Monday, November 20, 2017

Douglas County Birding

November 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another great fall day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached 68 degrees.  Winds in the morning and late afternoon were only 4-5 mph.  Shortly after noon, gusts briefly  reached 41 mph.

Rebecca and I headed south today to visit an ill friend in Franktown.  A stop at the twenty-mile pond at Bar CCC Park found the Brant swimming around with several hundred White-cheeked Geese.

After brunch with our friend, we walked the Creekside Trail at Castlewood Canyon (Douglas).  No Winter Wrens, our target bird, was found.  We did eventually find a Canyon Wren, heard long before sighting it.

Two species of nuthatches (White-breasted, Red-breasted), many Dark-eyed Juncos, a pair of Mountain Bluebirds, a Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk were also encountered.

Best birds were three male and a female Red Crossbills.  For those with copies of February 2015 "Colorado Field Notes", it has a great treatment of the Red Crossbill complex.  Included are vocalization and sonograms the Various Red Crossbill types. 

White-winged Crossbills are also included.  Plans are to revisit the treatment in December 2017 "Colorado Field Notes".

We stopped at Twenty mile Pond on the drive home.  This time the Brant was close to shore.  After getting about 40 photos, the geese flew north for "dinner".

The flock was relocated at the Water Treatment Plant located on the north side of Railbender Park (Douglas).  I took a few additional photos and headed for home.

We parked along 88th avenue, east of Tower Road about 30 minutes before sunset.  The location offers nice 360-degree views of the area.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Trip For Mountain Birds

November 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures in Denver reached 61 degrees today.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

Steve Valle, Julie Orr and I headed to the mountains early this morning.  A White-tailed Ptarmigan was observed walking along the ridge north of the large pullover south of Loveland Pass Summit and west of Hwy 9 (Clear Creek County).

Later we drove into Silverthorne (Summit) and visited a private yard.  Besides seeing three species of Rosy Finches other mountain species observed included Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Clark's Nutcracker, Pygmy Nuthatches, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, and American Crows.

Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County).

On the way to DIA Airport, we detoured to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The Common Loon was on Lake Ladora and the Tundra Swan was still on Lower Derby Lake.

Our final stop was the DIA Owl Loop.  We picked up two Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, American Kestrel and Golden Eagle.  Then I rushed them to the Airport.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Birding the South Platte Corridor in Northeastern Colorado

November 16-18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

An northeastern Colorado trip was planned before I hear about a couple of rare birds being observed at Jumbo Reservoir.  It was a great trip.  As a second thought, I decided to visit as many of the Wildlife Areas along the South Platte corridor in Logan, Washington and Morgan Counties.

November 16

I arrived at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick Counties) around Noon.  Temperature was a pleasant 64 degrees.  Winds were brisk at 9-10 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

I scoped the reservoir trying to use trees for shelter from the wind.  A White-winged Scoter swam in the middle of the lake.  A Common Loon swam below the dam in the Logan County section.  Later another Common Loon was found in the Sedgwick County section.

Many gulls flew around the outlet canal at the north end.  All were Ring-billed Gulls.  A large number of gulls also flew around the cove west of the northern Campgrounds.  Two Iceland Gulls accompanied many Ring-billed Gulls, one California Gull and one strange Gull left unidentified however noted field marks.

Note: Iceland Gulls once quite rare in Colorado are not anymore since lumped with Thayer's Gulls.  The two "Iceland Gulls" found today were Thayer's Gull subspecies.

Over 50,000 Snow Geese/Ross's Geese swam in the middle of the lake.  Many "common" ducks and White-cheeked Geese were also out there.

After circling the reservoir twice without finding the Black-legged Kittiwake and Mew Gulls I headed toward Sterling. 

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found along Hwy 138 at Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan).

A stop at Duck Creek Wildlife Area (Logan) found my second Red-bellied Woodpecker of the day!

My birding daylight hours ended at Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  At least sixteen Bonaparte's Gulls were on the lake below the Campgrounds overlook.  A female Barrow's Goldeneye swam south below the dam.

An adult Bald Eagle and Great Horned Owl were perched in the cottonwoods at the picnic area.  At dusk, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying north of the Campgrounds.

My plans to continue to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) were changed.  Already 180 miles from home, I decided to return to Jumbo Reservoir for another Black-legged Kittiwake search tomorrow.

On the return trip, I stopped at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) around 9:00 pm.  The night was clear and winds calm.  It was quite enjoyable to walk from Hwy 55 to Area west 2 and back.  Later from Area east 5 to 8 and back.

Listening to the night sounds was interesting.  Eventually I located two Eastern Screech-Owls.

November 17

I camped at the eastern Campgrounds at Jumbo Reservoir.  The "racket" from the many Snow Geese made it difficult to fall asleep.  I had to leave my tent and find quiet in my car!

Thirty minutes before sunrise I parked my car at the outlet canal along the north side of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  Many Ring-billed Gulls and one Iceland Gull flew over the water catching shad.  One of the Common Loons swam only 10 yards offshore.

I decided to wait three hours for the Black-legged Kittiwake to appear.  At 2 hours and 45 minutes, sure enough the Black-legged Kittiwake joined the ever-changing number of gulls catching fish at the outlet canal. 

After about 15 minutes, the Black-legged Kittiwake caught a fish.  Unfortunately, for the birder who had just parked behind me, a dozen Ring-billed Gulls chased the Black-legged Kittiwake.  It was last seen flying toward the Campgrounds to the east and trying to save its breakfast from the horde of Ring-billed Gulls.

I circled the lake one additional time without getting out my scope to search for the White-winged Scoter or other waterfowl in the distance.  Then I drove toward Sterling.

On the way, I drove through Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Many hunters roamed the Wildlife Area and I only stopped at the old ranger's office/maintenance building near Tamarack Pond area. 

A Northern Cardinal was behind the building.  While a Field Sparrow fluttered about the thistles along the main road.

Another quick stop for breakfast and I continued east stopping at many Wildlife Areas: Atwood, Bravo and Knudson in Logan County; Messex in Washington County, Brush, Cottonwood, Elliott and Jean Tool in Morgan County.

A Golden Eagle overlooked the South Platte River at Knudson Wildlife Area.  See December 2017 "Colorado Field Notes" for additional details and my target birds at the various habitats provided by the Wildlife Area.

Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) is one of my favorite "smaller" Wildlife Areas.  It offers parking areas both north and south of the South Platte River.

Today I found another Red-bellied Woodpecker from the southern parking area.  The highlight of the day was a Winter Wren around the cattail pond near the northern parking area.

My birding day ended at Prewitt Reservoir Wildlife Area (Logan/Washington).  Many gulls flew around the lake, most too distant to identify.  No uncommon waterfowl were observed.

Yet another Red-bellied Woodpecker was found.  This time below the dam.  No uncommon shorebirds were found along the inlet canal.  After sunset, I located Eastern Screech-Owls at the inlet area and the western "camping area".

It was a nice ending to a birding day where temperatures reached 62 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts at times 25 mph (one measured 35 mph).

November 18

It was cooler today with temperatures only reaching 46 degrees.  Winds were strong at 14 mph with gusts to 28 mph (one gust measured 42 mph).  At least we missed the rain and snow that dropped on Denver.

Finding birds among the waves on Prewitt Reservoir was difficult to improbable.  Landbirds were no easier to find.  It appeared they preferred to stay hidden in the high grasses and bushes.

A few Greater White-fronted Geese, two Bonaparte's Gulls, one Herring Gull and one Iceland Gull were the meager highlights.  A White-throated Sparrow was along the middle entrance road (the one to the ranger's home).

I was able to find one Long-eared Owl hidden in the thickets north of Pelican Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  A White-throated Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow were encountered in the thick brush south of the wooden gate along the shore at Pelican Campgrounds.

At least two Bonaparte's Gulls were blown by as I tried to scope the lake in the high winds.  High waves made finding much on the lake quite difficult.  One loon popped up and down on the waves.  It appeared to be a Common Loon.

Hunting on nearby Andrick Wildlife Area made access impossible.  I walked along the cattails at CR 4; nothing uncommon jumped out into the wind.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Brief Stop at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

November 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I stopped by Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to update the status on the reported Tundra Swan and Common Loon.  It was cooler today with temperatures only reaching 59 degrees.  A windy day with anemometer readings 11-12 mph and gusts to 22 mph.

I scoped Lower Derby Lake at least three times.  The Tundra Swan swam along the northern shore (opposite of my location).   Field marks:

Neck length/body length ratio: if its neck laid back it would not cover 75 percent. 

Angle of Body Major Axis: straight line through base of neck and through tail; Trumpeter Swan almost level or slightly upslope, Tundra Swan much more sloped.

