Saturday, September 30, 2017

Slow Afternoon At Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the low 60s today; winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It felt cold most of the afternoon.

I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) and found few passerines around.  I do not believe it was a result of my "new" binoculars.  Tinted for low light, 30 X 60, only $1 at the Dollar Store (left my binoculars at home); there just was not many landbirds around.

Hundreds of Gulls were on Pelican Point.  Majority were Ring-billed with a few California Gulls and a couple of hybrids.  Two Common Terns were among them.  No shorebirds were found anywhere.

A walk from the East Shades Picnic area to the Dam and back found only a few Black-billed Magpies.  A few additional gulls were at the bird platform, Prairie Loop.  A Western Wood-pewee was at the southeast corner of the Lake Loop.

No birds on the poles surrounding the southwest marina, it just was a slow afternoon.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Birding Chatfield Reservoir

September 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reach the low 60s today.  Winds were 8-9 mph; skies partly cloudy.

My goal was to find the Red Phalarope at Chatfield Reservoir if it was still there.  Four hours later, it was still not found.  Tomorrow it is time for someone to show I missed it.

Three Turkey Vultures flew overhead at the entrance to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  I stopped briefly at the swim beach and observed no evidence that the phoebes remained.

Chatfield Reservoir was scoped first from the Heronry Overlook, no phalaropes.  A White-breasted Nuthatch noisily worked the pine tree right off the overlook.  It worked from top toward the bottom as I waited to take a photo.  The nuthatch flew before reaching the lower branches; that is when I noticed an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk at eye level just 5 yards away. 

A Cassin's Vireo flew overhead and landed in the cottonwoods just north of the overlook.  Eight Brewer's Blackbirds walked the shore below.

Next the lake was scoped from the handicapped fishing dock, the point along the lake trail, then the Plum Creek delta, the picnic area across from the rookery on the west side of the lake and finally the swim beach.

While scoping the lake at the handicapped fishing dock, one juvenile Sabine's Gull and later one Common Tern flew over the marina sand spit.

Resigned to not finding the Red Phalarope I walked the swim beach north to the deer creek inlet.  At the second dried pond north of the swim beach, a bird flew about with nineteen Yellow-rumped Warblers.  It flicked its tail and from the far distance, I thought maybe it was one of the phoebes.  Closer looks proved it a Palm Warbler.

Farther north at the deer creek inlet, a lone bird hawked insects.  It was the Black Phoebe.  I put photos on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library. 

As I returned to the swim beach parking area, the flock of warblers worked their way south along the shore.

Another hour was spent at nearby South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson).  The Red Phalarope was not found there.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Interesting Trip to Barr Lake (Adams County)

September 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

This afternoon, I stretched my legs at Barr Lake (Adams County).  It turned out to be a good choice even with lack of shorebirds around.

I scoped the shores from below the Niedrach boardwalk to the Pioneer boardwalk; one Killdeer was the only shorebird.

Walking back from the Niedrach boardwalk I observed the Eastern Phoebe first discovered last Saturday!   From there, I scoped the island off the Niedrach trail and found an adult Sabine's Gull. 

Perhaps it is the same bird recently photographed at Adams County fairgrounds on 9/20?  The Sabine's Gull found at Barr Lake by Terry Michaels on 9/19 was a juvenile.  When the bird flew, I was able to get two Georgia birders on the bird with its distinctive wing pattern.

While walking out to the sand spit northwest of the banding station, I found two juvenile Sabine's Gulls!  I will try and added photos to the CoBus photo library soon.

Again, no shorebirds were on the sand spit.  The adult Sabine's Gull had landed on the southern end of the sand spit.  The juveniles walked the northern end of it.

I ran out of time for a search of the Fox Sparrow reported a couple of days earlier.  Two Wilson's Warblers and two Ruby-crowned Kinglets fluttered around the willows at the banding station.

Owls found included two Barn Owls and a Long-eared Owl.

Morgan County Walk-In-Areas

September 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn joined me today; we continued our WIAs bird count.   Temperatures today reached into the 50s; winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

I will list results that do not make CoBus RBA later (perhaps in a "Colorado Field Notes" issue).  Today Jacob and I found two Sprague's Pipits at a Morgan County WIA will grass cover.

Weld County Walk-In-Areas

September 26-27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I conducted surveys in Weld County WIAs for two days.  At times, rain and high winds limited sightings.

