Thursday, December 31, 2015

Birding Around Denver

December 31, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Year lists start over tomorrow!  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Golden and Red Rocks Park

December 30, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sterling Christmas Count CoBus version

December 29, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

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

This owl is most likely the 112th avenue bird.

Crook Christmas Count CoBus version

December 28, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slow Drive Along the DIA Owl Loop

December 27, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Birding After the Snowstorm

December 26, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

Birding Before Christmas Day Snowstorm

December 25, 2015

Richard Stevens: email sent to "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders,

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

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

Happy Holidays!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Up to Boulder, Search for Long-billed Thrasher

December 24, 2015

Richard Stevens: email sent to "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued Good Birding!

Trip to Fremont County

December 22-23, 2015

Richard Stevens:

December 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 23

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

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

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

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

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

Drive Around the DIA Owl Loop

December 21, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

No Snowy Owl or Short-eared Owls appeared.

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

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

Jackson County Birding (some Larimer County)

December 20, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area Christmas Count CoBus

December 19, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

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

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

Highlights included the following:

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

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

Undisclosed Location:
Northern Saw-whet Owl!

Birding Around Wray

December 18, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pawnee National Grasslands Christmas Count

December 17, 2015

Bryan Ehlmann:

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

Highlights were:

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

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

More Snow

December 16, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Snow continued!

Christmas Counts canceled.

Snow and Cold All Day

December 15, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Snow and cold all day. 

Christmas Counts were postponed!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

First Annual DIA Christmas Count CoBus

December 14, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

Highlights included:

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

Barn Owl (Hudson Road, Adams)

Long-eared Owl (near Bennett, Adams)

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

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

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

Thousands of Horned Larks were counted!

Another Owl Search

December 13, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Another Owl Search!

December 12, 2015

Richard Stevens:

email to "cobirders" listserve:

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

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

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

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

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

Snowy Owl Search

December 11, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

Gallinaceous bird and Owl Chase!

December 7-10, 2015

Richard Stevens:

December 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we returned to Denver.

December 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 10

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

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

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

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

Lake Loveland to Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 6, 2015

Richard Stevens:

It was another beautiful, warm winter day in Colorado!

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

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

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

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Search for Snowy Owl along DIA Owl Loop, Adams County

December 5, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Long-tailed Ducks were around today.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gulls at Aurora Reservoir

December 4, 2015

Rebecca Kosten:

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

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Search for Snowy Owls in Weld & Morgan Counties

December 3, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gulls, Arapahoe to Douglas to Arapahoe Counties

December 2, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson Reservoir and Barr Lake

December 1, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cherry Creek Reservoir Loons

November 30, 2015

Richard Stevens:

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

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

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

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