Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Looking for Lapland Longspurs in Elbert County

November 30, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Today was quite a cold day.  Temperatures reached the high 30s; however, winds were 12+ mph at times.

Rebecca and I went to Elbert County to see a friend and look for longspurs and such.  Eventually we found a dozen longspurs along CR 66 and a few more along CR 70.

On the way home, we watched a Short-eared Owl hovering north of Highway 86 near CR 117!

Afternoon Trip to Aurora Reservoir

November 29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and hiked to the bench at mile 2.5 (from the southern entrance).

A male and female Surf Scoters were about 50 yards down from the mouth of Senac Cove.  It was the first time this fall that I observed a first winter Surf Scoter at Aurora Reservoir.  The female looked different from the previous Surf Scoters found this spring.  Definitely a new couple for the park.

A Common Loon swam about 20 yards north of the bench at mile 2.5.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by while I scoped the lake.  Nothing else uncommon was seen and I continued to Lone Tree Cove.

The Black Scoter and one Surf Scoter stayed rather close together approximately 100 yards south of the mouth of the cove.  Another two Surf Scoters were at the south end of Lone Tree Cove.

Then I drove around to swim beach (takes about 20 minutes).  Two White-winged Scoters were at the mouth of the cove at mile 1.5.

Finally, I drove and walked to the southwestern end of the dam (parking area north of the boat storage area).  From that vantage point, I observed the first cycle Mew Gull and the first cycle Thayer's Gull.

Many gulls continued to fly in from DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) northwest of the reservoir.  No Lesser Black-backed Gull or Glaucous Gull appeared.

The Red-necked Grebe and Greater Scaups encountered on previous trips were not found.

Brief Trip to Northeastern Colorado

November 28-29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed to northeastern Colorado in search of the Snow Buntings as some were reported a few days ago.  Unfortunately, none was found during our trip.

November 28
A brief stop was made at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  One Long-eared Owl was in the western Campgrounds.  Two Yellow-rumped Warblers were at Pelican Campgrounds.  No Snow Buntings seen along the southern dam wall.

No Snow Buntings or uncommon birds were at Sterling Reservoir (Logan) also.

Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) produced no Snow Bunting sightings too.  We search for the previously reported Brant, without success. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the south end of the lake and a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the eastern Campgrounds.

November 29
We arrived at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) shortly after midnight.  Using our night vision glasses we found an Eastern Screech-Owl.  The previously reported Northern Saw-whet Owls were not found.

NOTE: We use the Armasight N-15 Compact Dual Tube Gen 3 Night Vision Goggles!

After sunrise, we walked to the eastern edge of the Wildlife Area.  No Snow Buntings, we did come across a Field Sparrow.

No Snow Buntings could be found when we drove the back roads in Phillips County.  Eventually we gave up and headed back to Denver.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Loveland Pass and Drive to the DIA Owl Loop

November 27, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The day was cooler than recent days.  Birding and friends were great!

Normally I do not go into the mountains on Sunday, too much traffic.  My two Missouri birding campions only had today to bird.

We scoped the hillside east of the first pullover south of Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  Two White tailed Ptarmigan were hunkered under one of the evergreen trees.  It did take about 40 minutes to find them.

Next we went to a friend's home and found three species of Rosy Finches, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Downy, Hairy and one Three toed Woodpeckers, and a few other mountain species.  Unfortunately due to past experiences his yard is not open to the public.

After dropping my birding partners off I stopped at the East 6th Avenue Pond at Harvest Road.  Hundreds of White cheeked Geese, one Ross's Goose, two Snow Geese and a Great White fronted Goose.  When the geese are not there, they appear to go to the High School on the other side of Harvest or the field east of the cell phone building along 6th Avenue.

I sat at a high point along the DIA Owl Loop before sunset.  No Short eared Owls appeared this evening.

Contined Good Birding!

Searching For Uncommon Birds Around Denver

November 26, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I am going to start with an editorial; therefore, you may want to skip this post.  Rebecca has talked me into tempering my rant.

First of all, I am reminded that as a freshman in College if I can remember that far back, my professor encouraged me to drop English Writing 101 after my first paper.  This blog is written so that I have a record of my birding adventures.  For those who continue to criticize, I am not a writer nor pretend to be one.

Second, on today's birding experience at Chatfield Reservoir, okay everyone expects different things out of birding.  Whether it's to socialize, get out in the fresh air, etc. I prefer to FIND BIRDS!

What do you call birders who stand 5-10 feet from where a bird has previously been seen?  It has always amazed that most of us carry equipment that allows viewing of birds from hundreds of yards away, yet some people have to walk right up to the birding spots.  Do they really think that the bird will land at their feet?

This morning, three birders leaned against the fence for quite awhile where the Snow Bunting has been showing up the last few days.  Many birders stood less than 15 feet from the location.  I would ask what they are thinking, but really do not care.

My passenger and I (will leave her name off so only I am chastised for my rant) had to laugh at the spectacle.  It would be sad, unfortunately I see it too often, therefore can only laugh.  The bird IS NOT going to land at your feet.

To answer my question, "what do you call birders who stand on the birding spot", birders who do not find birds!

I felt bad that when the American Woodcock was at Coal Creek Regional Greenway on 11/16, that I did not tell more birders.  Only a few friends were able to see the bird.  I would expect a similar spectacle as today would have ensued if that sighting was made public.