Highlights: all three species of longspurs (dozens McCown's, four Chestnut-collared and two Lapland) were encountered.  We covered fourteen Walk-In-Areas with grass cover over the two days.  These areas were around Stoneham, CO.

Misses: no owls, no Mountain Plovers and no Upland Sandpipers.  Shorebirds may have already departed from southern wintering grounds.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Birding East of Denver Today

September 25, 2017

Temperatures only reached the high 40s today.  Winds were 11 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

Before heading to eastern Arapahoe County, I stopped at Barr Lake (Adams County).  The American Golden-Plover, one Black-bellied Plover and two Pectoral Sandpipers were again below the Niedrach Boardwalk.

A walk to the banding station at mile 8.7 found a Nashville Warbler in the willows at mile 8.8!  One Western Kingbird flew around the boat ramp area.  One Barn Owl remains in an owl box.

At Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), twelve Common Terns were on Pelican Point.  Five Killdeer shared the shore with nine Snowy Egrets.  Ring-billed and California Gulls were the only ones representing their family.

I did not find a Sabine's Gull.  No loons have arrived yet.  A Golden-crowned Kinglet was near the Shop Creek parking area where I found the Cassin's Vireo yesterday.

At Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe), the scuba beach was devoid of birds.  Most of the gulls were back at the shore at mile 2.5.  One Lesser Black-backed Gull was the only uncommon Gull that was found.  No loons or uncommon ducks have arrived here yet.

Previous stops had "used up" my daylight.  I wanted to be at Jewell and Picadilly before sunset to do some owling.

I drove the Yale-Jewell Loop (Arapahoe) and scoped the riparian area along Coal Creek.  Found my target bird, an adult Red-headed Woodpecker worked the snag about 40 yards south of the infamous Eagle's nest (located about a mile south of Jewell and Smith (sometimes called Yale).

Many Vesper Sparrows were observed along Yale Road.  A Grasshopper Sparrow was 20 yards west of CR 97.

It started to rain heavily 30 minutes before sunset and I abandoned my owling plans.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Another Rainy Day In Arapahoe & Adams Counties

September 24, 2017

Temperatures only reached the high 40s today.  That was quite a change from the record setting high of 92 degrees on Friday!  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

Rebecca and I first stopped at the scuba beach at Aurora Reservoir.  Like yesterday, no birds were along the shore (many scuba divers however).

Bill Cryder and I then walked in from the south side.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull was again with many Ring-billed and California Gulls along the shore at mile 2.5.  We did not see the Sabine's Gull and Bonaparte's Gulls found yesterday.  It was raining during our hike; visibility on the lake was poor.

Rebecca and I drove to Cherry Creek Reservoir (about 8 miles as the crow flies from Aurora Reservoir).  She waited in the car while I walked from the Shop Creek parking area to Pelican Point in the pouring rain.  Most roads were still closed due to the DOW Expo; we could not drive closer to Pelican Point.

The only shorebirds on the Point were Killdeer.  I did not find the Semipalmated Plover when scoping the southeast corner to the bird platform.  The highlight was five Common Terns!  However, one of the terns had dark primaries and carpal bar of a Common Tern; however, its legs were very short. 

It appeared much shorter than the other terns (Common) and its carpal bar was less distinct.  Its bill looked slightly smaller.  I would have called it an Arctic Tern except for the dark outer primaries.  I would expect pale gray to whitish primaries on an Arctic Tern.

We then walked through the woods from Shop Creek to Lake View Road.  The newly improved trail kept us from hiking through mud and tall grasses.  A Golden-crowned Kinglet was a nice find.  I have only recorded one other in Cherry Creek State Park in twenty two years.

Our birding day ended with a brief hike along the Niedrach Trail at Barr Lake (Adams).  We did find the American Golden-Plover, missed on all the birds recorded yesterday by Ben Lagasse.

Birding Arapahoe County On A Rainy Day

September 23, 2017

I enjoyed the cool and rainy day by birding in Arapahoe County.  First stop was Aurora Reservoir.  No birds were on the scuba beach shore, so I walked in to the reservoir from the south side (round trip about 2 miles).

Among the many gulls on the shore at mile 2.5 were a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Sabine's Gull.  Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew around Lone Tree Cove (off mile 3.0).

