Thursday, August 31, 2017

Another Check on Fall Migration at Barr Lake

August 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake to check on fall migration.  Birding was slow.  Townsend's Warbler was the only warbler.  The Least Flycatcher, Western Wood-pewees, House Wrens, Western Kingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds are still around.

No vireos were found this evening.  I did not drive the DIA Owl Loop.

Return to Boulder County

August 30-31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Back in Boulder County we continued our owl survey.

Owl count was quite good tonight.

Eldorado Mountain Open Space: Northern Pygmy-Owl (1) (ols)
Eldorado Canyon Northern Saw-whet Owl (2) after an hour sit
Mesa South Trail: Eastern Screech-Owl (2, heard, separate locations), Northern Pygmy-Owl (2, heard, separate locations), Flammulated Owl (1, heard), Northern Saw-whet Owl (2, several hour sits)

Misses: "owl listening stations" up Doudy Draw caught zero calls

Owling In Boulder County

August 29-30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I went owling in Boulder County.  I have wanted this trip for quite a while; other trips have taken up my time.  Early August is better owling as the adults will give contact calls to keep in touch with their offspring. 

We did okay for late August.  By the way, the biggest problem is finding some where to park to avoid getting a ticket.  Years ago, I made a deal with one of the local residents to park in their driveway!  Thanks much Adrian!

Along our trek, we also put out our "owl listening stations".  These are dual CD/DVD players, one set to play and the other to record.  A CD with owl calls spaced at intervals and the other CD is noise activated to capture any responses.  The bigger expense was the $250 software to analyze the recorded CDs so that we do not have to listen to them (some DVDs are recording for 2-4 hours).

Northern Pygmy-Owls usually do not call continuously as they do in spring when looking for a mate.  They do have short contact calls.

Northern Saw-whet Owls usually do not call at all.  They will approach a call and sit nearby the recording.  In most cases, we must observe any sightings.

Eastern Screech-Owls will respond quite a long time to a recording.  Boreal Owls have similar behavior.  Flammulated Owls approach and may give a short contact call.

These have been my experiences for years and have worked well in contacting and finding the above species.  Others have published different results?

One additional note:  Originally, we had three setups.  This night an animal destroyed one of our "owl listening stations" (ols).  If it was a bear, we were quite happy to miss seeing it!

Our owl count and source this evening was the following (some of the locations we are making as vague as possible to protect the owls).

Walden Ponds: Eastern Screech-Owl (1) (ols)
Sawhill Ponds: possible Lewis's Woodpecker heard while setting up
Bobolink Trail: Northern Pygmy-Owl (ols)
St. Vrain: Long-eared Owl (2) heard by us, one seen flying in dim light
Old St. Vrain: Northern Pygmy-Owl (found by us)
Highway 7, west of Lyons: Northern Pygmy-Owl (ols) (destroyed box, DVD saved)
Highway 7, west of Lyons: Northern Saw-whet Owl (we sat for two hours, one approached our recordings)
Highway 7, Northern Pygmy-Owl (2, Raymond & Allenspark)

Considering that we did not sit for long times at several locations where Northern Saw-whet Owls have been found, we were happy with one sighting.

We were not in Flammulated Owl or Boreal Owl habitat this night.
Greenlee Preserve, Pella Crossing Park: no owl encounters

Return to Barr Lake

August 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After spending most of the day during chores, I returned to Barr Lake (Adams).  Bird numbers were down quite a bit from yesterday.  One Townsend's Warbler, one Cassin's Vireo, one Western Wood-pewee, several Western Kingbirds and an Eastern Kingbird were observed.

Two Burrowing Owls were relocated at the Prairie Dog Village at Third Creek and West Cargo Road.

Good Birding Trip to Barr Lake

August 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After hearing about the numerous bird sightings at Barr Lake (Adams), I headed over there in the afternoon.  Skies were partly sunny; temperatures were in the low 90s.

A Black-and-white Warbler was along the main trail at mile 8.9. I thought that the many birds reported were near the banding station.  That turned out not to be accurate (later the bird bander reported few birds banded).  I found no birds around the banding station willows.

I continued north along the main trail.  When I reached the trees at mile 8.3, the woods were filled with bird sounds.  I stood there for the next hour trying to identify the birds which stayed high up in the cottonwoods.

Eventually I would observe the Philadelphia Vireo, a Cassin's Vireo, Wilson's Warbler, one Townsend's Warbler, two Red-breasted Nuthatches, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, two Western Wood-pewees and a Western Kingbird.

