Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Marvelous Afternoon at Aurora Reservoir

December 27, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was enjoying a trip to Aurora Reservoir in the afternoon so much that I almost missed the gate being locked (by three minutes).  It would have been interesting getting out of the place; they are serious when they say closing at 5:00 pm.

Temperatures reached 50 degrees; winds were 4-5 mph.  What a marvelous day for December.  The sunset was fantastic about 4:45 pm.

I hiked down from the southeastern gate passed Senac Cove and continued to the southern end of Lone Tree Cove.

The southern half of Senac Cove was ice covered.  I do not know about the two anglers walking on the ice, appears a little too much gambling.

Hundreds of gulls and geese stood on the northern edge of the ice.  Three adult Thayer's Gulls were picked out.  A Greater White-fronted Goose and uncommon blue phase Ross's Goose (very small compared to White-cheeked Geese) were among the horde of geese.

At the southern end of Lone Tree Cove, I found three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  A fourth Lesser Black-backed Gull at the northern end of the ice turned out to be a 3rd cycle bird.  Three additional Thayer's Gulls and a 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull were there.  Best Gull was an adult Mew Gull!

Next, I scoped the lake from the bench at mile 2.5.  A Common Loon was less than 30 yards off shore.  The two White-winged Scoters were off to the northwest. 

The Long-tailed Duck was again in the center of the lake.  At least five Snow Geese and two blue phase Snow Geese were among the thousands of geese out there.

Around 4:00 pm, many of the geese took off I assume for dinner.  The sound was awesome.  When most of geese had cleared off the lake, I found the Glaucous Gull swimming not far from the Long-tailed Duck.

Sadly, I could not find any gulls that could be called an Iceland Gull.  Several hundred photos of the gulls were taken.  Perhaps I can pick out an Iceland Gull among them.  We are making a 300+ mile drive today; that will give me time to look through the photos on my laptop.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Around Denver

December 25, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I were invited to a Christmas dinner at Ken Caryl Valley.  We made a brief stop at South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) on the trip down.

It took longer than expected; however, we found both the Black Scoter and Long-tailed Duck in the far northeast corner of the lake.  We did not have time to search for the other Long-tailed Duck and Greater Scaup on the nearby S. Platte River.

During dinner, I received a text message about a Trumpeter Swan at Crown Hill Park (Jefferson).  While Rebecca stayed behind, I drove over to the park.  The Trumpeter Swan was quite easy to spot from the parking area.

Winds were 28+ mph, gusts to 40 mph with microbursts well into the 50+ mph.  I was blown sideways during the walk to the northeast corner of the lake.  Many branches were falling down from the old dormant trees.  They required more watching than the Swan and White-cheeked Geese.

Afterwards I thought to travel over to Hidden Lake (Jefferson) and wait for the Brant to return for the night.  Hundreds of White-cheeked Geese already lay on the ice and swam in the open water near 69th Avenue.

I scoped the horde of geese in spite of high winds and a group of eight teenagers (future leaders or unemployed of America) while they threw branches and rocks at the geese.

A female Mallard who weighs a bit less than the geese was quite entertaining.  The high winds would blow her back a couple of yards.  She would slip and slide back to her chosen resting spot.

After sunset, geese started to come in from the east (winds were out of the west).  The number tripled and than quadrupled.  When many started to land on the ice far off from my vantage point, I drove over to the high school on 68th avenue.

When I left my camera in the car to avoid exposing it to the high winds and low temperatures, I found the Brant with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese far off to the southeast (south of the lime green house).

I ran back to retrieve my camera and returned just in time to get two photos before the geese took off.  The group landed behind (east) of the boat dock along the shore and behind the wooden fence.

Fortunately, I found a gap in the fence (next to the locked gate).  As an added bonus, the fence provided a screen from the very strong winds.  I also noticed that by walking to the south end of the fence where it dropped downhill to the lake, I could look over the fence and still have the wind blocked.

Hundreds of geese were behind the boat dock.  I did not relocate the Brant until it was quite dark, too dark for another photo (by now it was 5:05 pm).

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Six Owl Day!

December 24, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Another nice winter day in Colorado, temperatures reached the low 50s; winds were 10-11 mph, gusts to 14 mph.  It was colder than yesterday for sure.

