Monday, January 30, 2017

Loveland Pass, Silverthorne & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

January 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

California birder Paul Olsen and I headed to the mountains today.  Anyone who has tried to drive up I70 on a Sunday knows you need to go before 6:00 am and definitely return before Noon because of traffic.  Loveland Pass had been closed the last two days because of snowstorms; we had no choice but to go today.

We found two White-tailed Ptarmigan below the western side of the Loveland Pass Summit before many skiers or tourists arrived.

Later we visited a friend's home and saw three species of Rosy Finches and other mountain species.  My friend has asked me not to advertize his address.

A brief stop at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit) found six Barrow's Goldeneyes swimming about.

After dropping Paul off at DIA, I walked the First Creek Trail (Denver).  The spot where the Harris's Sparrow has been seen during my last two visits was today trampled down by a car and horses.

A flock of 16 White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows, 10 Dark-eyed Juncos and 4 House Finches was on and below the hill just east of the Light Rail tracks.  I did not find the Harris's Sparrow among them.  This was I first encountered the Harris's Sparrow back on December 5, 2016.

My last stop was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  I walked the Legacy Trail searching for owls in the evergreen trees.  No Barn Owls were observed today.  A Long-eared Owl was found in the New Mexico Locust trees south of the trail (scoped from between the third and fourth evergreen tree west of the closed trail sign.

A Great Horned Owl called from behind the old Visitor's Center (now called Contact Station).

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Return to Washington Park, Indian Tree G.C. & S. Platte River

January 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I headed to Washington Park (Denver County) at 8:00 am.  Temperatures reached 48 degrees today; winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Unlike my hour and a half unsuccessful search yesterday for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, it was found in less than 15 minutes today!  The sapsucker stayed high in tree #5.  Now and then, it moved into the open and allowed nice looks!

In the afternoon, I went back out on my own.  The Brant and Greater White-fronted Goose were easy to see southeast of the Indian Tree Golf Course clubhouse (Jefferson).

The rest of my afternoon, I walked the South Platte River from 74th avenue to 88th avenue (Adams).  A female Barrow's Goldeneye was just downstream of the 78th avenue bridge.  A male was farther south, just downstream of the green and white tower.

I searched two locations where Greater Yellowlegs were reported along the Platte River last week; without success.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Douglas to Arapahoe to Denver County

January 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another cold day, temperatures only reached 39 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph; gusts to 16 mph.

I left home for Deer Creek Canyon about three hours before sunrise this morning (mostly to avoid traffic).  Target birds were Northern Pygmy-Owls.  None was found; however, I did locate a Northern Saw-whet Owl near a previously reported location.

Later, the Dunlin was with a Killdeer at the southeast corner of McLellan Reservoir.  I put a poor photo on "recent witness photos" link on Colorado Birding Society's website.

The Trumpeter Swan was not seen on the Chatfield Reservoir gravel pit (accessed from Highline Canal trail & Titan Road/Rampart Road.  I only scoped the pond for about 20 minutes; some of the open water was behind hills.  The swan may still be there; I saw it a couple of weeks ago and did not want to spend more of my limited day looking.

My birding day ended at Washington Park (Denver).  I could not relocate the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in 1.5 hours before sunset.

I also loaded various raptor photos and the Aurora Reservoir White-winged Scoter (1/23) & Ruddy Duck to the CoBus photo library.

A Four Owl Day

January 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I had some business in downtown Littleton today.  Temperature was only 31 degrees.  Winds at Barr Lake in the afternoon were 6-7 mph, gusts to 13 mph.

Later, I stopped by Ketring Park (Arapahoe) and relocated one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls!

Needing to stretch my legs, I walked from the Barr Lake Visitor's Center (Adams) to the boat ramp and back.  One of the Barn Owls was relocated along the trail.  A Great Horned Owl called from the Pioneer Trail.  One of the Long-eared Owls was in the entrance windbreak.

No Short-eared Owls or Burrowing Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Another Unsuccessful Search for the Aurora Reservoir Brant

January 25, 2017

Richard Stevens:

It remained cold today with temperatures in the high 30s.  Winds were 8-10 mph.

I tried again to find the Brant at Aurora Reservoir early this morning, again without success.

Highlights included the White-winged Scoter, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull & Glaucous Gull.