Misses included the reported American Redstart and Least Flycatcher.  I continued to the boat ramp at mile 7.5.  Additional birds included two House Wrens and a pair of Eastern Kingbirds.

Just before sunset I drove, the now opened DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  One Burrowing Owl stood on a prairie dog mound at Third Creek and West Cargo Road.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Search For Migrating Birds In Adams & Denver Counties

August 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures today reached the low 90s; winds were 7-8 mph with a short period of gusts to 17 mph in the afternoon.

I walked 14 miles today.  Birder miles are more strenuous than a hike because of the stopping and going and standing around scoping the habitats.  Rebecca dropped me off at several places and picked me up at the other terminus.  That cut the distance almost in half.

While my target bird was more or less the Crested Caracara, I was searching for migration birds.  A closer look at the bird than yesterdays would have been welcomed.  I did not find it.

Barr Lake (Adams) from mile 5 to 9 (or 0) was slow bird wise.  I encountered a Northern Waterthrush not the one at the banding station (not banded).  I did see the American Redstart near the banding station (banded).

Other birds included many Western Kingbirds, two Eastern Kingbirds, three Western Wood-pewees, one Least Flycatcher, five House Wrens, nine Yellow Warblers, eleven Wilson's Warblers, one Hermit Thrush, no uncommon sparrows, Red-tailed Hawks, Swainson's Hawks, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons and a Virginia Rail.

The hike from the Prairie Trail to the Rod and Gun Club ponds at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) added several additional Western Kingbirds, two Eastern Kingbirds, two Western Wood-pewees, four Yellow Warblers, one Orange-crowned Warbler, Lark Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows and one Savannah Sparrow.

Bluff Lake Nature Area was quite slow.   One Western Wood-pewee, two Yellow Warblers and a Clay-colored Sparrow were the non-resident birds.

The First Creek Trail from 56th to Buckley (Denver) then Buckley to the western end (Adams) was the most interesting. 

Adams County Sparrows included two Cassin's, two Brewer's, one Clay-colored, fourteen Lark, two Song, two Savannah, one Grasshopper, one Swamp and one mystery sparrow.  The Swamp Sparrow was in the cattails around the pond near the western fence at First Creek.

The mystery sparrow I captured several dozen photos as of yet not examined.  It appeared to be an "ammodramus".

Other Adams County birds included an adult Bald Eagle (at Pond), two Red-tailed Hawks, two Western Wood-pewees, dozens of Western Kingbirds, two Eastern Kingbirds, one "empidonax flycatcher", two House Wrens, two Yellow Warblers, one Orange-crowned Warbler, four male Lesser Goldfinches, and one male Belted Kingfisher.

Earlier in Denver County, Great Horned Owl, one Savannah Sparrow, one Grasshopper Sparrow, one female Blue Grosbeak, two well hidden Red-tailed Hawks, and many Red-winged Blackbirds. 

Misses: Barn Owls, Crested Caracara, additional hawks.

An hour before sunset, Rebecca and I walked a mile on the temporarily closed West Cargo Road to the prairie dog town.  Two Burrowing Owls remain.  No Short-eared Owls appeared at sunset.

Conclusion: I did not run into a wave of migrating birds.

Highlight of my day was an Eastern Screech-Owl.  It is in the First Creek area.  Because of its easy access, its location will not be disclosed.  It has nested in the past and over wintered.

ONE OTHER NOTE: we drove to Aurora Reservoir to search for the reported Long-tailed Jaeger, found that the reservoir was closed for the day?

Search for a Crested Caracara

August 25, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I searched Adams/Denver County from a little after 1:00 pm until seeing it at 5:00 pm.  Having missed it at First Creek and the Denver Landfill where it had been seen earlier in the day, I decided to check Box Elder Creek.  A stop at Pena Blvd & 61st Avenue Park N Ride a Burrowing Owl was seen south of the entrance road.

I drove up and down Hudson Road with detours east to Box Elder Creek.  Areas where Red-headed Woodpeckers had previously been spotted (B.E.C & 104 and B.E.C. & 96th avenue) were especially studied.

No luck, I decided to return to First Creek and 56th Avenue.  A large raptor was spotted along Box Elder Creek.  The grove of cottonwoods was west of Hudson Road at 0.5 miles north of 56th Avenue. 

Its flattish black cap and whitish nape and neck were unmistakable those of a Crested Caracara.  I called several friends who managed to come and see the bird.  Ten minutes later, two Red-tailed Hawks circled over the cottonwoods and the Caracara took off, heading east.

The white windows in the wings and dark tipped whitish tail confirmed what we already knew.

Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) an hour before sunset.  Dozens of Barn Swallows flew around the Lake Loop. 

One interesting nighthawk was with them.  It made no wing noise the few times it drove.  For the most part, it hunted close to the ground.  Its wings looked rather short.  All these are characteristics of a Lesser Nighthawk.  Unfortunately, we did not see it long or well enough to confirm any identification.  I did not record it as such.

A Willet and Least Sandpiper were on Pelican Point.

A Great Birding Week In Colorado

August 21-24, 2017

Richard Stevens:

August 21

At first light, Rebecca and I drove around Lamar (Prowers County) searching for the previously reported Swallow-tailed Kite.  Success, it was perched in a cottonwood tree near the church north of Willow Creek Park (sorry I cannot remember the name of the church).

Before we exited our car, it took off.  I was able to capture three shots of the bird.  It should be the cover of September's "Colorado Field Notes" unless someone gets a good photo of the Crested Caracara floating around Denver.

At Willow Park, we found two Red-headed Woodpeckers and one Red-bellied Woodpecker (the bird was actually east of Willow Valley Road).

A couple of Pine Siskins (unusual) were later found at nearby Fairmount Cemetery.

Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) added a Barn Owl, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, four Wild Turkeys, Greater Roadrunner (west of dam), Western Wood-pewee and Brown Thrasher.

We turned north and search the various reservoirs north of Lamar for shorebirds.  Regrettably, none of the unusual shorebirds recently reported were encountered. 

A Long-billed Curlew was our only uncommon one at Neenoshe Reservoir (Kiowa).  Our results were similar at Upper Queens Reservoir & Lower Queens Reservoir.

Our next stop was Blue Lake (Bent/Kiowa).  Here we count another Long-billed Curlew and five Snowy Plovers.  Long-billed Dowitchers were the only Dowitchers found.  A Short-billed Dowitcher had been reported yesterday.

We continued north to Burlington (Kit Carson) after sunset.

August 22

Just before sunrise, we searched the Hale Ponds area (Yuma).  An Eastern Screech-Owl called without any encouragement.  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, House Wrens, and five Eastern Bluebirds were also in the area.

Misses: Cuckoos and Poorwills (neither responded to a tape.

Another Red-bellied Woodpecker was along the gated road south side of Bonny Reservoir (now almost dry).  A Lewis's Woodpecker surprised us at Wagon Wheel Campgrounds (now defunct).  A Lewis's Woodpecker was west of Wagon Wheel.  A Northern Cardinal and eight Wild Turkeys were near Foster's Grove.  While a Great Crested Flycatcher called between there and Hwy 385.

A detour to Beecher Island (Yuma) added an Eastern Phoebe to our trip list.  The historically battlefield is one of my favorite in Colorado.

We missed Eastern Phoebes at Wray Fishing Unit near Wray.  A male Northern Cardinal flew around the northern windbreak.  Nothing uncommon was at Stalker Pond.

After sunset, we heard two Eastern Screech-Owls at Roger Danka's in Sedgwick County.

August 23

Early in the morning, Roger Danka and I drove around Sedgwick County.  Our target birds were uncommon sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks and Chicken-like Birds.

The highlights were an Upland Sandpiper and Red-bellied Woodpecker at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area.

Misses: Eastern Meadowlarks, uncommon sparrows, Sprague's Pipit (not yet around?).

In the afternoon we drove to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  We missed he Ruddy Turnstone reported yesterday, consolation: Short-eared Owl at sunset.

Earlier we had an Eastern Phoebe at Duck Creek Wildlife Area (Logan).

August 24

Rebecca and I birded Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) today.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard calling just before sunrise.

The highlight of the day was a beautiful Blue-headed Vireo.  We also saw three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Northern Cardinals and a female type Baltimore Oriole.

Misses: no Bell's Vireos, cuckoos and Eastern Wood-Pewees were encountered.

Other search at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) did not find the Ruddy Turnstone (Steve Larson, 8/22) or Semipalmated Plover (Brian Johnson, 8/23).

A couple of Common Nighthawks and an Eastern Screech-Owl were observed just before sunset at Roger's ranch.

August 25

Rebecca and I cut our plains birding short when we received a text message about the Crested Caracara having moved to the First Creek Trail (Denver County).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eastern Arapahoe County

My email to cobirders

Hello birders,

I drove around eastern Arapahoe and northern Elbert Counties on Monday.

