Sunday, September 24, 2017

Another Rainy Day In Arapahoe & Adams Counties

September 24, 2017

Temperatures only reached the high 40s today.  That was quite a change from the record setting high of 92 degrees on Friday!  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

Rebecca and I first stopped at the scuba beach at Aurora Reservoir.  Like yesterday, no birds were along the shore (many scuba divers however).

Bill Cryder and I then walked in from the south side.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull was again with many Ring-billed and California Gulls along the shore at mile 2.5.  We did not see the Sabine's Gull and Bonaparte's Gulls found yesterday.  It was raining during our hike; visibility on the lake was poor.

Rebecca and I drove to Cherry Creek Reservoir (about 8 miles as the crow flies from Aurora Reservoir).  She waited in the car while I walked from the Shop Creek parking area to Pelican Point in the pouring rain.  Most roads were still closed due to the DOW Expo; we could not drive closer to Pelican Point.

The only shorebirds on the Point were Killdeer.  I did not find the Semipalmated Plover when scoping the southeast corner to the bird platform.  The highlight was five Common Terns!  However, one of the terns had dark primaries and carpal bar of a Common Tern; however, its legs were very short. 

It appeared much shorter than the other terns (Common) and its carpal bar was less distinct.  Its bill looked slightly smaller.  I would have called it an Arctic Tern except for the dark outer primaries.  I would expect pale gray to whitish primaries on an Arctic Tern.

We then walked through the woods from Shop Creek to Lake View Road.  The newly improved trail kept us from hiking through mud and tall grasses.  A Golden-crowned Kinglet was a nice find.  I have only recorded one other in Cherry Creek State Park in twenty two years.

Our birding day ended with a brief hike along the Niedrach Trail at Barr Lake (Adams).  We did find the American Golden-Plover, missed on all the birds recorded yesterday by Ben Lagasse.

Birding Arapahoe County On A Rainy Day

September 23, 2017

I enjoyed the cool and rainy day by birding in Arapahoe County.  First stop was Aurora Reservoir.  No birds were on the scuba beach shore, so I walked in to the reservoir from the south side (round trip about 2 miles).

Among the many gulls on the shore at mile 2.5 were a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Sabine's Gull.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew around Lone Tree Cove (off mile 3.0).

Next, I hike the first mile of Quincy Reservoir.  A Hermit Thrush was in the brush south of the two tan houses with solar panels.

A Long-billed Dowitcher walked the shore along the island to the south. 

Two Blue Jays made quite a racket in the willows/cottonwoods at the dry canal south of the brown house with glassed in porch.  A Long-eared Owl was found deep in the underbrush.

Three Say's Phoebes were encountered as I continued east to mile marker 1.0.

My last stop of the day was Cherry Creek Reservoir.  It was pouring rain when I arrived.  Like Terry Michaels I found most of the roads blocked due to a weekend demonstration (continues Sunday).

I walked in from the Shop Creek parking area to Pelican Point.  The only shorebirds were two Killdeer, one Baird's Sandpiper and one Least Sandpiper.  The Semipalmated Plover may still be there as part of the shore is behind willows.

Soaking wet, I retreated to home, skipping the Prairie Loop and southwest marina.

Birding At Barr Lake & Cherry Creek State Parks

September 22, 2017

Stretching my legs at Barr Lake back in Denver (Adams County) I found no shorebirds below the Niedrach Boardwalk.  An Eastern Phoebe hawked bugs around the Visitor's Center footbridge (see Colorado Birding Society's website photo library).

Later a flock of fifteen Baird's Sandpipers, two Least Sandpipers, two Killdeer and the American Golden-Plover were found at the boat ramp sand spit (mile 7.6).

I picked up Rebecca and we passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on our way to dinner.  At Pelican Point, we photographed a Semipalmated Plover and counted 34 American Avocets.  A Sabine's Gull was with a dozen Ring-billed Gulls off the Bird Platform.  A Turkey Vulture flew over the west shades picnic area.

Best bird was a Winter Wren at the Bird Platform area.  After trying to relocate it for 15 minutes, it allowed us to watch it for 5 minutes!

Searching For Migrating Birds Along Colorado's Eastern Border

September 14-22, 2017

September 14

I wanted to search for the many uncommon birds reported at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  First, I made a stop at Barr Lake (Adams).  I hiked from the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 0 & 9) to mile 1.5 (west of footbridge) and back to mile 8.0 (east of footbridge).

Many shorebirds walked along the weedy shore below the Niedrach Boardwalk.  These included a Dunlin, three Pectoral Sandpipers, four Long-billed Dowitchers, a Stilt Sandpiper, six Baird's Sandpipers and two Least Sandpipers.  The Dunlin confused me for a while, as it was unexpected.  A Blackpoll Warbler fluttered about the western end of the Boardwalk!

On the east side of the Visitor's Center I observed a Western Kingbird (footbridge), two House Wrens (mile 8.9), two Wilson's Warblers (mile 8.9), Cassin's Vireo (mile 8.9), one Warbling Vireo (mile 7.8), four Wilson's Warblers (mile 8.2) one Philadelphia Vireo (mile 8.05), a Spotted Towhee.

Misses included the two target birds.  I did not find the Painted Bunting reported yesterday by Ira Sanders near the teepee (prairie trail).  Two Clay-colored Sparrows, six Brewer's Sparrows and a Sage Thrasher were along the trail.  In addition, I did not relocate the Varied Thrush reported by Marion Warren at the boat ramp picnic area.

After three hours, I headed to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  Eventually my bird list there included Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plovers, Marbled Godwits, Pectoral Sandpipers, Red-necked Phalaropes, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Common Tern.

A Townsend's Warbler and Cassin's Vireo were found at the inlet area. While a Blue-headed Vireo and Ovenbird were found below the dam.  After dark, I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl near the eastern primitive camping area!

September 15

Most of the day was spent walking Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Without a means of return trip, the hike is about fourteen and a half miles.  Ever since retirement, I thought my "job" was to try to stay in shape.  In this effort, I have tried to walk at least 8-10 miles a day.  Today my gps recorded 15.2 miles.  This total took my Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area distance over 1500 miles (1501.6 to be exact).  I believe I am one of the few (if any) to walk the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (13.2 miles).  In search of Greater Prairie-Chickens and Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse, I have done that five times over the years.  Take plenty of water, it is a long hike.

The highlight of the trip today was a Black-throated Green Warbler found in section 4 East.  My bird count today was:
Wood Duck - pair
Turkey Vulture - 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 3
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 1
Swainson's Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 8
Golden Eagle - 1
American Kestrel - 2
Killdeer - 2
Eurasian Dotterel
Wilson's Snipe - 1
Ring-billed Gull - 4
California Gull - 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo - 1
Eastern Screech-Owl - 4
Great Horned Owl - 2
Common Nighthawk - 6
Common Poorwill - 1 heard
Hummingbird sp. - 1 - unknown species/prob. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher - 2
Red-headed Woodpecker - 9
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 7
Downy Woodpecker - 6
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 12
Western Wood-Pewee - 1
Western Kingbird - 14
Eastern Kingbird - 2
Plumbeous Vireo - 2
Cassin's Vireo - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Blue Jay - 6
Black-billed Magpie - 24 - plus
American Crow - 34
Horned Lark - 22
Tree Swallow - 2
Cliff Swallow - 1
Barn Swallow - 62
Black-capped Chickadee - 10
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 2
White-breasted Nuthatch - 4
Rock Wren - 1
House Wren - 7
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 18
Gray Catbird - 2
Brown Thrasher - 1
European Starling - 120 - plus
American Pipit - 4
Orange-crowned Warbler - 2
Yellow Warbler - 2
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1 - female
Northern Waterthrush - 1
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2
Wilson's Warbler - 2
Eastern Towhee - 1 - most likely hybrid
Chipping Sparrow - 2
Clay-colored Sparrow - 1
Brewer's Sparrow - 2
Field Sparrow - 1
Vesper Sparrow - 25
Lark Sparrow - 16
Savannah Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 4
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
White-crowned Sparrow - 6
Dark-eyed Junco - 4
McCown's Longspur - 1
Northern Cardinal - 3 - 2m, 1f
Blue Grosbeak - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 60 - plus
Western Meadowlark - 20 - plus
Yellow-headed Blackbird - 4
Brewer's Blackbird - 6
Common Grackle - 8
Brown-headed Cowbird - 2 - pair
House Finch - 12 - plus
American Goldfinch - 6
House Sparrow - 40 - plus

Misses: no gallinaceous birds or Short-eared Owls found at dusk along southern sections (Logan CR 46/CR 89)

No Bell's Vireos (may have migrated south)
Less expected however have been recorded: American Woodcock and Whip Poor-Will or exotic doves

September 16

Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard in the early morning at my friend's ranch in Sedgwick County.