Late in the afternoon, I stopped at Box Elder Creek & Weld County Road 4.  No Rusty Blackbirds appeared this evening.

DIA Owl Loop and First Creek Trail

January 24, 2017

Richard Stevens:

It was another cold winter day.  Partly sunny, temperatures reached 44 degrees; winds were 7-8 mph.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) before sunrise.  A Short-eared Owl was observed flying east along Third Creek (east of Gun Club Road, Denver County).

Later I walked the First Creek Trail (Denver).  The Harris's Sparrow was first observed in the large brush pile and then in the high yellow grasses northeast of the horse corrals.  This corner is 1.3 miles from the Buckley Road & 56th avenue parking area.

Much later I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  One Ross's Goose was at nearby Greenwood Village Park.  Nothing uncommon was found at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Brief Trip to Aurora Reservoir

January 23, 2017

Another great winter day in Colorado, temperatures reached 53 degrees; winds were 5-6 mph.

I made a brief visit to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Another birder, Mark Amershek relocated the Brant quite a ways east of the western side of the dam.  He also gave me a heads up that the White-winged Scoter was still on the lake.

When I arrived at the top of the dam, the White-winged Scoter was less than 15 feet off the dam.  Most of the geese departed at 3:00 pm today, instead of their usual 4:00 pm exodus.

Few gulls were around.  I did pick out the 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull, two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and one Thayer's Gull.

Most of the geese appeared to fly north toward Murphy's Creek.  I found several hundred White-cheeked Geese on the golf course.  However, no uncommon geese, including the Brant were encountered.

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

First Creek Trail, Denver County

January 22, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I did not have a great deal of time to bird today (Sunday, 1/21).  Found the time to make the short 2.3 mile hike along the First Creek Trail (Denver). 

The Harris's Sparrow was again with a dozen White-crowned Sparrows at the northeast corner of the horse corrals.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Birding From the Mountains to Plains

January 21, 2017

Richard Stevens:

New York birder Mark Stein and I started our birding day at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) at 5:00 am.  It was a cold 18 degrees. 

Our target bird, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard thirty minutes later during a hike from the western to eastern parking areas.  Brief looks of the owl were observed after civil twilight.  The owl disappeared before sunrise.

We then backtracked and drove to Loveland Pass.  It took about forty five minutes to find two White-tailed Ptarmigan below the eastern side of the summit.  The birds had taken shelter under the southern end of the ragged rocky ridge below the summit.

Our next stop was a friend's home in Summit County.  The usual mountain species Evening & Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, three species of nuthatches and Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers were all found.

The highlight of course was three species of Rosy Finches!

Our last stop was the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit).  Nine Barrow's Goldeneyes swam around this small pond that seldom if ever freezes.

After dropping Mark off at his downtown motel, I headed toward home.  A stop at Barr Lake (Adams) found a Barn Owl (owl box along main trail) & Long-eared Owl (eastern windbreak).

My birding day ended back at Box Elder Creek and Weld County Road 4.  No Rusty Blackbirds appeared.  Seven Red-winged Blackbirds perched over the creek. 

I enjoyed the last hour of daylight with the sounds Blue Jays, Northern Flickers, Western Meadowlarks, a Hairy Woodpecker and Song Sparrows helping to end the day.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Drive Around Elbert County

January 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

It was another brilliant Colorado winter day.  Temperatures reached 44 degrees; winds were 6 mph.  Ice and snowstorms recently covered much of the rest of the country.

Rebecca and I drove around Elbert County in search of longspurs.  Lapland Longspurs were found at four locations.  Most were small flocks of 20 or less.  One flock was as large as 200 birds.  No Chestnut-collared or McCown's Longspurs were among them.

At private properties, we added an Eastern Screech-Owl and Long-eared Owl.  Most raptors were represented, Red tailed, Rough legged, Ferruginous Hawks, Prairie Falcons (2), Peregrine Falcon (1), and American Kestrels (6).

After dropping Rebecca off, I drove over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  My target birds were the Brant and White-winged Scoter; neither was found in the three hours I walked around the reservoir.

