Monday, June 27, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 26, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove out to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) after a late lunch.  Temperatures were still around 90 degrees; winds were measured at 11 mph.

We searched for the Eastern Phoebe(s) at the 6th avenue and Potomac canal.  None was found in the hour we watched the area.  I had hip boots and checked on their nest under the road.  No sign of Eastern Phoebes or dead young.  If the young fledged in the last three days, we found no signs of them today.

A search for the possible Eastern Meadowlark that has been reported on the north side of the Lake Ladora trail also was not successful.  It was quite hot and most of the 14+ Meadowlarks were not singing.  No conclusion that it has moved on could be made.

We walked the Locust Loop Trail (north of the old Contact Station/Visitor's Center) to 72nd Avenue found a Sage Thrasher and Northern Mockingbird.

Thirty minutes before sunset, we found two Long-eared Owls and a Barn Owl at the Legacy Trail.  The park closes at sunset and we had to depart rapidly.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Another Drive In Eastern Arapahoe County

June 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I took Patty McGuire and Jake & Jamey Groat on a ride on the Eastern Arapahoe County roads this morning.  Temperatures were warmer than yesterday (into the low 90s) and winds were 11+ mph.

Two Dickcissels were relocated north of the electric building along Strasburg Road approximately 4.5 miles south of I70.  The Cassin's Kingbird remained along CR 161 at 0.4 miles south of CR 30.  A Northern Mockingbird continued to sing along Knudtson Road at 1.0 miles east of CR 161.  Two Cassin's Kingbirds were there today.

Much of the day remained and we drove to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  One Long-eared Owl was found at the western Campgrounds.

We decided not to continue to Prewitt Reservoir (Washington) and look for the Western Gull.  Instead drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) and relocated a Burrowing Owl at Trussville Road & 114th Avenue.

Search for the Elusive Arapahoe County Mountain Plover

June 24, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Cloudy afternoon skies kept temperatures in the high 80s; winds were 6 mph (except for a brief 20 minute cold front that blew through eastern Arapahoe County).

Rebecca Kosten and I returned to Eastern Arapahoe County in search of the elusive Mountain Plover for our checklists.  We also brought some meats for our new friends (June 22).

Three Dickcissels were again photographed at 0.8 miles north of the electric building along Strasburg Road (4.5 miles south of I70).

Although hiding well, we managed to relocate the Cassin's Kingbird along Knudtson Road at 0.4 miles south of CR 30 (E. Quincy Road).

The two Northern Mockingbirds were again at the cut hillside along Knudtson Road at 1.0 miles east of County Road 161.  Today they were joined by a Cassin's Kingbird.

The number of Cassin's Kingbirds in Eastern Arapahoe County comes as a surprise.  Before the day was over, the Cassin's Kingbird count was nine spread over seven locations.

Hundreds of Lark Buntings were found along CR 157 (Strasburg Road) to CR 30 (East Quincy Road) to Knudtson Road to CR 181. 

At least a dozen Grasshopper Sparrows were also observed.  The Loggerhead Shrike count was 17!  One pair had a nest along the route.

A Long-billed Curlew flew from east to west at the southwest corner of CR 181 & CR 42.

Our friends invited us to join them for a barbecue.  Our birding day ended by listening to an Eastern Screech-Owl along East Bijou Creek.

We searched a field that had a reliable report of two last week and two fields Mountain Plover summered last year.  No Mountain Plovers were found. 

Mountain Birding in Clear Creek & Jefferson Counties

June 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Kat McGuire and I did some mountain birding today.  Temperatures were warm even above Idaho Springs.

One Barrow's Goldeneye was swimming on Echo Lake (Clear Creek County) as we passed by.  In recent years, I had found a female on a nest high in the evergreen trees.  We did not look today.

A walk to the northeastern corner of Summit Lake found three Brown-capped Rosy Finches circling overhead.  Twice they lit on the rocky hillside.

We walked around the field east of the Summit Lake parking area for just over an hour before finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan.  The male bird was approximately 400 yards east of the main road.

We circled the road through the Campgrounds without finding an American Three-toed Woodpecker.  Then a short hike down the Mt Captain trail found a male drumming 20 yards south of the trail and 60 yards east of the Campgrounds.

A search for Dusky Grouse and Williamson's Sapsuckers at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) was half successful.  A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was within 30 yards of the top of the park.  Another male Williamson's Sapsucker was just north of the group picnic pavilion.