An early morning trip to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) found a Common Tern, Short-eared Owl and Baltimore Oriole.  Surprisingly, the only shorebirds were Killdeer.

Roger Danka and I drove around Sedgwick County in search of uncommon birds (Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Meadowlark, uncommon sparrows, Sprague's Pipit, etc); none was found.

I said goodbye to Roger and headed toward Wray.  A stop at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) found two Field Sparrows along the eastern fence.  An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to my recording after sunset.

September 17

I searched unsuccessfully for the adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and Upland Sandpiper found on 9/15 by Kathy Mihm-Dunning at Stalker Pond (Yuma).  Two male Northern Cardinals were relocated at the western end of the property.

Nearby Wray Fishing Unit did not add any uncommon birds to my trip list.  Best bird was probably a White-throated Sparrow (east of the entrance road).

Most of my day was spent visiting friends that live in and nearby Wray.  I ate too much as they all wanted to feed me.  Eventually I found:
Northern Cardinals (7 males, 2 females; over three yards)
Eastern Bluebird    (1, private yard #1)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (juvenile, private yard #1)
Indigo Bunting (private yard #2)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (2; private ranch #2)
Field Sparrow (private ranch #1)
Magnolia Warbler (private ranch #6)

Misses: hoped for a Whip Poor-will, Eastern Meadowlark and Sprague's Pipit.  Low odds, none was found.

An hour before sunset, I drove Yuma County Road 45.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was found between hwy 385 and the Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek.  A Short-eared Owl was near CR 45 & CR PP.

September 18

Most of the hot day (over 90 degrees) was spent at a friend's ranch.  I stopped by Stalker Pond and missed the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron for the second time.  One Northern Cardinal flew around the windbreak at the entrance to the Wray Fishing Unit.

A drive along Yuma CR 45/CR PP, did not find any uncommon birds at sunset.

September 19

Missed the Stalker Pond Yellow-crowned Night-Heron for the third time.  A Common Tern flew around the lake.  Also found were an Eastern Phoebe and a male Northern Cardinal (again).

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird did not return (last seen on 9/17) private yard #1.

Lack of new birds, I wandered Yuma County.  A male Summer Tanager and Eastern Phoebe peaked my interest at Beecher Island.  The history here is quite fascinating.  Walked the self tour, it is worth the time.

After visiting a friend's ranch south of Yuma, we drove his property and found two Greater Prairie-Chickens.  At one time, his father-in-law counted up to 102 Greater Prairie-Chickens on the ranch.  Increased grazing and reduced prairie chicken numbers have lowered that number quite a bit.

A hovering Short-eared Owl was a nice bonus!

September 20

Went north of Wray to Holyoke today, still searching for a surge of migrating birds, that was not found.

Holyoke Cemetery (Phillips) was the best stop.  A Cassin's Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo were in the cottonwoods at the southeast corner.

Holyoke Fishing Pond added a Cassin's Kingbird and two Eastern Kingbirds to my trip list.

A Broad-winged Hawk was perched in a tall cottonwood at the northeast corner of Holyoke City Park.

Another hot day, I relaxed most of the afternoon.  Standing water is rare in Phillips County.  A drive along Phillips CR 2 and CR 29 & 31 was not exciting.

I wandered the southern edge of Phillips County at dusk.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens, Short-eared Owls or Pipits were found.

September 21

Back in Wray, I drove Yuma CR 45 before sunrise.  One Greater Prairie-Chicken was again found between hwy 385 and the Lek. 

I missed the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron for the third time and gave up on it.  I decided to drive to Bonny Reservoir.

The highlight of the day was a Sprague's Pipit at what birders are calling Pipit Hill (northeast of Yuma CR LL.5 and CR 4).

Additional birds found included at Hale: two Red-bellied Woodpeckers; at Hale Ponds: two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Eastern Screech-Owls; at Wagon Wheel Campgrounds: five Red-headed Woodpeckers; near Foster's Grove: Long-eared Owl; and a Field Sparrow along CR 2.

September 22

In the morning, I walked the Republican River from Kansas to Hale Ponds (it is not that far).  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was 150 yards west of Kansas.  Later a Bay-breasted Warbler was found along the Republican River at 100 yards east of Yuma CR LL.5.

I could not relocate the Sprague's Pipit found yesterday.

High winds started around 8:00 am; heat was coming. I decided to head for home and not stay out another day.

Search For Shorbirds in Southeast Colorado

September 11-13, 2017

September 11

Jacob Washburn and I headed to Kiowa County trying to find some of the uncommon birds recently reported.

We stopped at Tempel Grove (Bent) just north of Kiowa County.  We found the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Jane Stulp, 9/7), American Redstart (Leatherman, 9/4) and the lingering Red-headed Woodpecker.

The nice collection of shorebirds at Lower Queens Reservoir included a Black-bellied Plover, two Semipalmated Plovers, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwits and Red-necked Phalaropes.  Misses included the Short-billed Dowitcher, American Golden-Plover, Dickcissel and Cassin's Kingbird.

Upper Queens Reservoir was not as birdy.  Misses included the Black-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Palm Warbler and Indigo Bunting reported yesterday by Steve Mlodinow.

We did relocate the Northern Waterthrush at Neenoshe Reservoir.  In addition, we found a "new bird".  A Nashville Warbler was at the Locust Grove.

Our birding day ended at Mike Higbee Wildlife Area (Prowers).  No owls were found this evening.

September 12

Jacob and I headed south into Baca County today.

Two Buttes Reservoir added a Broad-winged Hawk, Cassin's Vireo and Ovenbird to our trip list.  Misses: the resident Barn Owl(s) were not found.

We detoured to Turk's Pond Wildlife Area (Baca) were a late migrating Ash-throated Flycatcher fluttered about the taller cottonwoods.  A bright colored Blue-headed Vireo was a nice surprise.

Our next stop was around the old Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek east of Campo.  The fields around the entrance road are usually good for sparrows, especially in migration.  The highlight, perhaps of the trip, was a Baird's Sparrow in the CR G field north of the Lek entrance!  Two Cassin's Sparrows were observed along the Lek Road.

We positioned ourselves an hour before sunset to watch for Lesser Prairie-Chickens coming to a lek southeast of the old lek; none appeared this evening.  A Short-eared Owl flew low over the field several times.  Perhaps this discouraged any Lesser Prairie-Chickens from emerging from the brush?

September 13

Jacob and I arrived in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) shortly before midnight.  A Western Screech-Owl called while we set up our tent!  In the morning, we walked CR J to the east.  Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows were found at the rocky hillside about 1.2 miles east of the Campgrounds.  Misses: Eastern Phoebes, which nest here, were not found today.  Other misses: Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Greater Roadrunners.

Picture Canyon was kinder to us.  Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows ran around the rocky hillside just south of the parking area.  A Curve-billed Thrasher perched on the rocks near the gated abandoned mine.  Few passerines moved about.  The highlight was relocated one of the male Painted Buntings that spent the summer.  On the drive out, a Greater Roadrunner stood sentinel on the hill near CR 18.

Our birding day ended at the Upland Bird Management area.  No uncommon sparrows or owls were found this evening.

We did some owling in Las Animas County on a private ranch.  No Northern Saw-whet Owls were relocated; however, two Western Screech-Owls called during our hike.

Jacob was not feeling well and we decided to drive back to Denver.

Chatfield Reservoir

September 10, 2017

I worked my way through traffic to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The Black Phoebe was observed briefly in the cottonwoods around the pond north of the swim beach.  The Eastern Phoebe and Sabine's Gull were not found.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Nothing Uncommon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 9, 2017

The weather the past few days has been similar.  Temperatures in the high 80s; winds were 8-10 mph.

Not much birding today, a brief drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) on our way to one of our favorite restaurants found nothing uncommon.

Birding Southwestern Corner of Denver

September 8, 2017

A return to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) was not as successful as hoped.  One Sabine's Gull flew around below the northeast corner of the dam.  It stayed too far away for photos.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull stood among several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of California Gulls on the marina sand spit.

Black Phoebe and Eastern Phoebe, which hung around the swim beach area since 9/2, were not relocated.

I drove over to Deer Creek Canyon (Jefferson) searching for the Eastern Phoebes that had summered there.   They were not found today.

A hike up Spring Valley Ranch (Jefferson) found an "out of place" Ovenbird, several Scrub Jays and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees.