Back to birding.....

We arrived at the Chatfield Reservoir model airplane field at sunrise.  Immediately, another birder hopped out of his car and walked over to the previous Snow Bunting spot.  He stood there for a good 10 minutes; we left.  The bird was not reported.

We drove to the Columbine/Lake View trails at Platte Canyon Drive south of Bowles Avenue.  It took less than 5 minutes to spot the Chestnut-sided Warbler in a greenish leafed tree along the Columbine trail and the first driveway south of the trails intersections.

Note: one of my "rules/theorems" follow direct sunlight.  The bugs/food for birds are more active in direct sunlight/warmer trees.  Later in the afternoon on a previous day, we found the Warbler at the west end of the Columbine/Lake View trails where the setting sun lit the area.

Next, I drove to South Platte Park (Arapahoe) and walked to Bufflehead and Redtail Lakes.  Eventually the White-eyed Vireo was observed fluttering about the willows south of the Rest Area (cannot remember name).

On the walk up from the parking area five Greater Scaup were flew off Redtail Lake when a dog walker passed by.

The White-eyed Vireo was missed during a walk north to Mineral Avenue.  On the hike back, four Black-capped Chickadees caught my attention.  The White-eyed Vireo popped out of the willows nearby.

We then returned to the model airplane field at Chatfield Reservoir.  A dozen or so birders stood in the parking area searching/waiting for the Snow Bunting.  Half a dozen would stand five feet from the location of previous sightings.

I mentioned to my passenger that we had to wait until they left.  From previous birding experiences, I have found birds returning to spots about 25 minutes after disturbances have stopped.

At 10:27 am, the last of the interlopers departed.  At 11:01 am, a flock of fourteen Horned Larks and the Snow Bunting flew in from the north and landed under the fence at the southeast corner of the parking area!  NOTE: it missed my 25 minute prediction by only 1 minute!

I decided to wait a few minutes before exiting my car and taking a photo.  At 11:06 am, a birder pulled up and parked her car 8 feet from the Snow Bunting.  Of course, the Bunting and Horned Larks flew away.

We decided to leave instead of waiting another hour or so for the birds to return.

Brief searches for the Northern Mockingbird and Harris's Sparrow that have been hanging around the horse stables and nearby fields did not turn up either.

After dropping off my passenger and picking up Rebecca, we headed south to search for the Glaucous Gull reported this morning by Hugh Kingery at Walker Gravel Pit (Douglas).

The Gull was not found.  We checked Walker Gravel Pit, nearby McLain Gravel Pit, 20 mile Pond and the Bar CCC Pond.  Nothing uncommon was found. 

It was sunset before we arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  No loons, scoters and Red-necked Grebe were found.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by during our scoping of the lake.

That ended my marvelous day of Birding!

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Fall Day at Aurora Reservoir

November 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I had planned to return to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) to search again for the Snow Bunting.  On the drive over, a text message stated that the Snow Bunting had flown off and not been seen for a couple of hours. 

NOTE: later I met two birders who had seen the Snow Bunting later in the day; it had returned.  Just as well, the 49 mile drive through Denver traffic is never a fun way to spend my day.

I detoured east and enjoyed this beautiful fall day at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were mild at the southern end, later 12+ mph at the northern end.  Temperatures reached the low 60s.

When I scoped the lake from the bench at mile 2.5 (required a 1.2 mile hike from southern entrance) the only birds were American Coots.  Later four Bonaparte's Gulls flew past.

I walked to the southern end of Lone Tree Cove (mile 3.0) and found the Black Scoter.  In my mind, I thought that the other scoters had abandoned her as nothing else was around for 20 minutes.

Out of nowhere?  a Surf Scoter joined the Black Scoter.  The pair stayed rather close together for the next 20 minutes.  Then two additional Surf Scoters appeared.  Perhaps they swam close to shore where they could not be seen?

No additional scoters appeared in the next 20 minutes.  I waited for the last pair to appear; they did not.  Back at the bench (2.5 mile), two Common Loons were 10 yards off shore.  A third Common Loon was swimming along the shore at mile 4.0.

Many birders with scopes stood on the dam at the north end of the reservoir.  It took about 40 minutes to walk, drive and walk to the dam.  The birders were gone.  Winds here were 12 mph with gusts to 18 mph.  It was difficult to see anything in the high waves.  I thought two Surf Scoters were in the scuba diving cove (mile 5.5), however was not sure.

I then drove to the western side and walked the 0.3 miles up to the western side of the dam.  By the time I got there, the hundreds/thousands of gulls that had spent much of the afternoon standing on the dam had been chased into the water.

From 3:45 pm to 4:30 pm, I scoped the many gulls.  Hundreds of gulls continued to arrive from the direction of the disposal site to the northwest.  The number of gulls must have tripled or quadrupled in those 45 minutes.

While the Lesser Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull reported earlier in the day did not materialize, I was able to pick out a Thayer's Gull and Mew Gull.  When the wind died down just before sunset, I was able to find the Red-necked Grebe.

My final stop was the swim beach area to see if gulls had landed there.  The beach was empty.  However, the two White-winged Scoters were swimming southeast of the swim beach!  A Greater Scaup was not far from them.