Terry Michaels and I drove to Sedalia searching for waxwings (preferably Bohemian Waxwings).  Two hours before sunrise, we walked along Rampart Range Road at Highway 67.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings.  No Northern Saw-whet Owls were found this morning.

After sunrise, we heard the drumming of a male American Three-toed Woodpecker.  It took another 20 minutes to find the woodpecker along Hwy 67 at 40 yards east of Rampart Range Road.

At the Sedalia cemetery, we did run into a flock of eight Cedar Waxwings, two Townsend's Solitaires and some Pine Siskins. 

Yesterday I ran into a fisherman at Aurora Reservoir who had an owl on his property.  I thought, a Great Horned Owl, however when he explained the size, it caught my attention.

Returning from Douglas County, Terry and I visited his ranch in Weld County.  He graciously showed us the evergreen where the owl had been for the past four days.  To our surprise, it was a Northern Saw-whet Owl!

That is when the idea of hunting for owls came to us.  We stopped at nearby Banner Lakes Wildlife Area and relocated the Long-eared Owls I found yesterday.  A Great Horned Owl was also here (owl number 4 for the day!)

We hurried to Barr Lake (Adams) and walked the main road to the owl boxes.  Sure enough, a Barn Owl was in the eastern box!

We then parked up to hill from West Cargo Road and Third Creek and waited until dusk.  A Short-eared Owl (owl number 6) flew along Third Creek, just west of Gun Club Road.

Along the DIA Owl Loop drive, we encountered Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, a Prairie Falcon, American Kestrels, and two Ferruginous Hawks.

Side Note: has anyone noticed Red-tailed Hawks sitting on nests.  In the past five days, I have observed Red-tailed Hawks on nests on three occasions.  One of those times, another Red-tailed Hawk stood next to the lying Hawk.  It seems too early for them to be nesting already?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Birding East of Denver

December 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Today show cased one of the many reasons to live in Colorado.  Temperatures reached 55 degrees in the afternoon; winds were Calm!  It is after all the last of December and 2016!

I began birding at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  The majority bird constituted American Robins (hundreds).  Dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos sought food under the evergreen trees.  Two Long-eared Owls were concealed almost perfectly in the denser trees along Pond 7.
The Gull report at Aurora Reservoir yesterday was intriguing (disturbingly provocative).  I spent four hours there at the reservoir, again with little wind.  What a pleasant day!
A walk down from the southern entrance to the bench at mile 2.5 (halfway between Senac and Lone Tree Coves found the two White-winged Scoters swimming 70 yards south of the Lone Tree Cove mouth.
A Common Loon was swimming off the cove at mile 4.0.  Three Western Grebes were nearby.  Just like Wednesday, I thought the Red-necked Grebe was briefly observed off mile 4.5.  It quickly was "engulfed" by hundreds of White-cheeked Geese.  My look was so abbreviated; the sighting could not be confirmed and the duck could not be relocated in the next 30 minutes.
Later entering from the northern entrance, I parked at the picnic tables at the northeast corner of the swim beach parking area and scoped the lake for over an hour.  Few gulls were on the shrinking ice shelf off mile 1.5.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese lined the swim beach and adjacent shore.
Eventually on my third scan of the lake, I found the Long-tailed Duck in the center of the lake.  The small duck was hidden quite often by the taller and numerous Geese.  At least five Ross's Geese and a dozen Snow Geese were on the lake.   

At least two blue phase Snow Geese were surprising additions.  I thought one of the "blue phase" geese was small.  Whether it was a Ross's Goose could not be confirmed because of the distance from me.
Next, I hiked to the western dam from the parking area north of the boat storage area.  Few gulls were anywhere on the reservoir today.  Perhaps I visited at a wrong time, although, I was there from 12:15 pm to 4:30 pm.  Nothing uncommon was found from that vantage point today.
When I hiked up the north side of the dam, no gulls were at the scuba beach.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese continued to fly into the reservoir at dusk.  The noise sounded like a freight train; it was quite entertaining.

My birding day ended under an exquisite sunset! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wait for a Brant

December 22, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 38 degrees today; winds were 4 mph, gusts to 9 mph.

I scoped Hidden Lake (Jefferson) from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Later I heard that the geese return to the Lake between 11:00 am & 12:00 pm after their morning feast.

Hundreds of White-cheeked Geese (mostly Canada Geese) did not return until 11:57 am this morning.  Unfortunately, the Brant was not with them.

