headed North. 

May 27
At first light, we walked around Sinton Pond Park (El Paso County).  We relocated the Northern Waterthrush and Baltimore Oriole previously reported.

Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owls and Curve-billed Thrashers were found along Squirrel Creek Road.

I gave a bird talk at a friend's ranch in Furnish Canyon (Baca) in the evening.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard calling at 11:00 pm on his ranch.  Two Western Screech-Owls were heard just down the road!

May 28

This morning we made a quick look at the Vermilion Flycatcher pair nesting on his property and then headed north.  A male Black-chinned Hummingbird visited his feeders.

Both Western and Cassin's Kingbirds were seen during a drive through Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  Chihuahuan Ravens, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebes, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, and Bewick's Wrens were also found.

When we pulled into Lake Hasty (Bent) a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak was observed flying around the Campgrounds.

May 29

Friday was a busy birding day for Bryan and me.  We covered 400 miles and still managed to bird quite a few interesting locations.

Before sunrise, we heard a Black Rail (or two) calling near Bent County Roads 16 & CR HH.  Later we watched a Least Tern fly by while we looked for Piping Plover at John Martin Reservoir.  One was all we found.

We took less taken County Roads north, such as 63, looking for Mountain Plover and Longspurs (the same old routes get quite boring).

Akron Pond (aka Washington County Golf Course) was quite interesting.  Chimney Swift flew over the Pond (it took awhile to determine none was a Black Swift).  A Wood Thrush was below the eastern end of the pond.

Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma) added Baltimore Oriole, Northern Cardinal and Eastern Phoebe to our day list.  Another Baltimore Oriole and three male Eastern Bluebirds flew about Stalker Pond.

The highlight of the day was a Black-throated Green Warbler at the Holyoke Cemetery.  A Blue-headed Vireo and "empidonax" flycatcher (possible Alder?) was encountered at the Lions Club Fishing Hole.

In the afternoon, we found an immature Bonaparte's Gull at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).     An Upland Sandpiper was on the fence at the corner of Hwy 138 & CR 93 (Red Lion Wildlife Area, Logan County).

A Greater Prairie-Chicken wandered around CR 93, 0.2 miles south of CR 46.  He was loosely associated with four Ring-necked Pheasants.

No Short-eared Owls showed up this evening at the southeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called at the north end about an hour after dark.

May 30
Early in the morning we drove Logan County Roads south of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken crossed Hwy 55 about 100 yards south of Mile marker 3.  An Upland Sandpiper stood on a fence post at CR 46 & CR 47.

Later, we walked around the portions of Little Jumbo Reservoir that were not under water (most of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area and Little Jumbo Reservoir were flooded).  Highlight was relocating one of the summer resident Bell's Vireos.  A male Magnolia Warbler and Cassin's Vireo were surprises!

Heading northeast to visit a friend, we stopped at Ovid.  A singing Alder Flycatcher was in the northern woods.  A male Northern Cardinal was south of Highway 138.

We found another male Northern Cardinal near the Julesburg Elementary School (Sedgwick).

May 31

We turned back south and stopped at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).  Several Field Sparrows flew around the eastern fence line.  A Loggerhead Shrike nest was found in the wild Plum bushes.  Highlight was a Tennessee Warbler fluttering around the windbreak.  A White-throated Sparrow was at the southwestern parking area.

A quick search for Sprague's Pipits at traditional migration grounds found none (it really was too early) and we headed for Denver.