Monday, November 20, 2017

Douglas County Birding

November 20, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another great fall day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached 68 degrees.  Winds in the morning and late afternoon were only 4-5 mph.  Shortly after noon, gusts briefly  reached 41 mph.

Rebecca and I headed south today to visit an ill friend in Franktown.  A stop at the twenty-mile pond at Bar CCC Park found the Brant swimming around with several hundred White-cheeked Geese.

After brunch with our friend, we walked the Creekside Trail at Castlewood Canyon (Douglas).  No Winter Wrens, our target bird, was found.  We did eventually find a Canyon Wren, heard long before sighting it.

Two species of nuthatches (White-breasted, Red-breasted), many Dark-eyed Juncos, a pair of Mountain Bluebirds, a Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk were also encountered.

Best birds were three male and a female Red Crossbills.  For those with copies of February 2015 "Colorado Field Notes", it has a great treatment of the Red Crossbill complex.  Included are vocalization and sonograms the Various Red Crossbill types. 

White-winged Crossbills are also included.  Plans are to revisit the treatment in December 2017 "Colorado Field Notes".

We stopped at Twenty mile Pond on the drive home.  This time the Brant was close to shore.  After getting about 40 photos, the geese flew north for "dinner".

The flock was relocated at the Water Treatment Plant located on the north side of Railbender Park (Douglas).  I took a few additional photos and headed for home.

We parked along 88th avenue, east of Tower Road about 30 minutes before sunset.  The location offers nice 360-degree views of the area.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Trip For Mountain Birds

November 19, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures in Denver reached 61 degrees today.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

Steve Valle, Julie Orr and I headed to the mountains early this morning.  A White-tailed Ptarmigan was observed walking along the ridge north of the large pullover south of Loveland Pass Summit and west of Hwy 9 (Clear Creek County).

Later we drove into Silverthorne (Summit) and visited a private yard.  Besides seeing three species of Rosy Finches other mountain species observed included Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Clark's Nutcracker, Pygmy Nuthatches, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, and American Crows.

Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County).

On the way to DIA Airport, we detoured to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The Common Loon was on Lake Ladora and the Tundra Swan was still on Lower Derby Lake.

Our final stop was the DIA Owl Loop.  We picked up two Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, American Kestrel and Golden Eagle.  Then I rushed them to the Airport.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Birding the South Platte Corridor in Northeastern Colorado

November 16-18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

An northeastern Colorado trip was planned before I hear about a couple of rare birds being observed at Jumbo Reservoir.  It was a great trip.  As a second thought, I decided to visit as many of the Wildlife Areas along the South Platte corridor in Logan, Washington and Morgan Counties.

November 16

I arrived at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick Counties) around Noon.  Temperature was a pleasant 64 degrees.  Winds were brisk at 9-10 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

I scoped the reservoir trying to use trees for shelter from the wind.  A White-winged Scoter swam in the middle of the lake.  A Common Loon swam below the dam in the Logan County section.  Later another Common Loon was found in the Sedgwick County section.

Many gulls flew around the outlet canal at the north end.  All were Ring-billed Gulls.  A large number of gulls also flew around the cove west of the northern Campgrounds.  Two Iceland Gulls accompanied many Ring-billed Gulls, one California Gull and one strange Gull left unidentified however noted field marks.

Note: Iceland Gulls once quite rare in Colorado are not anymore since lumped with Thayer's Gulls.  The two "Iceland Gulls" found today were Thayer's Gull subspecies.

Over 50,000 Snow Geese/Ross's Geese swam in the middle of the lake.  Many "common" ducks and White-cheeked Geese were also out there.

After circling the reservoir twice without finding the Black-legged Kittiwake and Mew Gulls I headed toward Sterling. 

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was found along Hwy 138 at Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan).

A stop at Duck Creek Wildlife Area (Logan) found my second Red-bellied Woodpecker of the day!

My birding daylight hours ended at Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  At least sixteen Bonaparte's Gulls were on the lake below the Campgrounds overlook.  A female Barrow's Goldeneye swam south below the dam.