Our birding day ended at Mt Falcon.  Again, we missed any Dusky Grouse.  A calling Northern Pygmy-Owl was a great consolation.  The bird was west of the overlook and south of the main trail.

Other birds included Red Crossbills, Mountain Bluebirds, three species of nuthatches and Pine Siskins.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Return Drive Around Eastern Arapahoe County

June 22, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I took advantage of another break in the hot summer temperatures and drove Eastern Arapahoe County again.  We enjoyed the interesting drive. 

Parts of this report were left off my email to "cobirders" listserve.  Nesting bird locations are being protected from disturbance.

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo pair is nesting on private land along Kiowa Creek (Arapahoe County).  We are monitoring progress by scoping from a distance.  Updates will follow any additional activity.

Along Strasburg Road (CR 157) at 1.0 miles north of CR 26 (approximately 4.5 miles south of I70) there is an electrical building.  Between the first and fourth telephone poles north of this building, we photographed two Dickcissel on the east side of CR 157.  Another two Dickcissel were on the west side of the road.

We continued south on CR 157 to East Quincy Road (CR 30), turned east one mile to CR 161, then south on CR 161.  A Cassin's Kingbird sang in the two small groups of trees 0.4 miles south of CR 30.

Continuing south to Knudtson Road (CR 42), another Cassin's Kingbird was just east of the intersection.  0.8 miles east of CR 161, we found another Dickcissel. 

Then 0.3 miles farther east (1.1 miles east of CR 161) there was a cut in the hill on the north side of Knudtson Road.  Two Northern Mockingbirds sang from the trees at the cut.

While stopped at the Arapahoe County Road 42 Bridge over West Bijou Creek a rancher stopped to see what we were doing.  She invited us to her ranch to identify an owl in a cottonwood tree.  The owl was an Eastern Screech-Owl.  She said there was one pair there and another pair farther south on her property.  No young have been discovered yet; we plan to take her up on the offer to return anytime and monitor progress.

East on Knudtson road to CR 181, then north on CR 181 to East 38th avenue (Woodis Road).  Another Dickcissel was 0.1-0.2 miles east of CR 181/E. 38th avenue.

From the time we left East Quincy Road (CR 30) going south on Knudtson Road to Woodis Road, hundreds of Lark Buntings were observed.  We also photographed a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes and their nest.  Loggerhead Shrike count exceeded nine.  Also photographed were two Grasshopper Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow, and many Western Kingbirds.

Unfortunately, we ran out of daylight when we arrived at the old Kiowa/Bennett Rest Stop.  No owls were detected there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Continued Boreal Owl Survey

June 20-22, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I returned to the Colorado State Forest to finish our 2016 survey of the nesting boxes.  We finished all but eight boxes, which will require a bit of hiking reaching.  I may try for some of them next week.

We did not find any boxes used by owls this year.  Eventually we did find seven additional Boreal Owls and two Flammulated Owls near boxes.  Add one Flammulated Owl and one Boreal Owl from last week's trip.

Five Boreal Owls and two Flammulated Owls were encountered along the North Fork Canadian River and Road.  The other two Boreal Owls and a Long-eared Owl were found along the Michigan Ditch.

The Canadian Road transect required a seven mile round trip hike past the locked gate at the end of CR 41. 

The Michigan Ditch Transect was 11 miles round trip.  The nesting boxes were checked during the day.  All the owls were encountered after sunset and before sunrise.

The exhausting hikes were enjoyable, however quite demanding.

Terry and I returned to Denver around noon on Wednesday.  I dropped him off and recouped with a drive around Arapahoe County.

Between hikes we found an American Three-toed Woodpecker at Ranger Lakes on 6/21.  Three Boreal Owls were found before midnight 6/19 between Cameron Pass and 1.2 miles to the west!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Eastern Arapahoe County

June 20, 2016

Rebecca Kosten:

Richard Stevens and I took advantage of the cooler temperatures this morning and drove around eastern Arapahoe County. 

We couldn't find the previously reported Cassin's Kingbirds.  One Dickcissel was still along Quincy Avenue just east of the Kiowa Creek Sporting Club.  Another Dickcissel was along Strasburg Road, just south of Arapahoe CR 10.

Later we drove the DIA Owl Loop and found Burrowing Owls at Third Creek and West Cargo Road and the southwest corner of Trussville Road & 114th avenue; Adams/Denver Counties.

The Barn Owls are still in the nesting boxes at Barr Lake State Park; Adams County.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 19, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I thought about a place to bird before the heat arrived.  Temperatures did reach 97 degrees long after we returned home.