At Box Elder Creek and County Line Road
House Wren, Wilson's Warbler, Western Wood-pewee

At Kiowa Creek and County Line Road
adult and two juvenile Red-headed Woodpeckers (juveniles stayed north of County Line Road, the adult flew from Arapahoe County south across the road into Elbert County

Olive-sided Flycatcher between Kiowa Creek and Arapahoe County Open Space to east
Brown Thrasher seen from County Line Road in the Open Space

north of Arapahoe CR 129 and County Line Road
Grasshopper Sparrow

CR 129 and Jamison Road
Lark Buntings, 20 female type

CR 129 and Alaves farm?  I may have forgotten the correct name
Cassin's Kingbird

CR 30 at 0.5 miles east of CR 149
Burrowing Owl continues about 30 yards north of CR 30

At West Bijou Creek and Arapahoe CR 30
Northern Mockingbird

CR 34, east of CR 181

At West Bijou Creek and CR 42
Orange-crowned Warbler
Warbling Vireo

My highlight of the trip was an Eastern Screech-Owl at one of the creeks.  It was first discovered back in March.

Good birding!

Terry Michaels
Denver, CO

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

August 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached close to 90 degrees today; winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 18 mph. 

I spent the morning at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  No Long-eared Owls could be found today.  A Townsend's Warbler was loosely associated with two Yellow-rumped Warblers and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees in the windbreak west of Pond 7.

A Spotted Towhee was in the Russian Olive Trees near Pond 4.

I needed to stretch my legs after a couple of days driving 300+ miles and walked over to Pond 13.  The highlight of the morning was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo! 

I have enjoyed good fortune in finding them at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area in the past (8/7/2010, 8/3/2011, and two on 7/30/2012).

Check on the Third Creek Burrowing Owls

August 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Legs and back are still exhausted from driving 700+ miles this week, well, sitting in a car.  It was hot again today with temperatures in the low 90s; winds were 6-7 mph in the afternoon. 

Road construction has 96th avenue, W. Cargo Road and 112th avenues closed.  It appears that could last for a month or so. 

I walked to West Cargo Road and Third Creek from 112th Avenue during the last hour of daylight.  At least one Burrowing Owl continues at the infamous prairie dog town.

Chase For a Little Blue Heron

August 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

In the afternoon, Terry Michaels and I drove up to Walden Ponds (Boulder).  It was hot with temperatures in the middle 90s.  I believe I heard on the news that a new record high was set for the day.

No Little Blue Heron was at the Cottonwood Marsh.  Terry walked the Sawhill Ponds while I walked several miles at Walden Ponds.  No phoebes were encountered along Boulder Creek from Walden Ponds to 75th Street.  Snowy Egrets were scattered at both Walden Ponds and Sawhill Ponds.

Finally, I found the reported "Little Blue Heron" along the north side of the Ricky Weisner Wetlands.  I was standing at the southern end at the time, radioed Terry and we rushed back to the northern side.  By the time we arrived, the "white heron" had flown back to the east.

I took photos but was quite far from the bird.  Through binoculars, Terry thought something seemed off about the bird.  Leg color a little too dark?  When it flew, the underwings were quite white.  However, compensating for the shade due to the overhead sunlight, we could not be sure. 

I did take a couple of photos of the bird in flight.  However, I have not had time or energy to look at them yet.  Little Blue Herons show black tips to underwing.

Few birds were moving about in the heat.  A Western Wood-pewee continually called from the west side of Duck Lake.  A Least Sandpiper walked the shore at Cottonwood Marsh.

Crazy Impormptu Birding Trip

August 16-17, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Crazy impromptu birding trip!!!

August 16, 2017

California Birder Robert Diaz and I went to Mt Evans to chase after a couple of his lifebirds.  While cooler temperatures prevailed in the mountains, the day was still hot.  Our day turned out to be quite crazy.

One Barrow's Goldeneye remained on Echo Lake (Clear Creek).  A walk to the northwestern side of Summit Lake found three Brown-capped Rosy Finches flying overhead.  They briefly landed on the moss-covered rocks; however mostly they continually circled overhead.

Finding White-tailed Ptarmigan was more challenging.  We hiked the rocky hillside east of Summit Lake's parking area for over an hour and a half before Robert found a lone Ptarmigan.  At least we had one for the day.

At the Echo Lake Campgrounds, we walked down past the Mt Captain trail where the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard.  Eventually we put our binoculars on an adult male Three-toed Woodpecker.

We received a text message about two Little Gulls at Pueblo Reservoir.  Having knocked around the idea of driving to Fremont County for a Spotted Owl search, off we went.

The juvenile Little Gulls were at the northwest corner of Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) when we arrived.  A quick look and we continued to Phantom Canyon (Fremont).