Head Profile and Bill Shape:
some Trumpeter Swan have flatter head while Tundra Swan appear rather smooth curved

distance from bill tip to eye is about two times the distance from eye to nape; while Tundra Swan only 1 to 1.5 times

Trumpeter Swan upper mandible is straight while Tundra Swan it is usually curved

Tundra Swan yellow lore is lacking in Trumpeter Swan

A great treatment and additional information on Trumpeter Swan verses Tundra Swan is in "Colorado Field Notes" November, 2017 issue
(see Colorado Birding Society's website on how to obtain)

No loon, scoter, Greater Scaup or other uncommon waterfowl was found.  Nearby Lake Ladora was similar.  Most common duck species were on Lower Derby; it is a good place to study them.

No Short-eared Owls appeared as I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Super Birding Day in Boulder County

November 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another fantastic fall day in Colorado!  Temperature in Boulder reached 72 degrees with 5 mph winds.  However, around 3:30 pm winds grew to 21 mph with gusts to 32 mph.

My birding day was spent in Boulder County.  First stop was Skunk Creek behind the Basemar Shopping Center.  Eventually I was able to photograph both the male Black-throated Blue Warbler and the Varied Thrush.
See Colorado Birding Society's website Photo Library

Circling around Boulder County I relocated a Common Loon at Baseline Reservoir, and then scoped the Valmont Reservoir complex from Legion Park overlook.  I found a Common Loon but could not relocate the Pacific Loon reported yesterday.

Nothing uncommon was found at Walden Ponds, the Tundra Swan was missing.  I looked for the Golden-crowned Sparrow that has wintered for several years now at Teller Lake #5 parking area.  A Sharp-shinned Hawk stood on a Bush west of the old pump house.  Several dozen sparrows (American Tree and White-crowned) flew under my feet.  Could they determine that I was less a threat than the Sharp-shinned Hawk?

Prince Lake # 2 only hosted about 24 gulls.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was the best.  Nearby Erie Reservoir had only Gadwalls and American Coots on it.

A stop at Greenlee Preserve/Waneka Lake was a bust.

Terry Lake provided the best action of the day (well, other than Skunk Creek).  A Barrow's Goldeneye swam on the lake while Bonaparte's Gulls and an Iceland Gull flew overhead.

Boulder Reservoir was interesting.  A scope was required to relocate the Long-tailed Duck reported on 11/12 (Christian Nunes).  Bonaparte's Gulls were flying around here also.

At dusk, a Short-eared Owl flew around the west side of Lagerman Reservoir.  Later I found a Long-eared Owl at an unrevealed location in the northern county.  The owls nest here; therefore, we keep the site undisclosed.

Overall, it was a great day of birding in Boulder County!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Several Trips to First Creek Trail, Adams County

November 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful day!  Temperatures reached 73 degrees; winds were only 5-6 mph.

The third time was a charm.  I stopped at First Creek Trail, Adams County section this morning and found only the birds encountered yesterday, no Common Redpoll.

On the return trip, I stopped again.  This time (3:35 pm), a Common Redpoll was on top of a cottonwood tree.  The tree was along First Creek at 30 yards west of Buckley Road, not far from the trailhead.

I managed to get some witness shots to confirm Common Redpoll.  They are backlight and not great as show type photos.

On the walk back to the Buckley Road 56th Avenue parking area, a Northern Shrike was perched along the fence.

Instead of walking farther west along the First Creek Trail, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  Raptors included two Ferruginous Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks, one American Kestrel and one Prairie Falcon.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Douglas and Adams County Birding

November 12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After dropping Terry off in Centennial, I drove down to the Twenty mile Pond and photographed the Brant.  A Ross's Goose and several Snow Geese were among several hundred Canada Geese & Cackling Geese.

Later, I passed by the First Creek Trail (Adams) and stopped.  No Common Redpoll for me, birds found in order of number were Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, Song Sparrows, American Goldfinches and White-crowned Sparrow.

A Great Horned Owl flew between First Creek and the trail (quite close) and settled in a cottonwood at the west end of the first riparian area along the creek.

I sat at my usual spot (0.2 miles north of W. Cargo Road & Third Creek) at just before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Jackson County Birding/Owling Trip

November 10-12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

November 10

Terry Michaels and I headed up to Jackson County on an owling trip.  A search for owls along Pennock Pass Road did not find any owls. 

The night was fantastic with little wind which is unusual for the Cameron Pass area.  A Boreal Owl called at 100 yards south of the Crags Campgrounds.

November 11

After a few hours of sleep, Terry & I drove Jackson County Roads 26 & 26b.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were observed walking along CR 26 at 40 yards from Highway 14.

No Rosy Finches or uncommon birds were found in the town of Walden.  A Surf Scoter swam on Walden Reservoir.  The Highlight was a Lapland Longspur, which seemed out of place?

Gould had no uncommon birds also.  The Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center did not attract any Rosy Finches.

After dark, we found Boreal Owls along Michigan Creek Road and Montgomery Pass.

November 12

Two hours before sunrise we heard a Boreal Owl up Ruby Jewell Road, Colorado State Forest.  Another was heard at Ranger Lakes.  Shortly after sunrise, the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard at Ranger Lakes.  We were able to eventually see a male.

The resident Three-toed Woodpecker north of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center eluded us.  Again no Rosy Finches were found at the Visitor's Center.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Afternoon At Aurora Reservoir

November 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I exhausted the morning taking care of chores and preparing for a weekend trip to Jackson County.  Temperatures today only reached the middle 40s.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

A call to Bill Cryder who can see the southern end of Aurora Reservoir from his deck found no sighting of the reported Tundra Swan.

Therefore, I checked the scuba beach area first.  About 1800 gulls on the beach were all Ring-billed Gulls.  It was strange to not have at least one other species.  No swans or other uncommon birds were observed from that vantage point.

Next, I scoped the lake from the upper parking area for the swim beach.  Two Greater Scaup were less than 100 yards off.  Other 2000+ gulls were on the beach at mile 4.0.  This was excessively far away to identify most.  A large white Gull or black backed Gull might have stood out; none did.

Finally, I spotted a Swan at the mouth of Senac Cove.  I drove around to the south end of the Reservoir.  Bill and I walked rapidly down to the shore and received great looks at a Tundra Swan. 

A quick scoping of the lake found one Common Loon in Lone Tree Cove, no scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, etc.  We had to rush back out before the southern gates were closed.  These gates close 30 minutes before the Reservoir proper.  Presently that time is 5:30 pm.

Owling In the Foothills of Douglas County

November 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn and I decided to do some owling in Douglas County.  Temperatures reached 62 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with a few gusts to 16 mph in the afternoon.  However, winds died down after sunset.

We stopped at Dekoevand Park (Arapahoe) on our trip to the foothills.  The area along the Highline canal from University Blvd south then west to the Dekoevand Park footbridge was searched for the Fox Sparrow.

It was reported "under feeders" and we scoped the backyards for feeders and the sparrow.  Few birds moved about and we turned around at the footbridge.  On the trip back, the Fox Sparrow was observed hopping in the brush along the fence line on the western side of the canal.  No feeders were in the yard at this point.  The sparrow must move between several yards north of the southwest corner of the Park.

Later, we hiked around the Rampart Range Road and Highway 67 intersection.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was observed along Hwy 67 at 40 yards south of the Intersection!  A search for additional Three-toed Woodpeckers was not successful.

After dark I set up our two "owl listening stations".  In the next three hours, two Northern Saw-whet Owls were observed along Rampart Range Road. 

As I mentioned in previous posts, Northern Saw-whet Owls seldom make any noise this time of year.  Our "owl listening stations" were set up about 0.2 miles apart.  We would walk between them and hit the surrounding forest with spotlights.  Each station was eventually visited by at least one Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Later we walked about a half mile down Highway 67.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir With Limited Visibility

November 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After taking my Mom to lunch, we passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Temperatures today only reached 34 degrees.  Anemometer readings were 5-6 mph with a few gusts to 11 mph.  Visibility at Cherry Creek Reservoir was a little more than 100 yards.

I would make two trips to Cherry Creek Reservoir.  The unplanned first trip was ill equipped.  I had only a windbreaker and a cheap 10x20 binoculars. 

Off the northeast marina parking area, I observed a peculiar Gull for about a minute and a half.  It appeared to be the size of a Ring-billed Gull with the upper wing pattern of either a juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake or Sabine's Gull.  Even a Sabine's Gull would be smaller.  The Gull was definitely bigger than the nearby Bonaparte's Gulls. 

