Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Morning Drive to Pawnee National Grasslands

July 17, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I could not sleep and drove up to the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld) arriving an hour before sunrise.  Eventually the temperatures reached 97 degrees; fortunately, we had left before noon.

Our few highlights included:
Two Mountain Plover along CR 100 west of CR 390
One Chestnut-collared Longspur along CR 96, east of CR 69
One Cassin's Sparrow also along CR 96, east of CR 69
Several Burrowing Owls were along CR 100, west of CR 390

We also relocated Burrowing Owls at Beebe Draw Ponds.

Overall, it was an uneventful day; we did enjoy the drive in the cool morning.

Trip to First Creek and Rocky Mountain Arsenal

July 16, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went for a drive to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) in the afternoon.  On the way, we stopped at the First Creek Trail (Denver).  At least three Blue Grosbeaks were east of the Light Rail Overpass and Horse Corrals.

The Barn Owls have now left their nest.  More of the story in Augusts' "Colorado Field Notes"   At least three of the Barn Owls were still in the neighborhood.

At Rocky Mountain Arsenal as we drove the Wildlife Drive, a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker flew from the entrance road to Lower Derby Lake to the cottonwoods on the south side of the road.

At least eight Bullock's Orioles were flying around the grove of dead trees east of Lower Derby Lake.  Dozens of Cliff Swallows flew into the underpass where Eastern Phoebes nested near Potomac and 2nd Creek.

Quite a few juvenile Eastern Kingbirds and Western Kingbirds were observed on the drive.  When we reached the only bridge inside the enclosed section of the Wildlife Drive, an Eastern Phoebe stood on the bridge.

We had not seen an Eastern Phoebe during our several dozen visits this year.  I do not remember any previous reports here and cannot determine if Eastern Phoebes nested at this location this summer.

When I stopped, we saw no other cars.  However, before I could get a photo a ranger popped up from somewhere and scolded me (us) for stopping on the bridge.

At least one Burrowing Owl was south of the road near mile 5.  Another was near mile 8.  Just before exiting the enclosed section, we saw a Cassin's Kingbird on the fence at the gate without a cattle guard.  The gate is several hundred yards into the closed section; unfortunately, it is a one way drive here (nine mile drive to get to this gate).

Two Swainson's Hawks perched in a dead cottonwood south of the Visitor's Center.

Burrowing Owls can still be seen along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) at W. Cargo Road & Third Creek, Gun Club Road south of 112th avenue and Trussville Road and 114th avenue.

Friday, July 14, 2017

CoBus Western Slope Breeding Survey (cont)

Rest of July 12, 2017

Group B (dkin, bmar, rkos, sehl) searched for Yellow-billed Cuckoos along the Gunnison River.  They started in Paonia and worked their way back to Delta.  None was recorded today.  They ran into a Rufous Hummingbird in Paonia and a Calliope Hummingbird in Hotchkiss.

Group A thought they saw a Scott's Oriole on the west side of Hwy 65 at Orchard City.  Both Groups went back later and searched unsuccessfully for over an hour.

Late in the afternoon, they found a Chukar near Currant Creek and M 50 Drive, Delta County.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Western Slope Surveys Continue

July 10-12, 2017

The CoBus western slope breeding survey continues:

July 10

They split into two groups today.

Group A (rste, tmit, dkin, bmar) birded north of Grand Junction.  They missed their target bird, Scott's Oriole at several traditional locations.  No Chukar or Black Phoebes were found at Horsethief Canyon Wildlife Area.

Two Sagebrush Sparrows and a Long-eared Owl were relocated at Brewster's Ridge.  Late in the day, they found a Northern Saw-whet Owl and three Flammulated Owls at Douglas Pass.

Group B (rkos, sehl, jwas, rsim) went to the Colorado National Monument.  Black-throated Sparrows and two Gray Vireos were at the Devil's Kitchen area.  No Black-chinned Sparrows were reported this year.

A Cassin's Kingbird was found in the Glade Area.  The Campgrounds area added Black-throated Gray Warblers, Juniper Titmice, White-throated Swifts, Pinyon Jays and a Gray Flycatcher.

July 11

Group A (rste, tmit, jwas, rsim, dkin, bmar) started at Coal Canyon, Mesa County.  They found five Chukar on the hill south of the pipe gate at the main parking lot.  At least six Black-throated Sparrows were around the parking lot.  Farther west, they saw two Sagebrush Sparrows. 

On the way to the Grand Mesa, they relocated the Least Flycatcher at Collbran. 

Group B (rkos, sehl)

The groups joined and search much of the night in search Owls.  They found an American Three-toed Woodpecker at Powderhorn Ski Area.  Owl count in Mesa County was two Northern Saw-whet Owls, two Northern Pygmy-Owls and seven Boreal Owls.

In Delta County, owl count was just four Boreal Owls.

July 12

Group A (rste, tmit, jwas, rsim) stayed on the Grand Mesa, Delta County section.

A Northern Goshawk flew up Y35 Drive (near Visitor's Center).  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was farther up the road.

Two Purple Martins were seen flying around Little Bear Campgrounds.

Along Highway 65, east of the Visitor's Center 0.7 miles they saw a pair of White-winged Crossbills.  Before dropping down off the Grand Mesa they counted three Dusky Grouse.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Trip to Mt. Evans

Hello cobirders,

Here's a current and close to Denver report..............

New Colorado birder Tom Jenkins has been birding many of the Denver and foothills loops recently.

Today he went up to Mt. Evans, Clear Creek County.

A Echo Lake they found one Barrow's Goldeneye and an American Three-toed Woodpecker along the telephone poles on the west side of the lake.

They found three Brown-capped Rosy Finches circling the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  A walk east of the Summit Lake parking lot eventually found two White-tailed Ptarmigan.  The birds were about 300 yards from the Mt. Evans Road.

Many American Pipits flew along the road to the top of Mt. Evans.

On the way down, they found another American Three-toed Woodpecker at the Campgrounds.  A pair of Pine Grosbeaks were near the research center.

Good Birding!

Amy Davenport

CoBus Western Slope Breeding Surveys continued

I have been very busy and slack on updating the CoBus Western Slope Breeding Survey.  Hope to catch up and stay current now.

July 1 to July 9, 2017

July 1
Group A (tmit, jwas, rsim, dkin, bmar) spent the night in Ouray.  Owling had been unsuccessful last night. 

In the morning a trip north to Billy Creek relocated the Black Phoebe at the bridge.  Heading south, they found four Black Swifts at the Box Canyon Falls. 

Several stops were made on the trip to Durango.  A pair of Purple Martins, American Three-toed Woodpecker, two Williamson's Sapsuckers, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Cassin's Finches and four Red Crossbills were found at Coal Bank Pass, San Juan County.

An Osprey was seen at Molas Lake, San Juan County.  They found a White-tailed Ptarmigan on the hike to Little Molas Lake.  A Bufflehead and Eared Grebe were on the lake.

Entering La Plata County, they found a Dusky Grouse at the Purgatory Ski Area. 

Forest Road 578 (Bolam Pass Road) goes to Sig Creek Campgrounds, which is actually back in San Juan County.  They found a Boreal Owl near the unnamed lake at the Pass summit.

Group B (rste, rkos, sehl) went to Forest Road 773 in Archuleta County.  It is the site of the 6/19/1999 Mexican Whip-Poor-will record.  Additional sightings were in 6/16/2007 & 7/5/2011 (behl, sehl). 

They wandered around until dusk heard no Poorwills.  No owls were found either.  Their best bird was a Grace's Warbler.  Red-naped Sapsuckers and a Virginia's Warbler were also in the area.

July 2

All the CoBus Groups went to Yellow Jacket Canyon (Montezuma) today.  Then they continued into Utah.

Highlights at Yellow Jacket Canyon included two Lucy's Warblers, three Black-throated Sparrows, Gambel's Quail, Plumbeous Vireo and Gray Flycatcher.

No owls were found on their day today.

July 3

Group A (jwas, rsim, dkin, bmar)  visited Narraguinnep Reservoir, Montezuma County. Highlight was a Black Phoebe.  They found another Black Phoebe and a flyover Purple Martin at McPhee Reservoir.

A Lewis's Woodpecker was relocated in Dolores.  Owl count was zero.

Group B (rste, tmit, rkos, sehl) went up Hwy 145 and Taylor Creek, Montezuma.  They found Grace's Warblers, Virginia's Warblers, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher and Common Poorwill.  Misses: Purple Martins and Black Swifts.  After dark they found a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

July 4

Group B (rste, tmit, rkos, sehl) stayed around Durango today.  They relocated Lewis's Woodpeckers at the Huck Finn Pond area and the Animas Riverwalk at 32nd Street.  They also relocated a Black Phoebe along the Animas Riverwalk, near the Santa Rita Park area.

Group A (jwas, rsim, dkin, bmar) drove south down Highway 550 to New Mexico.  Their search for Black-chinned Sparrows was not successful.  They did have the highlight of the trip.  A male Anna's Hummingbird was seen at Twin Crossing, La Plata. Van Remsen found the last reported anhu in La Plata County on 8/16/2014.

They did relocate two Acorn Woodpeckers and a Lewis's Woodpecker at Wildcat Canyon.

July 5

Group A (jwas, rsim, rkos, sehl) decided to visit Mesa Verde National Park, Montezuma County.  Best bird found was a Long-eared Owl.  Others reported Pinyon Jays, Black-throated Gray Warblers, Gray Vireos, Gray Flycatchers, and Cordilleran Flycatcher.  Misses: the Black Phoebe reported at Morefield Campgrounds on 6/16/2017.  Their only owl sighting was a Short-eared Owl as they were leaving.

They were reminded of the infamous Dan Bridge's arrest for staying overnight in 1991 and recording a Spotted Owl after the park closed.  They were not willing to repeat the incident.

Group B (rste, tmit, dkin, bmar) left before sunrise.  They found Northern Saw-whet Owl, Flammulated Owls, Townsend's Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, and Common Poorwills at Junction Creek Campgrounds, La Plata County.