Most birders take Sheridan to 69th avenue, then east about half a mile to the lake.  There are several blind spots from here, although the open water is closest.

I found that Lowell Blvd, 2.2 miles north to 68th avenue, then 0.3 miles west and park south of the High School offers a view of most of the lake.

Perhaps the Brant will show up on another day!

Arapahoe County Birding

December 21, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Another cold day, temperatures only reached the middle 30s; winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It was all right first day of winter!

Again, my back refused to let me drive the 180 miles to the northeastern corner of Colorado where several Christmas Counts are being conducted.  Terry Michaels and the group were enjoying a fine time with some interesting bird sightings!

In the morning, I decided to drive south to South Platte Park Reservoir and check on several uncommon birds, which have been hanging around for a week, or two.

I scoped the South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) from the southwest corner.  Love my new Vortex Razor scope, it has saved many long hikes, almost the whole reservoir could be seen while I was sitting in one spot!

The previously reported Long-tailed Duck and Black Scoter were swimming along the eastern edge of the dam.  Half a dozen Greater Scaup were at the northeastern corner of the lake.  Other birds included Canvasbacks, Redheads, many American Coots, Buffleheads, Gadwall and Mallards.

Later I walked the South Platte River for about 1/2 mile north of Highway C470.  Both nearby Eaglewatch and Blackrock Lakes were frozen, thought maybe recent birds found there had moved to the nearby river.

Several Greater Scaups and the second Long-tailed Duck were indeed on the Platte River!

Next I drove to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) located south of C470.  No Lapland Longspur (previously reported) or Horned Larks appeared at the model airplane field.

Checks at the southeast marina, Plum Creek delta and the swim beach did not find any sparrows.  Target birds were previously reported Grasshopper, Harris's and White-throated Sparrows.  None was found.

To avoid the Interstate as most of them around Denver are filled with slow moving cars, I took a back way to Castle Rock and Parker.  Both Bar CCC Pond and the Salisbury Equestrian Pond were scoped.  The previously reported Greater Scaup and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at neither.

From Parker I took another "back way" and passed by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A hike to the bench at mile 2.5 (by way of the southern entrance) added two White-winged Scoters to my day list.  They were about 100 yards south of the mouth of Lone Tree Cove.

One of the three Common Loons I found on 12/18 was 40 yards north of the bench.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese swam in long lines across the reservoir.  Finding non-geese birds was quite hard.

Afterwards, I drove to the swim beach area (northern entrance) and again scoped the lake.  On my third scan of the reservoir, I found the Long-tailed Duck that has been around since at least 12/3.

The ice shelf at the swim beach had recessed with the "warmer" temperatures.  Most of the gulls were several hundred yards away in the cove at mile 1.5.  They stood shoulder to shoulder making identifying rather difficult.  I did pick out one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull among the vast multitude.

While scanning the rest of the reservoir, there was a break in the long line of geese on my third attempt and I thought the Red-necked Grebe was briefly observed.  I am not confident in the three second look to confirm the sighting.

Once the sun set, further identification was too difficult and I headed for home.   No Short-eared Owls appeared when I drove the Jewell-Yale Loop this evening.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Few Birding Stops Around Denver

December 20, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The day was much warmer with temperatures into the middle 50s; winds were 7-8 mph, gusts to 12 mph.

I missed today's Sterling Christmas Count in Logan County.  I slipped on ice while cleaning the snow off our driveway two days ago and can barely stand.  The 180 mile drive did not seem inviting.

That did not stop me from birding, drove to Hidden Lake (Jefferson) to search for the Brant; without success.

Then I stopped at 78th avenue and the South Platte River.  The short walk north to the green and white water tower found a male Barrow's Goldeneye accompanied by three female Common Goldeneyes.

Next, I stopped at 74th avenue and the Platte River.  The previously reported Winter Wren was heard about 40 yards north of the 74th avenue bridge.  I never observed the bird.  It did sound like my Winter Wren recordings and not a Pacific Wren.

My back loosened up and I headed toward Sterling and tomorrow's Crook Christmas Count.  A stop at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) relocated two Long-eared Owls.

By then, my back was not good.  I returned to Denver; hate to miss tomorrow's Christmas Count.

