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.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tricolored Heron in Boulder County

October 11, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I was heading to the DIA Airport to collect a friend when picking up a text message about a Tricolored Heron at Walden Ponds (Boulder County).  Bryan's plane was delayed several times.  When it appeared that he would not return to Denver before dark, I resolved to take an hour and drive to Walden Ponds.

When I arrived (52 minutes later), the Tricolored Heron was standing on a small rocky island at the west side of the pond.  One hundred eight quick digital shots of the bird and I was pointed back to the airport (in 58 minute drive).

Bryan's plane did not land until ten minutes after my return to the airport.  Is not that "killing two birds with one stone"?

Witness photo is posted on the Colorado Birding Society's website at "Recent Witness Photos" link.

It was hot today with a high of 86 at 4:00 pm.  Anemometer readings in the afternoon were 17 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

Search for Sprague's Pipits

October 8-10, 2015

Richard Stevens:

October 8th

A couple of nice birds including a Northern Parula were discovered yesterday at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) by Van Remsen.  Terry Michaels and I decided to arrive at the Wildlife Area about 60 minutes before sunrise.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard calling north of the Platte River when we walked sections 6 East to 7 East.

Terry and I hiked Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area to the western end, then turned around and ended up at the eastern end.  We avoided the 7 mile hike back to Hwy 55 when Roger picked us up.

Eventually we relocated a Broad-winged Hawk, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and two Grasshopper Sparrows.  Unfortunately, the Northern Parula could not be found.

Several additional "new sightings" included a Blue-headed Vireo and Eastern Phoebe.  However, the highlight to be sure was a first year male Williamson's Sapsucker.  As far as we knew, this is a first Logan County sighting.

In the afternoon, the three of us traveled Logan & Sedgwick County Roads in search of Sprague's Pipits; without success.

No Greater Prairie-Chickens were found when we hiked the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area the last hour of daylight.  Shortly after dusk, we heard two Eastern Screech-Owls at Roger's ranch.

October 9th

Terry Michaels and I embarked on our birding day with another drive along the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Again, no Greater Prairie-Chickens were encountered.

Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan) was slow; we tried our luck at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  An Eastern Screech-Owl called from the woods at the northeastern-middle section of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan).

Birding at Jumbo Reservoir was quite good.  We found both a Black-bellied Plover and American Golden-Plover along the shore.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull, which has been around since at least July 24, 2015, flew across the middle of the lake.  More importantly, while scoping the lake we observed a Jaeger chasing gulls. 

Unfortunately, it was too far away to identify.  When we hurried to the northeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir, the Jaeger could not be relocated.  One Common Loon swam around the middle of the lake.

A check of Little Jumbo reservoir and Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan) did not find the Jaeger.  Where it flew remained a mystery.  One minute it was there, the next it was gone.

A stop at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) did not find any uncommon birds.  Ovid Woods and Ovid Sewage Ponds were quiet.  Only White-crowned Sparrows were found during those stops.

We drove the Sedgwick County Roads north of Highway 138 searching for Sprague's Pipits; again without success.  Several previous locations of years past were void of birds.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found at Sedgwick Cemetery.  Then we sat the last hour of daylight scoping Sedgwick Draw (just north of the Cemetery).  Ten minutes after sunset, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying down the draw (north to south).

An Eastern Screech-Owl was later found just east of Sedgwick Draw!

Weather today: high temperature was around 73 degrees.  Winds were 15 mph with gusts to 21 mph (by noon).

October 10th

Terry and I returned to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) hoping to find the Jaeger species found yesterday.  It was not around.  The Black-bellied Plover and Lesser Black-backed Gull were still there.

A singing Eastern Meadowlark northeast of the main Campgrounds was a nice consolation!

We spent the next five hours driving to previous locations of Sprague's Pipits; none was found.

We also checked a marsh on private property where I had photographed a Sharp-tailed Sparrow on 10/11/2000.  Then another private ranch where Roger Danka, Sue Ehlmann and Rebecca Kosten had found one on 10/23/2001.  Neither site produced a sighting today.  The habitat had remained close to what it was in 2000 & 2001.

We turned toward Denver in early afternoon. Our only stop on the way home was Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan).  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was relocated north of the pond.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl did not call.

Weather today: temperatures reached 84 degrees; winds were up to 16  mph.  It was not a helpful day for birding.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ruddy Turnstone at Chatfield Reservoir, Return to Barr Lake

October 7, 2015

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, I drove down to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  Winds were less than 6 mph; temperatures stayed in the low 70s.

