Sunday, October 29, 2017

Barr Lake and DIA Owl Loop

October 29, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another fantastic fall day in Colorado, temperatures reached 73 degrees winds were 4-5 mph, some gusts late in afternoon at 12 mph.

In the afternoon, I decided to go for a hike at Barr Lake State Park (Adams County).  Nothing rare was expected; it was nice to get outside.

When I crossed the Visitor's Center footbridge a yellowish striped and dark headed warbler flew deep into the trees.  Most likely, it was a Townsend's Warbler and not a Blackburnian Warbler.  However, it was lost and never relocated.

At the Niedrach Boardwalk, a smallish grayish bird flew along the southern trail.  Regrettably, from my vantage point on the north side of the loop it was not identified.  For the second time, I lost a bird and was unable to ID it.

When I returned to the Visitor's Center footbridge (mile 9.0), I noticed a birder studying the woods near mile 8.5.  I slowly worked my way north to the spot (the birder had continued north).

A small wren type bird flew out of the brush at the water's edge at mile 8.5.  The Stub-tailed Wren flew to the underbrush at the only tree in the clearing between mile 8.6 and 8.5.

First, I played a Winter Wren song and call for a minute, waited 5 minutes, then played a Pacific Wren recording.  No response, however five minutes later I again played a Winter Wren recording and the Stub-tailed Wren popped out of the tangled brush.

The Stub-tailed Wren appeared more like a Winter Wren than Pacific Wren.  Contrast between the dark heavily streaked flanks and the lighter chest and throat. 

Unfortunately, the bird did not make a sound.  Joan Dicell (may be spelled wrong) returned just as the wren came out and was able to see it. After 45 minutes, I moved on back to the Visitor's Center.

A check of the three locations of Burrowing Owls on the DIA Owl Loop (Denver/Adams) again found none.  No plans to search again this year, two Ferruginous Hawks stood on the prairie dog village at West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Southwest Denver to Aurora

October 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 41 degrees today.  Winds were calm to 5-6 mph.

Rebecca and I birded southwest of Denver this morning.  We scoped Marston Reservoir (which is a lake in Denver County, however surrounded by Jefferson County).  We managed to find the Red-throated Loon and at least three Common Loons.  Yesterday's Surf Scoter could not be found.

Nothing uncommon was found at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) or South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

We headed east through Parker (stop at the public library) and continued on to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  One or two Bonaparte's Gulls flew around with hundreds of gulls (mostly Ring-billed and some California).  No loons or scoters were found.

While Rebecca went shopping at Southland Mall, I remembered that a possible Pinyon Jay was reported near Horseshoe Park.  I walked about 3/4 mile of the trail and found two houses with feeders, however, no jays.

As I drove out of the subdivision, a Blue Jay was seen flying behind the houses along East Atlantic Circle (Arapahoe).  I stopped for a photo.  Two Common Grackles, a dozen Brewer's Blackbirds and the Blue Jay were near the bright blue house.

Then a blue jay flew to the feeders.  It was a Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay.  Photos on the recent witness photos link on the Colorado Birding Society's website:

The homeowner came out to talk and said it was the "possible Pinyon Jay" he had reported.  Unfortunately, for him, it was a scrub-jay.

His "backyard" Horseshoe Park has a nice collection of birds and mammals.  The stop ended by birding day.

A Great Birding Day in Boulder County

October 27, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I birded in Boulder County today.  One of our target birds were the Tundra Swans reported yesterday at Sombrero Marsh.

We did not find any Tundra Swan in spite of checking Sombrero Marsh, Baseline Reservoir, Boulder Reservoir, Valmont Reservoir, Walden Ponds, Sawhill Ponds, White Ranch Pond, Teller Lakes, Prince Lake #2, Erie Reservoir, Lagerman Reservoir, and Terry Lake.

We also stopped at Teller Lakes #5 where a Golden-crowned Sparrow has wintered the past five winters.  No sparrows were around the parking area or lake today.

A fortunate stop at the Public Library to pick up our emails turned out great.  We read that Nick Moore had found a Yellow-throated Warbler at Kittredge Lake.  The CU Campus was just down the road so we headed that way.

We circled around the lake and found two Yellow-rumped Warblers and the Yellow-throated Warbler in an oak tree at the northeast corner of the eastern lake!  The warbler stayed high in the oak tree, no photo opportunity; what a great ending to the "daylight" part of our birding day.

