Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Slow Birding Afternoon

March 29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I only had a few minutes to checkout Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) while out doing chores today.  It was raining around 5:00 pm.

Like yesterday, only a few Ring-billed Gulls were on the southwest marina.

No uncommon and few Waterbirds at all were on the lake.  Only a couple of Red-tailed Hawks were along Lakeview Road as I crossed the Park.

One adult Bald Eagle was at the Campgrounds.  Do not know if it stays for the night.

Weld County to Arapahoe County to Denver County

March 28, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I drove to Weld County to see if any Mountain Plovers have arrived yet on a friend's ranch.  None was found.

We stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) and relocated two Long-eared Owls along the western windbreak. 

When we drove to the southern parking area to check on birds around Pond 4, a Sage Thrasher was perched on the fence.  Nothing uncommon was found today.

For those wanting to visit, the northern half of the Wildlife Area (north of Hwy 52) is closed from April 1 to July 15.

While out doing chores in the afternoon, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Temperatures were in the high 40s; winds measured at 12+ mph.

Only a couple of Ring-billed Gulls stood on the southwest marina.  Eventually I would circle the whole park and not find any additional gulls.  Where were they today?

I received an email from Becky Campbell and drove the short distance to her home.  The Varied Thrush made an appearance within 30 minutes of my arrival.

Passing Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home, I again found few gulls.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop relocated the two Burrowing Owls at Trussville Road & 114th Avenue.

While search for Short-eared Owls along Gun Club Road south of 112th avenue (Denver) I found one Burrowing Owl at the small prairie dog village about a mile south of that intersection.

No Burrowing Owls have arrived at the W. Cargo/Third Creek prairie dog village yet.

No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

A Great Birding Day in southwest Denver

March 27, 2016

A fantastic spring day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached the middle 40s; winds were 12 mph.

After a couple of hours search the Sagebrush Sparrow found this morning by Joey Kellner was relocated in the rocks at the end of the peninsula at the Handicapped Fisher person Dock.

While searching for the sparrow, we found a Sage Thrasher between the peninsula and the south marina.  Mountain Bluebirds, two male Western Bluebirds, and many Dark-eyed Juncos were south of the marina.

Earlier I stopped at South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson Counties).  The three Long-tailed Ducks were captures in one camera frame.  They wee in Arapahoe County and did not wander to Jefferson County during my visit.

On the trip home, I only had a few minutes to search for the Sagebrush Sparrow reported by Bez Bezuidenhout at Belmar Historic Park.  I could not find it.

The Burrowing Owls were still at Trussville & 114th avenue when I passed by the intersection.

Photos of the Sagebrush Sparrow & Sage Thrasher are on the CoBus photo library:

A Shorten Grouse Trip

March 22-26, 2016

Claudia Green and I ran a shortened grouse trip.  We calculated our stops to bird between the many snowstorms predicted and arriving in Colorado.  Fortunately, we were quite successful in missing snow.  Back home in Denver, the city was hit with 11+ inches of the stuff.

March 22

Turbulent skies loomed as we drove west on I70.  Winds were mild (16+ mph) at Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  Over the years, I have searched for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass more than 200 times.  The many failures were quite discerning, while the dozens of successes exhilarating.

After searching for an hour, I resorted to a method thought up four or five years ago.  I offered the snowboarders and skiers $25 for pointing out one that we can see with our binoculars.  It worked, within 20 minutes a shout from a snowboarder got us our Ptarmigan (below the western summit)!

A quick stop in Silverthorne added 3 species of Rosy Finches, Mountain & Black-capped Chickadees, Gray Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, Pine Siskins and three species of nuthatches to our day list.

Four Barrow's Goldeneyes were swimming around the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit).

One of the highlights of the day was a Common Redpoll visiting a feeder along 9th street in Kremmling (Grand County).

Our birding day ended at the Jackson County Road 26b Greater Sage-Grouse Lek.  Light snow was coming down on the snow covered field.  Two male Greater Sage-Grouse came out of the sage briefly; they did not dance/display.

No owls (Boreal or Northern Pygmy) called when we stopped at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass.

