Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Marvelous Afternoon at Aurora Reservoir

December 27, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was enjoying a trip to Aurora Reservoir in the afternoon so much that I almost missed the gate being locked (by three minutes).  It would have been interesting getting out of the place; they are serious when they say closing at 5:00 pm.

Temperatures reached 50 degrees; winds were 4-5 mph.  What a marvelous day for December.  The sunset was fantastic about 4:45 pm.

I hiked down from the southeastern gate passed Senac Cove and continued to the southern end of Lone Tree Cove.

The southern half of Senac Cove was ice covered.  I do not know about the two anglers walking on the ice, appears a little too much gambling.

Hundreds of gulls and geese stood on the northern edge of the ice.  Three adult Thayer's Gulls were picked out.  A Greater White-fronted Goose and uncommon blue phase Ross's Goose (very small compared to White-cheeked Geese) were among the horde of geese.

At the southern end of Lone Tree Cove, I found three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  A fourth Lesser Black-backed Gull at the northern end of the ice turned out to be a 3rd cycle bird.  Three additional Thayer's Gulls and a 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull were there.  Best Gull was an adult Mew Gull!

Next, I scoped the lake from the bench at mile 2.5.  A Common Loon was less than 30 yards off shore.  The two White-winged Scoters were off to the northwest. 

The Long-tailed Duck was again in the center of the lake.  At least five Snow Geese and two blue phase Snow Geese were among the thousands of geese out there.

Around 4:00 pm, many of the geese took off I assume for dinner.  The sound was awesome.  When most of geese had cleared off the lake, I found the Glaucous Gull swimming not far from the Long-tailed Duck.

Sadly, I could not find any gulls that could be called an Iceland Gull.  Several hundred photos of the gulls were taken.  Perhaps I can pick out an Iceland Gull among them.  We are making a 300+ mile drive today; that will give me time to look through the photos on my laptop.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Around Denver

December 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I were invited to a Christmas dinner at Ken Caryl Valley.  We made a brief stop at South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) on the trip down.

It took longer than expected; however, we found both the Black Scoter and Long-tailed Duck in the far northeast corner of the lake.  We did not have time to search for the other Long-tailed Duck and Greater Scaup on the nearby S. Platte River.

During dinner, I received a text message about a Trumpeter Swan at Crown Hill Park (Jefferson).  While Rebecca stayed behind, I drove over to the park.  The Trumpeter Swan was quite easy to spot from the parking area.

Winds were 28+ mph, gusts to 40 mph with microbursts well into the 50+ mph.  I was blown sideways during the walk to the northeast corner of the lake.  Many branches were falling down from the old dormant trees.  They required more watching than the Swan and White-cheeked Geese.

Afterwards I thought to travel over to Hidden Lake (Jefferson) and wait for the Brant to return for the night.  Hundreds of White-cheeked Geese already lay on the ice and swam in the open water near 69th Avenue.

I scoped the horde of geese in spite of high winds and a group of eight teenagers (future leaders or unemployed of America) while they threw branches and rocks at the geese.

A female Mallard who weighs a bit less than the geese was quite entertaining.  The high winds would blow her back a couple of yards.  She would slip and slide back to her chosen resting spot.

After sunset, geese started to come in from the east (winds were out of the west).  The number tripled and than quadrupled.  When many started to land on the ice far off from my vantage point, I drove over to the high school on 68th avenue.

When I left my camera in the car to avoid exposing it to the high winds and low temperatures, I found the Brant with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese far off to the southeast (south of the lime green house).

I ran back to retrieve my camera and returned just in time to get two photos before the geese took off.  The group landed behind (east) of the boat dock along the shore and behind the wooden fence.

Fortunately, I found a gap in the fence (next to the locked gate).  As an added bonus, the fence provided a screen from the very strong winds.  I also noticed that by walking to the south end of the fence where it dropped downhill to the lake, I could look over the fence and still have the wind blocked.

Hundreds of geese were behind the boat dock.  I did not relocate the Brant until it was quite dark, too dark for another photo (by now it was 5:05 pm).

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Six Owl Day!

December 24, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Another nice winter day in Colorado, temperatures reached the low 50s; winds were 10-11 mph, gusts to 14 mph.  It was colder than yesterday for sure.

Terry Michaels and I drove to Sedalia searching for waxwings (preferably Bohemian Waxwings).  Two hours before sunrise, we walked along Rampart Range Road at Highway 67.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings.  No Northern Saw-whet Owls were found this morning.

After sunrise, we heard the drumming of a male American Three-toed Woodpecker.  It took another 20 minutes to find the woodpecker along Hwy 67 at 40 yards east of Rampart Range Road.

At the Sedalia cemetery, we did run into a flock of eight Cedar Waxwings, two Townsend's Solitaires and some Pine Siskins. 

Yesterday I ran into a fisherman at Aurora Reservoir who had an owl on his property.  I thought, a Great Horned Owl, however when he explained the size, it caught my attention.

Returning from Douglas County, Terry and I visited his ranch in Weld County.  He graciously showed us the evergreen where the owl had been for the past four days.  To our surprise, it was a Northern Saw-whet Owl!

That is when the idea of hunting for owls came to us.  We stopped at nearby Banner Lakes Wildlife Area and relocated the Long-eared Owls I found yesterday.  A Great Horned Owl was also here (owl number 4 for the day!)

We hurried to Barr Lake (Adams) and walked the main road to the owl boxes.  Sure enough, a Barn Owl was in the eastern box!

We then parked up to hill from West Cargo Road and Third Creek and waited until dusk.  A Short-eared Owl (owl number 6) flew along Third Creek, just west of Gun Club Road.

Along the DIA Owl Loop drive, we encountered Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, a Prairie Falcon, American Kestrels, and two Ferruginous Hawks.

Side Note: has anyone noticed Red-tailed Hawks sitting on nests.  In the past five days, I have observed Red-tailed Hawks on nests on three occasions.  One of those times, another Red-tailed Hawk stood next to the lying Hawk.  It seems too early for them to be nesting already?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Birding East of Denver

December 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Today show cased one of the many reasons to live in Colorado.  Temperatures reached 55 degrees in the afternoon; winds were Calm!  It is after all the last of December and 2016!

I began birding at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  The majority bird constituted American Robins (hundreds).  Dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos sought food under the evergreen trees.  Two Long-eared Owls were concealed almost perfectly in the denser trees along Pond 7.
The Gull report at Aurora Reservoir yesterday was intriguing (disturbingly provocative).  I spent four hours there at the reservoir, again with little wind.  What a pleasant day!
A walk down from the southern entrance to the bench at mile 2.5 (halfway between Senac and Lone Tree Coves found the two White-winged Scoters swimming 70 yards south of the Lone Tree Cove mouth.
A Common Loon was swimming off the cove at mile 4.0.  Three Western Grebes were nearby.  Just like Wednesday, I thought the Red-necked Grebe was briefly observed off mile 4.5.  It quickly was "engulfed" by hundreds of White-cheeked Geese.  My look was so abbreviated; the sighting could not be confirmed and the duck could not be relocated in the next 30 minutes.
Later entering from the northern entrance, I parked at the picnic tables at the northeast corner of the swim beach parking area and scoped the lake for over an hour.  Few gulls were on the shrinking ice shelf off mile 1.5.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese lined the swim beach and adjacent shore.
Eventually on my third scan of the lake, I found the Long-tailed Duck in the center of the lake.  The small duck was hidden quite often by the taller and numerous Geese.  At least five Ross's Geese and a dozen Snow Geese were on the lake.   

At least two blue phase Snow Geese were surprising additions.  I thought one of the "blue phase" geese was small.  Whether it was a Ross's Goose could not be confirmed because of the distance from me.
Next, I hiked to the western dam from the parking area north of the boat storage area.  Few gulls were anywhere on the reservoir today.  Perhaps I visited at a wrong time, although, I was there from 12:15 pm to 4:30 pm.  Nothing uncommon was found from that vantage point today.
When I hiked up the north side of the dam, no gulls were at the scuba beach.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese continued to fly into the reservoir at dusk.  The noise sounded like a freight train; it was quite entertaining.

My birding day ended under an exquisite sunset! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wait for a Brant

December 22, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 38 degrees today; winds were 4 mph, gusts to 9 mph.

I scoped Hidden Lake (Jefferson) from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Later I heard that the geese return to the Lake between 11:00 am & 12:00 pm after their morning feast.

Hundreds of White-cheeked Geese (mostly Canada Geese) did not return until 11:57 am this morning.  Unfortunately, the Brant was not with them.

Most birders take Sheridan to 69th avenue, then east about half a mile to the lake.  There are several blind spots from here, although the open water is closest.

I found that Lowell Blvd, 2.2 miles north to 68th avenue, then 0.3 miles west and park south of the High School offers a view of most of the lake.

Perhaps the Brant will show up on another day!

Arapahoe County Birding

December 21, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Another cold day, temperatures only reached the middle 30s; winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It was all right first day of winter!

Again, my back refused to let me drive the 180 miles to the northeastern corner of Colorado where several Christmas Counts are being conducted.  Terry Michaels and the group were enjoying a fine time with some interesting bird sightings!