After dinner, we continued west to do some owling.  The evening was quite pleasant with little winds.  We enjoyed the hike around Gross Reservoir and added a Northern Pygmy-Owl to our day list!  Misses: no Common Poorwills could be found, not that they were expected this late in the fall.

A second Northern Pygmy-Owl was found near Gross Dam Road and Coal Creek Canyon Road (just north of the Boulder/Jefferson County line).

Yet a third Northern Pygmy-Owl was found after midnight at White Ranch Open Space (Jefferson).

No evidence of Northern Saw-whet Owls or Flammulated Owls was found.  Northern Saw-whet Owls should still be around, not so much for Flammulated Owls.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Detour to Douglas County

October 26, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached the low 40s today, quite a contrast from yesterday. My plans to head to Park County were changed due to a predicted snowstorm.

Instead, I caught up on chores.  While out doing chores, I detoured to Castlewood Canyon Road & State Park.  Two Western Bluebirds were along the road when it runs east to west (south of the State Park).  Four Wild Turkeys wandered west of Castlewood Canyon Road, just north of the Winkler Ranch entrance.

Nothing uncommon was on Walker Gravel Pit Pond.  It started to snow around 4:00 pm.

Brief Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 25, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Denver reached a new high record temperature of 82 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph.

While out doing chores, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The lake was scoped three times.  The Surf Scoter was again in the extreme southeast corner.  Dozens of Western Grebes, a few Horned Grebes and Eared Grebe were scattered around.

Misses: No loons, Red-necked Grebes or uncommon gulls found.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Barr Lake and Cherry Creek State Parks

October 24, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The temperature did not quite reach 60 degrees today (high of 59).  Winds most of the day were 4-5 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  It was too nice a day to stay home and do chores.

I walked below the Barr Lake dam (Adams County) from mile 6 to 7 and then on to the boat ramp area, mile 7.6.   Most interesting birds were a Long-eared Owl below the dam and a Barn Owl occupying the owl box south of the boat ramp.

After driving to downtown Denver for a meeting and returned by way of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A stop at Garland Park (Denver) did not find the previously reported Greater White-fronted Goose.

The surface of Cherry Creek Reservoir was like a mirror because of calm winds.  I scoped the lake from the Lake Loop; over a hundred Ruddy Ducks have arrived.

Highlights were the Surf Scoter and Common Loon both swimming in the southeast corner of the reservoir.

No uncommon gulls were found.  Over eight dozen American White Pelicans stood on Pelican Point.

I enjoyed the great ending of this beautiful birding day while parking 0.2 miles south of West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  While no Short-eared Owls appeared this evening, raptors were well represented with two Ferruginous Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks, a pair of American Kestrels, and a Prairie Falcon.

Enjoyable Hike At Reynolds Park

October 23, 2017

Richard Stevens:

David Penn, Mark James and I parked at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) about 1.5 hours before sunrise.

We walked Foxton Road and found a Northern Pygmy-Owl along the Songbird Trail.  No Common Poorwills could be enticed to call out.

After sunrise we hiked up  Eagle's View Trail and found a Dusky Grouse several hundred yards south (uphill) of the old service road.

We continued the loop around to the Raven's Roost & Oxen Draw Trails intersection and down (north) along Oxen Draw Trail.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming about 75 yards or so downhill of the intersection.

Other birds encountered included Pygmy and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins and two Red Crossbills.  Misses: no Williamson's Sapsuckers or additional owls were found.

We stopped and observed the Surf Scoter on Tabor Lake, Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson).

After dropping them off at their motel, I detoured over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  While I did not find the Surf Scoter reported yesterday, the Common Loon was still on the lake.  MIsses: no Red-necked Grebe, Bonaparte's Gull or Lesser Black-backed Gull was found today.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Great Barbecue and Drive Around Arapahoe County

October 22, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went to a barbecue at a friend's ranch in southeastern Arapahoe County.  Temperatures only reached 62 degrees with winds 9-10 mph (gusts to 21 mph in several locations).

We stopped at several places on the trip east.  Aurora Reservoir had many gulls, none uncommon.  One Common Loon was the only uncommon bird, no jaegers, scoters, rare waterfowl.

Eventually we counted three Eastern Screech-Owls throughout the day.

At Box Elder Creek and County Line Road, we found late migrating House Wren in willows on the Elbert County side of the road.  Just a little to the east, a Ferruginous Hawk perched on a telephone pole. 