Next, I hike the first mile of Quincy Reservoir.  A Hermit Thrush was in the brush south of the two tan houses with solar panels.

A Long-billed Dowitcher walked the shore along the island to the south. 

Two Blue Jays made quite a racket in the willows/cottonwoods at the dry canal south of the brown house with glassed in porch.  A Long-eared Owl was found deep in the underbrush.

Three Say's Phoebes were encountered as I continued east to mile marker 1.0.

My last stop of the day was Cherry Creek Reservoir.  It was pouring rain when I arrived.  Like Terry Michaels I found most of the roads blocked due to a weekend demonstration (continues Sunday).

I walked in from the Shop Creek parking area to Pelican Point.  The only shorebirds were two Killdeer, one Baird's Sandpiper and one Least Sandpiper.  The Semipalmated Plover may still be there as part of the shore is behind willows.

Soaking wet, I retreated to home, skipping the Prairie Loop and southwest marina.

Birding At Barr Lake & Cherry Creek State Parks

September 22, 2017

Stretching my legs at Barr Lake back in Denver (Adams County) I found no shorebirds below the Niedrach Boardwalk.  An Eastern Phoebe hawked bugs around the Visitor's Center footbridge (see Colorado Birding Society's website photo library).

Later a flock of fifteen Baird's Sandpipers, two Least Sandpipers, two Killdeer and the American Golden-Plover were found at the boat ramp sand spit (mile 7.6).

I picked up Rebecca and we passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on our way to dinner.  At Pelican Point, we photographed a Semipalmated Plover and counted 34 American Avocets.  A Sabine's Gull was with a dozen Ring-billed Gulls off the Bird Platform.  A Turkey Vulture flew over the west shades picnic area.

Best bird was a Winter Wren at the Bird Platform area.  After trying to relocate it for 15 minutes, it allowed us to watch it for 5 minutes!

Searching For Migrating Birds Along Colorado's Eastern Border

September 14-22, 2017

September 14

I wanted to search for the many uncommon birds reported at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  First, I made a stop at Barr Lake (Adams).  I hiked from the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 0 & 9) to mile 1.5 (west of footbridge) and back to mile 8.0 (east of footbridge).

Many shorebirds walked along the weedy shore below the Niedrach Boardwalk.  These included a Dunlin, three Pectoral Sandpipers, four Long-billed Dowitchers, a Stilt Sandpiper, six Baird's Sandpipers and two Least Sandpipers.  The Dunlin confused me for a while, as it was unexpected.  A Blackpoll Warbler fluttered about the western end of the Boardwalk!

On the east side of the Visitor's Center I observed a Western Kingbird (footbridge), two House Wrens (mile 8.9), two Wilson's Warblers (mile 8.9), Cassin's Vireo (mile 8.9), one Warbling Vireo (mile 7.8), four Wilson's Warblers (mile 8.2) one Philadelphia Vireo (mile 8.05), a Spotted Towhee.

Misses included the two target birds.  I did not find the Painted Bunting reported yesterday by Ira Sanders near the teepee (prairie trail).  Two Clay-colored Sparrows, six Brewer's Sparrows and a Sage Thrasher were along the trail.  In addition, I did not relocate the Varied Thrush reported by Marion Warren at the boat ramp picnic area.

After three hours, I headed to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).  Eventually my bird list there included Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plovers, Marbled Godwits, Pectoral Sandpipers, Red-necked Phalaropes, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Common Tern.

A Townsend's Warbler and Cassin's Vireo were found at the inlet area. While a Blue-headed Vireo and Ovenbird were found below the dam.  After dark, I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl near the eastern primitive camping area!

September 15

Most of the day was spent walking Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Without a means of return trip, the hike is about fourteen and a half miles.  Ever since retirement, I thought my "job" was to try to stay in shape.  In this effort, I have tried to walk at least 8-10 miles a day.  Today my gps recorded 15.2 miles.  This total took my Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area distance over 1500 miles (1501.6 to be exact).  I believe I am one of the few (if any) to walk the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (13.2 miles).  In search of Greater Prairie-Chickens and Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse, I have done that five times over the years.  Take plenty of water, it is a long hike.

