Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Little Birding Before the Snowstorm

January 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

While doing chores I detoured over to Crown Hill Park (Jefferson).  Well, if you can call a 40 mile (one way) side trip a detour that is?  Temperatures only reached the middle 40s today; winds were 10 mph, gusts to 14 mph. 

The previous reported Glaucous Gull was near the open water at the east end of the Crown Hill Lake when I arrived.  Soon after a group of gulls flew to the southeast.  Later I relocated the Glaucous Gull at the eastern end of Sloan's Lake.

I stopped by Stites Park along Newland Street (less than half a mile north of 2596 Newland where the Carolina Wren was around for a month).  The Carolina Wren was not found.  I saw no cover for a wren and would not expect it to return.

I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.  By now, it was snowing and was quite foggy.  No uncommon waterfowl or gulls were found.  Gulls numbered less than 50. 

On the other hand, Bald Eagles numbered eleven!

I skipped Aurora & Quincy Reservoirs (Arapahoe) because the fog and snow was getting thicker.  Visibility was poor when I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls were observed this evening.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Day Birding Northeast of Denver

January 24, 2016

The day was overcast.  Temperatures only reached the mid 40s; winds were 17 mph, gusts to 23 mph.

I drove some the Adams County Roads east of DIA (Denver International Airport) on my way to visit a friend who lives near Prospect Valley (Adams).

Too many hunters were at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams) when I passed by, and then decided to continue east.

Four Long-eared Owls continue in the windbreak at my friend's ranch.

Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) was only another 40 miles so I continued to the State Park to see what gulls might be around.

A lone Lesser Black-backed Gull was the only uncommon Gull found.  At least four Long-eared Owls and an Eastern Screech-Owl were relocated along the west side of the reservoir.

A White-throated Sparrow was loosely associated with a small flock 6-8 White-crowned Sparrows between Pelican Campgrounds and the lake.

A scoped the southern Campgrounds at dusk for Short-eared Owls without success.

Visiting a Few Reservoir Around Denver

January 23, 2016

After receiving a text message about an Iceland Gull at South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) I headed down that way.  Temperatures were in the mid 50s, anemometer readings around 10 mph.

A small group of gulls was on the ice shelf off the dam.  I could pick out two Thayer's Gulls, none of which I could call an Iceland Gull.  NOTE: later Nick Komar retracted the Iceland Gull report.  The two Lesser Black-backed Gulls reported by Nick were not around in the early afternoon.

The three Long-tailed Ducks were swimming quite far away in the larger open water.

I counted 14 Greater Scaup on Eagleview Lake South Platte Park (below the eastern side of South Platte Park Reservoir).

When I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), about 300 gulls stood on the ice shelf off the swim beach area.  Again, I picked out two Thayer's Gulls as the only two uncommon gulls.  Ring-billed, Herring and California Gulls were in the mix.

The last two hours before sunset were spent with Bill Cryder at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  We walked down from the south side to mile 2.5.  Uncommon gulls two Thayer's Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull were among 800 gulls.

Owling Around Denver

January 22, 2016

Terry Michaels and I got out seeking owls in the afternoon.  Temperatures reached the high 40s; winds were 10 mph, gusts to 14 mph.

We encountered two Long-eared Owls at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams).  The previously found Swamp Sparrow was not relocated.

A walk along the Legacy Trail at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) found two Barn Owls and at least six Long-eared Owls.

At sunset, we drove to Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Jefferson) and White Ranch Open Space (Jefferson).  No Northern Pygmy-Owls were detected tonight.  Two Great Horned Owls called at the entrance to the State Park.

Southeast Colorado Trip

January 19-21, 2016

Terry Michaels and I made a swing to the southeast Colorado.  Temperatures barely reached 40 degrees during the trip.  Winds were wild at times.  Several times, we measured 14 mph, gusts to 23 mph.

January 19

Our first stop was Fountain Creek Regional Park (El Paso County).  After a 30 minute wait, the Purple Finch appeared at the Visitor's Center feeders.

Below the Visitor's Center, we found two Virginia Rails at the Rice's Pond footbridge.  It took another 45 minutes to relocate the Winter Wren between Rice's Pond and marker 18.

Two Yellow-rumped Warblers were just about all we encountered.

Big Johnson Reservoir (El Paso) did not add any interesting birds to our trip list.