When I departed, dozens/hundreds of gulls were still flying in from the garbage dump.  Perhaps mornings are a better time to find the Glaucous and Lesser Black-backed Gulls before they fly to the dump for the day?

Thanksgiving Birding

November 24, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I made the 49 mile drive south to Chatfield State Park and arrived around 1:00 pm.  The Snow Bunting had departed an hour or so earlier.  In the next two hours, I scoped every building around the south shore and Campgrounds hoping in vain to find the Bunting; without success.

A Harris's Sparrow and Northern Mockingbird were consolation sightings at the Catfish Flats picnic area (across from the horse stables where both had previously been reported in the week).

Next, I drove to the parking area along S. Platte Canyon Road, 0.1 miles south of W. Bowles Avenue (Arapahoe).  Then I walked south a couple of hundred yards along the Columbine trail to the Lake View trail.

The Chestnut-sided Warbler was fluttering about the tall willows on the north side of the Lake View trail.  Unfortunately, it allowed for only unsatisfactory looks, no photos.

Afterwards, there was little daylight remaining.  I did scope South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe), finding nothing uncommon to report.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Brief Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After returning to Denver, I received a text message about a Snow Bunting at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  I could not get to Chatfield State Park because of traffic before dark and stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) instead.

Perhaps a Snow Bunting could be found here?  I looked around any sand beaches and the model airplane field for Snow Buntings.  None was found.  In fact, I ran into no sparrows at all.

No loons, scoters or other uncommon birds were found.  Six Bonaparte's Gulls flew around below the dam.  Several dozen American White Pelicans and two Double-crested Cormorants stood on the poles outlining the south marina.

At sunset, I parked at the gun range entrance road and scoped the cattail fields to the east.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Trip to Colorado's Eastern Plains

November 21-23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

November 21

Terry Michaels and I headed to the eastern plains for a few days.  A sunrise we birded the Fort Lyons Wildlife Easement along Bent County Road JJ, east of CR 16.  Winds were 8 mph, gusts to 14 mph.

Our target bird the previously reported Sedge Wren was not found.  Two Swamp Sparrows did respond to our recordings.  Nothing uncommon was found at Lake Hasty or John Martin Reservoir (Bent) and we continued to Lamar.

The highlight of our trip was the Pine Warbler found at a private yard in Lamar!  It had been reported by Janeal Thompson from 11/11 through at least 11/22.

By afternoon winds were 22 mph, gusts to 28 mph.  Temperatures reached the lower 70s.

Two Northern Cardinals and a Red-bellied Woodpecker continue at Lamar Community College (Prowers).  The previously reported Bewick's Wren was not found.  Nothing uncommon was come upon at Fairmount Cemetery or Riverside Cemetery.

A drive down to Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) found a Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Barn Owl!

We headed north after sunset.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was found along Yuma County Road 2, east of Highway 385 when we passed by on the trip to Wray.

 November 22

The day around Wray was quite pleasant.  Winds never rose above 6 mph; temperatures reached the middle 50s.

At first light, we drove the Yuma County Road 45-CR PP loop.  A Short-eared Owl was found shorted after sunrise at the bend (road goes from CR 45 to CR PP).  No Greater Prairie-Chickens were found.

Birding around Wray was somewhat productive.  The best bird was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Wray City Park!  A Harris's Sparrow was found west of the parking area for Stalker Pond.  Two Eastern Bluebirds were around the buildings at Wray Fishing Unit.

Sandsage Wildlife Area had another Harris's Sparrow and many White-crowned, some Song and a White-throated Sparrow.

A three friend's homes we chalked up four male, two female Northern Cardinals, one Red-bellied Woodpecker and one Harris's Sparrow.

After sunset, we headed back south to Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).  Using our night vision glasses we found three Long-eared Owls near Fosters Grove Campgrounds.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls responded to recordings along the Republican River east of highway 285 (one probably last night's bird).

November 23

Before sunrise, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl calling north of Hale Ponds.  A short hike around the Wildlife Area added four Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Northern Bobwhite and seven Eastern Bluebirds to our trip list.

The Northern Bobwhite may not be countable birds as dog trainers use them; some escape (the bobwhite, not the trainers or dogs :-)

A brief stop at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) found another Red-bellied Woodpecker and not much else.  We hoped for a Common Redpoll or uncommon sparrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Barr Lake & DIA Owl Loop

November 20, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Winds were calm today; temperatures reached the middle 60s.

Rebecca and I walked around Barr Lake in the afternoon.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were west of the Niedrach boardwalk.  Two Greater White-fronted Geese, one Ross's Goose and four Snow Geese were among them.

Waterfowl were in lower numbers than the past couple of weeks.  Water levels are also down.  No loons, scoters or Red-necked Grebes were among the many White-cheeked Geese, Western Grebes and Ring-billed Gulls (view from boat ramp).

A Barn Owl was around the banding station area.  While a Spotted Towhee was between the banding station and the Visitor's Center footbridge.

Our biggest surprise was not seeing one sparrow along the trail or behind the Visitor's Center.  Later we found no Horned Larks or longspurs while during around the DIA Owl Loop.  Not one, which was also strange?