Later they relocated a Lewis's Woodpecker at Vallecito Reservoir, La Plata. 

They searched unsuccessfully for Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Black Phoebes along the Mancos River trail.  A Lewis's Woodpecker and Calliope Hummingbird in Mancos and Grace's Warblers and an Ovenbird were seen at the State Park.

July 6

Group B (rste, tmit) went to Dove Creek early in the morning.  They found one Gunnison Sage-Grouse up Wilson Draw.

In Squaw Canyon, Dolores County they found Black-throated Sparrows, Gray Vireos, two Black-throated Gray Warblers, Juniper Titmouse and Sagebrush Sparrow.  Highlight was a male and female Scott's Oriole.

Cross Canyon added Sagebrush Sparrows, Pinyon Jays, Cassin's Kingbirds, Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo and Black-throated Gray Warbler.

Group A (dkin, bmar, rkos, sehl) west northeast.  They relocated a Black Phoebe, Cassin's Kingbird, and Gray Flycatcher at the Bradfield Bridge, Dolores County.

At Lone Dome Recreation Area, Dolores County their best bird was a Hooded Warbler.

At Glade Lake, they found two Grace's Warblers, two Lewis's Woodpeckers, Gray Vireo, Plumbeous Vireos and Gray Flycatcher.  Their only owl of the day, a Flammulated Owl responded to a recording at dusk.

Group C (jwas, rsim) went Lone Cone Wildlife Area and Groundhog Reservoir, Dolores County. 

They relocated a Lewis's Woodpecker, but the reported Yellow-billed Loon was long gone at Groundhog Reservoir.  Other birds recorded included two Purple Martins, a female Williamson's Sapsucker, a Northern Goshawk.

At Lone Cone Wildlife Area, they added a Black-throated Gray Warbler and Dusky Grouse.  Owling was good; they found a Northern Pygmy-Owl and two Flammulated Owls.

July 7

The CoBus Groups went into San Miguel County today.

At Slick Rock, they found a Black-throated Gray Warbler, Black-throated Sparrows and a Gray Vireo.  The post office has been gone for many years.  Slick Rock was once a great place to find uncommon hummingbirds.

Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons hiked several miles into Big Gypsum Canyon.  They found two male and a female Scott's Oriole, Cassin's Kingbirds, six Northern Mockingbirds and one Curve-billed Thrasher.   They looked closely at the thrasher as a Bendire's Thrasher was recorded here on 6/24/1999.

Their highlight was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. One was last reported here on 6/3/1994.  The area is seldom birded.  We wonder how many have visited the canyon in the recent past.

The rest of the group continued to Disappointment Valley.  Their target bird was a Bendire's Thrasher.  Bendire's Thrashers have been recorded and photographed in 6/21/1994 (ksch), 6/24/1999 (rste), 2007, 2008 & 2009 with no reports since.

Two Curve-billed Thrashers were the only thrashers found.  A possible nesting Long-eared Owl was a surprise.

They all camped in the Uncompahgre Plateau the next two nights.

July 8

CoBus Groups spread across the Montrose County section of the Uncompahgre Plateau today.

Highlights included:

Flammulated Owl (2) --Windy Point 
American Three-toed Woodpecker (2)
Purple Martin (2) --Columbine Pass
Dusky Grouse (3) --Columbine Pass
American Three-toed Woodpecker (1) --Columbine Pass
Black Swift --CR 90/east/Divide Rd
American Three-toed Woodpecker (2) --25 Mesa Road

Other birds included Common Poorwill, Williamson's Sapsuckers, Grace's Warblers, Olive-sided Flycatchers and Lewis's Woodpecker.

July 9

Today the CoBus Groups spread across the Mesa County sections of the Uncompahgre Plateau.

Highlights include:

Grace's Warbler
(1) --Jack's Canyon
(2) --Telephone Trail
(2) --Carson Hole

Lewis's Woodpecker
(2) --Divide Forks Campgrounds (CoBus Groups) first 7/9

Flammulated Owl
(2) --Telephone Trail (CoBus Groups) last 7/9
(2) --Jack's Canyon (CoBus Groups) last 7/9

Boreal Owl
(2) --undisclosed (CoBus Groups) first 7/9

Purple Martin
(3) --see website map

Other sightings included two Northern Goshawks, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Williamson's Sapsuckers, Common Poorwill (two locations), Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Pinyon Jays.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Email sent to "cobirders" listserve:

Amy Davenport: I put photos on the CoBus photo library:

Hello birders,

I flew into Denver to spend time with my kids over the holidays.  Drove over to Richard and Rebecca's to find everyone out of town.  I talked Amy into driving to Aurora Reservoir with me.  We found the 33 Marbled Godwits, eleven Willets and the three young Killdeer at the Scuba Beach.   A Cassin's Kingbird flew around the trees at the scuba beach and then to the northeast of the parking lot.  A Dickcissel called in the same area. Much going on at Aurora Reservoir this July 4th weekend watch out for traffic.

We decided to drive the eastern Arapahoe County loop.  At least one Dickcissel was still north of CR 129 and Orchard Road.  We thought two were singing.  Six Burrowing Owls were west of CR 129 at 0.7 miles south of Orchard.  At 0.1 miles east of CR 129 and CR 30 (Quincy Road) another Dickcissel was on the telephone wires.  Again we thought a second was singing.

The Burrowing Owl was along CR 30 at 0.5 miles east of CR 149.  We saw several more Cassin's Kingbirds and a few Western Kingbirds down CR 169 and east on CR 42.  The Northern Mockingbird and another Cassin's Kingbird were singing at the previously described hill cut one mile east of 169 & 42.

We did not find the Cassin's Sparrow at Bradbury and CR 30.  To this point we had seven Cassin's Kingbirds, four Loggerhead Shrikes, two Grasshopper Sparrows and many Lark Buntings.

At CR 30 and Smith Road we could see two Eastern Kingbirds, two Western Kingbirds and a Cassin's Kingbird.

Good birding, glad to be back temporarily in Colorado!

Jerry Petrosky

CoBus Western Slope Bird Breeding Surveys (cont)

June 28 to June 30, 2017

See previous reports for beginning trip.

June 28

Group B (jwas, rsim, bmar) went to Lake City by way of Highway 149, then drove west on Cinnamon Pass Road, Hinsdale County.

Grace's Warblers and a Rufous Hummingbird were found at Mill Creek Campgrounds.  At Burrows Park Town Site they found an American Three-toed Woodpecker.  American Basin added a flyby Prairie Falcon.  Is this out of place?  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew around Cinnamon Pass.  They spent the night around Animas Forks Ghost Town.  No owls were recorded today.

Group A (tmit, dkin) entered Hinsdale by way of Gunnison CR 27.  They did not find the reported Acorn Woodpecker.  Then they drove Engineer Pass, Hinsdale.  They counted American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two each at two locations.  At North Fork Cutoff they reported American Three-toed Woodpecker (Burrows Creek Road), Brown-capped Rosy Finches and a Northern Pygmy-Owl in San Juan County.  In Hinsdale County they reported an American Three-toed Woodpecker and a Boreal Owl (both groups). A 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must for this trip.

Group C (rste, rkos, sehl) went down I25 to Hwy 160, then west.  One Black Swift was a flyover at Zapata Falls, Saguache.  Found eight Pinyon Jays and Hepatic Tanager at Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Saguache County.  Western Screech-Owls called after sunset.

June 29
Group B found an American Three-toed Woodpecker, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks and a Rufous Hummingbird at Animas Forks Ghost Town.  They took the southern route to Silverton.  Forest Road 586 in Hinsdale, Forest Road 210 in Ouray County.

Highlight of the day was a White-tailed Ptarmigan up Minnie Gulch Road (long hike).

Group A took the northern route over California Pass.  They relocated a Northern Saw-whet Owl (last year's gps waypoint at Poughkeepsie Gulch, San Juan County).  The day was windy and cold.  No owls reported.

Group C relocated two Dickcissels previously reported at Alamosa/Conejos Counties; CC Road; east of 109 S, Rawinksi.  A Sagebrush Sparrow was relocated at John James Canyon, Conejos County.  A Black Swift was seen flying around Treasure Falls, Mineral County.  After dark a Boreal Owl was found at Wolf Creek Pass, Mineral County.

June 30

Group C found a Black Phoebe and Cassin's Sparrow at the Navajo Watchable Wildlife Area.  Four Pinyon Jays, Lewis's Woodpeckers and Cassin's Kingbirds seen at Navajo reservoir.

Group A (tmit, dkin): A drive toward Sneffels found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Black Swift and two Brown-capped Rosy Finches.  They found four Black Swifts up Black Bear Pass at Bridal Veil Falls, San Miguel County.

Group B (jwas, rsim, bmar): Along Ophir Pass Road toward hwy 149, they counted Black Swifts (3, over 2 locations), a Dusky Grouse and MacGillivray's Warbler.  Highlight was a Calliope Hummingbird at Ophir.  This is early for this hummingbird in Colorado (photographed). Early Ouray/San Miguel records: 6/13-6/23/2008 in Silverton; 6/30/2012 at Lake Lenore, Ouray.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

White Ibis Still At Clear Creek Valley Park

Email sent by Richard Stevens to the cobirders listserve:

June 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

It is not always a good idea to listen to others.  When I arrived at Clear Creek Valley Park three birders said the White Ibis was not around today.  I walked around anyway.  The White Ibis was along the shore of the most southeastern pond, northern half.  The white bird blended into the whitish rocks.  I let a couple of other birders know of the sighting, this was 11:00 am.

CoBus Western Slope Bird Breeding Surveys

June 21 to 27, 2017

Amy Davenport:

June 21

The CoBus group started on its month long bird breeding surveys on the western slope.  Birder numbers are down this year to six in two vehicles. 

I do not have statistics on temperatures and wind speeds.  They will have to add them later.  I will summarize the trips from phone calls and text messages as they are going. Participants may vary as the trek goes on; the list includes Richard Stevens, Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn, Ray Simmons, Dave King and Bill Marks. 