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons and Dave King enjoyed a good day.  Their bird list included an Eastern Screech-Owl at Pioneer Park, a Barn Owl at Sterling Reservoir and two Common Redpolls and a Field Sparrow at Overland Park.

Bill Kaempfer found a Varied Thrush at the Sterling Golf Course.  I hope that the CoBus group will find time tomorrow to search for that bird.  No way can I make a 180 mile one way drive up there, boo.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A New Colorado State Bird Sighting

December 19, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten, Terry Michaels, Amy Davenport and I made the long trip to Lake Dillon.   Traffic, wow, it took three hours to make the 75 mile drive.

The Purple Sandpiper (Jack & Ryan Bushong, 12/16) was feeding in the "warm waters" of the Blue River as it enters Lake Dillon.  It will be a first Colorado record!

Later we visited a friend's home and observed three species of Rosy Finches (private no longer open to the public).

On the trip back to Denver we stopped by the Blue River Water Treatment Plant and found several Barrow's Goldeneyes hunkered down in the northeast corner of this small pond that seldom freezes.

The drive back to Denver only took about an hour and 20 minutes!

One final bird sighting was a Prairie Falcon in downtown Denver.  It was chasing Rock Doves at Park Avenue and Wawetta Street.  When not flying after them it perched on the Green Leaf Storage building.

Soon I will put photos of the Purple Sandpiper in the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library:

Afternoon at Aurora Reservoir

December 18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It was nasty cold in the afternoon.  Lows last night in Denver registered at minus 9 degrees.  When I stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) at 3:00 pm, the temperature was 20 degrees; winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

I scoped the lake from the eastern side of the swim beach parking area.  Unfortunately, the wind was out of the east-northeast and I had to deal with watery eyes.

The Long-tailed Duck was again in the middle of the lake, toward the northern end.  Two White-winged Scoters were again off the Lone Tree Cove.  A third scoter was loosely associated with them; however, I could not confirm a third White-winged Scoter or a Surf Scoter.  Three Common Loons were just north of the scoters.

Thousands of gulls stood on the ice shelf off the swim beach.  They were quite close together making identifying many of them close to impossible.  I did pick out two Thayer's Gulls and five Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  No Glaucous Gulls appeared to be in the group.

The surprise bird was a Red-necked Grebe off mile 4.5.  It took quite a while to confirm the ID.  Watery eyes and heat waves required me to watch the bird for thirty minutes before confirmation.

Nine white Snow Geese and one Ross's Goose accompanied thousands of White-cheeked Geese.  Common Duck species were represented in good number, as were American Coots.

As the sun set, temperature dropped drastically and my fingers finally refused to function.  The not so warm car felt fantastic!

North Park Survey

December 17-18, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I got an early start this morning.  We drove the Coalmont area in search of Greater Sage-Grouse.  Eventually two were observed walking along Jackson County Road 26 at 0.3 miles north of CR 26b.

Back at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center, we found only one Brown-capped Rosy Finch.  No additional Rosy Finches were observed here during the several stops made during the day.

The male American Three-toed Woodpecker was again observed north of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (north of Hwy 14).

Better fortune was found at a friend's ranch.  Several hundred Rosy Finches (three species) came to her feeders.  Two Red Crossbills, three species of nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees were also added to our list.

We searched for Northern Goshawks and Gyrfalcons in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson); without success.

After dark, we again heard the Boreal Owl just west of Cameron Pass.

Early Sunday morning, a Boreal Owl was "conjured up" at Ranger Lakes.  Terry needed to return to Denver, we had not time to bird on the return trip.  Roads were not good.

Georgetown Christmas Count

December 16, 2016

Richard Stevens:

As part of the CoBus sponsored eleventh, Georgetown Christmas Count Terry Michaels and I snow shoed to the top of Guanella Pass.  This required a little over 3 mile round trip. 

Temperatures were fair for Guanella Pass, around 20 degrees.  Fortunately, the wind was less than 20 mph.  I have done this trip in the past with winds in excess of 50 mph.

Our efforts were rewarded with a sighting of 31 White-tailed Ptarmigan just below the summit!  Six Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled overhead for several minutes.

Later we found male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming on a Ponderosa Pine at the Campgrounds.  Other birds in the same area included two male and two female Pine Grosbeaks and a flock of ten Red Crossbills.