March 23, 2016

We parked at the Twenty Road Leks (Routt County) just before sunrise. In my experience, Sharp-tailed Grouse come to their leks mostly after sunrise.  We were not disappointed.  Six Sharp-tailed Grouse flew in from east of Routt 27 Road and landed on the leks west of the road.  Shortly thereafter, they ran around performing their ritual displays.  As far as we could tell, no females appeared.

Anyone know why the 20 Road Leks are on the local 27 Road?  Leave a comment to this post, please.

With the prediction of a snowstorm, we quickly left Routt and Moffat Counties and continued to Rifle then west to Mesa County.  The area was hit with snow only a few hours after our departure.

One Chukar responded to my recording played at the large parking area (by the second pipe gate) in Coal Canyon (Mesa County).

We then headed up the Grand Mesa (Mesa) figuring that snow would turn us around before we drove too far up the Mesa.

Eventually we relocated Northern Pygmy-Owl (Hwy 65 & old Grand Mesa Road) and Northern Saw-whet Owl (switchbacks to the top of the Mesa) with the help of previously recorded GPS Waypoints.

A Boreal Owl called at our second pullover stop south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

The Northern Pygmy-Owls around Powderhorn Ski Area did not call tonight.  Snowfall started to increase and we abandoned the Grand Mesa.

March 24, 2016

Our main goal was to bird the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park at sunset.  Claudia and I try to hit and many birding locations in Mesa County as time allowed.

Baxter Pass Road is always interesting this time of year.  We found two Sagebrush Sparrows, three Sage Thrashers and a Long-eared Owl (Marcus Lane and I first found on 3/15).

One of the four Black Phoebes near the Grand Junction Audubon Society's office was hawking insects when we stopped.  The Western Screech-Owl at Grand Junction Wildlife Area was cooperative and out sunning itself when we arrived!

We had plenty of time and decided to drive to Glade Park.  Seven of the previously reported Lewis's Woodpeckers were relocated along 16.5 Road.

Those sightings allowed us to skip Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta County, Lewis's Woodpeckers) and Escalante Canyon (Delta, Black Phoebe) and we continued to Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park.

Regrettably, the South Rim Drive is closed at the Visitor's Center this time of year.  The best location to find Dusky Grouse is the most western 1/2 mile of the drive.  That is about 12 miles from the Visitor's Center; definitely it is too far to snowshoe (for us anyway).

We drove back and forth between the entrance kiosk and the Visitor's Center.  On the second pass, Claudia found a Dusky Grouse walking along side of the road!

March 25, 2016

We drove down Gunnison 887 Road just before sunrise.  Three Gunnison Sage-Grouse were observed walking across the road toward their lek!  We continued east instead of waiting for additional birds.

A detour north from Poncha Springs toward Buena Vista found a small flock of 10+ Pinyon Jays about 0.5 miles south of Buena Vista (Chaffee).  We turned back and took Highway 50 toward Pueblo.

A stop at the Monarch Pass Summit pullover (Chaffee) is a good location to find American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  This morning we observed males on both the north and south sides of Highway 50!

Predictions for a major snowstorm to hit Colorado in two days changed our plans to leisurely bird our way down to Springfield, CO and Cottonwood Canyon (Baca County).

Instead, we decided on a plan that I have done five times in the past few years.  It is possible with a 700 mile drive to see Gunnison Sage-Grouse in the morning, see Lesser Prairie-Chickens at sunset in Baca County and continue on to Wray (Yuma County) to see Greater Prairie-Chickens the next morning.  It is a long day; however, allows us to pick up a day on a grouse trip.

A quick detour at Swallows Road at Pueblo West (Pueblo) added a Curve-billed Thrasher to our trip list.

We arrived at the Lesser Prairie-Chicken about 30 minutes before sunset.  No Lesser Prairie-Chickens, it appeared that our plan had failed.  However, ten minutes after sunset, a male Lesser Prairie-Chicken came out from nowhere.  He looked around for 10 minutes and promptly disappeared.

We then made the 300 mile drive to Wray.

