Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Barr Lake State Park

May 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Late in the afternoon, I went over to Barr Lake (Adams) to stretch my legs, temperatures were in the middle 60s; anemometer readings were 6 to 9 mph.  It rained a little while I was there. 

I walked from the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 9.0/0.0) to the boat ramp (7.6) and back.  Highlights included male Baltimore Oriole at mile 8.9; a female or young American Redstart at the banding station (8.7); a Plumbeous Vireo at mile 8.6, a Dusky Flycatcher at the Pioneer trail (8.1), a Northern Waterthrush hiding under the logs at mile 8.075, and an "Oporornis" warbler left unidentified at mile 8.05.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak flew around at mile 8.9 for five minutes or so and then headed to the Visitor's Center.

Birder Chris found the American Redstart in the willows at the banding station.

Dozens of Western Wood-pewees, two unidentified "empidonax" flycatchers, many Bullock's Orioles, House Wrens and a few Downy Woodpeckers as well as two Barn Owls also found.

I heard the "chebek, chebek, chebek" of a Least Flycatcher, never saw the bird.  Also the "ritzbew" of a Willow Flycatcher heard but not seen.  Both birds were between the Pioneer Trail and the boat ramp.

Misses: I did not find the Lewis's Woodpecker photographed by Dave King on 5/18 (photo on Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library).  A second hand report of a Wood Thrush was between the Visitor's Center footbridge and the banding station.  I encountered no thrushes on my hike.

My birding day ended at the southwestern end of Barr Lake (access from Buckley Road).  Another female or young male American Redstart was at mile 2.5.

Thoughts and reasons for going to Barr Lake, 9 of the last 13 years, a male Baltimore Oriole has been recorded between May 20 and June 6 and 11 of the last 16 years a Gray-cheeked Thrush has been recorded during the same dates.  One out of two was not bad today.

Last Grouse Trip of 2016

May 18-23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Jon Harris, Bill Monroe and I started out on my last Grouse Trip of 2016.  We missed most of the inclement weather experienced.  At times, we ran into high winds.

May 18

Our first stop was Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties).  After not finding White-tailed Ptarmigan below the east and west sides of the Summit and at the various pullovers to the south, we had to climb up the western trail.

Finally, we discovered two Ptarmigan south of the trail at approximately 0.6 miles up the steep mountain.

We found Brown-capped Rosy Finches and a few Gray-crowned Rosy Finch at a friend's home in Silverthorne (Summit) and continued to Jackson County.

A dozen male Greater Sage-Grouse appeared shortly after sunset at the Jackson County Road 26b lek.

May 19

We skipped the 20 Road Leks and for maximum results drove the 80 Route thirty minutes before sunrise.  The Dusky Grouse was out displaying when we got to the "infamous" cattle guard.

Three Greater Sage-Grouse displayed at on their lek farther north up the road.  It is getting late in the season; we were quite fortunate!

Four Sharp-tailed Grouse ran around their lek at the old Jimmy Dunn State Trust Land gate!

We passed some good birding spots in Craig and drove to Coal Canyon (Cameo) in Mesa County.

Only one Chukar was found (better than zero).  He was calling on the hillside southwest of the parking area at the second pipe gate.  Other birds included Black-throated Sparrows, two Pinyon Jays, Say's Phoebes and a few Mountain Bluebirds.

Two hours before sunset, we drove up the Grand Mesa (Mesa).  The Northern Saw-whet Owl was again at its hole on our way up.

We missed American Three-toed Woodpeckers and Northern Pygmy-Owls at the Powderhorn Ski Area and continued to the Visitor's Center.

Two Boreal Owls were heard east of the Visitor's Center.

On the drive back down, (northward) we stopped at pullovers along Highway 65.  Boreal Owls were found at two stops south of the Campgrounds.  One of these we finally were able to see!

May 20

The three of us enjoyed a long and exhausting day of birding.

Our first stop was the Colorado National Monument (Mesa).  Black-throated Sparrows were heard just outside the southern (eastern) entrance.  An Ash-throated Flycatcher was at the Devils Kitchen picnic area.

Eventually we found a Gray Vireo at North 16.5 Road.  Black-throated Gray Warblers and Pinyon Jays were seen at the Campgrounds.