In the morning, I decided to drive south to South Platte Park Reservoir and check on several uncommon birds, which have been hanging around for a week, or two.

I scoped the South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) from the southwest corner.  Love my new Vortex Razor scope, it has saved many long hikes, almost the whole reservoir could be seen while I was sitting in one spot!

The previously reported Long-tailed Duck and Black Scoter were swimming along the eastern edge of the dam.  Half a dozen Greater Scaup were at the northeastern corner of the lake.  Other birds included Canvasbacks, Redheads, many American Coots, Buffleheads, Gadwall and Mallards.

Later I walked the South Platte River for about 1/2 mile north of Highway C470.  Both nearby Eaglewatch and Blackrock Lakes were frozen, thought maybe recent birds found there had moved to the nearby river.

Several Greater Scaups and the second Long-tailed Duck were indeed on the Platte River!

Next I drove to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) located south of C470.  No Lapland Longspur (previously reported) or Horned Larks appeared at the model airplane field.

Checks at the southeast marina, Plum Creek delta and the swim beach did not find any sparrows.  Target birds were previously reported Grasshopper, Harris's and White-throated Sparrows.  None was found.

To avoid the Interstate as most of them around Denver are filled with slow moving cars, I took a back way to Castle Rock and Parker.  Both Bar CCC Pond and the Salisbury Equestrian Pond were scoped.  The previously reported Greater Scaup and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at neither.

From Parker I took another "back way" and passed by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A hike to the bench at mile 2.5 (by way of the southern entrance) added two White-winged Scoters to my day list.  They were about 100 yards south of the mouth of Lone Tree Cove.

One of the three Common Loons I found on 12/18 was 40 yards north of the bench.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese swam in long lines across the reservoir.  Finding non-geese birds was quite hard.

Afterwards, I drove to the swim beach area (northern entrance) and again scoped the lake.  On my third scan of the reservoir, I found the Long-tailed Duck that has been around since at least 12/3.

The ice shelf at the swim beach had recessed with the "warmer" temperatures.  Most of the gulls were several hundred yards away in the cove at mile 1.5.  They stood shoulder to shoulder making identifying rather difficult.  I did pick out one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull among the vast multitude.

While scanning the rest of the reservoir, there was a break in the long line of geese on my third attempt and I thought the Red-necked Grebe was briefly observed.  I am not confident in the three second look to confirm the sighting.

Once the sun set, further identification was too difficult and I headed for home.   No Short-eared Owls appeared when I drove the Jewell-Yale Loop this evening.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Few Birding Stops Around Denver

December 20, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The day was much warmer with temperatures into the middle 50s; winds were 7-8 mph, gusts to 12 mph.

I missed today's Sterling Christmas Count in Logan County.  I slipped on ice while cleaning the snow off our driveway two days ago and can barely stand.  The 180 mile drive did not seem inviting.

That did not stop me from birding, drove to Hidden Lake (Jefferson) to search for the Brant; without success.

Then I stopped at 78th avenue and the South Platte River.  The short walk north to the green and white water tower found a male Barrow's Goldeneye accompanied by three female Common Goldeneyes.

Next, I stopped at 74th avenue and the Platte River.  The previously reported Winter Wren was heard about 40 yards north of the 74th avenue bridge.  I never observed the bird.  It did sound like my Winter Wren recordings and not a Pacific Wren.

My back loosened up and I headed toward Sterling and tomorrow's Crook Christmas Count.  A stop at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) relocated two Long-eared Owls.

By then, my back was not good.  I returned to Denver; hate to miss tomorrow's Christmas Count.

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and Dave King enjoyed a good day.  Their bird list included an Eastern Screech-Owl at Pioneer Park, a Barn Owl at Sterling Reservoir and two Common Redpolls and a Field Sparrow at Overland Park.

Bill Kaempfer found a Varied Thrush at the Sterling Golf Course.  I hope that the CoBus group will find time tomorrow to search for that bird.  No way can I make a 180 mile one way drive up there, boo.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A New Colorado State Bird Sighting

December 19, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten, Terry Michaels, Amy Davenport and I made the long trip to Lake Dillon.   Traffic, wow, it took three hours to make the 75 mile drive.

The Purple Sandpiper (Jack & Ryan Bushong, 12/16) was feeding in the "warm waters" of the Blue River as it enters Lake Dillon.  It will be a first Colorado record!

Later we visited a friend's home and observed three species of Rosy Finches (private no longer open to the public).

On the trip back to Denver we stopped by the Blue River Water Treatment Plant and found several Barrow's Goldeneyes hunkered down in the northeast corner of this small pond that seldom freezes.

The drive back to Denver only took about an hour and 20 minutes!

One final bird sighting was a Prairie Falcon in downtown Denver.  It was chasing Rock Doves at Park Avenue and Wawetta Street.  When not flying after them it perched on the Green Leaf Storage building.

Soon I will put photos of the Purple Sandpiper in the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library:

Afternoon at Aurora Reservoir

December 18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It was nasty cold in the afternoon.  Lows last night in Denver registered at minus 9 degrees.  When I stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) at 3:00 pm, the temperature was 20 degrees; winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

I scoped the lake from the eastern side of the swim beach parking area.  Unfortunately, the wind was out of the east-northeast and I had to deal with watery eyes.

The Long-tailed Duck was again in the middle of the lake, toward the northern end.  Two White-winged Scoters were again off the Lone Tree Cove.  A third scoter was loosely associated with them; however, I could not confirm a third White-winged Scoter or a Surf Scoter.  Three Common Loons were just north of the scoters.

Thousands of gulls stood on the ice shelf off the swim beach.  They were quite close together making identifying many of them close to impossible.  I did pick out two Thayer's Gulls and five Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  No Glaucous Gulls appeared to be in the group.

The surprise bird was a Red-necked Grebe off mile 4.5.  It took quite a while to confirm the ID.  Watery eyes and heat waves required me to watch the bird for thirty minutes before confirmation.

Nine white Snow Geese and one Ross's Goose accompanied thousands of White-cheeked Geese.  Common Duck species were represented in good number, as were American Coots.

As the sun set, temperature dropped drastically and my fingers finally refused to function.  The not so warm car felt fantastic!

North Park Survey

December 17-18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I got an early start this morning.  We drove the Coalmont area in search of Greater Sage-Grouse.  Eventually two were observed walking along Jackson County Road 26 at 0.3 miles north of CR 26b.

Back at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center, we found only one Brown-capped Rosy Finch.  No additional Rosy Finches were observed here during the several stops made during the day.

The male American Three-toed Woodpecker was again observed north of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (north of Hwy 14).

Better fortune was found at a friend's ranch.  Several hundred Rosy Finches (three species) came to her feeders.  Two Red Crossbills, three species of nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees were also added to our list.

We searched for Northern Goshawks and Gyrfalcons in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson); without success.

After dark, we again heard the Boreal Owl just west of Cameron Pass.

Early Sunday morning, a Boreal Owl was "conjured up" at Ranger Lakes.  Terry needed to return to Denver, we had not time to bird on the return trip.  Roads were not good.

Georgetown Christmas Count

December 16, 2016

Richard Stevens:

As part of the CoBus sponsored eleventh, Georgetown Christmas Count Terry Michaels and I snow shoed to the top of Guanella Pass.  This required a little over 3 mile round trip. 

Temperatures were fair for Guanella Pass, around 20 degrees.  Fortunately, the wind was less than 20 mph.  I have done this trip in the past with winds in excess of 50 mph.

Our efforts were rewarded with a sighting of 31 White-tailed Ptarmigan just below the summit!  Six Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled overhead for several minutes.

Later we found male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming on a Ponderosa Pine at the Campgrounds.  Other birds in the same area included two male and two female Pine Grosbeaks and a flock of ten Red Crossbills.

The weather went downhill shortly after noon.  We called tomorrow's ninth annual Cameron Pass/Gould Christmas Count off to avoid birders driving on the icy/snowy roads.  Terry and I however, headed to Gould by way of Kremmling.

No Rosy Finches were found in Kremmling or Sulphur Springs. 

After dark, we relocated a Boreal Owl just west of Cameron Pass!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pawnee National Grasslands Christmas Count

December 15, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The Colorado Birding Society conducted its tenth annual Pawnee National Grasslands Christmas Count today.  Temperatures reached into the low 30s; winds were strong at times, 8-10 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

Eight of us enjoyed the warm day.  Highlights included:

Short-eared Owls at three different locations
Northern Saw-whet Owl & Harris's Sparrow at a private yard
Snow Bunting at two locations (one of which was near a location where one was spotted yesterday, we did not know about it ahead of time.
Common Redpoll (one on the usda central plains experimental range)
Lapland Longspurs (50+, spread over three locations)
Brown-capped Rosy Finches (2) at a friend's ranch

Search of Spotted Owls In Fremont County

December 12-14, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed south for another Spotted Owl search.  Weather was fair most of the time.  We did see snowy flurries one night.

December 12

At first light, we scoped Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo).  The Great Black-backed Gull and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at the south marina.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was running around the marina's southern parking area.

A Red-throated Loon was west of the sailboard launch area.  We saw one Common Loon farther west.

