Friday, April 29, 2016

Unsuccessful Search for a Brown Pelican

April 29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The day saw temperatures no higher than 33 degrees; winds were 7-9 mph.  Light snow fell off and on all day and low fog hovered not far off the ground.

Terry Michaels and I searched most of the day for the Brown Pelican last reported yesterday at Ireland Reservoir # 5.  We did not find it.

First Terry and I birded Barr Lake State Park (Adams).  I dropped him off at the northern end of the dam (mile 6.0) and left the car at mile 4.5.  He walked toward the car while I hiked from 4.5 to 2.5.

A search for the Harris's Sparrow found a few weeks ago at mile 2.5 did not turn up the bird.  Whether this was the same bird found at mile 8.8 on 4/27, one never knows?  The Wednesday bird did look a little different.

We scoped what few parts of the lake that could be seen threw the fog from the boat ramp (mile 7.6) and the Niedrach Boardwalk (mile 0.5).  No Brown Pelican was found.

Ireland Reservoir # 5 had three American White Pelicans, many paired Western Grebes, dozens of American Coots and no Brown Pelican.  Half a dozen Great-tailed Grackles appear to be nesting in the surrounding cattails.

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area also was checked.  Highlight at Banner Lakes # 4 to # 2 were a western Palm Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler.  A Long-eared Owl was along the western windbreak of the same ponds.

Next, we tried to see Milton Reservoir (Weld).  The heavy fog prevented seeing the reservoir from Weld County Road 49.  When we tried to see the reservoir from the western side, we were stuck in the soupy muddy County Road 43.

We continued to Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) after digging the car out with much effort (only having two ice scrappers).

Best bird of the day was the Glossy Ibis at Beebe Draw Ponds.  It appears to have been moving from Beebe Draw Ponds to Lower Latham Reservoir for a few days.

No Brown Pelican was at the part of Lower Latham Reservoir that we could see through the fog.  Our last stop of the day, Loloff Reservoir also had no Brown Pelican.

In the late afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I picked up some friends and went to dinner near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Of course, we had to make a brief stop.

The eastern sand spit was full of shorebirds, the best being 2 Marbled Godwits and 7 Willets.  We also found 16 American Avocets, 9 Wilson's Phalaropes, 2 Solitary Sandpipers, 1 Stilt Sandpiper, 2 Least Sandpipers, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs and 1 Spotted Sandpiper.

Nine Yellow-headed Blackbirds walked along Lake View Road near Cottonwood Creek Wetlands area.  One Great-tailed Grackle flew around. 

Dozens of Chipping Sparrows and Vesper Sparrows flew around the Lake Loop.  Another Willet and Least Sandpiper walked the shore at the southwest boat ramp.

Most of the gulls at the marina were Ring-billed.  A few California Gulls were in the mix.

We did not find the Eastern Phoebe reported earlier by Jerry Petrosky at the Lake Loop-Mountain Loop. 

Only American White Pelicans and a few Western Grebes were observed through the fog hanging over the lake.

Five snow covered Burrowing Owls were scattered around the DIA Owl Loop.

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

April 28, 2016

Richard Stevens:

While taking a break from chores I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Willets reported by Edward Donnan earlier in the day were not found during my drive.

Three anglers walked on the eastern sand spit, one of the better locations to find shorebirds in the park.

Few birds were on the water, while hundreds of swallows flew over the lake.  The majority was Tree Swallows; however, I did pick out the other five common species were found: Bank, Northern Rough-winged, Violet-green, Cliff and Barn.

Nothing uncommon was found when I scoped Aurora Reservoir for about 45 minutes.

Nine Burrowing Owls were found when I passed through the DIA Owl Loop (Denver/Adams).

Jackson Reservoir to Barr Lake

April 27, 2016

Richard Stevens:

First thing in the morning, Terry Michaels and I decided to checkout Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  While nothing uncommon was on or over the water, we enjoyed success at the western Campgrounds.

A Nashville Warbler followed a flock of 14 Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Later an Ovenbird was discovered in the wet riparian area near Pelican Campgrounds.  Two Long-eared Owls remained in the thicker woods.

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams) in the afternoon.  It was colder than yesterday with temperatures not reaching 60 degrees.  Winds were calm during my three hour walk.

I took a camera along in case of running into a rare bird.  For the most part, I just wanted to enjoy the birds (seen and heard).

When I entered the park, a Western Kingbird was hawking bugs near the entrance.  The only wild birds at the feeders were White-crowned Sparrows.

As I walked from the footbridge (mile 9.0/0.9) to the banding station (mile 8.7) many House Wrens were encountered.  A Spotted Towhee popped out of a gooseberry bush.

At mile 8.8 where the willow hangs over the trail, I found a Green-tailed Towhee.  Then another and another, the Green-tailed Towhee count ended at eight.  They allowed a great photo opportunity, which I skipped, another time perhaps. 

