Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Barr Lake State Park

Transcript of telephone call from Richard Stevens 8/31:

"Fog was thick over Barr Lake this morning.  I first walked from the Visitor's Center foot bridge to the banding station and back, did not find Northern Waterthrush.  I am glad I took 100 photos of it yesterday.  Then I walked to mudflats south of the Niedrach boardwalk trail.  Scoped through fog and only found 42 Baird's Sandpipers and many Killdeer, no White-rumped Sandpiper.

A lone Gull was interesting.  Appeared to be Laughing Gull.  Large bill, drooped at end.  Size difficult when no other gulls around.  Then four Franklin's Gulls flew in for comparison.  They were smaller than Laughing Gull by quite a bit.  No white on wing tips of Laughing Gull when it flew to island to northwest.

Returned to Visitor's Center foot bridge to banding station, again no Northern Waterthrush.

Went to Wendy's for breakfast and then returned to Barr Lake.  Last walk from Visitor's Center foot bridge to banding station, again no Northern Waterthrush.  Walked to Niedrach mudflats, again only sandpipers were the Baird's."

Almost no birds flying around riparian area in fog.  A couple of Western Wood-pewees, one MacGillivray's Warbler in canal and two Song Sparrows.

Return to Willow Creek Park & Barr Lake

August 30, 2016

I gave the Carolina Wren another chance to show itself at Willow Creek Park (Arapahoe County).  It did not in the hour or so of my visit.  A Wilson's Warbler was just about the only bird there.

Late in the afternoon, I returned to Barr Lake (Adams).  I walked along the canal from the footbridge to the banding station without finding the Northern Waterthrush.  On the return, Frank Farrell pointed the bird out to me.  Thanks much Frank!

About 40 Baird's Sandpipers and a Stilt Sandpiper were the only shorebirds on the Niedrach Trail mudflats.  Others had found Pectoral Sandpipers and Snowy Plovers earlier in the day.

A group of 40+ American White Pelicans swam along the nearby shore.  A dozen Double-crested Cormorants followed them.  Then the strange sight, 100+ Snowy Egrets walked behind the swimming flock.  Most I have ever observed at one time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Willow Creek Park & Cherry Creek Reservoir

August 29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I managed to get in a couple of birding hikes.  For those birders I ran into, yes, those were chores!

I walked Willow Creek at the Park with same name for a couple of hours at first light.  The Carolina Wren reported the last two days did not appear for me.

Later a walk around the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Area at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) found few birds.  Two Western Wood-pewees and a Western Kingbird were all moving around.

Many shorebirds were on the mudflats off the Niedrach Boardwalk at Barr Lake (Adams).  Regrettably, none was uncommon, plenty of Baird's Sandpipers.

Burrowing Owls continue along W. Cargo Road at Third Creek (Adams) and Gun Club Road south of 112th Avenue (Denver).

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

August 28, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went to get some more "junk" at the 88th Avenue Flea Market on this cool morning, 58 degrees at 8:00 am.  One can never have enough "junk" right?

On the way home, we stopped at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Five Sage Thrashers were along the drive through the Bison enclosure drive.  Nothing else uncommon was found.

On the drive home, we found one of yesterday's two Broad-winged Hawks in the riparian area along Quebec Avenue at Northfield Parkway (Adams).

Chores and more chores took up the rest of the day.

Barr Lake & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

August 27, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I walked the Niedrach Trail at Barr Lake (Adams County) at first light today.  It was another cool fall day with temperatures in the high 50s; winds were calm.

My target bird, the White-rumped Sandpiper reported yesterday, was not among thirteen Baird's Sandpipers walking and flying over the mudflats.  Yesterday's Long-billed Dowitcher and Stilt Sandpipers were also missing.  Two Lesser Yellowlegs and a dozen Killdeer walked up and down the mudflats.

Consolation sightings included a Red-eyed Vireo in the cottonwoods just west of the low Niedrach footbridge. 

Dozens of birds flew around the willows just west of the Boardwalk Trail.  These included four Warbling Vireos, six Wilson's Warblers, found Yellow Warblers, a White-breasted Nuthatch, Common Yellowthroat and Yellow-breasted Chat.

A Tennessee Warbler was found when I walked the north side of the same group of trees.  Misses: the Northern Waterthrush previously reported.

Later, Rebecca Kosten and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Three Sage Thrashers continued on the Bison enclosure drive.

We then walked to the Rod & Gun Club Pond and Bird Blind.  A Red-headed Woodpecker flew around the cottonwoods north of the trail. 

The highlight was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo that called from north of the pond.  He would have not been seen if he stayed quiet.  After hearing him, it still took us a good 15-20 minutes to spot him.

The highlight of the trip was outside of the Arsenal.  Two Broad-winged Hawks perched on the traffic light poles along Quebec.  They called constantly and did not appear to be disturbed as I photographed them.  Closest I have even been to one!

East-Central Colorado Plains

August 22-26, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I returned to the Eastern Plains to look for fall migration.  Temperatures ranged from the high 80s to the low 90s; winds varied from 5 mph to 15 mph on some days.

For the most part, we felt the fall migration had not yet reached the east central area of Colorado.  As it turned out, we missed the beginning by just a couple of days.

August 22

Our first stop of the day was Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson County).  We scoped the northern side below the dam, walked the southern riparian end and then the eastern prairie area.

A Great Crested Flycatcher called briefly from below the dam.  Plenty of House Wrens had not yet started their southern movement.

An American Redstart and a few Yellow-rumped Warblers were the only warblers found at the southern end.  More House Wrens fluttered noisily about.  Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches went about their summer chores.

The highlight was a buffy faced sparrow that popped out of the high grasses on the eastern side of the reservoir.  We expected a Grasshopper Sparrow until our third look.