They are recording many "common species" along the trip.  I will not list all of them now, only what we consider uncommon birds.

They departed Denver in the afternoon and went owling in Teller County.  Only one Northern Pygmy-Owl and one Boreal Owl were encountered this night.

June 22

Early in the morning, Richard Stevens and Terry Michaels drove up to the Manitou Experimental Forest.  Highlights included two Flammulated Owls and one Northern Pygmy-Owl.

After the rest of the group woke, they stopped at Mueller State Park, Teller County.  A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers and an American Three-toed Woodpecker was relocated.

They found an additional Williamson's Sapsucker at the Florissant Fossil Beds.  Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir did not add rare birds to their trip. 

They spent several hours driving the roads north of Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Hwy 24.  Only one Mountain Plover was found.  It was north of hwy 24.  The San Juan Street bird was not relocated.

Four Pinyon Jays flew around Trout Creek Pass, Teller County.

Juniper Titmice and Bushtits flew around the Buena Vista Overlook.  After dark, they found two Northern Saw-whet Owls on the BLM Land north of the overlook.  They had split up, the southern group struck out south of hwy 24.
June 23, 2017

Owling up Cottonwood Pass was not successful.  Group A (rste, tmit) run into a White-tailed Ptarmigan and two Brown-capped Rosy Finches at the top of the Pass. 

Farther down they also encountered two American Three-toed Woodpeckers, four Pine Grosbeaks, Cassin's Finches, eleven Evening Grosbeaks and four Red Crossbills, Chaffee County.

Group B (jwas, rsim, dkin, bmar) found a pair of Purple Martins, an American Three-toed Woodpecker, Pine Grosbeaks and Cassin's Finches on the road to Alpine, Chaffee County.  Four Pinyon Jays flew around Alpine, Chaffee County.

Owling after dark: none; high winds that night

June 24

Group B (jwas, rsim) took hwy 50 west.  They found five American Three-toed Woodpeckers at the Monarch Pass pullover area, Chaffee County.  Two additional American Three-toed Woodpeckers were farther west, Gunnison County.  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew around the Ski Area, Chaffee County.

Group A (rste, tmit, dkin, bmar) drove over Marshall Pass.  Recommend a 4-wheel drive for this trip.  They encountered in Chaffee County four American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two pairs of Williamson's Sapsuckers, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Plumbeous Vireos, two Purple Martins and ten Red Crossbills.

A Northern Saw-whet Owl was relocated at O'Haver Lake, Chaffee County.  Owling stops were done by previous year's gps waypoints.  They found Flammulated Owls (5) over two locations.

Where the road drops into Saguache County they found two American Three-toed Woodpeckers another Purple Martin and several Williamson's Sapsuckers.

Two Flammulated Owls were found before Marshall Pass enters Gunnison County.

Group B did not have the same luck; they found no owls while stopping many times along hwy 50 in Gunnison County.

June 25

Before sunset, Group A (rste, tmit, dkin, bmar) drove down Gunnison 38 Road.  They found five Gunnison Sage-Grouse north of CR 38A.  They ran across another Gunnison Sage-Grouse in Saguache County.

Group B (jwas, rsim) found one Gunnison Sage-Grouse crossing 887 Road.  Later they hiked the Neversink Trail.  One Least Flycatcher and two Veery were found. 

They headed to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  Four Dusky Grouse were found.  Other birds seen two Fox Sparrows, Evening Grosbeaks, White-throated Swifts, two Pinyon Jays (East Portal Campgrounds), Spotted Towhees, Green-tailed Towhee, Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Prairie Falcon.

Group A went up Quartz Creek roads, Gunnison County.  Dave King and Bill Marks found a White-tailed Ptarmigan and four Pinyon Jays on Cumberland Pass.

While Stevens & Michaels saw several Rufous Hummingbirds at TinCup.  A family of two adult and two young American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found on the road to Mirror Lake.

After sunset, the group was back together and found a Northern Pygmy-Owl near Cumberland Pass.  It was another windy night, which did not help owling attempts.

 June 26

Richard's broken toe prevented long hikes.  Terry and he chose Cimarron Pass Road, Gunnison County. 

On the trip down, they stopped at three ranches where Yellow-billed Cuckoos have been recorded in past years.  They found one at private ranch #1 and heard that one or two were heard at private ranch #3, which they could not find.

At Cimarron Campgrounds they found one Dusky Grouse, briefly heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Six American Three-toed Woodpeckers were eventually found.  Two more were seen at Fish Creek Reservoir.

Highlight at Silver Jack Campgrounds was a Hooded Warbler (four of the last five years now).  Dusky Grouse, American Three-toed Woodpecker, and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers added seen here.

Highlights of the day were a White-winged Crossbill at Owl Creek Pass and a Boreal Owl responded to recordings.

Group B (jwas, rsim, dkin, bmar) drove to Schofield Pass.  After several hours, they found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Other birds included Pine Grosbeaks, a Williamson's Sapsucker, Fox Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, and a flyby Rufous Hummingbird.

A drive up Kebler Pass added four Purple Martins (two sites), another American Three-toed Woodpecker, a Dusky Grouse and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers.  After dark, a Flammulated Owl answered their recordings.

June 27

Group B (jwas, rsim, bmar) drove to Taylor Park Reservoir.  A detour to Roaring Judy Fishing Unit found a Hooded Warbler.  That is uncommon for the area.

Few birds were on Taylor Reservoir.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker and six Band-tailed Pigeons were found at the Lake View Campgrounds across CR 742.

Owling was successful.  Northern Pygmy-Owls (two, 2 Locations), Northern Saw-whet Owl (1 at last year's Location) and Flammulated Owls (2, at different locations).

Group A (tmit, dkin) first drove with Stevens down Gunnison CR 32 and then CR 38.  Three Gunnison Sage-Grouse were again along CR 38 north of 38A

Stevens left the group, which then drove down Hwy 149 with detour on Sapinero Mesa (Gunnison CR 26).

Highlights included a Williamson's Sapsucker and American Three-toed Woodpecker along Sapinero Mesa Road.  A Grace's Warbler along the Cutoff.  Super highlight: a Gunnison Sage-Grouse emerged from ponderosa pines at intersection above.

A Black-throated Gray Warbler was found along the Gateview Plateau.  Six Pinyon Jays were seen at Alpine.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording at Alpine Tunnel trail.   

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Unsuccessful Search for Common Poorwills On the Colorado Plains

June 21, 2017

Rebecca Kosten:

Richard and I got out early this morning before the day was too hot.  Richard wanted to check on two places where Common Poorwills had nested in Arapahoe & Elbert County in the past.  Alas, we found no Common Poorwills.

Burrowing Owls are multiplying at Third Creek & West Cargo Road, Trussville & 114th Avenue and Gun Club Road south of 112th Avenue. 

A Dickcissel was heard along Strasburg Road about a half mile south of I70.  One Northern Mockingbird was still at the hill cut along Arapahoe CR 42 at a mile east of CR 161.

Three Hour Hike around Welch Park

June 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached a record high 99 degrees today.  Winds were 3-4 mph.  It was hot.

I stretched my legs with a three hour walk around Welch Park and neighborhood in search of the Red-bellied Woodpecker reported earlier in the day.

I (or anyone else that I have heard) did not find the woodpecker.  A few birds were in the Park proper including White-breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-throated Warblers, Blue Jays, Bullock's Oriole and Downy Woodpecker.

According to my GPS, I walked 4.6 miles.  Route: twice around Welch Park, every road in 0.5 mile radius of Park and down Highline canal to Florida Avenue and back.  Speed was slow due to my broken toe.

The highlight of my hike was along the South Quebec Way trail (Highline Canal). A frequent walker pointed out an Eastern Screech-Owl!  Thanks Ruth!  It pays to talk to residents in any area one birds!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

White Ibis at Clear Creek Valley Park

June 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I received the text message about the White Ibis at Clear Creek Valley Park (formerly called Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area--Northern Section (Adams County).

The bird was at the extreme eastern pond when I arrived.  Eventually it flew to the swallow pond just south of the parking area.

Temperatures reached the low 90s today.  Winds were 7-8 mph.  It was hot.  I went back to my long list of chores.

Cool Drive in Eastern Arapahoe County

June 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After the US Golf Tournament ended, Rebecca and I went for a drive in Eastern Arapahoe County.  Temperatures dropped in the evening; a cool breeze blew across the plains.

A Dickcissel was relocated along Strasberg Road approximately a half mile south of I70.  Both a singing Northern Mockingbird and Cassin's Kingbird were at the hill cut along CR 42 at a mile east of CR 161.  A Burrowing Owl continues along CR 30, east of CR 149.  A Common Nighthawk was on a telephone wire near CR 30/CR 129.

Trip to Guanella Pass

June 17, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rob Berg and I drove up to Guanella Pass from the Grant side (hwy 285).  Besides some nice bird, we missed the heat down in Denver.  The high up there was 68 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

Eventually we found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan by listening for their soft calls.  The birds were 20 yards or so southeast (uphill) of the Rosalie and 603 trails.

Many White-crowned Sparrows fluttered about the short willows.  We were quite sure that at least two "Timberline" Brewer's Sparrows were found (photographed and recorded audio).

Other birds found included a Slate-colored Fox Sparrow, American Pipits, Wilson's Warbler (kind of high for it?), Prairie Falcon (zoomed by), and Red-tailed Hawk.

At the Guanella Pass Campgrounds, we added a MacGillivray's Warbler, two Pine Grosbeaks and an American Three-toed Woodpecker to our day list.

Unfortunately, we had to return to the heat in Denver.

Trip to Reynolds Park

June 16, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rob Berg and I drove up to Reynolds Park (Jefferson) this morning.  Temperatures reached 82 degrees even in the foothills today.  Winds were a mild 4 mph.

We arrived at Reynolds Park about 60 minutes before sunrise.  A Common Poorwill called from southwest of the main parking area, across South Foxton Road.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording as we walked the Songbird trail.  In the next four hours, we hiked the loop of Elkhorn to Raven's Roost to Eagle's View to Oxen Draw trails. 