A flock of White-crowned Sparrows jumped to 28 birds.  A Harris's Sparrow following them was a surprise.  More House Wrens and then I reached the banding station.  The Barn Owl was "hidden" safely in the nesting box.

Farther down the trail at mile 8.6, a Hermit Thrush flew along the water's edge.  An Orange-crowned Warbler fluttered about the willows at mile 8.1.  One of the Ospreys, presuming the female, was sitting on the next.  Another stood sentinel at a nearby cottonwood.

I turned around at the Pioneer Trail (mile 8.1) and went back to the Niedrach Trail and boardwalk (mile 0.0 to 0.5).  A Common Yellowthroat chattered from the willows south of the boardwalk.

The highlight of the walk was a Common Tern that flew back and forth, just offshore.  It allowed close looks for about 5 minutes before disappearing to the north.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) just before sunset.  Eventually ten Burrowing Owls were relocated.

Ill Fated Search for a Brown Pelican

April 26, 2016

Richard Stevens:

This morning Terry Michaels and I birded the southern sections of Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  The northern lakes are closed until 7/15.

The riparian area east of Ponds 4 and 3 offered a few interesting sightings.  A Black-and-white Warbler was high in a cottonwood, while a Nashville Warbler stayed below in the thickets.

A male Bullock's Oriole called briefly and popped out of the evergreens at the western windbreak.  The rest of our hike to pond 1 was not noteworthy. 

Terry had to be home by noon.  I received a text message that a Brown Pelican was found at Walden Ponds (Boulder).  In one of the few bad birding decisions I made, I hurried north. 

The ponds are quite shallow and offer little in food to pelicans.  Having known that, I still went for it anyway.  It was a long hour and a half drive from home.  As it turned out, the Brown Pelican had been seen briefly at 11:30 am and flew off shortly thereafter.  My arrival at 4:00 pm was much too late.

As a consolation, I did find the Black Phoebe along Boulder Creek west of 75th Street.  With only a few hours of daylight remaining, I tried to scope as many lakes as possible on the trip home.

The Brown Pelican was not found at Baseline Reservoir, Valmont Reservoir, McIntosh Lake, Jim Hamm Park or Union Reservoir.

Loveland Pass

April 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Two European birding tours offered to let me tag along the past two weeks.  Colorado's weather has been quite inclement lately and I opted not to join them.  Both groups ran into much snow (up to 5 feet).  Sorry people, I made a good decision.

I did offer to show them White-tailed Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass.  Both groups had missed the elusive birds on previous attempts.

Pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan made me looks good (or at least that I knew what I was doing).  I found them in less than 15 minutes after stopping at the large pullover (first pullover) south of the Loveland Pass summit and west of Highway 9.

Good fortune is always enjoyable (having missed them on too many attempts to count).  I enjoy watching White-tailed Ptarmigan anytime they can be found.  Again, too many misses to remember, enjoy them when one can.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Superb Day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 24, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) for a day of birding and a picnic.  Temperatures reached the middle 60s; winds hovered around 9-11 mph.

Our first stop was the canal at 6th avenue & Potomac Street.  I had missed the Eastern Phoebe reported there for the past month on three previous trips.  Today it was flying around catching food along the canal, south of 6th avenue.

One mystery of why I kept missing the bird might have been solved.  We watched the flycatcher for 4-5 minutes.  Then it dove into an isolated bush and did not come out during the 15 minutes we continued to watch.  If I did not have photos, we would have thought the sighting was a ghost.

Next, we walked to Havana Ponds.  The prairie dog village along the trail was flooded.  A pair of American Avocets stood on a small island just offshore.  Two Killdeer walked to shore.

Havana Ponds had much water.  Unfortunately, the shore was quite weedy; there was no open "beach" for shorebirds.  Two American Pipits walked the rocky dam.

The highlight of the day was walking along the mudflats of the small "pond" below the Havana Ponds dam.  The lone shorebird here was a Short-billed Dowitcher "hendersoni"!

Field marks: rufous below with brown markings confined to spotting on undertail and sides of breast.  Unlike an alternate plumage Long-billed Dowitcher that would show spotted neck, spotted and barred breast, narrowly barred flanks.  Short-billed Dowitcher tail showed white bars equal or larger than black ones.  Long-billed Dowitcher shows dark bars broader than white ones.

When the Short-billed Dowitcher flew, the calls were "tu tu tu "much lower than the high pitched "keek" of a Long-billed Dowitcher.

Leaves were just opening on the cottonwoods along the Rod & Gun Club trail.  Four Yellow-rumped Warblers were the only warblers of the day.  A few White-crowned Sparrows and a Song Sparrow sang as we hiked to the Pond.

A lone sparrow in the grassy area caught our attention.  A rather drab bird with a dark lateral throat stripe, I first thought was an out of place Swamp Sparrow.  Except the stripe was not as dark as expected on a Swamp Sparrow.

We watched the sparrow for 20 minutes or so and observed the finely streaked crown, indistinct supercilium, spotted back, small bill and longish rounded tail of a Cassin's Sparrow.