The buffy faced sparrow had a dark lateral throat stripe and a buffy colored nape!  It then turned around and showed us its dark neck spot and necklace of dark streaks extending across its breast.  It definitely was an adult Baird's Sparrow!

Not finding any uncommon birds at Parmer Park or Fairview Cemetery in Burlington (Kit Carson), we continued north to Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).

The Wildlife Area was quite birdy.  Highlights included a Great Crested Flycatcher along CR 3, a Northern Cardinal at Foster's Grove Campgrounds, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a Baltimore Oriole along the southern side.

A flock of six Eastern Bluebirds flew around the Hale area.

We drove into Kansas to say Hi to a friend and stayed for dinner.  Then returning to Colorado at dusk we played a Common Poorwill recording at Hale Ponds and received a nice response from the same!

A Whip-poor-will would have been nicer; however, a Common Poorwill is not so bad a sighting.

An Eastern Screech-Owl called from north of the Hale Ponds.  We then drove back to Highway 385 and walked the Republican River (trickle of a stream).  Eventually three Eastern Screech-Owls were encountered!

August 23

We woke up to the Eastern Screech-Owl calling north of the Hale Ponds campsite.  We walked my several mile loop at Hale Ponds that I do most times during a Hale Pond visit. 

Two Yellow-billed Cuckoos were along the Republican River, north side of Hale Ponds.  The Red-bellied Woodpecker count rose to six birds.  Eastern Bluebird count beat that with seven.

Our only stop was the riparian area where CR 2 first turns from east to south (from Hwy 385).  This area always seems to be birdy and has yielded several Prairie Warblers and a Greater Roadrunner in the past ten years.

Our highlight of the day was here.  A Pine Warbler gave us fits before being correctly identified.

Continuing north to Wray (Yuma), we walked Stalker Pond and the adjoining Wray Fishing Unit for several hours.  Two Mississippi Kites circled over Stalker Pond.  Our third Great Crested Flycatcher in the past two days, two Baltimore Orioles and a pair of Northern Cardinals, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker were also found.

A small "empidonax flycatcher" at Wray Fishing Unit turned out to be a Least Flycatcher.  A Baltimore Oriole flew around the ranger's home.  Two White-throated Sparrows were in the section east of Yuma County Road FF.

No uncommon sparrows or Eastern Screech-Owls were found at nearby Sandsage Wildlife Area.

We ended our birding day with a drive around Yuma County 45.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens or Short-eared Owls appeared for us this evening.

August 24

At first light, we again drove the Yuma County Road 45 loop with the same results.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens or Short-eared Owls were found.

Most of our birding day was spent in Phillips County after stops at two friend's homes in Wray.  Bird count in Wray was four male and two female Northern Cardinals, with no surprises.

Our target birds included uncommon sparrows (any "ammodramus" sparrow would have been nice, a Sharp tailed sparrow even better).  A Grasshopper Sparrow was the only one found.

I have never found a Sharp-tailed Sparrow in Phillips County; however have locations of the two that were found by the famous Dan Bridges.  Unfortunately, they did not yield one for us today.

Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area is a good place to search for sparrows.  Plenty of wild high grasses on a dry prairie.  Some years when the pond has water, Le Conte's Sparrows stop.  The only uncommon sparrow found there today was a Field Sparrow.  Not to say that seeing Vesper, Song and White-crowned Sparrows is a waste of time.

Holyoke Cemetery, City Park and Fishing Pond were quiet today.  A few Western Kingbirds and a pair of Eastern Kingbirds at the Fishing Pond were just about all we found.

Sand Draw Wildlife Area was a more interesting birding spot today.  A Bell's Vireo popped out of the willows at the southwest corner.  An Indigo Bunting was not far from there.

Two Field Sparrows were along the eastern fence.  No Barn Owls in the western windbreak today, however an Eastern Screech-Owl appeared as startled as we were to see him.

Our birding day ended with an Eastern Screech-Owl calling at Roger Danka's ranch in Sedgwick County as we stuffed ourselves with barbecued chicken (whoops, that's a bird, but tasty).

August 25

Now in Sedgwick County, Terry and I spent most of the morning checking on two of the sites that I have found my only two Sharp tailed Sparrow sightings.  Now they are called Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows.  None was around today.

Hikes around two marshy areas where I have found Eastern Meadowlarks also came up without a sighting.

In the afternoon, Roger accompanied us to several of his friend's ranches.  Two Long-eared Owls (private ranch #2) and a Dickcissel (private ranch #4) were the highlights.

We could not find a Sprague's Pipit nor expected one.  After more barbecue chicken (cold but still tasty),   Terry and I headed to Prewitt Reservoir and camped for the night.

An Eastern Screech-Owl called from the Logan County end of Prewitt Reservoir.

August 26

Today turned out to be quite a busy birding day.

Terry and I enjoyed a superb morning at Prewitt Reservoir (Washington County section).  Eventually we ran into the Western Gull, one of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Marbled Godwit, 12 Pectoral Sandpipers, 6 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos (below dam and eastern inlet), another Eastern Screech-Owl (inlet area), a Tennessee Warbler (below dam) and numerous common birds.

We stopped briefly at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) on the return drive to Denver.  A Red-eyed Vireo and Tennessee Warbler were in the windbreak between Ponds 4 & 3.  A Long-eared Owl was between Ponds 7 & 8.

The Semipalmated Plover reported a few days earlier was not found at nearby Ireland Reservoir #5.  A Common Tern and five Forster's Terns circled the lake many times during our hour stop.

After dropping Terry off, I went over to Barr Lake to stretch my legs after the many miles of driving.  A Nashville Warbler fluttered about the cottonwoods at mile 8.8.

Misses: the previously reported Caspian Tern, Ovenbird, Townsend's Warbler and Least Flycatcher.  A dozen Western Wood-pewees were on the banding station peninsula. 