I stopped at Hildebrand Ranch Park (Jefferson).  It is located east of Deer Canyon Park and west of Chatfield Reservoir.  Mostly I was taking photos for "Colorado Field Notes". 

An Indigo Bunting sang from the western end of the parking area.  An Eastern Phoebe was 20 yards or so east of the old barn at the eastern end of same parking area.

An hour before sunset I returned to Deer Creek Park.  No owls were found this evening and none was picked up by the two "owl listening stations" that were planted.

Bird-filled Eastern Plains Trip

September 5-7, 2017

Terry Michaels and I enjoyed a bird-filled trip to the eastern plains.  Migration has hit Colorado's eastern border.

September 5
We headed east along Interstate 70 and stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson County).  The stop was quite eventful.  Most birds were along the southern and southeast end of the reservoir.  Eventually we ran into a Blue-headed Vireo (with nice contrast between its bluish-gray head and whitish throat), a Red-eyed Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Ovenbird and American Redstart.  A Red-headed Woodpecker was farther north at the northeast line of cottonwood trees.

A couple of House Wrens, a female type Burrowing Owl,  Spotted Towhee, many sparrows (Clay-colored, Brewer's (3), Lark (many), Song (4), White-crowned (6), Lincoln's (1), Chipping (many), Savannah (2), Grasshopper (1), Vesper (many), and Dark-eyed Juncos), and one female type Lark Bunting were also observed.

Fairview Cemetery in Burlington was a bust and we continued to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).

Our birding day ended nicely with a focus on owls.  We found a Long-eared Owl near Foster's Grove Campgrounds then headed to the open fields south of Hale.  A Short-eared Owl flew across the field shortly after sunset.  Then we returned to the Republican River (looks more like a creek) and found three Eastern Screech-Owls.  Afterwards another Eastern Screech-Owl was found at Hale.

Misses: We hear a Common Poorwill call.  No Whip-poor-will responded to a recording, which would have been a fantasy find, someday perhaps.

September 6
We woke to an Eastern Screech-Owl calling northeast of Hale Ponds and then spent the rest of the day walking Bonny Reservoir (from Hwy 385) to Hale Ponds (to Kansas).

Our bird count for the day included:
Bonny Reservoir: Blue-headed Vireo, two Cassin's Vireos, American Redstart, Red-headed Woodpeckers (2), Red-bellied Woodpeckers (3), Northern Cardinal
Hale: Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-bellied Woodpeckers (2), House Wren (2), brief calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo (not seen), Eastern Bluebirds (7)
Hale Ponds: Magnolia Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpeckers (4), Red-headed Woodpecker (1), Baltimore Oriole, Field Sparrow

Misses: While probably too early, we stopped several times at Pipit Hill, found no Sprague's Pipits or American Pipits.  Four Eastern Bluebirds were there.

September 7
Our day was spent around the Wray area.

An hour before sunrise we drove Yuma County Road 45.  A Short-eared Owl flew over the field at CR 45/CR PP.  Two Greater Prairie-Chickens walked along CR 45 between the Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek and Hwy 385.

A look at the cottonwoods at the east end of the Sandhiller Motel parking area added another Blue-headed Vireo to our trip list!

Wray Fishing Unit added an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a male Northern Cardinal, House Wren and two Chimney Swifts circling overhead.

Nearby Stalker Pond added two additional male Northern Cardinals a Northern Waterthrush, Marsh Wren (darn not a Sedge Wren), and common sparrows.

An adult Red-headed Woodpecker was found at Wray City Park.  The highlight of the day was a Bell's Vireo in the thickets at Sandsage Wildlife Area.  Another Red-headed Woodpecker was in the tall cottonwoods; many common sparrows fluttered about the brush.
Misses: no Harris's and Field Sparrows, phoebes, owls.

On the way out of town, we said hi at two friends.  One yard had a pair of Northern Cardinals and a Spotted Towhee (darn not Eastern Towhee).  The other yard had a White-throated Sparrow, male Northern Cardinal and Common Poorwill.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hazy Morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

September 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

At sunrise, I drove to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) with some skepticism in finding the four Eastern Phoebes reported yesterday along the Bluestem trail. In my experience, Eastern Phoebes tend to stay near water.  I did not recall seeing water along the Bluestem trail on my only previous visit.

The Arsenal opened at 6:30 am and shortly after I was at the Bluestem trailhead.  The red-orange sun took quite some time over 45 minutes to burn through what I thought was fog. 

Then I remembered the many wildfires burning in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California.  The resulting smoke must have been hanging over Colorado; the sun did not burn off any "fog".

Vesper Sparrows, two Brewer's Sparrows and a Savannah Sparrow were encountered along the Bluestem trail.  I scoped the far off cottonwoods for any sign of Eastern Phoebes or any flycatchers.

A juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was in a group of dead cottonwoods 50 yards or so from the western side of the Bluestem Southwestern loop.

Farther down the same loop, a raised platform trail slices through a grove of twelve foot high cottonwoods.  A Cassin's Vireo was the only bird fluttering about the grove.

My first flycatcher sighting was a Western Wood-pewee at the extreme western end of the trail.  It was catching bugs near a large "Hawk looking nest" in the tall cottonwood.  The nest was perhaps only ten feet off the ground; therefore probably not a Hawk's nest.

The trail abruptly ends near the dry highline canal.  I turned around and continued south.  At the extreme southern end of the southwest loop, I thought an Upland Sandpiper was heard.  However, it was ignored as an aberration of my ears.

Five Say's Phoebes and eight Western Meadowlarks were walking around an empty prairie dog town at the southern end.  Then a head popped up out of the darker green grasses.  It was an Upland Sandpiper!

I have seen Upland Sandpipers in Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Both sightings were near the old Eagle Watch Bunker accessed from Buckley Road.  I captured a poor quality witness photo and continued my trek.

Six additional Say's Phoebes were observed along the eastern side of the Bluestem Loop.  A female type Lark Bunting and five Western Kingbirds were ran upon.

No Eastern Phoebes for me.  I would like to talk to the Eastern Phoebe observer and see if Say's Phoebes were not their sightings?

Driving the Wildlife Auto Drive added few birds to my day list.  Sparrows did include two additional Brewer's Sparrows, dozens of Vesper Sparrows, one Grasshopper Sparrow, one Savannah Sparrow and two Song Sparrows.

After leaving the bison enclosure of the Wildlife drive, I detoured to Rattlesnake Hill.  Having never hiked to the top, I wanted to see the view and get a few photos.  Just inside the entrance drive, two Sage Thrashers flew across the road.

Another four Sage Thrashers wandered like mice across the asphalt parking area. 

The sky was hazy and limited the view at the Rattlesnake Hill overlook.  I could see two ponds that cannot be seen while driving the Wildlife Drive.  One hundred+ Bison wandered below the hill.

Temperatures were rising at 11:30 am when I drove to the First Creek Trail.   A hike west up the new Adams County section of the trail added mostly only birds previously seen.

An adult Bald Eagle and male Belted Kingfisher were "new" birds for the day.

Finally walking down the Denver County section of First Creek trail did not add any additional birds to my list.

Later at 6:00 pm, Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Two Burrowing Owls were at the W. Cargo Road/Third Creek prairie dog village.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Afternoon At Chatfield Reservoir

September 3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I was near Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) and spent several hours in the afternoon checking of recent bird sightings.  Temperatures reached a warm 95 degrees; winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Labor Day weekend, wow, the park was packed with people.  More than I have ever experienced here before.

The Black Phoebe reported at the swim beach area was relocated farther north.  I saw the bird along the pond/creek east of the main road bridge, north of the swim beach.

Next, I stopped at the south marina sand spit.  The reported Sabine's Gull was not there; however, the sub-adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was.

I scoped the sand spit at Plum Creek delta and found the juvenile Sabine's Gull among 50 or so Ring-billed Gulls.  One Pectoral Sandpiper walked among three Killdeer.  On the way back to the parking area, a Cassin's Vireo popped out of the willows!

My final stop was the Platte River east of the Audubon Center.  An American Redstart fluttered about the cottonwoods.  Missed: a reported Least Flycatcher.

A drive through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home found six Cedar Waxwings near the eastern entrance.  Missed: the Long-eared Owls that summered here.

One Burrowing Owl was at West Cargo Road and Third Creek (Adams), DIA Owl Loop.

Owling In Chaffee and Fremont Counties

September 1-3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn and I headed to Park County in search of the Long-tailed Jaeger at Antero Reservoir and any owls.  Temperatures were a little cooler than Denver (still in the 80s); winds were 6-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  We did not see any of the predicted rainstorms.