The Red-necked Grebe was off the Fishing Road point when we scoped from there.  No Bonaparte's Gulls or the Pacific Loon could be found.

Great fortune was found at Canon City (Fremont).  It took about thirty minutes to find the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the Holy Cross Abbey.

Then we turned south and scoped Valco Ponds from MacKenzie Road.  The male Eurasian Wigeon and 24+ Greater White-fronted Geese were observed here!

Our next stop was Centennial Park.  The Williamson's Sapsucker was found in less then ten minutes.  Rouse Park and Sells Pond area of the Arkansas Riverwalk added no uncommon birds to our trip list.

Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows cooperated and made themselves known along the hillside above the Tunnel Road trailhead!

After dark we drove up Phantom Canyon (Fremont) in search of our target bird, Spotted Owls; none was found tonight. 

A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found at Oro Juno.  Technique: we sat and played a recording off and on for 45 minutes.  Every 15 minutes we would hit the area with a spotlight.  The third time was successful.  Northern Saw-whet Owls do winter in various locations in Colorado!

December 13

After spending a short night in Buena Vista (Chaffee), we birded around town.  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were relocated along North Pleasant Avenue, north of Brookdale.

Misses: the resident Western Screech-Owl was not relocated and no Pinyon Jays were around Ice Lake or the Buena Vista Overlook.

Six Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Sands Lake Wildlife Area; however, the Long-tailed Duck was unfortunately not found by us.

After dark, we set up our chairs in the BLM Land north of the Overlook.  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls came by this night.

December 14

We spent the night in Salida (Chaffee) and checked several birding spots after a late morning.  Nothing uncommon was found.

A detour up to the Monarch rest area (Chaffee) along Hwy 50, found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a flock of eight Gray-crowned Rosy Finches!

We returned to Phantom Canyon (Fremont) at dusk.  Again, no Spotted Owls were found.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

DIA Owl Loop & Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 11, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature today was 41 degrees; winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 14 mph.  When the sun came out in the late afternoon, it was quite pleasant.

Early in the morning, I drove to Aurora to mail some packages.  A Short-eared Owl was flying up and down Third Creek, just west of Gun Club Road (Denver County).

Around 3:00 pm, I passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) and stopped to look for the Dunlin and Rusty Blackbirds.  A Thayer's Gull was among a few Ring-billed Gulls on the ice off the southwest marina.  My guess was that most of the gulls were east approximately eight miles at Aurora Reservoir.

People walked along the shore from the eastern end of the southeast boat ramp to Pelican point most of the rest of the day.  I found neither the Dunlin nor Rusty Blackbirds.

When I drove to the road to the gun range to wait for any Short-eared Owls flying over the cattail marshes at Lake View Road, a Northern Shrike was perched overlooking the Cottonwood marsh wetlands.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dunlin at Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was not planning on birding today.  Gorgeous day with temperatures in the middle 50s; winds were 4-6 mph.

I have a relative staying close by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe); it was only a four mile detour and of course, I found myself at the reservoir around 3:00 pm.  It was a fortunate choice.

A check of the gulls at the southwest marina area and surrounding ice shelf found one adult Thayer's Gull, some Herring Gulls, a dozen or so California Gulls and many Ring-billed Gulls.

Most of the uncommon gulls were found yesterday at nearby Aurora Reservoir (about 8 miles to the east).

I thought to check the northeastern corner of the lake where the Rusty Blackbirds had been found for a week.  However, they had not been reported since last Wednesday and they were not found by me today.

Three Killdeer walked below the picnic table along the northeast corner.  A smaller shorebird accompanied them.  It was the previously reported Dunlin. 

I sat down on the wet sand and waited.  The Dunlin walked within ten feet of me!  My wet cold pants were well worth the price of observing a Dunlin so close!  All my previous sightings were from 40-50 or more yards away.

Photos were put on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library:

Several adult Bald Eagles circled overhead while I watched the Dunlin.

Cameron Pass and Aurora Reservoir

December 9, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Two hours before sunrise, a Boreal Owl called from just west of Cameron Pass (Jackson).  Many jays, chickadees and one Pine Grosbeak came to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders.  Only one Brown-capped Rosy Finch stopped.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed north of the Visitor's Center (north of highway 14).  Disappointed in the lack of Rosy Finches (no photos) I returned to the plains east of Denver.

In the afternoon, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir.  From the southern entrance, I hiked to the bench at mile 2.5. 

About 200 yards of the southern end of Senac Cove was ice covered.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Thayer's Gulls were among 2000+ gulls (mostly Ring-billed, dozens of California and five Herring).

A Common Loon was 30 yards north of the bench.  A pair of White-winged Scoters swam around the mouth of Lone Tree Cove.  Another thousand gulls stood on the ice at the southern end of Lone Tree Cove, nothing uncommon.  I continued the walk to mile 4.0.  No additional scoters were found.

Thousands additional gulls were on the lake north of the 2.5 mile bench.  Common Mergansers were in high numbers; a couple of Eared Grebes, many American Coots, three Western Grebes and plenty of Pied-billed Grebe were also there.  I did pick out one Greater Scaup.

Later I drove to the north end of the reservoir.  From the parking area north of the swim beach, I finally relocated the Long-tailed Duck.  She was several hundred yards to the east.  In addition, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were not far off shore.

About 2,500 gulls stood on the swim beach.  When I walked over to purchase the 2017 pass, I picked the first year Mew Gull & Iceland Gull out of mostly Ring-billed Gulls.  Two additional Thayer's Gulls were among that horde.  (NOTE: after review of my photos, I captured the Iceland Gull and a Thayer's Gull standing next to each other!)

The cove south of the swim beach had another 1000+ gulls on the ice.  One more adult Thayer's Gull was the most uncommon Gull among that group.

Thousands additional gulls were at the scuba beach.  My sixth Thayer's Gull of the day was found there.  A fifth Lesser Black-backed Gull of the day stood on the northwest end of the dam with yet another 1200+ gulls.

Overall, White-cheeked Geese were numbered in the thousands.  At least eighteen Snow Geese (one Blue morph) and one Greater White-fronted Goose were counted during my visit.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening when I drove the Jewell-Yale Loop.  The Eastern Screech-Owl sometimes found at Powhaton Road and Jewell was quiet tonight.

Cameron Pass

December 8, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It snowed off and on most of the day.  I headed to Gould in the afternoon.  No Boreal Owls could be found with winds 18 mph, gusts to 26 mph.  It was cold; temperatures were single digits.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cherry Creek Reservoir in a Snowstorm

December 7, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was not planning on get out of the house today.  Temperatures were around 10 degrees and winds 8 mph (after last night's snowstorm).  After receiving a text message concerning a Dunlin at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), I just had to drive over.

I did not find the Dunlin; however, some good birds were relocated.  Most of the gulls were on the ice off the Prairie Loop bird observation area.   These included the Glaucous Gull, Mew Gull, two Thayer's Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Most of the gulls at the dam trail were Ring-billed Gulls with a couple of Herring Gulls and California Gulls (original reported location of above gulls). 

Two Rusty Blackbirds were at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.  No gulls were at this end of the lake.

My biggest surprise was two adult and three juvenile Tundra Swans just off the Dixon Grove parking area!  A Greater White-fronted Goose and Snow Goose were also in the vicinity.

Four adult and two sub-adult Bald Eagles were in the cottonwoods at the south end of the Campgrounds.  Most likely, they were roosting for the night.

After sunset, I headed for home trying to miss the xxxxx drivers.  I passed four accidents on the trip back home.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Aurora Reservoir

December 6, 2016

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started when while out doing chores I passed Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  A Swamp Sparrow was along the south side of Marys Lake.  There is no way to tell if it is the same one from 11/10. 

Both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake were mostly ice covered.  Winds were 14 mph, gusts to 20 mph; temperatures were around 23 degrees.

Next, I drove to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) with the plan to scope the lake from the swim beach parking area and then go home.  It was just too cold for much more.

The Long-tailed Duck was still off to the east, although it was farther away (400 yards+) then yesterday.  The White-winged Scoters were still 50-100 yards off the cove at mile 1.5.

With a predicted snowstorm (2-5 inches) expected tomorrow, I changed my mind and drove around to the southeastern entrance, then hiked the 1.2 miles to the bench at mile 2.5.

The Black Scoter and two Surf Scoters were again near the mouth of Lone Tree Cove!  Two Common Loons were just west of mile 4.0.

Arapahoe County Reservoirs & First Creek Trail

December 5, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I birded the three major Arapahoe County Reservoirs today.  Winds were 16 mph with gusts to 24 mph.  My expectations were low.

Cherry Creek Reservoir had a gold mine of gulls.  John Drummond had reported an adult Iceland Gull at the southwest marina.  While it was not there when I arrived, a Glaucous Gull, Thayer's Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were!

Many gulls were just off the north end of the lake loop.  These included the Iceland Gull, Herring Gull, a Thayer's Gull and California Gull.  All were close together which allowed a nice comparison of gulls.

Two Rusty Blackbirds were at the northeast shore of the lake.  I continued to Pelican point and found the adult Mew Gull and a third Rusty Blackbird.