The Eastern Meadowlark was heard and briefly seen about 60-80 yards north of the northern end of the Lake Ladora trail at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).

One Eastern Phoebe was relocated along the 6th avenue canal west of Potomac Street.  Today the male? was 40 yards south of 6th avenue.  We did not stay to watch him collect and take bugs to the nest today.

Few birds moved about, 100+ bison crossed the road in front and behind our vehicle when I accidentally had parked in front of their favored path across 7th avenue.

Temperatures were still in the 90s an hour before sunset.  We decided not to go back out birding.

Boreal Owl Count and Successful Detours

June 14-18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I drove up to Jackson County to conduct my 2016 Boreal Owl count.  Temperatures were not much cooler in Jackson County.  The 80s up there were hot; however, not as bad as the low 90s on the plains.

June 14

Terry Michaels and I headed up to Jackson County by way of Pennock Pass (Larimer County).  A stop at a friend's ranch near Loveland found one Northern Saw-whet Owl.  They have nested on his property for the past six years.

Eventually we found two Flammulated Owls along CR 44h.

One Boreal Owl was 0.2 miles east of Cameron Pass in Larimer County.

June 15

Four hours before sunrise, we heard a Boreal Owl while we walked along highway 14, 0.1 miles west of the Cameron Pass summit.

A couple of hours before sunrise we walked up Ruby Jewell Road in the Colorado State Forest.  A Flammulated Owl was heard around the clearing approximately 0.2 miles east of Jackson County Road 41.

A Boreal Owl was found about another 0.5 miles up (east) the road.

Back at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center, we relocated the male American Three-toed Woodpecker on the north side of highway 14.  His distinct drumming gave his location away.

While we would not find Boreal Owls at Ranger Lakes, we did see an American Three-toed Woodpecker about 30 minutes before sunset.

During the day, we checked 38 owl boxes.  All were empty.

At one time, I had 154 owl boxes in the Colorado State Forest.  Regrettably, tree harvesting has greatly reduced that number to a little over 100.

June 16

Terry and I continued our Boreal Owl count.  The boxes closer to roads were checked yesterday.  Today owl box inspections required longer hikes into the forest.

Eventually we checked 31 boxes.  None was occupied by an owl.  We did have one American Kestrel family and one chipmunk.

To rest our legs, we walked the Crags Campgrounds after dark.  One Boreal Owl was heard along the fire road south of the Campgrounds.

June 17

Our plan today was to drive highway 14 back toward Fort Collins and search for owls at the many picnic areas and Campgrounds along the route.

Our count was two Northern Pygmy-Owls, one Flammulated Owl and four Great Horned Owls (three may have been one family).

We had planned to stay around the Larimer County Road 5 area and search for Baird's Sparrows late in the afternoon. 

However, hearing about a Western Gull at Prewitt Reservoir (Washington County), we rushed to the reservoir.

On the trip over, we detoured at Washington County Road 56 and CR Q.  Two Dickcissels were singing along CR Q, only a few hundred yards east of CR 56.  Temperatures were in the 90s; we were surprised to see the Dickcissels so active.

At Prewitt Reservoir, the 2nd year Western Gull was standing on logs not far off the shore at the cove west of the Campgrounds.  We also found the reported Lesser Black-backed Gull.  A Thayer's Gull was our own find!

Photos of the Western Gull are posted on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library:

Mosquitoes were not bad and we decided bird the large reservoir.  Quite a few interesting birds were scattered around the surrounding riparian area.

Eventually we found one Baltimore Oriole, one Great Crested Flycatcher, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Yellow-billed Cuckoos (calling around dusk), and a Dusky Flycatcher.

After sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recording played near the western inlet.

We drove to Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) in the cool evening.

June 18

Just before sunrise, Terry and I drove the northern section of Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) in search of Sharp-tailed Grouse.  None was found this morning.

Eventually we did run across a Chestnut-collared Longspur and two Burrowing Owls along CR 96, east of CR 69.  We could not find the Black-throated Sparrow reported in the area the day before.

A Mountain Plover continued to roam the field along CR 79, south of Highway 14.

A female Mountain Plover and two young were observed at a nest we had been monitoring for a month! 

We scoped the field at Highway 14 & Weld County Road 114 and counted at least two male Chestnut-collared Longspurs displaying quite far from the road.  The Upland Sandpiper reported yesterday was not found.