An Eastern Screech-Owl was found in its nesting hole on restricted land in Arapahoe County.  CoBus had watched the successful nesting throughout the summer.

Continuing east, we stopped at Kiowa Creek and County Line Road.  The Red-headed Woodpecker family that spent the summer was not found today.  A Blue Jay flew around the cottonwoods on both sides of the road (Arapahoe & Elbert Counties).

Just before leaving, we heard a woodpecker that was not a Red-headed Woodpecker or sounded like a Downy Woodpecker.  It took another 15 minutes to find a male Hairy Woodpecker drumming and calling from the back side of a dead cottonwood.  It was south of County Line Road, Elbert.  I do not believe we had a Hairy Woodpecker sighting in Elbert County.

Our second Eastern Screech-Owl sighting of the day was at a friend's nearby ranch in Arapahoe County.  Later we heard our third Eastern Screech-Owl at the barbecue site in Elbert County!

Birds were scarce today.  However, it was a pleasant fall day to be outside and listening for birds!  BTW, anyone willing to light a barbecue pit, I will buy the meat.  I do not light propane pits, bad history.

Guanella Pass and Arapahoe County

October 21, 2017

Richard Stevens:

David Penn, Mark James (both from Tennessee) and I headed up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) for a White-tailed Ptarmigan search.  It took less than 20 minutes to find six Ptarmigan west of the Rosalie & 603 trail intersection!

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed on one of his favorite trees near the Guanella Pass Campgrounds (below the switchbacks).

Clark's Nutcracker, Gray Jays, Red Crossbills, a few common mountain species were found along Guanella Pass Road.

After dropping them off back in Denver, I detoured through Arapahoe County on my way home.  My target bird was the Pomarine Jaeger reported yesterday at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

The Pomarine Jaeger was never found.  While scoping the reservoir from the Lake Loop (best sunlight especially in the afternoon) I relocated the Red-necked Grebe.  It was swimming along side a Western Grebe in the middle of the lake.  While booting up my camera, a fishing boat ran over them and they flew.  I was not able to relocate them again.

Other birds found while looking for the Jaeger included the Common Loon swimming below the dam and a flyby Bonaparte's Gull. 

Pelican Point has no shorebirds.  Several hundred gulls were mostly Ring-billed Gulls with a few California Gulls and a Herring Gull.  Missed the Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Quincy Reservoir has a high number of American White Pelicans, few gulls and no Jaeger or loons.

Aurora Reservoir had many gulls swimming in the middle of the lake.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 24 mph.  A Common Loon swam below the northwestern corner of the lake.  No jaegers found.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) about 30 minutes before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  It seems that the Burrowing Owls have departed for southern wintering grounds.

Walk-In-Area Bird Surveys

October 17-20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn joined me to finish the fall Walk-In-Area bird counts.

October 17

Temperatures today reached 78 degrees.  Winds were only 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph (just a few times).

We visited the three Wildlife Areas in Lincoln County and enjoyed some good success.

Hugo Wildlife Area had a Harris's Sparrow pop out at the riparian area.  Jacob spotted a flock of longspurs, which turned out to be six Chestnut-collared Longspurs.  With nothing else unusual, we continued to Kinney Lake Wildlife Area.

The highlight of the day was a sulky wren.  It did not look right for a House Wren.  We spent a half hour coaxing the Sedge Wren out of the brush!  It was a first county bird for both of us!

Our birding day ended at Karval Reservoir Wildlife Area.  A flock of sparrows around the lake contained sixteen White-crowned Sparrows and a beautiful Field Sparrow.  After sunset, we spotted a Short-eared Owl flying over the fields to the southwest.

October 18

Temperatures were warm today, reaching 83 degrees.  Winds were a moderate 7-8 mph.  We did measure gusts to 21 mph, not conducive to finding shy birds.

Our birding today centered on the Walk-In-Area(s) Lincoln County Road 17 & CR E.  Areas below Lincoln CR A are in Crowley County.  We walked around about six hours and found few birds.  A dry creek bed we believed to be Dead Horse Creek cuts through the eastern section of the Walk-In-Area.  Most of the WIA is covered in grasses of various lengths.  Several "springs" are located on the property.

The highlight of our day was one Sprague's Pipit in the "Flats" southwest of CR 17 & CR F, Lincoln County.  We ran into several small flocks of McCown's Longspurs (18 total); however, could not pick out any Chestnut-collared or Lapland Longspurs.