September 1

I took about an hour to find the Long-tailed Jaeger at Antero Reservoir (Park County).  We waited until the bird decided to chase some gulls around.  Nothing else uncommon was encountered.

Owling went well in spite of being down to only two of our "owl listening stations" (one was destroyed by an unseen animal last week).

We eventually saw, heard or captured on DVD:
Northern Pygmy-Owl: along Chaffee CR 301 (heard)
Northern Saw-whet Owl: along CR 301 (observed)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (2): Cottonwood Pass (observed)
Northern Pygmy-Owl: Chalk Creek (call captured with "owl listening station"

September 2

In the morning, a brief drive around Buena Vista (Chaffee) found Lewis's Woodpeckers at the City Park (3) and along Pleasant & Princeton Avenues (2).

Two Juniper Titmice were flying around the Buena Vista overlook.  Misses: no Pinyon Jays were found at several previous locations.  Where were they today?

We headed to the Coalmont area of Fremont County.  I have wanted to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan for several years (would be a first county record).

I have made two attempts on Bushnell Peak (13,105 feet) without success.

Today we hiked up Galena Peak (12,461).  Again, we had no success.

Consolation sights were good.  A Townsend's Warbler was seen at Coaldale Campgrounds.  Four American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers were encountered on the hike along Hayden Creek.

On the return trip off Galena Peak, we heard a Boreal Owl near tree line.  Later a Flammulated Owl flew into a tree about 10 yards from us!  Not done yet, a Northern Pygmy-Owl called near the trailhead at Fremont County 6!

September 3

At around 1:00 am we drove up Phantom Canyon (Fremont).  We eventually relocated a Spotted Owl.

As previously written, a friend fixed me up with a radio telemetry antenna.  A few weeks ago, we picked up a signal; however, we were unable to identify what or where it was emitting.

We returned to the proximity again this morning and again picked up a signal.  However, once again we could not determine what the signal was attached.  It was exciting because the signal did move and was above us.  We thought it was surely attached to a bird (or possibly a bat), however nothing was seen flying in the moonlight.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Another Check on Fall Migration at Barr Lake

August 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake to check on fall migration.  Birding was slow.  Townsend's Warbler was the only warbler.  The Least Flycatcher, Western Wood-pewees, House Wrens, Western Kingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds are still around.

No vireos were found this evening.  I did not drive the DIA Owl Loop.

Return to Boulder County

August 30-31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Back in Boulder County we continued our owl survey.

Owl count was quite good tonight.

Eldorado Mountain Open Space: Northern Pygmy-Owl (1) (ols)
Eldorado Canyon Northern Saw-whet Owl (2) after an hour sit
Mesa South Trail: Eastern Screech-Owl (2, heard, separate locations), Northern Pygmy-Owl (2, heard, separate locations), Flammulated Owl (1, heard), Northern Saw-whet Owl (2, several hour sits)

Misses: "owl listening stations" up Doudy Draw caught zero calls

Owling In Boulder County

August 29-30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I went owling in Boulder County.  I have wanted this trip for quite a while; other trips have taken up my time.  Early August is better owling as the adults will give contact calls to keep in touch with their offspring. 

We did okay for late August.  By the way, the biggest problem is finding some where to park to avoid getting a ticket.  Years ago, I made a deal with one of the local residents to park in their driveway!  Thanks much Adrian!

Along our trek, we also put out our "owl listening stations".  These are dual CD/DVD players, one set to play and the other to record.  A CD with owl calls spaced at intervals and the other CD is noise activated to capture any responses.  The bigger expense was the $250 software to analyze the recorded CDs so that we do not have to listen to them (some DVDs are recording for 2-4 hours).

Northern Pygmy-Owls usually do not call continuously as they do in spring when looking for a mate.  They do have short contact calls.

Northern Saw-whet Owls usually do not call at all.  They will approach a call and sit nearby the recording.  In most cases, we must observe any sightings.

Eastern Screech-Owls will respond quite a long time to a recording.  Boreal Owls have similar behavior.  Flammulated Owls approach and may give a short contact call.

These have been my experiences for years and have worked well in contacting and finding the above species.  Others have published different results?

One additional note:  Originally, we had three setups.  This night an animal destroyed one of our "owl listening stations" (ols).  If it was a bear, we were quite happy to miss seeing it!

Our owl count and source this evening was the following (some of the locations we are making as vague as possible to protect the owls).

Walden Ponds: Eastern Screech-Owl (1) (ols)
Sawhill Ponds: possible Lewis's Woodpecker heard while setting up
Bobolink Trail: Northern Pygmy-Owl (ols)
St. Vrain: Long-eared Owl (2) heard by us, one seen flying in dim light
Old St. Vrain: Northern Pygmy-Owl (found by us)
Highway 7, west of Lyons: Northern Pygmy-Owl (ols) (destroyed box, DVD saved)
Highway 7, west of Lyons: Northern Saw-whet Owl (we sat for two hours, one approached our recordings)
Highway 7, Northern Pygmy-Owl (2, Raymond & Allenspark)

Considering that we did not sit for long times at several locations where Northern Saw-whet Owls have been found, we were happy with one sighting.

We were not in Flammulated Owl or Boreal Owl habitat this night.
Greenlee Preserve, Pella Crossing Park: no owl encounters

Return to Barr Lake

August 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After spending most of the day during chores, I returned to Barr Lake (Adams).  Bird numbers were down quite a bit from yesterday.  One Townsend's Warbler, one Cassin's Vireo, one Western Wood-pewee, several Western Kingbirds and an Eastern Kingbird were observed.

Two Burrowing Owls were relocated at the Prairie Dog Village at Third Creek and West Cargo Road.

Good Birding Trip to Barr Lake

August 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After hearing about the numerous bird sightings at Barr Lake (Adams), I headed over there in the afternoon.  Skies were partly sunny; temperatures were in the low 90s.

A Black-and-white Warbler was along the main trail at mile 8.9. I thought that the many birds reported were near the banding station.  That turned out not to be accurate (later the bird bander reported few birds banded).  I found no birds around the banding station willows.

I continued north along the main trail.  When I reached the trees at mile 8.3, the woods were filled with bird sounds.  I stood there for the next hour trying to identify the birds which stayed high up in the cottonwoods.

Eventually I would observe the Philadelphia Vireo, a Cassin's Vireo, Wilson's Warbler, one Townsend's Warbler, two Red-breasted Nuthatches, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, two Western Wood-pewees and a Western Kingbird.

Misses included the reported American Redstart and Least Flycatcher.  I continued to the boat ramp at mile 7.5.  Additional birds included two House Wrens and a pair of Eastern Kingbirds.

Just before sunset I drove, the now opened DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  One Burrowing Owl stood on a prairie dog mound at Third Creek and West Cargo Road.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Search For Migrating Birds In Adams & Denver Counties

August 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures today reached the low 90s; winds were 7-8 mph with a short period of gusts to 17 mph in the afternoon.

I walked 14 miles today.  Birder miles are more strenuous than a hike because of the stopping and going and standing around scoping the habitats.  Rebecca dropped me off at several places and picked me up at the other terminus.  That cut the distance almost in half.

While my target bird was more or less the Crested Caracara, I was searching for migration birds.  A closer look at the bird than yesterdays would have been welcomed.  I did not find it.

Barr Lake (Adams) from mile 5 to 9 (or 0) was slow bird wise.  I encountered a Northern Waterthrush not the one at the banding station (not banded).  I did see the American Redstart near the banding station (banded).

Other birds included many Western Kingbirds, two Eastern Kingbirds, three Western Wood-pewees, one Least Flycatcher, five House Wrens, nine Yellow Warblers, eleven Wilson's Warblers, one Hermit Thrush, no uncommon sparrows, Red-tailed Hawks, Swainson's Hawks, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons and a Virginia Rail.

The hike from the Prairie Trail to the Rod and Gun Club ponds at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) added several additional Western Kingbirds, two Eastern Kingbirds, two Western Wood-pewees, four Yellow Warblers, one Orange-crowned Warbler, Lark Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows and one Savannah Sparrow.

Bluff Lake Nature Area was quite slow.   One Western Wood-pewee, two Yellow Warblers and a Clay-colored Sparrow were the non-resident birds.

The First Creek Trail from 56th to Buckley (Denver) then Buckley to the western end (Adams) was the most interesting. 

