Friday, March 31, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Skies were overcast most of the day.  Rain turning to snow arrived late in the afternoon.  Temperatures only reached 47 degrees, cold after yesterday's 66 degrees. Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

We had to go to Aurora, CO today for traffic court (I was framed!), got some birding in afterwards. 

Few birds moved around Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), although, Black-billed Magpies were in high numbers.

I try not to report unidentified birds, however.  We observed a bird fly from the model airplane field to the surrounding high grasses that appeared to be a Sagebrush Sparrow.  The bird was not relocated in the following 45 minutes.  We do not have time to return tomorrow; perhaps someone else will find it?

Reminder: Many of the Sagebrush Sparrows found at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) are seen after a spring snowstorm.  The storm is rolling in here at midnight.  Regrettably, we will not have time to get down there Saturday.

A Common Loon in sharp looking breeding plumage was on Lower Derby Lake in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  The majority bird was Northern Shovelers with a few Lesser Scaup and two Double-crested Cormorants.

Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were among sixty+ Ring-billed, two California and one Herring Gulls. 

Sometime after last Sunday, they did a controlled burn at Lake Ladora.  The lake had to be drained first but is refilling now.  I forgot to ask the ranger how deep the two lakes are.  They cannot be very deep; fisherperson's walk far off shore at Lake Ladora.

We drove the new wildlife self-driving tour.  Burrowing Owls were found in two locations: just south of the turn onto 88th avenue (north of mile 5.0) and near the intersection of Havana & 88th avenue (mile 7.0).

Fifty or so Bison were resting on the road at 72nd avenue & Yosemite Street.  They are massive impressive animals!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Trip To Northern Colorado

March 30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another day of partly sunny skies, temperatures reached 66 degrees.  Winds were 6 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Rebecca Kosten and I went north to Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld County) in search of Mountain Plovers.  No suspense there..........none was found.

The Tundra Swan was at the CR 37/CR 46 Ponds.  The Eurasian Wigeon if still there did not appear.  The near shore cannot be scoped from the public roads.  On past visits, he eventually did swim into view.  Our stay was brief.

Crow Valley Campgrounds added no uncommon birds to our trip list. 

We did see eleven Sharp-tailed Grouse on private land near Glover (Weld).  They are sometimes observed from public roads, however not today.

Traditional Mountain Plover nesting sites were checked.  A couple of McCown's Longspurs and Horned Larks were the only birds found.

The Chestnut-collared Longspur nesting field at Weld CR 114 & hwy 85 did not have any longspurs today.  It is a little early in the season for them and Mountain Plover.  Entrance to this field may require a permit (which we do have).

A Barn Owl was found north of the CPER Experimental Office.  No Common Redpolls, Snow Buntings or Short-eared Owls this trip was found along Owl Creek.

We continued to Soapstone Prairie Natural Area (Larimer) and enjoyed a pleasant although windy hike.  No Baird's Sparrows or any other sparrows were found. 

Wellington Wildlife Area is closed until July 16.  No Short-eared Owls appeared around sunset.

Birding Colorado Springs to Home

March 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

We had to go to Colorado Springs on business this morning.  Of course, birding was scheduled for the return trip.  Temperatures only reached 50 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 14 mph under partly sunny skies.

We returned by way of Highway 83 and stopped at Hwy 86 and Cherry Creek (Douglas).  A walk to the cattle gates north of hwy 86 and the Great Horned Owl Cottonwood grove did not find the Eastern Phoebe or any Eastern Bluebirds.

Highlight was our first of the year House Wren in the willows 25 yards south of the cattle gate. 

We found no ducks that could be called Greater Scaup at Walker Gravel Pit or McClain Gravel Pit.

No uncommon gulls or waterfowl were found at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).

A drive along the Jewell-Yale Loop found few birds.  Our first Loggerhead Shrike of the season was along Yale Avenue.

Burrowing Owls continue at W. Cargo Road and Third Creek (Adams).  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Birding Across Arapahoe & Adams Counties Today

March 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

No Grouse trips scheduled this week.  It was good fortune as weather patterns have snow and rain blowing through Colorado for the rest of the week.

Rebecca Kosten and I went out birding before the rain.  Temperatures reached 46 degrees today.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

Unfortunately, the Brant was not found at Columbine Lakes around noon.  A Say's Phoebe caught bugs while we watched.