While not focusing on gulls, I do recall two Glaucous Gulls, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Thayer's Gull and the Iceland Gull.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Box Elder Creek and DIA Owl Loop

January 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperature reached 53 degrees today.  Winds were 8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

After spending most of the day doing chores, I drove around Weld County.  In an hour at Box Elder Creek at County Road 4, the Rusty Blackbirds were a no show.

A Great Horned Owl called quite a ways south up Box Elder Creek.  A pair of Blue Jays, half a dozen American Robins and many Red-winged Blackbirds was found.

Between Box Elder Creek and the DIA Owl Loop (Denver/Adams), the raptor count was seven Red-tailed Hawks, one Rough-legged Hawk, three Ferruginous Hawks, a pair of American Kestrels and one Prairie Falcon.

I checked the prairie dog towns along the Owl Loop for an early Burrowing Owl; without success. In 2015, one showed up on 2/19.  Last year 2016, one was found at Trussville Road & 114th avenue on 2/10.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Creek Trail, east of Rocky Mountain Arsenal

January 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

To take a break from chores I walked the First Creek Trail from the western end of Buckley Road to its eastern end at 56th Avenue (Denver County) at 3:00 pm.  Round trip is approximately 2.6 miles. Temperature reached 51 degrees; winds were 7 mph.

Birds along the Trail are limited in winter.  A mixed flock of Dark-eyed Juncos flew around the abandoned and broken water plant.  The pair of adult Bald Eagles was again in the small group of cottonwoods just southwest of the Trailhead at Buckley Road.  Four Red-tailed Hawks perched in trees along the main route.

Again sixty plus House Sparrows were in the large brush pile 30 yards northeast of the horse corrals.  Fourteen White-crowned Sparrows and the Harris's Sparrow walked under the tall yellow grasses at the northeast corner of the corral.

The Harris's Sparrow popped up to the top of the grasses briefly and then disappeared again.  I tried pishing it back up.  Instead, two Sharp-shinned Hawks flew in from behind me.

The smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk perched on the tall fence post while the larger one landed on log covered in the grasses.  After ten seconds or so the smaller one flew to the large brush pile, scattering the House Sparrows.  Was the departure to fool the "ammodramus" sparrows that all was safe?

The sparrows stayed deep in the grasses for the next 20 minutes.  The Sharp-shinned Hawk stayed put on its log.  I decided to leave.

On the hike back I found a Great Horned Owl in a tall cottonwood north of the Buckley trailhead, (I checked several evergreens for smaller owls).

The Bald Eagles were still on their perch, sunset now approaching.  A second Great Horned Owl and a Red-tailed Hawk were in the tallest cottonwood near the northeast end of the parking area.  In the distance, a Prairie Falcon stood on one of the tall metal poles lighting Pena Blvd (road to DIA Airport).

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Couple of Hikes On a Warm Winter Day

January 17, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the low 50s today; winds were 4-5 mph.  Too nice a day to stay inside, I had to look for a place to walk.  My choice was to return to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) to look for the "strange" black backed Gull found on 1/13.

First, I walked down to Aurora Reservoir from the southern entrance.  A large group of gulls off the Lone Tree Cove included Glaucous Gull, Thayer's Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Great Black-backed Gull.

After yesterdays superb Gull experience at Aurora Reservoir, my interest centered on getting a photo of the Brant.  I entered the park from the northern entrance.

No gulls were off the swim beach pavilion today.  A walk around the boat storage parking area found a Lapland Longspur loosely associated with six Horned Larks.

Then I walked to the western side of the dam from the parking area north of the boat storage parking.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese, two Ross's Geese and one Greater White-fronted Goose were scoped for the presence of the Brant; without success.

The White-winged Scoter was below the dam tower along the north side.  A couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Thayer's Gulls were among hundreds of gulls in the northwest corner of the lake.  No Brant!

At 4:00 pm, the thousands of White-cheeked Geese started to fly off to the east and northeast.  The sight and noise is quite a spectacle!

My birding day ended at Sand Creek Regional Greenway (Arapahoe).  I walked Sand Creek east to the Bald Eagle Nesting Area (closed) and then west to the western end of the Coal Creek Arena.

Not many birds here today, only a dozen European Starlings and four Red-tailed Hawks were initially observed.

On the trip back to my car, an adult Bald Eagle flew eastward along Sand Creek.  It perched near a rather large nest (Eagle nest?); another adult and two sub-adult Bald Eagles were nearby.