An hour was spent trying unsuccessfully to relocate the Acorn Woodpecker in the Willow Circle neighborhood of Colorado Springs.

Clear Springs Ranch was quiet also.

A drive down Hanover Road relocated a Curve-billed Thrasher.  At dusk, we observed a Short-eared Owl near the Squirrel Creek Road pond.

Neither of us was tired and we made the long trip down to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca County).

January 20

We arrived at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) shortly after midnight and were welcomed by a calling Western Screech-Owl.

After a few hours sleep and a wait for the day to warm up a bit, we hiked around Cottonwood Canyon.

Highlights included a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker up the draw south of the Campgrounds.  Another male and female Ladder-backed Woodpecker were found up the draw going southwest of the fork in CR M (southern road goes toward Carrizo Mountain).  A flock of 60+ Cedar Waxwings was also here.

We missed the Barn Owl that sometimes is under the bridge at CR M & CR 7.  On the drive there, we found two Rufous-crowned Sparrows at 1.4 miles east of the Campgrounds. 

Several Canyon Towhees were scattered along the hillside.  Small flocks of Chihuahuan Ravens flew overhead.  A Bewick's Wren and Spotted Towhee were in the evergreens back at the Campgrounds.

Eventually we departed Cottonwood Canyon and drove to Carrizo Picnic Area.  A Greater Roadrunner ran across CR M just west of the entrance.  A pair of Bewick's Wren fluttered about Carrizo Creek at the picnic area.

We detoured to a ranch in Furnish Canyon to check on my friend and any uncommon birds.  Bob had not seen any uncommon birds recently; we said our goodbyes and headed out to Picture Canyon. 

A  Northern Mockingbird was along CR 7, just before reaching CR M.

Terry and I hiked down Picture Canyon to the pictographs.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was running around the rocky short cliff near the iron gate area (if one is familiar with the area).

Half a dozen American Kestrels and Western Meadowlarks were encountered on the walk back to our car.  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow hopped up from the short rocky cliffs just south of the parking area.

Two Greater Roadrunners ran across the road just before we reached CR 19.  While not uncommon, seeing Greater Roadrunner is always exciting.  Try searching for them for hours without a sighting.

We ended our birding day at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  A Hermit Thrush was the most surprising bird.  It beat the singing Brown Thrasher as the highlight of our stop.

Two Chihuahuan Ravens were observed circling overhead.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker were not really a surprise.  While a Barn Owl was found "hiding" in one of the crevasses in the tall red cliffs.

Another Greater Roadrunner was observed running across the road when we drove toward Highway 287.

We decided to skip Lamar guessing the few uncommon birds would be around this time of year.  Our trek continued toward Wray.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was found at Hale Ponds (Yuma) as we continued toward Wray.  None was found at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area in a 20 minute stop.

January 21

After a few hours of sleep, Terry and I drove to Yuma CR 45 in search of Greater Prairie-Chickens.  None was found and we detoured over to the Kitzmiller Ranch.  Success, a Greater Prairie-Chicken was perched on the fence post just outside the ranch's entrance!

We stopped at two homes to check on our friends and their birds.  Recording the sightings, we saw an eastern Fox Sparrow and two male Northern Cardinals at private yard #3 and a pair of Northern Cardinals at private yard # 1.

Beverly mentioned that a friend had a "strange owl" in her backyard and suggested that we drive over and identify it for him.  The owl turned out to be a Northern Saw-whet Owl!  His yard is now designated as Yuma County private yard #9!

Terry needed to get home and we turned west, back to Denver.

After dropping Terry off, I decided to check on an owl report from Barr Lake (Adams).

Eventually I would find three Long-eared Owls in the shelterbelt at the entrance.  They were northeast of the ranger's office.

A flock of sparrows included 10-12 American Tree Sparrows, a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos and a White-throated Sparrow.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) this evening.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Another Attempt to Get a Long-eared Owl Photo

January 18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Purportedly, the temperature achieved 51 degrees today; winds were only 3mph.  Nevertheless, it felt quite cold.

I hiked the mile and a half below the Barr Lake (Adams County) dam hoping to get photos of a Long-eared Owl.  Eventually I found four owls in groups of two at different locations.

Regrettably, they were either a good distance away from me or deep in thick bushes.  I only acquired poor witness photos of the owls.