The highlight of the trip today was a Black-throated Green Warbler found in section 4 East.  My bird count today was:
Wood Duck - pair
Turkey Vulture - 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 3
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 1
Swainson's Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 8
Golden Eagle - 1
American Kestrel - 2
Killdeer - 2
Eurasian Dotterel
Wilson's Snipe - 1
Ring-billed Gull - 4
California Gull - 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo - 1
Eastern Screech-Owl - 4
Great Horned Owl - 2
Common Nighthawk - 6
Common Poorwill - 1 heard
Hummingbird sp. - 1 - unknown species/prob. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher - 2
Red-headed Woodpecker - 9
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 7
Downy Woodpecker - 6
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 12
Western Wood-Pewee - 1
Western Kingbird - 14
Eastern Kingbird - 2
Plumbeous Vireo - 2
Cassin's Vireo - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Blue Jay - 6
Black-billed Magpie - 24 - plus
American Crow - 34
Horned Lark - 22
Tree Swallow - 2
Cliff Swallow - 1
Barn Swallow - 62
Black-capped Chickadee - 10
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 2
White-breasted Nuthatch - 4
Rock Wren - 1
House Wren - 7
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 18
Gray Catbird - 2
Brown Thrasher - 1
European Starling - 120 - plus
American Pipit - 4
Orange-crowned Warbler - 2
Yellow Warbler - 2
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1 - female
Northern Waterthrush - 1
MacGillivray's Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2
Wilson's Warbler - 2
Eastern Towhee - 1 - most likely hybrid
Chipping Sparrow - 2
Clay-colored Sparrow - 1
Brewer's Sparrow - 2
Field Sparrow - 1
Vesper Sparrow - 25
Lark Sparrow - 16
Savannah Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 4
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
White-crowned Sparrow - 6
Dark-eyed Junco - 4
McCown's Longspur - 1
Northern Cardinal - 3 - 2m, 1f
Blue Grosbeak - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 60 - plus
Western Meadowlark - 20 - plus
Yellow-headed Blackbird - 4
Brewer's Blackbird - 6
Common Grackle - 8
Brown-headed Cowbird - 2 - pair
House Finch - 12 - plus
American Goldfinch - 6
House Sparrow - 40 - plus

Misses: no gallinaceous birds or Short-eared Owls found at dusk along southern sections (Logan CR 46/CR 89)

No Bell's Vireos (may have migrated south)
Less expected however have been recorded: American Woodcock and Whip Poor-Will or exotic doves

September 16

Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard in the early morning at my friend's ranch in Sedgwick County.

An early morning trip to Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) found a Common Tern, Short-eared Owl and Baltimore Oriole.  Surprisingly, the only shorebirds were Killdeer.

Roger Danka and I drove around Sedgwick County in search of uncommon birds (Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Meadowlark, uncommon sparrows, Sprague's Pipit, etc); none was found.

I said goodbye to Roger and headed toward Wray.  A stop at Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) found two Field Sparrows along the eastern fence.  An Eastern Screech-Owl responded to my recording after sunset.

September 17

I searched unsuccessfully for the adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and Upland Sandpiper found on 9/15 by Kathy Mihm-Dunning at Stalker Pond (Yuma).  Two male Northern Cardinals were relocated at the western end of the property.

Nearby Wray Fishing Unit did not add any uncommon birds to my trip list.  Best bird was probably a White-throated Sparrow (east of the entrance road).

Most of my day was spent visiting friends that live in and nearby Wray.  I ate too much as they all wanted to feed me.  Eventually I found:
Northern Cardinals (7 males, 2 females; over three yards)
Eastern Bluebird    (1, private yard #1)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (juvenile, private yard #1)
Indigo Bunting (private yard #2)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (2; private ranch #2)
Field Sparrow (private ranch #1)
Magnolia Warbler (private ranch #6)

Misses: hoped for a Whip Poor-will, Eastern Meadowlark and Sprague's Pipit.  Low odds, none was found.

An hour before sunset, I drove Yuma County Road 45.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was found between hwy 385 and the Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek.  A Short-eared Owl was near CR 45 & CR PP.

September 18

Most of the hot day (over 90 degrees) was spent at a friend's ranch.  I stopped by Stalker Pond and missed the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron for the second time.  One Northern Cardinal flew around the windbreak at the entrance to the Wray Fishing Unit.

A drive along Yuma CR 45/CR PP, did not find any uncommon birds at sunset.

September 19

Missed the Stalker Pond Yellow-crowned Night-Heron for the third time.  A Common Tern flew around the lake.  Also found were an Eastern Phoebe and a male Northern Cardinal (again).