My birding day ended under another striking colorful Colorado sunset!

Superb Day At Aurora Reservoir

January 16, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After Saturday;s snowstorm, temperatures reached 33 degrees today; winds were 9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It was a little nippy in Minnesota terms!

I enjoyed a splendid birding day at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  In six hours I found just about all the birds expected.

This included: the Brant (below dam), Greater White-fronted Geese, two Ross's Geese, seven Snow Geese and thousands of White-cheeked Geese (Canada & Cackling).

Gulls included: Thayer's (8), Iceland, Lesser Black-backed (5), Great Black-backed (2), Glaucous (2), Mew Gull (1st cycle).

The White-winged Scoter remained in the northeast section of the lake.

A Prairie Falcon flew by below the northern side of the dam.  Two adult Bald Eagles occasionally harassed the many waterfowl.

Misses: The "strange" black-backed Gull found on 1/13 was not relocated.

Birding In Weld County

January 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I birded Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  In four hours, we found three Long-eared Owls in the northern windbreak, a Barn Owl, and two White - throated Sparrows in the southwestern windbreak.

A search for Lapland Longspurs at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area and the fields to the east was unsuccessful.

Afterwards, I drove over to Box Elder Creek at Weld County Road 4.  The three Rusty Blackbirds were again along the Creek, north of CR 4.  Still too far away for a respectable photo.


January 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Snowed most of the day, temperatures stayed in the low 30s.  I spent the day doing chores.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Another Day of Studying Gulls at Aurora Reservoir

January 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 39 degrees today.  Winds measured 6-7 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

I birded Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) from Noon to 5:00 pm.  Starting at the swim beach pavilion parking area I counted seven Thayer's Gulls (five adult, one 2nd cycle and one 1st cycle), Lesser Black-backed Gulls (three adult, one 2nd cycle, one 1st cycle), Glaucous Gull (adult & 1st cycle) and two Great Black-backed Gulls (adult & 1st cycle).

Then I walked the northern and western ends of the dam.  A White-winged Scoter was found at the northwest corner and the same or another at the northeastern corner.  Two Greater White-fronted Geese were also in the northwest corner.

Back at the swim beach pavilion, most of the same gulls were still there.  One Gull that was there earlier, Frank Farrell was thinking a Slaty backed Gull.  Because they are so uncommon in Colorado, I was skeptical.

Looks later with a couple additional birders, it was labeled an interesting possibility for Slaty backed Gull.  Eventually the Gull flew off.  Many of us will return tomorrow.

Aurora Reservoir On a Cold Day

January 12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the high 40s; clouds rolled in the afternoon and temperatures dropped rapidly.  Adding winds 12-13 mph, gusts to 18 mph made for a cold afternoon.

Not much time to bird today (family emergency), I stopped by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and scoped the lake from the pavilion north of the swim beach area.

Ice shelf was not far off the pavilion and many gulls stood on the edge.  Eventually the count included four Thayer's Gulls, one Lesser Black-backed Gull, one first cycle Great Black-backed Gull and one Glaucous Gull.

There was much open water today; however, it was quite far away.  I scanned the lake four times.  Nothing else was added to my day list. 

Missed were White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup and additional gulls.

An immature Ferruginous Hawk stood on a telephone pole near the northern entrance; some nice photos were captured.

Jackson County

January 10-11, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rosy Finches are not being seen in any numbers at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center this winter.  In two mornings, we found only one Brown-capped Rosy Finch (Tuesday) and one Gray-crowned Rosy Finch (Wednesday).

Nearby at a friend's ranch however, we observed 400+ Rosy Finches (three species).  Ranger Lakes did not add an American Three-toed Woodpecker or Boreal Owl sighting this trip. 

Tuesday afternoon we did find the male American Three-toed Woodpecker north of the Visitor's Center and Hwy 14!

We drove Jackson County Roads 26, 26b & 26a on Wednesday morning.  No Greater Sage-Grouse were found.

Wednesday night we managed to hear, not see a Boreal Owl just west of Cameron Pass.  Winds were strong, but varied.  During one of the slow times, a Boreal Owl was heard quite far from the north side of hwy 14.

Interesting Trip to Cameron Pass

January 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten & I headed to Jackson County for a couple of days.  Weather wise temperatures were in the 30s, winds 10+ mph, gusts at night to 22 mph.

