Friday, December 29, 2017

Searching for Owls in Weld County

December 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and drove the roads northeast of Hudson today; our target bird was Snowy Owl(s).  Regrettably, none was found. Temperatures reached 64 degrees today.  Winds were 12 mph with gusts to 29 mph (several topped 40 mph).

On Terry's way to our home he stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  He relocated the two Long-tailed Ducks, two White-winged Scoters and one Lesser Black-backed Gull. 

A stop at a friend's ranch near Peaceful Valley found the two resident Long-eared Owls.  He has seen a Barn Owl around his property; we did not relocate it today.

Our birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  We added a third Long-eared Owl sighting to our day.  Two Great Horned Owls called in the distance.  No Short-eared Owls appeared.

Jackson County & the Eleventh CoBus Christmas Count

December 27-28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

December 28

Before heading back to Denver, Terry Michaels and I went into the Colorado State Forest.  We found two additional Boreal Owls.

The male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found north of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center and Hwy 14.

Rebecca Kosten and I returned by way of Fort Collins.  A detour to Rawhide Reservoir (Larimer) relocated the three Trumpeter Swans.

Temperatures reached 38 degrees at Briggsdale.  Anemometer readings were 7 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

A brief walk around Crow Valley Campgrounds (Weld) found a Common Redpoll north of the group picnic area.  Missed: any Long-eared Owls at Briggsdale Cemetery or the Work Station.  No Eastern Screech-Owls were found in the Campgrounds.

We timed our trip to be around Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) about an hour before sunset.  A Short-eared Owl was found north of Lower Latham Reservoir (along CR 51).  Later a second Short-eared Owl was observed flying over the cattails south of Lower Latham Reservoir.

December 27

The eleventh CoBus sponsored Colorado State Forest Christmas Count was conducted today.  Sixth birders and eight feeder watchers participated.  The feeder watchers contributed most of the numbers!  Temperatures only reached 34 degrees.  Winds were 13 mph with gusts to 23 mph.  Several gusts just after midnight on Cameron Pass reached 36 mph.

Several of us searched for owls shortly after midnight.  One Boreal Owl was found just west of the Cameron Pass summit (restroom pullover).  Another was relocated south of the Crags Campgrounds.

Before sunrise, we drove outside the Christmas Count circle and found one Greater Sage-Grouse walking along Jackson County Road 26, then returned to the count circle.

Terry Michaels and Sue Ehlmann spent several hours inside the count circle searching for a Greater Sage-Grouse for the count.  Eventually they did find one!

Many birds visited the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Unfortunately, none was Rosy Finches.  The best birds were a pair of Pine Grosbeaks and half a dozen Evening Grosbeaks.


Boreal Owls (4)
Long-eared Owl 
American Dipper (unusual find in winter)
Greater Sage-Grouse (1)
Common Redpoll (1)
Rosy Finches (531 Gray-crowned, 4 Black Rosy, 89 Brown-capped)

Totals: 51 species  (complete list on January 2018 "Colorado Field Notes")

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

First Creek Trail, Aurora Reservoir & Smoky Hill Village

December 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Wow, it got up to 11 degrees today!  Definitely, a nippy day, I did not go out until the afternoon.  Winds were 2-3 mph with gusts to 9 mph.  If the wind was any stronger, it could have been real nasty day.

Once again, I missed the Harris's Sparrow along the First Creek Trail (Denver County).  Others are finding it; perhaps I will on my next trip.

On the way to Centennial to search for a Pine Warbler, I made a brief stop at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Temperature was 5 degrees at 2:00 pm; hence, I scoped the lake for only 15 minutes.  

The pairs of White-winged Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks were still quite a distance east of pavilion 4, upper swim beach parking area.  Nothing else uncommon stuck out in the short time it took to stiffen my fingers trying to focus my scope.  At least half a dozen Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also present.

The Pine Warbler was in a neighbor's tree when I arrived at Doug's yard in Smoky Hill Village.  Doug suggested the warbler could be observed from the neighborhood greenbelt (public access) south of East Garden Drive & East Garden Place.

While that is where I observed the bird for ten seconds before it flew north, when returning to my car, the HOH president and later a police officer questioned me.  

Doug suggests continuing to post the Pine Warbler situation.  Beware that you may be subjected to the same experience as mine. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Christmas Snowy Owl

December 25, 2017

Richard Steves:

Rebecca and I arrived at Standley Lake (Jefferson County) this morning just in time to see the Snowy Owl fly over the dam.  It was not a satisfying look for our first Jefferson County Snowy Owl.