I was too tired to check the Niedrach Boardwalk mudflats.  Unfortunate, as a White-rumped Sandpiper and Northern Waterthrush were reported today.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir and East DIA

August 21, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Winds were calm, temperature around 60 degrees when I birded the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands area of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  My target birds were the Ovenbirds and Red-eyed Vireo found yesterday by Glenn Walbek.  Neither bird was found.

I hiked around the pond at the wetlands.  While scoping from the north side for a Green Heron, I watched two Soras coming in and out of the cattails.   A third Sora was along the canal below the dam.

A few Yellow Warblers, a Common Yellowthroat, a Wilson's Warbler and two House Wrens were in the willows along the outlet canal.

The willows around the bike path at the washed out footbridge, east side of the creek was quite birdy.  The count included 19 House Wrens, 8 Black-capped Chickadees, 3 Wilson's Warblers, 7 Yellow Warblers and a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches.

I bushwhacked along the eastern side of the canal to the Lake.  The mudflats where the Least Sandpiper was yesterday did not have any birds today.

I continued to the Cottonwood Creek Preserve and added 28 House Wrens, 4 Western Wood-pewees, 14 Yellow Warblers, another Wilson's Warbler and another pair of White-breasted Nuthatches.

Nothing uncommon was found until I reached the Preserve footbridge.  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called briefly.  It flew to the south just after I put my binoculars on the bird.

A check at the Long-eared Owl spot west of the Prairie Loop of yesterday did not find the bird today.

Afterwards we drove to east of DIA Airport and Box Elder Creek.  A Cassin's Sparrow and many Chipping Sparrows were in the field southwest of Hudson Road and 96th Avenue.

A Red-headed Woodpecker and two Western Wood-pewees were along 96th avenue, just east of its crossing of Box Elder Creek.

Another Cassin's Sparrow was found along 104th Avenue, just west of its crossing of Box Elder Creek.   One Red-headed Woodpecker called from above our car parked at the Creek.  I found another Red-headed Woodpecker along the west side of Box Elder Creek and 100 yards or so south of 104th avenue.  At least six Western Wood-pewees flew about the Creek!

A brief stop at Barr Lake (Adams) did not find the Caspian Tern reported yesterday.  We continued to Brighton for lunch.

After lunch, we drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Three Sage Thrashers were in the Bison enclosure.  No Eastern Phoebes or Red-headed Woodpeckers were found today.

We headed to a barbecue near Peacefully Valley (Weld).  The Mountain Plovers that successfully nested on my friend's ranch appeared to have moved on elsewhere.

Shortly after dark, an Eastern Screech-Owl called under the waning Moon in the distance!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

August 20, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures were in the low 70s, winds 6 mph when I arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Chores would have to wait.  I spent three hours walking from the Lake Loop to the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands. 

It was cool enough that I could wear long pants, a jacket and old hiking boots as I bushwhacked through the willows trying to stay as close to the shore as possible.  I thought the jacket was not needed until reaching the Prairie Loop.  The jacket provided some protection from the hordes of mosquitoes.

While most of the birds reported by Glenn Walbek earlier in the day were not relocated, a few nice birds were encountered.

In order of "appearance", a Northern Waterthrush walked along the little inlet canal just east of the Lake Loop.  Several Yellow Warblers, a pair of Wilson's Warblers and a Lincoln's Sparrow were also here.

Just west of halfway between the Lake Loop and the Prairie Loop a Nashville Warbler was fluttering about the short willows 15 feet from the lake.

Just east of halfway from the two loops a Long-eared Owl was almost "well hidden" in the thick bushes.

Many additional Yellow Warblers, another pair of Wilson's Warblers, and six Black-capped Chickadees were seen between the two loops.

While standing at the Cherry Creek inlet east of the Prairie Loop, where the washed out footbridge once was, I was surrounded by 28 Black-capped Chickadees!  A Clay-colored Sparrow was on the eastern bank.  Three House Wrens chattered from the low willows along the path.

At the Cottonwood Wetlands area, I was able to find a Least Sandpiper, two Western Wood-pewees, a Willow Flycatcher and a Gray Flycatcher.  The Ovenbirds and Indigo Bunting were not seen.

On the trip back to the Lake Loop (by way of the paved path), another Western Wood-pewee and two Western Tanagers were encountered.

A Townsend's Warbler flew around the cottonwoods on the west side of the Lake Loop.

I was thinking that no Western Kingbirds were around when one popped up from the Rabbit brush in the center of the Lake Loop.  Then another and another, the final count was 18.

Many Lark Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows were along the north side of the Lake Loop.

Time ran out before I could walk to the Bellvue wetlands, which will have to wait for another time.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Finally Attempt To Find the Greater Roadrunner, Denver County

August 19, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I returned to downtown Denver for a last chance to find the Greater Roadrunner that has been reported for the last three days around Metro State University.  Temperatures were 10 degrees cooler than the last two days.

My search centered around the empty field southwest of the Pepsi Center (Sports arena).  The field is located at the southwest corner of Walnut and 5th streets.

While I did not find the Greater Roadrunner, a Sage Thrasher and Clay-colored Sparrow were in the field.  Brush is sometimes above the waist.  I could have walked right by the bird and missed it.

On the drive home, I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  One of the juvenile Red-headed Woodpeckers was in the same grove of trees as yesterday.  The grove is next to a small pullover along 6th avenue, at 0.3 miles south of the now fenced in pullover at Lower Derby Lake.

A drive through the Bison enclosure found two Sage Thrashers and a Loggerhead Shrike.  Misses: still have not been able to relocate the two pairs of Blue Grosbeaks reported for several days.