One of the two Black Phoebes was around "phoebe rock" near the Audubon Nature Center!

At Rabbit Valley just east of Utah, a Scott's Oriole was in the first grove of trees encountered south of I70.

A drive up Baxter Pass Road found 2+ Sagebrush Sparrows, 3 Sage Thrashers and the continuing Long-eared Owl.

Later we headed to the Uncompahgre Plateau (Mesa) and found a Grace's Warbler across from the Telephone Trail.  After dark, we enticed two Flammulated Owls to come within 10 yards of us (Telephone Trail).

A long drive was made to Cortez (Montezuma).

May 21

Just before sunrise, we drove to Yellow Jacket Canyon (Montezuma).  We were fortunate again to find one Lucy's Warbler and another Gray Vireo.

We turned north to reach Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose) before dark.

A quick stop at Huck Finn Pond area in Durango (La Plata) found a Lewis's Woodpecker.  We missed the Black Phoebes.

A short stop at Coal Bank Pass (San Juan) added an American Three-toed Woodpecker to our bird list.

We reached the National Park about an hour before sunset.  Eventually three male Dusky Grouse were found along the South Rim Drive.  No females appeared.

May 22

An hour before sunrise our troupe drove down Gunnison County Road 887.  Two Gunnison Sage-Grouse crossed the road and we caught in our headlights.  My birding companions were satisfied and we did not stop at the Waunita Hot Springs Lek (required waiting hours for birds, if any, to leave before we could).

Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were observed drumming at the Monarch Pass pullover.  We only stopped for 20 minutes and continued east.

Our good fortune continued at Pueblo County Road IL.  We found both a Curve-billed Thrasher and a Mountain Plover not far up the road.  We have no idea if the Mountain Plover stays in the area, as it seemed to be late to be so far south?

A call from Jacob Washburn informed us that no Lesser Prairie-Chickens were found at the Baca County Lek or the Elkhart, Kansas Leks.  The decision to skip the 300+ mile drive was made, we continued back to Denver.

I talked Jon & Bill into a short detour once reaching south Denver.  It was only short 7 mile drive west to Dekoevand Park (Arapahoe).  The White-eyed Vireo was singing when we reached the spot it had been first found on 5/18.

After picking up some fast food, we continued to Wray (Yuma).

May 23

Just before sunrise, the three of us watched three Greater Prairie-Chickens dancing and jumping at the Yuma County Road 45 Lek.  It was the second latest date I have found them (latest: 5/26).  The late date maybe because birders seldom look for them after the middle of May.

A quick stop at Stalker Pond (Yuma) did not find the Caspian Tern or Bell's Vireo reported on 5/20.  We did see Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Phoebe & Eastern Bluebirds.

I rushed my birding friends to Denver International Airport.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weld and Denver Counties

May 17, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Skies were cloudy most of the day.  Temperatures stayed in the 50s; winds were 8+ mph.

Early in the morning, I visited a friend's ranch in Weld County.  From quite a distance, we are keeping an eye on a Mountain Plover nest.  A pair of Long-eared Owls is also nesting on his ranch.

Other interesting sightings included a Blackpoll Warbler, Veery, and Cassin's Vireo.

After getting a text message concerning 21 Red-necked Phalaropes at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County) I headed that way.  I have found Red-necked Phalaropes in Denver County before.

A report that Northern Waterthrush were still there was more interesting.  I hoped to get a photo of that elusive bird.  While walking the northern side of the lake, I found a Northern Waterthrush.  Then a second Northern Waterthrush followed the first.

They were under the large downed cottonwood trees.  I spent about 25 minutes trying to get a photo.  Unfortunately, they stay mostly hidden under the tree roots over the lake.

After giving up on that, I continued west along the trail.  Then a third Northern Waterthrush was observed walking the shore near the bench on the northern side.  To my surprise, another Northern Waterthrush followed it.  I did not try to get a photo and continued my trek.

Many times, I am now adopting the "Don Beltz" theory of birding.  For years, I would go up to Crow Valley Campgrounds and see Don sitting in the shade of his camper near the water fixture at campsite seven or eight.

I would spend 4-6 hours walking around Crow Valley Campgrounds.  Rarely did I see a bird that Don had not at his vantage point.