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird did not return (last seen on 9/17) private yard #1.

Lack of new birds, I wandered Yuma County.  A male Summer Tanager and Eastern Phoebe peaked my interest at Beecher Island.  The history here is quite fascinating.  Walked the self tour, it is worth the time.

After visiting a friend's ranch south of Yuma, we drove his property and found two Greater Prairie-Chickens.  At one time, his father-in-law counted up to 102 Greater Prairie-Chickens on the ranch.  Increased grazing and reduced prairie chicken numbers have lowered that number quite a bit.

A hovering Short-eared Owl was a nice bonus!

September 20

Went north of Wray to Holyoke today, still searching for a surge of migrating birds, that was not found.

Holyoke Cemetery (Phillips) was the best stop.  A Cassin's Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo were in the cottonwoods at the southeast corner.

Holyoke Fishing Pond added a Cassin's Kingbird and two Eastern Kingbirds to my trip list.

A Broad-winged Hawk was perched in a tall cottonwood at the northeast corner of Holyoke City Park.

Another hot day, I relaxed most of the afternoon.  Standing water is rare in Phillips County.  A drive along Phillips CR 2 and CR 29 & 31 was not exciting.

I wandered the southern edge of Phillips County at dusk.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens, Short-eared Owls or Pipits were found.

September 21

Back in Wray, I drove Yuma CR 45 before sunrise.  One Greater Prairie-Chicken was again found between hwy 385 and the Lek. 

I missed the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron for the third time and gave up on it.  I decided to drive to Bonny Reservoir.

The highlight of the day was a Sprague's Pipit at what birders are calling Pipit Hill (northeast of Yuma CR LL.5 and CR 4).

Additional birds found included at Hale: two Red-bellied Woodpeckers; at Hale Ponds: two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Eastern Screech-Owls; at Wagon Wheel Campgrounds: five Red-headed Woodpeckers; near Foster's Grove: Long-eared Owl; and a Field Sparrow along CR 2.

September 22

In the morning, I walked the Republican River from Kansas to Hale Ponds (it is not that far).  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was 150 yards west of Kansas.  Later a Bay-breasted Warbler was found along the Republican River at 100 yards east of Yuma CR LL.5.

I could not relocate the Sprague's Pipit found yesterday.

High winds started around 8:00 am; heat was coming. I decided to head for home and not stay out another day.

Search For Shorbirds in Southeast Colorado

September 11-13, 2017

September 11

Jacob Washburn and I headed to Kiowa County trying to find some of the uncommon birds recently reported.

We stopped at Tempel Grove (Bent) just north of Kiowa County.  We found the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Jane Stulp, 9/7), American Redstart (Leatherman, 9/4) and the lingering Red-headed Woodpecker.

The nice collection of shorebirds at Lower Queens Reservoir included a Black-bellied Plover, two Semipalmated Plovers, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwits and Red-necked Phalaropes.  Misses included the Short-billed Dowitcher, American Golden-Plover, Dickcissel and Cassin's Kingbird.

Upper Queens Reservoir was not as birdy.  Misses included the Black-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Palm Warbler and Indigo Bunting reported yesterday by Steve Mlodinow.

We did relocate the Northern Waterthrush at Neenoshe Reservoir.  In addition, we found a "new bird".  A Nashville Warbler was at the Locust Grove.

Our birding day ended at Mike Higbee Wildlife Area (Prowers).  No owls were found this evening.

September 12

Jacob and I headed south into Baca County today.

Two Buttes Reservoir added a Broad-winged Hawk, Cassin's Vireo and Ovenbird to our trip list.  Misses: the resident Barn Owl(s) were not found.

We detoured to Turk's Pond Wildlife Area (Baca) were a late migrating Ash-throated Flycatcher fluttered about the taller cottonwoods.  A bright colored Blue-headed Vireo was a nice surprise.

Our next stop was around the old Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek east of Campo.  The fields around the entrance road are usually good for sparrows, especially in migration.  The highlight, perhaps of the trip, was a Baird's Sparrow in the CR G field north of the Lek entrance!  Two Cassin's Sparrows were observed along the Lek Road.

We positioned ourselves an hour before sunset to watch for Lesser Prairie-Chickens coming to a lek southeast of the old lek; none appeared this evening.  A Short-eared Owl flew low over the field several times.  Perhaps this discouraged any Lesser Prairie-Chickens from emerging from the brush?