We searched around the area including South Platte Park, Columbine Golf Course and several open fields for the Brant; without success.

Ketring Park (Arapahoe) was nearby and we stopped.  The Eastern Screech-Owl was relocated in less than 10 minutes.  The speed of success was quite unusual for us.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) offered few birds for our trip list.  Three Burrowing Owls were out of their burrows when we passed Third Creek and West Cargo Road.

Rain increased and our birding day ended early.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Drive to Douglas & Elbert Counties

March 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I searched once again for the birds along the Cherry Creek Trail, south of Walker Gravel Pit.  Three Burrowing Owls were found at Third Creek & W. Cargo Road (Adams) on our drive south.

Temperatures only reached 64 degrees today.  Winds were variable 5-6 mph with gusts to 14 mph at times.

The Eastern Phoebe was along the trail when we walked from the Walker Gravel Pit (Douglas) to the Hwy 83 Bridge.  Perhaps the cottonwoods provided some shelter from the winds? 

The two Eastern Bluebirds were in the cottonwood grove where the Great Horned Owl is on a nest.

No Greater Scaup were on the Walker Gravel Pit or McLain Gravel Pit.  Only Mountain & Western Bluebirds were seen today along Castlewood Canyon Road, south of the State Park.

We drove to Elbert County and watched a location at a private ranch where Short-eared Owls have been recorded in the past.  None appeared this afternoon.  It did rain several times during our trek today.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Area This Afternoon

March 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures briefly reached 55 degrees today.  Winds at 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph made it feel cold.

Today, I hiked to the Rod & Gun Club Pond at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County) without finding any uncommon birds.  No uncommon gulls were at Havana Ponds, Lower Derby Lake or Lake Ladora.

A drive along the Bison Auto Tour did not find my target bird.  Two adult Eastern Phoebes who had three fledglings last year have not returned, yet?

Then I walked outside the east side of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Buckley Road to 88th Avenue), returned and continued along the First Creek Trail to Tower Road (Denver County).

Again, I missed an adult pair of Northern Mockingbirds that had one fledgling last year.  They also have not returned, yet?  No Burrowing Owls were found (Adams/Denver Counties).

A Say's Phoebe was just north of the 56th Avenue Bridge.  Sixteen White-crowned Sparrows and forty+ House Sparrows were in the brush pile northwest of the bridge.  If the Harris's Sparrow that wintered there was still around, it did not make an appearance.

A Great Horned Owl was perched north of First Creek and the brush pile.  A few Mallards and three Killdeer searched for food in the slow moving stream.

Later, two Burrowing Owls stood on mounds at the prairie dog village at Third Creek and West Cargo Road.  No Short-eared Owls were found while I sat and watched the 88th avenue and Powhaton Road section of the DIA Owl Loop.

Rapid Grouse Trip

March 21-24, 2017

Richard Stevens:

March 21

Barry Humboldt and I searched for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County).  It took 2.5 hours before we finally found one below the west side of the Summit.

Not to be funny, it was the last place we looked.  My usual plan is 1. Check east of the large pullover south of the Summit; 2. Check the hillside north of the pullover; 3. Scope the hillside west of the first pullover on the return drive to the Summit; 4. Scope the east side of the Summit; 5. Finally hike up the west side of the Summit (this can require a strenuous climb up to 0.8 miles

A brief stop at a friend's yard in Summit County added Rosy Finches (3 species), Clark's Nutcrackers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins to our day list.

We stopped at Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand) on our way north.  Six Barrow's Goldeneyes were found among two dozen Common Goldeneyes.

Our birding day ended at the Jackson CR 26b Greater Sage-Grouse Leks.  We found four birds as the snow fell.

March 22

We started our birding day again with snow falling rather rapidly on the Twenty Road Leks (Routt).  Fortunately, five Sharp-tailed Grouse ignored the blowing snow and flew into the lek.  They did not show an interest in displaying.

The dilemma facing us was the prediction of major snowstorm(s) blowing across Colorado.  We made the decision to skip many of the planned birding stops and exit the western slope.

Regrettably, we omitted stops at Oxbow State Trust Lands (Sagebrush Sparrows, Sage Thrasher), Coal Canyon (Chukar), Colorado National Monument (Pinyon Jays, etc), and Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Lewis's Woodpecker).