An adult Bald Eagle and Great Horned Owl were perched in the cottonwoods at the picnic area.  At dusk, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying north of the Campgrounds.

My plans to continue to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) were changed.  Already 180 miles from home, I decided to return to Jumbo Reservoir for another Black-legged Kittiwake search tomorrow.

On the return trip, I stopped at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) around 9:00 pm.  The night was clear and winds calm.  It was quite enjoyable to walk from Hwy 55 to Area west 2 and back.  Later from Area east 5 to 8 and back.

Listening to the night sounds was interesting.  Eventually I located two Eastern Screech-Owls.

November 17

I camped at the eastern Campgrounds at Jumbo Reservoir.  The "racket" from the many Snow Geese made it difficult to fall asleep.  I had to leave my tent and find quiet in my car!

Thirty minutes before sunrise I parked my car at the outlet canal along the north side of Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  Many Ring-billed Gulls and one Iceland Gull flew over the water catching shad.  One of the Common Loons swam only 10 yards offshore.

I decided to wait three hours for the Black-legged Kittiwake to appear.  At 2 hours and 45 minutes, sure enough the Black-legged Kittiwake joined the ever-changing number of gulls catching fish at the outlet canal. 

After about 15 minutes, the Black-legged Kittiwake caught a fish.  Unfortunately, for the birder who had just parked behind me, a dozen Ring-billed Gulls chased the Black-legged Kittiwake.  It was last seen flying toward the Campgrounds to the east and trying to save its breakfast from the horde of Ring-billed Gulls.

I circled the lake one additional time without getting out my scope to search for the White-winged Scoter or other waterfowl in the distance.  Then I drove toward Sterling.

On the way, I drove through Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  Many hunters roamed the Wildlife Area and I only stopped at the old ranger's office/maintenance building near Tamarack Pond area. 

A Northern Cardinal was behind the building.  While a Field Sparrow fluttered about the thistles along the main road.

Another quick stop for breakfast and I continued east stopping at many Wildlife Areas: Atwood, Bravo and Knudson in Logan County; Messex in Washington County, Brush, Cottonwood, Elliott and Jean Tool in Morgan County.

A Golden Eagle overlooked the South Platte River at Knudson Wildlife Area.  See December 2017 "Colorado Field Notes" for additional details and my target birds at the various habitats provided by the Wildlife Area.

Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) is one of my favorite "smaller" Wildlife Areas.  It offers parking areas both north and south of the South Platte River.

Today I found another Red-bellied Woodpecker from the southern parking area.  The highlight of the day was a Winter Wren around the cattail pond near the northern parking area.

My birding day ended at Prewitt Reservoir Wildlife Area (Logan/Washington).  Many gulls flew around the lake, most too distant to identify.  No uncommon waterfowl were observed.

Yet another Red-bellied Woodpecker was found.  This time below the dam.  No uncommon shorebirds were found along the inlet canal.  After sunset, I located Eastern Screech-Owls at the inlet area and the western "camping area".

It was a nice ending to a birding day where temperatures reached 62 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts at times 25 mph (one measured 35 mph).

November 18

It was cooler today with temperatures only reaching 46 degrees.  Winds were strong at 14 mph with gusts to 28 mph (one gust measured 42 mph).  At least we missed the rain and snow that dropped on Denver.

Finding birds among the waves on Prewitt Reservoir was difficult to improbable.  Landbirds were no easier to find.  It appeared they preferred to stay hidden in the high grasses and bushes.

A few Greater White-fronted Geese, two Bonaparte's Gulls, one Herring Gull and one Iceland Gull were the meager highlights.  A White-throated Sparrow was along the middle entrance road (the one to the ranger's home).

I was able to find one Long-eared Owl hidden in the thickets north of Pelican Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  A White-throated Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow were encountered in the thick brush south of the wooden gate along the shore at Pelican Campgrounds.

At least two Bonaparte's Gulls were blown by as I tried to scope the lake in the high winds.  High waves made finding much on the lake quite difficult.  One loon popped up and down on the waves.  It appeared to be a Common Loon.