September 13

Jacob and I arrived in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) shortly before midnight.  A Western Screech-Owl called while we set up our tent!  In the morning, we walked CR J to the east.  Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows were found at the rocky hillside about 1.2 miles east of the Campgrounds.  Misses: Eastern Phoebes, which nest here, were not found today.  Other misses: Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Greater Roadrunners.

Picture Canyon was kinder to us.  Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows ran around the rocky hillside just south of the parking area.  A Curve-billed Thrasher perched on the rocks near the gated abandoned mine.  Few passerines moved about.  The highlight was relocated one of the male Painted Buntings that spent the summer.  On the drive out, a Greater Roadrunner stood sentinel on the hill near CR 18.

Our birding day ended at the Upland Bird Management area.  No uncommon sparrows or owls were found this evening.

We did some owling in Las Animas County on a private ranch.  No Northern Saw-whet Owls were relocated; however, two Western Screech-Owls called during our hike.

Jacob was not feeling well and we decided to drive back to Denver.

Chatfield Reservoir

September 10, 2017

I worked my way through traffic to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The Black Phoebe was observed briefly in the cottonwoods around the pond north of the swim beach.  The Eastern Phoebe and Sabine's Gull were not found.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Nothing Uncommon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 9, 2017

The weather the past few days has been similar.  Temperatures in the high 80s; winds were 8-10 mph.

Not much birding today, a brief drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) on our way to one of our favorite restaurants found nothing uncommon.

Birding Southwestern Corner of Denver

September 8, 2017

A return to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) was not as successful as hoped.  One Sabine's Gull flew around below the northeast corner of the dam.  It stayed too far away for photos.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull stood among several hundred Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of California Gulls on the marina sand spit.

Black Phoebe and Eastern Phoebe, which hung around the swim beach area since 9/2, were not relocated.

I drove over to Deer Creek Canyon (Jefferson) searching for the Eastern Phoebes that had summered there.   They were not found today.

A hike up Spring Valley Ranch (Jefferson) found an "out of place" Ovenbird, several Scrub Jays and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees.

I stopped at Hildebrand Ranch Park (Jefferson).  It is located east of Deer Canyon Park and west of Chatfield Reservoir.  Mostly I was taking photos for "Colorado Field Notes". 

An Indigo Bunting sang from the western end of the parking area.  An Eastern Phoebe was 20 yards or so east of the old barn at the eastern end of same parking area.

An hour before sunset I returned to Deer Creek Park.  No owls were found this evening and none was picked up by the two "owl listening stations" that were planted.

Bird-filled Eastern Plains Trip

September 5-7, 2017

Terry Michaels and I enjoyed a bird-filled trip to the eastern plains.  Migration has hit Colorado's eastern border.

September 5
We headed east along Interstate 70 and stopped at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson County).  The stop was quite eventful.  Most birds were along the southern and southeast end of the reservoir.  Eventually we ran into a Blue-headed Vireo (with nice contrast between its bluish-gray head and whitish throat), a Red-eyed Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Ovenbird and American Redstart.  A Red-headed Woodpecker was farther north at the northeast line of cottonwood trees.

A couple of House Wrens, a female type Burrowing Owl,  Spotted Towhee, many sparrows (Clay-colored, Brewer's (3), Lark (many), Song (4), White-crowned (6), Lincoln's (1), Chipping (many), Savannah (2), Grasshopper (1), Vesper (many), and Dark-eyed Juncos), and one female type Lark Bunting were also observed.

Fairview Cemetery in Burlington was a bust and we continued to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).

Our birding day ended nicely with a focus on owls.  We found a Long-eared Owl near Foster's Grove Campgrounds then headed to the open fields south of Hale.  A Short-eared Owl flew across the field shortly after sunset.  Then we returned to the Republican River (looks more like a creek) and found three Eastern Screech-Owls.  Afterwards another Eastern Screech-Owl was found at Hale.

Misses: We hear a Common Poorwill call.  No Whip-poor-will responded to a recording, which would have been a fantasy find, someday perhaps.

September 6
We woke to an Eastern Screech-Owl calling northeast of Hale Ponds and then spent the rest of the day walking Bonny Reservoir (from Hwy 385) to Hale Ponds (to Kansas).