We returned to the canal at sixth & Potomac in an attempt to get a better than witness photo of the Eastern Phoebe.  This time the bird was catching insects just north of 6th avenue.

I captured several photos and notice movement higher up in the cottonwoods.  It was a second Eastern Phoebe.  A pair, which may explain why they have been around for most of April.  Perhaps they are or will nest in the area?

Lower Derby Lake and Lake Ladora had few birds on them today.  We drove the Bison enclosure on the way out.  No Sage Thrashers or other uncommon birds were found.

A walk along the Legacy Trail added one Barn Owl and two Long-eared Owls to our fantastic birding day!

Raptors spotted today included a couple of Red-tailed Hawks, two Swainson's Hawks and a male American Kestrel with a prize (mouse) in its claws.

Our seven hour day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal was extremely enjoyable!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Drive to South Platte Park Reservoir & Chatfield State Park

April 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Today was not quite as fantastic as yesterday, still not bad, as temperatures reached 77 degrees.  Winds were strong all day.  Anemometer readings at 3:00 pm were 28 mph with gusts to 36 mph.

I drove down to South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) to check on the report that the three Long-tailed Ducks were still there.  Thanks to Michael Kiessig for the heads up. 

The three ducks were at the extreme northern end of the lake (Arapahoe County).  Bring a scope if you want to see them; they were more than 400 meters away.  I had to watch them for quite a while to confirm the ID.  They rode the high waves up and down.  Several times, they stretched their wings and uplifted their heads.

Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) just to the south was the next stop.  I walked the Kingfisher Bridge path on both sides of the South Platte River (farther upstream than downstream). 

The highlight was a Cooper's Hawk making a run at a Blue Jay.  He did not catch the jay, however did come close.

Only one Eastern Phoebe was found today; it was upstream of the bridge.  No "Empidonax Species", Wood-pewees or warblers have arrived yet (nor expected).

I also walked Plum Creek Delta area downstream of the footbridge where a pair of Eastern Phoebes attempted nesting the last two years.  None was found today.  A Peregrine Falcon was observed flying along the eastern side of the dam.

No shorebirds were found along the southern marina sand spit.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls were on the eastern side of the sand spit.  One Burrowing Owl was west of the southeastern entrance to Chatfield Reservoir.

A drive down Roxborough Road, south of Titan did not find the previously reported Burrowing Owls.

A stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) did not find the Marbled Godwits reported yesterday.  At least one Bonaparte's Gull flew around the middle of the lake.  No Common Loons were found today.

A Ferruginous Hawk was high up on one of the streetlights along Pena Blvd when I drove in to pick up birding companions near sunset.

Return to Jefferson County (Northern Parula, Nashville Warbler, Swamp Sparrow)

April, 22, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I took advantage of this fantastic spring day with a trip to Jefferson County.  Temperatures reached into the 80s!  Winds were calm most of the day.

My first stop was Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Prospect Park) in hopes of getting a better photo of the Northern Parula.  When I walked along the path between the southern parking area and Tabor Lake, the Northern Parula was already calling.

Unfortunately, the Northern Parula stayed mostly deep in the catkins where it was picking off insects.  When the Park Ranger started up a bobcat, the Northern Pygmy-Owl disappeared as it flew to the east.  I was not able to relocate the warbler.

My next stop was Belmar Historic Park hoping to find the previously reported Nashville Warbler. 

News spread that the female Vermilion Flycatcher last reported yesterday was not found today.  My photos from Monday are on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library:

The Nashville Warbler was fluttering about the catkins high in the cottonwood trees at the extreme western end of the park.  It stayed within 10 yards of the Private Property sign near the far western bike/walking path.

Unfortunately, my photos only showed bits and pieces of the warbler.

I circled around the horse path to the northeastern corner of the cattails.  The Swamp Sparrow came out of the cattails at the extreme northeastern point.  Regrettably, it mostly stayed on the ground and well hidden in the base of the cattails.  Three times, it briefly switched positions.  Once staying on a branch for 10 seconds (allowing for good identifying looks).

I skipped Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home and scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) instead.  Only one of the three Common Loons I found two days ago was relocated.

Six Burrowing Owls were found as I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver Counties) on my trip home.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Another Eastern Phoebe Search at Marjorie Pearl Nature Preserve

April 21, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the middle 60s today.  Winds were calm until late afternoon.  Anemometer readings were 5 mph at 6:00 pm

I returned to Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve for yet another search for the Eastern Phoebe.  In two hours, I again was not able to find the bird.

The highlight was a quite whitish Barn Owl along the eastern side of the Northern Pond (of three) at the Preserve.

I literally walk underneath the owl.  Noticing movement above me, I look up to see the Barn Owl not 15 feet away.  Knowing what would happen; I stayed still and watched the owl for a good 5+ minutes.  When I reached for my camera, the owl of course flew away.  It flew toward the farmhouse northwest of the pond.