Two Song Sparrows, one American Tree Sparrow, a Wilson's Snipe and Virginia Rail were found along the canal below the dam.

Return to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

January 17, 2016

Richard Stevens:

My return to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams County) was quite interesting today.  High temperature was only 36 degrees; winds were measured up to 6 mph.  It was cold.

I relocated the previously reported Swamp Sparrow (Doug Kibbe, 1/15) and continued down the windbreak to Pond # 8.  Eventually, three Long-eared Owls were found buried in thick evergreens and Russian Olive trees.

It was not possible to take anything but witness photos.

A detour to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) found no uncommon gulls among dozens of Ring-billed Gulls on the ice off the Shades Picnic Area.

A Slow Birding Day Around Denver

January 16, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Once again, I forgot that hunters are below the Barr Lake dam on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Instead, I tried to find some birds previously reported this week.

A stop at the South Platte River and Evans Blvd (Denver County) did not find the Barrow's Goldeneye reported by Judith Henderson (1/4) and Jane Stulp (1/11).

It was a miss on the Barrow's Goldeneye at Overland Pond Park (Denver) found by Art Hudak (1/10).

The Greater White-fronted Goose was again missed at Denver City Park (Denver) as was the one reported at Cheesman Park (Denver).

Another try to find the Greater Scaup at the South Platte River and 74th Avenue (Adams) was a bust.

I sat at Third Creek and Gun Club Road (Denver) thirty minutes before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this afternoon.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Searching for Gulls in Arapahoe County

January 15, 2016

 Richard Stevens:

I took the time to hike down to mile 2.5 at Aurora Reservoir in the early afternoon (started at the most southeastern entrance).  Temperatures were in the low 30s; winds were 14 mph, gusts to 18 mph.

My hope to get photos of the gulls congregated on the ice shelf there did not occur.  The gulls were still to far away.  A least two Thayer's Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were in the mixed of 500+ gulls.

Afterwards I drove to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Only a couple of hundred gulls were around the open water at the northwest quadrant of the lake.  Nothing uncommon was found.

My birding day ended as I parked along the road to the gun range.  Excellent views of the cattails to the west of Cherry Creek and north and south of Lake View Road were near the final curve to the range.

At 5:19 pm, a Short-eared Owl flew over the cattails south of the Main Road, drove into the cattails and continued north with something it is talons.  This occurred under another superb Colorado winter sunset!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Owl Search at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

January 14, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached the middle 40s today.  Anemometer readings were 14 mph, gusts to 21 mph.  Sunset was another of those wondrous Colorado colorful winter sunsets.

After a meeting at the Denver Tech Center (south end of Denver), I planned to go to Barr Lake (Adams County) and look for Long-eared Owls.  Unfortunately, like yesterday, plans changed.  Traffic was so congested it was not possible to get to Barr Lake before sunset.

Instead, I detoured to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) which turned out to be a good choice.  Perhaps I could find a stray Northern Saw-whet Owl in the evergreens along the Legacy trail?

No Northern Saw-whet Owl was found, however, I did find three Barn Owls and at least six Long-eared Owls.  One of the Barn Owls perched on top of a New Mexican Locust Tree for a good five minutes.

Watched a great sunset and headed for home!

Walk At Barr Lake

January 13, 2016

Richard Stevens:

On the way home from DIA, I stopped at Barr Lake (Adams County).  Temperatures were in the high 40s; winds were 10 mph.

I planned on walking below the dam and trying for a Long-eared Owl photo.  Unfortunately, I forgot goose hunters are permitted to hunt on Wednesdays and Saturdays; the trail was closed.

Alternatively, I walked from the Niedrach trail at the Visitor's Center to mile 8.0.  Several Long-eared Owls were reported along the Niedrach trail in the past few days.  I found two Great Horned Owls at the south end of the boardwalk.  It would be surprising if Long-eared Owls stayed around there also.  Are not they food for the Great Horned Owls?

A Barn Owl was in the banding station area.  She was not in the nesting box; instead, she flew around at the end of the peninsula.

Another Great Horned Owl called from the Pioneer Trail (mile 8.2). 

I captured photos of Colorado's famous winter sunsets and went home (skipping the DIA Owl Loop tonight).