With this in mind, I sat down on the bench at the northwest corner of the Park.  While scoping the trees to the north of the pond below the bench, I observed a Nashville Warbler.  After watching him for 10 minutes and finishing "painting the trees" with my binoculars, I continued around the lake.

BTW, the twenty one Red-necked Phalaropes were performing their circling swimming just off the end of the boardwalk (photos in a day or two on the Colorado Birding Society's website).

At the bench on the west side of the mile trail around Bluff Lake, I again sat down and scoped the trees.  This time I found a Tennessee Warbler with a dozen of so Yellow-rumped Warblers in the cottonwoods and willows below.  The bench sits at tree top level of the trees lining the western side of the Lake.

Finally, I continued around to the staircase up to the parking area.  Terry Michaels had seen my text message and rushed over.   We hiked back to the north side and relocated the Northern Waterthrushes, Nashville Warbler & Red-necked Phalaropes.

Other birds encountered on the hikes included three Say's Phoebes, many House Wrens, Chipping Sparrows, Brewer's Sparrows, one Clay-colored Sparrow and a Great Horned Owl.

We ran out of daylight before I could have driven to First Creek Trail (my other target for the day).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Great Birding In the Rain

May 16, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The day was much colder than yesterday.  Temperatures barely reached the high 40s; winds were 6-8 mph.  Shortly after Noon, it started raining and did not stop (still raining at midnight).

I started my birding day at Barr Lake (Adams).  A walk below the dam found a Veery (mile 7.7), Common Yellowthroats, Song Sparrows, a Lincoln's Sparrow and several House Wrens.

Back at the Visitor's Center area I found a Blackpoll Warbler, Tennessee Warbler & Barn Owls (nesting boxes) between the southern end of the Niedrach Trail and the boat ramp.

At mile 3.0 (the extreme southwestern end of the Park) I found a Cassin's Vireo, many Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants.  I scoped the rookeries for 30 minutes searching for the Neotropic Cormorant, which may still be around the Park; without success.

Later I drove to Weld County and visited a friend's ranch.  Several birds that appear to be nesting include: a pair of Mountain Plover, a pair of Long-eared Owls, Yellow Warblers, Bullock's Orioles, House Wrens, Western Kingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds and Swainson's Hawks.

My birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  I walked the eastern side of Ponds 4 to 1 in a downpour.  Nothing uncommon was found.

Birding the Front Range Birding Spots

May 15, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed a great day of birding along the Front Range.  Winds were 8 mph; temperatures reached the middle 50s.

We stopped and scoped South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson Counties).  The only bird on the large lake was a male Hooded Merganser.  It appears the three Long-tailed Ducks that wintered here have departed.

At nearby Chatfield State Park (Jefferson/Douglas) we hiked upstream of Kingfisher Bridge.  The highlight was relocated the Yellow-billed Cuckoo reported a few days ago.

Other birds encountered were a pair of Eastern Phoebes, two American Redstarts and two Least Flycatchers.  One Burrowing Owl was still west of the southwest entrance to the Park.

Next, we drove north to Harriman Lake Park (Jefferson).  Many Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a few Yellow Warblers fluttered along the southern path.

About halfway down the trail we detoured along the canal that runs south.  A flock of 12+ Yellow-rumped Warblers was about 60 yards down the path.  We noticed a smaller yellowish bird among them.  It was the Northern Parula.

Farther down the path, we found a Gray Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher and unknown "empidonax" flycatcher.

Nothing uncommon swan around on the lake.

Our next stop was Main Reservoir (Jefferson).  Most of the common birds found at Harriman Lake Park were also here.  The only uncommon bird was a Blackpoll Warbler loosely associated with a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers and two Black-capped Chickadees.

We drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) on our way home.  We did not relocate the Bobolink found yesterday.  Gene Rutherford reported seeing two around the southwest marina parking area.  They were not there when we drove through.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Cherry Creek Reservoir and First Creek Trail

May 14, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It was colder today with temperatures in the middle 50s.  Winds were 6-11 mph.  After yesterdays warm weather, it felt cold all day.

Rebecca Kosten and I returned to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  One of the Eastern Phoebes was along the Potomac canal, north of 64th Avenue.  Nothing uncommon was found as we hiked to the Rod & Gun Club bird blind.