Other birds encountered included Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Barn Swallows, a Hermit Thrush & an Orange-crowned Warbler.

Six Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) on my way home.  No Short-eared Owls appeared.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Marjorie Pearl Nature Preserve and Arapahoe County Reservoirs

April 20, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 55 degrees today.  Anemometer readings were 8 mph, gusts to 12 mph.  We were cold most of the afternoon.

This afternoon Rebecca Kosten and I stopped by Marjorie Pearl Nature Preserve (Arapahoe County) to search for the Eastern Phoebe reported the last three days.

It was not found in the 3 hours we birded and photographed the Preserve.  We did find two Say's Phoebes hawking insects along the west side of the southern most pond.

Five American White Pelicans gobbled down many fish (minnows?) in the southern pond.  Difficult to believe any are left?

Twenty-two Yellow-rumped Warblers flew about the cottonwoods along the east side of the middle pond.  A Hermit Thrush and Common Yellowthroat were in deep green bushes along the eastern side of the northern pond.

We stopped at three Arapahoe County reservoirs on the trip home.  Nothing uncommon was found at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  No Bonaparte's Gulls were found among 62+ Franklin's Gulls flying around in the middle of the lake.  No Red-necked Grebes were among the 400+ Western Grebes now on the lake.

Two Osprey flew along the southwestern shore as we scoped the lake from the southwest boat ramp.

Quincy Reservoir was quite slow.  A few Western Grebes, American Coots and two Double-crested Cormorants were there.

Aurora Reservoir was a little more interesting.  Three alternate plumage Common Loons were scattered around the reservoir (two below the dam, one at the cove at mile 3.0 (southeastern corner).

California Gulls were the majority of the 300+ gulls swimming in the middle of the lake.

We started to get on the 470 Toll Road at East Jewell Road when two male Great-tailed Grackles flew over our car.  We followed them to the Storage Company at E. Jewell Road & South Rome Way where they landed.  I took a couple of photos and we drove the Toll Road to DIA.

Burrowing Owls were relocated at Third Creek & W. Cargo Road, Trussville Road & 114th avenue and along Picadilly between 120th & 128th avenues.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Barr Lake to Belmar Historic Park to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt

April 19, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures were warmer than yesterday, reaching 60 degrees.  Winds were 10 mph.
My first target was to relocate the Harris's Sparrow found by John Breitsch 4/6 and I on 4/11 (photos on Colorado Birding Society's photo library :)

It was not found between mile 3 and mile 2.  A Black-and-white Warbler was a nice consolation when it was observed at mile 2.4.

As my other trips, many Double-crested Cormorants were at the rookery (mile 3.2) and eighteen Great Blue Herons were at mile 2.6.

After lunch, I drove to Belmar Historic Park (Jefferson).  The female Vermilion Flycatcher was easy to find as six birders had their binoculars on the bird.

I spent another hour searching unsuccessfully for the Nashville Warbler & Black-and-white Warbler reported earlier in the day.

On the way home, I stopped at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt to again search for the Northern Parula.  This time the Northern Parula popped out of the thick bushes about 40 yards west of the Prospect Park southern parking area.

Yesterday, I mentioned to Frank Farrell as we searched that I thought a small bird was in the bushes.  It never came out and we eventually gave up watching.

I passed through the DIA Owl Loop on my drive home.  Burrowing Owls were relocated:
(2) at Third Creek & West Cargo Road
(2) at Trussville Road & 114th avenue
(2) along Picadilly Road between 120th & 128th avenues.

No Short-eared Owls this evening.

Rapid Trip to Eastern Colorado

April 17-18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Some European birders had the bad fortune to bird in Colorado during a week where we received more snow than any time this winter and early spring.  They missed many of their target birds, spending several days in motels in small Colorado towns like Walden & Craig.

Fortunately, I was not and did not commit to joining them on their trek.  Feeling a little guilty, I accompanied them on their last two days.

April 17

Six European birders and I headed to the Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek along Yuma County Road 45 at midnight.  Eventually we watched nine males perform their mating dances.

We had over 350 miles to cover and stopped only a few times.

Two Long-eared Owls were found along Yuma CR 3 (Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area, Kit Carson).  A troupe of 14 Wild Turkeys crossed the road nearby.

We had to detour to Lake Hasty Campgrounds at John Martin Reservoir (Bent).  The Brown Pelican was where it was advertized.  The possible Iceland Gull on John Martin Reservoir was not found.

We arrived at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) about an hour before sunset.  Rufous-crowned Sparrows and an Eastern Phoebe were found before dark.  Shortly after dark, a Western Screech-Owl called from the Campgrounds area.

April 18

Our birding day started at a Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek where two males appeared just before sunrise.

Again, time was a problem (too little as my birding companions had to be at DIA Airport in Denver by 4:00 pm.  A quick stop at the field north of the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek found two Cassin's Sparrows as well as Vesper, Brewer's, one Clay-colored, Song, White-crowned and Lark Sparrows.