The upper wing pattern being dark primaries no white primaries of a Bonaparte's Gull and dark back forming the look of a "w".

When returning an hour later with better binoculars, visibility had greatly decreased and there was a rain/snow mix.  My search lasted to the last minutes of daylight without relocating the mystery Gull.

A Common Loon was found south of Pelican Point.  Twenty two Bonaparte's Gulls were in the bay southeast of the Lake Loop.  Many Western, Horned and Eared Grebes were quite close to shore.  Perhaps their reduce visibility masked my presence as dozens were less than 10 yards off shore.

Eventually I had to leave in the failing light.  Maybe conditions will improve tomorrow.  By then the waterfowl may return to the middle of this large lake.

Missed: any scoters, the Red-necked Grebe or other uncommon waterfowl.  I did not relocate the Swamp Sparrow at Pelican Point, although sixteen American Tree Sparrows and three Song Sparrows fluttered about the willows on the east end of the Point.

Superb Birding Day On The Eastern Colorado Plains

November 6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I enjoyed a great birding day.  Temperatures were warmer than yesterday at 51 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with a few gusts to 21 mph.

An Eastern Meadowlark was singing and calling at the northeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir (Sedgwick).  A Snow Bunting flew around the point at the southeast corner of the dam (Logan/Sedgwick).  Unfortunately, the Surf Scoter and Red-throated Loon reported by Mlodinow yesterday could not be found in the high waves.

Our next stop was Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  A Barn Owl flew out of the trees north of the Campgrounds.  While scoping the northern shore for shorebirds (none found) we had a female Snow Bunting briefly land in front of us.

Misses: no uncommon gulls, scoters, loons or other waterfowl were observed.

Back at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington), we again searched unsuccessfully for the American Golden-Plover and Dunlin.  Many shorebirds were far off in the southeastern corner and too distant to identify.

On the lake below the dam, a Greater Scaup was our only uncommon waterfowl.  While a Red-bellied Woodpecker was first heard and then seen below the dam.

Misses: again no loons, scoters or uncommon gulls.

Our final stop was Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) A Common Loon swam along the dam.  Three Bonaparte's Gulls flew up and down the western shore.

We relocated two Long-eared Owls and the resident Eastern Screech-Owl.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening as we stood about 50 yards north of the northwestern Campgrounds. A Great Horned Owl called as we drove out of the State Park.

Sedgwick County Birding

November 5, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 40 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Rebecca and I found a red form of Fox Sparrow and two Harris's Sparrows at DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick). Two Red Crossbills seems out of place.  However, some years we do see a few on the Eastern Plains.

We searched nearby Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop and Wildlife Area for uncommon birds without running into any.  Special attention was paid to locations where Common Ground-Doves and American Woodcock have been found in previous years.  Neither was found.

Later Roger Danka and I visited several ranches.  Private ranch #2 added two Long-eared Owls to our trip list.  Private ranch #5 added Long-eared Owl and Field Sparrow. 

Roger had two Eastern Screech-Owls call at his ranch after sunset.

Prewitt Reservoir

November 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 73 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with one or two periods of gusts to 20 mph.

Rebecca and I drove up to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) hoping to relocate the American Golden-Plover and Dunlin reported a few days earlier.  Neither shorebird was found.

Just before sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from the inlet canal area.  The Eastern Screech-Owl(s) at the eastern end camping area did not call tonight.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir, Arapahoe County

What a fantastic Colorado fall day!  Temperatures reached 64 degrees.  Anemometer readings were 4-5 mph with a couple of 13 mph gusts.

I thought to drive to Prewitt Reservoir and search for the Dunlin, American Golden-Plover and Black-bellied Plovers.  However, the 97-mile drive (one-way) just was not inviting.  Instead, I decided to scope the Arapahoe County Reservoirs.

I passed Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) on the trip over.  Yesterday afternoon the sparrows hopped around the gravel trails behind the Nature Center.  Unfortunately, many people where around today.  The sparrows were scattered under the rabbit brush.  Perhaps a better time to visit is early morning or late afternoon (not 1:00 pm).

Traffic was terrible again today.  A stop at the Denver Zoo was nixed because of it.  I turned east to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Scoping the reservoir from the lake loop provided sightings of the Common Loon (southeastern quadrant) and at least eight Bonaparte's Gulls (off the handicapped fishing dock).

No scoters were found today.  The highlight was a Red-necked Grebe, which was just off the Mountain Loop (darn close too)!  Regrettably, a speedboat zipped by and chased the grebe toward the dam tower before I could drive to the Mountain Loop.

A check at Pelican Point found many American White Pelicans and mostly Ring-billed Gulls (no uncommon gulls).

A sparrow was walking in the willow patch on Pelican Point.  It looked to have a brown cap, rufous wings and faintly streaked breast.  It ran like a mouse and stayed hidden under the willows.

Finally, when it provided better looks, a Song Sparrow?  That did not seem right.  While trying to obtain better looks, the Song Sparrow ran to the edge of the willows and suddenly a second sparrow followed.  It was a Swamp Sparrow.

Both ran in and out of the willows, always stopping behind the willows.  After about twenty minutes, two fisher persons walked by and the sparrows flew into the willows near the cattails east of Pelican Point.

While walking back to my car, a dozen American Tree Sparrows were seen along the shore.  Daylight is getting shorter; with only an hour or so before sunset, I decided to bask in the terrific weather instead of driving to Aurora Reservoir.

A walk from the eastern marina parking area to the swim beach did not add any uncommon birds to my day list.  A Osprey flew around the north shore.  However what a pleasurable walk it was.

I ended my birding day sitting on the picnic table at the northeast corner of the lake and watching fourteen American Tree Sparrows come out of willows for a drink and to take a bath.  It was much more enjoyable than driving in Aurora's traffic!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Afternoon in Denver County

November 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Getting out in the afternoon, I managed to visit Washington Park and Bluff Lake Nature Area in Denver County.  Temperatures did not quite reach 50 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Many birds fluttered about the lawn bowling area at Washington Park.  Conservatively at least twenty-two Eastern Bluebirds flew around the choke cherry trees and canal along the northeast corner of Grasmere Lake (Washington Park's southern lake).  P.s. the trees may not be Choke Cherry?

Dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers captured bugs on the trees and willows.  A Spotted Sandpiper walked along the cement wall of Grasmere Lake.

The surprise was at least 56 Cedar Waxwings also "attacking" the chokecherry trees for their berries.  Berries were numerous and it should take several additional days before the trees are naked of berries.

The highlight was one Bohemian Waxwing among the many Cedar Waxwings.  While the Eastern Bluebirds would settle on the trees for a few moments, the waxwings took a more hit and run tactic.  They dive-bombed the trees, grabbing a berry and taking off for higher haunts to devour their prizes.

Over an hour and a half, I only observed the Bohemian Waxwing twice.  Its rusty colored undertail coverts were diagnostic.  Look for a larger waxwing than its smaller cousins.  That field mark got me to suspect a Bohemian Waxwing in the first place!

I ended my birding day at Bluff Lake Nature Area.  Walking to winding gravel trails behind the maintenance building was quite enjoyable.  I was the only visitor an hour before sunset (when the gates are closed).

Listening to and watching the White-crowned Sparrows hop up and down the paths was entertaining.  Regrettably, the Harris's Sparrow reported earlier in the day did not make an appearance for me.

Editorial Note:  When I started birding, the general thought was that Cedar Waxwings and Bohemian Waxwings are never found in the same flock.

Looking up records for the last 20 years, 27 out of 915 sightings, different locations (3%) of the time they were in a mixed flock.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Buena Vista to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the middle 70s today in the metro area.  Winds were 4-5 mph.

Terry Michaels had a bad case of bronchitis so we returned early.  Before leaving Buena Vista, we relocated a Lewis's Woodpecker along Pleasant Avenue and a flock of 14 Pinyon Jays along Hwy 24, just south of the Hwy 385 intersection.

Nothing new from yesterday was found at the three park reservoirs.  Except, a Tundra Swan was on Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

After dropping Terry at home I went to Washington Park (Denver).  I could not find the Eastern Bluebirds reported yesterday.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Missed both the Eastern Bluebirds and the previously reported Harris's Sparrow; however, I did see a couple of nice birds.

A lingering Bonaparte's Gull flew below the dam.  The Common Loon swam in the middle of the lake.  The new bird was a Black Scoter swimming around the southeastern quadrant.  The Common Loon would stay under water for more than 30 seconds and surface only for a count of 2 or 3.

No Short-eared Owls appeared when I was parked overlooking the cattail fields east of the gun shooting range.  The sunset was exquisite.