Misses in the wind: the reported Long-tailed Ducks and Common Loons.

Quincy Reservoir is closed until March and requires scoping from outside of the fence.  A Thayer's Gull was with many Ring-billed Gulls near the boat ramp.  A small duck certainly looked like a female Long-tailed Duck.  Unfortunately, it swam to the east and out of site before a definitive ID could be made.

At Aurora Reservoir, I only scoped the lake from parking area north of the swim beach.  The Long-tailed Duck reported yesterday was perhaps 30 yards east of my vantage point.

A Thayer's Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were standing on the swim beach.  A Lapland Longspur was walking around the boat storage parking area.

My birding day ended at the First Creek Trail (Denver) on the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  The Harris's Sparrow reported yesterday was relocated.  It was with a flock of ten White-crowned Sparrows and two Song Sparrows.

The sparrows would fly south of the path to feed, and then back to the north side.  They rested in the thick bushes and fallen tree (three feet off the ground and parallel to the ground and to the path).  It is located 33 cement squares of the path east of the no dumping sign, east of the light rail bridge.

Finally tired of the cold and wind, I headed for home!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Aurora Reservoir

December 4, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) in the afternoon to look for the previously reported Surf Scoter and Barrow's Goldeneye.  Temperatures were around 50 degrees; winds were less than 4 mph.

It was quite surprising that almost all of Lake Ladora and over 50 percent of Lower Derby Lake were ice covered.  Many Ruddy Ducks as well as other common waterfowl species were on Lower Derby Lake.  No Surf Scoter or Barrow's Goldeneye found.

We relocated two Long-eared Owls along the Legacy Trail, no Barn Owls today.

We hurried over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) which took about 45 minutes in traffic and construction detours.  With only an hour of daylight remaining, we did not have time to travel to the south side and make the 1.2 mile hike.

Instead, we stopped at the parking area northeast of the swim beach.  From our vantage point, we could see the three White-winged Scoters quite a distance off the peninsula at mile 2.5 (infamous bench).

Two Surf Scoters were at the mouth of Senac Cove; however they swam deeper into the cove and we lost to us.  Two Common Loons were also at the mouth of the Cove.

Another Common Loon was off the shore at mile 4.0.  With only ten minutes before sunset, we spotted her.  A female Long-tailed Duck was perhaps 30 yards off the east side of the parking area.

While I was trying to digascope the Long-tailed Duck, I noticed a Black Scoter just 10 yards off our location.  No way to tell if it was the same one that has been swimming back and forth between Senac (mile 2.0) & Lone Tree Coves (mile 3.0) since the beginning of November.  I plan to return tomorrow and see if there are two Black Scoters on the Lake.

We also picked out a Lesser Black-backed Gull and Thayer's Gull off mile 1.0.  It would have been a good day to hike in from the south to mile 2.5.  Thousands of gulls swam near the shore there.  A Lapland Longspur walked around the boat storage area!

Misses: We could not find the Red-necked Grebe, Mew Gull, Bonaparte's Gulls or Greater Scaups.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Return to Cherry Creek and Aurora Reservoirs

December 3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Most of my day was expended assisting a friend move.  I did go by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) on the trip home.

The Rusty Blackbirds were back close to the only picnic table at the northeast corner of the lake.  Several hundred Ring-billed Gulls, no Mew Gull, were on the Pelican Point sand spit.

A check on the gulls at the southwest marina did not find the Mew Gull either.  One Thayer's Gull and the Glaucous Gull stood on the poles outlining the marina. 

NOTE: After checking photos taken yesterday of the hundreds of gulls on the poles, the Glaucous Gull was photographed among them.  At the time, I was focused on locating the Mew Gull and skipped over the Glaucous Gull as a light Herring Gull.

I attempted to make it to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) to search for the Long-tailed Duck reported earlier in the day.  It was too dark to see much by the time I arrived.  I could pick out the three White-winged Scoters southeast of the swim beach.

Birding In Arapahoe County

December 2, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I passed this cold day (Friday) birding in Arapahoe County.  High temperature was 32 degrees; winds were 6 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Once again, I walked into Aurora Reservoir from the southeastern gate to the bench at mile 2.5 (halfway between Senac and Lone Tree Cove. 

Two Surf Scoters continued about 50 yards south of the mouth of Senac Cove.  I had to walk to the southern end of Lone Tree before finding any additional scoters.  The Black Scoter and another Surf Scoter were 40 yards from the south end.

Only one Common Loon was detected while I scoped the lake from the 2.5 mile bench.  Two White-winged Scoters could be seen in the distance at the cove at mile 1.5.

Gulls remained too far away to identify.  In lieu of driving to the northern entrance of Aurora Reservoir, I opted to search for the Rusty Blackbirds at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Three Rusty Blackbirds were on the backside of Pelican Point.  Eventually they were joined by two additional birds.  They worked the shoreline from Pelican Point (southeast of northeastern boat ramp) to the picnic table at the northeastern corner of the lake.

At 4:00 pm, I scoped the southwestern marina for gulls.  Hundreds of gulls stood on the poles outlining the marina.  Dozens more continued to fly in until well after sunset.

Two Thayer's Gulls were on the poles when I arrived.  The adult Mew Gull flew in about 4:35 pm.  One Bonaparte's Gull was also seen.

No Short-eared Owls appeared over the cattail fields at Lake View Road (main park road) and Cherry Creek after sunset.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rusty Blackbirds at Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 1, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I drove out to a friend's ranch east of Hudson (Weld) this morning to check again on a Snowy Owl report.  All we found was a Barn Owl; no way to know if it was the same bird.

Stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Two Long-eared Owls were found in the windbreak along the northern ponds.  A Great Horned Owl was farther north near Pond 9.

My trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir this afternoon was quite successful.

Several other birders were out there and missed the Rusty Blackbirds at the southeast marina area.  I drove to the Prairie Loop and walked to the southeast corner of the wetlands.  Two Rusty Blackbirds were walking the south shore below the tall willow that is east of the snag in the lake.  I got there by walking east on the main trail over the footbridge, then taking the trail west to the Wetlands Loop trail.  Follow the Wetlands Loop trail past the number 4 post and look for the first well-defined grassy trail heading back north-northwest.   Take that trail to the cattails, and then bushwhack through the cattails to the muddy shore.  Look north-northwest to only tall willow at point of land just east of above snag.  The Rusty Blackbirds walked the shore below this willow.

Along the hike, a Long-eared Owl was seen in the thicker bushes just south of the cattail field.  A juvenile Thayer's Gull stood on the poles lining the southwest marina.

I parked along the road to the shooting range just before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared in the next 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Looking for Lapland Longspurs in Elbert County

November 30, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Today was quite a cold day.  Temperatures reached the high 30s; however, winds were 12+ mph at times.

Rebecca and I went to Elbert County to see a friend and look for longspurs and such.  Eventually we found a dozen longspurs along CR 66 and a few more along CR 70.

On the way home, we watched a Short-eared Owl hovering north of Highway 86 near CR 117!

Afternoon Trip to Aurora Reservoir

November 29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and hiked to the bench at mile 2.5 (from the southern entrance).

A male and female Surf Scoters were about 50 yards down from the mouth of Senac Cove.  It was the first time this fall that I observed a first winter Surf Scoter at Aurora Reservoir.  The female looked different from the previous Surf Scoters found this spring.  Definitely a new couple for the park.

A Common Loon swam about 20 yards north of the bench at mile 2.5.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by while I scoped the lake.  Nothing else uncommon was seen and I continued to Lone Tree Cove.

The Black Scoter and one Surf Scoter stayed rather close together approximately 100 yards south of the mouth of the cove.  Another two Surf Scoters were at the south end of Lone Tree Cove.

Then I drove around to swim beach (takes about 20 minutes).  Two White-winged Scoters were at the mouth of the cove at mile 1.5.

Finally, I drove and walked to the southwestern end of the dam (parking area north of the boat storage area).  From that vantage point, I observed the first cycle Mew Gull and the first cycle Thayer's Gull.

Many gulls continued to fly in from DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) northwest of the reservoir.  No Lesser Black-backed Gull or Glaucous Gull appeared.

The Red-necked Grebe and Greater Scaups encountered on previous trips were not found.

Brief Trip to Northeastern Colorado

November 28-29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed to northeastern Colorado in search of the Snow Buntings as some were reported a few days ago.  Unfortunately, none was found during our trip.

November 28
A brief stop was made at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  One Long-eared Owl was in the western Campgrounds.  Two Yellow-rumped Warblers were at Pelican Campgrounds.  No Snow Buntings seen along the southern dam wall.

No Snow Buntings or uncommon birds were at Sterling Reservoir (Logan) also.

Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) produced no Snow Bunting sightings too.  We search for the previously reported Brant, without success. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the south end of the lake and a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the eastern Campgrounds.

November 29
We arrived at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) shortly after midnight.  Using our night vision glasses we found an Eastern Screech-Owl.  The previously reported Northern Saw-whet Owls were not found.

NOTE: We use the Armasight N-15 Compact Dual Tube Gen 3 Night Vision Goggles!

After sunrise, we walked to the eastern edge of the Wildlife Area.  No Snow Buntings, we did come across a Field Sparrow.