Another fourteen McCown's Longspurs and two Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found south of Lincoln CR A and in Crowley County.

The last two hours of daylight were spent driving the Lincoln County Roads east of Highway 71.  Nothing uncommon was added to our day list.  A spot where Short-eared Owls have been recorded twice in the past ten years was not productive this evening.

October 19

The day was quite different from yesterday.  Temperatures only reached 58 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  Jacob and I started our day about two hours before sunrise.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called from north of camping spot at the northern Hale Pond.  We then drove to Highway 385 and walked the Republican River to Foster's Grove.

Highlights were two Eastern Screech-Owls west of Fosters Grove.  Other birds encountered included twenty two Wild Turkeys, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, one House Wren and one Long-eared Owl.  We observed a meadowlark a long time before deciding it was a Western Meadowlark whose call sounded like an Eastern Meadowlark.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken popped up over the hill northeast of the ranger's home, and then disappeared before we could walk to the top.

Returning to LL.5 and Yuma CR 4, one pipit walked around Pipit Hill.  It was a Sprague's Pipit!  We then walked the Republican River from LL.5 to the Kansas Border.  Birds found included one Eastern Bluebird, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, one House Wren, one Harris's Sparrow and a Field Sparrow.  A Winter Wren was around the cattails at Hale Ponds.

Today was our last planned shot this fall to find migrating songbirds (especially warblers).  Unfortunately, none was found.

In the afternoon, we drove to Wray to take an 85 year old friend to dinner.  Two male Northern Cardinals and a White-throated Sparrow were in her yard.  We checked Wray City Park and the Hospital for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, found none.

October 20

It warmed up to 81 degrees today.  High winds again hit the eastern plains.  Anemometer readings were 14-15 mph with winds gusts to 32 mph.

Jacob and I explored the Fox Ranch area of Yuma in the morning.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was west of Yuma County Road 9 at approximately 0.8 miles south of the ranch entrance.  A Harris's Sparrow and Field Sparrow were found around Yuma County U and the North Fork of the Republican River.  Overall, it was not a "birdy" day.  Most likely this was due to the high winds.

We drove some of the Yuma and Washington County roads without finding any uncommon birds. Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington) was devoid of birds.  The old I70 Bennett Rest Stop was quiet.  Fields between Bennett and Prospect Valley contained few birds except for Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons.

We stopped at a friend's ranch near Prospect Valley and relocated the pair of Long-eared Owls that had nested on his property (Weld County).  It looks like they will stay for a second winter.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop on our way home.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Arapahoe County

October 16, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I returned to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to see if yesterday's birds had hung around.  Winds were only 3-4 mph; temperatures reached 75 degrees.

The Common Loon was still swimming along the eastern side of Lake Ladora.  The Harris's Sparrow was relocated at the southeastern corner of Marys Lake.  Unfortunately, we did not find the Swamp Sparrow or Sage Thrashers.

A drive through the Wildlife Area did not find many birds.  Nine Mountain Bluebirds, females or immature, were near the entrance road to Rattlesnake Hill.

In the afternoon, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir and scoped the lake for several hours.  Few birds swam around today.  A Common Loon stayed in the southeastern quadrant.  No uncommon gulls or the Red-necked Grebe could be relocated.

My next stop was Aurora Reservoir (also Arapahoe County).  Even fewer birds swam around the lake today.  No uncommon birds were recorded.

My birding day ended with a drive around southeastern Arapahoe County.  The Red-headed Woodpeckers were not found at Kiowa Creek and County Line Road.  Perhaps they have moved south.

I parked at a field in southeastern Arapahoe County where Short-eared Owls have been observed on past trips.  None appeared this evening.

Nice Afternoon at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

October 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Our first stop was Garland Park (Denver County).  The Greater White-fronted Goose was swimming with a couple of dozen Canada Geese on the southwestern lake.

Rebecca and I enjoyed this exquisite fall day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  We circled Lake Ladora continued onto the Mary Lake trail to the Legacy trail.

The Common Loon was still on Lake Ladora at 3:00 pm.  Regrettably, it stayed along the eastern side and quite far from any path.  We only captured a few witness shots.

Marys Lake was interesting.  I played a Swamp Sparrow recording at the western cattails.  Two Song Sparrows flew out.  Then a Lincoln's Sparrow emerged.  Finally, a Swamp Sparrow popped up and perched on a leafless willow.  It even briefly sang!