Hunting on nearby Andrick Wildlife Area made access impossible.  I walked along the cattails at CR 4; nothing uncommon jumped out into the wind.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Brief Stop at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

November 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, I stopped by Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to update the status on the reported Tundra Swan and Common Loon.  It was cooler today with temperatures only reaching 59 degrees.  A windy day with anemometer readings 11-12 mph and gusts to 22 mph.

I scoped Lower Derby Lake at least three times.  The Tundra Swan swam along the northern shore (opposite of my location).   Field marks:

Neck length/body length ratio: if its neck laid back it would not cover 75 percent. 

Angle of Body Major Axis: straight line through base of neck and through tail; Trumpeter Swan almost level or slightly upslope, Tundra Swan much more sloped.

Head Profile and Bill Shape:
some Trumpeter Swan have flatter head while Tundra Swan appear rather smooth curved

distance from bill tip to eye is about two times the distance from eye to nape; while Tundra Swan only 1 to 1.5 times

Trumpeter Swan upper mandible is straight while Tundra Swan it is usually curved

Tundra Swan yellow lore is lacking in Trumpeter Swan

A great treatment and additional information on Trumpeter Swan verses Tundra Swan is in "Colorado Field Notes" November, 2017 issue
(see Colorado Birding Society's website on how to obtain)

No loon, scoter, Greater Scaup or other uncommon waterfowl was found.  Nearby Lake Ladora was similar.  Most common duck species were on Lower Derby; it is a good place to study them.

No Short-eared Owls appeared as I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Super Birding Day in Boulder County

November 14, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Another fantastic fall day in Colorado!  Temperature in Boulder reached 72 degrees with 5 mph winds.  However, around 3:30 pm winds grew to 21 mph with gusts to 32 mph.

My birding day was spent in Boulder County.  First stop was Skunk Creek behind the Basemar Shopping Center.  Eventually I was able to photograph both the male Black-throated Blue Warbler and the Varied Thrush.
See Colorado Birding Society's website Photo Library

Circling around Boulder County I relocated a Common Loon at Baseline Reservoir, and then scoped the Valmont Reservoir complex from Legion Park overlook.  I found a Common Loon but could not relocate the Pacific Loon reported yesterday.

Nothing uncommon was found at Walden Ponds, the Tundra Swan was missing.  I looked for the Golden-crowned Sparrow that has wintered for several years now at Teller Lake #5 parking area.  A Sharp-shinned Hawk stood on a Bush west of the old pump house.  Several dozen sparrows (American Tree and White-crowned) flew under my feet.  Could they determine that I was less a threat than the Sharp-shinned Hawk?

Prince Lake # 2 only hosted about 24 gulls.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was the best.  Nearby Erie Reservoir had only Gadwalls and American Coots on it.

A stop at Greenlee Preserve/Waneka Lake was a bust.

Terry Lake provided the best action of the day (well, other than Skunk Creek).  A Barrow's Goldeneye swam on the lake while Bonaparte's Gulls and an Iceland Gull flew overhead.

Boulder Reservoir was interesting.  A scope was required to relocate the Long-tailed Duck reported on 11/12 (Christian Nunes).  Bonaparte's Gulls were flying around here also.

At dusk, a Short-eared Owl flew around the west side of Lagerman Reservoir.  Later I found a Long-eared Owl at an unrevealed location in the northern county.  The owls nest here; therefore, we keep the site undisclosed.

Overall, it was a great day of birding in Boulder County!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Several Trips to First Creek Trail, Adams County

November 13, 2017

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful day!  Temperatures reached 73 degrees; winds were only 5-6 mph.

The third time was a charm.  I stopped at First Creek Trail, Adams County section this morning and found only the birds encountered yesterday, no Common Redpoll.

On the return trip, I stopped again.  This time (3:35 pm), a Common Redpoll was on top of a cottonwood tree.  The tree was along First Creek at 30 yards west of Buckley Road, not far from the trailhead.

I managed to get some witness shots to confirm Common Redpoll.  They are backlight and not great as show type photos.

On the walk back to the Buckley Road 56th Avenue parking area, a Northern Shrike was perched along the fence.