No Snow Buntings could be found when we drove the back roads in Phillips County.  Eventually we gave up and headed back to Denver.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Loveland Pass and Drive to the DIA Owl Loop

November 27, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The day was cooler than recent days.  Birding and friends were great!

Normally I do not go into the mountains on Sunday, too much traffic.  My two Missouri birding campions only had today to bird.

We scoped the hillside east of the first pullover south of Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  Two White tailed Ptarmigan were hunkered under one of the evergreen trees.  It did take about 40 minutes to find them.

Next we went to a friend's home and found three species of Rosy Finches, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Downy, Hairy and one Three toed Woodpeckers, and a few other mountain species.  Unfortunately due to past experiences his yard is not open to the public.

After dropping my birding partners off I stopped at the East 6th Avenue Pond at Harvest Road.  Hundreds of White cheeked Geese, one Ross's Goose, two Snow Geese and a Great White fronted Goose.  When the geese are not there, they appear to go to the High School on the other side of Harvest or the field east of the cell phone building along 6th Avenue.

I sat at a high point along the DIA Owl Loop before sunset.  No Short eared Owls appeared this evening.

Contined Good Birding!

Searching For Uncommon Birds Around Denver

November 26, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I am going to start with an editorial; therefore, you may want to skip this post.  Rebecca has talked me into tempering my rant.

First of all, I am reminded that as a freshman in College if I can remember that far back, my professor encouraged me to drop English Writing 101 after my first paper.  This blog is written so that I have a record of my birding adventures.  For those who continue to criticize, I am not a writer nor pretend to be one.

Second, on today's birding experience at Chatfield Reservoir, okay everyone expects different things out of birding.  Whether it's to socialize, get out in the fresh air, etc. I prefer to FIND BIRDS!

What do you call birders who stand 5-10 feet from where a bird has previously been seen?  It has always amazed that most of us carry equipment that allows viewing of birds from hundreds of yards away, yet some people have to walk right up to the birding spots.  Do they really think that the bird will land at their feet?

This morning, three birders leaned against the fence for quite awhile where the Snow Bunting has been showing up the last few days.  Many birders stood less than 15 feet from the location.  I would ask what they are thinking, but really do not care.

My passenger and I (will leave her name off so only I am chastised for my rant) had to laugh at the spectacle.  It would be sad, unfortunately I see it too often, therefore can only laugh.  The bird IS NOT going to land at your feet.

To answer my question, "what do you call birders who stand on the birding spot", birders who do not find birds!

I felt bad that when the American Woodcock was at Coal Creek Regional Greenway on 11/16, that I did not tell more birders.  Only a few friends were able to see the bird.  I would expect a similar spectacle as today would have ensued if that sighting was made public.

Back to birding.....

We arrived at the Chatfield Reservoir model airplane field at sunrise.  Immediately, another birder hopped out of his car and walked over to the previous Snow Bunting spot.  He stood there for a good 10 minutes; we left.  The bird was not reported.

We drove to the Columbine/Lake View trails at Platte Canyon Drive south of Bowles Avenue.  It took less than 5 minutes to spot the Chestnut-sided Warbler in a greenish leafed tree along the Columbine trail and the first driveway south of the trails intersections.

Note: one of my "rules/theorems" follow direct sunlight.  The bugs/food for birds are more active in direct sunlight/warmer trees.  Later in the afternoon on a previous day, we found the Warbler at the west end of the Columbine/Lake View trails where the setting sun lit the area.

Next, I drove to South Platte Park (Arapahoe) and walked to Bufflehead and Redtail Lakes.  Eventually the White-eyed Vireo was observed fluttering about the willows south of the Rest Area (cannot remember name).

On the walk up from the parking area five Greater Scaup were flew off Redtail Lake when a dog walker passed by.

The White-eyed Vireo was missed during a walk north to Mineral Avenue.  On the hike back, four Black-capped Chickadees caught my attention.  The White-eyed Vireo popped out of the willows nearby.

We then returned to the model airplane field at Chatfield Reservoir.  A dozen or so birders stood in the parking area searching/waiting for the Snow Bunting.  Half a dozen would stand five feet from the location of previous sightings.

I mentioned to my passenger that we had to wait until they left.  From previous birding experiences, I have found birds returning to spots about 25 minutes after disturbances have stopped.

At 10:27 am, the last of the interlopers departed.  At 11:01 am, a flock of fourteen Horned Larks and the Snow Bunting flew in from the north and landed under the fence at the southeast corner of the parking area!  NOTE: it missed my 25 minute prediction by only 1 minute!

I decided to wait a few minutes before exiting my car and taking a photo.  At 11:06 am, a birder pulled up and parked her car 8 feet from the Snow Bunting.  Of course, the Bunting and Horned Larks flew away.

We decided to leave instead of waiting another hour or so for the birds to return.

Brief searches for the Northern Mockingbird and Harris's Sparrow that have been hanging around the horse stables and nearby fields did not turn up either.

After dropping off my passenger and picking up Rebecca, we headed south to search for the Glaucous Gull reported this morning by Hugh Kingery at Walker Gravel Pit (Douglas).

The Gull was not found.  We checked Walker Gravel Pit, nearby McLain Gravel Pit, 20 mile Pond and the Bar CCC Pond.  Nothing uncommon was found. 

It was sunset before we arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  No loons, scoters and Red-necked Grebe were found.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by during our scoping of the lake.

That ended my marvelous day of Birding!

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Fall Day at Aurora Reservoir

November 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I had planned to return to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) to search again for the Snow Bunting.  On the drive over, a text message stated that the Snow Bunting had flown off and not been seen for a couple of hours. 

NOTE: later I met two birders who had seen the Snow Bunting later in the day; it had returned.  Just as well, the 49 mile drive through Denver traffic is never a fun way to spend my day.

I detoured east and enjoyed this beautiful fall day at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were mild at the southern end, later 12+ mph at the northern end.  Temperatures reached the low 60s.

When I scoped the lake from the bench at mile 2.5 (required a 1.2 mile hike from southern entrance) the only birds were American Coots.  Later four Bonaparte's Gulls flew past.

I walked to the southern end of Lone Tree Cove (mile 3.0) and found the Black Scoter.  In my mind, I thought that the other scoters had abandoned her as nothing else was around for 20 minutes.

Out of nowhere?  a Surf Scoter joined the Black Scoter.  The pair stayed rather close together for the next 20 minutes.  Then two additional Surf Scoters appeared.  Perhaps they swam close to shore where they could not be seen?

No additional scoters appeared in the next 20 minutes.  I waited for the last pair to appear; they did not.  Back at the bench (2.5 mile), two Common Loons were 10 yards off shore.  A third Common Loon was swimming along the shore at mile 4.0.

Many birders with scopes stood on the dam at the north end of the reservoir.  It took about 40 minutes to walk, drive and walk to the dam.  The birders were gone.  Winds here were 12 mph with gusts to 18 mph.  It was difficult to see anything in the high waves.  I thought two Surf Scoters were in the scuba diving cove (mile 5.5), however was not sure.

I then drove to the western side and walked the 0.3 miles up to the western side of the dam.  By the time I got there, the hundreds/thousands of gulls that had spent much of the afternoon standing on the dam had been chased into the water.

From 3:45 pm to 4:30 pm, I scoped the many gulls.  Hundreds of gulls continued to arrive from the direction of the disposal site to the northwest.  The number of gulls must have tripled or quadrupled in those 45 minutes.

While the Lesser Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull reported earlier in the day did not materialize, I was able to pick out a Thayer's Gull and Mew Gull.  When the wind died down just before sunset, I was able to find the Red-necked Grebe.

My final stop was the swim beach area to see if gulls had landed there.  The beach was empty.  However, the two White-winged Scoters were swimming southeast of the swim beach!  A Greater Scaup was not far from them.

When I departed, dozens/hundreds of gulls were still flying in from the garbage dump.  Perhaps mornings are a better time to find the Glaucous and Lesser Black-backed Gulls before they fly to the dump for the day?

Thanksgiving Birding

November 24, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I made the 49 mile drive south to Chatfield State Park and arrived around 1:00 pm.  The Snow Bunting had departed an hour or so earlier.  In the next two hours, I scoped every building around the south shore and Campgrounds hoping in vain to find the Bunting; without success.

A Harris's Sparrow and Northern Mockingbird were consolation sightings at the Catfish Flats picnic area (across from the horse stables where both had previously been reported in the week).

Next, I drove to the parking area along S. Platte Canyon Road, 0.1 miles south of W. Bowles Avenue (Arapahoe).  Then I walked south a couple of hundred yards along the Columbine trail to the Lake View trail.

The Chestnut-sided Warbler was fluttering about the tall willows on the north side of the Lake View trail.  Unfortunately, it allowed for only unsatisfactory looks, no photos.

Afterwards, there was little daylight remaining.  I did scope South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe), finding nothing uncommon to report.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Brief Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After returning to Denver, I received a text message about a Snow Bunting at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  I could not get to Chatfield State Park because of traffic before dark and stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) instead.

Perhaps a Snow Bunting could be found here?  I looked around any sand beaches and the model airplane field for Snow Buntings.  None was found.  In fact, I ran into no sparrows at all.