We rushed back to Denver; I dropped them off at DIA. 

With a few hours of daylight remaining, I thought I would try to hit Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Northern Parula) and Belmar Historic Park (Vermilion Flycatcher).

Dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers flew around Prospect Lake and Tabor Lake.  My unsuccessful search for the Northern Parula took so long that the trip to Belmar Historic Park was abandoned.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reynolds Park & Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 16, 2016

Richard Stevens:

We received over 12 inches of snow today.  Temperatures reached the middle 40s and some of it melted.  Rebecca and I stayed home and did chores.

April 15, 2016

Five of us arrived at Reynolds Park about an hour before sunrise.  Temperatures were in the 20s; fortunately, winds were calm.

We walked along the Songbird Trail from the smaller parking area to the larger parking area.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was found just east of the larger/main parking area.

We headed up hill along the Oxen Draw Trail to the intersection with Eagle's View and Raven's Roost trails.  A female American Three-toed Woodpecker was 30 yards northeast of Oxen Draw Trail, 40 yards north of the intersection with the other two trails.

Our trek continued up (south) the Eagle's View Trail.  A Dusky Grouse was found in a similar area that Merlynn Brown saw one on 4/13.  Perhaps it was 10 yards east of the Eagle's View Trail and 150-200 yards south of the intersection with the other two trails.

We continued to the top of the Eagle's View trail and then back down to the Songbird Trail.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker was encountered 20 yards south/uphill of the old service road.

About an hour before sunset, I passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  The Common Loon found yesterday was not seen during the hour I scoped the lake.  Three Bonaparte's Gulls were observed flying around the lake.

At 7:11 pm, the Glaucous Gull was back on the southwest marina.  I mention the time as the Gull seems to appear near sunset.  Whether it is out on the lake or somewhere else during the day has not been determined.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Loveland Pass, Genesee Mountain Park & Arapahoe County Reservoirs

April 14, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It was a beautiful but windy day east of the foothills today.  Temperatures reached 76 degrees; anemometer readings were 16 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

Six European birders had planned to start a Grouse Trip this morning.  Unfortunately, two of them missed their flights.  With 3-4 feet of snow predicted in the next couple of days in the mountains, it was not a good time to "miss a day".

Instead, I took the others up to Loveland Pass where we found two White-tailed Ptarmigan below the Summit (Clear Creek County).

Later we stopped at Genesee Mountain Park and found the pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers.  Regrettably, our target bird, Dusky Grouse was not found.

After dropping them off at their motel, I stopped at Arapahoe County reservoirs.  The Common Loon was still at Cherry Creek Reservoir (in the southeastern corner).  The only shorebird found was a lone American Avocet on the sand spit at the eastern end.

A Common Loon was also again at Aurora Reservoir.  I could not pick out any uncommon gulls among the 600+ swimming in the middle of the lake.

Burrowing Owls continue at Third Creek & West Cargo Road, Trussville & 114th Avenue and Picadilly Road between 128th & 120th Avenues.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Douglas & Arapahoe County Birding

April 13, 2016

Terry Michaels and I went out in the afternoon to search a couple of bird reports.  Winds were calm most of the afternoon; at 5:00 pm that changed with 15 mph readings.

We hiked the Cherry Creek Trail at Walker Pit south to the end of the trail (1.2 miles).  I had always wanted to bike from Cherry Creek State Park to Castlewood Canyon State Park.  As it turns out, the bike path does not go all the way.  At the Walker Pit, I would have to leave the bike path and detour over to Castlewood Canyon Road.

The Eastern Phoebe reported yesterday by Hugh Kingery was not found.  We did see a Gray Catbird near the Highway 86 bridge.  Three male and a female Western Bluebirds were another 0.1 miles south.

On the walk to the Hwy 86 bridge we ran into a Spotted Towhee and the pair of Red-tailed Hawks using the Great Horned Owl nest in the cottonwoods near the path.

Along the western side of Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas), we walked below the old farmhouse in search of Ovenbirds.  No Ovenbirds was found; another House Wren was seen.  Several Turkey Vultures flew overhead.

We scoped Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) looking for Tuesday's Red-throated Loon; it was not found.  A Common Loon and four Bonaparte's Gulls were found.

A second alternate plumage Common Loon swam off the southern end of the dam at Aurora Reservoir.  No uncommon gulls or waterfowl were picked out of the many swimming in the middle of the lake.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Red-throated Loon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Today was a day to do chores around the house.  The lawn really needs to be mowed.  However.........

I received a text message about a Red-throated Loon at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and was "forced" :-) to go see it.

Timing is quite important in life and birding.  I arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir at 3:15 pm.  The Red-throated Loon was just off the Mountain Loop.  Unfortunately, I was at the southwest marina.  My scope allowed good looks at the loon; it was too far away for a photo.

What a beautiful bird in its alternate (breeding) plumage.    The sun shone on the loon.  The light gray head contrasted with the bright red throat.  It was only the second time I was able to study one in breeding plumage in Colorado!