The weather went downhill shortly after noon.  We called tomorrow's ninth annual Cameron Pass/Gould Christmas Count off to avoid birders driving on the icy/snowy roads.  Terry and I however, headed to Gould by way of Kremmling.

No Rosy Finches were found in Kremmling or Sulphur Springs. 

After dark, we relocated a Boreal Owl just west of Cameron Pass!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pawnee National Grasslands Christmas Count

December 15, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The Colorado Birding Society conducted its tenth annual Pawnee National Grasslands Christmas Count today.  Temperatures reached into the low 30s; winds were strong at times, 8-10 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

Eight of us enjoyed the warm day.  Highlights included:

Short-eared Owls at three different locations
Northern Saw-whet Owl & Harris's Sparrow at a private yard
Snow Bunting at two locations (one of which was near a location where one was spotted yesterday, we did not know about it ahead of time.
Common Redpoll (one on the usda central plains experimental range)
Lapland Longspurs (50+, spread over three locations)
Brown-capped Rosy Finches (2) at a friend's ranch

Search of Spotted Owls In Fremont County

December 12-14, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed south for another Spotted Owl search.  Weather was fair most of the time.  We did see snowy flurries one night.

December 12

At first light, we scoped Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo).  The Great Black-backed Gull and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at the south marina.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was running around the marina's southern parking area.

A Red-throated Loon was west of the sailboard launch area.  We saw one Common Loon farther west.

The Red-necked Grebe was off the Fishing Road point when we scoped from there.  No Bonaparte's Gulls or the Pacific Loon could be found.

Great fortune was found at Canon City (Fremont).  It took about thirty minutes to find the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the Holy Cross Abbey.

Then we turned south and scoped Valco Ponds from MacKenzie Road.  The male Eurasian Wigeon and 24+ Greater White-fronted Geese were observed here!

Our next stop was Centennial Park.  The Williamson's Sapsucker was found in less then ten minutes.  Rouse Park and Sells Pond area of the Arkansas Riverwalk added no uncommon birds to our trip list.

Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows cooperated and made themselves known along the hillside above the Tunnel Road trailhead!

After dark we drove up Phantom Canyon (Fremont) in search of our target bird, Spotted Owls; none was found tonight. 

A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found at Oro Juno.  Technique: we sat and played a recording off and on for 45 minutes.  Every 15 minutes we would hit the area with a spotlight.  The third time was successful.  Northern Saw-whet Owls do winter in various locations in Colorado!

December 13

After spending a short night in Buena Vista (Chaffee), we birded around town.  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were relocated along North Pleasant Avenue, north of Brookdale.

Misses: the resident Western Screech-Owl was not relocated and no Pinyon Jays were around Ice Lake or the Buena Vista Overlook.

Six Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Sands Lake Wildlife Area; however, the Long-tailed Duck was unfortunately not found by us.

After dark, we set up our chairs in the BLM Land north of the Overlook.  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls came by this night.

December 14

We spent the night in Salida (Chaffee) and checked several birding spots after a late morning.  Nothing uncommon was found.

A detour up to the Monarch rest area (Chaffee) along Hwy 50, found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a flock of eight Gray-crowned Rosy Finches!

We returned to Phantom Canyon (Fremont) at dusk.  Again, no Spotted Owls were found.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

DIA Owl Loop & Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 11, 2016

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature today was 41 degrees; winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 14 mph.  When the sun came out in the late afternoon, it was quite pleasant.

Early in the morning, I drove to Aurora to mail some packages.  A Short-eared Owl was flying up and down Third Creek, just west of Gun Club Road (Denver County).

Around 3:00 pm, I passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) and stopped to look for the Dunlin and Rusty Blackbirds.  A Thayer's Gull was among a few Ring-billed Gulls on the ice off the southwest marina.  My guess was that most of the gulls were east approximately eight miles at Aurora Reservoir.

People walked along the shore from the eastern end of the southeast boat ramp to Pelican point most of the rest of the day.  I found neither the Dunlin nor Rusty Blackbirds.

When I drove to the road to the gun range to wait for any Short-eared Owls flying over the cattail marshes at Lake View Road, a Northern Shrike was perched overlooking the Cottonwood marsh wetlands.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dunlin at Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was not planning on birding today.  Gorgeous day with temperatures in the middle 50s; winds were 4-6 mph.

I have a relative staying close by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe); it was only a four mile detour and of course, I found myself at the reservoir around 3:00 pm.  It was a fortunate choice.