Park County Reservoirs & Chaffee Owling

October 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I explored Park County today.  Temperatures reached the low 60s.  Winds were a terrific 12-13 mph with gusts to 21 mph.  Sheltering our scopes from the winds was a must to identify birds.

We found little extra birds from the Joey Kellner trip of 10/29. 

Our count included,
Eleven Mile Reservoir: Eight Surf Scoters, 2 White-winged Scoters, a Black Scoter (our only new addition to this seasons Park County Reservoirs), and two Common Loons.

Spinney Mountain Reservoir: two Surf Scoters, two Common Loons

Antero Reservoir: Surf Scoter, four Common Loons

Afterwards we searched for owls in Chaffee County.  Only one Northern Saw-whet Owl was found (BLM land, north of hwy 24).

A limitation in searching for Northern Saw-whet Owls is that they seldom make a sound in reaction to our "owl listening stations" recordings.  Therefore, we had to visit the stations every 20 minutes or so and look for the owls.  If readers remember, we are down to only two "owl listening stations" as an animal destroyed one of them last month.

Northern Pygmy-Owls on the other hand will make a "contact call" which can be picked up by our stations.  None did this night.

We checked the area where a Western Screech-Owl nested in Buena Vista (2007, 2009, 2010).  None has been detected since June 2010.

Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Creek Reservoir & Barr Lake

October 30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures barely reached 39 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  It was cold!

Most Colorado Murrelet sightings are recorded in late October or early November and after a snowstorm.  The majority of Murrelet sightings are from Chatfield Reservoir.  I headed down to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) about two hours before sunrise. 

My first stop was Deer Creek west of Chatfield Reservoir.  I walked Deer Creek Road from just west of the Denver Botanic Gardens to Spring Valley Park.  No Northern Pygmy-Owls was found.

Then I hiked the Chatfield Reservoir dam from the upper parking area to Plum Creek Delta.  Western Grebes were the majority birds on the lake.  No Murrelets, Loons or scoters were found.

I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  The Common Loon and Bonaparte's Gull were still there.  No scoters or the Red-necked Grebe could be located.

A brief stop at Barr Lake (Adams County) did not relocate the Winter Wren I found yesterday.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Barr Lake and DIA Owl Loop

October 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another fantastic fall day in Colorado, temperatures reached 73 degrees winds were 4-5 mph, some gusts late in afternoon at 12 mph.

In the afternoon, I decided to go for a hike at Barr Lake State Park (Adams County).  Nothing rare was expected; it was nice to get outside.

When I crossed the Visitor's Center footbridge a yellowish striped and dark headed warbler flew deep into the trees.  Most likely, it was a Townsend's Warbler and not a Blackburnian Warbler.  However, it was lost and never relocated.

At the Niedrach Boardwalk, a smallish grayish bird flew along the southern trail.  Regrettably, from my vantage point on the north side of the loop it was not identified.  For the second time, I lost a bird and was unable to ID it.

When I returned to the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 9.0), I noticed a birder studying the woods near mile 8.5.  I slowly worked my way north to the spot (the birder had continued north).

A small wren type bird flew out of the brush at the water's edge at mile 8.5.  The Stub-tailed Wren flew to the underbrush at the only tree in the clearing between mile 8.6 and 8.5.

First, I played a Winter Wren song and call for a minute, waited 5 minutes, then played a Pacific Wren recording.  No response, however five minutes later I again played a Winter Wren recording and the Stub-tailed Wren popped out of the tangled brush.

The Stub-tailed Wren appeared more like a Winter Wren than Pacific Wren.  Contrast between the dark heavily streaked flanks and the lighter chest and throat. 

Unfortunately, the bird did not make a sound.  Joan Dicell (may be spelled wrong) returned just as the wren came out and was able to see it. After 45 minutes, I moved on back to the Visitor's Center.

A check of the three locations of Burrowing Owls on the DIA Owl Loop (Denver/Adams) again found none.  No plans to search again this year, two Ferruginous Hawks stood on the prairie dog village at West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Southwest Denver to Aurora

October 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 41 degrees today.  Winds were calm to 5-6 mph.

Rebecca and I birded southwest of Denver this morning.  We scoped Marston Reservoir (which is a lake in Denver County, however surrounded by Jefferson County).  We managed to find the Red-throated Loon and at least three Common Loons.  Yesterday's Surf Scoter could not be found.

Nothing uncommon was found at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) or South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

We headed east through Parker (stop at the public library) and continued on to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  One or two Bonaparte's Gulls flew around with hundreds of gulls (mostly Ring-billed and some California).  No loons or scoters were found.

While Rebecca went shopping at Southland Mall, I remembered that a possible Pinyon Jay was reported near Horseshoe Park.  I walked about 3/4 mile of the trail and found two houses with feeders, however, no jays.

As I drove out of the subdivision, a Blue Jay was seen flying behind the houses along East Atlantic Circle (Arapahoe).  I stopped for a photo.  Two Common Grackles, a dozen Brewer's Blackbirds and the Blue Jay were near the bright blue house.

Then a blue jay flew to the feeders.  It was a Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay.  Photos on the recent witness photos link on the Colorado Birding Society's website:

The homeowner came out to talk and said it was the "possible Pinyon Jay" he had reported.  Unfortunately, for him, it was a scrub-jay.

His "backyard" Horseshoe Park has a nice collection of birds and mammals.  The stop ended by birding day.

A Great Birding Day in Boulder County

October 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I birded in Boulder County today.  One of our target birds were the Tundra Swans reported yesterday at Sombrero Marsh.

We did not find any Tundra Swan in spite of checking Sombrero Marsh, Baseline Reservoir, Boulder Reservoir, Valmont Reservoir, Walden Ponds, Sawhill Ponds, White Ranch Pond, Teller Lakes, Prince Lake #2, Erie Reservoir, Lagerman Reservoir, and Terry Lake.

We also stopped at Teller Lakes #5 where a Golden-crowned Sparrow has wintered the past five winters.  No sparrows were around the parking area or lake today.

A fortunate stop at the Public Library to pick up our emails turned out great.  We read that Nick Moore had found a Yellow-throated Warbler at Kittredge Lake.  The CU Campus was just down the road so we headed that way.

We circled around the lake and found two Yellow-rumped Warblers and the Yellow-throated Warbler in an oak tree at the northeast corner of the eastern lake!  The warbler stayed high in the oak tree, no photo opportunity; what a great ending to the "daylight" part of our birding day.

After dinner, we continued west to do some owling.  The evening was quite pleasant with little winds.  We enjoyed the hike around Gross Reservoir and added a Northern Pygmy-Owl to our day list!  Misses: no Common Poorwills could be found, not that they were expected this late in the fall.

A second Northern Pygmy-Owl was found near Gross Dam Road and Coal Creek Canyon Road (just north of the Boulder/Jefferson County line).

Yet a third Northern Pygmy-Owl was found after midnight at White Ranch Open Space (Jefferson).

No evidence of Northern Saw-whet Owls or Flammulated Owls was found.  Northern Saw-whet Owls should still be around, not so much for Flammulated Owls.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Detour to Douglas County

October 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached the low 40s today, quite a contrast from yesterday. My plans to head to Park County were changed due to a predicted snowstorm.

Instead, I caught up on chores.  While out doing chores, I detoured to Castlewood Canyon Road & State Park.  Two Western Bluebirds were along the road when it runs east to west (south of the State Park).  Four Wild Turkeys wandered west of Castlewood Canyon Road, just north of the Winkler Ranch entrance.

Nothing uncommon was on Walker Gravel Pit Pond.  It started to snow around 4:00 pm.

Brief Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 25, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Denver reached a new high record temperature of 82 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph.

While out doing chores, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The lake was scoped three times.  The Surf Scoter was again in the extreme southeast corner.  Dozens of Western Grebes, a few Horned Grebes and Eared Grebe were scattered around.

Misses: No loons, Red-necked Grebes or uncommon gulls found.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek State Parks

October 24, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The temperature did not quite reach 60 degrees today (high of 59).  Winds most of the day were 4-5 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  It was too nice a day to stay home and do chores.

I walked below the Barr Lake dam (Adams County) from mile 6 to 7 and then on to the boat ramp area, mile 7.6.   Most interesting birds were a Long-eared Owl below the dam and a Barn Owl occupying the owl box south of the boat ramp.

After driving to downtown Denver for a meeting and returned by way of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A stop at Garland Park (Denver) did not find the previously reported Greater White-fronted Goose.

The surface of Cherry Creek Reservoir was like a mirror because of calm winds.  I scoped the lake from the Lake Loop; over a hundred Ruddy Ducks have arrived.