Adams County Sparrows included two Cassin's, two Brewer's, one Clay-colored, fourteen Lark, two Song, two Savannah, one Grasshopper, one Swamp and one mystery sparrow.  The Swamp Sparrow was in the cattails around the pond near the western fence at First Creek.

The mystery sparrow I captured several dozen photos as of yet not examined.  It appeared to be an "ammodramus".

Other Adams County birds included an adult Bald Eagle (at Pond), two Red-tailed Hawks, two Western Wood-pewees, dozens of Western Kingbirds, two Eastern Kingbirds, one "empidonax flycatcher", two House Wrens, two Yellow Warblers, one Orange-crowned Warbler, four male Lesser Goldfinches, and one male Belted Kingfisher.

Earlier in Denver County, Great Horned Owl, one Savannah Sparrow, one Grasshopper Sparrow, one female Blue Grosbeak, two well hidden Red-tailed Hawks, and many Red-winged Blackbirds. 

Misses: Barn Owls, Crested Caracara, additional hawks.

An hour before sunset, Rebecca and I walked a mile on the temporarily closed West Cargo Road to the prairie dog town.  Two Burrowing Owls remain.  No Short-eared Owls appeared at sunset.

Conclusion: I did not run into a wave of migrating birds.

Highlight of my day was an Eastern Screech-Owl.  It is in the First Creek area.  Because of its easy access, its location will not be disclosed.  It has nested in the past and over wintered.

ONE OTHER NOTE: we drove to Aurora Reservoir to search for the reported Long-tailed Jaeger, found that the reservoir was closed for the day?

Search for a Crested Caracara

August 25, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I searched Adams/Denver County from a little after 1:00 pm until seeing it at 5:00 pm.  Having missed it at First Creek and the Denver Landfill where it had been seen earlier in the day, I decided to check Box Elder Creek.  A stop at Pena Blvd & 61st Avenue Park N Ride a Burrowing Owl was seen south of the entrance road.

I drove up and down Hudson Road with detours east to Box Elder Creek.  Areas where Red-headed Woodpeckers had previously been spotted (B.E.C & 104 and B.E.C. & 96th avenue) were especially studied.

No luck, I decided to return to First Creek and 56th Avenue.  A large raptor was spotted along Box Elder Creek.  The grove of cottonwoods was west of Hudson Road at 0.5 miles north of 56th Avenue. 

Its flattish black cap and whitish nape and neck were unmistakable those of a Crested Caracara.  I called several friends who managed to come and see the bird.  Ten minutes later, two Red-tailed Hawks circled over the cottonwoods and the Caracara took off, heading east.

The white windows in the wings and dark tipped whitish tail confirmed what we already knew.

Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) an hour before sunset.  Dozens of Barn Swallows flew around the Lake Loop. 

One interesting nighthawk was with them.  It made no wing noise the few times it drove.  For the most part, it hunted close to the ground.  Its wings looked rather short.  All these are characteristics of a Lesser Nighthawk.  Unfortunately, we did not see it long or well enough to confirm any identification.  I did not record it as such.

A Willet and Least Sandpiper were on Pelican Point.

A Great Birding Week In Colorado

August 21-24, 2017

Richard Stevens:

August 21

At first light, Rebecca and I drove around Lamar (Prowers County) searching for the previously reported Swallow-tailed Kite.  Success, it was perched in a cottonwood tree near the church north of Willow Creek Park (sorry I cannot remember the name of the church).

Before we exited our car, it took off.  I was able to capture three shots of the bird.  It should be the cover of September's "Colorado Field Notes" unless someone gets a good photo of the Crested Caracara floating around Denver.

At Willow Park, we found two Red-headed Woodpeckers and one Red-bellied Woodpecker (the bird was actually east of Willow Valley Road).

A couple of Pine Siskins (unusual) were later found at nearby Fairmount Cemetery.

Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) added a Barn Owl, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, four Wild Turkeys, Greater Roadrunner (west of dam), Western Wood-pewee and Brown Thrasher.

We turned north and search the various reservoirs north of Lamar for shorebirds.  Regrettably, none of the unusual shorebirds recently reported were encountered. 

A Long-billed Curlew was our only uncommon one at Neenoshe Reservoir (Kiowa).  Our results were similar at Upper Queens Reservoir & Lower Queens Reservoir.

Our next stop was Blue Lake (Bent/Kiowa).  Here we count another Long-billed Curlew and five Snowy Plovers.  Long-billed Dowitchers were the only Dowitchers found.  A Short-billed Dowitcher had been reported yesterday.

We continued north to Burlington (Kit Carson) after sunset.

August 22

Just before sunrise, we searched the Hale Ponds area (Yuma).  An Eastern Screech-Owl called without any encouragement.  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, House Wrens, and five Eastern Bluebirds were also in the area.

Misses: Cuckoos and Poorwills (neither responded to a tape.

Another Red-bellied Woodpecker was along the gated road south side of Bonny Reservoir (now almost dry).  A Lewis's Woodpecker surprised us at Wagon Wheel Campgrounds (now defunct).  A Lewis's Woodpecker was west of Wagon Wheel.  A Northern Cardinal and eight Wild Turkeys were near Foster's Grove.  While a Great Crested Flycatcher called between there and Hwy 385.

A detour to Beecher Island (Yuma) added an Eastern Phoebe to our trip list.  The historically battlefield is one of my favorite in Colorado.

We missed Eastern Phoebes at Wray Fishing Unit near Wray.  A male Northern Cardinal flew around the northern windbreak.  Nothing uncommon was at Stalker Pond.

After sunset, we heard two Eastern Screech-Owls at Roger Danka's in Sedgwick County.

August 23

Early in the morning, Roger Danka and I drove around Sedgwick County.  Our target birds were uncommon sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks and Chicken-like Birds.

The highlights were an Upland Sandpiper and Red-bellied Woodpecker at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area.

Misses: Eastern Meadowlarks, uncommon sparrows, Sprague's Pipit (not yet around?).

In the afternoon we drove to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  We missed he Ruddy Turnstone reported yesterday, consolation: Short-eared Owl at sunset.

Earlier we had an Eastern Phoebe at Duck Creek Wildlife Area (Logan).

August 24

Rebecca and I birded Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) today.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard calling just before sunrise.

The highlight of the day was a beautiful Blue-headed Vireo.  We also saw three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Northern Cardinals and a female type Baltimore Oriole.

Misses: no Bell's Vireos, cuckoos and Eastern Wood-Pewees were encountered.

Other search at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) did not find the Ruddy Turnstone (Steve Larson, 8/22) or Semipalmated Plover (Brian Johnson, 8/23).

A couple of Common Nighthawks and an Eastern Screech-Owl were observed just before sunset at Roger's ranch.

August 25

Rebecca and I cut our plains birding short when we received a text message about the Crested Caracara having moved to the First Creek Trail (Denver County).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eastern Arapahoe County

My email to cobirders

Hello birders,

I drove around eastern Arapahoe and northern Elbert Counties on Monday.

At Box Elder Creek and County Line Road
House Wren, Wilson's Warbler, Western Wood-pewee

At Kiowa Creek and County Line Road
adult and two juvenile Red-headed Woodpeckers (juveniles stayed north of County Line Road, the adult flew from Arapahoe County south across the road into Elbert County

Olive-sided Flycatcher between Kiowa Creek and Arapahoe County Open Space to east
Brown Thrasher seen from County Line Road in the Open Space

north of Arapahoe CR 129 and County Line Road
Grasshopper Sparrow

CR 129 and Jamison Road
Lark Buntings, 20 female type

CR 129 and Alaves farm?  I may have forgotten the correct name
Cassin's Kingbird

CR 30 at 0.5 miles east of CR 149
Burrowing Owl continues about 30 yards north of CR 30

At West Bijou Creek and Arapahoe CR 30
Northern Mockingbird

CR 34, east of CR 181

At West Bijou Creek and CR 42
Orange-crowned Warbler
Warbling Vireo

My highlight of the trip was an Eastern Screech-Owl at one of the creeks.  It was first discovered back in March.

Good birding!

Terry Michaels
Denver, CO

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

August 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached close to 90 degrees today; winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 18 mph. 

I spent the morning at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  No Long-eared Owls could be found today.  A Townsend's Warbler was loosely associated with two Yellow-rumped Warblers and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees in the windbreak west of Pond 7.

A Spotted Towhee was in the Russian Olive Trees near Pond 4.

I needed to stretch my legs after a couple of days driving 300+ miles and walked over to Pond 13.  The highlight of the morning was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo! 

I have enjoyed good fortune in finding them at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area in the past (8/7/2010, 8/3/2011, and two on 7/30/2012).