I again played a recording at the eastern willows and cattails.  A skulky bird moved about; we thought perhaps a second Swamp Sparrow.  After 15-20 minutes, it came out of the willows at the southeast end of the boardwalk.  It was a Harris's Sparrow!

Afterwards we drove the Wildlife Drive.  Deer, both White-tailed and Mule were numerous in many fields.  We missed the Burrowing Owl that had been around for months.

Both Red-tailed Hawks and a Ferruginous Hawk stood on the prairie dog village at mile 8.  Once we left the bison enclosure, two Sage Thrashers were observed on the western fence.  They were about 100 yards south of the most southwestern cattle guard.

We returned to Lake Ladora and again found the Common Loon swimming along the eastern shore, far from any good photo op.

Misses: no Red-headed Woodpeckers, Burrowing Owls or uncommon passerines found today.

Afternoon Trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I navigated the 28-mile trip south to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) in the afternoon.  Construction on Tower Road and just too many cars makes the drive absolutely no fun nowadays.

Anemometer readings were 16-17 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  An hour later on, the readings equaled 18-19 mph with gusts to 26 mph.

I managed to find a cubbyhole below the parking area for the tower dam and scoped the lake for the next two hours.  Peering into the shiny water (southern sun) from the north side was not the best of views.

The Jaeger chased after gulls first off the Lake Loop and later below the dam.  I caught several glimpses of the Red-necked Grebe among Western Grebes in the middle of the lake.

After being hit in the head with a five-foot branch, I decided to check on a flock of 16 shorebirds that flew below the Lake Loop and landed at Pelican Point.  I was fortunate that it was cold which forced me to wear a fur-lined hat.  Even so, I got a sizeable bump on the top of my head.

Gulls at Pelican Point were mostly Ring-billed, a dozen California and two Herring Gulls, no Sabine's Gull.  The shorebirds turned out to be Long-billed Dowitchers.

As I returned to the boat ramp parking area, a Sabine's Gull flew almost over my head.  Where it came from, I do not know.

Now at the Lake Loop I set up my scope next to the willows along the bank.  Winds had died down to 11-12 mph.  It was now 4:45pm and the Jaeger was not relocated in the next hour.  Where did it go?  I scoped the water and could not find it swimming around.  

The light is better from this side of the lake especially in the afternoon.  I did get good looks at the Red-necked Grebe, which was just a tad closer than from the other side.  One Common Tern flew by several times!

Then I parked near the cattail field at Lake View Drive and Cherry Creek until well after sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening, also missed the resident Long-eared Owls along the gun shooting range road.

More Yuma County Walk-In-Areas

October 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

While Arikaree Creek and the South Republican River flow through southern Yuma County, none of the eleven Walk-In-Areas checked today had surface water.  Winds were ridiculous at 18-19 mph with gusts to 29 mph....Wow!

A dry Copperkettle Creek runs along Walk-In-Area CR Y/CR 17: a Red-bellied Woodpecker was the highlight here

East of Hwy 385 we found Field Sparrows at CR 10/CR MM and CR 10/CR NN

Owling after sunset found in the Bonny Reservoir/Hale Ponds area: Long-eared Owl and two Eastern Screech-Owls.

Additional Yuma County Walk-In-Areas

October 12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The twelve Walk-In-Areas surveyed today were in Yuma County.  High winds hindered any success.  None of the Walk-In-Areas had running or standing water.

Highlights were few:
CR 31/CR F (one Greater Prairie-Chicken, not interested in us, wandered)
CR 34/CR H (Field Sparrow)

No Sprague's Pipits, Eastern Meadowlarks, uncommon "ammodramus sparrows, owls, etc.

Day ended with two Greater Prairie-Chicken sightings on the road to the Kitzmiller Ranch leks.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Yuma County Walk-In-Areas

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone call:

October 11, 2017

Terry Michaels and I resumed our Walk-In-Areas surveys in Yuma County today.  Temperatures reached 73 degrees today; winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Coyote Creek runs through two Walk-In-Areas in Yuma County.  CR J/CR 55 and CR J/CR 56 are the only Walk-In-Areas with "water" in the county.

Six Walk-In-Areas were visited near Clarkville.  It was a superb day; however, few birds were encountered.

CR J/CR 55 (Red-bellied Woodpecker, bird of day: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker )
CR K/CR 59 (Field sparrow)
CR G/CR 57 (Grasshopper Sparrow)

Our day ended watching a Greater Prairie-Chicken walk across the road at a private ranch south of Yuma.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Pleasant Walk Along First Creek Trails

October 10, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I went for a walk today along the First Creek Trail (from Tower Road, Denver County to the western end, Adams County.  We did not expect much of anything, just stretching our legs.