After dark, we drove sixteen miles up Phantom Canyon.  No owls were found this night.  A friend had set me up with a radio receiver that tracks radio tagged birds.  Regrettably, we acquired no hits tonight.

August 17

Having been up half the night in any case, we decided to drive to Gunnison.  We both caught a couple of hours of sleep while trading off the driving.

Just before dawn, we drove south down Gunnison County Road 38.  A female Gunnison Sage-Grouse and four young birds were discovered walking along CR 38, just north of CR 38a!

On the return to Canon City, we stopped at Temple Canyon Park (Fremont).  The stop added Juniper Titmice, a Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo, Bushtits, Evening Grosbeaks, Willow Flycatcher and Cordilleran Flycatcher to our fantastic trip list.

 A brief stop at Tunnel Drive added a Rufous-crowned Sparrow to our trip list.

In the afternoon, we missed finding the Black and Eastern Phoebes along the Arkansas Riverwalk and headed back up Phantom Canyon.  This night we enjoyed better fortune.  A Spotted Owl was found up the Canyon.  Later, our make-swift radio receiver picked up a signal.  We never confirmed what caused this signal (possibly a second Spotted Owl?).

I had set up one of the "owl listening stations" along Phantom Canyon Road on the trip north up the Canyon.  When we stopped to pick it up, a Northern Saw-whet Owl flew out of the Juniper trees.

Our final stop was Beaver Creek Wildlife Area. A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded briefly with a contact call. 

Not a bad night of Owling!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area to Barr Lake

August 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I spent about three hours at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) this morning.  Temperatures were in the low 70s, winds less than 4 mph.  First, I walked the southern ponds 4 to 1, then the northern ponds 5 to 11.

No Long-eared Owls were encountered today.  An Olive-sided Flycatcher was hawking insects near Pond 3.  A Townsend's Warbler fluttered about Pond 7.  Surprisingly, few birds were around.

Afterwards I visited a friend's ranch.  The Mountain Plovers that nested on his property seem to have departed.  Two Burrowing Owls continue.  The pair of nesting Long-eared Owls did not appear to have successfully nested this year.  The female did stay on the nest for several weeks.

Late in the afternoon, I hiked at Barr Lake (Adams) from mile 0.5 to mile 8.0.  Few birds were seen between the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 0.0 or 9.0) to the banding station at mile 8.7.  Once I reached the banding station, many birds were found.  They included eight Yellow Warblers, eleven Wilson's Warblers (only two females), one House Wren, one Western Kingbird and one Western Wood-pewee.

Back at mile 0.0 to 0.5, the Niedrach Boardwalk area I found a male Lazuli Bunting, two Western Wood-pewees, one Olive-sided Flycatcher and a pair of House Wrens between the footbridge and the boardwalk.

At the southwestern end of the boardwalk, I counted 17 House Wrens, 9 female type Bullock's Orioles, two Western Wood-pewees, and a possible Least Flycatcher.  The "empidonax flycatcher" did not sing or call.  It was quite small.

The DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) is closed to traffic because of major road construction.  I parked at 112th avenue and W. Cargo Road and walked toward Third Creek and W. Cargo Road.  Two Burrowing Owls continue at the prairie dog village there.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  I hope to establish a "last date" for Burrowing Owls in the area.  However, the hike while not too long, is time consuming.

Cassin's Vireo at Barr Lake, No Common Terns Found in Arapahoe County

August 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

My first stop today was Barr Lake (Adams).  Highlight was a Cassin's Vireo near mile 8.9.  Two Western Wood-pewees, half a dozen Western Kingbirds and a pair of Eastern Kingbirds continue.  Two House Wrens were also found.  No terns or shorebirds other than Killdeer were encountered.

I decided to search for the Common Tern(s) reported at Aurora Reservoir yesterday.  Unfortunately, I did not relocate them.  I also checked Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), no terns.  Only a few American White Pelicans, a couple of Double-crested Cormorants and a dozen Snowy Egrets were found.  A few California Gulls were among less than 50 Ring-billed Gulls.

Search for Long-tailed Jaeger Turned Into Swallow-tailed Kite Search, then Hepatic Tanager Search

August 8-13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I started out to search for the Long-tailed Jaeger reported August 6 at Prewitt Reservoir.  The trip was extended because of a couple of additional bird reports.

August 8
We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) on the drive to Prewitt Reservoir.  No jaegers or uncommon gulls were seen.  One Long-eared Owl was found in the southwestern Campgrounds.  At least one or two stayed since last winter or even before.

The Jaeger was not found in our three hour search of Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  Two Red-headed Woodpeckers were not much of a consolation. 