No loons, scoters or other uncommon birds were found.  Six Bonaparte's Gulls flew around below the dam.  Several dozen American White Pelicans and two Double-crested Cormorants stood on the poles outlining the south marina.

At sunset, I parked at the gun range entrance road and scoped the cattail fields to the east.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Trip to Colorado's Eastern Plains

November 21-23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

November 21

Terry Michaels and I headed to the eastern plains for a few days.  A sunrise we birded the Fort Lyons Wildlife Easement along Bent County Road JJ, east of CR 16.  Winds were 8 mph, gusts to 14 mph.

Our target bird the previously reported Sedge Wren was not found.  Two Swamp Sparrows did respond to our recordings.  Nothing uncommon was found at Lake Hasty or John Martin Reservoir (Bent) and we continued to Lamar.

The highlight of our trip was the Pine Warbler found at a private yard in Lamar!  It had been reported by Janeal Thompson from 11/11 through at least 11/22.

By afternoon winds were 22 mph, gusts to 28 mph.  Temperatures reached the lower 70s.

Two Northern Cardinals and a Red-bellied Woodpecker continue at Lamar Community College (Prowers).  The previously reported Bewick's Wren was not found.  Nothing uncommon was come upon at Fairmount Cemetery or Riverside Cemetery.

A drive down to Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) found a Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Barn Owl!

We headed north after sunset.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was found along Yuma County Road 2, east of Highway 385 when we passed by on the trip to Wray.

 November 22

The day around Wray was quite pleasant.  Winds never rose above 6 mph; temperatures reached the middle 50s.

At first light, we drove the Yuma County Road 45-CR PP loop.  A Short-eared Owl was found shorted after sunrise at the bend (road goes from CR 45 to CR PP).  No Greater Prairie-Chickens were found.

Birding around Wray was somewhat productive.  The best bird was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Wray City Park!  A Harris's Sparrow was found west of the parking area for Stalker Pond.  Two Eastern Bluebirds were around the buildings at Wray Fishing Unit.

Sandsage Wildlife Area had another Harris's Sparrow and many White-crowned, some Song and a White-throated Sparrow.

A three friend's homes we chalked up four male, two female Northern Cardinals, one Red-bellied Woodpecker and one Harris's Sparrow.

After sunset, we headed back south to Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).  Using our night vision glasses we found three Long-eared Owls near Fosters Grove Campgrounds.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls responded to recordings along the Republican River east of highway 285 (one probably last night's bird).

November 23

Before sunrise, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl calling north of Hale Ponds.  A short hike around the Wildlife Area added four Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Northern Bobwhite and seven Eastern Bluebirds to our trip list.

The Northern Bobwhite may not be countable birds as dog trainers use them; some escape (the bobwhite, not the trainers or dogs :-)

A brief stop at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) found another Red-bellied Woodpecker and not much else.  We hoped for a Common Redpoll or uncommon sparrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Barr Lake & DIA Owl Loop

November 20, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Winds were calm today; temperatures reached the middle 60s.

Rebecca and I walked around Barr Lake in the afternoon.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were west of the Niedrach boardwalk.  Two Greater White-fronted Geese, one Ross's Goose and four Snow Geese were among them.

Waterfowl were in lower numbers than the past couple of weeks.  Water levels are also down.  No loons, scoters or Red-necked Grebes were among the many White-cheeked Geese, Western Grebes and Ring-billed Gulls (view from boat ramp).

A Barn Owl was around the banding station area.  While a Spotted Towhee was between the banding station and the Visitor's Center footbridge.

Our biggest surprise was not seeing one sparrow along the trail or behind the Visitor's Center.  Later we found no Horned Larks or longspurs while during around the DIA Owl Loop.  Not one, which was also strange?

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the Owl Loop this evening.  However, when we drove into Denver for dinner, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying along Second Creek (east of the Buckley Road detour for the closed section of Tower Road).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Birding In Douglas County

November 19, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I were invited to a barbecue at a friend's ranch near Franktown.  We birded several places on the trip south.  Temperatures today barely reached 42 degrees; winds were less than 2 mph most of the afternoon.

We stopped at many lakes and ponds in Douglas County on the trip to Franktown.  Target birds were Barrow's Goldeneyes and Greater Scaup; neither of which was found.

At Bar CCC Pond, the majority bird was Ring-necked Ducks.  At McCabe Meadows Pond, there were dozens of Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwalls, American Coots, and Redheads.

North Piney Lake had a few Cackling Geese and three dozen Canada Geese.  The highlight was two mule deer walking within 15 feet of my tripod.  When I backed away to give them room to pass, a Black-billed Magpie landed on my scope!

Closer to Franktown, the previously reported Greater White-fronted Goose and Greater Scaup were gone at Walker Gravel Pit.  The majority bird was Gadwalls.  South of Hwy 86 at McLain Gravel Pit, Ring-necked Ducks were the majority bird with a few Canada Geese and a couple of Cackling Geese.

After the barbecue, we stopped at several locations along Castlewood Canyon Road in search of Northern Saw-whet Owls.  No owls were found this night.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Another Trip to Aurora Reservoir

November 18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was out early this morning and searched for Murrelets at Chatfield State Park, Bear Creek Lake Park and Soda Lakes (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  Almost all Murrelet sightings in Colorado have been during or the morning after a snowstorm like yesterdays.  None was found today.

Winds were 4-5 mph; temperature only reached 34 degrees.

On the way home, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and walked to the bench at mile 2.5.

Five Surf Scoters and a Black Scoter were well south of the Senac Cove.  They eventually swam toward the mouth when I pointed them out to another birder.

Two Common Loons were off mile 4.0.  While looking at them a Greater Scaup came into my view!  The Red-necked Grebe I found on 11/1 & 11/15 was deep in the 4.0 cove; I did not feel like added three miles to my hike today and skipped that search.

The two White-winged Scoters were at the mouth of the cove at 1.5 mile.  If the sun had not shone on their white wing patches I would not have been able to distinguish them from Surf Scoters.

I scoped Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe) briefly and found no loons or scoters.  Yesterdays Wild Turkey that walked around the Campgrounds was not found today.  Whether this was an escaped bird or wild, we will never know.

Next stop, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) where nothing uncommon was found.  Common Merganser numbers were up over 500, many Western Grebes (no Red-necked) and many American Coots also swam around the lake.

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.

Wild Turkey at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 17, 2016

Richard Stevens:

When returning from camping last night at Twin Cones Peaks I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Visibility was almost zero, could not see the water.  A Wild-looking Turkey was in the non-electric Campgrounds.  It maybe my first Arapahoe County Wild Turkey.

Wanted to go to Aurora Reservoir; with visibility so poor, it seemed like a waste of time.  Also, sometimes in inclement weather, they close the southern gates.

Later in the afternoon, snowfall was quite heavy.  Temperatures overnight dropped to 20 degrees (after setting a record high 80 degrees on 11/17.

Owling Near Twin Cone Peaks

November 16, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry was up for it; so we drove up to Kenosha Pass (Park County) and hiked into the Twin Cones Trail.  Winds were less than 5 mph; temperatures reached the high 50s (great for this elevation).

Three "owl listening stations" were set up in areas where Northern Saw-whet Owls were expected.  Then we walked back and forth between them from 9:00 pm to 1:00 pm.  Unfortunately, no Saw-whet Owls were sighted.  Later listening to the recordings, I found no evidence that Saw-whet Owls were around that night.

Two Northern Pygmy-Owls were heard east and west of the trailhead.

Next morning we stopped at Kenosha Pass west Campgrounds.  No owls were found at civil twilight.  An hour after sunrise we did encounter an American Three-toed Woodpecker!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Super Afternoon At Aurora Reservoir

November 15, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I continued our bi-weekly owling trips into the foothills.  Regrettably, we did not find any in the Pine Valley Ranch area early this morning.  Although, I have not yet taken the time to listen to the "owl listening stations" recordings.

We stopped by Harriman Lake Park (Jefferson) on the way home.  Two Harris's Sparrows continue!

After dropping Terry off, I drove over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  This remains the hottest birding spot around. 

Eventually I saw a Black Scoter, five Surf Scoters, two White-winged Scoters and at least four Common Loons.  I confirmed a Red-necked Grebe sighting I first observed on Saturday, November 12.

Finally, shortly after sunset a Trumpeter Swan flew into the cove at mile 4.0.  I have to rush over to confirm the identity.  The southern gates to Aurora Reservoir close at 5:30 pm this month.  I did not want to be locked in the Reservoir.

I also got a glimpse of an owl flying 50 yards from the eastern border.  Time was short; there was no time to investigate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

No Uncommon Birds at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Monday

November 14, 2016

Richard Stevens:

email to cobirders listserve:

"Another non report, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this afternoon.  Winds were 8-9 mph, gusts to 14 mph.  I scoped the lake three times each from three locations.  No scoters or loons found today.  I was not looking at gulls; however, three Bonaparte's Gulls did fly into view at one time."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Douglas to Arapahoe County

November 13, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I had to return a book to the Parker library today so headed down that way to do some owling and birding.  Temperatures only reached the low 60s; winds were 4-8 mph throughout the day.