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the Owl Loop this evening.  However, when we drove into Denver for dinner, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying along Second Creek (east of the Buckley Road detour for the closed section of Tower Road).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Birding In Douglas County

November 19, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I were invited to a barbecue at a friend's ranch near Franktown.  We birded several places on the trip south.  Temperatures today barely reached 42 degrees; winds were less than 2 mph most of the afternoon.

We stopped at many lakes and ponds in Douglas County on the trip to Franktown.  Target birds were Barrow's Goldeneyes and Greater Scaup; neither of which was found.

At Bar CCC Pond, the majority bird was Ring-necked Ducks.  At McCabe Meadows Pond, there were dozens of Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwalls, American Coots, and Redheads.

North Piney Lake had a few Cackling Geese and three dozen Canada Geese.  The highlight was two mule deer walking within 15 feet of my tripod.  When I backed away to give them room to pass, a Black-billed Magpie landed on my scope!

Closer to Franktown, the previously reported Greater White-fronted Goose and Greater Scaup were gone at Walker Gravel Pit.  The majority bird was Gadwalls.  South of Hwy 86 at McLain Gravel Pit, Ring-necked Ducks were the majority bird with a few Canada Geese and a couple of Cackling Geese.

After the barbecue, we stopped at several locations along Castlewood Canyon Road in search of Northern Saw-whet Owls.  No owls were found this night.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Another Trip to Aurora Reservoir

November 18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was out early this morning and searched for Murrelets at Chatfield State Park, Bear Creek Lake Park and Soda Lakes (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  Almost all Murrelet sightings in Colorado have been during or the morning after a snowstorm like yesterdays.  None was found today.

Winds were 4-5 mph; temperature only reached 34 degrees.

On the way home, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and walked to the bench at mile 2.5.

Five Surf Scoters and a Black Scoter were well south of the Senac Cove.  They eventually swam toward the mouth when I pointed them out to another birder.

Two Common Loons were off mile 4.0.  While looking at them a Greater Scaup came into my view!  The Red-necked Grebe I found on 11/1 & 11/15 was deep in the 4.0 cove; I did not feel like added three miles to my hike today and skipped that search.

The two White-winged Scoters were at the mouth of the cove at 1.5 mile.  If the sun had not shone on their white wing patches I would not have been able to distinguish them from Surf Scoters.

I scoped Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe) briefly and found no loons or scoters.  Yesterdays Wild Turkey that walked around the Campgrounds was not found today.  Whether this was an escaped bird or wild, we will never know.

Next stop, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) where nothing uncommon was found.  Common Merganser numbers were up over 500, many Western Grebes (no Red-necked) and many American Coots also swam around the lake.

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.

Wild Turkey at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 17, 2016

Richard Stevens:

When returning from camping last night at Twin Cones Peaks I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Visibility was almost zero, could not see the water.  A Wild-looking Turkey was in the non-electric Campgrounds.  It maybe my first Arapahoe County Wild Turkey.

Wanted to go to Aurora Reservoir; with visibility so poor, it seemed like a waste of time.  Also, sometimes in inclement weather, they close the southern gates.

Later in the afternoon, snowfall was quite heavy.  Temperatures overnight dropped to 20 degrees (after setting a record high 80 degrees on 11/17.

Owling Near Twin Cone Peaks

November 16, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry was up for it; so we drove up to Kenosha Pass (Park County) and hiked into the Twin Cones Trail.  Winds were less than 5 mph; temperatures reached the high 50s (great for this elevation).

Three "owl listening stations" were set up in areas where Northern Saw-whet Owls were expected.  Then we walked back and forth between them from 9:00 pm to 1:00 pm.  Unfortunately, no Saw-whet Owls were sighted.  Later listening to the recordings, I found no evidence that Saw-whet Owls were around that night.

Two Northern Pygmy-Owls were heard east and west of the trailhead.

Next morning we stopped at Kenosha Pass west Campgrounds.  No owls were found at civil twilight.  An hour after sunrise we did encounter an American Three-toed Woodpecker!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Super Afternoon At Aurora Reservoir

November 15, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I continued our bi-weekly owling trips into the foothills.  Regrettably, we did not find any in the Pine Valley Ranch area early this morning.  Although, I have not yet taken the time to listen to the "owl listening stations" recordings.

We stopped by Harriman Lake Park (Jefferson) on the way home.  Two Harris's Sparrows continue!

After dropping Terry off, I drove over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  This remains the hottest birding spot around. 

Eventually I saw a Black Scoter, five Surf Scoters, two White-winged Scoters and at least four Common Loons.  I confirmed a Red-necked Grebe sighting I first observed on Saturday, November 12.

Finally, shortly after sunset a Trumpeter Swan flew into the cove at mile 4.0.  I have to rush over to confirm the identity.  The southern gates to Aurora Reservoir close at 5:30 pm this month.  I did not want to be locked in the Reservoir.

I also got a glimpse of an owl flying 50 yards from the eastern border.  Time was short; there was no time to investigate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

No Uncommon Birds at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Monday

November 14, 2016

Richard Stevens:

email to cobirders listserve:

"Another non report, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this afternoon.  Winds were 8-9 mph, gusts to 14 mph.  I scoped the lake three times each from three locations.  No scoters or loons found today.  I was not looking at gulls; however, three Bonaparte's Gulls did fly into view at one time."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Douglas to Arapahoe County

November 13, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I had to return a book to the Parker library today so headed down that way to do some owling and birding.  Temperatures only reached the low 60s; winds were 4-8 mph throughout the day.