Nothing uncommon was found during a hike along the First Creek Trail (Buckley Road to 56th Avenue, Denver County)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Metro State University and Rocky Mountain Arsenal

August 18, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I returned to the Metro State University area of Denver at 5:30 am (sunrise was 6:15 am).  We hoped to see the Greater Roadrunner running around before morning rush hour traffic.

We checked the University grounds and Denver (south to north) from 23rd Street to Colfax Avenue and (west to east) two blocks west of I25 to Speer Blvd.  The Greater Roadrunner was not seen.

Afterwards we drove through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Two Sage Thrashers were inside the self-driving tour at the Bison enclosure, another just outside the Arsenal entrance.

We hiked the Legacy Trail in search of the Blue Grosbeak pair reported yesterday.  Unfortunately, they were not found.

The New Mexico locust grove just west of the "closed trail sign" was hopping with birds.  They included an Ash-throated Flycatcher, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, two Western Wood-pewees, two Western Tanagers and a House Wren.

A Long-eared Owl was in the junipers 10 yards west of the trail closure.  Eventually it flew into the New Mexico locust grove.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Metro State University

August 17, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I hiked around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) this morning.  Winds were 6+ mph, skies partly cloudy, temperatures rose into the 80s.

We found a Townsend's Warbler near the Rod and Gun Club Bird Blind.  Not much else was around.  Sparrows almost non-existent. 

No Eastern Phoebes were found around the Potomac/6th avenue canal, or anywhere else.

A drive through the Bison enclosure found three Sage Thrashers.  Two of which were near the southwestern cattle guard.

In the afternoon, I took my mountain bike and spent a couple of hours at Metro State College where the Greater Roadrunner has been observed the last two days.  I could not find it; however, I enjoyed the exercise.

I kept an eye on the surrounding trees.  Except for Baca and Las Animas Counties, the only Greater Roadrunners found by me were in cottonwood trees.

The trees along the Arkansas River, west of Rocky Ford Wildlife Area (Otero) are good for one every year.  My Yuma County Greater Roadrunner at Bonny Reservoir (Yuma, 5/22/1998) was 20 feet up in a cottonwood.

Superb Day in Boulder County

August 16, 2016

Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons, Terry Michaels and I headed to Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park before sunrise.

Eventually we relocated a Stub-tailed Wren near Ouzel falls.  The wren only allowed several short views.  We did not have enough input to distinguish it from a Pacific or Winter Wren.

Later we hiked the road from Copeland Lake west for a mile or so.  Other birds found included two American Three-toed Woodpeckers a Williamson's Sapsucker pair, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers.

Late in the afternoon, we hiked Mesa South trail up Shadow Canyon.  We enjoyed a good owling trip.  Final count was Eastern Screech-Owl (along South Boulder Creek), two Northern Pygmy-Owls (Shadow Canyon) and one or two Flammulated Owls (Shadow Canyon).  Misses: Northern Saw-whet Owls could not be found.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Drive Through Cherry Creek State Park

August 15, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) while out doing chores.  Few birds other than Black-billed Magpie were found.  Less than a couple of dozen gulls mostly Ring-billed and a couple of California were on the poles surrounding the southwest marina.  American White Pelicans were the most numerous bird observed.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds (2) were the only hummingbirds found around the Ranger's Office.  The Black-chinned Hummingbird has not been observed on the last four visits to the park.

Day Trip to Morgan, Logan/Washington and Weld Counties

August 14, 2016

Rebecca Kosten, Gail & Robert Hoffman and I headed to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) in search of their Long-eared Owl lifebird.

Two Townsend's Warblers fluttered about the western Campgrounds.  Only one Long-eared Owl was located; much better than zero.

A Common Tern and six Forster's Terns were observed flying along the western shore.  No uncommon gulls were seen.

A Western Gull was also a lifebird for them and we continued east 40 miles to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  Fortunately, the 2nd year Western Gull was still around.

A brief scope east of the outlet canal, below the dam found a Great Crested Flycatcher flying between trees.  No uncommon warblers or vireos could be found.  Yellow Warblers were all we found.

Two for two, we decided to return to Denver by way of Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) and attempt a Mountain Plover sighting.  Our streaked ended, no Mountain Plovers could be found along CR 100 (where they had summered).  By now, winds were 15 mph with gusts to 22 mph, not good conditions for finding any birds.

Afternoon Walk at Barr Lake State Park

August 13, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I stretched our legs in the afternoon with a walk at Barr Lake (Adams).  An Ash-throated Flycatcher was in the shade of the cottonwoods at mile 8.8.

A Barn Owl was at the end of the peninsula at the banding station (mile 8.7).

Best bird was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher also on the peninsula.  It stayed deep in the thickest grove of trees.  We watched and studied it for over an hour.  I captured several photos and not had time to study them yet.

Field marks included bright yellow belly, yellow throat, complete eyering but not extended at rear like a Cordilleran Flycatcher, rounded head (not crested like a Cordilleran Flycatcher), long wings, fairly short primary extension, short tail, bright olive green overall (expect brownish olive color on Cordilleran Flycatcher), strong contrasting wingbars, wide bill with pale lower mandible.

We called Terry Michaels, Amy Davenport and Sue Ehlmann and waited for them to see the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher also!

Other birds still around included Osprey, a few House Wrens, a couple of Bullock's Orioles, and a Western Wood-pewee.

We relocated 10 Burrowing Owls along Gun Club Road, south of 112th Avenue (Denver) and 4 Burrowing Owls along W. Cargo Road at Third Creek (Adams).

Trip to Northeastern Colorado

August 9-13, 2016

Terry Michaels and I made a five day trip to northeastern Colorado.  We hoped to determine the extent of fall migration.  Results appeared to show that migration is not in full swing yet.

August 9

We started at sunrise at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area (Larimer County).  Eventually two Baird's Sparrows were encountered.  No sign of breeding was seen.