The Ruddy Turnstone walked along the marina sand spit.  Of all things, it was turning over stones.

Three terns came and went.  I could only make out a Common Tern and two Forster's Terns (while others found an Arctic Tern).

Later I scoped the lake from Massey Draw (west side of the lake).  The Red-necked Grebe was observed swimming below the dam's tower.

The Burrowing Owl reported near the southeastern entrance yesterday was not relocated.

Next, I stopped by Barr Lake (Adams).  No grosbeaks appeared during the hour I watched the thistles along the canal, near the Visitor's Center.  I enjoyed the called Western Grebes on the lake behind me.  Many sparrows coming and going to the thistles were mostly White-crowned.  One Lincoln's Sparrow made a short appearance.

About 30 minutes before sunset, I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  Three Burrowing Owls were at the prairie dog town 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue.  None was found at the other sites reported this summer.

Two Ferruginous Hawks were again at the same prairie dog town (as they have been most of the summer).  Northern Harrier count was higher today (seven female type, one male).  Two Red-tailed Hawks and a Swainson's Hawk were also observed along the route.

A Trip Up Interstate 76

October 6, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I drove up I76 to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  We ran into much fog early in the morning.  Winds were calm to 3 mph; temperature was in the low 50s until after Noon.

We spent about six hours birding the various sections of the State Park.  Before sunrise, we found an Eastern Screech-Owl and Long-eared Owl.

After sunrise, we saw the adult Parasitic Jaeger chasing gulls over the lake.  A Sabine's Gull was one of the many gulls flying about.

It took close to three hours before we relocated a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that was reported the day before.

Warblers and vireos were absent.  We did not relocate the Black-bellied Plover reported yesterday.

On the way back to Denver, we stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams).  No owls were found today.  Few birds moved around north of Highway 52.

Finally the Denver County Common Poorwill and Trip to Barr Lake

October 5, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I had some business in downtown Denver (Denver County) this morning and stopped by Cheesman Park on the way back east.  Thanks to Ira Sanders who pointed out the beer bottle and Common Poorwill sleeping next to it.  It was at the corner of 11th Street and High.

My next stop was Barr Lake (Adams).  Bryan and I had gotten photos of the two Grosbeaks accompanied by a 1st year Rose-breasted Grosbeak on 10/3.  I went back to see if they were still around and take photos of the male. 

Saturday the two unidentified Grosbeaks were of more interest.  I have not had time to look at the photos yet.  Today (Monday) I was able to take about 250 photos (digital) of the first year male.  At least one of the others was still there; however, it stayed mostly buried in the thistles.

I stayed about an hour on the side of the canal opposite the Visitor's Center.  Now and then the thistles would move.  Eventually the two Grosbeaks popped out for short views.

However, the movement in the thistles was also caused by 6+ White-crowned Sparrows, 3 Song Sparrows, 1 Lincoln's Sparrow and 1 Clay-colored Sparrow.

While waiting for the Grosbeaks, twenty seven Sandhill Crane circled overhead.  I hoped they would land in the sod farm to the southwest; they did not.

My birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  It is the first trip since March that I did not see a Burrowing Owl.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight either.

A Sage Thrasher was on the DIA fence along 114th avenue at 100 yards east of Queensburg Street.

NOTE: After viewing the 360 photos taken Saturday 10/3, results: one young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak and one adult female nonbreeding Rose-breasted Grosbeak were there today.  The third grosbeak was not photographed.

Final Trip to Mt Evans for 2015

October 4, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I lead a final trip to Mt. Evans Byway today.  The road is scheduled to be closed for the season tomorrow.  As it turned out, the road was already closed at Summit Lake (fourteen miles short of a search for Ptarmigan at the top of the mountain).

We relocated three Brown-capped Rosy Finches at the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  It took four of us almost two hours to find a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan east of the Summit Lake parking area (about 400 yards east of the main road).

Later a walk down the Captain Mt trail at the Echo Lakes Campgrounds found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming just south of the trail.  No Dusky Grouse or Barrow's Goldeneyes were found today.

Later I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) by myself.  Burrowing Owls were found at Trussville Road & 114th avenue and Picadilly Road between 128th and 120th avenues.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Elbert County to Arapahoe, Jefferson/Douglas and Adams Counties

October 3, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I chased a Common Poorwill report from Elbert County today.  It was not relocated.