Several hours were spent driving the northern Larimer County Roads (CR 5, CR 92, etc).  Eventually the effort was rewarded with a Baird's Sparrow sighting in the previously reported CR 92 location. 

Then we headed for Denver and home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meadowlarks at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 13, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It was another superb morning in Colorado.  Winds were negligible and temperatures around 57 degrees at 5:00 am.

Rebecca Kosten and I sat outside the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) at 5:00 am.  A Barn Owl was perched on the entrance fence.  We were "allowed" to watch him for a good five minutes before he took off into the Arsenal!

The gate opened up on time (at sunset 5:31 am) and we drove to Lake Ladora.  We could hear the reported Eastern Meadowlark when we stepped out of the car. 

The meadowlark was about 500 yards to the north at the extreme north side of Lake Ladora.  He continued to sing and we approached within 22 yards (measured with laser after the bird flew away).

We captured 728 photos and two 1-minute videos with audio.

My notes on the "Eastern Meadowlark" during and when seeing photos and listening to video/audio later at home.  The bird clearly lacked yellow on its malar area.

It sounded "weird", not anything like a Western Meadowlark but not exactly like an Eastern Meadowlark.  Its call note was also a little strange.  We thought closer to an Eastern Meadowlark.

The flank of the bird was spotted on its right side; however, they were streaked on its left side.  Again, we thought that strange.  Its head had quite strong, contrasting head stripes (would this be so on a Western Meadowlark)?

Eugene M. McCarthy writes in "Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World" that hybrids between Western and Eastern Meadowlarks are common and difficult to recognize due to similarity to parents. 

Lanyon wrote that 90 percent of 158 eggs between Western & Eastern Meadowlark breeding in his study were fertile (comparable to pure matings).  I.e. hybrids maybe common. 

This bird looked like an Eastern Meadowlark and sounded close to one.  We will wait to see what other birders think.

Later we drove around looking for a reported Blue Grosbeak (not found).  The Eastern Phoebe was perched along the canal below the north side of 6th avenue.  Several times, he flew with a beak full of bugs into the drainage below 6th avenue.

Just outside the entrance is Gateway Open Space.  A large pond is north of the road.  We counted 16 American Avocets, which have been recorded nesting around the pond.

As we drove past the pond, two adult American Avocets were making quite a racket.  The reason quickly become obvious when a young Avocet jumping onto the road.

He just would not leave.  I had to get out of the car and chase him off the road.  All the time, the two adults dove at me (coming quite close to my head).  COOL!   

We then retreated to home before the rain and big hail hit the area.

Birding Northern Jefferson County Back to Adams County

June 12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It rained rather hard last night and grasses were quite wet behind the Apex Center in Arvada (Jefferson).  Winds were 8mph and temperatures hovered around 62 degrees when we arrived at 7:00 am.

No Bobolinks were insight during the first 20 minutes we scanned the field behind the recreation center.  When the sun hit the field birds started to emerge from the tall grass.

Eventually Rebecca and I saw four male Bobolinks and one female.  Several times male Bobolinks flew close to us.  They were more interested in the female than us.  Was the female trying to use us to ward off the males?

Later we stopped at the Van Bibber Trail and relocated one of the two Eastern Screech-Owls, residents in the area.

Our next stop was Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge.  The Refuge has some brilliant and diverse habitat.  This includes thick riparian areas, several ponds with dense undercover and cattail marshes, and wide-open Prairie grasslands.

We would expect the bird checklist here to be much bigger than it is.  Perhaps the lack of birder visits accounts for the short bird list?

Only three uncommon birds were found.  However, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was a great find for us!  The cuckoo was in the northeastern corner of the wildlife refuge. 

Note: we decided not to report it to the birding community to keep down disturbance to the bird.  We did send a text message to half a dozen birders hoping they would witness the sighting for us.  Unfortunately, we have not heard of additional reports (as of 6/14).

Two Bushtits were carrying nesting material and shoring up a nest along the north side of the property.

After breakfast, we drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The Eastern Phoebe was perched just below 6th avenue at the Potomac Street canal. We again missed relocating any Blue Grosbeaks.

We then rushed home at temperatures were rising.

Morning at Barr Lake & DIA Owl Loop

June 11, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Another pleasant summer morning.  Winds were 6 mph; temperature was 61 degrees at 6:00 am.

Email sent to cobirders listserve (see Colorado Birding Society's website for details);

Resting today after a great trip to northeastern Colorado this week, Rebecca and I got out of the house about 5:30 am.  A drive through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) found the Eastern Phoebe catching bugs and feeding a female and/or young.