Instead of walking farther west along the First Creek Trail, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  Raptors included two Ferruginous Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks, one American Kestrel and one Prairie Falcon.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Douglas and Adams County Birding

November 12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After dropping Terry off in Centennial, I drove down to the Twenty mile Pond and photographed the Brant.  A Ross's Goose and several Snow Geese were among several hundred Canada Geese & Cackling Geese.

Later, I passed by the First Creek Trail (Adams) and stopped.  No Common Redpoll for me, birds found in order of number were Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, Song Sparrows, American Goldfinches and White-crowned Sparrow.

A Great Horned Owl flew between First Creek and the trail (quite close) and settled in a cottonwood at the west end of the first riparian area along the creek.

I sat at my usual spot (0.2 miles north of W. Cargo Road & Third Creek) at just before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Jackson County Birding/Owling Trip

November 10-12, 2017

Richard Stevens:

November 10

Terry Michaels and I headed up to Jackson County on an owling trip.  A search for owls along Pennock Pass Road did not find any owls. 

The night was fantastic with little wind which is unusual for the Cameron Pass area.  A Boreal Owl called at 100 yards south of the Crags Campgrounds.

November 11

After a few hours of sleep, Terry & I drove Jackson County Roads 26 & 26b.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were observed walking along CR 26 at 40 yards from Highway 14.

No Rosy Finches or uncommon birds were found in the town of Walden.  A Surf Scoter swam on Walden Reservoir.  The Highlight was a Lapland Longspur, which seemed out of place?

Gould had no uncommon birds also.  The Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center did not attract any Rosy Finches.

After dark, we found Boreal Owls along Michigan Creek Road and Montgomery Pass.

November 12

Two hours before sunrise we heard a Boreal Owl up Ruby Jewell Road, Colorado State Forest.  Another was heard at Ranger Lakes.  Shortly after sunrise, the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard at Ranger Lakes.  We were able to eventually see a male.

The resident Three-toed Woodpecker north of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center eluded us.  Again no Rosy Finches were found at the Visitor's Center.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Afternoon At Aurora Reservoir

November 9, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I exhausted the morning taking care of chores and preparing for a weekend trip to Jackson County.  Temperatures today only reached the middle 40s.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

A call to Bill Cryder who can see the southern end of Aurora Reservoir from his deck found no sighting of the reported Tundra Swan.

Therefore, I checked the scuba beach area first.  About 1800 gulls on the beach were all Ring-billed Gulls.  It was strange to not have at least one other species.  No swans or other uncommon birds were observed from that vantage point.

Next, I scoped the lake from the upper parking area for the swim beach.  Two Greater Scaup were less than 100 yards off.  Other 2000+ gulls were on the beach at mile 4.0.  This was excessively far away to identify most.  A large white Gull or black backed Gull might have stood out; none did.

Finally, I spotted a Swan at the mouth of Senac Cove.  I drove around to the south end of the Reservoir.  Bill and I walked rapidly down to the shore and received great looks at a Tundra Swan. 

A quick scoping of the lake found one Common Loon in Lone Tree Cove, no scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, etc.  We had to rush back out before the southern gates were closed.  These gates close 30 minutes before the Reservoir proper.  Presently that time is 5:30 pm.

Owling In the Foothills of Douglas County

November 8, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Jacob Washburn and I decided to do some owling in Douglas County.  Temperatures reached 62 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with a few gusts to 16 mph in the afternoon.  However, winds died down after sunset.

We stopped at Dekoevand Park (Arapahoe) on our trip to the foothills.  The area along the Highline canal from University Blvd south then west to the Dekoevand Park footbridge was searched for the Fox Sparrow.

It was reported "under feeders" and we scoped the backyards for feeders and the sparrow.  Few birds moved about and we turned around at the footbridge.  On the trip back, the Fox Sparrow was observed hopping in the brush along the fence line on the western side of the canal.  No feeders were in the yard at this point.  The sparrow must move between several yards north of the southwest corner of the Park.

Later, we hiked around the Rampart Range Road and Highway 67 intersection.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was observed along Hwy 67 at 40 yards south of the Intersection!  A search for additional Three-toed Woodpeckers was not successful.