A search for Northern Saw-whet Owls south of Franktown between 2:00 and 6:00 am did not turn up any this morning.  I was able to relocate a Northern Mockingbird that had been reported in the neighborhood since October 18!

To enjoy the superb fall day I hiked the Creek Bottom Trail from the Lucas Homestead to the Dam Ruins, then took Castlewood Canyon Road back to the northern entrance.

Nothing uncommon was found.  While Ovenbirds have not been reported after September, Winter Wrens have been encountered into November.  I also checked for signs of Northern Saw-whet Owls, which are usually loyal to their roosting sites (look for owl pellets and scat).

Next, I hiked a mile up near Tomichi Gulch (east side of Hwy 83, east of the State Park).  An Eastern Towhee was found in this gulch on 11/20/2010 through 12/6/2010.  Three species of nuthatches and a couple of Townsend's Solitaires were the highlights here.

I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  I was quite excited to find an adult male Black Scoter (with beautiful black and yellow bill) and a non-adult male Surf Scoter in the southeast corner of the lake.

Unfortunately, I did learn later that others had found the birds earlier in the day.  Still the sightings were enjoyed.  Four Bonaparte's Gulls were among many Ring-billed, California and a few Herring Gulls.

It has been a good month for scoters in Arapahoe County.  Between Aurora Reservoir and Cherry Creek Reservoir, I have seen at a minimum two Black Scoters, eight Surf Scoters and five White-winged Scoters!  If the scoters have been continuing on with their migration after a couple of days, those numbers go way up?

Thirty minutes before sunset, I parked at a high point along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  Raptors included four Red-tailed Hawks, two Ferruginous Hawks, a male American Kestrel and one Rough-legged Hawk.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Couple of Hours at Aurora Reservoir

November 12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After returning from a couple of days of owling in Park County, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.

I sat at the bench about a mile north of the southern entrance to Aurora Reservoir for about an hour and a half.  My fortune was better than a birder who had sat there for a couple of hours earlier.

A Surf Scoter was 15 feet off the shore just below the bench as I arrived.  Two White-winged Scoters swan at the mouth of Senac Cove to the northwest.  Two Common Loons swam around mile 4.5.

Then I noticed another scoter swimming up from the south end of Lone Tree Cove (east of the bench).  While watching it to see if it was a White-winged Scoter or Surf Scoter, a Black Scoter swam north into view.  The other scoter turned out to be another White-winged Scoter.

No owls appeared tonight as I watched from a high point on the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Owling In Park County

November 11-12, 2016

Richard Stevens:

November 11

Terry Michaels continued our owling in Park County.  The Northern Pygmy-Owl was again heard near the St. Mary's Church of the Rockies.  We would find two additional Northern Pygmy-Owls (Tomahawk Ranch & Conestoga Road) and a Northern Saw-whet Owl  (Conestoga Road south of Derringer Court) this night.

November 12

We scoped both of the Park County Reservoirs starting at civil twilight.  Winds were 14 mph, gusts to 23 mph (not the best conditions to find birds swimming on the surface). 

No Short-eared Owl was found at Eleven Mile Reservoir this morning.  If the Red Phalarope was out there, we did not conjure it up.  Nothing like trying to find an 8.5 inch bird swimming in foot high waves.

We did manage to pick out the Black Scoter and three Common Loons in the waves at Eleven Mile Reservoir.  Two Surf Scoters were the only uncommon birds found at nearby Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

After dark, we found two additional Northern Pygmy-Owls in Park County (CR 61, south of CR 96 & CR 61, east of Forest Road 873), and then missed Boreal Owls at Weston Pass.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Better Fortune in Adams County Than Clear Creek County

November 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I planned to visit a friend in Georgetown and decided to do some owling on the trip into the mountains.

Unfortunately, I did not encounter any owls on Guanella Pass Road (Clear Creek County) from Georgetown to the Water Treatment plant.  My search centered on the Campgrounds, the name that I am spacing on right this minute?

No Rosy Finches were found or expected.  They would have been a nice surprise though.

Back on the plains, I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) in the afternoon after receiving a text message about a Black Scoter on Lake Ladora.  Temperature was 64 degrees; winds were 4-6 mph.

No Black Scoter was found on Lake Ladora so I walked around Marys Lake hoping for a Swamp Sparrow.  None was found when I played a Swamp Sparrow recording near the cattails surrounding the small lake.

Note: a Swamp Sparrow recording is the only one I ever play.  It seems to get all kinds of sparrows to respond (Song, Lincoln's, Savannah, American Tree).

On the way back to my car, I walked the ditch south of Marys Lake.  In the past, this ditch has provided some interesting bird sightings.  Today the ditch had much less water than past falls.

When I reached the cement water control at the eastern end of the ditch, three Song Sparrows and a Swamp Sparrow briefly popped out of the cattails 10-30 yards west of the structure!  Regrettably, the Swamp Sparrow was too far away and mostly hidden for a photo.  The attempt for a witness shot did not work out.

Then I parked at the southwest corner of Lake Ladora and walked east along 64th avenue.  Sixteen American Tree Sparrows, two Song Sparrows and a Harris's Sparrow were eventually observed moving in and out of the willows along the road.  My last look at the Harris's Sparrow was just east of the four cottonwoods on the south side of the lake (a 14 fourteen foot high small tree was just east of them).