Highlights were the Surf Scoter and Common Loon both swimming in the southeast corner of the reservoir.

No uncommon gulls were found.  Over eight dozen American White Pelicans stood on Pelican Point.

I enjoyed the great ending of this beautiful birding day while parking 0.2 miles south of West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  While no Short-eared Owls appeared this evening, raptors were well represented with two Ferruginous Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks, a pair of American Kestrels, and a Prairie Falcon.

Enjoyable Hike At Reynolds Park

October 23, 2017

Richard Stevens:

David Penn, Mark James and I parked at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) about 1.5 hours before sunrise.

We walked Foxton Road and found a Northern Pygmy-Owl along the Songbird Trail.  No Common Poorwills could be enticed to call out.

After sunrise we hiked up  Eagle's View Trail and found a Dusky Grouse several hundred yards south (uphill) of the old service road.

We continued the loop around to the Raven's Roost & Oxen Draw Trails intersection and down (north) along Oxen Draw Trail.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming about 75 yards or so downhill of the intersection.

Other birds encountered included Pygmy and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins and two Red Crossbills.  Misses: no Williamson's Sapsuckers or additional owls were found.

We stopped and observed the Surf Scoter on Tabor Lake, Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson).

After dropping them off at their motel, I detoured over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  While I did not find the Surf Scoter reported yesterday, the Common Loon was still on the lake.  MIsses: no Red-necked Grebe, Bonaparte's Gull or Lesser Black-backed Gull was found today.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Great Barbecue and Drive Around Arapahoe County

October 22, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went to a barbecue at a friend's ranch in southeastern Arapahoe County.  Temperatures only reached 62 degrees with winds 9-10 mph (gusts to 21 mph in several locations).

We stopped at several places on the trip east.  Aurora Reservoir had many gulls, none uncommon.  One Common Loon was the only uncommon bird, no jaegers, scoters, rare waterfowl.

Eventually we counted three Eastern Screech-Owls throughout the day.

At Box Elder Creek and County Line Road, we found late migrating House Wren in willows on the Elbert County side of the road.  Just a little to the east, a Ferruginous Hawk perched on a telephone pole. 

An Eastern Screech-Owl was found in its nesting hole on restricted land in Arapahoe County.  CoBus had watched the successful nesting throughout the summer.

Continuing east, we stopped at Kiowa Creek and County Line Road.  The Red-headed Woodpecker family that spent the summer was not found today.  A Blue Jay flew around the cottonwoods on both sides of the road (Arapahoe & Elbert Counties).

Just before leaving, we heard a woodpecker that was not a Red-headed Woodpecker or sounded like a Downy Woodpecker.  It took another 15 minutes to find a male Hairy Woodpecker drumming and calling from the back side of a dead cottonwood.  It was south of County Line Road, Elbert.  I do not believe we had a Hairy Woodpecker sighting in Elbert County.

Our second Eastern Screech-Owl sighting of the day was at a friend's nearby ranch in Arapahoe County.  Later we heard our third Eastern Screech-Owl at the barbecue site in Elbert County!

Birds were scarce today.  However, it was a pleasant fall day to be outside and listening for birds!  BTW, anyone willing to light a barbecue pit, I will buy the meat.  I do not light propane pits, bad history.

Guanella Pass and Arapahoe County

October 21, 2017

Richard Stevens:

David Penn, Mark James (both from Tennessee) and I headed up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) for a White-tailed Ptarmigan search.  It took less than 20 minutes to find six Ptarmigan west of the Rosalie & 603 trail intersection!

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed on one of his favorite trees near the Guanella Pass Campgrounds (below the switchbacks).

Clark's Nutcracker, Gray Jays, Red Crossbills, a few common mountain species were found along Guanella Pass Road.

After dropping them off back in Denver, I detoured through Arapahoe County on my way home.  My target bird was the Pomarine Jaeger reported yesterday at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

The Pomarine Jaeger was never found.  While scoping the reservoir from the Lake Loop (best sunlight especially in the afternoon) I relocated the Red-necked Grebe.  It was swimming along side a Western Grebe in the middle of the lake.  While booting up my camera, a fishing boat ran over them and they flew.  I was not able to relocate them again.

Other birds found while looking for the Jaeger included the Common Loon swimming below the dam and a flyby Bonaparte's Gull. 

Pelican Point has no shorebirds.  Several hundred gulls were mostly Ring-billed Gulls with a few California Gulls and a Herring Gull.  Missed the Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Quincy Reservoir has a high number of American White Pelicans, few gulls and no Jaeger or loons.

Aurora Reservoir had many gulls swimming in the middle of the lake.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 24 mph.  A Common Loon swam below the northwestern corner of the lake.  No jaegers found.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) about 30 minutes before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  It seems that the Burrowing Owls have departed for southern wintering grounds.

Walk-In-Area Bird Surveys

October 17-20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn joined me to finish the fall Walk-In-Area bird counts.

October 17

Temperatures today reached 78 degrees.  Winds were only 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph (just a few times).

We visited the three Wildlife Areas in Lincoln County and enjoyed some good success.

Hugo Wildlife Area had a Harris's Sparrow pop out at the riparian area.  Jacob spotted a flock of longspurs, which turned out to be six Chestnut-collared Longspurs.  With nothing else unusual, we continued to Kinney Lake Wildlife Area.

The highlight of the day was a sulky wren.  It did not look right for a House Wren.  We spent a half hour coaxing the Sedge Wren out of the brush!  It was a first county bird for both of us!

Our birding day ended at Karval Reservoir Wildlife Area.  A flock of sparrows around the lake contained sixteen White-crowned Sparrows and a beautiful Field Sparrow.  After sunset, we spotted a Short-eared Owl flying over the fields to the southwest.

October 18

Temperatures were warm today, reaching 83 degrees.  Winds were a moderate 7-8 mph.  We did measure gusts to 21 mph, not conducive to finding shy birds.

Our birding today centered on the Walk-In-Area(s) Lincoln County Road 17 & CR E.  Areas below Lincoln CR A are in Crowley County.  We walked around about six hours and found few birds.  A dry creek bed we believed to be Dead Horse Creek cuts through the eastern section of the Walk-In-Area.  Most of the WIA is covered in grasses of various lengths.  Several "springs" are located on the property.

The highlight of our day was one Sprague's Pipit in the "Flats" southwest of CR 17 & CR F, Lincoln County.  We ran into several small flocks of McCown's Longspurs (18 total); however, could not pick out any Chestnut-collared or Lapland Longspurs.

Another fourteen McCown's Longspurs and two Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found south of Lincoln CR A and in Crowley County.

The last two hours of daylight were spent driving the Lincoln County Roads east of Highway 71.  Nothing uncommon was added to our day list.  A spot where Short-eared Owls have been recorded twice in the past ten years was not productive this evening.

October 19

The day was quite different from yesterday.  Temperatures only reached 58 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  Jacob and I started our day about two hours before sunrise.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called from north of camping spot at the northern Hale Pond.  We then drove to Highway 385 and walked the Republican River to Foster's Grove.

Highlights were two Eastern Screech-Owls west of Fosters Grove.  Other birds encountered included twenty two Wild Turkeys, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, one House Wren and one Long-eared Owl.  We observed a meadowlark a long time before deciding it was a Western Meadowlark whose call sounded like an Eastern Meadowlark.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken popped up over the hill northeast of the ranger's home, and then disappeared before we could walk to the top.

Returning to LL.5 and Yuma CR 4, one pipit walked around Pipit Hill.  It was a Sprague's Pipit!  We then walked the Republican River from LL.5 to the Kansas Border.  Birds found included one Eastern Bluebird, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, one House Wren, one Harris's Sparrow and a Field Sparrow.  A Winter Wren was around the cattails at Hale Ponds.

Today was our last planned shot this fall to find migrating songbirds (especially warblers).  Unfortunately, none was found.

In the afternoon, we drove to Wray to take an 85 year old friend to dinner.  Two male Northern Cardinals and a White-throated Sparrow were in her yard.  We checked Wray City Park and the Hospital for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, found none.

October 20

It warmed up to 81 degrees today.  High winds again hit the eastern plains.  Anemometer readings were 14-15 mph with winds gusts to 32 mph.

Jacob and I explored the Fox Ranch area of Yuma in the morning.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was west of Yuma County Road 9 at approximately 0.8 miles south of the ranch entrance.  A Harris's Sparrow and Field Sparrow were found around Yuma County U and the North Fork of the Republican River.  Overall, it was not a "birdy" day.  Most likely this was due to the high winds.

We drove some of the Yuma and Washington County roads without finding any uncommon birds. Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington) was devoid of birds.  The old I70 Bennett Rest Stop was quiet.  Fields between Bennett and Prospect Valley contained few birds except for Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons.