It was my third Snowy Owl of the 2017-18 season (Morgan, Logan and now Jefferson Counties).  In the 2011-12 season I had observed 10 Snowy Owls (Arapahoe, Adams, Logan, Sedgwick, Weld , Yuma Counties)!

We did not relocate the bird from the north side of the lake.  The owl was later relocated in the open space north of 100th avenue & Simms.  When we were there is was too cold to walk the area.

Temperature only reached 21 degrees today.  It would have felt colder but for a wind of 2 mph only gusting to 6 mph.

After dropping Rebecca off, I drove off chasing a Pine Warbler report in Arapahoe County.  I brief search found the area to be private yards.  I was uncomfortable looking around on Christmas day and left.

Then I went to the South Platte Birding Area at 88th avenue (Adams).  A half mile hike south added two Barrow's Goldeneyes to my day list.  Many gulls on nearby East Gravel Lakes and Tani Reservoir were almost all Ring-billed Gulls.  One California Gull was on Tani.

I still had a couple of hours of daylight and decided to return to the Jefferson County Open Space.  A two mile walk north and west of 100th and Simms did not find the Snowy Owl.

Returning home by way of 100th avenue west to North Alkire Street south to 88th avenue, then east, I scoped the south side of Standley Lake.  The Snowy Owl was there!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

December 24, 2017

 Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and checked out the Arapahoe reservoirs this afternoon.  Temperatures only reached 29 degrees.  Anemometer readings at Aurora Reservoir were 6-7 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Nothing unusual was found at Cherry Creek Reservoir or Quincy Reservoir.

The pair of White-winged Scoters and two Long-tailed Ducks are still on Aurora Reservoir.  The thousands of White-cheeked Geese made finding other waterfowl quite difficult to find.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop again this evening.

Note: Aurora Reservoir is closed on Christmas & New Years days.

Colorado Springs and Back for a Red-breasted Sapsucker

December 23, 2017

We stuffed the car with birders and headed to Colorado Springs this morning.  Rebecca Kosten, Terry Michaels, Sue Ehlmann and I had little trouble finding the Red-breasted Sapsucker in Colorado Springs.  A mob of birders was already looking at it.  It is nice to have an easy find now and then.

Temperatures only reached 41 degrees today.  Winds were a mild 6 mph with gusts a few times to 14 mph.

Afterwards, we walked around Big Johnson Reservoir.  Our hope to find a Snow Bunting was not fulfilled.  A Lapland Longspur was discovered in a small flock of Horned Larks.

We returned to Denver by way of Highway 83 (the back route), much more interesting than Interstate 25.  Attempts at finding an American Three-toed Woodpecker at Black Forest Regional Park and the Brant at Salisbury Equestrian Park (El Paso) failed.

Prewitt Reservoir, Jackson Reservoir & Aurora Reservoir

December 22, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the middle 40s today.  Winds were 9 mph with gusts to 14 mph at Aurora Reservoir.

Terry Michaels and I returned from eastern Colorado. We relocated two Eastern Screech-Owls at Prewitt Reservoir (about 4:00 am), and then after sunrise found two Long-eared Owls at Jackson Reservoir. Not much else moving about.

After dropping Terry off, I returned home by way of Aurora Reservoir. Scoping the lake from the pavilion #4, upper swim beach parking area, I relocated the two Long-tailed Ducks about 100 yards directly off shore. The pair of White-winged Scoters was in the same line another couple hundred yards east.

Search for Snowy Owls

December 21, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I spent most of the day driving around Logan and Sedgwick Counties in search of Snowy Owls (previously reported and undiscovered).  Temperatures reached a cool 36 degrees.  Winds were outrageous at 20 mph with gusts to 32 mph.

After failing to find the Snowy Owl along Interstate 76 and mile marker 130 (Janice & Paul Sweet, 12/20), our five hour efforts paid off.  A female Snowy Owl stood in a field southwest of the intersection of Logan CR 67 and CR 38!  The owl was approximately 3.4 miles northeast of Galien.

Horned Larks were the majority bird found today.  Six and two Lapland Longspurs were encountered at separate locations.  The second surprise of the day was a Northern Goshawk way out on the eastern plains.  A male was along CR 55, south of Interstate 76.

Our birding day ended at Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  One Greater White-fronted Goose was among the thousands of White-cheeked Geese.

Fourteenth Wray Christmas Count

December 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Again, predicted inclement weather coming to Colorado forced us to change the date of a Christmas Count.  We had to choose between a Christmas Count at Wray or Bonny Reservoir. 