Temperatures reached 59 degrees; winds were 4-5 mph on this pleasant sunny day.

Highlight in Denver County was a Great Horned Owl perched only 12 feet off the trail.  He did not appear disturbed by us as he stayed both on our outward and return trip.

A shy Hermit Thrush came out briefly from the willows about 40 yards west of Pena Blvd.

Once we crossed Buckley into Adams County, a few additional birds were encountered.  Two Yellow-rumped Warblers caught our attention where the trail comes the closest to First Creek.

As we were deciding if they were Audubon's or Myrtle birds, Rebecca noticed a Palm Warbler in the same cottonwood.  A little farther west a second Great Horned Owl was spotted perched low in a cottonwood tree.

Continuing west, a male Spotted Towhee popped out of the bushes (Knapweed?)  where first creek turns south and enters the cattails around the small pond at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal fence boundary.

I traversed the green gate to survey the southern pond (really an extension of the big pond.  The Marsh Wren did not respond to my pishing today.  Two White-crowned Sparrows were the only birds found.

We continued north along the trail and continued back to Buckley Road.  Our third Great Horned Owl of the day was in the cottonwood trees along the trail north of the above pond.  The grove of trees just north of the old electric pump had no birds today.  According to Jacob Washburn, it was hopping with birds on Saturday (10/7). 

Saturday's Eastern Phoebe was not relocated when we walked the north side of First Creek to Pena Blvd and back.

We said "Hi" to the Great Horned Owl on the way back to our car.

Other raptors observed today included three Red-tailed Hawks, one Ferruginous Hawk and one American Kestrel.  Six Sandhill Cranes rattled as they flew overhead heading south.

Looking For Loons, Scoters and Gulls in Arapahoe County

October 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I scoped some reservoirs today for jaegers, loons and uncommon ducks on this snowy day.  We had better luck with gulls.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull was still at Barr Lake (Adams).

When we stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) to scope the lake from the eastern side of the parking area north of the swim beach, a juvenile Sabine's Gull stood on the shore below us.  Fourteen Long-billed Dowitchers were there too.

The highlight was a Mew Gull less than 10 yards off shore.  We obtained superb views and comparisons with nearby Ring-billed Gulls.  Not done yet, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was another 10 yards behind the Mew Gull.

Forty four Sandhill Crane emerged from the clouds before again disappearing.  Their rattling voices were heard long before seeing them.

Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the other hand had few gulls or birds.

Our final stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A Sabine's Gull was among hundreds of gulls standing on Pelican Point.

We watched all the lakes for any jaegers chasing gulls.  Regrettably, no jaegers, loons or rare ducks were discovered.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull continues on the southwest marina.

Unsuccessful Search for Owls in Douglas County

October 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After our very long night, Paul and I drove to Rampart Range Road and hwy 67 several hours before sunrise.  Our target birds were Northern Pygmy-Owls or Northern Saw-whet Owls.

No owls were found today.  We did find a male American Three-toed Woodpecker at the northeast corner of the intersection.

On the return trip, we searched for the Lewis's Woodpecker reported at the Walker Gravel Pit (Douglas).  It was not found.  Few birds were encountered in the hike from the gravel pit to the south end of the Cherry Creek trail. 

On the southern route, we found a lingering House Wren near the yellow "windy trail" sign.  At the footbridge over Cherry Creek, a Gray Catbird was seen under the short tree at the southeast corner.  Farther south a Hermit Thrush was under the brush where the trail splits a grove of trees in two.

No additional birds were seen all the way to the end of the trail.  On the hike, back we tried to relocate the Hermit Thrush.  A flock of six Black-capped Chickadees kept flying across the trail.  On one pass, a Nashville Warbler followed them.

We walked to the western end of Walker Road and then north to the first ranch.  The many birds around the ranch house turned out to be European Starlings.  Back at the end of Walker Road, four Western Bluebirds landed on the telephone wires.

No Lewis's Woodpecker was found.  We passed by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  A quick scope of the scuba beach and swim beach did not find the previously reported Black-bellied Plover.