We stopped at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area (Larimer) on the trip up.  One of the two American Woodcocks reported on 1/8 was relocated.

We passed by Horsetooth Reservoir (Larimer) and scoped from the east side.  The Long-tailed Duck was still there. 

The Harris's Sparrow near Bellvue was not found.  A drive up Rist Canyon did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls or American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Winds were quite strong on Cameron Pass; no Boreal Owls could be heard this night.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt & First Creek Trail

January 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I delivered a late Christmas present to a friend who lives near Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson County).  Unfortunately, she has not seen the male Northern Cardinal that off and on visits her yard for seven weeks.

A resident Eastern Screech-Owl in her backyard briefly appeared while we ate lunch on her back patio.  Afterwards, Rebecca and I walked Wheat Ridge Greenbelt at Prospect Park looking unsuccessfully for the Rusty Blackbirds that have been reported twice in the last week.

Later, I dropped Rebecca off to shop in Aurora and drove to the First Creek trail (Denver) north of Buckley Road and 56th Avenue.  I walked from the west end of the trail at Buckley Road to the eastern end at 56th avenue.

Two Red-tailed Hawks were perched near Pena Blvd and the Trail.  A Prairie Falcon stood on one of the light poles overlooking the Light Rail tracks.

Near the end of my hike, I noticed sixty+ House Sparrows in the large brush pile northeast of the horse corrals.  At least two dozen White-crowned Sparrows were also there. 

The flock eventually flew to the tall yellow grasses bordering the northeast corner of the corrals.  The many sparrows would walk along the ground, but in the middle of the grass clumps.

Finally I picked out a Harris's Sparrow although only saw bits and pieces of the bird at any one time.  I watched a waited for 30+ minutes for the birds to either come out of the grasses or return to the brush pile.

Regrettably, a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in and perched on one of the fence posts.  Witness photos of the Hawk were taken.  Then the Sharp-shinned Hawk flew down and caught one of the sparrows.

The capture was near the Harris's Sparrow location.  I hoped it was not true.  Bad for a White-crowned Sparrow, it was not the Harris's Sparrow.  I watched the Sharp-shinned Hawk devour the sparrow in the next fifteen minutes or so.

The Hawk then returned to the post and looked for another victim.  This time the large flock of birds flew back to the brush pile.  Shortly thereafter, the Sharp-shinned Hawk followed and perched above the disappearing birds.

Little bird movement was observed in the next twenty minutes as the Sharp-shinned Hawk stood sentinel.  In the fading light, I had to return to my car, which was almost a mile away.

Temperature in the afternoon was around 50 degrees; winds were 4-6 mph, not a bad January winter day!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Return to Aurora Reservoir

January 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this afternoon.  Temperature was 28 degrees at 2:00 pm.  Fortunately, winds were calm.  It took awhile to decide if I would first walk down from the southeastern gate or drive to the swim beach (northern entrance). 

I chose to enter from the south end first.  As I walked down to the lake, it came to me that my recently purchased entrance pass was on the office desk.  There would be no northern entrance today.

The lake was scoped from the bench at mile 2.5.  Both Senac and Lone Tree Coves were ice and snow covered.  Over a hundred ice fishing people were standing over newly cut holes in the ice.  Everyone has to have his or her own hobby; it would not be one of mine.

Thousands of White-cheeked Geese stood on the ice covered lake.  Less than five percent of the reservoir had open water.  Many of the open areas were quite small.

The closest group of geese included three white and two blue phase Snow Geese (no blue phase Ross's Goose today).  A group of White-cheeked Geese in Lone Tree Cove included six Greater White-fronted Geese.  While two additional Greater White-fronted Geese and one Ross's Goose were at the mouth of Senac Cove.

The closest open water to the bench was lined with hundreds of gulls.  These included seven Thayer's Gulls and five Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Farther out another Thayer's Gull and two additional Lesser Black-backed Gulls were found.

Even farther out gulls surrounded a sliver of open water; I could see the 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull.  I watched this pool at the limit of my 65mm eyepiece for over half an hour.

Eventually most of the gulls flew off and I could see the ducks swimming around.  The two White-winged Scoters were among a dozen Common Goldeneyes and several dozen American Coots.  I was not able to find the Long-tailed Duck of previous weeks.