Four Barn Owls can be found at Barr Lake (Adams) if you look hard enough.  The two Osprey were on the nesting platform east of the banding station.

A drive along the DIA Owl Loop found two Burrowing Owls at Trussville & 114th (inside the chain link fence).  Another five were at W. Cargo Road and Third Creek.   We also had one on a post right along 114th avenue at the northeast corner of the DIA chain link fence.

I will put photos of the Burrowing Owl on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library later.  Off birding in a few minutes.

Later in the afternoon, we drove to Eastern Arapahoe County in search of the Dickcissel reported this morning by Gene Rutherford.

  (1) CR 14/just east/Strasburg Road (Gene Rutherford) first 6/11
  (1) Woodis Road/just west/CR 193 (Gene Rutherford) first 6/11

While they were not relocated, we did find one on the telephone wires along East Quincy Road, just east of the Kiowa Sporting Club.

Our birding day ended as we watched for Short-eared Owls along West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  None appeared tonight.

Final Spring Northeastern Trip

June 5 to 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed another interesting trip to Northeastern Colorado.  Weather was mixed with thunderstorms, calm skies, cool and warm temperatures.  I switched birding companions several times.

June 5
Terry Michaels and I started our northeastern trip by heading north to Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld).

Half a dozen White-rumped Sandpipers lingered along Weld County Road 48, south side of Lower Latham Reservoir.

Crow Valley Campground (Weld) still has quite a bit of water flooding it.  We managed to see a previously reported Cassin's Kingbird and Baltimore Oriole.

We checked on the progress of a nesting Mountain Plover on Pawnee National Grasslands.  The female was observed wandering around collecting food.  Two unhatched eggs are in the nest.

A friend had sent a text message that a Northern Saw-whet Owl was calling this morning on his ranch.  Unfortunately, we were not able to find it.  Perhaps an Eastern Screech-Owl nesting near the Saw-whet Owl site had chased it off?

A male Chestnut-sided Warbler fluttering around willows surrounding the ranch house was a nice consolation prize!

Two Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found in the field at the southeast corner of Hwy 85 & Weld County Road 114.  I have a permit to enter the field and am not sure if one is still required.  Read the sign at the entrance gate for possible details (it is unclear).

Our birding day ended at the CPER.  We walked along appropriately called Owl Creek.  A Short-eared Owl was found northeast of the CPER Center.  Farther north, we heard two Great Horned Owls also along Owl Creek.

June 6

Terry Michaels and I were up early driving the Logan County Roads in search of Upland Sandpipers near the Red Lion Wildlife Area.  A stop at a friend's ranch found the only Upland Sandpiper encountered this morning.

Most of the morning and early afternoon was spent at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  We enjoyed a great birding experience.

Eventually we found 4 Bell's Vireos, 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, 3 Baltimore Orioles, 2 Northern Cardinals, 6 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 Field Sparrows, 3 Great Crested Flycatchers, 2 Cassin's Sparrows and a Red-eyed Vireo! 

Later we walked around Red Lion Wildlife Area (Little Jumbo Reservoir, Logan) and found an additional Bell's Vireo and a Magnolia Warbler.

Late in the afternoon, we relocated a Baltimore Oriole at Jumbo Reservoir.  We missed finding the resident Long-eared Owls today; however, an Eastern Screech-Owl was heard along the north side of the reservoir.

June 7, 2016

Terry Michaels had to return to Denver yesterday evening.  I stayed at Roger Danka's ranch.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls called as we enjoyed the midnight air and a late barbecue.

Just before sunrise, we drove the Logan County Roads and Highway 138 in search of Upland Sandpipers.  This morning we located one along Hwy 138 near Logan County Road 95!

Duck Creek Wildlife Area gets some interesting bird sightings.  Regrettably, I have not enjoyed the fortune that other birders have.  Roger and I did find a Baltimore Oriole and Red-bellied Woodpecker, no Upland Sandpipers, uncommon warblers or sparrows.

We enjoyed better birding at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area (Logan).  Here we found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-bellied Woodpecker & two Eastern Bluebirds.

At Sedgwick Cemetery, we missed the previously reported Baltimore Oriole; however, we did find a male Red-bellied Woodpecker,

We stood watch at Sedgwick Draw (Sedgwick) at dusk.   No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

June 8

Today Roger and I were joined by Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons (my ride back to Denver in a few days).