A two mile drive up Escalante Canyon (Delta) for Black Phoebes was successful.  A Chukar crossing the road was an added bonus!

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  A male Dusky Grouse was spotted on the side of the South Rim Drive between the entrance and the Campgrounds!

March 23

A drive down CR 887 before sunrise found three Gunnison Sage-Grouse north of the Waunita Hot Springs parking area.

Trying to beat the coming snowstorm, we continued west along Highway 50.  Two male American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at the Monarch Pass rest area (old Monarch Pass Road, Chaffee County).  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew overhead.

At Poncha Springs, we turned south into the San Luis Valley.  The hope was to miss any snow.  We visited John James Canyon (Conejos County).  Taking the time to walk about a mile into the canyon, we found one Sage Thrasher and one Sagebrush Sparrow!

Then we high tailed it out of the San Luis Valley.  La Veta Pass while not a high pass in elevation is one of the two most dreadful passes for me to drive through (the other being Rabbit Ears Pass in Grand/Routt Counties).

We arrived in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) in the afternoon and enjoyed stretching our legs after a 300 mile drive.  Birds found included a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Towhees, Chihuahuan Ravens and Wild Turkey.

Shortly after sunset, two Western Screech-Owls were heard calling.  Eventually we observed one of them deep in a thick grove near the camping area along Carrizo Creek and Baca CR 7.

March 24

We started our birding day on a friend's ranch where Terry Michaels and I had found several Lesser Prairie-Chickens back on March 1st.  Two of them returned today!

Predicted snowstorms hit northeast Colorado today.  We were in no hurry to drive up to Wray (Yuma County).

We wandered back and forth along Baca County Roads.  A Vesper Sparrow was found along CR G, east of the road into the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek.  A Cassin's Sparrow was found with an hour effort in the field to the northeast.

A drive into Pasture G (across from the Washington Work Center) did not find any Burrowing Owls returning yet.  The Highlight of the day was a lone Mountain Plover in the field to the west!

Nothing uncommon was at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  We missed the Carolina Wren at Lamar Community College (Prowers); however, a Northern Cardinal and Red-bellied Woodpecker were found.

We received the text message about a Vermilion Flycatcher rather late in the afternoon.  Of course, we rushed up the Kit Carson CR 55 & CR N.  The Vermilion Flycatcher and reported Chestnut-collared Longspurs found by Glenn Walbek yesterday were not seen by us.

Hale Ponds (Yuma) added Red-bellied Woodpeckers, eight Eastern Bluebirds and Wild Turkey to our day list.  After sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl was called out of his nesting hole.

March 25

We started our birding day with a drive along CR 42 west of Highway 385.  Greater Prairie-Chickens were found at two locations both of which appeared to be leks.  We then rushed to the CR 45 Lek and picked up another three birds (they usually dance long after sunrise).

Stops at Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond (Yuma) were quite successful.  An Eastern Phoebe was along CR FF.  A Barn Owl was west of the residences.

Stalker Pond had a male Northern Cardinal on the south side of the Pond.  A Winter Wren popped out of the cattails below the parking area.

Time was running out for Barry and we returned to Denver quite satisfied with our limited birding opportunities.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Weld County Road 37/46 Ponds

March 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Busy day with chores, birding companions missed their flight from eastern Canada.  Temperatures in the afternoon were 75 degrees.  Winds were 13-14 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

I managed to find a couple of hours in the afternoon to drive up to the Weld County Roads 37/46 ponds.  Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn & Ray Simmons had already found the Eurasian Wigeon earlier in the day!

The male Eurasian Wigeon swam with ten American Wigeons on the eastern pond.  Eight to ten Greater Scaup, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Northern Pintail Ducks, Gadwalls and Mallards were also there.

A male Cinnamon Teal and Great-tailed Grackle were at the western pond along with many ducks.

Arrived back in Denver 5 minutes before my deadline, not much time for birding.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Another Trip Around Eastern Denver

March 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I was going to give up trying to photograph the Westerly Creek Park Harris's Sparrow.  However, Terry Michaels called to let me know that he relocated the Harris's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow this morning.

Temperatures did not reach the predicted 80 degrees; 78 degrees was not bad for the middle of March!  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

When I arrived at Westerly Creek Park I found the flock of sparrows precisely where Terry explained.  Nine White-crowned Sparrows and the Harris's Sparrow walked under the bushes just north of 25th Street and west of Beeler Street.