We stopped for a short walk at the field southeast of Hwy 85 and Weld County Road 114.  Two Chestnut-collared Longspurs (both males) were observed during a hike to the windmill to the southeast.

Our next stop was Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  Exposed shore line is at a premium with Colorado's penchant to save/store as much water as possible.  Few shorebirds were found during our northeastern trip.

A Barn Owl was at the picnic area.  A Dickcissel was along Logan County Road 46 near CR 34.

Visits to Pioneer Park and Overland Park found few birds moving about.

August 10

At dawn, Terry and I drove up and down Highway 138 in search of Upland Sandpipers; without success.

With the help of Roger Danka we took two cars to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan), parking one at each end of the 7 mile Wildlife Area. 

Eventually we hiked a mile west of CO 55 and then the seven miles to CO     65.  Highlights west of CO 55 included a Bell's Vireo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Northern Cardinal.  Misses: any Eastern Towhees, any uncommon warblers or vireos.

Highlights east of CO 55 included Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Northern Cardinal, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Eastern Screech-Owl.

Our only shorebird sightings of the day were at Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan).  These included Least Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Willet, Wilson's Phalaropes and Red-necked Phalarope.

After dark, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl on Roger's ranch.

August 11

Terry and I birded mostly in Sedgwick County today.

We searched along the Platte River where a Common Ground-Dove 11/12 to 12/2/2011; without success.

We enjoy better success at Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop where a late migrating male Baltimore Oriole and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker were found.

An Upland Sandpiper and Yellow-billed Cuckoo were discovered at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area.

A male Northern Cardinal stood out in the green cottonwood leaves at the Julesburg Wildlife Area.

No Cardinals were found at Ovid Woods; we did see a female Red-bellied Woodpecker and Brown Thrasher.

Nothing uncommon was found at Pony Express Wildlife Area.  A Field Sparrow was on the hillside south of the parking area at DePoorter Lake.  Misses, no Harris's Sparrows encountered along the S. Platte River.

A Dickcissel was singing when we arrived at the entrance to Roger Danka's ranch.

August 12

Yesterday evening we reached a call concerning a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Holyoke.  Of course we headed south early in the morning.

We sat in a friend's kitchen for about two hours; finally, a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird made a couple of visits around 8:00 am!

Holyoke Fishing Pond hosted a pair of Eastern Kingbirds, a Western Kingbird and Western Wood-pewee.  Nothing uncommon was around.

Holyoke Cemetery was more interesting.  A Mississippi Kite circled overhead.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker flew from cottonwood to cottonwood.  A Red-headed Woodpecker and Barn Owl were also there.

Two Chimney Swifts flew over Holyoke.  Another Mississippi Kite was in Holyoke City Park.

Late in the afternoon we drove to Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area hoping for an uncommon migrating sparrow (such as Baird's, Le Conte's or Sharp-tailed).  Only common sparrows White-crowned, Lark, Brewer's and Vesper were around.

Highlights included a singing Dickcissel near the entrance.  A Bell's Vireo popped out of the short hedgerow as we walked to the pond area (dry).

August 13

About an hour before sunrise (6:09 am), Terry and I drove Yuma County Road 45.  Target birds were Greater Prairie-Chickens and Short-eared Owls.  At 6:02 am, three Greater Prairie-Chickens were walking the field about 0.3 miles east of highway 385.  Misses: no Short-eared Owls

We stopped briefly at two friend's homes in Wray, just to say Hi!  A pair of Northern Cardinals was at one yard and another male at the second.

Brief stops in search of shorebirds at Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond found nothing but Killdeer. 

An Upland Sandpiper was walking the hill above the southern side of Stalker Pond.  It was a nice consolation for no uncommon sparrows or shorebirds!

A female Baltimore Oriole was around the western end of the road at Wray Fishing Unit. 

Exhausted, we headed for home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Brief Stop at Barr Lake

August 8, 2016

I walked around Barr Lake State Park (Adams County) for several hours this morning.  A Barn Owl flew northwest of the banding station.  A Townsend's Warbler was around mile 8.1.

A few female or juvenile Bullock's Orioles were still around.  House Wrens continue to rattle.  Nothing uncommon was found.

Most Interesting Day In Eastern Arapahoe County

August 7, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed an interesting day at Eastern Arapahoe County.  On the way there we received a text message about a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers at a playa.  We detoured over to the playa located on CR 30 (East Quincy) at 0.4 miles west of CR 181.

Note CR 30 does not continue from CR 161 to CR 181.  We had to drive through Byers and take CR 181 south.  It turned out to be good fortune.  We took the Byers exit and drove east on the south service road to CR 181 to go south.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was on a telephone pole at this intersection.  The woodpecker eventually flew west to the first house and yard.

Continuing south on CR 181 to CR 30, then west to the playa, one of the Pectoral Sandpipers was on the road when we arrived.  The other was 10 yards north of CR 30.  A Lesser Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper and half a dozen Killdeer were also there.  Gene Rutherford also reported four Cassin's Kingbirds.  We found one in the first tree west of the playa.

Continuing west on CR 30 to its end in about 0.5 miles there is a large flooded field.  Presently, it has too much water and no shore.  Conditions could change when the water evaporates.  Another Cassin's Kingbird was on the fence here.

We continued south on CR 181 and found an adult Dickcissel (at 0.7 miles north of CR 38). 

When we stopped at a friend's ranch (south of CR 181 & CR 42) a Ferruginous Hawk stood on a telephone pole.  It was our first Ferruginous Hawk in Arapahoe County!  

A Long-billed Curlew was in one of his fields.  I suggest keep eyes out for Long-billed Curlews when driving CR 42 between CR 181 & CR 161.  Rebecca and I encountered one along CR 42 on June 24, 2016.

A stop at the cut hill along CR 42 at 1.0 miles east of CR 161 relocated a Northern Mockingbird (draw northeast of the cut) and a Cassin's Kingbird (first driveway southwest of same).