We managed to find all of our target birds.  Although it we did not find or expect a Northern Saw-whet Owl during our extensive search.

Highlights included a Dusky Grouse crossing Raven's Roost not far uphill/south of the Elkhorn Trail.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker drummed on a pine tree about 300 yards south of the old service road.

Another Dusky Grouse was found at the top of the Eagle's View trail.  On the trip north/downhill, we encountered a third Dusky Grouse just before the Eagle's View/Oxen Draw intersection.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard drumming just south of the Eagle's View, Raven's Roost and Oxen Draw intersection.  It took a good 15 minutes to see the elusive bird.

On the trip over to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson), we stopped several times along the S. Platte River before finding an American Dipper.  Funny little birds jumping into the rapids in search of food.

At Pine Valley Ranch Park, we walked the Narrow Gauge trail.  Nothing uncommon was found.  A Common Yellowthroat was in the willows along Pine Lake.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Return to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Spent most of the day doing chores but found time to drive over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) in the afternoon.  Temperatures were around 89 degrees at 4:00 pm.  Winds were 6-7 mph.

I parked just west of Second Creek & 64th Avenue for two hours.  At 5:30 pm, the adult Red-headed Woodpecker came to the large cottonwood that is between Second Creek and the grove of dead trees to the west.

Later I walked around the canopy of trees north of 64th Avenue and Chambers Road.  The Yellow-billed Cuckoo that Rebecca and I found on Wednesday could not be relocated.  The Red-headed Woodpecker found Wednesday just north of the grove was also absent.

I did not drive into the wildlife area that is a one way drive, instead went over to the First Creek Trail (outside the eastern side of the Arsenal).

The adult and five young Barn Owls are still there.  I did not detect their advancing age (from my visit of four days ago).

A Great Horned Owl called from the cottonwoods between the First Creek Trail and the parking area at 56th Avenue & Buckley Road.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Another Red-headed Woodpecker Search at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

It was another cool superb morning with calm winds.  Rebecca and I returned to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to search for the Red-headed Woodpecker.  Yesterday, Peter Pereira sent photos and indicated that at least two Red-headed Woodpeckers were around.

We drove through the Arsenal and stopped at the canopy grove of trees along Chambers Road just north of East 64th Avenue.  The grove was loaded with birds and bird songs.  What a pleasant walk!

A woodpecker was heard at the south end of the grove; however, we were never able to see it through the thick leaves. 

Later, I sighted a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the south end of the swallow pond in the grove.  If the bird had not switched branches, it would have remained unobserved. 

Abandoning the woodpecker, we drove the rest of the wildlife area.  We scoped several groves of trees where Peter had seen a Red-headed Woodpecker yesterday.  Unfortunately, it was not detected by us.

At one stop, I was able to photograph a singing Brewer's Sparrow.  Another spot added a Grasshopper Sparrow to our day list.  At yet another stop, Rebecca thought she briefly observed a male Bobolink.  Regrettably, the bird did not pop back out of the tall grasses in the next 15 minutes or so.  This stop was near the fire hydrant east of Havana & 88th Avenue.

Burrowing Owls were observed at two stops.  It was such a terrific morning; we resolved to drive the wildlife loop again.  This time we heard a drumming woodpecker at the single cottonwood on the west side of Chambers, just north of the canopy grove of trees.

It took a good twenty minutes before an adult Red-headed Woodpecker emerged from the huge cottonwood with thick leaves!

A brief stop back at the Bobolink spot did not relocate the bird.

After lunch, we drove the Box Elder Creek Loop between 96th avenue and 104th avenue.  No Red-headed Woodpeckers or uncommon sparrows were found today.

Our SUV (washed yesterday) was already dirty from gravel roads.  We drove down Gun Club Road south of 112th avenue and relocated one Burrowing Owl.  Burrowing Owls were also relocated at Third Creek & W. Cargo Road and Trussville Road & 114th Avenue.

A Most Enjoyable Day Driving the Roads in Arapahoe, Elbert and Douglas Counties

June 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed a superb day of birding before the afternoon heat.  We explored eastern Arapahoe County, south into Elbert County and returned by way of Douglas County.

At 5:00am when we left home, the temperature was in the low 60s.  Winds were mild until late afternoon when 12+ mph winds brought hot winds.

We drove to Strasburg and headed south on Strasburg Road (Arapahoe CR 157).  Two Dickcissel were heard when we stopped approximately 0.5 miles south of I70.

Another two Dickcissel were found along CR 14, east of CR 157.  Several additional birds were seen and heard when we drove south down Flandin Court (which may be someone's driveway although listed as a county road).

Continuing south we detoured west at CR 30 (Quincy Road), took a quick photo of the Burrowing Owl east of CR 149 and then returned east.

CR 30 dead ends at Bradbury Road (Arapahoe CR 173).  One of the two reported Cassin's Sparrows was on a fence post near the entrance to the Arapahoe County Open Space.

Unfortunately, it flew before we could get a photo.  The bird circled overhead for the next 15 minutes or so and then landed about 20 yards into the property. 

There is no public access to the Open Space.  We stayed around for 30 minutes listening to the bird songs in the cool morning.  Western Meadowlarks, Lark Buntings, Red-winged Blackbirds and a couple of Song Sparrows filled the air with their songs.

Then we turned west, drove down CR 161 and turned east at CR 42.  We stopped at one of my favorite "sweet spots", the cut hill approximately 1.0 miles east of CR 161.

A Northern Mockingbird sang the whole time during our 30 minute stay.  Eventually a second Northern Mockingbird appeared.  A pair of Cassin's Kingbirds also called.  Western Kingbirds were just down the road.

We explored the gravel county road and worked our way west to Kiowa-Bennett Road.  More than a dozen Cassin's Kingbirds and nine Loggerhead Shrikes were encountered.

At Kiowa-Bennett Road, we turned south hoping to find somewhere to eat Breakfast in Kiowa.  At Kiowa we detoured south down Elbert Road to the electric building located 4.1 miles south of Hwy 86.

Two Dickcissels were on telephone wires when we arrived.  We may have heard an additional two birds before returning to Kiowa and going west to Elizabeth.

Breakfast, unfortunately was at the Subway in the Elizabeth Walmart.  Hello Angie, if you knew where you lived, we would have stopped by and said Hi.  She donates some of her great photos to "Colorado Field Notes".

We circled Castlewood Canyon State Park by way of Hwy 83 and Lake Gulch Road.  Both Mountain and Western Bluebirds are using bluebird boxes along Lake Gulch Road.

At least four males and a female Bobolink were observed in the field south of the Winkler Ranch entrance (Douglas County).  We stopped at Hwy 86 and Castlewood Canyon Road.  The short walk down to the bridge found an Eastern Phoebe catching bugs and flying to a nest.  We did see a second Eastern Phoebe north of the bridge.

We detoured the City of Parker by way of back roads and stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A Say's Phoebe was the most interesting bird there.

Burrowing Owls were found at Third Creek & West Cargo Road and at the corner of Trussville and 114th avenue.  I had stopped and washed the SUV near Southland Mall so did not drive the gravel Gun Club Road to check on the Burrowing Owls a mile south of 112th avenue.

It was getting hot; we rushed home for cool digs and a barbecue!

Escaping the Heat in Clear Creek & Summit Counties

June 12, 2017

I lead the CoBus trip to Mt. Evans (Clear Creek) on this wonderful summer day.  Five of us skipped the hot temperatures down in Denver while birding around snow piles on the Mountain.

Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches were observed flying around the north side of Summit Lake.  A few American Pipits and Common Ravens also stopped by for a drink.

We used our SUV as a windscreen and scoped the field below and east of the Summit Lake parking area.  Eventually we spotted a White-tailed Ptarmigan off in the distance!  Richard Berg was not able to walk far; that limited our birding range.

Back at the Echo Lake Campgrounds, we only had to walk about 50 yards before finding a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming on a pine tree. 

A Barrow's Goldeneye continued on Echo Lake.  Broad-tailed Hummingbirds buzzed overhead.  A Lincoln's Sparrow ran across the trail and a Green-tailed Towhee called from the willows. 

Regrettably, I was not able to find a Pine Grosbeak fairly close to our car.  Terry Michaels and I did see one and an additional American Three-toed Woodpecker along the telephone line, west side of Echo Lake.  It was a good 1/2 mile from the parking area.

Later we drove up Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  Unfortunately, no White-tailed Ptarmigan were found.

A stop at a friend's home in Summit County added some nice birds to our trip list: Brown-capped Rosy Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Gray Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, Band-tailed Pigeon, White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, Pine Grosbeaks and one Evening Grosbeak.

Nothing uncommon was at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.  Two Ospreys were found nearby.

Great scenery, good friends and some nice birds, what more can anyone ask for?

Search for the Red-headed Woodpecker at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 11, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After a very hot day yesterday, today felt pleasantly comfortable.  Rebecca and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) in search of the Red-headed Woodpecker sighting. 

We could not find a Red-headed Woodpecker or Eastern Phoebe, which has been reported half a dozen times this spring.

Water levels are quite high at Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake.  No shorebirds and few waterfowl were around.

My broken toe did not allow a hike to the Rod & Gun Club Bird Blind.  Instead, we drove the new Wildlife Loop.

We were watching a Grasshopper Sparrow in the short tree (only tree) on the north side of the Drive, 10 yards west of mile marker 6 when a Bobolink popped up of the taller grasses on the south side of the road.

Two Burrowing Owls were south of the intersection of Havana & 88th avenue.

Later we stopped at the First Creek Trail (Denver).  Putting our thinking caps on, we guess correctly on where the previously reported Barn Owl could be found.  She now has five young.  See Colorado Birding Society's "recent witness photos" link to see a photo

We came back home before it warmed up in the afternoon.

DIA Owl Loop in the Afternoon

June 10, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Mainly rested today, kept my promise to my feet to not put on hiking boots!