We stopped at several ranches in Sedgwick County.  I added Long-eared Owls (private ranch #2), Eastern Wood-Pewee (private ranch #2), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (private ranch #3), Red-bellied Woodpeckers (private ranch #2, #3), Baltimore Oriole (private ranch #3), Field Sparrow (private ranch #5), and Eastern Screech-Owl (private ranch #5) to my trip list.

We were happy to see the Yellow-billed Cuckoo; however would have preferred a Black-billed Cuckoo.

The highlight of the day came at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).   An Eastern Meadowlark was singing along the eastern border of the Wildlife Area. Close views confirmed the hearing/sighting), no yellow on its malar.  When it flew, we could tell it was an Eastern Meadowlark and not a "Lilian's" Eastern Meadowlark.

Keep an eye out on those Eastern Meadowlarks; Lilian's may soon be split from the Eastern Meadowlark complex.

We enjoyed a fantastic barbecue at sunset.  The Eastern Screech-Owl again called at dusk.

June 9, 2016

Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and I turned south today.  We sat at the Yuma County Road 45 Leks at first light.  No Greater Prairie-Chicken displayed this morning.

Walks around several birding areas found some interesting birds.

A Dickcissel was singing along Yuma County Road CC when we drove to Sandsage Wildlife Area.

Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma) added 2 Northern Cardinals, a male and female Baltimore Oriole, and calling Great Crested Flycatcher to our day list.

The Eastern Phoebes are still at Stalker Pond.  Another Northern Cardinal was encountered here.

Wray City Park added a Townsend's Warbler to our day.  Reports of Townsend's Warblers across Colorado are down this spring.  In the past, they seem to appear near the end of migration, almost signaling the end of spring migration.  Perhaps migration is not over for the season?

A walk around Beecher Island one of my favorite stops for historical reasons found another Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Phoebe.

We walked down the Republican River at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (east of Hwy 385) at dusk.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard.

A Common Poorwill responded to our recordings when played at Hale Ponds.  We hoped for a Whip-poor-will instead.  We even wandered into Kansas for an hour hoping to conjure up one; without success.

June 10, 2016

Migration was not over at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area and Hale Ponds.  We hiked quite a distance today covering both sides of Bonny Reservoir, Hale and Hale Ponds.

At Hale Ponds we came across Red-eyed Vireos, Eastern Phoebe, Harris's Sparrow, Dickcissel, Baltimore Orioles, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Bobwhite, and Eastern Screech-Owls (at dusk).

At Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area we found a Magnolia Warbler (old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds), Baltimore Oriole, Great Crested Flycatchers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Wild Turkey, and Northern Cardinal.

By late afternoon, it was time to head toward to Denver.

We could not resist one last stop.  Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) added another Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Red-bellied Woodpeckers to my final trip list.  Not one warbler or vireo could be found.

Back to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

June 4, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I went to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) early in the morning.

We encountered some interesting birds during our four hour walk around the southern sections of the Wildlife Area.

Highlights included a shy Hooded Warbler underbrush east of Pond 4.

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was "hidden" in the cottonwoods east of Pond 3.

A Red-eyed Vireo hawked insects at Pond 2.

A Sage Thrasher perched on a Miner's Candle near Pond 1.

A walk along the western windbreak on our way back to the Hwy 52 parking area found a Long-eared Owl and Barn Owl!

Other birds along the trek included: Spotted Towhees, many American Robins, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Cooper's Hawk and a few Blue Jays.

Trip to Jackson Reservoir

June 3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels, Dave King and I went to Jackson Reservoir this morning hoping to add Northern Cardinal to our Morgan County lists.  We did not find the Cardinal that Sue Riffe reported yesterday.  Already reported we found a Chestnut-sided Warbler and Baltimore Oriole at the State Park.  We also found one Long-eared Owl.  At least two owls have stayed at the park for over 18 months now.

This afternoon we stretched our legs at the new First Creek Trail.  We hoped to relocate the Northern Mockingbird I found yesterday along First Creek, just inside, downstream of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal eastern fence.  Highlight here was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak southwest of the Pena Blvd bridges.

The Green Valley Recreational Park where we found a Red-eyed Vireo and two Warbling Vireos is Idalia Park also called Parkfield Lake Park. 

There were few birds around Star K Ranch. A Great Horned Owl was at the southeast corner.

After dropping Terry and Dave off, I returned to inside the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Closing time is sunset, so unfortunately I could not stay until dark for some owling.  I did find/relocate a Barn Owl along the Legacy Trail.  The Eastern Phoebe(s) are still near the canal along 64th avenue.