March 26, 2016

At first light, Claudia and I parked at the Yuma County Road 45 Lek.  Three Greater Prairie-Chickens were performing their mating dance when we arrived!

The snowstorm was soon to arrive and we headed back to Denver.

After dropping Claudia off in Centennial, I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Glaucous Gull was back on the southwest marina; no Lesser Black-backed Gulls were around this afternoon.

Two Day Trip to Southeastern Colorado

March 19-20, 2016

March 19

Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I decided to try for the Black Phoebes reported by Van Truan in Bent County.  Unfortunately we never found public access to the location.  We continued to bird in southeastern Colorado for a couple of days.

At a private yard in Las Animas (Bent) it only took 20 minutes to see the Curve-billed Thrasher & Red-bellied Woodpecker.

We searched John Martin Reservoir (Bent) for previously reported Lesser Black-backed Gull and four Common Loons.  One Common Loon was relocated.

It had been six days since a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was reported at the Hasty Cemetery.  It was not relocated.  A Barn Owl was found not far from Hasty.

Our last bird of the day was a Western Screech-Owl in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  It called shortly after dusk near the Campgrounds area.

March 20

Our birding day started in southeastern Colorado at a Lek that Terry Michaels and I discovered earlier in the month.  Shortly after civil twilight, two Lesser Prairie-Chickens danced on the lek. 

I am holding back directions until after the lekking season is over.  Too many leks have been abandoned partially/totally due to human interaction.  I am controlling disturbance as best as possible.

We walked around one of my favorite "sparrow spots" in Baca County for almost two hours.  It is the field north of the entrance to the old/defunct Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek along Baca County Road G.

With much patience, we relocated a Cassin's Sparrow found by Terry Michaels and myself back on March 10.  The highlight was our first Lark Bunting on the year!  A Burrowing Owl continued 0.3 miles east of this field.

A return to Cottonwood Canyon added a Greater Roadrunner, Eastern Phoebe, two Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Chihuahuan Ravens, Bewick's Wren and Cooper's Hawk to our trip list.

A stop at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) found a Hermit Thrush, Barn Owl & Northern Mockingbird. 

We passed through Lincoln County on the trip back to Denver.  Both Chestnut-collared Longspurs and McCown's Longspurs were located in the County Road 41 area!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Barr Lake Area

Terry Michaels

I scoped Barr Lake for a couple of hours.  Hundreds if not thousands of Common Merganers were out there.  Also, I never saw so many Red breasted Mergansers in one place before.

A Common Loon was very difficult to pick out in the many mergansers.  It has been around for several weeks now.

Highlight was a probable Neotropic Cormorant.  It was with several Double crested Cormorants in the northeast corner of the reservoir.  Before I could walk down to mile 7.0, they flew to the southwest corner.
I was able to watch them flying for a good 20 seconds as they circled overhead.  The "Neotropic" was much smaller than the Double crested.  It appeared to have a small head and a very long tail.  Underside was dark, much darker than the Double crested birds.  I could not see the face well enough to see any white around bill.  Would like confirmation but do not know how often it is close for viewing.

The Barn Owl was back in the owl box at the banding station area.  Great Horned Owls were up the Pioneer Trail.  At least two Long-eared Owl are still in the windbreak near the entrance.

Two Burrowing Owls were at Trussville & 114th avenue this afternoon.  No additional Burrowing Owls were down Gun Club Road or the prairie dog town at 3rd creek.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

March 18, 2016

Eastern Denver received 4-6 inches of snow last night.  High temperatures today reach high 30s; winds were 6-8 mph at 3:00 pm.

I managed to stop at a couple of Arapahoe Reservoirs while out doing chores.  Few gulls and waterfowl were at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  The Bald Eagle count was 9 (7 of which were adults).

Quincy Reservoir was missed as I detoured around to eat lunch.  I stopped at Aurora Reservoir and hiked around for a couple of hours.  It was snowing at 3:00 pm.

Few birds were observed from the swim beach parking area.  About 600 gulls were at the scuba beach diving area (Northeast corner of the lake).  Then I made the long walk to the northwest corner of the dam.