We stopped at a friend's ranch near Prospect Valley and relocated the pair of Long-eared Owls that had nested on his property (Weld County).  It looks like they will stay for a second winter.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop on our way home.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Arapahoe County

October 16, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I returned to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to see if yesterday's birds had hung around.  Winds were only 3-4 mph; temperatures reached 75 degrees.

The Common Loon was still swimming along the eastern side of Lake Ladora.  The Harris's Sparrow was relocated at the southeastern corner of Marys Lake.  Unfortunately, we did not find the Swamp Sparrow or Sage Thrashers.

A drive through the Wildlife Area did not find many birds.  Nine Mountain Bluebirds, females or immature, were near the entrance road to Rattlesnake Hill.

In the afternoon, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir and scoped the lake for several hours.  Few birds swam around today.  A Common Loon stayed in the southeastern quadrant.  No uncommon gulls or the Red-necked Grebe could be relocated.

My next stop was Aurora Reservoir (also Arapahoe County).  Even fewer birds swam around the lake today.  No uncommon birds were recorded.

My birding day ended with a drive around southeastern Arapahoe County.  The Red-headed Woodpeckers were not found at Kiowa Creek and County Line Road.  Perhaps they have moved south.

I parked at a field in southeastern Arapahoe County where Short-eared Owls have been observed on past trips.  None appeared this evening.

Nice Afternoon at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

October 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Our first stop was Garland Park (Denver County).  The Greater White-fronted Goose was swimming with a couple of dozen Canada Geese on the southwestern lake.

Rebecca and I enjoyed this exquisite fall day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  We circled Lake Ladora continued onto the Mary Lake trail to the Legacy trail.

The Common Loon was still on Lake Ladora at 3:00 pm.  Regrettably, it stayed along the eastern side and quite far from any path.  We only captured a few witness shots.

Marys Lake was interesting.  I played a Swamp Sparrow recording at the western cattails.  Two Song Sparrows flew out.  Then a Lincoln's Sparrow emerged.  Finally, a Swamp Sparrow popped up and perched on a leafless willow.  It even briefly sang!

I again played a recording at the eastern willows and cattails.  A skulky bird moved about; we thought perhaps a second Swamp Sparrow.  After 15-20 minutes, it came out of the willows at the southeast end of the boardwalk.  It was a Harris's Sparrow!

Afterwards we drove the Wildlife Drive.  Deer, both White-tailed and Mule were numerous in many fields.  We missed the Burrowing Owl that had been around for months.

Both Red-tailed Hawks and a Ferruginous Hawk stood on the prairie dog village at mile 8.  Once we left the bison enclosure, two Sage Thrashers were observed on the western fence.  They were about 100 yards south of the most southwestern cattle guard.

We returned to Lake Ladora and again found the Common Loon swimming along the eastern shore, far from any good photo op.

Misses: no Red-headed Woodpeckers, Burrowing Owls or uncommon passerines found today.

Afternoon Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I navigated the 28-mile trip south to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) in the afternoon.  Construction on Tower Road and just too many cars makes the drive absolutely no fun nowadays.

Anemometer readings were 16-17 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  An hour later on, the readings equaled 18-19 mph with gusts to 26 mph.

I managed to find a cubbyhole below the parking area for the tower dam and scoped the lake for the next two hours.  Peering into the shiny water (southern sun) from the north side was not the best of views.

The Jaeger chased after gulls first off the Lake Loop and later below the dam.  I caught several glimpses of the Red-necked Grebe among Western Grebes in the middle of the lake.

After being hit in the head with a five-foot branch, I decided to check on a flock of 16 shorebirds that flew below the Lake Loop and landed at Pelican Point.  I was fortunate that it was cold which forced me to wear a fur-lined hat.  Even so, I got a sizeable bump on the top of my head.

Gulls at Pelican Point were mostly Ring-billed, a dozen California and two Herring Gulls, no Sabine's Gull.  The shorebirds turned out to be Long-billed Dowitchers.

As I returned to the boat ramp parking area, a Sabine's Gull flew almost over my head.  Where it came from, I do not know.

Now at the Lake Loop I set up my scope next to the willows along the bank.  Winds had died down to 11-12 mph.  It was now 4:45pm and the Jaeger was not relocated in the next hour.  Where did it go?  I scoped the water and could not find it swimming around.  

The light is better from this side of the lake especially in the afternoon.  I did get good looks at the Red-necked Grebe, which was just a tad closer than from the other side.  One Common Tern flew by several times!

Then I parked near the cattail field at Lake View Drive and Cherry Creek until well after sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening, also missed the resident Long-eared Owls along the gun shooting range road.

More Yuma County Walk-In-Areas

October 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

While Arikaree Creek and the South Republican River flow through southern Yuma County, none of the eleven Walk-In-Areas checked today had surface water.  Winds were ridiculous at 18-19 mph with gusts to 29 mph....Wow!

A dry Copperkettle Creek runs along Walk-In-Area CR Y/CR 17: a Red-bellied Woodpecker was the highlight here

East of Hwy 385 we found Field Sparrows at CR 10/CR MM and CR 10/CR NN

Owling after sunset found in the Bonny Reservoir/Hale Ponds area: Long-eared Owl and two Eastern Screech-Owls.

Additional Yuma County Walk-In-Areas

October 12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The twelve Walk-In-Areas surveyed today were in Yuma County.  High winds hindered any success.  None of the Walk-In-Areas had running or standing water.

Highlights were few:
CR 31/CR F (one Greater Prairie-Chicken, not interested in us, wandered)
CR 34/CR H (Field Sparrow)

No Sprague's Pipits, Eastern Meadowlarks, uncommon "ammodramus sparrows, owls, etc.

Day ended with two Greater Prairie-Chicken sightings on the road to the Kitzmiller Ranch leks.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Yuma County Walk-In-Areas

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

October 11, 2017

Terry Michaels and I resumed our Walk-In-Areas surveys in Yuma County today.  Temperatures reached 73 degrees today; winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Coyote Creek runs through two Walk-In-Areas in Yuma County.  CR J/CR 55 and CR J/CR 56 are the only Walk-In-Areas with "water" in the county.

Six Walk-In-Areas were visited near Clarkville.  It was a superb day; however, few birds were encountered.

CR J/CR 55 (Red-bellied Woodpecker, bird of day: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker )
CR K/CR 59 (Field sparrow)
CR G/CR 57 (Grasshopper Sparrow)

Our day ended watching a Greater Prairie-Chicken walk across the road at a private ranch south of Yuma.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Pleasant Walk Along First Creek Trails

October 10, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went for a walk today along the First Creek Trail (from Tower Road, Denver County to the western end, Adams County.  We did not expect much of anything, just stretching our legs.

Temperatures reached 59 degrees; winds were 4-5 mph on this pleasant sunny day.

Highlight in Denver County was a Great Horned Owl perched only 12 feet off the trail.  He did not appear disturbed by us as he stayed both on our outward and return trip.

A shy Hermit Thrush came out briefly from the willows about 40 yards west of Pena Blvd.

Once we crossed Buckley into Adams County, a few additional birds were encountered.  Two Yellow-rumped Warblers caught our attention where the trail comes the closest to First Creek.

As we were deciding if they were Audubon's or Myrtle birds, Rebecca noticed a Palm Warbler in the same cottonwood.  A little farther west a second Great Horned Owl was spotted perched low in a cottonwood tree.

Continuing west, a male Spotted Towhee popped out of the bushes (Knapweed?)  where first creek turns south and enters the cattails around the small pond at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal fence boundary.

I traversed the green gate to survey the southern pond (really an extension of the big pond.  The Marsh Wren did not respond to my pishing today.  Two White-crowned Sparrows were the only birds found.

We continued north along the trail and continued back to Buckley Road.  Our third Great Horned Owl of the day was in the cottonwood trees along the trail north of the above pond.  The grove of trees just north of the old electric pump had no birds today.  According to Jacob Washburn, it was hopping with birds on Saturday (10/7). 

Saturday's Eastern Phoebe was not relocated when we walked the north side of First Creek to Pena Blvd and back.

We said "Hi" to the Great Horned Owl on the way back to our car.

Other raptors observed today included three Red-tailed Hawks, one Ferruginous Hawk and one American Kestrel.  Six Sandhill Cranes rattled as they flew overhead heading south.

Looking For Loons, Scoters and Gulls in Arapahoe County

October 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I scoped some reservoirs today for jaegers, loons and uncommon ducks on this snowy day.  We had better luck with gulls.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull was still at Barr Lake (Adams).