Return to First Creek and Buckley Road

June 2, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I walked the First Creek Trail before noon.  Winds were 6 mph; temperatures were warm in the middle 80s by noon.

Nothing uncommon was found along the trail between Buckley Road & 56th avenue.  A couple of Western Wood-pewees, Yellow Warblers, a Spotted Towhee,  four Snowy Egrets, two Spotted Sandpipers and 2 Killdeer were just about it.

Then I walked north up Buckley Road for a mile or so.  A Northern Mockingbird was west of the First Creek Trailhead (inside the Arsenal)

I continued north far enough to see Burrowing Owls both in Adams & Denver Counties.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 1, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I returned to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) on this wet morning.  Winds were 6 mph, gusts to 10 mph (at times).

The Eastern Phoebe was gathering food along the canal that crosses 6th Street, just west of Potomac.  We assumed "he" then went to feed another bird on a nest.  We saw no young yet.

The long walk to the Rod & Gun Club bird blind added a female or immature male American Redstart to our day list.  The many sparrows around were those expected.

Later I drove to Castlewood Canyon.  Three male Bobolinks wandered the field south of the Winkler Ranch entrance.  I could not pick out a female.

Western Bluebirds out numbered Mountain Bluebirds along Castlewood Canyon Road between Lake Gulch Road and Castlewood Canyon State Park.

Finally, after three attempts, I found an Ovenbird along the inner trail.  Two Common Nighthawks flew overhead!

I visited a friend near the State Park; however, no Northern Saw-whet Owls were heard from his property.  Later, one Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard calling as I drove through the park on my way home.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 31, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Late in the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe Count). 

Mosquitoes are now plentiful.  We again missed the reported American Bittern at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.  A Common Nighthawk flew just above our car when we passed the Lake Loop.

Recent rains and snow melt has water levels quite high.  The southeast sand spit is under water.  No shorebirds were found today.

Trip to Jackson County

May 28-31, 2016

Richard Stevens:

May 28

Rebecca Kosten and I made a short trip to Jackson County.  Earlier in the day, we stopped by Barr Lake (Adams).  No Baltimore Orioles were found this spring (breaks my four year run of them showing up at the State Park).

We arrived at Cameron Pass an hour before sunset.  A walk down to the Crags Campgrounds was timed to arrive at dark.  One Boreal Owl was heard calling not far south of the Campgrounds.

A second Boreal Owl was heard within 0.1 miles west of the Cameron Pass summit.

May 29

Rebecca and drove up Jackson County Road 26 an hour before sunrise.  We did not make it to the CR 26b leks before observing two Greater Sage-Grouse walking along the road.  They appeared to ignore us and feed along the road.

When we arrived at the CR 26b lek, no Greater Sage-Grouse were around.

We continued west to Walden Reservoir.  Nothing uncommon was found and we continued to the Wildlife Areas along Jackson County Road 12.

We scoped Delaney Buttes from a rather muddy parking area.  Rebecca located one Greater Sage-Grouse wandering around the base of the Butte!

Nothing else uncommon was found and we continued north to Lake John Wildlife Area.  Again not much was seen as 18 mph winds blew over the lake.

Back at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center, we watched for Rosy Finches for about an hour.  None appeared.  The male American Three-toed Woodpecker was relocated drumming away across Highway 14, north of the Visitor's Center.

Late in the afternoon, we drove into the Colorado State Forest and stopped at Ruby Jewell Road.  A Flammulated Owl and Boreal Owl were heard within a 3/4 mile hike up the road!

May 30

We returned to the Colorado State Forest about 4:00 am.  Our search for additional owls came up empty.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker and Red-naped Sapsucker were found within 0.2 miles up Ruby Jewell Road.

We explored the Ranger Lakes area and found another American Three-toed Woodpecker.  Other birds included the more common Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers.

After going into Walden for late breakfast, we detoured over to Walden Reservoir.  A Bonaparte's Gull was observed flying back and forth along the northern side.  Shorebirds except for Killdeer were absent.

Once again back at the Visitor's Center, no Rosy Finches came to visit during our two hour watch.

May 31

Shortly after midnight, we drove east down Highway 14 and stopped at most of the Campgrounds and picnic areas.

A detour to Pennock Pass Road found it not drivable.  Thus ended our Flammulated Owl search here.

Eventually we found Northern Pygmy-Owls at two stops and Flammulated Owls at another two!