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  A lone tern turned out to be a Common Tern.  We watched the fields south of Jumbo Reservoir at dusk.  One Short-eared Owl came out just before sunset and flew back and forth for five minutes or so.  No Eastern Screech-Owls were found at the north side this evening or Long-eared Owls along the western side.

August 9
Terry and I spent about four hours at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) after sunrise.  Before sunrise, we did relocate two Eastern Screech-Owls (eastern sections).  The Wildlife Area is still quite birdy this late in summer.  In the western sections, we found one Yellow-billed Cuckoo, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and an Eastern Screech-Owl (unusual location).  Misses: No Bell's Vireos, the Eastern Wood-Pewee or the Eastern Towhee could be detected.

In the eastern sections, we came across two Northern Cardinals, five Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Field Sparrows and a lingering Great Crested Flycatcher.

In the afternoon, we drove Highway 138 searching unsuccessfully for Upland Sandpipers.  No Upland Sandpipers were found at Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) where a lingering female or juvenile Baltimore Oriole flew around the cottonwoods.

After dark, we relocated two Eastern Screech-Owls on Roger Danka's ranch (Sedgwick).

August 10
We started out at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).  No owls were discovered before (or after) sunrise.  A Great Crested Flycatcher and two Loggerhead Shrikes were the highlight of an hour or so walk around the property.  Misses: no uncommon sparrows could be found.

Holyoke area (Phillips) was slow.  Nothing uncommon was found at the Holyoke Fishing Pond or woodlots northeast of town.  A Least Flycatcher hawked bugs at the Holyoke Cemetery.

We left Phillips County and headed to Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).  Two immature or female Baltimore Orioles were along the "closed to cars" road that runs along the south side of the now defunct lake.  Six Wild Turkeys walked along CR 3 (north side of property).  Nothing uncommon could be found at Foster's Grove Campgrounds area.

Our plans were to look for owls (Eastern & Long-eared) and Common Poorwills (or possible Whip-poor-wills) after dark.  Instead, a report of a Swallow-tailed Kite in Lamar caught our attention.  We rushed south.  It was not found in the fading light.

August 11
Terry Michaels and I drove every possible road in Lamar (Prowers) at least three times.  There was no sign of the Swallow-tailed Kite.  We had encountered a tremendous thunder and hailstorm between Burlington and Lamar.  The marble/golf ball sized hail surely did not aid our Kite search.

Eventually we counted thirty two Mississippi Kites around Lamar, no Swallow-tailed Kite.  A male Northern Cardinal was observed at the south end of the Lamar Community College woods.

With no reports of the Swallow-tailed Kite, we decided to continue south.  No kites were at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker was a highlight. 

At Cottonwood Canyon (Baca), we encountered two Rufous-crowned Sparrows and Eastern Phoebes east of the primitive Campgrounds area.  Eight Mississippi Kites were perched in cottonwoods between the Campgrounds and 1.6 miles to the east.  Ten Common Nighthawks circled around Carrizo Mountain (during our search for Lesser Nighthawks).  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called briefly (responded to our recording) in the draw south of the Campgrounds.  Two Western Screech-Owls called after civil twilight!

We drove to Picture Canyon for the night.  A Short-eared Owl hovered over CR 18

August 12
Five hours were spent exploring the Picture Canyon area (including Sand Canyon & North Canyon).  Highlights included a Painted Bunting and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows in Picture Canyon.  Curve-billed Thrasher in Sand Canyon. 

We saw an Oriole in Sand Canyon that could not be identified with the brief looks given to us.  It most likely may have been a female Scott's Oriole with darkish gray head and grayish breast and belly.  It had no yellow color on the breast.  We "chased" it for 30 minutes before it mysteriously disappeared. 

A male Vermilion Flycatcher was come across in North Canyon (near the old spring that has produced several sightings over the years).

A Greater Roadrunner crossed the road as we left Picture Canyon and drove to the Upland Bird Management Area (Baca).  This area is close to abandoned now days.  I believe the Forest Service once used the area to reintroduce sage ground and prairie chickens.  I have not seen any tracks for a dozen years now.  A Short-eared Owl was observed at dusk!

August 13

Our target bird today was a Hepatic Tanager.  We stopped at five previous nesting locations in Las Animas County; none was found. The few highlights included many Cassin's Kingbirds, a lonely Dickcissel along CR 10.8, six Mississippi Kites (still no Swallow-tailed Kite), eight Red-headed Woodpeckers, one Greater Roadrunner, and a Pinyon Jay, which seemed way out of place.