When we stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) to scope the lake from the eastern side of the parking area north of the swim beach, a juvenile Sabine's Gull stood on the shore below us.  Fourteen Long-billed Dowitchers were there too.

The highlight was a Mew Gull less than 10 yards off shore.  We obtained superb views and comparisons with nearby Ring-billed Gulls.  Not done yet, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was another 10 yards behind the Mew Gull.

Forty four Sandhill Crane emerged from the clouds before again disappearing.  Their rattling voices were heard long before seeing them.

Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the other hand had few gulls or birds.

Our final stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A Sabine's Gull was among hundreds of gulls standing on Pelican Point.

We watched all the lakes for any jaegers chasing gulls.  Regrettably, no jaegers, loons or rare ducks were discovered.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull continues on the southwest marina.

Unsuccessful Search for Owls in Douglas County

October 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After our very long night, Paul and I drove to Rampart Range Road and hwy 67 several hours before sunrise.  Our target birds were Northern Pygmy-Owls or Northern Saw-whet Owls.

No owls were found today.  We did find a male American Three-toed Woodpecker at the northeast corner of the intersection.

On the return trip, we searched for the Lewis's Woodpecker reported at the Walker Gravel Pit (Douglas).  It was not found.  Few birds were encountered in the hike from the gravel pit to the south end of the Cherry Creek trail. 

On the southern route, we found a lingering House Wren near the yellow "windy trail" sign.  At the footbridge over Cherry Creek, a Gray Catbird was seen under the short tree at the southeast corner.  Farther south a Hermit Thrush was under the brush where the trail splits a grove of trees in two.

No additional birds were seen all the way to the end of the trail.  On the hike, back we tried to relocate the Hermit Thrush.  A flock of six Black-capped Chickadees kept flying across the trail.  On one pass, a Nashville Warbler followed them.

We walked to the western end of Walker Road and then north to the first ranch.  The many birds around the ranch house turned out to be European Starlings.  Back at the end of Walker Road, four Western Bluebirds landed on the telephone wires.

No Lewis's Woodpecker was found.  We passed by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  A quick scope of the scuba beach and swim beach did not find the previously reported Black-bellied Plover.

No Burrowing Owls or Short-eared Owls for that matter were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Last Trip Up Trail Ridge Road for 2017

October 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Paul Howard joined Terry Michaels and me on most likely our last trip up Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park (Larimer County).  With Highway 34 closed, the trip took longer than usual.  We scoped Lake Estes before sunrise however found nothing uncommon.  Trail Ridge Road opened around 9:00 am (overnight snow and icy conditions needed to be cleared). 

We only had to walk about 50 yards down the Medicine Bow Curve trail before spotting two beautiful White-tailed Ptarmigan in white plumage below the trail.

Back at the Trading Post, we looked over the eastern side and saw approximately 20 Brown-capped Rosy Finches and two Gray-crowned Rosy Finches flying around!

We continued west and down Trail Ridge Road to the Colorado River Trail parking area (Grand County).  The distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard as we got out of the car.  It took another 15 minutes for us to see the bird.

Four Barrow's Goldeneyes were spotted swimming on Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand County). Then our trek led us north on highway 125 toward Rand (Jackson County).  At Rand we debated on taking Jackson County Road 27 to Highway 14 and then to Gould.  Not knowing the condition of CR 27 (snow, mud?) we continued north on Hwy 125 to Walden, then east on Hwy 14 to Cameron Pass (Jackson).

Eventually we heard Boreal Owls at Cameron Pass and Crags Campgrounds.  Terry was able to put a spotlight on the Crag's owl!

No owls were found during several stops at Campgrounds along hwy 14 as we drove toward Fort Collins.  We hoped for Northern Pygmy-Owls, Northern Saw-whet Owls or a late Flammulated Owl.

Our long day ended back in Denver.

Walk-In-Areas in Phillips County

October 6
Richard Stevens:

High winds continued on our last day checking Walk-In-Areas for this week.  We had commitments back in Denver for the weekend.  Winds today were 15-16 mph with gusts to 26 mph.

Without a doubt, our highlight today was seeing a juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird at a friend's yard in Holyoke!  She had first observed it on 10/4.  We received the text message yesterday and spent the night in Holyoke anxiously waiting for sunrise.  The young male came to the feeders around 9:00 am.  (Note: it was last seen on 10/7).

Frenchman Creek cuts across Phillips County.  Unfortunately, it had little water at our stops.  The only Walk-In-Areas east of Holyoke along the creek were CR 53/CR 18; CR 57/CR 15 and CR 59/CR 15.  No uncommon birds appeared at either of them.

We stopped at Holyoke Cemetery, Holyoke Fishing Pond and Holyoke Park for brief 15 minutes each.  Again, nothing uncommon was found.  Although a Broad-winged Hawk at the Cemetery could be considered unusual.

Seven additional Walk-In-Areas were studied as we worked out way toward Denver.

CR 29/CR 28 (Frenchman Creek passes through, Red-bellied Woodpecker)
CR 27/CR 26 (Frenchman Creek passes through, possible Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, still considering ID)
CR 15/CR 30 (nothing found)
CR 14/CR 32 (Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown's Longspurs)
CR 3/CR 26 (Frenchman Creek continues west, Red-headed Woodpecker, House Wren)

Walk-In-Areas In Sedgwick County

October 5, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed for Sedgwick County to survey some Walk-In-Areas.  A stop at Ovid Woods (Sedgwick) found a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Misses: Rusty Blackbirds, Purple Finches, and Northern Cardinals, which had all been found on previous visits.

We searched for the Eastern Meadowlark reported previously by Norm Lewis at DePoorter Lake; without success.  Two Harris's Sparrows were in willows along the S. Platte River.

We only had time to check eleven Walk-In-Areas today.  Sand Creek runs through five Walk-In-Areas. CR 55/CR 10 is the only one with grasslands.

A check of the most productive field (CR 59/CR 30) did not find any Sprague's Pipits.  Our only Sprague's Pipit of the day was found at Walk-In-Area CR 59/CR 16.

Winds were high to at 14-15 mph with gusts to 23 mph.  They were not helpful to our birding.

Highlights were few:

CR 53/CR 10 (Red-bellied Woodpecker)
CR 59/CR 4 (Field Sparrow)
Best highlight: a Greater Prairie-Chicken at CR 51/CR 4

A brief stop at Sand Draw Wildlife Area found few birds and no owls today.

Walk-In-Areas, Logan County

October 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

More WIAs surveyed.  Temperatures again were in the middle 60s; winds 10-11 mph with gusts to 26 mph in the afternoon.  Terry and I started the day with bird counts east of Fleming.  Hopeful target birds included additional Sprague's Pipits, Eastern Meadowlarks or uncommon "ammodramus" sparrows (Baird's, Le Conte's or Sharp-tailed).

To increase chances of our target birds, we focused on Walk-In-Areas with grass cover.  Of the fourteen Walk-In-Areas checked, only two had a creek.  CR 85/CR 30: North Fork of Wildhorse Creek & CR 75/CR 4: Coyote Creek

Not one Sprague's Pipit, Eastern Meadowlark or uncommon "ammodramus" sparrow was counted all day.

Highlights all in Logan County

CR 97/CR 44 (Field Sparrow)
CR 85/CR 38 (Savannah Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow)
CR 85/CR 30 (Harris's Sparrow)
CR 75/CR 4 (Red-bellied Woodpecker)

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  Just after sunset, a Short-eared Owl flew below the southern side of the reservoir.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WIA Bird Surveys, Washington County

October 2-3, 2017

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone calls:

October 2

Terry Michaels and I continued our WIA bird surveys.  Temperatures barely reached 60 degrees.  Winds were 8-10 mph throughout the day.


CR 18/CR B (McCown's Longspur, Savannah Sparrow)
CR H/CR 30 (Black-throated Green Warbler, beaver creek)
Last Chance Rest Stop (Field Sparrow)
CR FF/CR 35 (Savannah Sparrow)
CR FF/CR 37 (White-throated Sparrow)
CR DD/CR 46 (Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown's Longspur)

October 3

Continued WIA bird surveys.  Twelve WIAs checked after an early morning look at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington)  Temperatures middle 60s; winds 7-8 mph; gusts to 22 mph

Prewitt Reservoir: American Golden-Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Sabine's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Eastern Screech-Owl (also 10/2)

Highlights of WIAs

CR 43/hwy 61 (Savannah Sparrow, Field Sparrow)
CR 43/CR TT (Baird's Sparrow)
CR 59/CR MM (Field Sparrow-2)
Hwy 61/Rock Creek (Grasshopper Sparrow)
CR 71/CR RR (Chestnut-collared Longspur)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cherry Creek State Park to Barr Lake State Park

October 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The morning was a spectacular fall day in Colorado.  Winds were calm and temperatures reached the 60s.