A search for Northern Saw-whet Owls south of Franktown between 2:00 and 6:00 am did not turn up any this morning.  I was able to relocate a Northern Mockingbird that had been reported in the neighborhood since October 18!

To enjoy the superb fall day I hiked the Creek Bottom Trail from the Lucas Homestead to the Dam Ruins, then took Castlewood Canyon Road back to the northern entrance.

Nothing uncommon was found.  While Ovenbirds have not been reported after September, Winter Wrens have been encountered into November.  I also checked for signs of Northern Saw-whet Owls, which are usually loyal to their roosting sites (look for owl pellets and scat).

Next, I hiked a mile up near Tomichi Gulch (east side of Hwy 83, east of the State Park).  An Eastern Towhee was found in this gulch on 11/20/2010 through 12/6/2010.  Three species of nuthatches and a couple of Townsend's Solitaires were the highlights here.

I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  I was quite excited to find an adult male Black Scoter (with beautiful black and yellow bill) and a non-adult male Surf Scoter in the southeast corner of the lake.

Unfortunately, I did learn later that others had found the birds earlier in the day.  Still the sightings were enjoyed.  Four Bonaparte's Gulls were among many Ring-billed, California and a few Herring Gulls.

It has been a good month for scoters in Arapahoe County.  Between Aurora Reservoir and Cherry Creek Reservoir, I have seen at a minimum two Black Scoters, eight Surf Scoters and five White-winged Scoters!  If the scoters have been continuing on with their migration after a couple of days, those numbers go way up?

Thirty minutes before sunset, I parked at a high point along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  Raptors included four Red-tailed Hawks, two Ferruginous Hawks, a male American Kestrel and one Rough-legged Hawk.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Couple of Hours at Aurora Reservoir

November 12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After returning from a couple of days of owling in Park County, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.

I sat at the bench about a mile north of the southern entrance to Aurora Reservoir for about an hour and a half.  My fortune was better than a birder who had sat there for a couple of hours earlier.

A Surf Scoter was 15 feet off the shore just below the bench as I arrived.  Two White-winged Scoters swan at the mouth of Senac Cove to the northwest.  Two Common Loons swam around mile 4.5.

Then I noticed another scoter swimming up from the south end of Lone Tree Cove (east of the bench).  While watching it to see if it was a White-winged Scoter or Surf Scoter, a Black Scoter swam north into view.  The other scoter turned out to be another White-winged Scoter.

No owls appeared tonight as I watched from a high point on the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Owling In Park County

November 11-12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

November 11

Terry Michaels continued our owling in Park County.  The Northern Pygmy-Owl was again heard near the St. Mary's Church of the Rockies.  We would find two additional Northern Pygmy-Owls (Tomahawk Ranch & Conestoga Road) and a Northern Saw-whet Owl  (Conestoga Road south of Derringer Court) this night.

November 12

We scoped both of the Park County Reservoirs starting at civil twilight.  Winds were 14 mph, gusts to 23 mph (not the best conditions to find birds swimming on the surface). 

No Short-eared Owl was found at Eleven Mile Reservoir this morning.  If the Red Phalarope was out there, we did not conjure it up.  Nothing like trying to find an 8.5 inch bird swimming in foot high waves.

We did manage to pick out the Black Scoter and three Common Loons in the waves at Eleven Mile Reservoir.  Two Surf Scoters were the only uncommon birds found at nearby Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

After dark, we found two additional Northern Pygmy-Owls in Park County (CR 61, south of CR 96 & CR 61, east of Forest Road 873), and then missed Boreal Owls at Weston Pass.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Better Fortune in Adams County Than Clear Creek County

November 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I planned to visit a friend in Georgetown and decided to do some owling on the trip into the mountains.

Unfortunately, I did not encounter any owls on Guanella Pass Road (Clear Creek County) from Georgetown to the Water Treatment plant.  My search centered on the Campgrounds, the name that I am spacing on right this minute?

No Rosy Finches were found or expected.  They would have been a nice surprise though.

Back on the plains, I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) in the afternoon after receiving a text message about a Black Scoter on Lake Ladora.  Temperature was 64 degrees; winds were 4-6 mph.

No Black Scoter was found on Lake Ladora so I walked around Marys Lake hoping for a Swamp Sparrow.  None was found when I played a Swamp Sparrow recording near the cattails surrounding the small lake.

Note: a Swamp Sparrow recording is the only one I ever play.  It seems to get all kinds of sparrows to respond (Song, Lincoln's, Savannah, American Tree).

On the way back to my car, I walked the ditch south of Marys Lake.  In the past, this ditch has provided some interesting bird sightings.  Today the ditch had much less water than past falls.

When I reached the cement water control at the eastern end of the ditch, three Song Sparrows and a Swamp Sparrow briefly popped out of the cattails 10-30 yards west of the structure!  Regrettably, the Swamp Sparrow was too far away and mostly hidden for a photo.  The attempt for a witness shot did not work out.

Then I parked at the southwest corner of Lake Ladora and walked east along 64th avenue.  Sixteen American Tree Sparrows, two Song Sparrows and a Harris's Sparrow were eventually observed moving in and out of the willows along the road.  My last look at the Harris's Sparrow was just east of the four cottonwoods on the south side of the lake (a 14 fourteen foot high small tree was just east of them).

Finally I walked along the southwest corner of Lake Ladora to the small bushy area (bushes have thorns).  This is another spot just has sheltered some nice birds.  Today only a Spotted Towhee was here.

Another thirty eight American Tree Sparrows and four Song Sparrows fluttered about the high grasses at the extreme southwest corner near 64th avenue.

Lower Derby Lake had hundreds of waterfowl on it.  One of these was a Black Scoter (probably the Lake Ladora bird).  Other ducks included Ruddy Ducks, a few Canvasbacks, Gadwall, Mallards, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers and many American Coots.

Twenty minutes before sunset (closing time for the arsenal) I walked part of the Legacy trail.  Two Long-eared Owls and a Barn Owl were the prizes!

Slow afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 9, 2016

 Richard Stevens:

I only had an hour to bird today.  Winds were 4 mph; temperatures reached 74 degrees.

Cherry Creek Reservoir was scoped four times.  No uncommon birds were found.  Today I observed no loons, scoters or grebes.

Ruddy Duck numbers increased.  Many Western, Horned and Eared Grebes as well as American Coots swam around.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Owling In Park & Jefferson Counties & Trip to Aurora Reservoir

November 8, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I went out owling early this morning.  Eventually we found two Northern Pygmy-Owls.  One of them was near St. Marys Church of the Rockies on the hill near Bailey (the other, Rosalie Road, south of Crestview Lane). 

Coming home from Franktown I had the choice to visit Cherry Creek Reservoir or Aurora Reservoir.  I chose Aurora Reservoir.

Winds were less than 2 mph; temperatures were in the upper 60s on this glorious fall day.  I made the long mile hike to the bench at mile 2.5.

On the way to the bench I saw five Surf Scoters and my target bird a Black Scoter (Steve Rash, 11/6) about 400 yards south of the mouth of Senac Cove.  A Pacific Loon was near them.

Once on the bench I saw three White-winged Scoters at the mouth of Lone Tree Cove (east of Senac).  Two Common Loons were 100 yards down the Cove.

Finally, another two Pacific Loons were off the point at mile 4.5!  All three Pacific Loons had nice chin straps.

At one time, all birds surfaced at the same time.  From the bench, I could see with binoculars five Surf Scoters, one Black Scoter, three Pacific Loons and two Common Loons!

It made the long walk back to my car seem shorter than Saturday when only two White-winged Scoters were seen.

We prefer to be conservative in our counts; however, if the birds leave and come (turnover), the scoter count at the south end of Aurora Reservoir in the last 21 days has been Surf Scoters five (up to seven), White-winged Scoters four (up to nine) and one Black Scoter.  Loons, three Pacific Loons and two Common Loons (up to 4).

Two adult Bald Eagles moved back and forth between the telephone poles on the east side of the reservoir and the trees at the south end of Lone Tree Cove.

Besides many Western, Horned and Eared Grebes, dozens of Ruddy Ducks and American Coots also swam around.

Common Ground Golf Course at Westerly Creek

November 7, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Headed out to do some owling in Park County, spent today finishing chores.

I did stop by Westerly Creek Park and the Common Ground Golf Course (Arapahoe) trying to run down a report of a hybrid American X Eurasian Wigeon.  Unfortunately, it was not found.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 6, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After receiving a report of a Burrowing Owl along the new self-driving tour through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County), I went to investigate.  Unfortunately, the Burrowing Owl was not found.

Then I hiked the 4 mile round trip to the Rod and Gun Club Bird Blind.  Regrettably, nothing uncommon was found.

A walk along the western Lake Ladora trail found an interesting bird.  A Hermit Thrush was well hidden in the brush at the southwest corner.

Checks of the cattail marshes at the southeast corner of Lake Ladora and around Marys Lake did not find any Swamp Sparrows or other uncommon birds.

I stopped at the Cherry Creek Reservoir Lake Loop (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake.  On the first pass, two Surf Scoters were observed south of the swim beach, however in the middle of the lake.