Check on the Third Creek Burrowing Owls

August 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Legs and back are still exhausted from driving 700+ miles this week, well, sitting in a car.  It was hot again today with temperatures in the low 90s; winds were 6-7 mph in the afternoon. 

Road construction has 96th avenue, W. Cargo Road and 112th avenues closed.  It appears that could last for a month or so. 

I walked to West Cargo Road and Third Creek from 112th Avenue during the last hour of daylight.  At least one Burrowing Owl continues at the infamous prairie dog town.

Chase For a Little Blue Heron

August 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, Terry Michaels and I drove up to Walden Ponds (Boulder).  It was hot with temperatures in the middle 90s.  I believe I heard on the news that a new record high was set for the day.

No Little Blue Heron was at the Cottonwood Marsh.  Terry walked the Sawhill Ponds while I walked several miles at Walden Ponds.  No phoebes were encountered along Boulder Creek from Walden Ponds to 75th Street.  Snowy Egrets were scattered at both Walden Ponds and Sawhill Ponds.

Finally, I found the reported "Little Blue Heron" along the north side of the Ricky Weisner Wetlands.  I was standing at the southern end at the time, radioed Terry and we rushed back to the northern side.  By the time we arrived, the "white heron" had flown back to the east.

I took photos but was quite far from the bird.  Through binoculars, Terry thought something seemed off about the bird.  Leg color a little too dark?  When it flew, the underwings were quite white.  However, compensating for the shade due to the overhead sunlight, we could not be sure. 

I did take a couple of photos of the bird in flight.  However, I have not had time or energy to look at them yet.  Little Blue Herons show black tips to underwing.

Few birds were moving about in the heat.  A Western Wood-pewee continually called from the west side of Duck Lake.  A Least Sandpiper walked the shore at Cottonwood Marsh.

Crazy Impormptu Birding Trip

August 16-17, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Crazy impromptu birding trip!!!

August 16, 2017

California Birder Robert Diaz and I went to Mt Evans to chase after a couple of his lifebirds.  While cooler temperatures prevailed in the mountains, the day was still hot.  Our day turned out to be quite crazy.

One Barrow's Goldeneye remained on Echo Lake (Clear Creek).  A walk to the northwestern side of Summit Lake found three Brown-capped Rosy Finches flying overhead.  They briefly landed on the moss-covered rocks; however mostly they continually circled overhead.

Finding White-tailed Ptarmigan was more challenging.  We hiked the rocky hillside east of Summit Lake's parking area for over an hour and a half before Robert found a lone Ptarmigan.  At least we had one for the day.

At the Echo Lake Campgrounds, we walked down past the Mt Captain trail where the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard.  Eventually we put our binoculars on an adult male Three-toed Woodpecker.

We received a text message about two Little Gulls at Pueblo Reservoir.  Having knocked around the idea of driving to Fremont County for a Spotted Owl search, off we went.

The juvenile Little Gulls were at the northwest corner of Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) when we arrived.  A quick look and we continued to Phantom Canyon (Fremont).

After dark, we drove sixteen miles up Phantom Canyon.  No owls were found this night.  A friend had set me up with a radio receiver that tracks radio tagged birds.  Regrettably, we acquired no hits tonight.

August 17

Having been up half the night in any case, we decided to drive to Gunnison.  We both caught a couple of hours of sleep while trading off the driving.

Just before dawn, we drove south down Gunnison County Road 38.  A female Gunnison Sage-Grouse and four young birds were discovered walking along CR 38, just north of CR 38a!

On the return to Canon City, we stopped at Temple Canyon Park (Fremont).  The stop added Juniper Titmice, a Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo, Bushtits, Evening Grosbeaks, Willow Flycatcher and Cordilleran Flycatcher to our fantastic trip list.

 A brief stop at Tunnel Drive added a Rufous-crowned Sparrow to our trip list.

In the afternoon, we missed finding the Black and Eastern Phoebes along the Arkansas Riverwalk and headed back up Phantom Canyon.  This night we enjoyed better fortune.  A Spotted Owl was found up the Canyon.  Later, our make-swift radio receiver picked up a signal.  We never confirmed what caused this signal (possibly a second Spotted Owl?).

I had set up one of the "owl listening stations" along Phantom Canyon Road on the trip north up the Canyon.  When we stopped to pick it up, a Northern Saw-whet Owl flew out of the Juniper trees.

Our final stop was Beaver Creek Wildlife Area. A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded briefly with a contact call. 

Not a bad night of Owling!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area to Barr Lake

August 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I spent about three hours at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) this morning.  Temperatures were in the low 70s, winds less than 4 mph.  First, I walked the southern ponds 4 to 1, then the northern ponds 5 to 11.

No Long-eared Owls were encountered today.  An Olive-sided Flycatcher was hawking insects near Pond 3.  A Townsend's Warbler fluttered about Pond 7.  Surprisingly, few birds were around.

Afterwards I visited a friend's ranch.  The Mountain Plovers that nested on his property seem to have departed.  Two Burrowing Owls continue.  The pair of nesting Long-eared Owls did not appear to have successfully nested this year.  The female did stay on the nest for several weeks.

Late in the afternoon, I hiked at Barr Lake (Adams) from mile 0.5 to mile 8.0.  Few birds were seen between the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 0.0 or 9.0) to the banding station at mile 8.7.  Once I reached the banding station, many birds were found.  They included eight Yellow Warblers, eleven Wilson's Warblers (only two females), one House Wren, one Western Kingbird and one Western Wood-pewee.

Back at mile 0.0 to 0.5, the Niedrach Boardwalk area I found a male Lazuli Bunting, two Western Wood-pewees, one Olive-sided Flycatcher and a pair of House Wrens between the footbridge and the boardwalk.

At the southwestern end of the boardwalk, I counted 17 House Wrens, 9 female type Bullock's Orioles, two Western Wood-pewees, and a possible Least Flycatcher.  The "empidonax flycatcher" did not sing or call.  It was quite small.

The DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) is closed to traffic because of major road construction.  I parked at 112th avenue and W. Cargo Road and walked toward Third Creek and W. Cargo Road.  Two Burrowing Owls continue at the prairie dog village there.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  I hope to establish a "last date" for Burrowing Owls in the area.  However, the hike while not too long, is time consuming.

Cassin's Vireo at Barr Lake, No Common Terns Found in Arapahoe County

August 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

My first stop today was Barr Lake (Adams).  Highlight was a Cassin's Vireo near mile 8.9.  Two Western Wood-pewees, half a dozen Western Kingbirds and a pair of Eastern Kingbirds continue.  Two House Wrens were also found.  No terns or shorebirds other than Killdeer were encountered.

I decided to search for the Common Tern(s) reported at Aurora Reservoir yesterday.  Unfortunately, I did not relocate them.  I also checked Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), no terns.  Only a few American White Pelicans, a couple of Double-crested Cormorants and a dozen Snowy Egrets were found.  A few California Gulls were among less than 50 Ring-billed Gulls.

Search for Long-tailed Jaeger Turned Into Swallow-tailed Kite Search, then Hepatic Tanager Search

August 8-13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I started out to search for the Long-tailed Jaeger reported August 6 at Prewitt Reservoir.  The trip was extended because of a couple of additional bird reports.

August 8
We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) on the drive to Prewitt Reservoir.  No jaegers or uncommon gulls were seen.  One Long-eared Owl was found in the southwestern Campgrounds.  At least one or two stayed since last winter or even before.

The Jaeger was not found in our three hour search of Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  Two Red-headed Woodpeckers were not much of a consolation. 

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  A lone tern turned out to be a Common Tern.  We watched the fields south of Jumbo Reservoir at dusk.  One Short-eared Owl came out just before sunset and flew back and forth for five minutes or so.  No Eastern Screech-Owls were found at the north side this evening or Long-eared Owls along the western side.

August 9
Terry and I spent about four hours at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) after sunrise.  Before sunrise, we did relocate two Eastern Screech-Owls (eastern sections).  The Wildlife Area is still quite birdy this late in summer.  In the western sections, we found one Yellow-billed Cuckoo, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and an Eastern Screech-Owl (unusual location).  Misses: No Bell's Vireos, the Eastern Wood-Pewee or the Eastern Towhee could be detected.

In the eastern sections, we came across two Northern Cardinals, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Field Sparrows and a lingering Great Crested Flycatcher.

In the afternoon, we drove Highway 138 searching unsuccessfully for Upland Sandpipers.  No Upland Sandpipers were found at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) where a lingering female or juvenile Baltimore Oriole flew around the cottonwoods.