We entered New Mexico by way of Highway 389 and continued west to Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (Las Animas).  Finally the highlight of the day.  An adult female Hepatic Tanager at the northwest corner of the lake.  A Townsend's Warbler was also in the area.  The tanager had a bright orange red throat (could it have been a first year male?).

After civil twilight, we searched for owls.  None was heard.  One of our three "owl listening stations" attracted a Northern Saw-whet Owl!

End of a great trip, in spite of missing the Swallow-tailed Kite.  Would be only the sixth state record (2nd Prowers County).

Search for Cave Swallow at Harriman Lake Park

August 7, 2017

Richard Stevens: email sent to cobirders listserve:

Hello cobirders,
Bird report below, trust me.

Anyone seeing a nut standing in the rain for three+ hours at Harriman Lake Park this afternoon, it was me!  I rigged up a tripod with an umbrella and another with my camera and took shots (can they still be called photos?) of the swallows flying around the western end of the lake.

While studying the swallows I noticed that the species tend to fly different patterns and speeds.  After a while, I would look without binoculars and guess species; then use binoculars to confirm.  Accurate rate was close to perfect.

That got me thinking about the Strouhal number and whether I could calculate what I was seeing.  For those not knowing, Strouhal number may be used to calculate flight speed of birds (in some cases when flight is in straight line).  The number is equal to frequency (of wing beats) times amplitude (vertical distance traveled by wing tip during a flapping stroke) divided by forward speed (distance traveled per second).

Took over 1400 photos and stopwatch measurements, it will take a few days to summarize my data, depends on how well the photos come out, I was able to get 1/2000 shutter speed out of my camera during some of the brighter moments in the cloudy skies.

All this was brought to mind as one particular swallow was much faster and flying straighter than most of the rest.

Swallow count was hundreds of Barn Swallows, dozens of Tree Swallows, four Violet-green Swallows, two Cliff Swallows and the speedy swallow.

I watched a potential Cave Swallow (speedy) at one stretch for 12 minutes as it flew towards me and parallel many times.  It eventually flew to the eastern end of the lake.  Many of the swallows would rest on the rocks at the southwest corner of the lake.  Regrettably the possible Cave Swallow did not.

The speedy swallow had a buffy throat that extended behind the nape, rusty forehead, and no white "headlights" on forehead.  Southwestern race of Cliff Swallow does show rusty forehead but also dark chestnut throat which "speedy" lacked.  I hope I captured a photo of the mystery bird!

Rain increased, I departed.

Another bird of note was a Red-eyed Vireo.  It was along the southern side of the lake up the "canal" that runs south.

Continued Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots and maps on CoBus website:

NOTE: after looking through hundreds of photos (most were fuzzy, out of focus) I could not confirm that a Cave Swallow was present.  I probably will address "swallow flying speed" in September, 2017 "Colorado Field Notes" 

Back to Jackson County

August 5-6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I escaped the heat in Denver with a trip to Jackson County.  It was cooler; however, afternoon storms were not good for our birding.

August 5

We arrived in Jackson County in late afternoon.  A side trip to Red Feather Lakes added a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers and a male American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list.

No Boreal Owls were heard around Cameron Pass (Jackson) after dark.  We drove west to Ranger Lakes where our success improved.  Two Boreal Owl called (responded to recordings) from the southwest corner of the Lakes area.

After Rebecca retired, I could not sleep and drove east to the Crags Campgrounds.  Winds had died down and forest sounds were everywhere.  I enjoyed the hike down to the Campgrounds and along the fire road leading to the south.  A Boreal Owl briefly responded to my recordings.

August 6

Rebecca and I drove Jackson County Road 26 about an hour before sunrise.  Eventually we observed one Greater Sage-Grouse crossing CR 26b approximately 0.6 miles south of County Road 26.

Several Sage Thrashers, many Vesper Sparrows, two Willets and an American Bittern were seen during a drive through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

Search for Shorebirds In Weld County

August 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

On this superb summer day I drove up to Weld County.  I had planned to go to Pawnee National Grasslands and search for Mountain Plovers, etc.  Highway construction slowed my drive too much and I birded around the Lower Latham Reservoir area instead.  The wetlands south of Latham were dry in spite of the many afternoon rain storms lately.

A Pectoral Sandpiper, six Baird's Sandpipers and a few Killdeer walked around the Beebe Draw Pond at Weld CR 40.  Dickcissels were found: one along CR 42, 0.1 miles east of CR 43 and another along CR 40, east of CR 43.  The fields which hosted more than half a dozen seven days ago were now cut.