Four thousand+ gulls were on the cement dam.  When I got to the dam tower, I sat down and scoped the gulls.  A Glaucous Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were among the many gulls (also Ring-billed, dozens of California, two Herring and two Franklin's).  One Common Loon was swimming around the northwest corner of the lake!

A male Mountain Bluebird hawked insects at the archery parking area.

The Glaucous & Lesser Black-backed Gulls are most likely the two that are reported now and then at Cherry Creek Reservoir (9 miles to the west-northwest).  I have never heard of the two species reported at both lakes on the same day.

My birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop.  The lone Burrowing Owl is still at the southwest corner of Trussville & 114th avenue.  My hope that the inclement would bring out an early Short-eared Owl hunting for food.  That did not happen.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Birding Some Lakes Around Denver

March 17, 2016

I birded the Audubon Nature Center area of Chatfield State Park (Jefferson/Douglas) area for several hours searching unsuccessfully for the Winter Wren reported yesterday.

A walk to Kingfisher Bridge and back did not find any owls other than a Great Horned Owl.  A Spotted Towhee and Gray Catbird were the only other uncommon sightings.

I missed the Glaucous and Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  An Osprey flew by along the swim beach side.

By now, the weather was turning uncomfortable.  Winds rose to 18 mph; it started to snow.  The three Common Loons reported yesterday at Aurora Reservoir were not found.  However, I did not make the long hike to the northwest corner of the lake where they were last seen.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was off the swim beach.

The Burrowing Owl was out behind the chain link fence at the corner of Trussville Road and 114th Avenue.  No additional Burrowing Owls were found yet.

No Short-eared Owls came out to hunt in the falling snow.

Western Half of My Grouse Trip

March 14-16, 2016

March 14

Marcus Lane and I finished the western half of my Grouse Tour.  Itinerary was based on current weather conditions across Colorado.  We were quite fortunate to miss several snowstorms blowing across the State!  Winds were 18-28 mph most days.  As luck would have it our target birds stayed put.

Marcus had to return home on Thursday.  We skipped many good birding locations to use our time efficiently.

Our trip was timed to be at Cameron Pass four hours before sunrise.  We located a Boreal Owl just west of the Summit and continued west.

Thirty minutes before sunrise, we arrived at the Jackson County Road 26 Greater Sage-Grouse Leks.  Temperatures were in the high 20s.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse walked across CR 26b.  They did not display; perhaps discouraged by the cold and snowy morning.

A stop at the Maintenance Shed Road on Rabbit Ears Pass added both a female American Three-toed Woodpecker and eight Red Crossbills to our trip list.  Unfortunately, no White-winged Crossbills were encountered.

We continued on to Steamboat Springs (Routt) and Anglers Drive.  Eventually one Sharp-tailed Grouse was observed crossing the road and dropping down to the western draw.

Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were found on the Yampa River (north of the library).

A drive up Routt County Road 44 did not find any Rosy Finches.

We rushed out of Routt & Moffat Counties and down to Rifle, then Grand Junction.  A major snowstorm was predicted for both counties.  Note: we missed the storm by a few hours!

March 15

We arrived on the Grand Mesa (Mesa) just before midnight.  Shortly thereafter, we heard Boreal Owls at Spruce Grove Campgrounds and the first pullover to the south.   A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard at the Powderhorn Ski Area.  We were able to get a brief look at it.

After a few hours of needed sleep, Marcus and I hit many birding locations around Grand Junction today.  Winds again were 20+ mph.  At least, it did not snow.

Our first stop was Coal Canyon.  Two Chukar were again found on the hillside southwest of the large parking area at the second pipe gate.

The Western Screech-Owl was out of his tree when we made a brief stop before continuing to Baxter Pass (Mesa).

Baxter Pass added two Sagebrush Sparrows (near the old corral) and a Long-eared Owl near the major road intersection.

We continued by way of Brewster's Ridge to return to Interstate 70.  Another Sagebrush Sparrow and two Sage Thrashers were found along the way.

Finally we left Grand Junction (skipping the Colorado National Monument) and ended driving west up Escalante Canyon.