I managed a witness photo before the flock flew east across Beeler and landed under the bushes near the cement retention area.  The Harris's Sparrow was briefly relocated before it disappeared into the thicker bushes.  The White-throated Sparrow was not found.

My next stop was Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Few birds were found.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull has not been reported since last Wednesday.  Nothing uncommon to report.

On the way to Barr Lake (Adams), I drove through the Town of Barr.  Two Great-tailed Grackles were on a telephone pole at East 136th Avenue and the railroad tracks. 

No Yellow-headed Blackbirds have shown up yet.  The cattail fields along the I76 service road (Telluride Street) are a traditional nesting location for them.

I skipped Barr Lake State Park (Adams) and drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Burrowing Owls were found at Trussville Street & 114th Avenue or down Gun Club Road.

Two Burrowing Owls are now around West Cargo Road and Third Creek (west side of Cargo).  One was north and one south of Third Creek.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Genesee Mountain Park, Cherry Creek Reservoir & DIA Owl Loop

March 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

What a day, 78 degrees with winds 6 mph, gusts to 13 mph.

Barry Humboldt and I went to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).  Two Williamson's Sapsuckers were relocated north and south of the group picnic area.

Other birds found included two Red Crossbills, Red-breasted & Pygmy Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, Dark-eyed Juncos and Chipping Sparrows.

After dropping Barry off, I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  One of the two Long-eared Owls was relocated.  The owl was within six inches of a nest.  We have decided to drop the listing from any rare bird alerts.  Let us hope the pair decides to nest!

I could not relocate the Burrowing Owl at the prairie dog town at West Cargo Road and Third Creek today.  No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Friday, March 17, 2017

Once Again Trip to Westerly Creek Park & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 17, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Barry Humboldt and I drove to Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) an hour before sunrise.  Not related to Alexander Humboldt, naturalist and Humboldt Peak.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl was found along the Songbird Trail.  After sunrise, a Dusky Grouse was along Raven's Roost Trail approximately 100 yards south of the old service road.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was later found north of the intersection of Raven's Roost & Eagle's View trails.  Misses: could not find a Williamson's Sapsucker.

In the afternoon, temperatures reached 70 degrees.  Winds were 10 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

I stopped by Westerly Creek Park (Denver) for another chance to get a photograph of the Harris's Sparrow.  Regrettably, it was not found.  Neither was yesterday's Long-eared Owl or Brown Thrasher.

Highlights were a Lincoln's Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow loosely associated with a flock of eight White-crowned Sparrows in the brush near 26th Street.  The Townsend's Solitaire called near 26th Street.

The White-throated Sparrow was quite secretive.  I had to follow it for over 15 minutes before getting a good look.  The bright white supercilium caught my attention (from back view).  Eventually a frontal view confirmed the ID.

My next stop was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The Lesser Black-backed Gull found a few days ago was not at Lake Ladora, Lower Derby Lake or Havana Pond.

I was not comfortable calling any of the 27 Lesser Scaups observed a Greater Scaup.  I find this separation much more difficult than it appears to other birders (see March 2017 "Colorado Field Notes").

No Short-eared Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Return to Westerly Creek Park & Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 16, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 75 degrees; winds were up to 9 mph.

On the way to Aurora, I stopped at Westerly Creek Park (Denver County).  I had found the Harris's Sparrow twice in the past week, however hoped for a better photo.

The Harris's Sparrow was relocated but not by me.  A birding group of 16+ birders swarmed the area.  I took off.

Just before they arrived, I circled Westerly Creek from 23rd to 26th Streets.  While I did not see the Harris's Sparrow, I did find the Brown Thrasher.  Unfortunately, the shy bird did not provide a photographic opportunity (only got a witness shot and poor at that).

The highlight was a Long-eared Owl. While trying to photography the Brown Thrasher under an evergreen tree, the orange face of a Long-eared Owl stared out of the evergreen.  No telling who more was surprised, the owl or me.

Other birds encountered included a Townsend's Solitaire, a Say's Phoebe, 8 Bushtits, six White-crowned Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow.

I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) just before my meeting in Aurora.  The Long-eared Owl was again up the road to the shooting range (south of the closed gate).