Later we drove to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A walk along the stream up Butterfly Hill found few birds.  Twenty three Brewer's Sparrows were the highlight.

Then we scoped the Cottonwood Wetlands (from the model airplane hill).  A Bobolink was at the north side of the pond.  Unfortunately, the bird would not let us get closer than 40 yards or so before it flew to the south side of the pond.  We left without a photo.

Our final stop was the new First Creek Trail (off Buckley, north of 56th avenue).  I had hiked along the south side of First Creek for years, bushwhacking through the weeds.  Although some foliage was destroyed during the construction on the path, many birds foraged along the Creek today.

We walked from the parking area toward Pena Blvd, then north to the Trail.  Three Western Kingbirds and a Cassin's Kingbird hunted around the prairie dog mounds.

An Olive-sided Flycatcher was run into around the tall cottonwoods north of the open field.  A Gray Catbird flew from the south side of the trail to First Creek side.

We eventually found (by area):
Pond north of the horse corrals: Lesser Yellowlegs, two Spotted Sandpipers

Riparian area north of the trail and east of the Light Rail Bridge: two Hermit Thrushes, three Western Wood-pewees, a Black-and-white Warbler (that eventually flew to the cottonwoods about 50 yards north of the trail)

While under the Light Rail Bridge, we scoped the marshy area south of the trail:
Veery, Common Yellowthroat, 2 Mourning Doves

Two Say's Phoebes are building a nest under one of the Bridges.  During my trip last week, I thought the bridges offered nesting spots for perhaps a Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, swallows or phoebes.

Riparian area between the Light Rail Bridge and Pena Blvd Bridge: seven Swainson's Thrushes, MacGillivray's Warbler.

Riparian area west of Pena Blvd Bridge and Trailhead at Buckley Road; North of trail: Two Western Wood-pewees, male Western Tanager. 

House Wrens were plentiful.  Great Blue Heron hunted at the pond.

We plan to return many times in the next couple of weeks.  We are hoping migrating warblers or vireos will "discover" the cattails, creek and riparian area!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Castlewood Canyon to Barr Lake State Parks

May 13, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I commenced our birding day at Castlewood Canyon Road (Douglas County).  We scoped the Winkler Ranch south of the west side of Castlewood Canyon State Park for about 45 minutes before finding a Bobolink.

Dozens of Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and Common Grackles flew around the field south of the entrance.

Only one Bobolink was found; a male was on the hillside approximately 0.2 miles south of the Winkler Ranch gate.  Other birds found between Lake Gulch Road and the State Park included: many Vesper Sparrows, two Brewer's Sparrows, two Song Sparrows, half a dozen Lark Sparrows and one Rock Wren.

Both Western Bluebirds and Mountain Bluebirds were examining or using bluebird boxes along Castlewood Canyon Road between the Winkler Ranch and the southern entrance to the State Park.  A few of the nesting boxes appeared to be occupied by Tree Swallows.

Six Wild Turkeys walked the open field at the east-west to south-north turn in Castlewood Canyon Road just before the State Park.

Inside the Park, we walked the Creekside Trail from the falls to the old dam.  No "empidonax" flycatchers were found today.  Except for seven White-crowned Sparrows the trail was rather void of birds.

I believe the Castlewood Canyon State Park Spring Count was today.  They must have started on the east side of the Park; we saw no birders.

After lunch, we drove to Barr Lake State Park (Adams).   Nothing rare was discovered on our walk from the Visitor's Center footbridge to the boat ramp.  A few notable birds kept our interest however.

A Hooded Warbler stayed mostly in the low plants with fern like leaves at mile 8.2 (Visitor's Center is 9.0, boat ramp, 7.8).  A Brown Thrasher was at mile 8.15.

A walk down the Pioneer Trail (mile 8.1) added a Blackpoll Warbler to our list.  Not much else was found on the way to the boat ramp and we turned around.

On the way back to the Visitor's Center, we again observed the Hooded Warbler.  This time the bird was near mile 8.15.   A Lincoln's Sparrow was at mile 8.9.  Barn Owls are using the nesting boxes.