A check of the gulls at the southwest marina area and surrounding ice shelf found one adult Thayer's Gull, some Herring Gulls, a dozen or so California Gulls and many Ring-billed Gulls.

Most of the uncommon gulls were found yesterday at nearby Aurora Reservoir (about 8 miles to the east).

I thought to check the northeastern corner of the lake where the Rusty Blackbirds had been found for a week.  However, they had not been reported since last Wednesday and they were not found by me today.

Three Killdeer walked below the picnic table along the northeast corner.  A smaller shorebird accompanied them.  It was the previously reported Dunlin. 

I sat down on the wet sand and waited.  The Dunlin walked within ten feet of me!  My wet cold pants were well worth the price of observing a Dunlin so close!  All my previous sightings were from 40-50 or more yards away.

Photos were put on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library:

Several adult Bald Eagles circled overhead while I watched the Dunlin.

Cameron Pass and Aurora Reservoir

December 9, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Two hours before sunrise, a Boreal Owl called from just west of Cameron Pass (Jackson).  Many jays, chickadees and one Pine Grosbeak came to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders.  Only one Brown-capped Rosy Finch stopped.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed north of the Visitor's Center (north of highway 14).  Disappointed in the lack of Rosy Finches (no photos) I returned to the plains east of Denver.

In the afternoon, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir.  From the southern entrance, I hiked to the bench at mile 2.5. 

About 200 yards of the southern end of Senac Cove was ice covered.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Thayer's Gulls were among 2000+ gulls (mostly Ring-billed, dozens of California and five Herring).

A Common Loon was 30 yards north of the bench.  A pair of White-winged Scoters swam around the mouth of Lone Tree Cove.  Another thousand gulls stood on the ice at the southern end of Lone Tree Cove, nothing uncommon.  I continued the walk to mile 4.0.  No additional scoters were found.

Thousands additional gulls were on the lake north of the 2.5 mile bench.  Common Mergansers were in high numbers; a couple of Eared Grebes, many American Coots, three Western Grebes and plenty of Pied-billed Grebe were also there.  I did pick out one Greater Scaup.

Later I drove to the north end of the reservoir.  From the parking area north of the swim beach, I finally relocated the Long-tailed Duck.  She was several hundred yards to the east.  In addition, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were not far off shore.

About 2,500 gulls stood on the swim beach.  When I walked over to purchase the 2017 pass, I picked the first year Mew Gull & Iceland Gull out of mostly Ring-billed Gulls.  Two additional Thayer's Gulls were among that horde.  (NOTE: after review of my photos, I captured the Iceland Gull and a Thayer's Gull standing next to each other!)

The cove south of the swim beach had another 1000+ gulls on the ice.  One more adult Thayer's Gull was the most uncommon Gull among that group.

Thousands additional gulls were at the scuba beach.  My sixth Thayer's Gull of the day was found there.  A fifth Lesser Black-backed Gull of the day stood on the northwest end of the dam with yet another 1200+ gulls.

Overall, White-cheeked Geese were numbered in the thousands.  At least eighteen Snow Geese (one Blue morph) and one Greater White-fronted Goose were counted during my visit.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening when I drove the Jewell-Yale Loop.  The Eastern Screech-Owl sometimes found at Powhaton Road and Jewell was quiet tonight.

Cameron Pass

December 8, 2016

Richard Stevens:

It snowed off and on most of the day.  I headed to Gould in the afternoon.  No Boreal Owls could be found with winds 18 mph, gusts to 26 mph.  It was cold; temperatures were single digits.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cherry Creek Reservoir in a Snowstorm

December 7, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I was not planning on get out of the house today.  Temperatures were around 10 degrees and winds 8 mph (after last night's snowstorm).  After receiving a text message concerning a Dunlin at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), I just had to drive over.

I did not find the Dunlin; however, some good birds were relocated.  Most of the gulls were on the ice off the Prairie Loop bird observation area.   These included the Glaucous Gull, Mew Gull, two Thayer's Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Most of the gulls at the dam trail were Ring-billed Gulls with a couple of Herring Gulls and California Gulls (original reported location of above gulls). 

Two Rusty Blackbirds were at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.  No gulls were at this end of the lake.

My biggest surprise was two adult and three juvenile Tundra Swans just off the Dixon Grove parking area!  A Greater White-fronted Goose and Snow Goose were also in the vicinity.