Dan Stringer and I left for the Mountain Loop at 3:30 pm.  When we arrived at the Mountain Loop, the Red-throated Loon had already taken off.

I scoped Cherry Creek Reservoir for the next hour and a half without finding it.  Most likely it was gone.

On my way home, I scoped nearby Quincy and Aurora Reservoirs.  The Red-throated Loon was not found at either lake.

It was raining when I passed the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  The only Burrowing Owls found were one owl at Trussville & 114th avenue & one along Picadilly Road between 128th & 120th avenues.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Return to Barr Lake (Adams County)

April 11, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams County) this afternoon for my third and final attempt to find the Harris's Sparrow reported by John Breitsch.

It was a fantastic spring day for a hike anywhere.  Temperatures reached the middle 60s; anemometer readings were less than 6 mph.  My legs are still recovering from three weeks of grouse trips (2200 to 2600 miles every seven days).  It was great to get out and excercise them!

I waited at the woodpile at the small gazebo trailhead (mile 3.3) for 20 minutes.  Only one immature White-crowned Sparrow appeared.  Looking around I guessed at an area where sparrows might be foraging.

The grassy area south of the canal and east of the plank bridge across the larger canal appeared to be a good spot for sparrows (about 90 yards west of the above woodpile).

A flock of a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, two Song Sparrows and the Harris's Sparrow were deep in the brush when I walked over.  Eventually the loose flock flew to the thin iron fence/old walkway located north of both canals.

Off and on, the flock may return to the woodpile.  Perhaps only in the morning, I was there at 4:30 pm.  Photos of the Harris's Sparrow were put on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library:

Afterwards, I drove around to the Barr Lake Visitor's Center and walked the Niedrach trail to mile 0.6, then the opposite direction to mile 8.0.  I have been taking photos for an article on birding Barr Lake Periphery.

Along the hike from mile 9.0 to 8.0, (northward) I found three House Wrens, many Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, two Common Grackles and many Red-winged Blackbirds.  Flocks of 45-60 White-crowned Sparrows were found at both mile 8.4 & 8.2.  I have never observed that many together before.

A Barn Owl was back at the banding station area.  While the Osprey pair is back on the nest at mile 8.4.  Photos were put on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library.

My birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Eventually I found 9 Burrowing Owls scattered over four locations (prairie dog towns).

Not quite the end, I made it over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) just before sunset.  The Glaucous Gull was back on the southwest marina at 7:23 pm.

Most gulls were still flying around in the middle of the lake.  One dark mantled Gull may have been the Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Several California Gulls were slightly lighter in color. 

However, the bird may have been the odd California Gull with a darker mantle.  It has been showing up each spring for half a dozen years.  I did not have my scope; views through binoculars in the dim light were not the best.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Birding Northern Colorado

April 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Paul Bassett and drove to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) in search of Long-eared Owls.  Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) is closed for nesting birds until July 15.

Eventually we found six Long-eared Owls around the western Campgrounds.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls were observed flying below the dam.

On our way to Pawnee National Grasslands, we spotted a Mountain Plover along Morgan County Road 4.  It was just south of the Weld County line (where MCR 4 becomes WCR 105).

We found our Mountain Plover for the day and did not take the time to search for additional birds on Pawnee National Grasslands.  A drive along Weld County Road 96, west of CR 77 found many McCown's Longspurs and two Chestnut-collared Longspurs.

Next, we headed to the foothills to search for Flammulated Owls.  A quick detour in Fort Collins added the Prothonotary Warbler at Lee Martinez Park (Larimer) to our day list!

We drove toward Pennock Pass to search for Flammulated Owls.  First ran into rain, then it started to snow.  That ended our owling plans.

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 9, 2016

Richard Stevens:

My first stop today was a return to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  I walked around for an hour searching for the Eastern Phoebe that has been reported several days near the canal at the end of the Wilderness Drive at Potomac Street.  

Winds were calm compared to my last attempt to find the bird.  Unfortunately, I missed it for a second time.

This afternoon while walking the eastern side of Barr Lake State Park:  

BONAPARTE'S GULL (Stevens, 4/7), BARN OWL (Stevens, 1/13) & WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Daniels, 4/8).

Search for Missing Trumpeter Swans & Brown Pelican

April 8, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Before civil twilight, I walked the road along the north side of Reynolds Park (Jefferson).  Eventually I heard (only) two Northern Pygmy-Owls along the Songbird Trail.

After receiving a text message that Glenn Walbek had seen two Trumpeter Swans at Columbine Open Space (Douglas) I headed over that way.

At the time I did not know that, the Trumpeter Swans were seen flying over the Park.  Having never been to the park, I walked the mile plus undulating trail both north and south of the parking area.  I thought there had to be a lake somewhere in the park for the Swans to land.

The only body of water found was a small swallow beaver pond north of the entrance road.  East Plum Creek was thickly lined with willows and cattails and offered little open space.