Finally I walked along the southwest corner of Lake Ladora to the small bushy area (bushes have thorns).  This is another spot just has sheltered some nice birds.  Today only a Spotted Towhee was here.

Another thirty eight American Tree Sparrows and four Song Sparrows fluttered about the high grasses at the extreme southwest corner near 64th avenue.

Lower Derby Lake had hundreds of waterfowl on it.  One of these was a Black Scoter (probably the Lake Ladora bird).  Other ducks included Ruddy Ducks, a few Canvasbacks, Gadwall, Mallards, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers and many American Coots.

Twenty minutes before sunset (closing time for the arsenal) I walked part of the Legacy trail.  Two Long-eared Owls and a Barn Owl were the prizes!

Slow afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 9, 2016

 Richard Stevens:

I only had an hour to bird today.  Winds were 4 mph; temperatures reached 74 degrees.

Cherry Creek Reservoir was scoped four times.  No uncommon birds were found.  Today I observed no loons, scoters or grebes.

Ruddy Duck numbers increased.  Many Western, Horned and Eared Grebes as well as American Coots swam around.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Owling In Park & Jefferson Counties & Trip to Aurora Reservoir

November 8, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I went out owling early this morning.  Eventually we found two Northern Pygmy-Owls.  One of them was near St. Marys Church of the Rockies on the hill near Bailey (the other, Rosalie Road, south of Crestview Lane). 

Coming home from Franktown I had the choice to visit Cherry Creek Reservoir or Aurora Reservoir.  I chose Aurora Reservoir.

Winds were less than 2 mph; temperatures were in the upper 60s on this glorious fall day.  I made the long mile hike to the bench at mile 2.5.

On the way to the bench I saw five Surf Scoters and my target bird a Black Scoter (Steve Rash, 11/6) about 400 yards south of the mouth of Senac Cove.  A Pacific Loon was near them.

Once on the bench I saw three White-winged Scoters at the mouth of Lone Tree Cove (east of Senac).  Two Common Loons were 100 yards down the Cove.

Finally, another two Pacific Loons were off the point at mile 4.5!  All three Pacific Loons had nice chin straps.

At one time, all birds surfaced at the same time.  From the bench, I could see with binoculars five Surf Scoters, one Black Scoter, three Pacific Loons and two Common Loons!

It made the long walk back to my car seem shorter than Saturday when only two White-winged Scoters were seen.

We prefer to be conservative in our counts; however, if the birds leave and come (turnover), the scoter count at the south end of Aurora Reservoir in the last 21 days has been Surf Scoters five (up to seven), White-winged Scoters four (up to nine) and one Black Scoter.  Loons, three Pacific Loons and two Common Loons (up to 4).

Two adult Bald Eagles moved back and forth between the telephone poles on the east side of the reservoir and the trees at the south end of Lone Tree Cove.

Besides many Western, Horned and Eared Grebes, dozens of Ruddy Ducks and American Coots also swam around.

Common Ground Golf Course at Westerly Creek

November 7, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Headed out to do some owling in Park County, spent today finishing chores.

I did stop by Westerly Creek Park and the Common Ground Golf Course (Arapahoe) trying to run down a report of a hybrid American X Eurasian Wigeon.  Unfortunately, it was not found.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 6, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After receiving a report of a Burrowing Owl along the new self-driving tour through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County), I went to investigate.  Unfortunately, the Burrowing Owl was not found.

Then I hiked the 4 mile round trip to the Rod and Gun Club Bird Blind.  Regrettably, nothing uncommon was found.

A walk along the western Lake Ladora trail found an interesting bird.  A Hermit Thrush was well hidden in the brush at the southwest corner.

Checks of the cattail marshes at the southeast corner of Lake Ladora and around Marys Lake did not find any Swamp Sparrows or other uncommon birds.

I stopped at the Cherry Creek Reservoir Lake Loop (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake.  On the first pass, two Surf Scoters were observed south of the swim beach, however in the middle of the lake.

On the third pass I loon was seen in the southeastern corner.  Frustration again, as the loon would stay under water for quite a long time and surface for less than a count of two. 

After twenty minutes or so, I was able to confirm that it was a Common Loon.   I never observed two loons at one time.  Yesterday, I had observed two Common Loons there.

A stakeout of the cattail field west of Lakeview Drive (the main road) and Cherry Creek did not turn up any Short-eared Owls this evening.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Comments on the October 16 Mystery Bird Post

Comment on 10/16/2016 post:

As one can see on the November Colorado Birding Society's website:

The mystery bird was an American Woodcock. It is the third Arapahoe County record. I first found the bird along Murphy's Creek (some maps it is called Sand Creek) on 10/16. Only two birders of the nine I called were able to come out and see it. Terry Michaels relocated at first light on 10/17. It was not relocated afterwards.

When I walked Murphy's Creek, it flew a short ways down the swallow creek. It call was not that of a Wilson's Snipe which made me pursue it.

The bird had an injured right leg.  Barely able to walk and its flight was quite erratic.