Many House Wrens, Bullock's Orioles, Chipping Sparrows, a couple of Swainson's Hawks and a few Western Kingbirds are now at the Park.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop found a Burrowing Owl at Trussville & 114th and four at Third Creek and W. Cargo Road.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Arapahoe County: Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve & Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I searched for the Northern Parula found by Jared Del Rosso at Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve (Arapahoe).    We did not find it; however, we enjoyed the experience with some nice sightings.

At the eastern end of the Preserve (where we thought the Northern Parula might be), we walked around for an hour or so.

While looking for the Parula many birds popped out of the willows along the canal.  These included a Northern Waterthrush, seven Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Yellow-breasted Chat, at least three male Common Yellowthroats and an "Oporornis" warbler.

At least I think MacGillivray's Warblers are still in that genus.  Rebecca thought the bird was a Mourning Warbler, myself thought a MacGillivray's Warbler.  It took another 50 minutes before it walked out of the low bush along the canal (just to left of the inlet/outlet stream with the yellow pipe guards). 

I would have preferred that Rebecca was correct.  Unfortunately I was.  In the brief first appearance, I caught glimpses of a partial eye ring on a dark headed "Oporornis" warbler.  AND scratch that.  MacGillivray's Warblers were changed/moved to the genus Geothlypis, had to look that up.

Suddenly, a tornado of bees (300+) circled overhead and moved toward the trail.  As we watched them approach, we noticed a Nashville Warbler high in a cottonwood tree (just to right/west of the above inlet/outlet canal).

When we continued counterclockwise around the Preserve (by way of the Highline Canal trail), many additional birds found included five Common Yellowthroats, one Yellow-breasted Chat, and another Northern Waterthrush.

This Northern Waterthrush was along the canal and about 10 yards south of the most eastern pond at the preserve.

The Green Heron reported by Jared at the most eastern/southern pond was not found by us.  However, later we found a Green Heron on the most western pond (the one with the wooden bridge at its northeastern end).

Note while the ponds are situated east to west, I prefer northern to southern, which they are also.

Many Common Grackles, Chipping Sparrows, two American White Pelicans, a Double-crested Cormorant and one Great-tailed Grackle were also at the Preserve.

Later, Rebecca and I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Black-chinned Hummingbird is back at the ranger's office.  Three Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were also in the area.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Birding Outside the East Side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal

May 11, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I walked Buckley Road north of 56th avenue to 88th avenue.  Burrowing Owls were found both in Adams County (4) and in Denver County (2).

Quite a few Lark Sparrows, one Brewer's Sparrow and one Rock Wren were found along the trek.

After a picnic on a fallen log at the new First Creek Trail, we walked east to 56th avenue.  Only a few birds were moving along the route.  A Virginia Rail called unprovoked from the cattail marsh near 56th avenue.  Two Spotted Sandpipers and two Killdeer walked along the 56th Pond.

It started to rain on our way back.  We stood under the Light Rail Bridge for about 30 minutes waiting for the rain to stop.  Many birds flew around in the rain. While under the bridge, we counted a pair of Say's Phoebes, a pair of Yellow Warblers, a Song Sparrow, two Black-capped Chickadees and half a dozen Lark Sparrows.

When it became obvious that the rain was not going to stop, we took off in the downpour.

Surprisingly, many birds were flying around now.  Additional Lark Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Robins, Common Grackles and House Wrens were counted.

A dozen birds fluttered about the First Creek trailhead.  The most interesting was one of three Wood-peewees.  Two were definitely Western Wood-pewee looking. 

A third Wood-Pewee was off catching bugs by itself.  Its wingbars were wide and white looking.  Its lower mandible was mostly orangish.  The bird may have been an Eastern Wood-Pewee.  Unfortunately, none of them called.  No way to be sure, which it was, I recorded it as unknown Wood-Pewee.

Both of us were soaked when we reached the warm, dry car.

Return to Weld County and Bluff Lake Nature Area

May 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I returned to private ranches first visited on 5/9.

At private ranch # 1: 2 Mountain Plover (5/9), Nashville Warbler (5/9), Cassin's Kingbird (5/9),  2 Lark Buntings and 4 Bullock's Orioles.

At private ranch # 2: Harris's Sparrow (5/9), Ovenbird (5/9), 6 Lark Buntings, 2 Burrowing Owls, McCown's Longspurs, 1 Chestnut-collared Longspur, Bullock's Orioles, House Wrens.