At least I was able to explore a new birding location for me.  The southern trail skirts possible Ovenbird breeding habitat.  Several snags may offer habitat for American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Pinyon Jays or Lewis's Woodpecker.  Although none was encountered today.

The northern trail goes along East Plum Creek lined with willows and cattails.  I plan to return next month when migration is in full swing.

Afterwards I wandered by as many lakes and reservoirs as possible on my way home.  Target birds were the missing Trumpeter Swans, the missing Lake Beckwith Brown Pelican, Greater Scaup and uncommon gulls.

I detoured south to Larkspur and Lower Gulch Road to head east and north toward Highway 83.   Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were on a telephone pole 5.0 miles southwest of Lake Gulch Road.

I took Lake Gulch Road through Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas) to Hwy 86.  All three Bluebirds were encountered along Lake Gulch Road (north of the Winkler Ranch).  Only one Eastern Bluebird was in the mix.

Unfortunately, the Winkler Ranch Bobolink field is cut short and they are running cattle on it.  I do hope that the Bobolink will return and nest nearby.

At the first yard north of Castlewood Canyon State Park (west side road), 32 Wild Turkeys wandered.  Several Toms were displaying for the attention of many females.

No uncommon birds were on McLain Gravel Pit (south of hwy 86) or Walker Gravel Pit (north of hwy 86).  Bar CCC Pond and McCabe Meadows
Pond also had no uncommon birds.  Lesser Scaup were the majority bird on all the above today.

I took the "back way" to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake.  No Swans or Brown Pelican.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull continued among the many Ring-billed and California Gulls.

Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe) hosted a Brown Pelican on September 6, 1999; none was there today.

No uncommon birds were found on Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Gulls numbered less than two dozen.  Plenty of American White Pelicans swam around with a scattering of Western Grebes and American Coots.

No Short-eared Owls appeared over the Lake View Road cattails at dusk.

A Hike Around Barr Lake

April 7, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Thursday I hiked the 8.7 mile loop around Barr Lake (Adams County).  Nothing uncommon was found; however, I found a few interesting birds.

I did not find the Harris's Sparrow reported on 4/5.  In fact, no sparrows were seen between mile 2.0 & 3.5 (southwestern corner of the lake).

Four Great-tailed Grackles and six Yellow-headed Blackbirds were at mile 4.0.

A House Wren was in the wood pile at mile 4.5

Half a dozen Great-tailed Grackles and 6+ Yellow-headed Blackbirds were at the cattail fields at mile 4.7.

The Barn Owl was back at the banding station.

My birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Ten Burrowing Owls were eventually found.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Search for Eastern Phoebe at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 6, 2016

Richard Stevens:

A trip to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) did not find the previously reported Eastern Phoebe.  Nothing uncommon was found in my two hour visit.

I walked from the Niedrach Trail to the Pioneer Trail at Barr Lake (Adams).  The Barn Owl was at the banding station.  Long-eared Owls at the entrance.

Genesee Mountain Park & Barr Lake

April 5, 2016

Richard Stevens:

My two birding companions and I drove up to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) before they had to catch a Plane back home.  We relocated two Williamson's Sapsuckers near the group picnic area and headed for DIA.

Five Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) on my way to Barr Lake State Park (Adams).

I walked from mile 2.0 to 3.5 at Barr Lake (Adams) looking for the Harris's Sparrow reported earlier in the day; without success.  No sparrows were found at all.

Then I sat down and watched the Rookery at mile 3.0 for about an hour and a half.  I hoped one of the cormorants flying around would be the Neotropic Cormorant reported last week by Terry Michaels.  I did not find one.

A quick stop at the eastern entrance found the Barn Owl at the banding station and Long-eared Owls at the entrance windbreak.

Later I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) at 7:15 pm.  The Glaucous Gull & a Lesser Black-backed Gull were standing on the southwest marina.

Yet Another Successful Grouse Trip

March 30-April 4, 2016

Richard Stevens:

March 30

Carl Grant, Kevin Sandstrom and I took off on a grouse trip.  I picked them up at DIA Airport late in the afternoon.

Our first stop was Loveland Pass where we found two White-tailed Ptarmigan below the west side of the Summit (Clear Creek County).

We found three species of Rosy Finches in Silverthorne (Summit).  Surprisingly no Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit) as we passed.

Snow was falling rapidly when we arrived at the Jackson County Road 26b Greater Sage-Grouse Lek.  No birds appeared this evening.  We had to stay in Walden in order to attempt another search tomorrow.

March 31

We sat at the Jackson County Road 26b Lek about 60 minutes before sunrise.  It was quite cold; fortunately, the skies had cleared after yesterday's snowstorm.

Eleven Greater Sage-Grouse came out of the snow covered sage and walked to the lek.  No females appeared this morning.

Our good fortune held.  When we drove the Angler Drive loop in Steamboat Springs (Routt) we spotted a lone Sharp-tailed Grouse walking down to the western draw.  The sighting satisfied by birding companions and we decided to not stay around to visit the Hayden Sharp-tailed Grouse Leks tomorrow morning.