Aurora Reservoir

January 7, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I spent a few hours hiking the south side of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

Most of the gulls were in the cove at mile 2.5.  At least 600+ Ring-billed, a dozen Herring, and two dozen California were in the mix.

Eventually we observed two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Thayer's Gull.  No Gull looked like one of the reported Iceland Gulls.

A Bald Eagle perched in one of the tall cottonwoods below the dam.

Returning to Denver

January 6, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After a couple of hours sleep, Terry and I headed down Phantom Canyon.  Last week's Northern Saw-whet Owl was not found this morning.

Last week's sighting of a Spotted Owl was not repeated either.

Early in the morning, we observed three species of Rosy Finches in Victor and then headed for home.

After dropping Terry off, I passed by the Platte River Birding Area on my way home.  I was not able to find a reported Eurasian Wigeon (turned out the birder recanted the sighting).

A walk from 74th avenue to 88th avenue found the pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes in the open water at the north end of the Northern West Gravel Lakes.

No Short-eared Owls were discovered tonight along the DIA Owl Loop.

Trip to Pueblo and Canon City

January 5, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed south to Pueblo and Fremont Counties for a couple of days. 

We felt it a good sign when the Colorado Springs (El Paso) Acorn Woodpecker was found in less than 10 minutes.

Fortune continued as half a dozen White-throated Swifts were observed flying below the Pueblo Reservoir dam (Pueblo) when we arrived!

Eventually we found a Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Bonaparte's Gull.

We continued on to Canon City (Fremont). 

Thanks to directions from Dale Adams, the Winter Wren was found in less than a 20 minute walk down the Arkansas Riverwalk trail.  The resident Western Screech-Owl continues near the Raynolds Parking Area.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was still at Lakeside Cemetery; the Williamson's Sapsucker was not found.

One of the Rufous-crowned Sparrows was flying around Tunnel Drive when we stopped (another less than 10 minute search)!

The Black Phoebe fluttered about Florence River Park.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Birding Day 4 of 2016

January 4, 2016

Shortly after midnight, I drove to Rampart Range Road and Highway 67 (Douglas County).  It was cold; fortunately, winds were calm, unusual for the mountains.  Eventually I would find both a Northern Pygmy-Owl & Northern Saw-whet Owl along Hwy 67!  Feeling good and not tired I decided to head up to Larimer County:

Day four of the New Year was a good one as I found all my target birds and more!  Temperatures barely reached into the high 30s; winds fortunately were calm most of the day.

It was a "cool" 19 degrees at 8:00 am when I stood at the "Yellow-throated Warbler" house.  The homeowner said that the bird had visited yesterday at 7:00 am, but was not yet seen today, looking good for me?

Dale and Joel Adams from Florence showed up around 9:00 am. The bird finally made an appearance at 10:39 am, for 15 seconds.  Fortunately, it came back after ten minutes.

Others said that 10:00 am was a good time to see it now.  Others thought Noon; in any case, it obviously varies.  Got to see and photograph the bird!

Next, I joined Georgia Doyle and her friend at the Larimer County Landfill. One has to check in at the office to obtain access.  This can take awhile, as birders are not priority; however, it is nice that birders are allowed to look at the hundreds of gulls at the dumpsite.

Eventually we observed an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, juvenile Glaucous Gull and a first winter California Gull among hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.  The 4th cycle Glaucous-winged x Herring Gull stood out in the crowd of Ring-billeds.  A possible young Thayer's Gull was also in the mix.

Thanks to Georgia Doyle for some excellent directions for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Swamp Sparrow.  I stopped at Hilltop Drive but missed the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker then continued to Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.

The American Woodcock was easy to find at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area because several birders had scopes on it!  A second American Woodcock had been found by Cole Wild; regrettable several of us searched for it unsuccessfully.

I then returned to the "favorite tree" of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  This time the bird was indeed there!

With an hour of sunlight left, I went to River's Edge Natural Area.  The Swamp Sparrow was cooperative and exactly where Georgia had explained!

I walked the Big Thompson River at Taft Avenue.  The previously reported Eastern Screech-Owl was not found and the only target bird I missed today.

On the way home, I stopped at Barr Lake (Adams County).  Calm winds made a walk below the dam quite pleasant.  No Long-eared Owls were heard tonight.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Birding Around Denver, Day Three 2016

January 3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After two hours sleep, I headed to Lakewood (Jefferson County).  Within minutes of arriving at 2695 Newland, the Carolina Wren flew out and searched for food under the suet feeder at the south side of the house!