Once back down on the "Plains" we had two stops in mind.  The Red Phalarope was relocated at the southwest side of Timnath Reservoir (Larimer).  A male Blue Grosbeak was a bonus bird for the trip!

A search for the Least Bittern at Walden Ponds (Boulder) was not successful.

Barr Lake In the Rain

May 27, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams) and walked around for six hours.  It was one of the slower birding days I have experienced (especially considering the amount of time spent there). 

It did rain off and on during my whole trip.  Usually I have good fortune when it is raining, not today.

Nothing uncommon was found during my walks from mile 9.0 to 7.0, 0.0 to 1.0 and 2.0 to 4.0.

The meager highlights included four Barn Owls. 

Common birds included Western Wood-pewees, Western Kingbirds, House Wrens, a couple of Eastern Kingbirds, two Swainson's Thrushes and Downy Woodpeckers. 

Still no Baltimore Orioles have been reported this spring.  I did hear a male Bullock's Oriole that was singing like a Baltimore Oriole.  Will have to look up if the two orioles learn each other's songs.

A male Osprey came by and gave fish to a female on the nesting platform.  I do not believe they take turns lying on the eggs (if there are any yet).

In the end, the lightning and thunder convinced me to leave.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

May 26, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I stopped again at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) just after sunrise.  It was a beautiful spring morning with partly cloudy skies and calm winds.

We did not relocate the Red-headed Woodpecker reported yesterday at the Prairie Gateway trail (just outside the Arsenal entrance). Fourteen American Avocets walked around the large pond here.

Inside the Arsenal, we watched the Eastern Phoebe catch bugs/insects along the Canal at 64th avenue.   A male Blue Grosbeak flew around the south side of Lower Derby Lake.

We scoped the cattails at Marys Lake.  A Green Heron was holding on to one of the reeds and probing for food in the calm lake.

A Sage Thrasher stood on top of a rabbit bush plant along the western road inside of the Bison enclosure.  It was about halfway between the southern and northern ends of the road.

Later we got our second wind (we had stayed up all night owling) and visited a friend's ranch in Weld County (private ranch #1).

Highlights were two Long-eared Owls (resident), two Burrowing Owls (resident) and a Gray-cheeked Thrush!

Trip to Pawnee National Grasslands

May 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I stopped by Barr Lake (Adams) on our way to Pawnee National Grasslands.

We could not relocate the Gray-cheeked Thrush I discovered yesterday near mile 2.5.  A bright reddish Wood Thrush was a great consolation prize!

Later we relocated Barn Owls at the banding station and Pioneer trail and a Long-eared Owl at the entrance windbreak.

Crow Valley Campground (Weld) was interesting.  We missed the Red-headed Woodpecker however did find a Red-eyed Vireo and American Redstart.

Two Chestnut-collared Longspurs were relocated along Weld County Road 96, just east of CR 69.  McCown's Longspurs and Lark Buntings were quite easy to find.

We stopped at a known Mountain Plover nest.  One Mountain Plover was wandering around looking for food. She/he was not far from two eggs lying in a swallow depression.

Later two Burrowing Owls were found at the "old Mountain Plover field" at Highway 14 & Weld County Road 51.

Misses included Cassin's Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows (both have already been reported on the Grasslands).

Nothing uncommon was found at Lower Latham Reservoir or Beebe Draw Ponds (Weld) and we returned to Denver.

After dropping Terry off, I wandered over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) sort of "chasing" another Red-headed Woodpecker report.

Eventually I walked from the Tower Loop to the southeastern corner of the lake.  Winds were calm and picking out birds in the trees was not to difficult.

A Plumbeous Vireo was in cottonwoods at the center of the Tower Loop.  A Red-eyed Vireo was found in the picnic area between the Tower Loop and the Swim Beach.

Birding was rather slow from there to the southeastern sand spit (which was under water, no shorebirds).

On the return trip, I found an Olive-sided Flycatcher catching bugs/insects around the swim beach group picnic area.

Few birds were on the water and few gulls were in sight.

Jewell Wetlands in Aurora

May 24, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Between rain storms, I drove over to the Jewell Wetlands in Aurora (Arapahoe).  Over the years, I have visited the wetlands 31 times.  In all those trips, the only bird I recorded was a Wilson's Warbler  (May 29, 2014).

A Black-and-white Warbler was reported yesterday.  All I found hiking through the tall wet grasses was many mosquitoes and two ticks. 

I would rather try to pick up a rattlesnake than pick off a tick.