While additional Chukar were a possibility, none was found.  The Black Phoebe was relocated near Pinnacle Rock (Stevens:Michaels, 3/2). 

We continued to the Captain Smith camp to view a little history.  Rumor has it the Butch Cassidy gang had their hidden camp here.  Three Lewis's Woodpeckers were found at Escalante Forks. 

An hour before sunset we drove to the Visitor's Center at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  The south rim drive is closed here (unfortunately as the best Dusky Grouse sites are near the west end of the drive).

We drove back and forth to the entrance kiosk and Visitor's Center twice.  On the second return trip, a male Dusky Grouse was found walking along the road perhaps 200 yards west of the Campgrounds entrance.

March 16

Marcus and I were at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek an hour before sunrise.  Instead of parking we continued north up the road.  On the drive back to the Lek, we found two Gunnison Sage-Grouse crossing 887 road (about 100 yards north of the Lek parking area).

We continued to Canon City with a detour to Buena Vista.  A flock of 40 Pinyon Jays was west of Hwy 285, just south of the City.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was found along Brookside Avenue in Buena Vista.

A quick stop at the Monarch Pass pullover found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming on the south side of Hwy 50.

When we arrived in Canon City, the Western Screech-Owl was out of his tree at Raynolds Avenue (Fremont).  A Black Phoebe was later found east of the Sells Pond parking area.

We could not find any Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers at Lakeside Cemetery or Rouse Park.  A friend of mine has nesting Curve-billed Thrashers in his yard.  We were lucky to see one of them on a nest.

We ended our birding day and trip with a drive up Phantom Canyon.  Regrettably, no Spotted or Northern Saw-whet Owls called this night.  Winds were over 20 mph.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Search for Swamp Sparrows

March 13, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Another nice Colorado winter day.  Temperatures reached the middle 60s; winds were less than 6 mph.

I went out looking for Swamp Sparrows at various cattail marshes this afternoon.  None was at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), Barr Lake (Adams) and Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe). 

Success finally when I stopped at Beebe Seep Canal (Adams).  A Swamp Sparrow was singing when I stopped at the canal located along 152nd avenue, just east of Picadilly Road.  It was about 20 yards north of 152nd avenue.  The sparrow flew up once and landed in the cattails just west of the first bushed north of 152nd and east of the canal.  I could not get it to fly up a second time.

A Wilson's Snipe flew up from south of 152nd Avenue.  It walked out of the weeds and confirmed that it was not an American Woodcock.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir, Song Sparrows and Lincoln's Sparrow were seen from the bridge over the canal at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands. 

Another Lincoln's Sparrow was seen in the cattails at mile 0.5 at Aurora Reservoir. A couple of Song Sparrows and a small flock of five American Tree Sparrows were in the same area.

The Burrowing Owl was again seen inside the chain link fence at Trussville Street and 114th Avenue (Denver). 

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight along the DIA Owl Loop.  No additional Burrowing Owls were found around the various prairie dog villages on the Loop.

I did not find the yesterday's reported Swamp Sparrow at 112th avenue.

Arapahoe County Lakes and the DIA Owl Loop

March 12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I stopped at several lakes while out doing chores today. 

The Glaucous Gull was on the southwest marina when we passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's website (photo library link).  http://coloradobirdingsociety.net

An American Pipit was walking on the rocks at the Lake Loop.

We joined Bill Cryder at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and walked down to the south side of the lake.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was in a group of 300+ gulls at mile 3.0.

In the afternoon, we searched for Eastern Screech-Owls in Arapahoe County.  One was relocated at Ketring Park.  A second was relocated along Highline Canal.  A third was found at a private yard in Centennial, CO.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) this evening.  We did see the Burrowing Owl inside the chain link fence at Trussville Street & 114th Avenue.

Another Trip to Loveland Pass and Back

March 11, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Marcus Lane and I only had the morning to bird.  We drove to Loveland Pass before sunrise.  Construction causes hours of delays after 8:00 am.

At sunrise, we searched for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Summit).  It was quite cold; however, winds were mild at this time of day.  In a few hours, winds could rise to 20-40 mph.  One bird was found east of the first pullover west of Hwy 6, south of the Summit.