Four adult and two sub-adult Bald Eagles were in the cottonwoods at the south end of the Campgrounds.  Most likely, they were roosting for the night.

After sunset, I headed for home trying to miss the xxxxx drivers.  I passed four accidents on the trip back home.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Aurora Reservoir

December 6, 2016

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started when while out doing chores I passed Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  A Swamp Sparrow was along the south side of Marys Lake.  There is no way to tell if it is the same one from 11/10. 

Both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake were mostly ice covered.  Winds were 14 mph, gusts to 20 mph; temperatures were around 23 degrees.

Next, I drove to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) with the plan to scope the lake from the swim beach parking area and then go home.  It was just too cold for much more.

The Long-tailed Duck was still off to the east, although it was farther away (400 yards+) then yesterday.  The White-winged Scoters were still 50-100 yards off the cove at mile 1.5.

With a predicted snowstorm (2-5 inches) expected tomorrow, I changed my mind and drove around to the southeastern entrance, then hiked the 1.2 miles to the bench at mile 2.5.

The Black Scoter and two Surf Scoters were again near the mouth of Lone Tree Cove!  Two Common Loons were just west of mile 4.0.

Arapahoe County Reservoirs & First Creek Trail

December 5, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I birded the three major Arapahoe County Reservoirs today.  Winds were 16 mph with gusts to 24 mph.  My expectations were low.

Cherry Creek Reservoir had a gold mine of gulls.  John Drummond had reported an adult Iceland Gull at the southwest marina.  While it was not there when I arrived, a Glaucous Gull, Thayer's Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were!

Many gulls were just off the north end of the lake loop.  These included the Iceland Gull, Herring Gull, a Thayer's Gull and California Gull.  All were close together which allowed a nice comparison of gulls.

Two Rusty Blackbirds were at the northeast shore of the lake.  I continued to Pelican point and found the adult Mew Gull and a third Rusty Blackbird.

Misses in the wind: the reported Long-tailed Ducks and Common Loons.

Quincy Reservoir is closed until March and requires scoping from outside of the fence.  A Thayer's Gull was with many Ring-billed Gulls near the boat ramp.  A small duck certainly looked like a female Long-tailed Duck.  Unfortunately, it swam to the east and out of site before a definitive ID could be made.

At Aurora Reservoir, I only scoped the lake from parking area north of the swim beach.  The Long-tailed Duck reported yesterday was perhaps 30 yards east of my vantage point.

A Thayer's Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were standing on the swim beach.  A Lapland Longspur was walking around the boat storage parking area.

My birding day ended at the First Creek Trail (Denver) on the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  The Harris's Sparrow reported yesterday was relocated.  It was with a flock of ten White-crowned Sparrows and two Song Sparrows.

The sparrows would fly south of the path to feed, and then back to the north side.  They rested in the thick bushes and fallen tree (three feet off the ground and parallel to the ground and to the path).  It is located 33 cement squares of the path east of the no dumping sign, east of the light rail bridge.

Finally tired of the cold and wind, I headed for home!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Aurora Reservoir

December 4, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) in the afternoon to look for the previously reported Surf Scoter and Barrow's Goldeneye.  Temperatures were around 50 degrees; winds were less than 4 mph.

It was quite surprising that almost all of Lake Ladora and over 50 percent of Lower Derby Lake were ice covered.  Many Ruddy Ducks as well as other common waterfowl species were on Lower Derby Lake.  No Surf Scoter or Barrow's Goldeneye found.

We relocated two Long-eared Owls along the Legacy Trail, no Barn Owls today.

We hurried over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) which took about 45 minutes in traffic and construction detours.  With only an hour of daylight remaining, we did not have time to travel to the south side and make the 1.2 mile hike.

Instead, we stopped at the parking area northeast of the swim beach.  From our vantage point, we could see the three White-winged Scoters quite a distance off the peninsula at mile 2.5 (infamous bench).

Two Surf Scoters were at the mouth of Senac Cove; however they swam deeper into the cove and we lost to us.  Two Common Loons were also at the mouth of the Cove.

Another Common Loon was off the shore at mile 4.0.  With only ten minutes before sunset, we spotted her.  A female Long-tailed Duck was perhaps 30 yards off the east side of the parking area.