At 4:00 pm, thousands of the White-cheeked Geese took off for nearby fields.  This opened up views of the groups of gulls around the lake.  However, nothing extra was added to my trip list.

Trip Into the Colorado Mountains (adding to our 2017 Bird Lists)

January 6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After staying home during yesterday's snowstorm, I had to get out of the house.  I met Terry Michaels on the west side of Denver and headed into the mountains.

Along the way, I stopped at Box Elder Creek where it crosses Weld County Road 4.  No Rusty Blackbirds were just north of CR 4 where they were on 1/4.  Noticing a bird quite a ways up the creek, I got out my scope.  It was a male Rusty Blackbird.  No additional birds flew up from the creek during my stay.

Terry & I drove up to Loveland Pass.  It was a sunny day with little wind (unusual for the Pass).  Unfortunately, we could not find any White-tailed Ptarmigan.

Then, we drove into Silverthorne.  A quick detour to the southwestern Lake Dillon inlet found no Purple Sandpiper (had not been reported since 12/31).

A visit to a friend's home added some nice mountain species to our 2017 bird checklists.  We observed three species of Rosy Finches, Mountain & Black-capped Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, three species of Nuthatches, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks!

The highlight was an American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming a few houses away!  Although, seeing three species of Rosy Finches is always a highlight!

We returned to Loveland Pass in the afternoon, again missing Ptarmigan at the usual locations.  Then just as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, two White-tailed Ptarmigan flew down from the high western trail and landed fifteen feet from the wooden fence west of Highway 6!

It was a great ending to a superb birding day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Search for Rusty Blackbirds and Short-eared Owls

January 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I drove by where Box Elder Creek crosses Weld County Road 4 today.  Rebecca and I were fortunate to see three Rusty Blackbirds there yesterday. 

Considering the weather (snowstorm) the Rusty Blackbirds did not fly up into the cottonwoods today.  Perhaps they are still there and stayed along the creek.  Again, I could not find the landowner to get permission to walk the creek.  Maybe tomorrow?

A Short-eared Owl stood on the fence line north of where Third Creek crosses West Cargo Road.  Light was terrible, still nice to find any Short-eared Owls!

Winds were 8-9 mph; gusts to 14 mph today.  Light snow fell most of the day.  High temperature was in the low 20s.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

From Chatfield Reservoir to Roads Northeast of Barr Lake

January 3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures barely achieved 30 degrees today.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It was cold especially when exposed to the wind.

This morning, Terry Michaels and I went south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) and relocated the Trumpeter Swan that has been reported for the last eight days.

Then we scoped South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) and found a Long-tailed Duck in Arapahoe County and another in Jefferson County!

Misses: we did not see any Black Scoters or Greater Scaups today.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove the "country roads" north and east of Barr Lake (Adams).  We found a few Lapland Longspurs both in Adams and Weld Counties (look for flocks of Horned Larks).

Our best stop was in response to Bill Kaempfer's report of a Rusty Blackbird at Box Elder Creek and Weld County Road 4.  Within ten minutes of getting out of the car, three Rusty Blackbirds popped up from the Creek (at 20 feet north of County Road 4).

The Rusty Blackbirds would rest in the leafless cottonwoods for 5 minutes or so and then return to the Creek.  We watched this three times!

The next 30 minutes were spent trying to find out who owned the property.  We hoped to walk along Box Elder Creek and get better photographs.  We only managed a couple of witness shots.  Unfortunately, the landowner was not found.

A nice consolation was a local rancher took us to his property and showed us a Barn Owl in one of his abandoned barns (Weld County).

We ended our day at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Two Long-eared Owls were relocated in the windbreak along the west side of Ponds 6-8.  A Great Horned Owl was also observed.  He called as we departed!

The day added some nice birds to our new 2017 Bird Lists!

First Trip to Aurora Reservoir 2017

January 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperature reached 50 degrees today.  With winds 12+ mph, it felt cold as I walked to Aurora Reservoir from the southeastern entrance.  Today was a repeat of the birds I observed on December 27.

Both Senac and Lone Tree Coves were almost completely ice covered.  Two adult Thayer's Gulls were on the ice at Senac Cove.  Most of the uncommon gulls were deep in Lone Tree Cove.