A detour to Mt Evans Campgrounds (Clear Creek) found an American Three-toed Woodpecker.  A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was found at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).

I ended my day at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Nothing uncommon was found on Lake Ladora or Lower Derby Lake.  The highlight was running into Don Beltz who appears to be keeping track of the roosting Bald Eagles!

Brief Grouse Trip to the Eastern Plains

March 9-10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Marcus Lane and I started out for a short eastern plains' Grouse Trip.  He had to be back in Denver on Friday night for a wedding rehearsal dinner.

March 9

We arrive at the Yuma County 45 Road Lek about an hour before sunrise.  Shortly after sunrise, three Greater Prairie-Chickens were observed dancing on the lek.

This lek is on private land and observed from a County Road.  The birds are quite far from CR 45.  They can be identified with a good scope.

Later birding around Wray, we found a few nice birds.  A male Northern Cardinal and a Marsh Wren were found at Stalker Pond.

The resident Barn Owl was observed in the windbreak along the road into the Wray Fishing Unit.

Sparrows were scarce.  Song Sparrows were the only species encountered on this trip.

Beecher Island was slow.  No uncommon birds were found.

Bonny Reservoir (now Republican Wildlife Area, Yuma County) was a little more interesting.

Our second male Northern Cardinal of the day was in the firs around the old boat ramp at Wagon Wheel.

Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers wandered along CR 4 at Hale Ponds.  Eastern Bluebirds were below the Bonny Reservoir dam.

I managed to entice an Eastern Screech-Owl out of his tree north of the Republican River at Hale Ponds.

We had a long drive to Springfield and Comanche National Grasslands (Baca). 

We arrived at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) at 2 A.M.  A calling Western Screech-Owl surprised us at the Carrizo Creek Campgrounds.

March 10

Marcus and I continued to Comanche National Grasslands southeast of Campo.  We parked and caught a couple of hours of sleep.  Terry Michaels and I discovered this Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek a few weeks ago.

Marcus and I were fortunate to see two male Lesser Prairie-Chickens performing their mating dance (just before sunrise).  They could be heard a good 30 minutes prior.

Afterwards we stopped at the gravel road that goes north across Baca County Road G from the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek.  A Burrowing Owl had been seen about 0.1 miles east of here.

We scoped up the entrance road to the old lek; however, no sparrows were observed.  Then we hiked the field on the north side of CR G for about an hour before finding our target bird.

A male Cassin's Sparrow performed its mating flight!  It beats the old "first date sighting" by two days.  the 3/12/2015 sighting was in the same field (Stevens & Ehlmann).

Other early dates include: 3/16/2002 at the Campo Lek (Andrew Spencer); 3/17/2012 at the Campo Lek (Bryan Ehlmann).

Marcus and I returned to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) and hiked from the Campgrounds to 1.4 miles east and back.  The highlight was an Eastern Phoebe along Carrizo Creek.

Other birds found included 4 Rufous-crowned Sparrows (rocky hillside at 1.4 mile mark), half a dozen Canyon Towhees, Chihuahuan Ravens, one Lewis's Woodpecker, Spotted Towhees, Greater Roadrunner (heard only), Wild Turkey (20+), Wood Ducks, Bewick's Wrens, and Canyon Wrens.

A male and female Ladder-backed Woodpecker were found up the draw at 0.8 miles west of the Campgrounds.

Misses: no warblers, buntings or goatsuckers.

We returned to Denver by way of Highway 71 and Hwy 70 (not many birding spots along the way).

Fruitful Trip to Pawnee National Grasslands

March 8, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I decided on exploring Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) today.  We enjoyed another fantastic winter day.  Temperatures almost reached 70 degrees; winds were less than 8 mph.

We passed Trussville Road & 114th avenue on the trip north.  The Burrowing Owl was still behind the chain link fence at the southwest corner.

Two Sharp-tailed Grouse were found near Glover (previously reported location).

The highlight of the day was a lone Mountain Plover on one of its traditional nesting sites!

We also found a couple of McCown's Longspurs and half a dozen Lapland Longspurs.