Our bird count for the day included:
Bonny Reservoir: Blue-headed Vireo, two Cassin's Vireos, American Redstart, Red-headed Woodpeckers (2), Red-bellied Woodpeckers (3), Northern Cardinal
Hale: Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-bellied Woodpeckers (2), House Wren (2), brief calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo (not seen), Eastern Bluebirds (7)
Hale Ponds: Magnolia Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpeckers (4), Red-headed Woodpecker (1), Baltimore Oriole, Field Sparrow

Misses: While probably too early, we stopped several times at Pipit Hill, found no Sprague's Pipits or American Pipits.  Four Eastern Bluebirds were there.

September 7
Our day was spent around the Wray area.

An hour before sunrise we drove Yuma County Road 45.  A Short-eared Owl flew over the field at CR 45/CR PP.  Two Greater Prairie-Chickens walked along CR 45 between the Greater Prairie-Chicken Lek and Hwy 385.

A look at the cottonwoods at the east end of the Sandhiller Motel parking area added another Blue-headed Vireo to our trip list!

Wray Fishing Unit added an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a male Northern Cardinal, House Wren and two Chimney Swifts circling overhead.

Nearby Stalker Pond added two additional male Northern Cardinals a Northern Waterthrush, Marsh Wren (darn not a Sedge Wren), and common sparrows.

An adult Red-headed Woodpecker was found at Wray City Park.  The highlight of the day was a Bell's Vireo in the thickets at Sandsage Wildlife Area.  Another Red-headed Woodpecker was in the tall cottonwoods; many common sparrows fluttered about the brush.
Misses: no Harris's and Field Sparrows, phoebes, owls.

On the way out of town, we said hi at two friends.  One yard had a pair of Northern Cardinals and a Spotted Towhee (darn not Eastern Towhee).  The other yard had a White-throated Sparrow, male Northern Cardinal and Common Poorwill.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hazy Morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

September 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

At sunrise, I drove to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) with some skepticism in finding the four Eastern Phoebes reported yesterday along the Bluestem trail. In my experience, Eastern Phoebes tend to stay near water.  I did not recall seeing water along the Bluestem trail on my only previous visit.

The Arsenal opened at 6:30 am and shortly after I was at the Bluestem trailhead.  The red-orange sun took quite some time over 45 minutes to burn through what I thought was fog. 

Then I remembered the many wildfires burning in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California.  The resulting smoke must have been hanging over Colorado; the sun did not burn off any "fog".

Vesper Sparrows, two Brewer's Sparrows and a Savannah Sparrow were encountered along the Bluestem trail.  I scoped the far off cottonwoods for any sign of Eastern Phoebes or any flycatchers.

A juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was in a group of dead cottonwoods 50 yards or so from the western side of the Bluestem Southwestern loop.

Farther down the same loop, a raised platform trail slices through a grove of twelve foot high cottonwoods.  A Cassin's Vireo was the only bird fluttering about the grove.

My first flycatcher sighting was a Western Wood-pewee at the extreme western end of the trail.  It was catching bugs near a large "Hawk looking nest" in the tall cottonwood.  The nest was perhaps only ten feet off the ground; therefore probably not a Hawk's nest.

The trail abruptly ends near the dry highline canal.  I turned around and continued south.  At the extreme southern end of the southwest loop, I thought an Upland Sandpiper was heard.  However, it was ignored as an aberration of my ears.

Five Say's Phoebes and eight Western Meadowlarks were walking around an empty prairie dog town at the southern end.  Then a head popped up out of the darker green grasses.  It was an Upland Sandpiper!

I have seen Upland Sandpipers in Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Both sightings were near the old Eagle Watch Bunker accessed from Buckley Road.  I captured a poor quality witness photo and continued my trek.

Six additional Say's Phoebes were observed along the eastern side of the Bluestem Loop.  A female type Lark Bunting and five Western Kingbirds were ran upon.

No Eastern Phoebes for me.  I would like to talk to the Eastern Phoebe observer and see if Say's Phoebes were not their sightings?

Driving the Wildlife Auto Drive added few birds to my day list.  Sparrows did include two additional Brewer's Sparrows, dozens of Vesper Sparrows, one Grasshopper Sparrow, one Savannah Sparrow and two Song Sparrows.