The CoBus group consisted of six birders with another 12 feeder watchers joining us on our fourteenth Wray Christmas Count.  The temperatures today reached a "warm" 60 degrees.  Winds were a mild 5 mph most of the day with a few gusts to 12 mph late in the afternoon.

Total: 74 species (full list in January 2018 "Colorado Field Notes")

++Wray City Park     
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (CoBus group) first 12/20
++Stalker Pond    
Northern Cardinal (CoBus group) first 12/20
++Wray Fishing Unit    
Eastern Bluebird (CoBus group) last 12/20
Northern Mockingbird (CoBus group) last 12/20
Common Yellowthroat (CoBus group) first 12/20
Harris's Sparrow (CoBus group) first 12/20
White-throated Sparrow (CoBus group) first 12/20
++Sandsage Wildlife Area   
Eastern Screech-Owl (CoBus group) last 12/20
Brown Thrasher (CoBus group) last 12/20
Harris's Sparrow (CoBus group) first 12/20
White-throated Sparrow (CoBus group) first 12/20
++Yuma County Road 45  
Greater Prairie-Chicken (2) (CoBus group) last 12/20
--Between Hwy 385 and Lek, 1.7 miles/east/hwy 385
Short-eared Owl --CR 45/CR PP (CoBus group) last 12/20

Fifteenth Cottonwood Canyon Christmas Count

December 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

With predicted inclement weather coming to Colorado, we had to change the Cottonwood Canyon Christmas Count.  Six cobirders and four feeder watchers conducted the fifteen Cottonwood Canyon Christmas Count today.  Temperatures reached 53 degrees.  Anemometer reading was 11 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

We enjoyed the beautiful Colorado fall day and success in finding some quite interesting birds in spite of the low species count.
Total: 68 (full list in January 2018 "Colorado Field Notes")

++Cottonwood Canyon and area    
Mississippi Kite (very late, not without precedent: 12/31/1993) (CoBus group) first 12/19
Western Screech-Owl (CoBus group) 4; last 12/19
Northern Saw-whet Owl (CoBus group) 3; last 12/19
Barn Owl (CoBus group) last 12/19
Short-eared Owl (2) (CoBus group) last 12/19
Long-eared Owl (CoBus group) last 12/19
Winter Wren (CoBus group) last 12/19
Juniper Titmouse (2) (CoBus group) first 12/19
Pine Warbler (CoBus group) first 12/19
Rufous-crowned Sparrow (CoBus group) 8; last 12/19
Common Redpoll (Mlodinow/CoBus group) (first 12/15) last 12/19
Northern Cardinal (CoBus group) last 12/19
(all above: Cottonwood Canyon)
Western Screech-Owl (CoBus group) 1; last 12/19
Northern Saw-whet Owl (CoBus group) 1; last 12/19
Winter Wren (CoBus group) last 12/19
Curve-billed Thrasher (CoBus group) last 12/19
(above: Carrizo picnic area)

Belmar Place Warblers and Rocky Mountain Arsenal

December 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I drove over to the Belmar Place apartments and walked around their small pond in late morning.  Temperature was 46 degrees. Winds were mild at 4 mph with a gust or two at 15 mph.

The infamous trio of warblers was working the trees at the northeastern corner of the lake.  The Yellow-throated Warbler offered many views.  The Yellow-rumped Warbler was more active and more around much.  The Prairie Warbler was more secretive.  It offered brief looks when it emerged from the thicker parts of the pine trees.  The best route to the lake is: Take Wadsworth Blvd to Center Street, drive east to apartments, walk south to lake.

In the afternoon, I revisited the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The Tundra Swan was somewhat hidden in the southeastern corner of Lower Derby Lake.  A walk along the First Creek Trail (Denver/Adams Counties) did not find the previously reported Harris's Sparrow(s).  No sparrows were around the chain link fence at the Denver County trailhead.  Only about 10 American Tree Sparrows were at the Adams County site.

No Short-eared Owls appeared as I parked along the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.  Raptors included three Red-tailed Hawks, one Rough-legged Hawk, one Ferruginous Hawk and two Bald Eagles.

Search for Harris's Hawk and Snowy Owls

December 16/17, 2017 

Richard Stevens:

December 16

Terry Michaels and I relocated the Harris's Hawk (David Wade, 12/10) by scoping the recycle plant and Running Deer Natural Area (Larimer) from the Colorado Visitor's Center off Prospect Road, Fort Collins.