No Burrowing Owls or Short-eared Owls for that matter were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Last Trip Up Trail Ridge Road for 2017

October 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Paul Howard joined Terry Michaels and me on most likely our last trip up Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park (Larimer County).  With Highway 34 closed, the trip took longer than usual.  We scoped Lake Estes before sunrise however found nothing uncommon.  Trail Ridge Road opened around 9:00 am (overnight snow and icy conditions needed to be cleared). 

We only had to walk about 50 yards down the Medicine Bow Curve trail before spotting two beautiful White-tailed Ptarmigan in white plumage below the trail.

Back at the Trading Post, we looked over the eastern side and saw approximately 20 Brown-capped Rosy Finches and two Gray-crowned Rosy Finches flying around!

We continued west and down Trail Ridge Road to the Colorado River Trail parking area (Grand County).  The distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard as we got out of the car.  It took another 15 minutes for us to see the bird.

Four Barrow's Goldeneyes were spotted swimming on Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand County). Then our trek led us north on highway 125 toward Rand (Jackson County).  At Rand we debated on taking Jackson County Road 27 to Highway 14 and then to Gould.  Not knowing the condition of CR 27 (snow, mud?) we continued north on Hwy 125 to Walden, then east on Hwy 14 to Cameron Pass (Jackson).

Eventually we heard Boreal Owls at Cameron Pass and Crags Campgrounds.  Terry was able to put a spotlight on the Crag's owl!

No owls were found during several stops at Campgrounds along hwy 14 as we drove toward Fort Collins.  We hoped for Northern Pygmy-Owls, Northern Saw-whet Owls or a late Flammulated Owl.

Our long day ended back in Denver.

Walk-In-Areas in Phillips County

October 6
Richard Stevens:

High winds continued on our last day checking Walk-In-Areas for this week.  We had commitments back in Denver for the weekend.  Winds today were 15-16 mph with gusts to 26 mph.

Without a doubt, our highlight today was seeing a juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird at a friend's yard in Holyoke!  She had first observed it on 10/4.  We received the text message yesterday and spent the night in Holyoke anxiously waiting for sunrise.  The young male came to the feeders around 9:00 am.  (Note: it was last seen on 10/7).

Frenchman Creek cuts across Phillips County.  Unfortunately, it had little water at our stops.  The only Walk-In-Areas east of Holyoke along the creek were CR 53/CR 18; CR 57/CR 15 and CR 59/CR 15.  No uncommon birds appeared at either of them.

We stopped at Holyoke Cemetery, Holyoke Fishing Pond and Holyoke Park for brief 15 minutes each.  Again, nothing uncommon was found.  Although a Broad-winged Hawk at the Cemetery could be considered unusual.

Seven additional Walk-In-Areas were studied as we worked out way toward Denver.

CR 29/CR 28 (Frenchman Creek passes through, Red-bellied Woodpecker)
CR 27/CR 26 (Frenchman Creek passes through, possible Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, still considering ID)
CR 15/CR 30 (nothing found)
CR 14/CR 32 (Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown's Longspurs)
CR 3/CR 26 (Frenchman Creek continues west, Red-headed Woodpecker, House Wren)

Walk-In-Areas In Sedgwick County

October 5, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed for Sedgwick County to survey some Walk-In-Areas.  A stop at Ovid Woods (Sedgwick) found a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Misses: Rusty Blackbirds, Purple Finches, and Northern Cardinals, which had all been found on previous visits.

We searched for the Eastern Meadowlark reported previously by Norm Lewis at DePoorter Lake; without success.  Two Harris's Sparrows were in willows along the S. Platte River.

We only had time to check eleven Walk-In-Areas today.  Sand Creek runs through five Walk-In-Areas. CR 55/CR 10 is the only one with grasslands.

A check of the most productive field (CR 59/CR 30) did not find any Sprague's Pipits.  Our only Sprague's Pipit of the day was found at Walk-In-Area CR 59/CR 16.

Winds were high to at 14-15 mph with gusts to 23 mph.  They were not helpful to our birding.

Highlights were few:

CR 53/CR 10 (Red-bellied Woodpecker)
CR 59/CR 4 (Field Sparrow)
Best highlight: a Greater Prairie-Chicken at CR 51/CR 4

A brief stop at Sand Draw Wildlife Area found few birds and no owls today.

Walk-In-Areas, Logan County

October 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

More WIAs surveyed.  Temperatures again were in the middle 60s; winds 10-11 mph with gusts to 26 mph in the afternoon.  Terry and I started the day with bird counts east of Fleming.  Hopeful target birds included additional Sprague's Pipits, Eastern Meadowlarks or uncommon "ammodramus" sparrows (Baird's, Le Conte's or Sharp-tailed).