While I was trying to digascope the Long-tailed Duck, I noticed a Black Scoter just 10 yards off our location.  No way to tell if it was the same one that has been swimming back and forth between Senac (mile 2.0) & Lone Tree Coves (mile 3.0) since the beginning of November.  I plan to return tomorrow and see if there are two Black Scoters on the Lake.

We also picked out a Lesser Black-backed Gull and Thayer's Gull off mile 1.0.  It would have been a good day to hike in from the south to mile 2.5.  Thousands of gulls swam near the shore there.  A Lapland Longspur walked around the boat storage area!

Misses: We could not find the Red-necked Grebe, Mew Gull, Bonaparte's Gulls or Greater Scaups.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Return to Cherry Creek and Aurora Reservoirs

December 3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Most of my day was expended assisting a friend move.  I did go by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) on the trip home.

The Rusty Blackbirds were back close to the only picnic table at the northeast corner of the lake.  Several hundred Ring-billed Gulls, no Mew Gull, were on the Pelican Point sand spit.

A check on the gulls at the southwest marina did not find the Mew Gull either.  One Thayer's Gull and the Glaucous Gull stood on the poles outlining the marina. 

NOTE: After checking photos taken yesterday of the hundreds of gulls on the poles, the Glaucous Gull was photographed among them.  At the time, I was focused on locating the Mew Gull and skipped over the Glaucous Gull as a light Herring Gull.

I attempted to make it to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) to search for the Long-tailed Duck reported earlier in the day.  It was too dark to see much by the time I arrived.  I could pick out the three White-winged Scoters southeast of the swim beach.

Birding In Arapahoe County

December 2, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I passed this cold day (Friday) birding in Arapahoe County.  High temperature was 32 degrees; winds were 6 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Once again, I walked into Aurora Reservoir from the southeastern gate to the bench at mile 2.5 (halfway between Senac and Lone Tree Cove. 

Two Surf Scoters continued about 50 yards south of the mouth of Senac Cove.  I had to walk to the southern end of Lone Tree before finding any additional scoters.  The Black Scoter and another Surf Scoter were 40 yards from the south end.

Only one Common Loon was detected while I scoped the lake from the 2.5 mile bench.  Two White-winged Scoters could be seen in the distance at the cove at mile 1.5.

Gulls remained too far away to identify.  In lieu of driving to the northern entrance of Aurora Reservoir, I opted to search for the Rusty Blackbirds at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Three Rusty Blackbirds were on the backside of Pelican Point.  Eventually they were joined by two additional birds.  They worked the shoreline from Pelican Point (southeast of northeastern boat ramp) to the picnic table at the northeastern corner of the lake.

At 4:00 pm, I scoped the southwestern marina for gulls.  Hundreds of gulls stood on the poles outlining the marina.  Dozens more continued to fly in until well after sunset.

Two Thayer's Gulls were on the poles when I arrived.  The adult Mew Gull flew in about 4:35 pm.  One Bonaparte's Gull was also seen.

No Short-eared Owls appeared over the cattail fields at Lake View Road (main park road) and Cherry Creek after sunset.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rusty Blackbirds at Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 1, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I drove out to a friend's ranch east of Hudson (Weld) this morning to check again on a Snowy Owl report.  All we found was a Barn Owl; no way to know if it was the same bird.

Stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Two Long-eared Owls were found in the windbreak along the northern ponds.  A Great Horned Owl was farther north near Pond 9.

My trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir this afternoon was quite successful.

Several other birders were out there and missed the Rusty Blackbirds at the southeast marina area.  I drove to the Prairie Loop and walked to the southeast corner of the wetlands.  Two Rusty Blackbirds were walking the south shore below the tall willow that is east of the snag in the lake.  I got there by walking east on the main trail over the footbridge, then taking the trail west to the Wetlands Loop trail.  Follow the Wetlands Loop trail past the number 4 post and look for the first well-defined grassy trail heading back north-northwest.   Take that trail to the cattails, and then bushwhack through the cattails to the muddy shore.  Look north-northwest to only tall willow at point of land just east of above snag.  The Rusty Blackbirds walked the shore below this willow.

Along the hike, a Long-eared Owl was seen in the thicker bushes just south of the cattail field.  A juvenile Thayer's Gull stood on the poles lining the southwest marina.

I parked along the road to the shooting range just before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared in the next 30 minutes.