A Short-eared Owl was found on a fence post along Weld County Road 52, north of Lower Latham Reservoir. 

No additional Short-eared Owls appeared at sunset on the south side of Lower Latham Reservoir. We did see a Marsh Wren in the south side cattails.

To Loveland Pass and Back

March 7, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Two out of state birders and I searched unsuccessfully for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass.  Our four hour search could not locate one of the elusive birds.

On the way back to Denver, we stopped at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).  No Williamson's Sapsuckers were found.  Three species of nuthatches (White breasted, Red-breasted & Pygmy) and two species of Chickadees were found.

Jefferson County Parks

March 6, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Two out of state birders and I arrived at Reynolds Park (Jefferson) about an hour before sunrise.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called from the western (larger) parking area.

An American Dipper was found along the South Platte River as we drove to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).

We had to climb to the Parkview and Strawberry Jack trail intersection before running into an American Three-toed Woodpecker.  A male was 20 yards below the intersection.

We searched half a dozen spots where Northern Pygmy-Owls have been found in the past; without success.

Barr Lake & DIA Owl Loop

March 5, 2016

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, I drove over to Barr Lake (Adams) to test out my new spotting scope.  The Common Loon continued in the extreme southwest corner of the lake.  I would not have been able to see it with my old scope.

The Barn Owl was not around the banding station. Three Long-eared Owls continue near the entrance windbreak.

The Burrowing Owl continued at Trussville Road & 114th avenue (inside the chain link fence).  No Short-eared Owls to report this evening.

Abbreviated Grouse Trip

February 29-March 4, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I made an abbreviated Grouse Trip.

February 29

Terry Michaels and I headed up to Cameron Pass shortly after midnight.  Boreal Owls were heard within 0.2 miles east and west of the Summit.

At first light, we were parked at Jackson County Road 26b.  Three Greater Sage-Grouse finally walked from the south side of the road to the lek on the north side.  It was our first display birds of 2016.

Later, we stopped at a friend's home in Steamboat Springs and observed two Sharp-tailed Grouse lingering in her yard.  Eventually they crossed Anglers Drive and walked down to Spring Creek.

No Waxwings or Barrow's Goldeneyes were found along the Yampa River trail during a three hour hike.

We backtracked to Rabbit Ears Pass (Routt); unfortunately, no American Three-toed Woodpeckers or Crossbills were found this afternoon.

No Boreal or Northern Pygmy-Owls called after dark.

March 1

After a couple of hours sleep, Terry and I drove to the 20 Mile Road Leks (Routt).  About 10 minutes before sunrise, four Sharp-tailed Grouse flew from the east side of 27 road to the leks just west of the road!

Note: We have not been able to understand why the leks are "20 Mile Road" leks when they are located along 27 Road?

After looks at the Sharp-tailed Grouse, we headed to the 80 Route Leks.  Birds usually display for quite a while after sunrise; this allows time to visit both areas.

Snowdrifts did not allow us to drive north to the old Jimmy Dunn State Trust Lands.  We scoped the hills from the 2nd cattle guard and could see Greater Sage-Grouse in the distance.

Sharp-tailed Grouse were never observed; however, we could hear quite a few performing their "mating dance".

While watching the Greater Scaup, Terry turned around and whispered, Dusky Grouse.  The resident Dusky Grouse popped out of the bushed near the 2nd cattle guard and boomed!

After breakfast in Craig, and a detour to the Yampa River & Hwy 13 (no Barrow's Goldeneyes or Long-tailed Duck around), we continued West to Oxbow State Trust Lands.

The Trust Lands close after February 28/29.  However, we scoped the land to the south of the parking area and found both a Sagebrush Sparrow and two Sage Thrashers.

No Black-throated Sparrows were found, or expected this early in the year.

We returned to Craig and searched Loudy Simpson Park (Moffat).  Few birds were around.

Then we headed north to the Timberlake Leks.  Shortly after sunset, two Greater Sage-Grouse walked out of the sage and displayed.  We did not hang around until dark; instead drove toward Rifle (Garfield).