No uncommon gulls were found at the southwest marina.  I was surprised at how many Ring-billed Gulls (various ages) had pink legs.

No Western Kingbirds, any flycatchers or warblers were around.  One adult Bald Eagle was perched in a cottonwood at the Mountain Loop.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Birding East of Denver

March 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed the 70+ degree morning with a drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was back at Lake Ladora.  Six hundred Ring-billed Gulls were joined by half a dozen California and two Herring Gulls.

Few birds were on Lower Derby Lake.  No other uncommon birds were encountered.  The Bison were close to the auto tour road today. 

We stopped at Westerly Creek Park (Denver) on our way to Denver.  The Harris's Sparrow cooperated and was relocated in less than 5 minutes near Beeler and 23rd Streets.  We did not relocate the Brown Thrasher; however, we did not give it much of a search.

Later in the afternoon, I walked from mile 9.0 to 7.3 at Barr Lake (Adams).  One Barn Owl flew up and watched me from a tall cottonwood.  One Long-eared Owl was at its usual windbreak. 

No uncommon birds were found.  A Lincoln's Sparrow was in the willows near the banding station.  Fourteen Black-capped Chickadees noisily fluttered about at mile 8.9.

No Ospreys have returned yet.  One sub-adult Bald Eagle was perched out at the banding station point.  Few birds were on the water.

I then drove the DIA Owl Loop.  One Burrowing Owl is back at the prairie dog village at West Cargo Road & Third Creek (formerly and for the last time labeled: 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue.

Note: due to construction, 96th avenue is closed at Tower Road; other routes are required to reach Cargo & Third Creek.

Finally, I parked at 88th avenue and Picadilly (south of Burrowing Owl location) and waited until dusk.  One Short-eared Owl was observed flying over the field northeast of the intersection!

Seven Day Gallinaceous Bird Trip in Three Days

 March 12-14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Three of us just completed my seven day grouse trip in three days.  Lots of driving (the first day 800+ miles).  We did not have much time for detours or passerine birds.

March 12

We sat at the Yuma County Road 45 lek at sunrise.  Three Greater Prairie-Chickens eventually visited the lek!  The previous hour was spent looking for Short-eared Owls and Northern Bobwhite along CR 45 & CR PP; without success.

A brief visit to Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma) found an Eastern Screech-Owl, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and eight Eastern Bluebirds at Hale Ponds and a Northern Cardinal at Wagon Wheel.

Two Lesser Prairie-Chickens were found on private land in Baca County.  Our birding day ended with two Western Screech-Owls calling at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).

March 13

We started our birding day with a drive down Gunnison County Road 887.  Two Gunnison Sage-Grouse were spotted north of the old Waunita Hot Springs lek.

A male Dusky Grouse was found at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  He was between the south rim and campgrounds entrance road.

A detour to Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta) added a Lewis's Woodpecker to our trip list.  No Black Phoebes were found in Escalante Canyon. 

Gambel's Quail and Pinyon Jays were observed near the southern entrance to the Colorado National Monument.  We had to skip the search for Sagebrush Sparrows up Baxter Pass Road (Mesa) and continued to Coal Canyon (Mesa).

A calling Chukar was found up the hill southwest of the parking area at the second pipe gate in Coal Canyon.

We then headed up the Grand Mesa (Mesa).  Two Boreal Owls (one heard, one seen) were found at pullovers south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds.  On our return toward Craig, a Northern Pygmy-Owl was found at the Powderhorn Ski Area!  The weather cooperated too; snowstorms can crop up this time of year.

March 14

We started our birding day at the Twenty Road Leks south of Hayden (Routt).  Eventually five Sharp-tailed Grouse flew from the east and visited the leks on the west side of Twenty seven Road.

Our group detoured west at Craig and visited the Oxbow State Trust Lands.  Two Sagebrush Sparrows and two Sage Thrashers were observed from the parking area!

On the way to Jackson County, we stopped for a quick bite in Steamboat Springs.  No Bohemian Waxwings were found at last month's reported locations.

A stop at the maintenance road on Rabbit Ears Pass (Grand) found a female American Three-toed Woodpecker on one of the telephone poles.  The only crossbills encountered were Red Crossbills.

A dusk, we watched four Greater Sage-Grouse visit the Jackson County Road 26b lek.