I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) late in the afternoon.  Burrowing Owls continue at Third Creek & W. Cargo Road, Trussville Road & 114th and Gun Club Road about a mile south of 112th Avenue.

Did not find any Short-eared Owls this evening.

Looking At the End of Spring Migration on the Eastern Plains

June 7-9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed to the Eastern Plains to catch the end of this Springs bird migration.

June 7

Sleep, who needs it.  Terry Michaels and I headed eastern ward to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).  We enjoyed a terrific birding day.  The best bird was a Black-throated Green Warbler at Hale Ponds.

Other birds were just as exciting three Yellow-billed Cuckoos, two Baltimore Orioles two singing Great Crested Flycatchers a Bell's Vireo all at Hale Ponds.

Another Great Crested Flycatcher was found at the Hale intersection (CR 4 & LL.5) while we searched for additional cuckoos in the tall cottonwoods.  It has been since 7/9/2005 since a Black-billed Cuckoo was found here.  I photographed one here on 6/4/1994.  None was found today.

We walked along the north side of Bonny Reservoir (Highway 385 to east of Foster's Grove Campgrounds) and found another Great Crested Flycatcher, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Baltimore Oriole.  The highlight however was a singing and calling Eastern Meadowlark (first reported by Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons back on May 29.

Two Long-eared Owls, another Baltimore Oriole and two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found along the south side of the Republican River.

We returned to Hale Ponds at dusk and heard a Common Poorwill and Eastern Screech-Owl.  Nothing responded to an Eastern Whip-Poor-will recording.  I have found them within 10 miles of the nearby Colorado/Kansas border.

Finally, we stopped back at Hwy 385 and CR 3.  Three Eastern Screech-Owls were heard within a mile of the intersection! 

Temperatures reached 79 degrees today.  Winds were 8+mph with gusts to 26 mph.  The wind did not aid our birding.

June 8

Terry & I sat near the Yuma County 45 Lek just before sunrise.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens appeared this morning. 

Temperatures reached 82 degrees later in the day.  Anemometer readings were 6-7 mph in the morning; they reached 14mph with gusts to 23 mph in the afternoon.

We visited briefly several birding areas around Wray (Yuma) and then continued north to Holyoke.  Birds recorded: at Wray Fishing Unit: Northern Cardinal & Eastern Phoebe; at Stalker Pond: Baltimore Oriole; at Sandsage Wildlife Area: nothing uncommon.

We enjoyed better success around Holyoke (Phillips).  The highlight of the day was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (singing and good views) at the Holyoke Fishing Pond!

An American Redstart fluttered around the Holyoke City Park. 

A long hike around Frenchman Creek Wildlife Area found only a male Baltimore Oriole.  The pond has been dry for years now.  Our Phillips County shorebird spot is no more.

We wandered around Phillips and Sedgwick Counties searching for such rare sightings as Eastern Meadowlarks and "ammodramus" sparrows.  My only Colorado Sharp-tailed Sparrow sighting was at a private ranch in Sedgwick County on 10/11/2000.  Dan Bridges was the first to suggest this location and offer access!

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening at dusk.  Winds were quite horrible any birds would have been blown to Holyoke.

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard calling from the north side of the reservoir (Logan County).

June 9

Terry Michaels and I spent the day hiking fourteen miles at Tamarack Ranch WLA (Logan).  First, we drove Highway 138 from Jumbo Reservoir to Crook.  Our target bird, an Upland Sandpiper was spotted just west of Crook.

Temperatures reached only 61 degrees today.  Winds were 3-4 mph with an afternoon gust to 15 mph.  What a nice change from previous days!

A drive up CR 95 south of I76 did not find any Greater Prairie-Chickens or Sharp-tailed Grouse at previous locations. 

Then we parked at the north side of the Platte River at Hwy 55, first walked the western sections of the Wildlife Area and continued east to CR 93.  It was a long but successful day.

Highlights included: Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Bell's Vireos, Great Crested Flycatchers, eleven Red-bellied Woodpeckers, four Baltimore Orioles, two Field Sparrows, two Northern Cardinals, a Green Heron and Eastern Screech-Owls at two spots.

Birding Around Estes Park

June 6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I joined Marion and John Warren in Estes Park (Larimer) in the afternoon.  We drove up to Medicine Bow Curve and found one White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Rosy Finches escaped us at Lava Cliffs and Rock Cut pullovers.

We returned to Estes Park and hiked up the Cow Creek Trail.  A Williamson's Sapsucker was found just north of the cabins.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed north of the trail near the stairs (about 0.7 miles west of the trailhead).

At dusk, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard west of the Three-toed Woodpecker sighting.   We continued along the trail and over the Cow Creek trail.  Regrettably, no Flammulated Owls were located.

Another Northern Pygmy-Owl was found at a cabin of a friend who lives south of the YMCA of the Rockies.

At our final stop, back in the Rocky Mountain National Park, a Boreal Owl was found (heard) when we walked the Hidden Valley Road!

Continuing Monitoring Boreal Owl Boxes in Jackson County

June 4-5 into the morning of the 6th, 2017

Richard Stevens:

On June 4th and 5th, I finished monitoring my Boreal Owl nesting boxes in and around the Colorado State Forest (Jackson).  This year 129 boxes yielded successful nesting at two boxes.  American Kestrels used two additional boxes and squirrels occupied three boxes.

The weather cooperated nicely.  Temperatures averaged 56 degrees.  Surprisingly anemometer readings stayed between 4 & 9 mph.  That is quite rare for the Colorado State Forest especially at night.

Return to Jackson County By Way of DIA Owl Loop

June 3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The temperatures on the foothills only reached 75 degrees today.  Winds were measured at 6 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

I circled Adams/Denver County on my trip to Gould.  A Red-headed Woodpecker was at Boxelder Creek and 96th avenue.  No additional woodpeckers were found at 104th avenue.  Zero Cassin's Sparrows were found in the area.

A Ferruginous Hawk along 56th avenue provided for some nice photos.  While a Common Nighthawk perched on a telephone wire just west of Piggott and 114th avenue.

I did not find the reported Great Crested Flycatcher at hwy 36 and hwy 70. Nor did I find the Mountain Plover along CR 38 (piggott road) between 160 & 144th avenues.

Taking Pennock Pass Road back to Gould, several stops were made to listen for Flammulated Owls.  I found a single owl at two different stops!

Return to Denver By Way of Frank Wildlife Area

June 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

With our monthly CoBus meeting scheduled for Saturday night near Walden, I regrettably needed to return to Denver for an emergency.  A detour home went close to Frank Wildlife Area (Larimer) and I made a quick stop.

Good news, bad news; the good news was that I was able to get half a dozen witness shots of the Black Phoebe within 15 minutes.  The bird was on the south side of the River originally approximately 50 yards east of the County Road 13 Bridge over the Poudre River.

The bad news, while waiting for a better photo a warbler decided he wanted every willow limb upon which the Black Phoebe perched.  The warbler chased the Black Phoebe off limbs four times.  Then the phoebe flew about 150 yards upstream of the River.  Although as a result, I was able to see the Black Phoebe in both Larimer and Weld Counties!

Somewhat good news, the warbler was a male Black-throated Gray Warbler.  It was an interesting exchange and my only birding of the day.

While looking for the Phoebe, I did see a beautiful male Orchard Oriole, Eastern Kingbird and Western Kingbirds.

Oops almost forgot, a Dickcissel was near the alfalfa field within a quarter mile west of Weld County Roads 50 & 17.

Monitoring Boreal Owl Nesting Boxes in Jackson County

May 29 to June 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

We started my Boreal Owl nesting box monitoring in Jackson County.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Hike In Rocky Mountain Arsenal

May 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I walked the Rod and Gun Club trail at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Finally, we had a day without rain.  Tempertures reached 73 degrees; winds were 5-6 mph.

The four mile hike provided some interesting birds.  The highlights were a Tennessee Warbler near the final trailhead, a Red-eyed Vireo near the bird blind and an American Redstart fluttering about the cottonwoods north of the blind.

Other birds included Lark, Song, White-crowned, Chipping & one Brewer's Sparrow, Western & Eastern Kingbirds, Bullock's Orioles, Western Wood-pewees and a flyover Prairie Falcon.

A detour to Havana Ponds added another mile to the hike but few birds.  There was plenty of water but no shorebirds.

We drove the new wildlife drive and found two Burrowing Owls.  I was looking for Swamp Sparrows at the cattail field at the bridge and heard a Virginia Rail.  Unfortunately, the ranger came by and pointed out that we were not supposed to get out of the vehicle.  Now I know.

Later we drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  More people than we have seen this year were scattered around the Park.  That did not encourage us to stay.

A drive through the model airplane loop found an adult male Great-tailed Grackle feeding a young bird.  Scoping the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands did not find the previously reported Green Heron.

We stopped for a short walk along the First Creek Trail and missed finding the resident Barn Owls for about the ninth trip.

Burrowing Owls continue along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Birding In Denver and Adams Counties

May 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

At sunrise, I entered the Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) to search for the Worm-eating Warbler reported yesterday.  By the way, as I guessed, the gate was not open as stated at sunrise.  Instead, I parked on the west side of the Park and walked in through the open fence.

My plan was to do just that as the Worm-eating Warbler had been reported in the southwest corner of the property.  In addition, my broken toe was not keen on making a long hike.

I watched over the southwest corner of the lake/park for about half an hour.  No warblers were observed or heard.  Plenty of Red-winged Blackbirds were singing and Mourning Doves flying around.  Many Red-necked Phalaropes are presently reported around Colorado; none was on Bluff Lake.

Walking up the west side of the lake, I hoped the warbler had wandered north during the night.  However, it was never found.  A pair of Yellow Warblers flew around catching bugs in the cottonwoods (just west of the western bench high up on the hill).

Having made it that far, I decided to continue around the lake.  My toe did not start to complain until more or less half way around (and too late).

A Northern Waterthrush was heard below the northern trail where the only willow is hanging over the trail.  It took a good twenty minutes before I obtained respectable looks at the skulking bird. 