At private ranch # 3: missed yesterday's warblers but found a Barn Owl and Broad-winged Hawk.

After conducting bird counts this morning at three private ranches in Weld County, I picked up Rebecca Kosten and we headed to Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County).

Anyone else notice the funnel cloud hanging over Forest City (just south of the Nature Area)?  We debated on leaving; however, once on Peoria Street hundreds of cars were stopped.  So we returned to the Nature Area to wait the storm out.

It poured incessantly for about 20 minutes.  Then rain and hail stopped and the sun broke through the clouds.  We walked the one mile loop around Bluff Lake.

Almost no birds were seen along the northern side of the lake (the dam side).  The eastern side was another story.  A Nashville Warbler joined eight Yellow-rumped Warblers and two Black-capped Chickadees.

The warbler stayed high in the cottonwoods.  We walked the upper trail and were tree top level while scoping the trees.

Farther south at the little pond formed by an inlet canal we observed a bird that could have been a Northern Waterthrush.  Unfortunately, we only had a view of its back, flanks and tail.  Missed the head and therefore only recorded possible Northern Waterthrush.

Back at the upper tier north of the parking lot, we sat down and scoped Sand Creek.  Rebecca pointed out a red bird about 100 yards east of the sign "no access to Peoria Street".

We rushed back down and found a male Summer Tanager!  It also stayed high in the cottonwoods.  When we left, it was just west of the clearing with the many downed "whitish" trees.

Once again, up at the upper flat area, we noticed dozens of sparrows.  Eventually the count was 27 Chipping, 2 Brewer's, 1 Clay-colored, 2 Lark and 4 White-crowned Sparrows.

A quite reddish sparrow was viewed several times coming in and out of the sagebrush (as did all the others).  It was too small to be a Fox Sparrow; it was not a White-crowned Sparrow or Song Sparrow.  I will have to check my "Sparrows and Buntings" Byers, Curson & Olsson to see what subspecies of sparrow it might have been.

One final highlight, while trying to see the sparrows an Eastern Phoebe stopped on top of one of the sagebrush bushes.  Winds were 12 mph, gusts to 17 mph.  It blew in from who knows where.

Other birds encountered one male Broad-tailed Hummingbird, two Say's Phoebes, two male American Goldfinches, two Swainson's Hawks and one Red-tailed Hawk.  Not many birds for such a large birding area.

Bluff Lake Nature Area has potential to attract some interesting migrating birds.  We heard a Virginia Rail down in the cattails, no Sora today.

Birding Around Weld County

May 9, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I started our birding day at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  The northern sections (north of Hwy 52) are closed until July 15.  We walked from Hwy 52 to the southern end.  Winds were 8 mph; skies partly sunny.

A Black-and-white Warbler was found in the Pond 3 eastern riparian area.  The highlight of the morning was a male Northern Parula along the eastern side of Pond 2.  A Long-eared Owl was found west of Pond 4.  Meager sightings considering the long 2.5 mile walk.

We then visited a friend's ranch in Weld County (called private ranch # 1 for our records).  Besides the interesting birds we found (it was quite birdy), Jim later introduced us (Colorado Birding Society) to two additional ranchers who granted permission for us to conduct bird counts!

On private ranch # 1, we found many birds which included: a Cassin's Kingbird, 3 Western Kingbirds, 2 Long-billed Curlews, 2 Mountain Plover, a Nashville Warbler and Northern Waterthrush.  The ranch does not have a creek, however it does have two ponds.

On private ranch # 2 (Weld) we came across a Lazuli Bunting, Harris's Sparrow and Ovenbird!

On private ranch # 3 (Morgan) we added another Nashville Warbler and a Hooded Warbler (expansive riparian area, creek & ponds).

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Barr Lake

May 8, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I returned to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The two Eastern Phoebes were again along the canal along 64th street, just west of Potomac Avenue.

Nothing much was on Lake Ladora or Lower Derby Lake or at Marys Lake.

Next, I spent a couple of hours birding Barr Lake (Adams).  I walked from the Visitor's Center to the boat ramp and back to the western end of the Niedrach boardwalk.

I thought the recent rainstorms would bring some migrating birds.  They did not.  First of the season birds included: Bullock's Oriole and Western Wood-pewee.