Temperatures today reached 49 degrees.  Winds were 9 mph with gusts to 20 mph in the afternoon.

We decided to again search for the Snowy Owl that has been "hanging around" the Fort Morgan area.  It was not found. 

A walk around Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) in the afternoon found a Swamp Sparrow in the cattails south of Pelican Campgrounds.  Two Long-eared Owls were also relocated.

December 17

Terry and I walked from Riverside Park, Fort Morgan to Fort Morgan Ponds.  Highlights were a Stub-tailed Wren (probably Winter Wren) and a Long-eared Owl in the Fort Morgan Ponds area!

We received a message that the Snowy Owl had been spotted near Morgan CR &, west of CR 27 and rushed over.  The Snowy Owl was still there when we arrived.  

First discovered by Jesse Casias, we observed what he later rightly commented.  A birder walked closer to the owl for a better photo.  It irked us also.  Perhaps if these "photographers" were mentioned by name, they would be more reluctant in their trespassing behavior?

Fourteenth Sterling Christmas Count & Aurora Reservoir

December 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The CoBus group down to five and eight feeder watchers conducted the fourteenth Sterling Christmas Count today.  Temperatures reached a nice 55 degrees.  Winds were 7 mph with gusts to 14 mph.  What a pleasant Colorado fall day!

Total: 87 species (full list January 2018 "Colorado Field Notes")

++Sterling Reservoir
Northern Mockingbird (Norm Lewis) first 12/20
Common Redpoll (30) (Bill Kaempfer/CoBus group) (first 12/14) 1; last 12/15
Greater White-fronted Goose (Leon Moore/CoBus group) (first 12/14) last 12/15
Bonaparte's Gull (CoBus group) last 12/15
Harris's Sparrow (CoBus group) first 12/15
++Overland Park    
Common Redpoll (2) (CoBus group) first 12/15
++Bravo Wildlife Area 
Red-bellied Woodpecker (CoBus Group) first 12/15
Eastern Bluebird (2) (CoBus group) first 12/15
Eastern Screech-Owl (CoBus group) first 12/15
++Knudson Wildlife Area   
Red-bellied Woodpecker (CoBus group) first 12/15
++Pioneer Park     
Eastern Screech-Owl (CoBus group) last 12/15

I passed on the Sterling Christmas Count and had returned to Denver last night.

It was 60 degrees in Parker.  Winds were 8 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

If had known about the Snowy Owl north of Fort Morgan a detour would have been worthwhile.

In the afternoon, I tried to update some sightings. Neither the Adams nor Denver Counties Harris's Sparrows were found along the First Creek trail. Nor was the Common Loon or Swan at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

Aurora Reservoir was more exciting. The pair of White-winged Scoters was directly east of the upper swim beach parking area, albeit quite far away. The pair of Long-tailed Ducks was at the mouth of Senac Cove.  Two Greater Scaup were below the northwestern corner of the dam.

No geese were on the Twenty-mile Pond in Parker nor were they at nearby Salisbury Equestrian Park (Douglas). Too many dog walkers were around. I scoped the City of Parker land from the northeast corner of Salisbury Equestrian Park and found the Brant.

Fourteenth Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area Christmas Count

December 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The CoBus group (Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn, Jamie Thompson, Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I) were joined by six feeder watchers in conducting the fourteenth Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area Christmas Count today.  Temperatures only reached 37 degrees.  Anemometer readings were 17 mph with gusts to 34 mph.  The day was not conducive to finding many bird species.  We enjoyed good success under the conditions.

The circle includes centers in Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area near CR 89 and included Jumbo Reservoir, Red Lion Wildlife Area, Little Jumbo Reservoir and Logan CR 46/CR 89.  It stops just short of the town of Tobin to the west and just short of Haystack Butte to the northwest.  This was the fourteen Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area Christmas Count conducted by the Colorado Birding Society.

Total: 106 species (full list in January 2018 "Colorado Field Notes")

CoBus group:
++Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area
  Red-bellied Woodpeckers (7)
  Northern Cardinal (2)
  Eastern Bluebirds (2)
  Field Sparrow (2)
  Harris's Sparrow (1)
  White-throated Sparrow (1)
  Common Redpoll (4)
  Greater Prairie-Chicken (one, southern section)
  Greater Prairie-Chicken (one, CR 46/CR 89)

++Red Lion Wildlife Area
  Greater White-fronted Geese
  Long-eared Owl (2)
  Harris's Sparrow
++Jumbo Reservoir
  Greater White-fronted Geese (4)
  Black-legged Kittiwake
  Bonaparte's Gull
  Hermit Thrush
  Eastern Screech-Owl (1 heard)
  Short-eared Owl (1)       
Feeder Watchers
  Long-eared Owl (2)
  Eastern Screech-Owl (2)
  Red-bellied Woodpecker (1)
  Harris's Sparrow (1)
  Common Redpoll (1)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Aurora Reservoir Waterfowl!