We turned north on CR 161 and headed north to CR 30.  No Cassin's Kingbirds were found at the small grove of trees at 1.4 miles south of CR 30 (one had been there for the last month).  A juvenile Dickcissel was on the telephone wires at 1.2 miles south of CR 30!

While driving CR 30 toward CR 129, we relocated the Burrowing Owl east of CR 149 (just west of the oil tanks).

We drove south down CR 129 to Orchard Road and back.  No Dickcissels were at the draw near the intersection today (up to 3 on past visits).  Rebecca noticed two Dickcissels on the small fence line at the north side of the large electric complex just south of the Arapahoe County Eastern Service Center.  We parked and watch the pair for 30 minutes or so.  The adult fed the juvenile Dickcissel several times! 

This indicates the second nesting locations we have discovered in Arapahoe County this summer.   The article that Dave King wrote on Dickcissel nesting for August's (2016) "Colorado Field Notes" is quite informative.  The adult was almost certainly a female feeding the juvenile bird.

As we turned west at CR 129 and CR 30, Rebecca pointed out a male Blue Grosbeak at the Service Center!  I have been missing Blue Grosbeak sightings most of the summer.

We returned by way of the Yale-Jewell Loop off CR 97.  No Sage Thrashers (Stevens, 7/30/16) or Long-billed Curlews (Petrosky, 7/28/15) today.  A Cassin's Kingbird was on the dead limbs at first grove east of Smith Road-E. Yale (some maps call the diagonal road E. Yale instead of Smith Road).  The adult Bald Eagle was perched on a stag along Smith Road.  The bird has been there most of the summer.  Is it possible that Bald Eagles nested along Coal Creek?

No Short-eared Owls found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) this evening.  Burrowing Owls at the usual locations listed on CoBus website (Adams/Denver County).

Along our trek we also found 7 Loggerhead Shrikes, a Sage Thrasher, 2 Grasshopper Sparrows (CR 161), 3 Red-tailed Hawks, 6 Swainson's Hawks and an American Kestrel.

Short Walk at Cherry Creek Reservoir

August 6, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I to stretch our legs walked a few miles at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Temperatures were in the high 70s at 4:00 pm; winds were 10+ mph.

Few birds were encountered between the Smoky Hill Picnic area and the swim beach.  Too many people on the swim beach made for no accessible shore for shorebirds.

We found the same between the Lake Loop and Mountain Loop, few birds.

Eight Forster's Terns stood on the floating telephone poles lining the southwest marina.  The majority of gulls were Ring billed with a couple of California mixed in with the group.

CoBus Owling Trip

August 4-5, 2016

Terry Michaels and I led two owling hikes at the Colorado State Forest in Jackson County.

Four birders started out down the Michigan Ditch Road at 10:00 pm.  Our first highlight was a calling Long-eared Owl (about 0.2 miles south of Highway 14).

It was quite dark tonight (waxing moon about 5 percent).  My first nesting box is one mile from Highway 14; the last is 4.5 miles west.  In the past this year, I have found two Boreal Owls within the first two and a half miles.

The Boreal Owl at box number 4 did not disappoint.  We got superb looks at him/her from less than 10 yards!

Back at Cameron Pass, we sat and rested, waiting for another couple to join us.  A Boreal Owl called briefly from the south end of the Crags Campgrounds.

Skies were clear and thousands of stars shined above.  It is amazing how much "junk" has been put in space.  Just about every two minutes we could see a satellite streak across our view.

Around 4:00 am, two Illinois birders joined us and we drove to Ruby Jewell Road.  This trip we only hiked about 2 miles up the road.  Eventually we heard another two Boreal Owls (one observed).  A Flammulated Owl was quite cooperative and allowed us nice looks!

After a few hours of sleep, Terry Michaels and I hiked the Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail.  The highlight was a male White-winged Crossbill circling the north side of the Lake.  On the way back to our Jeep, two American Three-toed Woodpeckers crossed the trail near the trails intersection.

We returned to Denver after sunset by way of Pennock Pass (CR 27) and CR 44h (Larimer).  Two Flammulated Owls were found during our six stops along Pennock Pass.

Finishing the 2016 Boreal Owl Survey

August 1-4, 2016

Terry Michaels accompanied me for the finish of my 2016 Boreal Owl survey.  The eight nesting boxes that had not yet been checked this year required some long distance hiking.

August 1

We swung through Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) on the drive up to the Colorado State Forest.  We enjoyed much success on the grasslands area.

At least three of the sixteen Mountain Plovers along CR 100 (11.5 miles east of CR 77) were still walking around!  Another two Mountain Plovers were relocated at the Pawnee Buttes location.

Two Burrowing Owls were also at the CR 100 spot.

Continuing west, we relocated a juvenile Mountain Plover which most likely was from the nest we had monitored most of the summer.

A walk through the field southeast of Highway 85 and Weld CR 114 relocated a male Chestnut-collared Longspur.  A permit is required to hike this field (we have a five year permit).  Two additional Chestnut-collared Longspurs were along CR 45, between CR 122 & CR 114.

Once at Cameron Pass we heard two Boreal Owls northwest of the summit pullover.

August 2

After catching a few hours of sleep, Terry and I decided to drive the self-guiding tour at the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson).  Two Greater Sage-Grouse and a Willet were our prize for getting up early.

A search for Burrowing Owls along the road between Rand and Gould was not successful this year.  Maybe last year's sightings/nesting was a one-time occurrence.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found along the self-guided walk at Teller City Ghost Town (Jackson).  No owls were found this day.

At sunset, we headed up Ruby Jewell Road from Jackson County Road 41 in the Colorado State Forest.  Eventually we found a Flammulated Owl and one Boreal Owl within 3 miles of the trailhead.