On the third pass I loon was seen in the southeastern corner.  Frustration again, as the loon would stay under water for quite a long time and surface for less than a count of two. 

After twenty minutes or so, I was able to confirm that it was a Common Loon.   I never observed two loons at one time.  Yesterday, I had observed two Common Loons there.

A stakeout of the cattail field west of Lakeview Drive (the main road) and Cherry Creek did not turn up any Short-eared Owls this evening.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Comments on the October 16 Mystery Bird Post

Comment on 10/16/2016 post:

As one can see on the November Colorado Birding Society's website:

The mystery bird was an American Woodcock. It is the third Arapahoe County record. I first found the bird along Murphy's Creek (some maps it is called Sand Creek) on 10/16. Only two birders of the nine I called were able to come out and see it. Terry Michaels relocated at first light on 10/17. It was not relocated afterwards.

When I walked Murphy's Creek, it flew a short ways down the swallow creek. It call was not that of a Wilson's Snipe which made me pursue it.

The bird had an injured right leg.  Barely able to walk and its flight was quite erratic.

It was getting dark and my photos were also. I lighten them with Photoshop. Photo will also be on November's "Colorado Field Notes":

Another Trip to Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 5, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Aurora Reservoir this afternoon and to the bench at mile 2.5 between Senac Cove (mile 2.0) and Lone Tree Cove (mile 3.0).  This is about 1.0 mile walk from gate at E. Southshore Parkway & S. Quantock Way.  It was windier and colder than Thursday however still a nice day to be out birding.

No uncommon birds were found when I scoped the lake three times.  My attention turned to the tens of hundreds of gulls along the shore below the bench.  I hoped for a Mew Gull, none found; one Thayer's Gull was among many Ring-billed, a dozen California and two Herring Gulls.

Out of nowhere, two White-winged Scoters appeared just yards off shore!  On Thursday, four White-winged Scoters and two Surf Scoters were at the mouth of Senac Cove. 

I noticed that two of the White-winged Scoters on Thursday appeared to be slightly larger in head and bill.  All four had black bills.  The two "newer larger" birds had joined the previous two (10/28) on Thursday and appeared to not be present today (Saturday).

The two Surf Scoters on Thursday had no discernable differences.  They were not seen today.

Twenty minutes after watching the two White-winged Scoters, the Common Loon swam from the Lone Tree Cove, west toward the Senac Cove.

The last hour of direct sunlight was spent at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Three passes over the lake found no uncommon birds, but many Western Grebes, Horned Grebes, Eared Grebes, Ruddy Ducks and American Coots.

Then two Common Loons surfaced in the middle of the lake.  Shortly after, direct sunlight disappeared on the water.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls swam near the southwest marina.

Birding Around Silverthorne

November 4, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I visited a friend in Silverthorne today.  Recent snows have brought Rosy Finches to town.  We found 15 Brown-capped Rosy Finches and 6 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches.  No Black Rosy Finches showed up today.

A good number of mountain species were around.  Included were Clark's Nutcracker, three species of nuthatches, Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and Pine Siskins.

One Barrow's Goldeneye was on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond!

A search for owls near the town of Montezuma came up empty.  Winds were 18 mph, gusts to 29 mph.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Great Afternoon in Arapahoe County

November 3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After owling all night in Fremont County I returned to Denver by way of Big Johnson Reservoir (El Paso). 

A brief stop found a loon too far away to ID.  It was not a Common Loon, possibly the Red-throated or Pacific Loon reported on Monday, 11/1.  I did found one of the two Red-necked Grebes reported by Jacob Washburn & Ray Simmons on Monday.

The rest of my afternoon was spent in Arapahoe County....

It was another fantastic fall day in Colorado.  I hiked the mile down from the southeastern gate at Aurora Reservoir to the bench halfway between the Senac Cove (mile 2.0) and Lone Tree Cove (mile 3.0).

Two White-winged Scoters were immediately found at the mouth of Senac Cove.  Then a third scoter popped out of the water.  I thought that to be the Surf Scoter that I saw on Monday 10/31.

The scoter stretched its wings; it was a third White-winged Scoter.  I was positive that I saw a Surf Scoter on Monday.  Now I had three White-winged Scoters; then a fourth scoter surfaced.  It was yet another White-winged Scoter!

At one point, all four White-winged Scoters were in my scope at the same time.  The revealing was not over.  Another scoter surfaced.  I watched it long enough for it to stretch its wings.  It was a Surf Scoter!

However, the action was not over.  A sixth scoter surfaced.  This one was also a Surf Scoter.  That is right, four White-winged Scoters and two Surf Scoters.  Again all six were seen in my scope at the same time.

After enjoying them diving and surfacing for a while, I turned my scope north toward the lake.  The Common Loon was swimming from Lone Tree Cove toward Senac Cove!

When I scoped the hundreds of gulls around the Common Loon, I found a Thayer's Gull, possibly the one seen on last Monday.

Other birds observed from my perch; Ruddy Duck numbers were way up (80+) from Monday, Western Grebes, Horned Grebes, Eared Grebes and hundreds of American Coots.

There was just enough time to head over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The lake was scoped from the northeastern point of the Lake Loop.  Only two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by during my hour stay.

A Common Loon surfaced to the north.  While I watched it, a second Common Loon also appeared.  Scanning the lake, a third Common Loon was several hundred yards west of the first pair!

Sunset ended my quite enjoyable afternoon of birding in Arapahoe County!

Trip to the Mountains; Park, Pueblo & Fremont Counties

November 1-3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The weather has been fantastic the last three days.  70s & 60s, winds mostly less than 8 mph.  Walking the Fremont County Roads under a sliver of the moon was quite enjoyable, in spite of our lack of Spotted Owls.

November 1

I left Denver around 2:00 am and made stops at five locations where Northern Pygmy-Owls have been reported in the past in Park County.  Eventually, Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at two of the stops (all previously reported by David Suddjian; CR 68, south of CR 70 & Forest Road 543, south of Forest Road 550).

At sunrise, I scoped Eleven Mile Reservoir (Park) first from the eastern end and worked back west.  A Common Loon was just off the marina store.  A Short-eared Owl flew around the southeast corner.

Six Surf Scoters swam and flew around north of the island near the day use area just east of the fork in the main road (splits into one-way roads heading east).

A Black Scoter and another Common Loon swam around the western end of the reservoir.  A highlight was a Vesper Sparrow, which seemed to be late in its migration (near the fork in the road).

Misses: the Red Phalarope and Thayer's Gull seen 10/30.

The majority birds were American Coots, with a few Western Grebes, Horned Grebes and Eared Grebes also there.

At nearby Spinney Mountain Reservoir (8 miles to the west) three Surf Scoters were in the western half of the lake.  A Red-throated Loon was in the same vicinity.

Misses: the two Black Scoters, White-winged Scoter seen 10/30.

I took highway 9 south from Hartsel to Canon City.  Along the drive, two Pinyon Jays were seen in Pueblo County at 12 miles south of Hartsel.  Another two Pinyon Jays were in Fremont County around the first house south of the County Line.

Four additional Pinyon Jays were seen in Fremont County before I reached Highway 50.

A stop at Tunnel Drive (west side of Canon City) found a Canyon Towhee and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows.  The sparrows were on the rocky cliff east of the first wooden information sign uphill of the parking area.

Three additional detours were made on my way to Pueblo Reservoir.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was in a friend's yard in Canon City.  A Greater Roadrunner crossed Fremont County Line Road 123 at approximately 0.4 miles east of CR 67.

Thirty minutes at Brush Hollow Wildlife Area found a Juniper Titmouse, several Bushtits and a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker (below southwest corner of the dam).

The Black-legged Kittiwake was swimming just a few feet off the southeastern shore at Pueblo Reservoir when I arrived!

A Curve-billed Thrasher was found at the south marina overflow parking area.  I photographed a Canyon Towhee in the same area.

Scoping the lake from the sailboard launch area (northeast side of the reservoir), I found three Surf Scoters.  They were swimming toward the Juniper Breaks Campgrounds.

When I drove to the Campgrounds trying for a photo, I found a Red-necked Grebe perhaps 10 yards off the north shore.

The West Fishing Road area was quite interesting also.  A Pacific Loon and three Bonaparte's Gulls swam in the very northeastern cove.  Two additional Surf Scoters were observed south of the restrooms.

I returned to the Burger King in Pueblo to eat and wait for birding partners Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons.

After dark were went searching for Spotted Owls in Fremont County.  None was found.  Consolation: two Northern Saw-whet Owls at separate spots.

November 2, 2016

After owling most of the night, we started our birding day late morning.  We relocated the two Rufous-crowned Sparrows found yesterday.  Next, we checked the many Parks & the Abbey in Canon City; our target bird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was not found.

A walk along the Arkansas Riverwalk between Sells Pond and Raynolds found one Black Phoebe.  Misses: any Eastern Phoebes.

After dinner and sunset, we headed up Phantom Canyon Road in search of Spotted Owls.  Again, none was found this night.  Perhaps next time will be more successful?

We did find a Northern Saw-whet Owl along Phantom Canyon Road (CR 67) and a Northern Pygmy-Owl at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area.