A thrush in the same area also gave me fits.  First glances indicated that it was not a Swainson's Thrush.  It took another twenty minutes or so to see enough of the bird to rule out a Gray-cheeked Thrush; it was a Hermit Thrush.

A Warbling Vireo moved about the cottonwoods on the eastern side of the lake.  A Lincoln's Sparrow and several Common Yellowthroats popped in and out of the willows.

A Western Wood-pewee hawked insects back at the southern side of the lake and the small retention pond.  I briefly thought the song of a Worm-eating Warbler was heard in the woods north of the retention pond.  However, I would not record or report that it was there.

If anyone came and looked for the warbler later, I heard no report that is was found.

My walking was done for the day; I was glad to get back at my car! 

In the afternoon, a drive east of DIA Airport did not add any interesting birds to my day list.  I did search for returning flycatchers and Red-headed Woodpeckers at last year's sites along Box Elder Creek at 96th & 104th avenues.

Birding Douglas County

May 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and headed south to Douglas County late in the morning.  Afternoon rains accompanied by small golf ball sized hail did not enhance our birding.

We stopped at the Parker Water Treatment Plant where two White-rumped Sandpipers were reported yesterday only to find that the area is not open to the public.  A special bird trip had found the shorebirds.

A stop at Salisbury Equestrian Park did not find the previously reported Cassin's Kingbird.  We sat until the rain stopped and walked from the ball field parking area to the pond.  No shorebirds were around today.  A male MacGillivray's Warbler flying along the shore was a nice consolation.

We inspected the riparian area east of the ball fields and found a young male American Redstart high in the trees.  A Swainson's Thrush stayed close to the ground.

Our next stop was Castlewood Canyon State Park (also Douglas County).  No Ovenbirds were found today along the Creek side Trail.  An empidonax flycatcher was below the broken dam.  It did not call; it was not the Least Flycatcher we found days ago.

Three male and a female Bobolink were in the meadow south of the Winkler Ranch entrance.  Both Mountain and Western Bluebirds were inspecting bluebird boxes.

A Cordilleran Flycatcher and several Spotted Towhees were on the hillside west of the Ranch.  Three Wild Turkeys wander across Castlewood Canyon Road just north of the Ranch entrance. 

We listened for Northern Saw-whet Owls after sunset; none was heard.  A Common Poorwill did call making a nice ending to our birding afternoon.

Owling Trip

May 22-25, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I went back out for some additional owling.  Along the way, we hoped to add some uncommon birds to our county lists.  Owling outlooks were up in the air; rain was predicted for most afternoons.

In my experience, thunderstorms cause owls to be quiet even after the rain and thunder stop for the afternoon.  Fortunately, storms did not arrive every night.

May 22

We started south and stopped at Fountain Creek Regional Park (El Paso).  Several birders had zeroed in on the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  After several nice looks, we continued south.

Clear Spring Ranch (El Paso) was quiet.  None of the eight Northern Waterthrushes that had been banded this spring could be found.  A Red-headed Woodpecker was our consolation.

The Grace's Warbler at Cheyenne Mountain Park (El Paso) was singing when we arrived at the gps waypoint.  So far, our luck was quite good.

A detour to Green Mountain Falls (Teller) added two Band-tailed Pigeons to our trip list.  The yards just north of the falls are one of the better locations to find them in late spring.

A great bonus surprised us.  A storm rolling in from the west brought low clouds.  A lone Black Swift flew below the clouds and over the falls.

Rain was quite heavy when we arrived in Woodland Park (Teller).  Owling appeared to be nonexistent this evening and we retired early.

May 23

Getting up about two hours before sunrise, we headed north to Manitou Experimental Forest.  In the past, Flammulated and Northern Pygmy-Owls have been found around the Campgrounds.  Regrettably, none was there this morning.

We enjoyed better success at the Experimental Forest.  Two Flammulated Owls responded to our recordings.  After sunrise, we returned to the Campgrounds to pick up the "owl listening stations" that were planted.  Note: the stations did not pick out any owls this morning.

To escape another thunderstorm rolling in from the west, we continued up Rampart Range Road to Highway 67.  A two hour hike around the intersection found a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers. 

A Red-eyed Vireo just east of the intersection was a surprise. I made a note to investigate if there is a possibility that they nest in the area.

Note: No Red-eyed Vireo nesting records are shown for southern Jefferson & Douglas Counties in the "Colorado Bird Breeding Atlas" 1998.  Northern Custer County to the south and southwestern El Paso County to the southeast have confirmed records, as do northern Jefferson & Douglas Counties.  Accessibility and studies in the southern areas are perhaps quite limited.

After sunset, we found a Northern Pygmy-Owl southeast of the Hwy 67/Rampart Range Road intersection (Douglas).   Two additional Northern Pygmy-Owls were picked up by two of our three "owl listening stations" that were placed along Hwy 67.

May 24

Our plan today was to make a series of stops along Hwy 67 to look for nesting records.  Then after sunset, set up "owl listening stations" and continue owling along the South Platte River.

Late in the afternoon and again after a rain shower we found three Northern Pygmy-Owls (Sugar Creek & Hwy 67) and two Northern Saw-whet Owls (one each Sugar Creek & Hwy 67).  Flammulated Owls should have been in the area; none was found.

May 25

Getting a few hours sleep after dawn, our birding day started late.  Our daylight birding centered around Cheesman Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).

Eventually three American Three-toed Woodpeckers, a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers, and another Red-eyed Vireo were found in Jefferson County.  One Three-toed Woodpecker and an Olive-sided Flycatcher were found in Douglas County.

Another Three-toed Woodpecker was found along Stony Pass Road near Wigwam Campgrounds.  In past years both Lewis's Woodpeckers and Red-headed Woodpeckers have also been found in the area however not today.

We left the rest of Stony Pass Road and Goose Pass Road for another time and drove north up Deckers Road (Hwy 97).  Instead, we detoured over to Pine Valley Ranch Park set up several "owl listening stations" and walked Buffalo Creek.

Northern Pygmy-Owls were found along Buffalo Creek and at the lower parking lot for Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).

Two hours before sunrise, we parked at the larger parking area for Reynolds Park (Jefferson).  Two Northern Pygmy-Owls were eventually found while we hiked Foxton Road.  One Northern Saw-whet Owl briefly responded to our recordings.  Just before sunrise, a Common Poorwill called from the northern side of Foxton Road.

After a couple of hours of sleep, we hiked the six mile loop at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  Western Bluebirds, Western Wood-pewees, a couple of empidonax flycatchers and Common Yellowthroats have returned to the park.

We set up our "owl listening stations" around Wellington Lake.  We then hiked back down CR 560.  A Northern Goshawk was a nice surprise about 1/4 mile south of the Lake.

Later we explored both Green Mountain and Meadows Campgrounds.  One Dusky Grouse was at Green Mountain.  No owls were detected. 

After midnight, our final owl of the trip was a Flammulated Owl encountered along CR 560.  They have nested in the area for the past six years since I found the spot (most likely many years before).

Monday, May 22, 2017

Return to Weld & Adams Counties

May 21, 2017

Rebecca and I went to visit a friend's ranch in Weld County this morning.  Mountain Plovers have nested in the past.  Today we could only find one plover.  A pair of Long-eared Owls is nesting in the windbreak 60 yards from the ranch house.

On the drive home, we stopped at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  No owls were found; however, we did relocate the Gray-cheeked Thrush and Chestnut-sided Warbler that Terry Michaels and I found yesterday.

In the afternoon, I drove over to Barr Lake (Adams).  My hike was from the Visitor's Center footbridge to the western end of the Niedrach boardwalk, back to the footbridge and continued to mile 8.0, not far from the boat ramp.

None of the birds reported earlier in the day were relocated.  The bird population today was much different from my visit two days ago.  Western Kingbird numbers were significantly lower, as were Western Wood-pewee numbers.

A few interesting birds were encountered.  A male Black-headed Grosbeak was in the cottonwoods at mile 8.85.  A Blackpoll Warbler popped out of the thickets while I watched the grosbeak.

They were the only uncommon sightings recorded to mile 8.0.  On the return trek, I was thinking that all the thrushes found Friday had moved on.  Then a Veery scurried out of the underbrush at mile 8.05.

One Yellow-rumped Warbler and just a couple of Yellow Warblers were the only warblers found today.  Winds picked up around 5:00 pm; fifteen minutes later the skies opened up.  A downpour ensued and I was 1/2 mile from my SUV.

After the rain stopped, I walked from the old stone house (mile 6.0) to the southern end of the dam.  Two Yellow Warblers were the only birds found.  One of the Long-eared Owls was found in the trees along the eastern canal.

Weld County to Lakewood, Jefferson County

May 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the middle 60s today.  Winds were less than 6 mph.

Terry Michaels and I headed to Weld County.  A quick stop at Barr Lake relocated the Gray-cheeked Thrush at mile 8.05 and one of the Barn Owls.

We spent an hour at a friend's ranch in Weld County looking for Mountain Plover.  One was found a week ago; we still did not find a mate or evidence of nesting.

A hike down the southern side of Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) from Ponds four to one was successful.  A Chestnut-sided Warbler fluttered around a Russian Olive Tree.  Farther south a Gray-cheeked Thrush was walking under an evergreen tree.  A Long-eared Owl was again in the western windbreak.

After dropping Terry off, I decided to jump in the traffic and drive to the western side of Denver and Main Reservoir.  It took an hour; finally, the Hooded Warbler was heard briefly singing along the south side of the reservoir.  It stayed low to the ground and in the grove of trees and bushes 50 yards west of the stream & grouse west of the parking area.

I photographed a Red-eyed Vireo at the western side of the same grove.  Several times, it flew to the little cottonwood just to the west.

Many Yellow Warblers, Western Wood-pewees and a Warbling Vireo were also around.

Then I rushed to a Colorado Birding Society meeting where I had tonight's presentation.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Stretching My Legs at Barr Lake

May 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Again, to stretch my legs after many miles in a car, I walked around Barr Lake (Adams) late in the afternoon.  Few birds were found although Western Kingbirds, Western Wood-pewees, Bullock's Orioles have returned.