Later we relocated two Boreal Owls at Cameron Pass and another at Ranger Lakes.  Winds were still this night; skies were cloudless.  This seldom happens up there.  A pin dropping could have been heard.  The forest was filled with bird sounds!

August 3

Terry and I returned to the Colorado State Forest today.  Winds were 10+ mph, gusts to 18 mph.  These are not great conditions to hear the soft calling Boreal Owls.

One of the nesting boxes was put near tree line at Montgomery Pass.  A 3.4 mile rather strenuous hike is required to reach this box and six additional boxes are passed on the trek.  Unfortunately, all seven boxes were empty.

In early afternoon, our second trek up Grass Creek required 10-mile round trip hike.  This trail is relatively flat compared to the morning hike.  Regrettably, all eight boxes were empty of owls.  Box number five did have a squirrel.

At the end of the day and our 16.8 hiking miles we were exhausted.  The good news, my survey is complete for 2016.

August 4
We started our day with a drive around the Greater Sage-Grouse leks at Jackson County Road 26.  None was found.

After breakfast in Walden, we inspected Walden Reservoir and vicinity.  Over 100 California Gulls were there.  Waders were represented by 12 Snowy Egrets and 2 White-faced Ibis.  No shorebirds other than Killdeer were found. 

We could see no terns. 

A Clark's Nutcracker was along the west side of Delaney Buttes Wildlife Area.  While we were trying to get a photograph, a Greater Sage-Grouse jumped out of a sagebrush and got our hearts moving!

Lake Johns Wildlife Area was slow.  I believe that Caspian Terns had nested here on July, 2005.  No terns were around today.

The biggest surprise was a lone Black-necked Stilt.  (After checking records, they had been found here in past years).  Other birds observed included a Peregrine Falcon and Rufous Hummingbird!

An hour before sunset we drove north up Jackson County Road 7.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse wandered along the road at 9.6 miles north of CR 12W.

July 31, 2016

Rebecca Kosten and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) about an hour before sunset.

A Sage Thrasher was along 128th avenue, west of Trussville.

Boreal Owls were relocated:
(2) southwest corner of Trussville & 114th avenue
(6) gun club road, south of 112th avenue
(4) 3rd creek and W. Cargo Road

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Drive Around Douglas and Arapahoe Counties

July 30, 2016

I made a circuit around Douglas and Arapahoe Counties today.

My first stop was Stonegate North Pond where a Pectoral Sandpiper spent a few weeks last summer.  The pond is still there, south of the 470-toll highway and just west of Jordan Road.  Today a Spotted Sandpiper and ten Killdeer were the only shorebirds.  It maybe worth checking in a few weeks when shorebird migration gets in full swing.

At the Douglas County Wilderness Area in Lone Tree, I looked for yesterday's two Cassin's Kingbirds along the public trail; without success.  Much of the eastern part of the wilderness area is restricted to HRCA members.  A gracious Highlands Ranch Community Association member was kind to let me tag along.

We hiked several trails through the massive groves of scrub oak.  Many Western Kingbirds (over a dozen) were seen in the couple of miles we hiked.  On the way back to the parking area, I found a Cassin's Kingbird on a telephone wire.

Back at the parking area, I pulled out my scope and was able to see and identify the Cassin's Kingbird from there.  Scope the wires east of the parking area while looking toward the large electrical area.

No Dickcissels were found at the Walker Gravel Pit area and road or south across Highway 96.  One male Bobolink was still in the field south of the Winkler Ranch entrance.

My next stop was the fields along Elbert Road at 4.1 miles south of Hwy 86 (Elbert County).  At least one Dickcissel was heard and seen singing.

Heading up Kiowa-Bennett Road I found several Common Nighthawks on telephone wires in both Elbert and Arapahoe Counties.

Another Cassin's Kingbird was found at the cut hill along Arapahoe County Road 42 at one mile east of CR 161.

The only Dickcissels I found in Arapahoe County today were along CR 30, just east of CR 129 and one just north of CR 129 and Orchard Road.

Day of Rest

July 29, 2016

What?  No birding today, we enjoyed the rest lounging around our house after a long trip.

Southeastern Colorado Trip

July 23-27, 2016

We considered today the end of our Western slope trip and the beginning of a Southeastern tour.  Most afternoons we experienced short rain storms and winds 12+ mph.  During these storms it was oddly calm.

July 23

Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area in Sugarite Canyon is entered by way of New Mexico Road 526 which turns into Las Animas CR 85.5.  Lake Dorothey is filled by Schwachheim Creek.

Our target bird was a Black-billed Cuckoo that had been reported a few days earlier.  It was not found; however, we did encounter a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  As in most cases, if it had not called, its presence would not have been detected.

An Eastern Phoebe was near the southern parking area.  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers flew about the northwest corner of the lake.  Late in the afternoon we discovered a Northern Saw-whet Owl along the west fork of the Schwachheim Creek.

Other birds recorded included Cordilleran Flycatchers, Bewick's Wren, Plumbeous Vireo, Willow Flycatcher, nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and House Wrens.

After dark, we continued east to a friend's ranch in Baca County.

July 24

After late thunderstorms, the morning was fantastic.  Clear skies and calm winds greeted us at Picture Canyon (Baca).  We hiked down Picture Canyon to the Oklahoma border than west to North Canyon.

Highlights for the 4 mile hike included: one pair of Painted Buntings continues, 2 Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a pair of Curve-billed Thrashers, 2 Eastern Phoebes near the Indian pictographs, many American Kestrels and Western Meadowlarks.

We could not confirm a report of a male Vermilion Flycatcher near the spring in North Canyon.  Several Northern Mockingbirds were encountered between Picture and North Canyons.