It was getting dark and my photos were also. I lighten them with Photoshop. Photo will also be on November's "Colorado Field Notes":

Another Trip to Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 5, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Aurora Reservoir this afternoon and to the bench at mile 2.5 between Senac Cove (mile 2.0) and Lone Tree Cove (mile 3.0).  This is about 1.0 mile walk from gate at E. Southshore Parkway & S. Quantock Way.  It was windier and colder than Thursday however still a nice day to be out birding.

No uncommon birds were found when I scoped the lake three times.  My attention turned to the tens of hundreds of gulls along the shore below the bench.  I hoped for a Mew Gull, none found; one Thayer's Gull was among many Ring-billed, a dozen California and two Herring Gulls.

Out of nowhere, two White-winged Scoters appeared just yards off shore!  On Thursday, four White-winged Scoters and two Surf Scoters were at the mouth of Senac Cove. 

I noticed that two of the White-winged Scoters on Thursday appeared to be slightly larger in head and bill.  All four had black bills.  The two "newer larger" birds had joined the previous two (10/28) on Thursday and appeared to not be present today (Saturday).

The two Surf Scoters on Thursday had no discernable differences.  They were not seen today.

Twenty minutes after watching the two White-winged Scoters, the Common Loon swam from the Lone Tree Cove, west toward the Senac Cove.

The last hour of direct sunlight was spent at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Three passes over the lake found no uncommon birds, but many Western Grebes, Horned Grebes, Eared Grebes, Ruddy Ducks and American Coots.

Then two Common Loons surfaced in the middle of the lake.  Shortly after, direct sunlight disappeared on the water.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls swam near the southwest marina.

Birding Around Silverthorne

November 4, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I visited a friend in Silverthorne today.  Recent snows have brought Rosy Finches to town.  We found 15 Brown-capped Rosy Finches and 6 Gray-crowned Rosy Finches.  No Black Rosy Finches showed up today.

A good number of mountain species were around.  Included were Clark's Nutcracker, three species of nuthatches, Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and Pine Siskins.

One Barrow's Goldeneye was on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant Pond!

A search for owls near the town of Montezuma came up empty.  Winds were 18 mph, gusts to 29 mph.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Great Afternoon in Arapahoe County

November 3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

After owling all night in Fremont County I returned to Denver by way of Big Johnson Reservoir (El Paso). 

A brief stop found a loon too far away to ID.  It was not a Common Loon, possibly the Red-throated or Pacific Loon reported on Monday, 11/1.  I did found one of the two Red-necked Grebes reported by Jacob Washburn & Ray Simmons on Monday.

The rest of my afternoon was spent in Arapahoe County....

It was another fantastic fall day in Colorado.  I hiked the mile down from the southeastern gate at Aurora Reservoir to the bench halfway between the Senac Cove (mile 2.0) and Lone Tree Cove (mile 3.0).

Two White-winged Scoters were immediately found at the mouth of Senac Cove.  Then a third scoter popped out of the water.  I thought that to be the Surf Scoter that I saw on Monday 10/31.

The scoter stretched its wings; it was a third White-winged Scoter.  I was positive that I saw a Surf Scoter on Monday.  Now I had three White-winged Scoters; then a fourth scoter surfaced.  It was yet another White-winged Scoter!

At one point, all four White-winged Scoters were in my scope at the same time.  The revealing was not over.  Another scoter surfaced.  I watched it long enough for it to stretch its wings.  It was a Surf Scoter!

However, the action was not over.  A sixth scoter surfaced.  This one was also a Surf Scoter.  That is right, four White-winged Scoters and two Surf Scoters.  Again all six were seen in my scope at the same time.

After enjoying them diving and surfacing for a while, I turned my scope north toward the lake.  The Common Loon was swimming from Lone Tree Cove toward Senac Cove!

When I scoped the hundreds of gulls around the Common Loon, I found a Thayer's Gull, possibly the one seen on last Monday.

Other birds observed from my perch; Ruddy Duck numbers were way up (80+) from Monday, Western Grebes, Horned Grebes, Eared Grebes and hundreds of American Coots.

There was just enough time to head over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The lake was scoped from the northeastern point of the Lake Loop.  Only two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by during my hour stay.

A Common Loon surfaced to the north.  While I watched it, a second Common Loon also appeared.  Scanning the lake, a third Common Loon was several hundred yards west of the first pair!

Sunset ended my quite enjoyable afternoon of birding in Arapahoe County!

Trip to the Mountains; Park, Pueblo & Fremont Counties

November 1-3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The weather has been fantastic the last three days.  70s & 60s, winds mostly less than 8 mph.  Walking the Fremont County Roads under a sliver of the moon was quite enjoyable, in spite of our lack of Spotted Owls.

November 1

I left Denver around 2:00 am and made stops at five locations where Northern Pygmy-Owls have been reported in the past in Park County.  Eventually, Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at two of the stops (all previously reported by David Suddjian; CR 68, south of CR 70 & Forest Road 543, south of Forest Road 550).

At sunrise, I scoped Eleven Mile Reservoir (Park) first from the eastern end and worked back west.  A Common Loon was just off the marina store.  A Short-eared Owl flew around the southeast corner.

Six Surf Scoters swam and flew around north of the island near the day use area just east of the fork in the main road (splits into one-way roads heading east).

A Black Scoter and another Common Loon swam around the western end of the reservoir.  A highlight was a Vesper Sparrow, which seemed to be late in its migration (near the fork in the road).