December 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

A small flock of Rosy Finches was relocated in Victor (Park).  Having stayed up all night, we decided to return to Denver.

Temperatures in Aurora only reached 50 degrees today.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph at Aurora Reservoir.

Email to cobirders listserve:

Terry Michaels and I returned around noon from a trip to Fremont County for some owling.  We passed through Pueblo County on the trip down.  After dropping Terry off, I returned home by way of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) which was my best bet to miss traffic.

It was a good/fortunate choice.  I scoped the lake from the upper parking area north of the swim beach.  Three Long-tailed Ducks, one male & two female were directly east.  Male and female White - winged Scoters were southeast of me.

The remaining daylight was used with a hike to the northwest corner of the reservoir.  From the northwest corner of the dam, I found two Greater Scaup and a male Barrow's Goldeneye.

Surprisingly, few gulls were around.  I did see two Herring Gulls and less than one hundred Ring-billed Gulls.  Perhaps the gulls were at nearby Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Thousands of White-cheeked Geese swam on the lake with thousands additional lining the swim beach and upper parking area shore.

I enjoyed the sounds of the geese under another colorful Colorado sunset!

Super Trip to Pueblo & Fremont Counties

December 11-12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

December 11

Terry Michaels and I headed to Fremont County for some owling, by way of Pueblo.  Temperatures reached 66 degrees.  Winds were 4-5 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

We want to thank the birder who offered directions on where to find the great uncommon birds around Pueblo Reservoir and Pueblo City Park.

We spent the day in the area and eventually after several attempts found at below Pueblo City Park: Chestnut-sided Warbler, Carolina Wren, Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, and Barrow's Goldeneye.  Misses: Rusty Blackbird.

At the Pueblo Reservoir area: Prairie Warbler, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, and Common Loon. Misses: Bonaparte's Gulls, Mew Gull and Rusty Blackbird.

We ended the day owling at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area (Fremont).  One of our "owl listening stations" picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

December 12

Our birding day started around noon.  Temperatures only reached 53 degrees.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 21 mph.

We searched the many parks and the abbey for Yellow-bellied and Williamson's Sapsuckers.  Eventually one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and one Williamson's Sapsucker were encountered.  The Western Screech-Owl was sunning at his tree near Raynolds and the Arkansas Riverwalk.

No Black Phoebes could be found along the Arkansas Riverwalk or Florence River Park.  One Rufous-crowned Sparrow was seen at the Tunnel Drive trailhead.

No uncommon birds were found at Temple Canyon Park.  However, at sunset, we did find a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Later we went owling up Phantom Canyon Road (Fremont).  One Northern Saw-whet Owl was found at its usual location.  No Spotted Owls were found.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 10,  2017

Richard Stevens:

I started toward Fort Collins to search for the Harris's Hawk.  When I received text message that it was not found I turned around and went to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).

The Trumpeter Swan was still on Lower Derby Lake.

Then I headed to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) where the Red-necked Grebe was 50 yards off the dam tower.

I put photos of both on the Recent Witness Photos link, Colorado Birding Society's website:

South Platte Birding Area, Big Dry Creek & Cherry Creek Reservoir

December 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Not one of my best days of birding.  Temperatures did reach the high 50s.  Winds were 5-6 mph.

I walked the South Platte River Birding Area (Adams) in the morning.  Only one of the Barrow's Goldeneyes was found on the Platte River south of 88th avenue.

In the afternoon, I walked the Big Dry Creek Trail (Arapahoe) from Dry Creek to Arapahoe Blvd.  On the return trip, I ran into Mary O'Connor who originally found the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

I could not find it.  Mary last saw the sapsucker flying up the bike trail heading uphill/west from the blue gray house.

Then I rushed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and decided to search for the Common Redpoll I found on 12/7.  It was now 4:15 pm and daylight was rapidly fading.  The Common Redpoll was not found.

So.........I was walking a deer trail along Cherry Creek just north of the 12-mile beaver pond.  Rushing to get back to my car before complete dark, I tripped on a tree root.