After dark I set up our two "owl listening stations".  In the next three hours, two Northern Saw-whet Owls were observed along Rampart Range Road. 

As I mentioned in previous posts, Northern Saw-whet Owls seldom make any noise this time of year.  Our "owl listening stations" were set up about 0.2 miles apart.  We would walk between them and hit the surrounding forest with spotlights.  Each station was eventually visited by at least one Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Later we walked about a half mile down Highway 67.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir With Limited Visibility

November 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

After taking my Mom to lunch, we passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Temperatures today only reached 34 degrees.  Anemometer readings were 5-6 mph with a few gusts to 11 mph.  Visibility at Cherry Creek Reservoir was a little more than 100 yards.

I would make two trips to Cherry Creek Reservoir.  The unplanned first trip was ill equipped.  I had only a windbreaker and a cheap 10x20 binoculars. 

Off the northeast marina parking area, I observed a peculiar Gull for about a minute and a half.  It appeared to be the size of a Ring-billed Gull with the upper wing pattern of either a juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake or Sabine's Gull.  Even a Sabine's Gull would be smaller.  The Gull was definitely bigger than the nearby Bonaparte's Gulls. 

The upper wing pattern being dark primaries no white primaries of a Bonaparte's Gull and dark back forming the look of a "w".

When returning an hour later with better binoculars, visibility had greatly decreased and there was a rain/snow mix.  My search lasted to the last minutes of daylight without relocating the mystery Gull.

A Common Loon was found south of Pelican Point.  Twenty two Bonaparte's Gulls were in the bay southeast of the Lake Loop.  Many Western, Horned and Eared Grebes were quite close to shore.  Perhaps their reduce visibility masked my presence as dozens were less than 10 yards off shore.

Eventually I had to leave in the failing light.  Maybe conditions will improve tomorrow.  By then the waterfowl may return to the middle of this large lake.

Missed: any scoters, the Red-necked Grebe or other uncommon waterfowl.  I did not relocate the Swamp Sparrow at Pelican Point, although sixteen American Tree Sparrows and three Song Sparrows fluttered about the willows on the east end of the Point.

Superb Birding Day On The Eastern Colorado Plains

November 6, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I enjoyed a great birding day.  Temperatures were warmer than yesterday at 51 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with a few gusts to 21 mph.

An Eastern Meadowlark was singing and calling at the northeast corner of Jumbo Reservoir (Sedgwick).  A Snow Bunting flew around the point at the southeast corner of the dam (Logan/Sedgwick).  Unfortunately, the Surf Scoter and Red-throated Loon reported by Mlodinow yesterday could not be found in the high waves.

Our next stop was Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  A Barn Owl flew out of the trees north of the Campgrounds.  While scoping the northern shore for shorebirds (none found) we had a female Snow Bunting briefly land in front of us.

Misses: no uncommon gulls, scoters, loons or other waterfowl were observed.

Back at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington), we again searched unsuccessfully for the American Golden-Plover and Dunlin.  Many shorebirds were far off in the southeastern corner and too distant to identify.

On the lake below the dam, a Greater Scaup was our only uncommon waterfowl.  While a Red-bellied Woodpecker was first heard and then seen below the dam.

Misses: again no loons, scoters or uncommon gulls.

Our final stop was Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) A Common Loon swam along the dam.  Three Bonaparte's Gulls flew up and down the western shore.

We relocated two Long-eared Owls and the resident Eastern Screech-Owl.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening as we stood about 50 yards north of the northwestern Campgrounds. A Great Horned Owl called as we drove out of the State Park.

Sedgwick County Birding

November 5, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 40 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Rebecca and I found a red form of Fox Sparrow and two Harris's Sparrows at DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick). Two Red Crossbills seems out of place.  However, some years we do see a few on the Eastern Plains.

We searched nearby Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop and Wildlife Area for uncommon birds without running into any.  Special attention was paid to locations where Common Ground-Doves and American Woodcock have been found in previous years.  Neither was found.