On the return to Denver, we stopped at three spots near Cameron Pass.  Two Boreal Owls were found just west of the summit.

We were quite fortunate to enjoy our success with only a three day trip.  It required finding Dusky Grouse during the day (traditionally we have to wait until sunset).  Having an Eastern Screech-Owl exit its tree during the day was nice also.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Return to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 11, 2017

Richard Stevens:

A cold front blew through Colorado today.  Temperature only attained 46 degrees; winds however were only 2-3 mph.

I looked for a place to hike and chose Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Yesterday's Lesser Black-backed Gull was not at Lake Ladora when I arrived.

My hike was first to Havana Ponds.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull was with three dozen Ring-billed Gulls.  Then I continued to the Rod & Gun Club bird blind.  No uncommon birds were encountered or expected.

On the drive out of the Arsenal, I stopped back at Lake Ladora.  Surprise, the Lesser Black-backed Gull had returned!

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Birding Mountains and Denver Area

March 10, 2017

Richard Stevens

Three birding friends came to Denver for a wedding tomorrow.  We took advantage of their free day and headed for the mountains.  We eventually found one White-tailed Ptarmigan walking below the western side of the Loveland Pass summit (Clear Creek County).  Several Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled overhead.

We continued west into Summit County and visited a friend's yard.  Eight Rosy Finches (3 species, only 1 Black), Red-breasted & Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Grosbeaks and Clark's Nutcrackers were seen.  No Evening Grosbeaks appeared on this trip.

Our next stop was Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).  A male Williamson's Sapsucker was northwest of the group picnic area!  Red-breasted & White-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos and four Red Crossbills were also found.

I dropped them off at their motel and continued east.  Down on the plains it was another fantastic winter day in Colorado; temperature reached 64 degrees; winds were 2-3 mph.

I covered quite a bit of distance today however stayed in the metro area.  My first stop was Westerly Creek Park (Denver County).  The Harris's Sparrow was found within 10 minutes.  It was missed yesterday in my hour search.   

Unfortunately, as I was waiting for my camera to boot up, CDOT came by and decided to clean up the area starting at the Harris's Sparrow site.  Two or three "campsites" are semi-hidden in the taller bushes.

I walked around for an hour hoping they would finish; they did not.  As I walked by the bushes across from 2505 Beeler Street, the Brown Thrasher that I found yesterday was singing today.  The bird was quite shy and only exposed himself for a few seconds twice.  This was the same area it was discovered yesterday.

The eight to ten Bushtits were in the same area.  Yesterday they were south of 23rd Street.

My next stop was Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  I was on my way home; however, the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was found and photographed on the east side of Lake Ladora. 

When I photographed it on Wednesday, its legs looked pink to me (see photo on Colorado Birding Society's website "recent witness photos".  It must have been the light at sunset.  Today the Gull was closer; I had good looks through my scope in better light.  It has bright yellow legs, bright yellow bill with red spot and dark gray back.

The Gull did not appear to be the same Lesser Black-backed Gull I observed yesterday at Cherry Creek Reservoir's southwest marina.  To be sure, I drove over to the Reservoir.  Again, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the logs around the southwest marina (as it was yesterday).

Daylight was fading so I stayed at Cherry Creek.  I first looked for the Long-eared Owl where I found it yesterday (without success) and then waited for Short-eared Owls to fly over the cattail marsh at Lakeview Drive, west of Cherry Creek.  None was seen this evening.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Westerly Creek & Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The day was another superb Colorado winter day.  Temperatures reach 68 degrees.  Winds were 2-4 mph.  The sunset was quite spectacular this evening!

I stopped at Westerly Creek Open Space (Denver).  My brief 30 minute search did not turn up the sparrow.  A nice consolation was a new Denver County bird for me, a Brown Thrasher.

After a visit to the dentist, I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the telephone poles outlining the southwest marina.

I managed to relocate the Long-eared Owl south of the closed gate up the gun range road.  A male and female Ring-necked Pheasant walked across the road.

No Short-eared Owls were observed flying over the cattail fields at Lake View Road, west of Cherry Creek.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Banner Lakes, Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I sought a place to stretch my legs today selected Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  Temperatures reached 66 degrees although it did not feel that warm.  Winds were mild at 4-5 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

American Robins are presently the majority bird at the Wildlife Area.  A few dozen Dark-eyed Juncos are still hanging around.  I do not believe that the juncos nest there?