We also decided to skip the long detour to Oxbow State Trust Lands.  The plan was to pick up Sagebrush Sparrows, Black-throated Sparrows and Sage Thrasher later in our trip.

Sixty minutes before sunset, a lone Chukar called for us at Coal Canyon (Mesa).  A Black-throated Sparrow popped out of the gulch running along side of the road to the big parking area at the 2nd pipe gate!

Good fortune again on the Grand Mesa (Mesa).  Eventually we would find a Northern Pygmy-Owl (Powderhorn Ski Area), a Northern Saw-whet Owl (north of Powderhorn, at the switchbacks) and two Boreal Owls (first two pullovers south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds).

April 1

The three of us enjoyed a long and quite successful birding day.

Good birds for me included the Red-throated Loon at Highline Lake State Park (Mesa) and Long-tailed Duck at Redlands Parkway Ponds (Mesa).

The Western Screech-Owl was sunning himself when we stopped at Grand Junction Wildlife Area (Mesa).

We relocated the Burrowing Owls found by Ronda Woodward on 3/31 near Highway 50 and old Highway 6!

A drive along Baxter Pass Road (Mesa) was a success.  Two Sagebrush Sparrows, three Sage Thrashers and the Long-eared Owl were all relocated.

While driving through the Colorado National Monument (Mesa) Juniper Titmice, Pinyon Jays and Bushtits were all seen.

The detour over to Glade Park (Mesa) added three Lewis's Woodpeckers to our trip list. 

On the way to Montrose, we detoured again and found a Black Phoebe in Escalante Canyon (Delta).

Our birding day ended when we found a male Dusky Grouse displaying along the south rim drive at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).

April 2

An hour before sunrise, we visited Waunita Hot Springs (Gunnison).  Three Gunnison Sage-Grouse were displaying shorted after civil twilight.  We could hear them long before it was light enough to see them!

A detour to Buena Vista (Chaffee) found a Lewis's Woodpecker along Brookside Avenue.  On the drive along Highway 285 back to Highway 50, a flock of 10+ Pinyon Jays was found about 2 miles south of Buena Vista.

We stopped at the large pullover at the top of Monarch Pass (Chaffee).  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were rather easy to find.

The Curve-billed Thrashers at a friend's home in Canon City (Fremont) were not around today.

We had to drive down the Swallows Road, Pueblo West (Pueblo).  Two Curve-billed Thrashers were in the yard of the gray house.  Two Scaled Quail walked along the west side of the road.

A visit to Pueblo Reservoir was skipped.  Our next stop was to be Blue Lake in Bent/Kiowa Counties.  On the trip in, a Mountain Plover was found along Bent County Road 10 (across/west of CR TT.

We scoped John Martin Reservoir (Bent) from the northeast corner and found nothing uncommon.  Hasty Campgrounds was quiet.

An early dinner in Lamar ended out birding day.

April 3

Our birding day started at a Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek on private land in Baca County.  Only three males appeared; however, that was better than none.

It took about 45 minutes to relocate a Cassin's Sparrow in the field north of the entrance to the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek.  A couple of Vesper Sparrows and a Brewer's Sparrow were also there.

South in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) we found two Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a pair of Eastern Phoebes, Canyon Towhees, Rock Wrens, Chihuahuan Ravens, and a Bewick's Wren.

While driving North on Baca County Road 23, we saw two Mountain Plovers and two Long-billed Curlews.  Not quite as good as the 11 Mountain Plover and 16 Long-billed Curlew found by Kellner & Dunning the day before, however, we were happy to see any.

At Lamar Community College (Prowers), a Northern Cardinal was found at the southern end of the woods.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was near the northern end.

We rolled into Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds with a couple of hours of daylight.  A Long-eared Owl was in the Foster's Grove Campgrounds windbreak.  Eight Wild Turkeys wandered the Campgrounds.

Four Red-bellied Woodpeckers were at Hale Ponds.  At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from north of Hale Ponds.  We briefly put a spotlight on it!

April 4

Thirty minutes before sunrise, we sat at the Yuma County 45 Lek north of Wray, CO.  Five male Greater Prairie-Chickens were eventually observed dancing.  As far as we could tell, no female were among them.

Later we returned to the gas station across/west of the Sandhiller Motel.  The burritos there are fantastic.

A stop at Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma) added an Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebird and a Barn Owl to our trip list.

A male Northern Cardinal was in the trees on the north side of Stalker Pond.

We had found all but one of our target birds.  Missing Short-eared Owls, I suggested driving north to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).

A Red-bellied Woodpecker wandered around the eastern Campgrounds. 

At dusk, we spread out (armed with radios) and scoped the fields east, south and west of the reservoir.  Around dusk, I spotted a Short-eared Owl flying back and forth across the field south of the reservoir!

Later, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl in the woods along the north side of the reservoir.

Then we steered back to Denver.