Misses: the Red Phalarope and Thayer's Gull seen 10/30.

The majority birds were American Coots, with a few Western Grebes, Horned Grebes and Eared Grebes also there.

At nearby Spinney Mountain Reservoir (8 miles to the west) three Surf Scoters were in the western half of the lake.  A Red-throated Loon was in the same vicinity.

Misses: the two Black Scoters, White-winged Scoter seen 10/30.

I took highway 9 south from Hartsel to Canon City.  Along the drive, two Pinyon Jays were seen in Pueblo County at 12 miles south of Hartsel.  Another two Pinyon Jays were in Fremont County around the first house south of the County Line.

Four additional Pinyon Jays were seen in Fremont County before I reached Highway 50.

A stop at Tunnel Drive (west side of Canon City) found a Canyon Towhee and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows.  The sparrows were on the rocky cliff east of the first wooden information sign uphill of the parking area.

Three additional detours were made on my way to Pueblo Reservoir.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was in a friend's yard in Canon City.  A Greater Roadrunner crossed Fremont County Line Road 123 at approximately 0.4 miles east of CR 67.

Thirty minutes at Brush Hollow Wildlife Area found a Juniper Titmouse, several Bushtits and a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker (below southwest corner of the dam).

The Black-legged Kittiwake was swimming just a few feet off the southeastern shore at Pueblo Reservoir when I arrived!

A Curve-billed Thrasher was found at the south marina overflow parking area.  I photographed a Canyon Towhee in the same area.

Scoping the lake from the sailboard launch area (northeast side of the reservoir), I found three Surf Scoters.  They were swimming toward the Juniper Breaks Campgrounds.

When I drove to the Campgrounds trying for a photo, I found a Red-necked Grebe perhaps 10 yards off the north shore.

The West Fishing Road area was quite interesting also.  A Pacific Loon and three Bonaparte's Gulls swam in the very northeastern cove.  Two additional Surf Scoters were observed south of the restrooms.

I returned to the Burger King in Pueblo to eat and wait for birding partners Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons.

After dark were went searching for Spotted Owls in Fremont County.  None was found.  Consolation: two Northern Saw-whet Owls at separate spots.

November 2, 2016

After owling most of the night, we started our birding day late morning.  We relocated the two Rufous-crowned Sparrows found yesterday.  Next, we checked the many Parks & the Abbey in Canon City; our target bird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was not found.

A walk along the Arkansas Riverwalk between Sells Pond and Raynolds found one Black Phoebe.  Misses: any Eastern Phoebes.

After dinner and sunset, we headed up Phantom Canyon Road in search of Spotted Owls.  Again, none was found this night.  Perhaps next time will be more successful?

We did find a Northern Saw-whet Owl along Phantom Canyon Road (CR 67) and a Northern Pygmy-Owl at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cherry Creek Reservoir Once Again

October 31, 2016

Richard Stevens:

While doing chores I passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe County).  I believe Colorado reached a record high 79 degrees today; winds were 5 mph, gusts to 8 mph.

I scoped the lake from below the dam and found little but Western Grebes and American Coots.  Then I scoped from the east side of the Lake Loop for 50 minutes, again finding few birds, but enjoying the beautiful day.

Then a glimpse of a loon and I decided to stay to identify.  It took another 20 minutes to confirm it was a Common Loon.  The Loon would stay under water for almost a minute, then surface for only a count of two.

At one of the brief glimpses, the head appeared to be too rounded and gray for a Common Loon.  I spent another 30 minutes before confirming that it was a Red-throated Loon. 

Eventually I saw two and then possibly three loons surface at the same time (nearer sunset).  At least one Common Loon, one Red-throated Loon and possibly the other Red-throated Loon are still there.

While watching the waves for the surfacing loons, a pair of Bonaparte's Gulls hunted along the east side of the Lake Loop.  Later they "turned" into four Bonaparte's Gulls.

Another great fall day in Colorado!

Another Loon Search at Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 30, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Spent most of the day doing chores, however, I did stop by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to look at loons.  I was sure that the two loons I observed below the dam on 10/27 (Thursday) were Pacific Loons.

Many other birders reported two Red-throated Loons on 10/29 (Saturday).  Either I missed the identification of the Pacific Loons or I was sloppy.  After seeing the Pacific Loons I did not scope the rest of the Lake, instead went home.  Maybe both pairs of loons were on the lake?

Anyway, today I scoped the lake from the east side of the lake loop and the northeastern boat ramp.  The pair of Red-throated Loons was the only loons I found today.

No Burrowing Owls or Short-eared Owls were along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) this evening.  I believe the Burrowing Owls have departed for the season.

Trip to Boulder County

October 29, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed up to Boulder County this morning.  It was another fantastic fall day in Colorado.  Almost record temperatures in the 80s; wind mild to strong in the afternoon.

We relocated the Red-necked Grebe found by David Dowell on 10/28.

Then we searched to see if the Golden-crowned Sparrow had returned to Teller Lake #5 parking area.  It was not found.

A drive up to Brainard Lake found an American Three-toed Woodpecker along the Long Lake Trail!  No owls were found in the area (after dark).

We stopped at Gross Reservoir (Boulder) on the trip home.  Again, no owls were found.