The highlight was a Northern Waterthrush off the western end of the Niedrach Boardwalk Trail.

No uncommon warblers or Baltimore Oriole (my target bird) were found.

Southeastern Trip for Migrants

May 16-17, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed southeast to explore Colorado's spring migration and do some owling.  A snowstorm hit Colorado in the middle of our trip, delaying our projected return.

May 16
Our trek started eastward along I70 and then turned south.  We again searched for the Lesser Nighthawk (possible first Kit Carson County record) at Flagler Reservoir; without success.  Far lesser consolation sightings included a Northern Waterthrush and Black-headed Grosbeak.  We missed the Eastern Towhee reported May 19, perhaps not yet around today.

We also missed the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Painted Bunting reported a few days earlier at Kit Carson (Cheyenne).  Only a Black-and-white Warbler could be found by us (near school and site of Painted Bunting 5/12).

In the Arriba area (Lincoln), we relocated a Mountain Plover along County Road 3F, west of CR 43.

Our target bird for the day was the Black-throated Sparrow at Setchfield Wildlife Area (first Bent County record to be).

We spent the night camping at the Picture Canyon parking area (Baca)

May 17
A hike down Picture Canyon and North Canyon found the two Painted Buntings, an Eastern Phoebe, two Northern Mockingbirds and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows.  The Vermilion Flycatcher that was reported to us four days ago in North Canyon was not found.  Greater Roadrunners were seen at the entrance to Picture Canyon on our way out.

Nothing uncommon could be found at the Upland Bird Management Area (Baca).

Cassin's and Western Kingbirds have returned to Cottonwood Canyon and Furnish Canyon (Baca).  Inclement weather cut our birding short today.

May 18
We did manage to find the male Vermilion Flycatcher in Furnish Canyon (Baca) today.  Other sightings in Furnish Canyon included a Gray Flycatcher and more surprising a Great Crested Flycatcher.  Owling after dark included two Western Screech-Owls and two Northern Saw-whet Owls. 

May 19
We were up early and added two Northern Saw-whet Owls and three Western Screech-Owls (captured on our "owl listening stations") at a private ranch in Las Animas County.  Another pair of Eastern Phoebes and eight Cassin's Kingbirds were also around.  The highlight was definitely a male Hepatic Tanager inspecting a ponderosa pine tree.

A Day at Castlewood Canyon

May 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the high 70s today.  By afternoon, winds were 16-17 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

I arrived at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) around 5:00 am and left at 4:00 pm.  The day of hiking was quite enjoyable.

No Northern Saw-whet Owls were found today.  I eventually hiked the Homestead Trail and Creek Bottom Trail to the broken Dam.  From there I turned east and hiked the Inner Canyon Trail to the Canyon View Nature Trail to Hwy 83.

On the return trip, I walked to the northern end of the Rimrock Trail but had to return the same route.  There was no way down to Cherry Creek from the Rimrock Trail.  I had never been on this trail before.  It was interesting but not worth a birding hike.

I returned to Homestead site by way of Castlewood Canyon Road.  Mostly took this route to explore additional habitats.

Highlights were an Ovenbird and Least Flycatcher along the Creek Bottom Trail.

My bird list was 68 species (usually I do not count total species; perhaps I will do so in the future):

Canada Goose, Wood Duck - pair, Mallard - pair, Double-crested Cormorant - (flyover), Bald Eagle - (flyover), Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Ring-billed Gull , Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove , Common Nighthawk - 1, Black-chinned Hummingbird - (male), Broad-tailed Hummingbird - (male), Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Least Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Plumbeous Vireo, Western Scrub-Jay, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Chihuahuan Raven, Horned Lark, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Canyon Wren, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Mountain Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ovenbird, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Brewer's Blackbird, Common Grackle, Bullock's Oriole, Pine Grosbeak, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Afterwards I drove down to the Winkler Ranch and found Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds, Wild Turkeys and two male Bobolink.  A Grasshopper Sparrow stopped on a fence post while I was trying to listen for Dickcissel.

Misses: any owls, uncommon warblers such as Prairie Warbler (summered in June 2008).

At 4:30, I parked at Hwy 86 and Castlewood Canyon Road and walked under the hwy 86 bridge.  I turned around at the large cottonwood grove about 1/2 miles north of the bridge.

Nothing uncommon was encountered.  The Great Horned Owl nest was empty.  Was she successful in raising a family or just abandoned the nest, do not know?

On the way back to my car, I observed an Eastern Phoebe in the dark barked cottonwood just south of the hwy 86 bridge.

Walk Along the Barr Lake Trail

May 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I hiked at Barr Lake (Adams) to stretch my legs after a long drive this morning.  My broken toe only allowed a walk from mile 0.0 (9.0 Visitor's Center footbridge) to the west end of the Niedrach boardwalk trail, and east to mile 8.6 (Osprey platform nest).

Many common summering birds are back: Say's Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Wren - (dozens), Western Kingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Hermit Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler - (dozen), Yellow-rumped Warbler - (many dozens), MacGillivray's Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Western Tanager, Green-tailed Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Black-headed Grosbeak, Bullock's Oriole

Misses: no uncommon warblers, although a Northern Waterthrush at the western end of the Niedrach trail was the highlight of the walk; no Baltimore Orioles (usually see one every year in the second half of day, perhaps too early to today).

Last Grouse Trip

May 8-14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Mike and Linda Stephenson joined my last grouse tour of spring, 2017.  It was their honeymoon.  Quite a way to celebrate, many days of little sleep and hours on the road.  Sporadic weather hit Colorado during the week.  For the most part, we were fortunate to miss major snowstorms and thunderstorms.

May 8
Our first stop was Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) in search of White-tailed Ptarmigan.  It took several hours before one was found.  One Ptarmigan was finally found under the evergreen trees east of Hwy 9 (while we parked at the first pullover south of the summit).

A stop at a friend's home in Silverthorne (Summit) added Rosy Finches (no Black) to our day.  Many mountain species were also there: White-breasted Nuthatches, Pygmy Nuthatches, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Clark's Nutcrackers and Common Ravens.

The "eastern" route was taken to the Grouse Leks in Jackson County.  A stop at Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand) found ten Barrow's Goldeneye among a dozen Common Goldeneyes.  A few California Gulls, American White Pelicans and waterfowl that are more common were also seen.  Misses: the Fox Sparrow reported a few days later was not found.

We stopped at the entrance road to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge self-driving tour (Jackson).  Scoping the sagebrush covered hills added a Sage Thrasher to our trip list.

Our birding day ended at the Jackson County Road 26b Lek.  Eventually forty nine Greater Sage-Grouse emerged from the sagebrush and visited the lek.  We all were entertained by their ritual mating dances.

May 9
An hour before sunrise we drove to the 80 Route Leks (Routt).  The male Dusky Grouse did not disappoint.  Just before sunrise, we emerged from the bushes at the 2nd cattle guard and displayed.  Regrettably, no female appeared and he disappeared back into the brush.

Several Greater Sage-Grouse were observed on the hillside farther up north.  Eight Sharp-tailed Grouse scurried around their lek near the old Jimmy Dunn Gulch State Trust Lands.

Then we rushed over to the 20 Road Leks.  Three Sharp-tailed Grouse were displaying across from the old metal gate (see directions on Colorado Birding Society's website: http://coloradobirdingsociety.net)

After breakfast, we headed to the Oxbow State Trust Lands (Moffat).  The lands are closed during grouse nesting season; however, our target birds could be found by scoping from the parking area.  Sage Thrashers sang quite close to us.  Two Sagebrush Sparrows were found within 20 yards of the parking area.  A Black-throated Sparrow popped up on a bush and sang for a bit.

Fortune shined and we saw one Chukar across from the 2nd pipe gate (and parking area) at Coal Canyon.  Half a dozen Black-throated Sparrows, two Pinyon Jays, three calling Rock Wrens and an unidentified flycatcher were added to our trip list.

Then we drove up the Grand Mesa (Mesa).  We relocated the Northern Saw-whet Owl that has nested in the same territory for three years now.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called from the south side of the Powderhorn Ski Area entrance.  Eventually three Boreal Owls were encountered when we drove south to the Visitor's Center.

May 10
We decided to not drive the length of the Colorado National Monument but only visit the southern (eastern) end (Mesa).  Half a dozen Gambel's Quail were running around the subdivision just outside of the entrance. 

We walked down the Devil's Kitchen trail located just inside the entrance.  No Black-chinned Sparrows were found or reported this year.  Our interesting birds included two Black-throated Gray Warblers, three Black-throated Sparrows, a Gray Vireo, Gray Flycatcher, six Pinyon Jays and an Ash-throated Flycatcher.  It was a good stop!

Our next drive was more interesting!  A drive up Brewster's Ridge added a Sagebrush Sparrow, Sage Thrasher and Long-eared Owl.  The highlight of the day was a male Scott's Oriole.  We believed it to be the first reported in 2017.

We ended our birding day with a drive up the Uncompahgre Plateau (Mesa).  Our target bird was a Flammulated Owl.  It was early in the season and the road was not in tiptop shape.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found in one of the nesting boxes shown to me about four years ago.  Not far from there, we heard a Flammulated Owl.  The owl ended a superb day of birding!

After dark, we made the long drive to Cortez.  This time of year, we did not miss much in the way of birding.

May 11
Our birding day started at Yellow Jacket Canyon (Montezuma).  The two hour hike was well worth the effort.  Two Lucy's Warblers, our main target bird, were easily found.  One sang quite nicely.  A male Summer Tanager was a surprise; however, they have been found here in the past.  Other sightings include a Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Black-throated Sparrows.

On the way back to Durango, a detour to Wildcat Canyon (La Plata) found two Acorn Woodpeckers.  A walk around the Huck Finn Pond in Durango found our Lewis's Woodpecker for the trip!