At least two Common Terns stood among hundreds of gulls on Pelican Point, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  No shorebirds were around, not even Killdeer.

I scoped the Lake from the Smoky Hill picnic area and observed the three Red-necked Phalaropes quite far to the south (in line with the bench at the Lake Loop). 

When I drove to the Lake Loop, a jet skier was chasing off the three Red-necked Phalaropes.  The phalarope ended up in the extreme southeastern corner of the Lake.

I continued to scope the Lake for any loons or uncommon waterfowl; none was found.  A juvenile Sabine's Gull swam off the Mountain Loop.  Again, a jet skier zipped by and chased the Gull off.

Eventually the Sabine's Gull landed below the dam and north of the boat marina.

A Say's Phoebe hawked insects on Butterfly Hill. 

Later when I exited my car at Barr Lake (Adams), anemometer readings were 25-26 mph with gusts to 37 mph.  Using my scope was useless.

I hiked to the sand spit off the banding station with just my binoculars.  The land bridge between the sand spit and island had disappeared with yesterday's thunderstorm.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the island west of the banding station.  I was able to pick out a juvenile Sabine's Gull.  The adult Sabine's Gull did not appear to be around.  However, fifty-one Franklin's Gulls mingled with larger Ring-billed, California and a couple of Herring Gulls.  The adult Sabine's Gull may have still been out there.

Several Pectoral Sandpipers were the only uncommon shorebirds found today.

Winds died down to a "mild" 14 mph.  I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Burrowing Owls have been observed on my last three trips.  Most likely, they are gone for the year. 

A juvenile Ferruginous Hawk stood at the top of the hill at the prairie dog village at W. Cargo Road and Third Creek.  An adult Bald Eagle stood on the hillside on the opposite side of W. Cargo Road (east side).

My final stop of the day was the First Creek Trail (to check on Barn Owls).  Daylight was ending when I hiked from 56th Avenue to Buckley Road.  Two adult Red-tailed Hawks and seven juveniles were a surprise.

A Broad-winged Hawk hidden in the cottonwoods just east of Buckley Road was a bigger surprise.  Eventually a Barn Owl and Great Horned Owl were encountered on the hike back to my car.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Slow Afternoon At Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the low 60s today; winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It felt cold most of the afternoon.

I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) and found few passerines around.  I do not believe it was a result of my "new" binoculars.  Tinted for low light, 30 X 60, only $1 at the Dollar Store (left my binoculars at home); there just was not many landbirds around.

Hundreds of Gulls were on Pelican Point.  Majority were Ring-billed with a few California Gulls and a couple of hybrids.  Two Common Terns were among them.  No shorebirds were found anywhere.

A walk from the East Shades Picnic area to the Dam and back found only a few Black-billed Magpies.  A few additional gulls were at the bird platform, Prairie Loop.  A Western Wood-pewee was at the southeast corner of the Lake Loop.

No birds on the poles surrounding the southwest marina, it just was a slow afternoon.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Birding Chatfield Reservoir

September 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reach the low 60s today.  Winds were 8-9 mph; skies partly cloudy.

My goal was to find the Red Phalarope at Chatfield Reservoir if it was still there.  Four hours later, it was still not found.  Tomorrow it is time for someone to show I missed it.

Three Turkey Vultures flew overhead at the entrance to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  I stopped briefly at the swim beach and observed no evidence that the phoebes remained.

Chatfield Reservoir was scoped first from the Heronry Overlook, no phalaropes.  A White-breasted Nuthatch noisily worked the pine tree right off the overlook.  It worked from top toward the bottom as I waited to take a photo.  The nuthatch flew before reaching the lower branches; that is when I noticed an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk at eye level just 5 yards away. 

A Cassin's Vireo flew overhead and landed in the cottonwoods just north of the overlook.  Eight Brewer's Blackbirds walked the shore below.

Next the lake was scoped from the handicapped fishing dock, the point along the lake trail, then the Plum Creek delta, the picnic area across from the rookery on the west side of the lake and finally the swim beach.

While scoping the lake at the handicapped fishing dock, one juvenile Sabine's Gull and later one Common Tern flew over the marina sand spit.

Resigned to not finding the Red Phalarope I walked the swim beach north to the deer creek inlet.  At the second dried pond north of the swim beach, a bird flew about with nineteen Yellow-rumped Warblers.  It flicked its tail and from the far distance, I thought maybe it was one of the phoebes.  Closer looks proved it a Palm Warbler.

Farther north at the deer creek inlet, a lone bird hawked insects.  It was the Black Phoebe.  I put photos on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library. 

As I returned to the swim beach parking area, the flock of warblers worked their way south along the shore.

Another hour was spent at nearby South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson).  The Red Phalarope was not found there.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Interesting Trip to Barr Lake (Adams County)

September 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

This afternoon, I stretched my legs at Barr Lake (Adams County).  It turned out to be a good choice even with lack of shorebirds around.

I scoped the shores from below the Niedrach boardwalk to the Pioneer boardwalk; one Killdeer was the only shorebird.

Walking back from the Niedrach boardwalk I observed the Eastern Phoebe first discovered last Saturday!   From there, I scoped the island off the Niedrach trail and found an adult Sabine's Gull. 

Perhaps it is the same bird recently photographed at Adams County fairgrounds on 9/20?  The Sabine's Gull found at Barr Lake by Terry Michaels on 9/19 was a juvenile.  When the bird flew, I was able to get two Georgia birders on the bird with its distinctive wing pattern.

While walking out to the sand spit northwest of the banding station, I found two juvenile Sabine's Gulls!  I will try and added photos to the CoBus photo library soon.

Again, no shorebirds were on the sand spit.  The adult Sabine's Gull had landed on the southern end of the sand spit.  The juveniles walked the northern end of it.

I ran out of time for a search of the Fox Sparrow reported a couple of days earlier.  Two Wilson's Warblers and two Ruby-crowned Kinglets fluttered around the willows at the banding station.

Owls found included two Barn Owls and a Long-eared Owl.

Morgan County Walk-In-Areas

September 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn joined me today; we continued our WIAs bird count.   Temperatures today reached into the 50s; winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

I will list results that do not make CoBus RBA later (perhaps in a "Colorado Field Notes" issue).  Today Jacob and I found two Sprague's Pipits at a Morgan County WIA will grass cover.

Weld County Walk-In-Areas

September 26-27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I conducted surveys in Weld County WIAs for two days.  At times, rain and high winds limited sightings.

Highlights: all three species of longspurs (dozens McCown's, four Chestnut-collared and two Lapland) were encountered.  We covered fourteen Walk-In-Areas with grass cover over the two days.  These areas were around Stoneham, CO.

Misses: no owls, no Mountain Plovers and no Upland Sandpipers.  Shorebirds may have already departed from southern wintering grounds.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Birding East of Denver Today

September 25, 2017

Temperatures only reached the high 40s today.  Winds were 11 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

Before heading to eastern Arapahoe County, I stopped at Barr Lake (Adams County).  The American Golden-Plover, one Black-bellied Plover and two Pectoral Sandpipers were again below the Niedrach Boardwalk.

A walk to the banding station at mile 8.7 found a Nashville Warbler in the willows at mile 8.8!  One Western Kingbird flew around the boat ramp area.  One Barn Owl remains in an owl box.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), twelve Common Terns were on Pelican Point.  Five Killdeer shared the shore with nine Snowy Egrets.  Ring-billed and California Gulls were the only ones representing their family.

I did not find a Sabine's Gull.  No loons have arrived yet.  A Golden-crowned Kinglet was near the Shop Creek parking area where I found the Cassin's Vireo yesterday.

At Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe), the scuba beach was devoid of birds.  Most of the gulls were back at the shore at mile 2.5.  One Lesser Black-backed Gull was the only uncommon Gull that was found.  No loons or uncommon ducks have arrived here yet.

Previous stops had "used up" my daylight.  I wanted to be at Jewell and Picadilly before sunset to do some owling.

I drove the Yale-Jewell Loop (Arapahoe) and scoped the riparian area along Coal Creek.  Found my target bird, an adult Red-headed Woodpecker worked the snag about 40 yards south of the infamous Eagle's nest (located about a mile south of Jewell and Smith (sometimes called Yale).

Many Vesper Sparrows were observed along Yale Road.  A Grasshopper Sparrow was 20 yards west of CR 97.

It started to rain heavily 30 minutes before sunset and I abandoned my owling plans.

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.