Two fractured ribs, a dislocated shoulder and broken wrist later, when getting to the car, I discovered that my car keys had fallen out of my pocket.  After waiting for AAA, I eventually got to the ER.  Birding can be dangerous?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Birding South-central Weld County

December 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I walked the First Creek Trail today.  Temperatures reached 56 degrees.  Winds were a strong 10-11 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

The Harris's Sparrow continued to hang around with a flock of 36+ American Tree Sparrows and two Song Sparrows about 1/4 mile west of Buckley Road.  The usual raptors were also around.

Afterwards, we decided to bird south-central Weld County.  Our first stop was Horse Creek Reservoir.  Bring a scope; the reservoir is quite far from a public road.  The previously reported (thee days ago), Tundra Swans were not on the water.  Only a couple of Ring-billed Gull flew around in the high wind.  The shore was lined with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese and several hundred Snow Geese.

Our next stop was Prospect Reservoir.  Again, the lake is quite far from a county Road (CR 59) and needs to be scoped.  A Glaucous Gull flew around or we would not have been able to find it.  A few hundred Ring-billed Gulls stood on the far shore.  In the high winds, our scope was not stable enough to get identification of the distant birds.  The previously reported Iceland Gulls and Greater Scaup may still be out there.

Thousands of White-cheeked Geese were accompanied by a couple hundred Snow Geese.  A few were small enough to be Ross's Geese.

Our next stop was Ireland Reservoir #1.  We thought our chances of finding the previously reported Swamp Sparrow close to zero in the surrounding cattail marshes.

However, a lone sparrow working the cattails at the water's edge turned out to be a Swamp Sparrow!  The cattails were at the northeast corner of the lake about 40 yards west of the five or six dead snags sticking out of the water.

Ireland Reservoir #5 had hundreds of White-cheeked Geese swimming around its ice-free waters.  Several thousand additional White-cheeked Geese and over one hundred Snow Geese fed on the hill east of the lake.

Then we drove to nearby Banner Lakes Wildlife Area and walked the north side from Pond #5 down to Pond #8.  One Long-eared Owl hid in the thick cottonwoods west of Pond #7.  American Robins were the majority birds around.

Most of the ponds are now ice covered.  The few waterfowl in the small open pools were Gadwalls and Mallards.

Our birding day ended back at the DIA Owl Loop.  We parked for an hour at my favorite spot about 0.2 miles south of West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  The location offers nice 360 views of the surrounding rolling prairie.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Raptors that flew by included two Red-tailed Hawks, two adult and two subadult Bald Eagles, two Ferruginous Hawks and three Northern Harriers.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir on Thursday

December 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Wow, it felt cold today (Thursday).  Perhaps it is that one day is warm and the next cold.  Temperatures reached only 37 degrees with winds 3-4 mph at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

Rebecca and I scoped the Lake from the Lake Loop.  A Common Loon was in the eastern quadrant.  An Iceland Gull was with 50+ Ring-billed, 7 California and 1 Herring Gull at Pelican Point.

The highlight was a Common Redpoll loosely following four American Goldfinches at the 12-mile picnic area windbreak!

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Salisbury Equestrian Park & Aurora Reservoir

December 6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I had to go Colorado Springs today.  We took the scenic highway 83 on the drive home.  Temperatures only reached 38 degrees today.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

A thirty minute stop at Black Forest Regional Park (El Paso) did not find an American Three-toed Woodpecker.

No geese were on the Twenty-mile Pond in Parker; we detoured over to nearby Salisbury Equestrian Park (Douglas).  The Brant was with hundreds of White-cheeked Geese south of the horse corrals at 3:30 pm.

There was no enough daylight to walk into Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) from the south side.  The lake was scoped from the upper swim beach parking area.

We could pick out the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the far shore at mile 2.0.  Nothing uncommon was found on the Lake with high waves and waning light.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Another Visit to First Creek Trail

December 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the middle 40s today, must have been early in the day.  Winds were 15-16 mph with gusts to 31 mph.

I finished home maintenance chores finally; time to get back to birding with Christmas Counts coming.  There was time in the afternoon to swing by First Creek trail east of Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  By the time I arrived winds were down to 2-3 mph; however, temperature was 38 degrees at 4:00 pm.

The Harris's Sparrow was still around in Adams County (west of Buckley Road).  It was with a flock of 50+ American Tree Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows and a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos.

While the Tree Sparrows were hop around the gravel trail, the Harris's Sparrow stayed in the high grasses.  When someone walked by, the sparrows would fly to the short trees on the south side of First Creek.

My photos are probably no better than the ones taken November 30.  The auto focus let me down.  Only two of eighty photos were in focus.  Those two were posted on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library.