Next, I drove over to 314 DeFrance Court in Golden (Jefferson).  The Common Redpoll visited the thistle feeder in the front yard within minutes of my arrival.  I missed getting a photo and had to wait over an hour for it to return!

Meanwhile the Harris's Sparrow visited the front porch of Ira Sander's house at least twice.

In between, two 20 minute visits by Sharp-shinned Hawks scattered birds for quite awhile.  Eventually they would return.

Birds observed included one Western Scrub-Jay, one male Red Crossbill, a dozen Eurasian Collared-Doves, a flock of eleven Black-billed Magpies (came for a drink of water), Black-capped Chickadees, House Finches, one female Cassin's Finch, and half a dozen Lesser Goldfinches.

Afterwards, I stopped at Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area (Adams) and walked east to the I76 bridges and beyond to the bike footbridge.  The American Dipper was popping in and out of the rapids just east of the footbridge.

Some daylight remained and I drove to Denver City Park (Denver County).  One of the previously reported Greater White-fronted Geese was near the 17th Street corner of the park.  Most of the White-cheeked Geese were Canada Geese; at least two were Cackling Geese.

I searched for one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls without success.  Then drove over to a friend's home in Park Hill and picked up my Eastern Screech-Owl for 2016!

Another enjoyable birding day, what a great winter day it was.  Winds less than 5 mph; temperatures reached the high 40s.

First Days of 2016

January 1-3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

January 1

Winds were 6 mph today; temperatures barely reached 30 degrees.

I left home an hour before sunrise to drive the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County).  The plan was to sit along Gun Club Road about a mile south of 112th avenue.  There was a good chance that my first bird of 2016 would be a Northern Harrier or Short-eared Owl.

Almost as if I ordered it, a Short-eared Owl flew down third creek at Gun Club Road (Denver County).  The owl was great first bird of the year!

I picked up Horned Larks and one Lapland Longspur for my New Year list and then drove over to the South Platte Birding Area at 88th avenue (Adams).

Thirteen duck species were added to the day list including a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes.

I headed north to Boulder County, first stop Teller Lake # 5 windbreak.  The Golden-crowned Sparrow appeared after a 20 minute wait.  Song Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starlings, American Robins, Northern Flickers and a Great-tailed Grackle were also observed.

The legion overlook at Valmont Reservoir (off Arapahoe Road) was especially productive.  With a help of a scope, a Tundra Swan, Common Loon, Lesser Black-backed Gull & Thayer's Gull were listed!

Then I headed to Gould and the Colorado State Forest.  Behind the Visitor's Center I found Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy Finches, a White-throated Sparrow, Gray Jay, Pine Siskins, a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, Black-capped and Mountain Chickadees and plenty of Dark-eyed Juncos.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed from across highway 14, north of the Visitor's Center.

After dark, a walk about 0.2 miles either side of Cameron Pass found a Boreal Owl on the Jackson County side (west side).

It was a satisfying first day of 2016!

January 2

Day two of 2016 was just as interesting as New Year's Day.  I drove Jackson County Roads 26 & 26b about an hour before sunrise.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were seen crossing CR 26b (just before sunrise and 0.1 miles from CR 26).

I drove to Steamboat Springs and drove the neighborhoods on the east side of town.  Five Sharp-tailed Grouse were found along Angler Drive (one of their wintering grounds).

Two Evening Grosbeaks, more Pine Siskins, chickadees, American Crows, Common Ravens and Robins were here.

A flock of ten-twelve Cedar Waxwings were along the Yampa River near downtown.  I checked the other two "roosting" spots of Sharp-tailed Grouse without finding additional birds.  They do tend to wander during the day.

A stop at the Rabbit Ears Pass maintenance shed road added a female American Three-toed Woodpecker, eight Red Crossbills and additional Pine Siskins to my trip list.  Misses included White-winged Crossbills.

After dark, I Boreal Owl responded to my recordings at one of the four GPS waypoints that have been successful in past years.
 January 3

I started back to Denver around midnight with the plan to detour up Rist Canyon (Larimer County).  Unfortunately, I could not find the Northern Saw-whet Owl and Northern Pygmy-Owl found last week.