March 2

Terry caught from sleep while I drove to the Grand Mesa (Mesa County).  Today was one long day, but quite successful.

We found Boreal Owls at two pullovers south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds (Mesa).  Our trek was from Powderhorn Ski Area to the Grand Mesa Visitor's Center.

While playing Boreal Owl recording at the Spruce Grove Campgrounds, a Northern Saw-whet Owl called.  Unfortunately, we could not locate it even though the owl appeared to be close.

An hour before sunrise we walked around the Powderhorn Ski Area.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found after sunset.  It could be that it was too cold and we did not wait for the day to warm up.

Our next stop was Coal Canyon (at Cameo).  Luck was with us here.  A Chukar was calling when we stepped out of the car!  We finally saw it by scoping the hillside southwest of the big parking area at the second pipe gate!

Still no Black-throated Sparrows were found.  March is too early to expect them.

We decided to skip the Colorado National Monument (Mesa) and instead drive the Brewster's Ridge area.  Armed with GPS waypoints from previous birders, we eventually found three Sagebrush Sparrows from the Colorado State Line and Brewster's Ridge proper.

Later, we relocated the Long-eared Owl that the Vollmars had found on 2/28! (They were at their traditional nesting spot).

We detoured down Escalante Canyon (Delta/Mesa) to search for additional Chukar and Black Phoebe.  One Black Phoebe was along Escalante Creek (near Pinnacle Rock).

Again with the help of GPS waypoints, we relocated two Lewis's Woodpeckers (Escalante Forks) and four Pinyon Jays.  No additional Chukar was found.

We detoured over to Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta).  No shorebirds or Sandhill Crane was around yet.  We hoped for an early swallow (none found).  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were found along M Road when we drove back to Delta.

The Western Screech-Owl was not around at its G50 Road nesting.  We headed to Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).

The South Rim Road was closed at the Visitor's Center.  It appears that it will continue to be closed for weeks.  The western end of the drive is the most successful location to find Dusky Grouse.

Instead, we parked at the intersection of the South Rim Drive and the road to the ranger's home.  About 5 minutes after sunset, one male Dusky Grouse walked down to the main road.  He walked around for 10 minutes, however, never displayed.

March 3

Terry Michaels and I drove CR 887.  Two Gunnison Sage-Grouse were observed north of the Waunita Hot Springs Lek.  More birds should appear later in the season.  We could not determine if they will use the old Waunita Hot Springs Lek this year.

We stopped at the Monarch Summit Pullover (Chaffee).  The area is always a great location to find American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  It did not disappoint today.  Male American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found drumming on both the north and south side of Highway 50!

While we were running down the Three-toed Woodpecker on the south side, a flock of seven Gray-crowned Rosy Finches flew overhead.

The Curve-billed Thrashers that nest in Canon City were not found today.

Fortunately, we did find a Curve-billed Thrasher on the road into Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont).  Other birds observed included a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Juniper Titmice and half a dozen Bushtits.

After dark, we found a Northern Saw-whet Owl at Juno Oro (Phantom Canyon Road).  Then we relocated the Spotted Owl farther north up Phantom Canyon.  It was calling when we stopped.  NOTE: recordings are not allowed to be played for this species).

March 4

After a couple of hours sleep in Canon City, Terry & I explored Beaver Creek Wildlife Area.  Highlight was a calling Northern Pygmy-Owl.  A flock of six-eight Wild Turkeys walked around the northern parking area.

We returned to Canon City for breakfast.  Afterwards we stopped at the Arkansas Riverwalk (Fremont).  The Western Screech-Owl near the Raynolds Avenue parking area was sunning itself when we arrived.

We decided to skip the drive to Pueblo and instead returned to Denver by way of Highway 115.

Big Johnson Reservoir (El Paso) was too far to the east.  We continued to Denver to avoid as much traffic as possible.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Hello birders,

Dave King and I searched for the Surf Scoter at Rocky Mountain Arsenal this afternoon.  It was not on Lake Ladora or Lower Derby Lake.  Winds were 18 mph which made scoping the lakes difficult.

Later we walked the Legacy trail and found three Long eared Owls and a Barn Owl!