After dark, we relocated two Eastern Screech-Owls on Roger Danka's ranch (Sedgwick).

August 10
We started out at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).  No owls were discovered before (or after) sunrise.  A Great Crested Flycatcher and two Loggerhead Shrikes were the highlight of an hour or so walk around the property.  Misses: no uncommon sparrows could be found.

Holyoke area (Phillips) was slow.  Nothing uncommon was found at the Holyoke Fishing Pond or woodlots northeast of town.  A Least Flycatcher hawked bugs at the Holyoke Cemetery.

We left Phillips County and headed to Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).  Two immature or female Baltimore Orioles were along the "closed to cars" road that runs along the south side of the now defunct lake.  Six Wild Turkeys walked along CR 3 (north side of property).  Nothing uncommon could be found at Foster's Grove Campgrounds area.

Our plans were to look for owls (Eastern & Long-eared) and Common Poorwills (or possible Whip-poor-wills) after dark.  Instead, a report of a Swallow-tailed Kite in Lamar caught our attention.  We rushed south.  It was not found in the fading light.

August 11
Terry Michaels and I drove every possible road in Lamar (Prowers) at least three times.  There was no sign of the Swallow-tailed Kite.  We had encountered a tremendous thunder and hailstorm between Burlington and Lamar.  The marble/golf ball sized hail surely did not aid our Kite search.

Eventually we counted thirty two Mississippi Kites around Lamar, no Swallow-tailed Kite.  A male Northern Cardinal was observed at the south end of the Lamar Community College woods.

With no reports of the Swallow-tailed Kite, we decided to continue south.  No kites were at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker was a highlight. 

At Cottonwood Canyon (Baca), we encountered two Rufous-crowned Sparrows and Eastern Phoebes east of the primitive Campgrounds area.  Eight Mississippi Kites were perched in cottonwoods between the Campgrounds and 1.6 miles to the east.  Ten Common Nighthawks circled around Carrizo Mountain (during our search for Lesser Nighthawks).  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called briefly (responded to our recording) in the draw south of the Campgrounds.  Two Western Screech-Owls called after civil twilight!

We drove to Picture Canyon for the night.  A Short-eared Owl hovered over CR 18

August 12
Five hours were spent exploring the Picture Canyon area (including Sand Canyon & North Canyon).  Highlights included a Painted Bunting and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows in Picture Canyon.  Curve-billed Thrasher in Sand Canyon. 

We saw an Oriole in Sand Canyon that could not be identified with the brief looks given to us.  It most likely may have been a female Scott's Oriole with darkish gray head and grayish breast and belly.  It had no yellow color on the breast.  We "chased" it for 30 minutes before it mysteriously disappeared. 

A male Vermilion Flycatcher was come across in North Canyon (near the old spring that has produced several sightings over the years).

A Greater Roadrunner crossed the road as we left Picture Canyon and drove to the Upland Bird Management Area (Baca).  This area is close to abandoned now days.  I believe the Forest Service once used the area to reintroduce sage ground and prairie chickens.  I have not seen any tracks for a dozen years now.  A Short-eared Owl was observed at dusk!

August 13

Our target bird today was a Hepatic Tanager.  We stopped at five previous nesting locations in Las Animas County; none was found. The few highlights included many Cassin's Kingbirds, a lonely Dickcissel along CR 10.8, six Mississippi Kites (still no Swallow-tailed Kite), eight Red-headed Woodpeckers, one Greater Roadrunner, and a Pinyon Jay, which seemed way out of place.

We entered New Mexico by way of Highway 389 and continued west to Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (Las Animas).  Finally the highlight of the day.  An adult female Hepatic Tanager at the northwest corner of the lake.  A Townsend's Warbler was also in the area.  The tanager had a bright orange red throat (could it have been a first year male?).

After civil twilight, we searched for owls.  None was heard.  One of our three "owl listening stations" attracted a Northern Saw-whet Owl!

End of a great trip, in spite of missing the Swallow-tailed Kite.  Would be only the sixth state record (2nd Prowers County).

Search for Cave Swallow at Harriman Lake Park

August 7, 2017

Richard Stevens: email sent to cobirders listserve:

Hello cobirders,
Bird report below, trust me.

Anyone seeing a nut standing in the rain for three+ hours at Harriman Lake Park this afternoon, it was me!  I rigged up a tripod with an umbrella and another with my camera and took shots (can they still be called photos?) of the swallows flying around the western end of the lake.

While studying the swallows I noticed that the species tend to fly different patterns and speeds.  After a while, I would look without binoculars and guess species; then use binoculars to confirm.  Accurate rate was close to perfect.

That got me thinking about the Strouhal number and whether I could calculate what I was seeing.  For those not knowing, Strouhal number may be used to calculate flight speed of birds (in some cases when flight is in straight line).  The number is equal to frequency (of wing beats) times amplitude (vertical distance traveled by wing tip during a flapping stroke) divided by forward speed (distance traveled per second).

Took over 1400 photos and stopwatch measurements, it will take a few days to summarize my data, depends on how well the photos come out, I was able to get 1/2000 shutter speed out of my camera during some of the brighter moments in the cloudy skies.

All this was brought to mind as one particular swallow was much faster and flying straighter than most of the rest.

Swallow count was hundreds of Barn Swallows, dozens of Tree Swallows, four Violet-green Swallows, two Cliff Swallows and the speedy swallow.

I watched a potential Cave Swallow (speedy) at one stretch for 12 minutes as it flew towards me and parallel many times.  It eventually flew to the eastern end of the lake.  Many of the swallows would rest on the rocks at the southwest corner of the lake.  Regrettably the possible Cave Swallow did not.

The speedy swallow had a buffy throat that extended behind the nape, rusty forehead, and no white "headlights" on forehead.  Southwestern race of Cliff Swallow does show rusty forehead but also dark chestnut throat which "speedy" lacked.  I hope I captured a photo of the mystery bird!

Rain increased, I departed.

Another bird of note was a Red-eyed Vireo.  It was along the southern side of the lake up the "canal" that runs south.

Continued Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots and maps on CoBus website:

NOTE: after looking through hundreds of photos (most were fuzzy, out of focus) I could not confirm that a Cave Swallow was present.  I probably will address "swallow flying speed" in September, 2017 "Colorado Field Notes" 

Back to Jackson County

August 5-6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I escaped the heat in Denver with a trip to Jackson County.  It was cooler; however, afternoon storms were not good for our birding.

August 5

We arrived in Jackson County in late afternoon.  A side trip to Red Feather Lakes added a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers and a male American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list.

No Boreal Owls were heard around Cameron Pass (Jackson) after dark.  We drove west to Ranger Lakes where our success improved.  Two Boreal Owl called (responded to recordings) from the southwest corner of the Lakes area.

After Rebecca retired, I could not sleep and drove east to the Crags Campgrounds.  Winds had died down and forest sounds were everywhere.  I enjoyed the hike down to the Campgrounds and along the fire road leading to the south.  A Boreal Owl briefly responded to my recordings.

August 6

Rebecca and I drove Jackson County Road 26 about an hour before sunrise.  Eventually we observed one Greater Sage-Grouse crossing CR 26b approximately 0.6 miles south of County Road 26.

Several Sage Thrashers, many Vesper Sparrows, two Willets and an American Bittern were seen during a drive through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

Search for Shorebirds In Weld County

August 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

On this superb summer day I drove up to Weld County.  I had planned to go to Pawnee National Grasslands and search for Mountain Plovers, etc.  Highway construction slowed my drive too much and I birded around the Lower Latham Reservoir area instead.  The wetlands south of Latham were dry in spite of the many afternoon rain storms lately.

A Pectoral Sandpiper, six Baird's Sandpipers and a few Killdeer walked around the Beebe Draw Pond at Weld CR 40.  Dickcissels were found: one along CR 42, 0.1 miles east of CR 43 and another along CR 40, east of CR 43.  The fields which hosted more than half a dozen seven days ago were now cut.

Loloff Reservoir had another Pectoral Sandpiper, fourteen White-faced Ibis, six Baird's Sandpipers and four Black-necked Stilts.  I could not pick out a Glossy Ibis among the White-faced.  Had to be at a barbecue back home and I cut my birding day short.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mt Evans Parkway and a Surprise At Home

August 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I led the CoBus trip to Mt. Evans (Clear Creek County) today.  The weather was great with temperatures in the 70s.  Four birders and I enjoyed the cool temperatures.

Our first stop was Summit Lake area of Mt. Evans.  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches were found flying around the northwest corner of the Lake.  It took about 20 minutes before they appeared; however, it is a good spot to wait.