Our great success so far, made a detour to John James Canyon (Conejos) for Sagebrush Sparrows, Black-throated Sparrows and Black-throated Gray Warblers unnecessary.  Instead, we headed back north.  A stop at Haviland Lake Wildlife Area (La Plata) was productive.  A Grace's Warbler fluttered about the parking area.  A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers also flew by.

About two hours before sunset, we arrived at Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  White-throated Swifts flew around below the Visitor's Center.  A pair of Pine Grosbeaks perched in a tree at the northwest corner of the building.  Spotted Towhees, one Slate-colored Fox Sparrow and one Green-tailed Towhee were nice additions to our day.

With time to spare, we hiked to the western overlook.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called briefly; unfortunately, it could not be found.

Two male Dusky Grouse appeared along the South Rim Road just before sunset.  They confidently walked along the side of the road, just east of the speed limit sign east of the western parking area.  One of them was lucky when a female emerged from the thickets!

May 12
An hour before sunrise we drove to the Waunita Hot Springs lek.  Only one Gunnison Sage-Grouse made an appearance.  One is better than none; the season must be winding down?

We stopped at the Monarch Pass Summit Pullover (Chaffee) on our trek east.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers drummed on the pines.  No females were seen.  Four Gray-crowned Rosy Finches flew briefly around the bunker.

Buena Vista was skipped (Pinyon Jay and Lewis's Woodpecker sites) and we continued to Canon City (Fremont).  A quick drive down the Swallows Road (Pueblo West) found a Curve-billed Thrasher and two Scaled Quail.

We had to detour to Mineral Palace Park (Pueblo).  Fortunately, the Yellow-throated Warbler was singing as we stopped!  Beautiful bird, we did not have much time to spend looking at it (only five minutes).

At La Junta, we turned south and headed to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  A Mountain Plover and Long-billed Curlew were observed along County Road 10 between CR R & CR U.  After dark, we found a Western Screech-Owl in Cottonwood Canyon.

May 13
An hour before sunrise, we watched two Lesser Prairie-Chickens at a lek on the Comanche National Grasslands (Baca). Later we walked up the gravel road running north from the Campo Lek off CR G.  It is a great "sparrow" road in spring.  The sparrow count included two Cassin's, one Clay-colored, two Brewer's, more than a dozen Vesper, many White-crowned and one Song.

Our return to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) found three Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a Black-and-white Warbler, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, two Eastern Phoebes and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 

A stop at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) added a Barn Owl and Yellow-throated Vireo to our trip list.

Lamar Community College (Prowers) added a Red-bellied Woodpecker & two Northern Cardinals.

Venturing into Lincoln County, a Mountain Plover was relocated along County Road 3F, west of CR 43.  A Chestnut-collared Longspur and several McCown's Longspurs were not far away from the Plover spot.

Great-tailed Grackles and Common Grackles were found in Burlington (Kit Carson) behind the Day's Inn.

An hour before sunset we drove in Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area by way of CR 3.  Eight Wild Turkeys and an Eastern Phoebe were seen before reaching Foster's Grove Campgrounds.  An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to a recording played between the Campgrounds and Hwy 385!

May 14
Linda was getting tired as all of us were.  We watched three Greater Prairie-Chickens at the Yuma County Road 45 Lek and decided to head back to Denver.  I believe we had found almost all of our target birds.

Two Eastern Bluebirds fluttered about Stalker Ponds (Yuma).  A male Baltimore Oriole was at the Wray Fishing Unit. No Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was around the Wray Hospital today.

A quick stop at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) found an Olive-sided Flycatcher. We could not find the Lesser Nighthawk reported yesterday.  It will turn out to be a first Kit Carson County record.  Lesser Nighthawks have been recorded farther north in Yuma County.

That stop ended my last Grouse Trip of 2017!  Great friends and good birds!

Afternoon Visit to Cherry Creek State Park

May 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe County).  A male Black-chinned Hummingbird had returned to the hillside and neighborhood east of the ranger's office.

One of the Long-eared Owls continues in the thickets along the Shooting Range entrance.  A Great Horned Owl called somewhere to the south.  A dusk, we observed a Short-eared Owl flying over the cattail fields west of Cherry Creek, both sides of Lake View Road.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Driving Eastern Arapahoe Roads

May 6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures soared to a record 86 degrees today.  Winds were 18-20 mph with gusts to 31 mph.  In the afternoon thunderstorms rapidly blew in from the west.  Just as quickly, they disappeared.

I drove the eastern Arapahoe County roads to see what goodies may have been blown into the County.  Nothing uncommon was found.  I checked many of the spots that had interesting birds last year.

I stopped at Coal Creek Regional Park (Arapahoe) where Chris Goulart reported a Northern Waterthrush this morning.  I did not find the warbler in a two hour search.  I met a nice guy who volunteers to watch over the property.  He was recruited to keep an eye out for uncommon birds.

A dozen or so Lark Buntings flew around CR 161 between CR 30 & CR 42.

One Cassin's Kingbird was among the eleven Western Kingbirds found today.  It was in the grove of trees east of Arapahoe County Road 161 and CR 42.  Four Western Kingbirds were also in the area.

No birds flew around the small grove of trees about a mile east of the same intersection.  Last summer a pair of Northern Mockingbirds nested there.

No birds were found in the riparian area lining West Bijou Creek crosses CR 42.  A Burrowing Owl returned to the prairie dog town along CR 30 about half a mile east of CR 149.

A drive down CR 129 to Orchard and back found one Loggerhead Shrike in the area where Dickcissels spent last summer.

Along the drive two Grasshopper Sparrows, three Lark Sparrows, two Brewer's Sparrows and two Song Sparrows were encountered.

A Grasshopper Sparrow was the only bird of note along the Jewell-Yale Loop.

At 6:00 pm, Rebecca and I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on our way to dinner.  We sat for an hour at the upper parking area for the northeastern boat ramp.  The Northern Parula did not appear.

NOTE: I would ask: did anyone see the Northern Parula after two female birders played tapes for quite awhile attract the bird?

A quite loud speedboat zipped back and forth below the hill.  We were entertained when first, the engine died several times and then the boat sank!  We watched the two guys with beers in hand sink with the boat and then swim toward shore where another boat picked them up.

Birding Weld, Adams & Denver Counties

May 5, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 76 degrees under partly cloudy skies.  Winds were 7-8 mph with an occasional gust to 11 mph.

Terry Michaels and I birded Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) in the morning.  Public access to the northern lakes is closed until July 16.  We walked the eastern side of the southern lakes then birded the western windbreak on the trip back.

American Robins were the majority bird.  One Spotted Towhee, a few Dark-eyed Juncos and a dozen White-crowned Sparrows fluttered about the eastern trail.

On the return trip, we relocated the Palm Warbler found by Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons on Wednesday.  A Barn Owl gave us a brief look.

Later in the afternoon, I drove to Barr Lake (Adams) on my own.  No uncommon birds were encountered.  Several first of the season birds for me at Barr Lake were found. 

The only warbler of the hike from the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 0.0/9.0) to the boat ramp (mile 7.8) was a female Yellow-rumped Warbler at mile 8.6.  A Spotted Towhee and Hermit Thrush were in the same area.

A young male Bullock's Oriole was a little farther east.  Just east of him a male Western Tanager appeared.  A Swainson's Thrush was found east of the banding station.

An Osprey lay on the platform nest while a second bird perched in a nearby tree.  On the return walk I added a MacGillivray's Warbler, male Yellow Warbler, Barn Owl White-crowned Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Flickers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and Brewer's Blackbirds.

From the Visitor's Center footbridge to 0.5 miles westward a Say's Phoebe, Green-tailed Towhee and female Black-headed Grosbeak were observed.

The birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver); no Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Burrowing Owls were found: two at W. Cargo Road & Third Creek, two along Gun Club Road about a mile south of 112th avenue and two at Trussville Road & 114th avenue.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir to Aurora Reservoir to Eastern Arapahoe County

May 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I dropped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) early in the morning.  Shortly thereafter, the Northern Parula popped out of the wild plum bushes near the northeastern boat ramp upper parking area.

I walked down to Pelican Point to see what shorebirds remained.  The count was zero.

On the walk down an interesting sparrow was observed walking along the cattails.  In total, it was viewed for four to six minutes.  It also for a brief twenty seconds hopped up to a willow.

My first thought was a Clay-colored Sparrow in the shadows.  It was quickly ruled out because the bird had thick stripes on breast and flanks on a background of buffy color.

The bird had a well-defined facial pattern.  When it entered direct sunlight, I could see a buffy face with grayish lores but not cheeks and small bill.  My thoughts turned to a possible Sharp tailed Sparrow except the bird lacked a gray cheek and the stripes were well defined.

Grasshopper Sparrow was ruled out again because of the strong stripes on the breast and flanks and the buffy eye line and moustachial stripes.  It lacked a gray eye line.

When the Le Conte's Sparrow turned, I observed the white edged tertials (not seen on Sharp-tailed, Grasshopper or Baird's.  The facial pattern did not come close to a Baird's Sparrow.

I knew I was in trouble when it was labeled a Le Conte's Sparrow.  I enjoy finding uncommon birds; however, this one was quite out of range.  However, it is not the first Arapahoe County Le Conte's Sparrow (South Platte Park, 11/17/1999).  There has also been an Adams County record (East Gravel Lakes, 12/21/2005).  No Boulder or Weld County records.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the poles lining the southwest marina.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull reported yesterday was not among them.  .  I could only pick out one Bonaparte's Gull. 

I called Terry Michaels and we searched for 1.5 hours without relocating the sparrow.  We could not figure a way to get the bird to emerge from the cattails.

On my way home, I stopped Aurora Reservoir for several hours.  The four White-winged Scoters were south of the scuba cove.  The Common Loon and Greater Scaup found on Tuesday were not relocated.

I detoured home by way of the Eastern Arapahoe County gravel roads.  Nothing uncommon was found.  I did see one Grasshopper Sparrow (CR 129).

Barbecue at Home

May 3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I kept my promise to my feet to not put them in shoes today.  Had a nice relaxing barbecue on the porch!

A Bald Eagle flew over; a nice yard bird!