Later Roger Danka and I visited several ranches.  Private ranch #2 added two Long-eared Owls to our trip list.  Private ranch #5 added Long-eared Owl and Field Sparrow. 

Roger had two Eastern Screech-Owls call at his ranch after sunset.

Prewitt Reservoir

November 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 73 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with one or two periods of gusts to 20 mph.

Rebecca and I drove up to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) hoping to relocate the American Golden-Plover and Dunlin reported a few days earlier.  Neither shorebird was found.

Just before sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from the inlet canal area.  The Eastern Screech-Owl(s) at the eastern end camping area did not call tonight.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir, Arapahoe County

What a fantastic Colorado fall day!  Temperatures reached 64 degrees.  Anemometer readings were 4-5 mph with a couple of 13 mph gusts.

I thought to drive to Prewitt Reservoir and search for the Dunlin, American Golden-Plover and Black-bellied Plovers.  However, the 97-mile drive (one-way) just was not inviting.  Instead, I decided to scope the Arapahoe County Reservoirs.

I passed Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) on the trip over.  Yesterday afternoon the sparrows hopped around the gravel trails behind the Nature Center.  Unfortunately, many people where around today.  The sparrows were scattered under the rabbit brush.  Perhaps a better time to visit is early morning or late afternoon (not 1:00 pm).

Traffic was terrible again today.  A stop at the Denver Zoo was nixed because of it.  I turned east to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Scoping the reservoir from the lake loop provided sightings of the Common Loon (southeastern quadrant) and at least eight Bonaparte's Gulls (off the handicapped fishing dock).

No scoters were found today.  The highlight was a Red-necked Grebe, which was just off the Mountain Loop (darn close too)!  Regrettably, a speedboat zipped by and chased the grebe toward the dam tower before I could drive to the Mountain Loop.

A check at Pelican Point found many American White Pelicans and mostly Ring-billed Gulls (no uncommon gulls).

A sparrow was walking in the willow patch on Pelican Point.  It looked to have a brown cap, rufous wings and faintly streaked breast.  It ran like a mouse and stayed hidden under the willows.

Finally, when it provided better looks, a Song Sparrow?  That did not seem right.  While trying to obtain better looks, the Song Sparrow ran to the edge of the willows and suddenly a second sparrow followed.  It was a Swamp Sparrow.

Both ran in and out of the willows, always stopping behind the willows.  After about twenty minutes, two fisher persons walked by and the sparrows flew into the willows near the cattails east of Pelican Point.

While walking back to my car, a dozen American Tree Sparrows were seen along the shore.  Daylight is getting shorter; with only an hour or so before sunset, I decided to bask in the terrific weather instead of driving to Aurora Reservoir.

A walk from the eastern marina parking area to the swim beach did not add any uncommon birds to my day list.  A Osprey flew around the north shore.  However what a pleasurable walk it was.

I ended my birding day sitting on the picnic table at the northeast corner of the lake and watching fourteen American Tree Sparrows come out of willows for a drink and to take a bath.  It was much more enjoyable than driving in Aurora's traffic!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Afternoon in Denver County

November 2, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Getting out in the afternoon, I managed to visit Washington Park and Bluff Lake Nature Area in Denver County.  Temperatures did not quite reach 50 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Many birds fluttered about the lawn bowling area at Washington Park.  Conservatively at least twenty-two Eastern Bluebirds flew around the choke cherry trees and canal along the northeast corner of Grasmere Lake (Washington Park's southern lake).  P.s. the trees may not be Choke Cherry?

Dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers captured bugs on the trees and willows.  A Spotted Sandpiper walked along the cement wall of Grasmere Lake.

The surprise was at least 56 Cedar Waxwings also "attacking" the chokecherry trees for their berries.  Berries were numerous and it should take several additional days before the trees are naked of berries.

The highlight was one Bohemian Waxwing among the many Cedar Waxwings.  While the Eastern Bluebirds would settle on the trees for a few moments, the waxwings took a more hit and run tactic.  They dive-bombed the trees, grabbing a berry and taking off for higher haunts to devour their prizes.