After leaving the bison enclosure of the Wildlife drive, I detoured to Rattlesnake Hill.  Having never hiked to the top, I wanted to see the view and get a few photos.  Just inside the entrance drive, two Sage Thrashers flew across the road.

Another four Sage Thrashers wandered like mice across the asphalt parking area. 

The sky was hazy and limited the view at the Rattlesnake Hill overlook.  I could see two ponds that cannot be seen while driving the Wildlife Drive.  One hundred+ Bison wandered below the hill.

Temperatures were rising at 11:30 am when I drove to the First Creek Trail.   A hike west up the new Adams County section of the trail added mostly only birds previously seen.

An adult Bald Eagle and male Belted Kingfisher were "new" birds for the day.

Finally walking down the Denver County section of First Creek trail did not add any additional birds to my list.

Later at 6:00 pm, Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Two Burrowing Owls were at the W. Cargo Road/Third Creek prairie dog village.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Afternoon At Chatfield Reservoir

September 3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I was near Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) and spent several hours in the afternoon checking of recent bird sightings.  Temperatures reached a warm 95 degrees; winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Labor Day weekend, wow, the park was packed with people.  More than I have ever experienced here before.

The Black Phoebe reported at the swim beach area was relocated farther north.  I saw the bird along the pond/creek east of the main road bridge, north of the swim beach.

Next, I stopped at the south marina sand spit.  The reported Sabine's Gull was not there; however, the sub-adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was.

I scoped the sand spit at Plum Creek delta and found the juvenile Sabine's Gull among 50 or so Ring-billed Gulls.  One Pectoral Sandpiper walked among three Killdeer.  On the way back to the parking area, a Cassin's Vireo popped out of the willows!

My final stop was the Platte River east of the Audubon Center.  An American Redstart fluttered about the cottonwoods.  Missed: a reported Least Flycatcher.

A drive through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home found six Cedar Waxwings near the eastern entrance.  Missed: the Long-eared Owls that summered here.

One Burrowing Owl was at West Cargo Road and Third Creek (Adams), DIA Owl Loop.

Owling In Chaffee and Fremont Counties

September 1-3, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn and I headed to Park County in search of the Long-tailed Jaeger at Antero Reservoir and any owls.  Temperatures were a little cooler than Denver (still in the 80s); winds were 6-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  We did not see any of the predicted rainstorms.

September 1

I took about an hour to find the Long-tailed Jaeger at Antero Reservoir (Park County).  We waited until the bird decided to chase some gulls around.  Nothing else uncommon was encountered.

Owling went well in spite of being down to only two of our "owl listening stations" (one was destroyed by an unseen animal last week).

We eventually saw, heard or captured on DVD:
Northern Pygmy-Owl: along Chaffee CR 301 (heard)
Northern Saw-whet Owl: along CR 301 (observed)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (2): Cottonwood Pass (observed)
Northern Pygmy-Owl: Chalk Creek (call captured with "owl listening station"

September 2

In the morning, a brief drive around Buena Vista (Chaffee) found Lewis's Woodpeckers at the City Park (3) and along Pleasant & Princeton Avenues (2).

Two Juniper Titmice were flying around the Buena Vista overlook.  Misses: no Pinyon Jays were found at several previous locations.  Where were they today?

We headed to the Coalmont area of Fremont County.  I have wanted to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan for several years (would be a first county record).

I have made two attempts on Bushnell Peak (13,105 feet) without success.

Today we hiked up Galena Peak (12,461).  Again, we had no success.

Consolation sights were good.  A Townsend's Warbler was seen at Coaldale Campgrounds.  Four American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers were encountered on the hike along Hayden Creek.

On the return trip off Galena Peak, we heard a Boreal Owl near tree line.  Later a Flammulated Owl flew into a tree about 10 yards from us!  Not done yet, a Northern Pygmy-Owl called near the trailhead at Fremont County 6!

September 3

At around 1:00 am we drove up Phantom Canyon (Fremont).  We eventually relocated a Spotted Owl.

As previously written, a friend fixed me up with a radio telemetry antenna.  A few weeks ago, we picked up a signal; however, we were unable to identify what or where it was emitting.

We returned to the proximity again this morning and again picked up a signal.  However, once again we could not determine what the signal was attached.  It was exciting because the signal did move and was above us.  We thought it was surely attached to a bird (or possibly a bat), however nothing was seen flying in the moonlight.