Raptors encountered included in Adams County five Red-tailed Hawks and one Great Horned Owl.  Six additional Red-tailed Hawks and another Great Horned Owl were in Denver County (east of Buckley Road).

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Common Redpoll at Denver City Park

December 3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Finished the third day of painting the house.  Greatest torture in my life and we have mostly a brick house.  I would rather wash windows.

I finished just before 3:00 pm and heard about a Common Redpoll at Denver City Park (Denver County).  Rebecca and I rushed over.

No birds were around the retention pond where John Breitsch had found the Common Redpoll earlier.  I followed one of my important birding rules; follow the sun.  The retention pond was in shade.  However, the sun shone on the three tall evergreen trees at the southeast corner of Ferril Lake.

The trees were jumping with birds.  Off and on, they would fly down to the short deciduous tree next to the lake.

The group included four Black-capped Chickadees, two Brown Creepers, four Yellow-rumped Warblers, four Dark-eyed Juncos, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet and one COMMON REDPOLL!

The Common Redpoll is a new county bird for both of us!

After direct sunlight left the three evergreens, the flock moved to the two evergreen trees farther north (just off shore of the lake).

After sunset, Rebecca and I searched unsuccessfully for the City Park Eastern Screech-Owls.  Eventually we found two Eastern Screech-Owls farther east (Grape Street and Gaylord Street, Denver).

At Least A New Yard Bird

December 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Spent the beautiful fall day painting the house.  Thank goodness, it is mostly brick. 

Bird wise, one flock of migrating White-cheeked Geese had two Snow Geese (a new yard bird)!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Jefferson to Clear Creek to Arapahoe Counties

December 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Today was colder than yesterday with high temperature of 62 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph.

New York birder Ken Bowen and I set out sights on finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan today.  An hour before sunrise we parked at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County).  A walk along Foxton Road found a Northern Pygmy-Owl presumably along the Songbird trail.

Six White-tailed Ptarmigan were found around the upper parking area at Guanella Pass (Clear Creek).  Later we relocated an American Three-toed Woodpecker at the Guanella Pass Campgrounds.

Note: second hand information had Guanella Pass Road closed from Georgetown side.  We came from Grant; no telling how much longer the road will be open.  Predicted snowstorms will eventually require over a two mile hike from either access to reach the top.

Later I drove home by way of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I scoped the lake from the bench at mile 2.5 (about a mile hike from the southern gate).

Up to three thousand gulls were on the shore below the bench.  Two Herring Gulls were among Ring-billed Gulls.  I almost missed an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull that was hidden in the mass.

Eight hundred additional gulls stood on the west shore at Senac Cove.  A Mew Gull was among the many Ring-billed Gulls.  On surprise was the lack of California Gulls.

Few waterfowl were on the lake.  Two Western Grebes swam up Lone Tree Cove.  I almost missed a Black Scoter in the middle of the lake.  It only came to the surface for a count of two or three, then dove again.

Ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) watching thirty eight American Tree Sparrows feeding at Pelican Point.  The Swamp Sparrow did not make an appearance.  The only gulls (60) on the Point were Ring-billed Gulls.
Today was colder than yesterday with high temperature of 62 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph.

New York birder Ken Bowen and I set out sights on finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan today.  An hour before sunrise we parked at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County).  A walk along Foxton Road found a Northern Pygmy-Owl presumably along the Songbird trail.

Six White-tailed Ptarmigan were found around the upper parking area at Guanella Pass (Clear Creek).  Later we relocated an American Three-toed Woodpecker at the Guanella Pass Campgrounds.

Note: second hand information had Guanella Pass Road closed from Georgetown side.  We came from Grant; no telling how much longer the road will be open.  Predicted snowstorms will eventually require over a two mile hike from either access to reach the top.

Later I drove home by way of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I scoped the lake from the bench at mile 2.5 (about a mile hike from the southern gate).

Up to three thousand gulls were on the shore below the bench.  Two Herring Gulls were among Ring-billed Gulls.  I almost missed an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull that was hidden in the mass.

Eight hundred additional gulls stood on the west shore at Senac Cove.  A Mew Gull was among the many Ring-billed Gulls.  On surprise was the lack of California Gulls.

Few waterfowl were on the lake.  Two Western Grebes swam up Lone Tree Cove.  I almost missed a Black Scoter in the middle of the lake.  It only came to the surface for a count of two or three, then dove again.

Ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) watching thirty eight American Tree Sparrows feeding at Pelican Point.  The Swamp Sparrow did not make an appearance.  The only gulls (60) on the Point were Ring-billed Gulls.

A Nice Day in Adams and Weld Counties

November 30, 2017

Another great fall day in Colorado.  We made it through November with warmer than average temperatures and little snow!

This morning I decided to enter Barr Lake (Adams) from the west side (off Buckley Road).  Sparrows appear to be in short supply this fall at Barr Lake.  The west side had more than any other part I have run into this year.

A White-throated Sparrow was with nine White-crowned Sparrows near the woodpile at the southwest corner.

Later I went to the First Creek Trail (Adams) and relocated the Harris's Sparrow found yesterday by John Breitsch.  Terry Michaels and I have been watching the sparrow flock along the trail about 1/4 mile east of Buckley Road.  John found a rather plain Harris's Sparrow!  I put photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library:

My birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Nothing unusual appeared.  I did find two Long-eared Owls and a Great Horned Owl.  No Short-eared Owls seen tonight.

Chores At Home

November 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Spent the day painting the house.  A Lapland Longspur an infrequent yard bird!

Search For A Snowy Owl

November 27-28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed out on a two-day search for the Snowy Owl found near Riverside Park, Fort Morgan on 11/25.  We covered much territory in two days from I70 to Hwy 14 (Weld) and Riverside Reservoir (Morgan) to Washington County.  We could not relocate it.

During our trek highlights included:

Lapland Longspur flock (14 birds) along Weld CR 105, north of Jackson Reservoir.
Eastern Bluebirds at Fort Morgan Ponds (Morgan)
Greater White-fronted Goose at Riverside Park, no Snowy Owl.
Long-eared Owl (2) at Jackson Reservoir while walking around with our NVG7-3P Night Vision glasses at 10:00 pm!
Eastern Screech-Owl at Jackson Reservoir (after midnight)

Heard Long-eared Owls whining during the night!
We observed two Long-eared Owls south of Pelican Campgrounds early in the morning.
Swamp Sparrow in Jackson Reservoir marsh.
White-throated Sparrow south of Pelican Campgrounds wooden fence.
No Snowy Owl Riverside Reservoir

Trip to Jackson County

November 21-26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Just so, I have a record of my birding.  A brief summary of Rebecca's and my trip to Jackson County.

November 21, 2017

On the way up, we stopped at Sale Lake in Boulder County.  We relocated the Swamp Sparrow found by Ernest Crvich on 11/20.  No uncommon sparrows found at Teller Lakes #5 parking area. Is the Golden-crowned Sparrow going to return this year?

A Pacific Loon and Common Loon were on Union Reservoir (Weld).  At least one Bonaparte's Gull remained also.

No Boreal Owls were found around the Joe Wright Reservoir parking areas.  Winds were 21+ mph, difficult to hear the soft spoken owls.

November 22

No Rosy Finches visited the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders.  We relocated the male American Three-toed Woodpecker across Hwy 14, north of the Visitor's Center.

A small flock of 42 Rosy Finches was encountered at a friend's ranch.  All three species were represented.

Winds were again strong after dark.  We missed Boreal Owls on Cameron Pass and Crags Campgrounds.

November 23, 2017

We missed Greater Sage-Grouse along Jackson County Roads 26 & 26b.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at Ranger Lakes.  No Rosy Finches at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

After dark, we walked up Ruby Jewell Road.  A Boreal Owl was heard about 0.4 miles up the gravel road.

November 24, 2017

Another visit to our friend's ranch.  Rosy Finches flock was 46 birds, no Black Rosy Finches today.  No Rosy Finches at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.

No Rosy Finches around Walden and no uncommon birds at Walden Reservoir, Johns Lake Wildlife Area and Delaney Buttes Wildlife Area.

November 25, 2017

Leisure day around Gould.  No Rosy Finches found at Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Missed Three-toed Woodpeckers today at Ranger Lakes & Visitor's Center.

November 26, 2017

We rose early and again drove Jackson CR 26 & 26b.  Our fortune was better today.  One Greater Sage-Grouse was observed walking along CR 26.

Rosy Finch flock at friend's ranch was growing to 61 birds, three species represented (with one Black Rosy Finch).

Missed Three-toed Woodpeckers.  Waited until dark and listened for Boreal Owls at Cameron Pass & Joe Wright Reservoir parking areas; none was heard/seen.

We stopped at half a dozen Campgrounds and picnic areas along Hwy 14 on the way back to Fort Collins.  One Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording at Ansel Watrous Campgrounds.

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.