Yesterday's Eastern Bluebirds and Cassin's Kingbird were not found.

Yet Another Grouse Trip

May 1-7, 2016

Four of us set out on another Grouse Trip.  We only had a couple of different sightings from my previous 2016 Trips.  Weather was a little better than the last trip; however, we did see some snow and rain.

May 1
Bob Kraft (Minnesota birder), Terry & Liz Rodgers (Wisconsin) and I took off before sunrise to beat the Sunday traffic into the mountains.

On the way to my favorite White-tailed Ptarmigan spot on Loveland Pass (hillside to east of Highway 6 at first pullover on west side of Highway 6), Bob pointed out a White-tailed Ptarmigan. 

One of the easier Ptarmigan searches (for a change), the bird walked the ridge on the north side of Hwy 6, about 300 yards before the pullover.  Later we found another across from the pullover below the ridge.

Back at the Summit, we scoped for additional Ptarmigan, without success.  About 100+ Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled overhead.  What a bonus treat that was.

Later we found three species of Rosy Finches at a friend's yard in Summit County.   No Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit).

At Kremmling we detoured east to Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand County).   At least 20 Barrow's Goldeneyes swam near the northern end.  Some Common Goldeneyes were also in the mix.

Our birding day ended while we watched 50+ Greater Sage-Grouse at the Jackson County Road 26b Lek.

May 2
Just before sunrise we parked at the 20 Road Lek (Routt).  Eventually ten Sharp-tailed Grouse flew from the east side of the road and displayed on the western side!

Next we drove over to the 80 Route.  A male Dusky Grouse was displaying near the second cattle guard (its usual spot).

The road had a few spots with drifted snow; our Ford Expedition had no problem getting through them.

About fourteen Greater Sage-Grouse danced around their lek (see Colorado Birding Society's website for directions:

Seven Sharp-tailed Grouse were spotted running around the sage at the old Jimmy Dunn State Trust Lands lek.  A Golden Eagle flew by while we watched the Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Nothing uncommon was found on Perch Pond (Moffat) while we drove between Craig and Rifle.  Our next stop was Coal Canyon (Cameo, Mesa County). 

Several Black-throated Sparrows and a Gray Flycatcher were around the large parking area at the second iron pipe gate.  I played a Chukar recording and a Chukar hopped up on a large rock southwest of the parking lot.

We then headed to the Grand Mesa (Mesa County).  My usual route is to drive to the Visitor's Center, wait until dark and backtrack toward I70.  Then we stopped at several pullovers looking for Boreal Owls.

On the trip up, we stopped at a Northern Saw-whet Owl nest I had found on previous trips.  A stop at Powderhorn Ski Area did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls or American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

After dark, we drove back from the Visitor's Center and eventually found a Boreal Owl at the second pullover south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

A stop at the Grand Mesa Lodge did not find any Boreal Owls or previously reported Western Screech-Owl.

May 3
A "day of rest", we did not get up until just before sunrise.

Black-throated Sparrows were found along the Devil's Kitchen trail, Colorado National Monument (Mesa).

Black-throated Gray Warblers, four Pinyon Jays, three Juniper Titmice and White-throated Swifts were around the Colorado National Monument Campgrounds.

A stop at Connected Lakes State Park added a Western Screech-Owl to our trip list.  The Long-tailed Duck was still on the Redlands Parkway Ponds.

The "famous" Phoebe Rock area added a Black Phoebe to our bird list.

The Black-bellied Plover and Bonaparte's Gull found yesterday by Jason Beason were not found by us today.

We had to drive down Baxter Pass Road (Mesa) to find two Sagebrush Sparrows, half a dozen Sage Thrashers and the resident Long-eared Owl.

Then we turned south to Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta).  The only Lewis's Woodpecker found was along Meyer's Road.  None was at Evelyn Horn's yard or Eckert Post Office.

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  Unfortunately the gate was still closed at the Visitor's Center.  Best Dusky Grouse locations are farther west.  However, we did find one male Dusky Grouse walking along the South Rim Road at 200 yards west of the Campgrounds entrance.

May 4
Our birding day started at the Waunita Hot Springs area (Gunnison).  Four Gunnison Sage-Grouse eventually wandered near the lek.  Bird numbers are definitely down from early in 2016 and past years.