Over an hour and a half, I only observed the Bohemian Waxwing twice.  Its rusty colored undertail coverts were diagnostic.  Look for a larger waxwing than its smaller cousins.  That field mark got me to suspect a Bohemian Waxwing in the first place!

I ended my birding day at Bluff Lake Nature Area.  Walking to winding gravel trails behind the maintenance building was quite enjoyable.  I was the only visitor an hour before sunset (when the gates are closed).

Listening to and watching the White-crowned Sparrows hop up and down the paths was entertaining.  Regrettably, the Harris's Sparrow reported earlier in the day did not make an appearance for me.

Editorial Note:  When I started birding, the general thought was that Cedar Waxwings and Bohemian Waxwings are never found in the same flock.

Looking up records for the last 20 years, 27 out of 915 sightings, different locations (3%) of the time they were in a mixed flock.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Buena Vista to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 1, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the middle 70s today in the metro area.  Winds were 4-5 mph.

Terry Michaels had a bad case of bronchitis so we returned early.  Before leaving Buena Vista, we relocated a Lewis's Woodpecker along Pleasant Avenue and a flock of 14 Pinyon Jays along Hwy 24, just south of the Hwy 385 intersection.

Nothing new from yesterday was found at the three park reservoirs.  Except, a Tundra Swan was on Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

After dropping Terry at home I went to Washington Park (Denver).  I could not find the Eastern Bluebirds reported yesterday.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Missed both the Eastern Bluebirds and the previously reported Harris's Sparrow; however, I did see a couple of nice birds.

A lingering Bonaparte's Gull flew below the dam.  The Common Loon swam in the middle of the lake.  The new bird was a Black Scoter swimming around the southeastern quadrant.  The Common Loon would stay under water for more than 30 seconds and surface only for a count of 2 or 3.

No Short-eared Owls appeared when I was parked overlooking the cattail fields east of the gun shooting range.  The sunset was exquisite.

Park County Reservoirs & Chaffee Owling

October 31, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I explored Park County today.  Temperatures reached the low 60s.  Winds were a terrific 12-13 mph with gusts to 21 mph.  Sheltering our scopes from the winds was a must to identify birds.

We found little extra birds from the Joey Kellner trip of 10/29. 

Our count included,
Eleven Mile Reservoir: Eight Surf Scoters, 2 White-winged Scoters, a Black Scoter (our only new addition to this seasons Park County Reservoirs), and two Common Loons.

Spinney Mountain Reservoir: two Surf Scoters, two Common Loons

Antero Reservoir: Surf Scoter, four Common Loons

Afterwards we searched for owls in Chaffee County.  Only one Northern Saw-whet Owl was found (BLM land, north of hwy 24).

A limitation in searching for Northern Saw-whet Owls is that they seldom make a sound in reaction to our "owl listening stations" recordings.  Therefore, we had to visit the stations every 20 minutes or so and look for the owls.  If readers remember, we are down to only two "owl listening stations" as an animal destroyed one of them last month.

Northern Pygmy-Owls on the other hand will make a "contact call" which can be picked up by our stations.  None did this night.

We checked the area where a Western Screech-Owl nested in Buena Vista (2007, 2009, 2010).  None has been detected since June 2010.

Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Creek Reservoir & Barr Lake

October 30, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures barely reached 39 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  It was cold!

Most Colorado Murrelet sightings are recorded in late October or early November and after a snowstorm.  The majority of Murrelet sightings are from Chatfield Reservoir.  I headed down to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) about two hours before sunrise. 

My first stop was Deer Creek west of Chatfield Reservoir.  I walked Deer Creek Road from just west of the Denver Botanic Gardens to Spring Valley Park.  No Northern Pygmy-Owls was found.

Then I hiked the Chatfield Reservoir dam from the upper parking area to Plum Creek Delta.  Western Grebes were the majority birds on the lake.  No Murrelets, Loons or scoters were found.

I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  The Common Loon and Bonaparte's Gull were still there.  No scoters or the Red-necked Grebe could be located.

A brief stop at Barr Lake (Adams County) did not relocate the Winter Wren I found yesterday.