Our birding day ended at the Upland Bird Management Area.  Several Cassin's Sparrows were within a quarter mile of the parking area.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

July 25

We stayed overnight at a friend's ranch in Baca County.  In the morning we visited Cottonwood Canyon and found the usual suspects: 4 Eastern Phoebes, 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, 2 Rufous-crowned Sparrows, 4 Mississippi Kites, Bewick's Wrens, Cooper's Hawk, Downy, Hairy & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and Chihuahuan Ravens.

We planned to stay the night in Las Animas County.  Bill Meyers and I returned to Cottonwood Canyon in the late afternoon.  He wanted to see a Western Screech-Owl.  Fortunately the bird cooperated and Bill enjoyed satisfying looks.

The highlight for me however was a singing male Kentucky Warbler near my favorite Rufous-crowned Sparrow spot (1.4 miles east of East Carrizo Creek & CR J).  We spent the night at a ranch in Las Animas County.

July 26

Today we decided to explore Las Animas County Road 177.9.  Two Scott's Orioles were reported along it in June.  Unfortunately, we did not find any today.

We did find four Pinyon Jays, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow and 4 Chihuahuan Ravens at the Scott's Oriole location.

I had to give a bird talk at a nearby dude ranch; it cut our birding day short.

July 27

Bill Meyers and I returned to Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (Las Animas) today.  The Black-billed Cuckoo was again missed; however, one Yellow-billed Cuckoo was relocated.

Bill and I hiked the four+ miles into James M John Wildlife Area (accessed through Lake Dorothey) and continued to Fisher's Peak.  Nothing uncommon was found until we entered Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area on the return trip.

A young first year male or adult female Hepatic Tanager searched for food on a Ponderosa Tree.

We also found a Northern Saw-whet Owl (not the same bird as 7/23.

On the drive to Trinidad, Rebecca and I observed a Greater Roadrunner run across Highway 160.  While trying to get a photo, we noticed a Mountain Plover about 20 yards into the field.  We had stopped just east of Highway 160 & San Francisco Creek.

July 28

We spent the night in Trinidad and visited the State Park (Las Animas) in the morning.  Not much was on the lake itself.

Highlights were a Black-throated Sparrow (our first for the county) and two Pinyon Jays; all located at the western Wildlife Area end of the property.

As we headed toward Denver and home, a detour into Custer County seemed beneficial to our trip list.  A Dusky Grouse was walking across Highway 165 when we arrived at the parking area for the South Creek trail.

A hike up the St. Charles trail for about a mile found an American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming on a snag.

On the trip down, a Flammulated Owl responded to our recordings.

Back east across Highway 165, we wandered down the South Creek Trail.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl responded to our recordings.  We were not able to see him.

Nothing responded to our recordings played at Davenport Campgrounds (Custer).

End of the Western Slope Trip

July 16-22, 2016

Most of our western slope trip we did not have internet access.  In fact, the cabin in Montrose County lacked electricity.  I recorded notes on my digital recorder.  Unfortunately it was dropped in Lake Dorothey.  It was it or me; I saved myself.

Almost every afternoon we ran into rain and thunderstorms.  Many roads were quite muddy.  Most devastating the rain and high winds put a damper on our owling.  It was my worst summer for owling on the western slope.

Abbreviated highlights included:

July 16

Ophir Pass Road (San Miguel):
  Dusky Grouse (2)
  Black Swifts (4)
  Alta Ghost Town and Alta Lakes (San Miguel)
  American Three-toed Woodpeckers (3)
  Boreal Owl (after dark)

July 17

Bridal Veil Falls (San Miguel)
  two Black Swifts

Black Bear Pass to Red Mountain Pass (Ouray)
  Black Swift (2) near Bullion King Lake (San Juan)
  White-tailed Ptarmigan (1) Black Bear Pass (San Juan)

July 18

Yankee Boy Basin (San Miguel):
  two Black Swifts
  a male American Three-toed Woodpecker

Mt Sneffel's trail (Ouray)
  Fox Sparrow (slate colored)
  Rufous Hummingbird at Sneffels Ghost Town

They also detoured up Imogene Pass Road to Tomboy Ghost Town and 2 miles farther to Social Tunnel. Views from the tunnel back toward Black Bear Pass and Bridal Veil Falls were said to be spectacular. A 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle is a must.

Back to Ouray

July 19

North Clear Creek Campgrounds (Hinsdale):
  Dusky Grouse (adult and three young)
  Black Swift (flying overhead)

Slumgullion Pass (Hinsdale)
  White-winged Crossbill (pair at Campgrounds)
  Boreal Owls (2, some of the few found on this trip)

July 20
  Long-eared Owl at the Slumgullion Campgrounds, called early in the morning

Creede area (Mineral County)

Lime Creek Road:
  American Three-toed Woodpecker (2)
  Dusky Grouse (adult and 2 young)
Ivy Creek Campgrounds
  Grace's Warbler (2)

At Wagon Wheel Campgrounds, a Hooded Warbler popped up when we played a recording.  It was just about in the same location as past years (2011, 2012, 2015).  The question still is out there, do they nest here?

July 21, 2016

Mineral County

Owling trip to Wolf Creek and West Fork Campgrounds early in the morning.

Wolf Creek Campgrounds: Northern Pygmy-Owl
West Fork Campgrounds (Northern Saw-whet Owl)
West of Wolf Creek Pass (Mineral): Boreal Owl
Wolf Creek Pass, Treasure Falls Black Swift (2)

A Dusky Grouse was at Park Creek Campgrounds.
A Northern Pygmy-Owl called at Palisade.

July 22, 2016

Saguache County

Two Curve-billed Thrashers were found near Forest Roads 560 & 559 (Saguache) while we searched unsuccessfully for Bendire's Thrashers.

The adult Western Gull was still at Blanca Wetlands (Alamosa) when we arrived.

Nothing uncommon was found at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument (Alamosa).  We did hear a Western Screech-Owl after dark.