Loloff Reservoir had another Pectoral Sandpiper, fourteen White-faced Ibis, six Baird's Sandpipers and four Black-necked Stilts.  I could not pick out a Glossy Ibis among the White-faced.  Had to be at a barbecue back home and I cut my birding day short.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mt Evans Parkway and a Surprise At Home

August 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I led the CoBus trip to Mt. Evans (Clear Creek County) today.  The weather was great with temperatures in the 70s.  Four birders and I enjoyed the cool temperatures.

Our first stop was Summit Lake area of Mt. Evans.  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches were found flying around the northwest corner of the Lake.  It took about 20 minutes before they appeared; however, it is a good spot to wait.

The search for White-tailed Ptarmigan took much longer.  We spread out and walked the field east of the Summit Lake parking area.  After about an hour and a half, I found one Ptarmigan about 600 yards below the Road.

We drove to the top and looked for the eastern and western edges of the parking area.  No additional Ptarmigan were found today.

At the Echo Lake Campgrounds, we walked to the Mt Captain trail.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming on a tree south of the trail!

Finally, we walked around Echo Lake.  Six Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the water.  A Green-tailed Towhee and Lincoln's Sparrow fluttered about the western side of the lake.  A Pinyon Jay was observed at the southwest corner.

Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds show up in good numbers at the southeastern corner!

Back at home, many hummingbirds continued to visit our feeders.  Many for us, in the past we have never had more than one each summer.  Today we again saw at least one of the four common species coming through Colorado.

HOWEVER, we got a visit from a quite large hummingbird.  It appeared to have a long bill and spots/stripes across its flanks and belly.  Could we have a Rivoli's Hummingbird?  We hope it returns tomorrow!

I am not counting it as a Rivoli's Hummingbird yet.  Size is relative.  It only came by once but did stay a good 4-5 minutes.  No other hummingbirds were around for size comparison.

Watching Hummingbirds At Home

August 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rested and watched the hummingbirds come to our feeders at home!  We are enjoying the best summer ever.  Surely, there is a turnover and not the same hummingbirds everyday.  However, we have counted at one time, three Broad-tailed, two Rufous, one Black-chinned and two Calliope Hummingbirds.  All birds are females or immatures.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Morning at Barr Lake State Park

July 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

It had been awhile since I spent five hours birding at Barr Lake (Adams).  Conditions were excellent for birding; rain the last couple of days, overcast skies, cool 76 degree temperature at 7:00 am, and no wind.  Regrettably, few birds were around.   I saw no sign that fall migration has reached Barr Lake.

I hiked from mile 0/9 to the north end of the dam mile 6.0, back and to mile 1.5 and back, approximately 9 miles keeping in mind a report of a Semipalmated Plover yesterday.

The highlight was near the start of the trek.  I warbler popped out of the willows near mile 8.9.  In the next 20 minutes, I was able to get views of the whole bird.  Immediately I saw long yellow undertail coverts, which made the tail look short.  I suspected that the bird was at the time an "Oporornis" species.  They are no longer "Oporornis" but "Geothlypis"

The bird had no visible eye ring, yellow throat, little breast band, yellow belly to undertail coverts.  Above the head appeared brownish gray with brownish gray back.  Finally, I saw the yellowish supraloral. 

Fall Mourning Warblers are most likely confused with fall MacGillivray's Warblers.  The bird lacked the facial pattern of a Kentucky Warbler and the bold eye ring of a Connecticut Warbler.  Too bad, a sighting of either would have been a great find.

The lack of eye ring, yellow supraloral, lack of grayish hood, short looking tail indicated Mourning Warbler over a MacGillivray's Warbler, which would show a grayish hood, longer looking tail with shorter undertail coverts, whitish supraloral.

A pair of Yellow Warblers was in the same area.  A female Common Yellowthroat was in the willows near the banding station (picnic table).  Two Ospreys were on the nesting platform northeast of there.

Below the dam, a Hermit Thrush was under Russian Olive trees near mile 6.8.  A Least Sandpiper was below the north end of the dam.

Southwest of mile 0/9, the shoreline was quite weedy.  A few shorebirds walked among the deep weeds.  I picked out an adult Killdeer and one young and adult Spotted Sandpipers and two young.   Best shorebird was a Stilt Sandpiper.

No Barn Owls were seen today.  Nesting appears over as none occupied the nesting boxes.

After lunch and some shopping in Brighton, I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) and found Burrowing Owls at their usual summer locations (Third Creek & W. Cargo Road, Gun Club Road south of 112th Avenue and Trussville & 114th).

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.