Only one Long-eared Owl was encountered today.  Check the windbreak west of Ponds 7-8.  No sign of migration taking place here.  The hike was still enjoyable.  Little wind and little noise besides birds calling is a pleasant change from birding spots in Denver.

Later, I passed by Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The previously reported black backed Gull was again at Lake Ladora.  I watched it for 20 minutes, looked away, and it disappeared.  It is an interesting Gull, most likely a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Photo at: (recent witness photos)

I had business near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and stopped at the State Park.  No Rusty Blackbird or any bird walked the Pelican Point shore. 

The Long-eared Owl was not found either.  I stayed until sunset looking a Short-eared Owl flying over the cattail fields east of the Gun Range; none showed up this evening.

Birding Around The Eastern Side of Denver

March 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 52 degrees today.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 20 mph.

A stop at Barr Lake (Adams) on the way to the airport added a Barn Owl & Long-eared Owl to our trip list.  Two Ferruginous Hawks were standing over the prairie dog village at West Cargo Road and Third Creek.

After dropping my birding partners at the airport, I had some business near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Nothing uncommon was found at Cherry Creek Reservoir; missed: recent sightings of Long-eared Owl and Rusty Blackbird.

On the trip home, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and enjoyed the pleasant day with a hike down the south end to the bench at mile 2.5.  Nothing uncommon was observed on the lake.

Many Ring-billed Gulls were joined with a couple of Herring and dozens of California Gulls.  No black backed or large "white" gulls were found.

I drove around to the north side and scoped the lake three times each from the upper swim beach parking area and the northwest corner of the dam.  Misses: If the White-winged Scoter is still around it was not found by me.

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

First Grouse Trip of 2017

March 2-6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

March 2
Three of us started on my first grouse trip of 2017.  Our first stop was Loveland Pass (Clear Creek County).  A White-tailed Ptarmigan was observed walking along the east-west ridge north of the first pullover south of the Pass and on the west side of Hwy 9.

We then stopped at a friend's home in Silverthorne (Summit) where 3 species of Rosy Finches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins and Clark's Nutcrackers were added to our short trip list.

On the trip north, Kremmling was searched unsuccessfully for Redpolls and Rosy Finches.  A Rough-legged Hawk and Golden Eagle were observed during the drive along Hwy 14 between Hwy 40 & Jackson County Road 26.

Our birding day ended at the Greater Sage-Grouse Leks off Jackson County Road 26b where three birds were found!

March 3
We sat at the Twenty Road Leks (Routt) at sunrise.  About ten minutes after sunrise, two Sharp-tailed Grouse flew to the leks (from the west side of the highway).

The trip to Oxbow Wildlife Area (Moffat) was skipped.  The thinking was that it was too early in the season to find Sagebrush Sparrows, Sage Thrashers or Pinyon Jays.

Instead, we drove south to Rifle and then west to Coal Canyon (Mesa).  Nothing uncommon was found along the way at the Yampa River & Hwy 13, Perch Pond or the Rifle Rest Stop.

It took about an hour to find one Chukar up Coal Canyon.  It was heard a good 20 minutes before finally being spotted on the hillside southwest of the huge parking area at the second pipe gate.

We then headed up the Grand Mesa.  I prefer to get up there about three hours before sunset, make a quick stop at the Powderhorn Ski Area and then head to the Visitor's Center.

No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at the Ski Area.  A few Clark's Nutcrackers and Gray Jays were at the Grand Mesa Lodge.  Nothing uncommon flew around the Visitor's Center.

We waited at the Visitor's Center until dark and then returned north stopping at the various pullovers along hwy 165.  Eventually we heard and saw one Boreal Owl at a pullover south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

March 4
We slept until sunrise and drove to the southern (eastern) entrance to the Colorado National Monument (Mesa).  The subdivision of homes is a great location to find Gambel's Quail; we found five.

No Black-throated Sparrows appeared at the entrance (too early in the season).  A walk down the Devil's Kitchen trail found two Pinyon Jays.  A Canyon Wren was at the picnic area on the north side of the road.

Two stops to take in the scenery were made while we drove north to the Campgrounds.  Two Juniper Titmice and a flock of Bushtits were found during a thirty minute stop.  It was too early for any Black-throated Gray Warblers; none was found.