At the southern end of Lone Tree Cove, I counted three Thayer's Gulls, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, the Great Black-backed Gull and the Mew Gull.

When I scoped the lake from the bench at mile 2.5, I added a Glaucous Gull, Long-tailed Duck, Common Loon and two White-winged Scoters. 

On 12/27, I had the impression that two Glaucous Gulls might be out there.  Another birder did report two on 12/31.  Today I only found one.

The southern gates now close at 5:30 pm.  Northern entrance is open until 6:00 pm!

Eastern Colorado & Christmas Counts

December 28, 2016 to January 1, 2017

Terry Michaels.................

Richard Stevens has been waiting for me to compile our recent Christmas Counts and trips.  Full lists in January 2017 "Colorado Field Notes"

December 28

Five of us headed to Cottonwood Canyon in Baca County for tomorrow's Christmas Count.  Our route was I70 to Hwy 71 south to Hwy 50 to Lamar, then south to Springfield.

Stops: Lamar Community College in Prowers County
We found a pair of Northern Cardinals at the southern end of the college woods.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was at the northern end.

Two Buttes Reservoir in Baca County
We wondered if the report of ten Winter Wrens was a topo.  We did find one Winter Wren below the dam.  A Barn Owl was well hidden in the red rocky cliffs.

December 29

The five of six feeder watchers and us conducted the thirteenth Cottonwood Canyon Christmas Count.

We ended up with 61 species: highlights
Greater Roadrunner (6)
Western Screech-Owl (6)
Long-eared Owl (1)
Short-eared Owl (1)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (2, separate locations)
Lewis's Woodpecker (2, private land)
Steller's Jay (1, unusual location)
Juniper Titmouse (2)
Rock Wren (1, late in year)
Rufous-crowned Sparrow (8, always nice to find here)

December 30

We left Cottonwood Canyon area early and stopped at the Upland Bird Management Area.  A Short-eared Owl flew around east of the parking lot 30 minutes before sunrise.

At Picture Canyon, we walked south to Oklahoma.  Highlights
Northern Mockingbird (40 yards north of Oklahoma)
Rufous-crowned Sparrow (2, just south of parking lot)
Curve-billed Thrasher (1, hillside near gated cave)

We drove the gravel and dirt track just east of the entrance to the old Campo Prairie Chicken lek.  Scoping the hills at 0.3 miles south of Baca county road G, one Lesser Prairie-Chicken was seen walking around!

A stop at Two Buttes Reservoir did not find any Winter Wrens today.  The Barn Owl was still in his cubby hole.  A Greater Roadrunner was above the dam.  We looked in the evergreens for owls.  None were found but a Pine Warbler was a great consolation!

Then the long drive to Burlington, nothing at Lake Sheridan

December 31

We relocated the Greater Prairie-Chickens reported yesterday by Rebecca Laroche south of Yuma County Roads 59 & PP.5!

Five of four feeder watchers and us conducted the CoBus thirteenth Christmas Count.  We ended with 81 species.  Highlights

Greater Prairie-Chicken
Varied Thrush
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Screech-Owl (5)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (private land)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (4, Bonny/Hale, 1 CR 2)
Winter Wren (1, Hale ponds)
Eastern Bluebird (2)
Fox Sparrow (red form, private land)
Harris's Sparrow (2, Hale ponds & CR 2)
Rusty Blackbird (1, private land)
Red Crossbill (2, private land)

On the trip to Wray we stopped at Beecher Island; one White-throated Sparrow

January 1

We drove Yuma county Road 45 an hour before sunrise.  A Short-eared Owl was near CR PP.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was seen near the CR 45 lek.

Wray Fishing Unit in Yuma County
Northern Cardinal
Barn Owl
Eastern Bluebird
White-throated Sparrow

Thinking about our 2017 list we went back to Bonny Reservoir/Hale; highlights
Varied Thrush (south side of Bonny Reservoir)
Northern Cardinal (wagon wheel)
Eastern Screech-Owl (hale ponds)
Eastern Bluebird (hale)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (2, hale ponds)

Missed Yellow-bellied Sapsucker again that was reported by Loch Kilpatrick below the Bonny Reservoir dam on 12/30.

Nothing rare at Flagler Reservoir in Kit Carson County