A stop at the pullover at the top of Monarch Pass relocated two male American Three-toed Woodpeckers. One was drumming on the north side of Highway 50, another the south side.

We found our Curve-billed Thrasher along Pueblo County Road IL.  Then continued east and south to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).

A Long-billed Curlew was found along CR 10 as we drove to Cottonwood Canyon.  Just after sunset, a Western Screech-Owl was found around the camping area.

May 5
We watched two Lesser Prairie-Chickens come to a lek in Baca County.  See previous posts about this "lek".

A stop and walk along the gravel road leading north from the old Campo Lek added 2 Cassin's Sparrows as well as Clay-colored, Brewer's, Vesper, Grasshopper and White-crowned Sparrows to our trip list.

Then we returned to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  In several hours we found:
Tennessee Warbler, Gray Flycatcher, 2 Mississippi Kites, 4 Eastern Phoebes, 2 Rufous-crowned Sparrows and a male Northern Cardinal (Planer:Trainer, 5/2).

Other birds found included: Canyon Towhees, Bewick's Wrens, Chihuahuan Ravens, Rock Wrens, Ladder-backed Woodpecker (pair), Say's Phoebe and Lark Sparrows and Song Sparrows.

Unfortunately we had an appointment in Wray (200 miles to the north).  It hurts to pass so many great birding spots along the drive.  Time did not allow for any lengthy stops.

May 6
While my birding companions went to a private Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek, I walked around Wray.  Nothing uncommon was found.  I did walk to three friend's homes to say "hi".

The reward was three male and a female Northern Cardinals (spread over two yards), a Broad-winged Hawk and a red form Fox Sparrow.  Nothing uncommon was found at Wray City Park.

After reuniting with my birding friends the four of us explored around Wray (Yuma).

At the Wray Fishing Unit we found two Eastern Phoebes, two Eastern Bluebirds a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Barn Owl.

At nearby Stalker Pond we added a Baltimore Oriole and two Northern Cardinals to our trip list.

Then we headed north to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  An Upland Sandpiper was on a fence post along Highway 138 (Logan). 

Not much was on Jumbo Reservoir; the highlight was a Common Tern that flew by several times.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker rattled in the Campgrounds.  A Long-eared Owl was found while scoping below Logan County Road 95 (northwest corner of Jumbo).  We hoped to find a Least Bittern or Green Heron (did not).

A Short-eared Owl flew over the fields south of Jumbo Reservoir at dusk.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl called from north of Jumbo Reservoir.

The guys insisted on a rest so their birding day ended.  We continued on to Sterling.  I went out by myself and did some owling.   No owls were found at Overland Park (Logan).  I did coax an Eastern Screech-Owl to call at Pioneer Park.

May 7
While the others ate breakfast, I wandered over to the South Platte River at Highway 6.  A few Barn Swallows, Cliff Swallows, Tree Swallows and one Violet-green Swallow hawked insects over the river.  No Purple Martins appeared.  I checked the parks and cemetery for Mississippi Kites; none was found.

Our trek continued west to Briggsdale (Weld).  A Mountain Plover was in the field west of Weld County Road 79 when we drove down it for about a mile.

Crow Valley Campgrounds (Weld) was interesting.  We eventually found a Least Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe and the lingering Red-bellied Woodpecker.  More common Brown Thrasher, House Wrens and White-crowned Sparrows were scattered around.  No warblers were found.

A quick detour to Weld County Road 96 (three miles north of Crow Valley Campground) found one Chestnut-collared Longspur and many McCown's Longspurs east of County Road 69.

Our plan had been to look for shorebirds at Lower Latham Reservoir and Beebe Draw Ponds (Weld).  A radio report of the tornado 20 miles southwest of Lower Latham Reservoir and moving northeast changed our plans.  We headed south as rapidly as possible.

One final stop, Barr Lake (Adams) ended our birding trip.  We encountered:
    Black-and-white Warbler --mile 8.8
    Cassin's Kingbird --mile 8.9
    Barn Owl --banding station
    Eastern Bluebird (3 male) --southwestern end of the Niedrach Trail

Oh, we did pick up two Burrowing Owls at 3rd Creek & West Cargo Road on the way to the airport (not literally :-)