A Bewick's Wrens was around the old pond at then northern (western) entrance to the Monument.

We then drove up Mesa County Road 4 (north of Interstate 70) to search for Sagebrush Sparrows.  Finally, two Sagebrush Sparrows were found about 7.8 miles up the road.  A check of the traditional Long-eared Owl location did not find any today.

Nothing uncommon was found at Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta), again too early in the year.  One Lewis's Woodpecker was discovered west of the reservoir.

Back in Delta, a search of Confluence Park did not find any Barrow's Goldeneyes.  The resident Western Screech-Owl was at the G50 Road Wildlife Area.

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  Only one male Dusky Grouse was found on the drive to the Visitor's Center.

March 5
Our birding day started with a drive down Gunnison Road 887.  Two Gunnison Sage-Grouse walked across the road for us and allowed nice views.

A stop at the Monarch Pass rest area (Chaffee) added two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a small flock of Brown-capped Rosy Finches to our day list.

We search unsuccessfully for the Tundra Swans in Salida.  Two Barrow's Goldeneyes at Sands Lake Wildlife Area was a fair consolation.

A Lewis's Woodpecker was found in Buena Vista (Chaffee).  It was along West Brookdale Avenue, west of Pleasant Avenue. 

A Curve-billed Thrasher was found at the cattail crossing in Pueblo West (Pueblo County). 

We rushed to get to Comanche National Grasslands (Baca) an hour before sunset.  Two Lesser Prairie-Chickens were eventually found.

Shortly after dark, a Western Screech-Owl called and allowed us nice looks back at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).

We then made the long drive toward Wray (Yuma).  A stop at Hale Ponds (Yuma) found one of the resident Eastern Screech-Owls; we missed the Long-eared Owls.

March 6
At first light, we sat along Yuma County Road 45.  Three Greater Prairie-Chickens visited the lek about five minutes after sunrise!

Two Long-eared Owls were found at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) on our way to the Pawnee National Grasslands.  A few Lapland Longspurs flew with flocks of Horned Larks along Morgan County Road 4 (north of Jackson Reservoir).

The early date for Mountain Plovers on the Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) is 3/11, then 3/16.  We searched anyway, without success.

Then we headed back to Denver by way of Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld).  One Short-eared Owl flew south of Weld County Road 48 just after sunset!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Afternoon At Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

First day of March, temperatures only reached 45 degrees.  Winds at 8-9 mph with gusts of 21 mph made of a cold afternoon.

After finishing chores, I found myself near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Few birds moved about the State Park.  No uncommon gulls and no Western Kingbird were found.

Thirty minutes before sunset, I walked the shore at Pelican Point.  A flock of fourteen American Tree Sparrows fluttered about the willows.   A Song Sparrow entertained for about 15 minutes as it scurried out of the willows and grabbed bugs pushed to shore by the high waves.

My plan was to park near shooting range at sunset and watch for Short-eared Owls flying over the cattail fields to the east.  Unfortunately, no Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

A nice consolation was sighting the Long-eared Owl that has been roosting in the thick trees along the shooting range entrance road!  In addition, a pair of Ring-necked Pheasants walked across the road.

Walking County Roads East of DIA

February 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The day was cold; temperatures only reached 34 degrees.  Winds were 9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

One of my favorite times of day is the hour before sunset.  Birds seem to become more active, perhaps looking for the last meal of the day.  Many sparrows end the day with song.

To keep my streak of birding everyday, I walked the county roads east of DIA (Denver International Airport).  Birds were few; only a couple of American Tree Sparrows and a pair of Song Sparrows were found.

I was reminded of an April day in Arizona, 1995.  I wandered around Marathon Park outside of Big Bend National Park waiting for the Elf Owls to come out at sunset.

Just before the Elf Owls were "scheduled" to emerge from their trees, a car stopped.  A woman in a fancy gown and a man in a tuxedo exited.  It was Bryan Kelly and his wife. 

Bryan banded birds for over twenty years at a nearby Texas State Park.  They were part of a wedding party taking place in an hour.  Bryan said hi and explained that they had to get their birding fix for the day. 

We watched the Elf Owls together.  Bryan handed me an autographed copy of his book and they took off for their engagement.  I was glad not to be the only birder focused on the sport.  "Focused" I prefer that word over a few others!