The search for White-tailed Ptarmigan took much longer.  We spread out and walked the field east of the Summit Lake parking area.  After about an hour and a half, I found one Ptarmigan about 600 yards below the Road.

We drove to the top and looked for the eastern and western edges of the parking area.  No additional Ptarmigan were found today.

At the Echo Lake Campgrounds, we walked to the Mt Captain trail.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming on a tree south of the trail!

Finally, we walked around Echo Lake.  Six Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the water.  A Green-tailed Towhee and Lincoln's Sparrow fluttered about the western side of the lake.  A Pinyon Jay was observed at the southwest corner.

Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds show up in good numbers at the southeastern corner!

Back at home, many hummingbirds continued to visit our feeders.  Many for us, in the past we have never had more than one each summer.  Today we again saw at least one of the four common species coming through Colorado.

HOWEVER, we got a visit from a quite large hummingbird.  It appeared to have a long bill and spots/stripes across its flanks and belly.  Could we have a Rivoli's Hummingbird?  We hope it returns tomorrow!

I am not counting it as a Rivoli's Hummingbird yet.  Size is relative.  It only came by once but did stay a good 4-5 minutes.  No other hummingbirds were around for size comparison.

Watching Hummingbirds At Home

August 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rested and watched the hummingbirds come to our feeders at home!  We are enjoying the best summer ever.  Surely, there is a turnover and not the same hummingbirds everyday.  However, we have counted at one time, three Broad-tailed, two Rufous, one Black-chinned and two Calliope Hummingbirds.  All birds are females or immatures.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Morning at Barr Lake State Park

July 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

It had been awhile since I spent five hours birding at Barr Lake (Adams).  Conditions were excellent for birding; rain the last couple of days, overcast skies, cool 76 degree temperature at 7:00 am, and no wind.  Regrettably, few birds were around.   I saw no sign that fall migration has reached Barr Lake.

I hiked from mile 0/9 to the north end of the dam mile 6.0, back and to mile 1.5 and back, approximately 9 miles keeping in mind a report of a Semipalmated Plover yesterday.

The highlight was near the start of the trek.  I warbler popped out of the willows near mile 8.9.  In the next 20 minutes, I was able to get views of the whole bird.  Immediately I saw long yellow undertail coverts, which made the tail look short.  I suspected that the bird was at the time an "Oporornis" species.  They are no longer "Oporornis" but "Geothlypis"

The bird had no visible eye ring, yellow throat, little breast band, yellow belly to undertail coverts.  Above the head appeared brownish gray with brownish gray back.  Finally, I saw the yellowish supraloral. 

Fall Mourning Warblers are most likely confused with fall MacGillivray's Warblers.  The bird lacked the facial pattern of a Kentucky Warbler and the bold eye ring of a Connecticut Warbler.  Too bad, a sighting of either would have been a great find.

The lack of eye ring, yellow supraloral, lack of grayish hood, short looking tail indicated Mourning Warbler over a MacGillivray's Warbler, which would show a grayish hood, longer looking tail with shorter undertail coverts, whitish supraloral.

A pair of Yellow Warblers was in the same area.  A female Common Yellowthroat was in the willows near the banding station (picnic table).  Two Ospreys were on the nesting platform northeast of there.

Below the dam, a Hermit Thrush was under Russian Olive trees near mile 6.8.  A Least Sandpiper was below the north end of the dam.

Southwest of mile 0/9, the shoreline was quite weedy.  A few shorebirds walked among the deep weeds.  I picked out an adult Killdeer and one young and adult Spotted Sandpipers and two young.   Best shorebird was a Stilt Sandpiper.

No Barn Owls were seen today.  Nesting appears over as none occupied the nesting boxes.

After lunch and some shopping in Brighton, I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) and found Burrowing Owls at their usual summer locations (Third Creek & W. Cargo Road, Gun Club Road south of 112th Avenue and Trussville & 114th).

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Afternoon Walk Along the First Creek Trail

July 30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I decided to walk the First Creek Trail (Denver County) in the afternoon.  Rain had stopped and it was a cool 76 degrees; winds were calm.

One female Barn Owl was hidden quite well under the Light Rail Bridge.  Not well enough, we caught glimpses of it from the trail.

Farther east, a juvenile Great Horned Owl watched us from a cottonwood on the north side of the Creek.

Other birds encountered included a House Wren and Gray Catbird in the marsh area under the Light Rail Bridge, a Wilson's Warbler in the cattails east of the bridge, a Virginia Rail called from the cattails and hundred of Red-winged Blackbirds feeding on the hill at the bridge.  Several Brewer's Blackbirds were in the flock; unfortunately, no Rusty Blackbirds were found.

Many hummingbirds continue to visit our feeders!

Gobs of Hummingbirds

July 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

This summer, I put up hanging flowerpots under our deck.  Whether the flowers or a hummingbird feeder caught attention, we have enjoyed a cornucopia of hummingbirds. 

In past summers, we usually only see one hummingbird for the whole season.  Although, we have recorded all four of the common hummingbirds observed in Colorado.

Two additional hummingbird feeders were added to spread out the birds.  Exact count cannot be determined because of frantic behavior; however, we have at least four Broad-tailed, two Black-chinned, one Calliope and one Rufous coming to the feeders.  All of them are females.  Nice, however we would have liked a male in the mix.

Rebecca and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) in the afternoon.  We have not found an Eastern Phoebe in several trips now.  No Red-headed Woodpeckers were come across.

Three Burrowing Owls were observed along the Wildlife Drive.  Best birds were seen just before leaving the one-way drive.  A male Blue Grosbeak was at the last third cattle guard inside the enclosure.  Five Grasshopper Sparrows flew around the second to last cattle guard!

Birding Weld County

July 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Coming down from the mountains, I was able to relocate two Flammulated Owls (different locations) along Larimer County Road 44H (Larimer). 

I spent the morning driving around the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld).  One each Mountain Plover was found at a traditional nesting field and along CR 100, east of CR 390.  .  A couple of Burrowing Owls were also along CR 100.

Two Chestnut-collared Longspurs and half a dozen McCown's Longspurs were found along CR 96, east of CR 69.  I had to drive up and down CR 96 several times before finding a Cassin's Sparrow, Cassin's Sparrow and Brewer's Sparrow.

At Lower Latham Reservoir CR 48 wetlands were dry, no shorebirds.  Beebe Draw Ponds had only a little water, no shorebirds.

Dickcissels appeared to be everywhere south of Lower Latham Reservoir.  Six were 0.1 miles east of CR 47 and CR 42.  Another three were east of that spot.  Stop and listen at the many alfalfa fields.

Another Dickcissel was along CR 40, east of CR 47.  Two additional were along CR 20, east of CR 41 (another alfalfa field).

A stop at Ireland Reservoir found it full of water with little shore.  Only a few American White Pelicans and Western Grebes were on the lake.

My birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  One Long-eared Owl and Great Horned Owl were the highlights.  I stayed around until dark; no Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Visited a friend's ranch east of Banner and picked up another two Long-eared Owls and a pair of Great Horned Owls.

Just returned home after a week of owling and no sleep, going to bed and will have to look through photos later.

Search for Rivoli's Hummingbird, Laramie River Road

July 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Today I decided to drive up Highway 103 (Larimer) and search several locations where Magnificent Hummingbirds have been reported in past summers.  Now that Magnificent Hummingbird has been renamed Rivoli's Hummingbird, I was hoping to be the first to report a Rivoli's in Colorado.

Note, none was found however later I found out that two had already been reported; female type at Bailey, 7/22 & female type at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, 7/25.  Still it would have been nice to discover one in Larimer County.   Connie Kogler has found them three summers at Tunnel Campgrounds.  Steve Hsu the last on 8/13/2015.

No Rivoli's Hummingbird at Tunnel Campgrounds however I did find a female Dusky Grouse and two young, two Townsend's Warblers, and an American Three-toed Woodpecker.  A Calliope Hummingbird was among many Rufous and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

By the way, a Pileated Woodpecker was found at Tunnel Campgrounds in August 2013 and a pair was reported at Chambers Lake a few days later.  No reports since.

Hohnholz Campgrounds contributed another Three-toed Woodpecker to my day list.  Chambers Lake Campgrounds added two additional birds.

On the drive back down Laramie River Road, I made a dozen stops.  A Flammulated Owl was seen at one stop and Boreal Owls were heard at two additional stops.

On the trip up I had set up my well hidden three "owl listening stations".  Listening to the recordings, I picked up additional two Boreal Owls and another Flammulated Owl for the day.