A quick stop at Arapahoe County Road 30 and Boxelder Creek found a Townsend's Warbler quite far east of its range.

We continued west to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) where the Arctic Tern stood on the marina sand spit when we arrived.

We stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir to look for additional terns and found two Common Terns standing on the poles outlining the southwest marina (poles at extreme northwest corner of the marina).

We drove over to Barr Lake (Adams).  I was surprised that the three grosbeaks reported earlier in the day were still around.

We stood across the canal from the Visitor's Center and watched the three grosbeaks pick at the thistles along the canal.  The young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was easy to identify.  We however were more interested in the other two grosbeaks that remained unidentified.  I took about 300 photos (to be looked at later).

Burrowing Owls were later observed along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) at Trussville and 114th avenue & Picadilly Road (between 128th and 120th avenues).

A Short-eared Owl was observed flying over the field 0.2 miles south of the prairie dog town near third Creek and Quency Street (the town at 3.4 miles south of Tower Road & 96th avenue).

Birding Arapahoe County and a final 2015 Denver Eastern Screech-Owl Count

October 2, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I stayed up all night and drove eastern Arapahoe County about an hour before sunrise.  We encountered a Barn Owl along Hudson Road (between 56th and 26th avenues).

Two Sage Thrashers remained along East Yale Avenue (about 0.2 miles west of Arapahoe County Road 97.

We relocated a Townsend's Warbler in the trees west of the Cherry Creek Reservoir swim beach.

October 2 (night into October 3)

A final Eastern Screech-Owl count.  Winds again were 12 mph, gusts to 18 mph.  Only five owls were encountered this night: University (2), County Club (1), Cherry Creek (1) and Whitter (1).

Birding Around Denver and another Eastern Screech-Owl Count

October 1, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Since I had been up all night and was near the Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver), I stopped for another search for the possible Philadelphia Vireo.  I walked the northern side of the Gardens (from Cheesman Park) twice. 

Few birds were moving around at 8:00 am.  The first house west of the Gardens had a bird feeder.  It attracted a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches.  Four Pygmy Nuthatches flew by and were the only unexpected sightings.

Next, I drove south to the Parker Jordan Centennial Open Space (Arapahoe) to search for the Nashville Warbler reported yesterday.  It was never found in the vast likely habitat along Cherry Creek, which runs through the Park.

The highlight was a male MacGillivray's Warbler, which was found quite upstream from the Nashville Warbler report.  Other birds found included two House Wrens still around, four Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Spotted Towhee.

My final stop before heading for home and some sleep was Hidden Mesa Open Space (Douglas).  Again, few birds were encountered.  I did count four House Wrens and another MacGillivray's Warbler.

Sleep..............before tonight's Screech Owl Search.

October 1 (night into October 2)

Our Eastern Screech-Owl count continued this night.  Conditions were not the best.  Winds were 13 mph, gusts to 18 mph at times.  Eastern Screech-Owl count was Cheesman Park (1), North Park Hill (2) and Five Points (4).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Birding Around Denver

October 1, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Eight of us split into groups of two and searched for Eastern Screech-Owls in various Denver boroughs.  I will not name who was in which group (quite yet anyway); Eastern Screech-Owl totals were two in Park Hill, two in Capitol Hill and three in City Park (that was Bryan Ehlmann and myself).  One group flamed out.  Better luck tomorrow night (Thursday).

Since I had been up all night and was near the Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver), I stopped for another search for the possible Philadelphia Vireo.  I walked the northern side of the Gardens (from Cheesman Park) twice. 

Few birds were moving around at 8:00 am.  The first house west of the Gardens had a bird feeder.  It attracted a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches.  Four Pygmy Nuthatches flew by and were the only unexpected sightings.

Next, I drove south to the Parker Jordan Centennial Open Space (Arapahoe) to search for the Nashville Warbler reported yesterday.  It was never found in the vast likely habitat along Cherry Creek, which runs through the Park.

The highlight was a male MacGillivray's Warbler, which was found quite upstream from the Nashville Warbler report.  Other birds found included two House Wrens still around, four Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Spotted Towhee.  A Black-chinned Hummingbird fly by and went to nearby Tagawa Gardens.

My final stop before heading for home and some sleep was Hidden Mesa Open Space (Douglas).  Again, few birds were encountered.  I did count four House Wrens and another MacGillivray's Warbler.

Sleep..............before tonight's Screech Owl Search.