To increase chances of our target birds, we focused on Walk-In-Areas with grass cover.  Of the fourteen Walk-In-Areas checked, only two had a creek.  CR 85/CR 30: North Fork of Wildhorse Creek & CR 75/CR 4: Coyote Creek

Not one Sprague's Pipit, Eastern Meadowlark or uncommon "ammodramus" sparrow was counted all day.

Highlights all in Logan County

CR 97/CR 44 (Field Sparrow)
CR 85/CR 38 (Savannah Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow)
CR 85/CR 30 (Harris's Sparrow)
CR 75/CR 4 (Red-bellied Woodpecker)

Our birding day ended at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  Just after sunset, a Short-eared Owl flew below the southern side of the reservoir.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WIA Bird Surveys, Washington County

October 2-3, 2017

Rebecca Kosten: transcript of telephone calls:

October 2

Terry Michaels and I continued our WIA bird surveys.  Temperatures barely reached 60 degrees.  Winds were 8-10 mph throughout the day.


CR 18/CR B (McCown's Longspur, Savannah Sparrow)
CR H/CR 30 (Black-throated Green Warbler, beaver creek)
Last Chance Rest Stop (Field Sparrow)
CR FF/CR 35 (Savannah Sparrow)
CR FF/CR 37 (White-throated Sparrow)
CR DD/CR 46 (Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown's Longspur)

October 3

Continued WIA bird surveys.  Twelve WIAs checked after an early morning look at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington)  Temperatures middle 60s; winds 7-8 mph; gusts to 22 mph

Prewitt Reservoir: American Golden-Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Sabine's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Eastern Screech-Owl (also 10/2)

Highlights of WIAs

CR 43/hwy 61 (Savannah Sparrow, Field Sparrow)
CR 43/CR TT (Baird's Sparrow)
CR 59/CR MM (Field Sparrow-2)
Hwy 61/Rock Creek (Grasshopper Sparrow)
CR 71/CR RR (Chestnut-collared Longspur)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cherry Creek State Park to Barr Lake State Park

October 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

The morning was a spectacular fall day in Colorado.  Winds were calm and temperatures reached the 60s.

At least two Common Terns stood among hundreds of gulls on Pelican Point, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  No shorebirds were around, not even Killdeer.

I scoped the Lake from the Smoky Hill picnic area and observed the three Red-necked Phalaropes quite far to the south (in line with the bench at the Lake Loop). 

When I drove to the Lake Loop, a jet skier was chasing off the three Red-necked Phalaropes.  The phalarope ended up in the extreme southeastern corner of the Lake.

I continued to scope the Lake for any loons or uncommon waterfowl; none was found.  A juvenile Sabine's Gull swam off the Mountain Loop.  Again, a jet skier zipped by and chased the Gull off.

Eventually the Sabine's Gull landed below the dam and north of the boat marina.

A Say's Phoebe hawked insects on Butterfly Hill. 

Later when I exited my car at Barr Lake (Adams), anemometer readings were 25-26 mph with gusts to 37 mph.  Using my scope was useless.

I hiked to the sand spit off the banding station with just my binoculars.  The land bridge between the sand spit and island had disappeared with yesterday's thunderstorm.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the island west of the banding station.  I was able to pick out a juvenile Sabine's Gull.  The adult Sabine's Gull did not appear to be around.  However, fifty-one Franklin's Gulls mingled with larger Ring-billed, California and a couple of Herring Gulls.  The adult Sabine's Gull may have still been out there.

Several Pectoral Sandpipers were the only uncommon shorebirds found today.

Winds died down to a "mild" 14 mph.  I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Burrowing Owls have been observed on my last three trips.  Most likely, they are gone for the year. 

A juvenile Ferruginous Hawk stood at the top of the hill at the prairie dog village at W. Cargo Road and Third Creek.  An adult Bald Eagle stood on the hillside on the opposite side of W. Cargo Road (east side).

My final stop of the day was the First Creek Trail (to check on Barn Owls).  Daylight was ending when I hiked from 56th Avenue to Buckley Road.  Two adult Red-tailed Hawks and seven juveniles were a surprise.

A Broad-winged Hawk hidden in the cottonwoods just east of Buckley Road was a bigger surprise.  Eventually a Barn Owl and Great Horned Owl were encountered on the hike back to my car.