Monday, February 26, 2018

Another Drive Around Eastern Arapahoe & Western Denver/Adams Counties

February 25, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was another mild Colorado winter day with partly sunny skies.  Temperatures reached 37 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Rebecca and I drove around Parker looking unsuccessfully for the Brant.  Then we detoured to eastern Arapahoe County by way of County Line Road.  None of Common Redpolls found in recent days were relocated.

Nothing uncommon was encountered as we continued to eastern Denver & western Adams Counties.  We did find at least one Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Northern Harrier and American Kestrel.  Two Lapland Longspurs were along Hudson Road, north of 74th avenue.

The ride on least traveled county roads away from traffic was enjoyable itself.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening when we parked 0.2 miles north of West Cargo Road & Third Creek.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Birding Adams County

February 24, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Skies were sunny today with a high temperature of 36 degrees; although it was 32 degrees most of the afternoon.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 38 mph.  The wind chill made it quite cold.

To be different, I spent the day in Adams County.  My first stop was the South Platte River at I270 (north frontage road to the river).  The continuous clank of my crutches on the cement trail broke the roar of the many cars on the highway.

I was happy to see the bobbing tail of a phoebe south of the Sand Creek footbridge.  Unfortunately, after approaching the bird, it turned out to be a Say's Phoebe and not the Black Phoebe reported several days earlier.

My walk continued south another 200 yards to the water treatment plant bridge over the Platte River.  The island surrounding the bridge support was where I had seen the Black Phoebe back on January 1 (first found by Bob Canter on December 29).

Neither the Black Phoebe nor Long-billed Dowitcher reported many days ago was found.

Next, I drove to the lakes at McKay Street and 100th Avenue.  Hundreds of Northern Shovelers circled in the open water at the west end of the lake.  No Long-tailed Ducks, a few Common Goldeneyes and Hooded Mergansers were also there.

Another hole of open water was at the northeast end of the same lake.  A scope was needed to see the far off ducks.  Two Long-tailed Ducks swam with Common Goldeneyes and other common ducks.  The Adams County Fairgrounds parking area is just north of 100th avenue.

Then, I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Lake Ladora was completely ice covered while Lower Derby Lake had a small open water area at its northwest corner.  Four Common Goldeneyes swam with assorted common ducks; no Barrow's Goldeneye was among them.

My birding day ended by parking along 88th avenue about a mile east of Tower Road.  The location is probably the second best spot to find a Short-eared Owl at dusk.  Unfortunately, none appeared this evening.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Another Search for Common Redpolls, Arapahoe, Denver & Adams County

February 23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Another typical winter day.  Skies were sunny today with temperatures reaching 34 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

I drove eastern Arapahoe County roads again today.  A brief drive through Aurora Reservoir Park found the lake almost completely snow covered.  Fog reduced visibility to less than 30 yards.  The few birds around were too far away to identify.

The eighteen Common Redpolls reported two days ago along CR 42 were not found.  Northern Harriers numbered 7, Red-tailed Hawks 7, Rough-legged Hawks 2 and 2 American Kestrels.

While driving through the Galamb's mobile home park 1.8 miles east of Watkins Road and Colfax Blvd I found one Common Redpoll visiting feeders with many House Finches, House Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos.  A pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves picked up seed that fell on the ground underneath.

I continued up Hudson Road to the east side of DIA Airport searching for the two Common Redpolls reported north of 72nd Avenue.  About a mile north of that intersection a Common Redpoll was observed with a flock of six American Goldfinches and eight American Tree Sparrows.

The lack of longspurs and especially Horned Larks was surprising.  I zigzagged the gravel roads for several hours without spotting one.

Search for Common Redpolls in Eastern Arapahoe County

February 22, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Partly sunny skies kept the high temperature down to 26 degrees today.  Winds were 4 mph with a few gusts to 9 mph.

I drove the eastern Arapahoe County roads in search of Common Redpolls and longspurs.  The eighteen Common Redpolls reported yesterday along CR 42 were not found.

Anywhere Eurasian Collared-Doves were observed I kept an eye out for feeders thinking any Common Redpolls would visit them.

A couple of Eurasian Collared-Doves flew north to south across County Line Road and Patrick Trail; I followed.  Eventually a Common Redpoll was spotted with a small flock of House Finches along the half moon drive along Patrick Trail.

No additional Common Redpolls and no longspurs were encountered.

As the afternoon went on several snow flurries were come across.  One flurry lasted thirty minutes and convinced me to return home through visibility of less than 20 yards.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Birds At Home

February 21, 2018

Richard Stevens:

The Woodhouse's Scrub Jay visited our feeders for the third time in seven days.  Not much happening as we did not leave the house.  About two dozen Dark-eyed Juncos, two Black-capped Chickadees and one Mountain Chickadee visit everyday also.

Temperatures reached 15 degrees today.  Winds clocked at 7-8 mph with gusts to 9 mph.

Parker & Cherry Creek Reservoir

February 20, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 12 degrees today.  Winds at 7-8 mph with gusts to 9 mph added to a frigid afternoon.

I had some business in Parker and afterwards drove around in search of "last month's" Brant.  The Brant was not found.  Few White-cheeked Geese were around the snow covered fields at Salisbury Equestrian Park and Bar CCC Park.

I skipped Aurora Reservoir but did drive by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  No uncommon sparrows, redpolls or Snow Buntings were found.  The two Long-eared Owls continue along the Shooting Range road.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

February 19, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 19 degrees with winds 8-12 mph.

Rebecca and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake were ice covered.  Nothing uncommon was encountered.

Nothing uncommon was found at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The few gulls around were Ring-billed.   The two Long-eared Owls continue in their favorite Russian Olive trees.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Cherry Creek and Aurora Reservoirs

February 18, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 67 degrees today.  Winds were 13-14 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

I did not feel like driving 30+ miles to Ketring Park to miss the Brant three days in a row.  Although Terry Michaels called to tell me it was there this morning.    I missed it by 10 minutes yesterday and several hours on Friday.  Instead, I went to Aurora Reservoir by way of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

I did not find the Glaucous Gull reported early.  A Common Loon was the consolation.  The two Long-eared Owls were again in the Russian Olive trees along the Gun Range road.

Aurora Reservoir had more birds.  The four Long-tailed Ducks were together off pavilion #4 although quite far offshore.  

Scanning the lake four times, I finally found one of the two White-winged Scoters.  I have not seen both in awhile, hope nothing has happened to the other one.

Several hundred gulls were on the swim beach ice shelf.  One Iceland Gull and two Herring Gulls were among the many Ring-billed Gulls.  

I noticed one of the gulls smaller than the Ring-billed and darker mantled.  It was a Mew Gull!  A Glaucous Gull towered over the other gulls.  Perhaps it spends its mornings at Cherry Creek Reservoir and flies the eight miles east to Aurora Reservoir in the afternoon?

An adult Ferruginous Hawk flew across the length of the lake made a dive down to the gulls and then continued south.

Forty three Pronghorn wandered across the new Pronghorn Natural Area north of Aurora Reservoir.

I drove down the entrance road of the discipline school east of Aurora Reservoir (sorry forgot the name).  I hoped the Northern Goshawk that has been reported at the Reservoir had perched in the cottonwoods along Coal Creek.  It was not found.

An adult Bald Eagle was in the cottonwood with nest along the Yale-Jewell Loop (Arapahoe).  Seventeen Horned Larks fluttered around the same area.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

South Platte Park Reservoir, Ketring Park to Cherry Creek Reservoir

February 16, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached only 41 degrees under party sunny skies today.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

I scoped South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) six times and saw the adult male White-winged Scoter on two of the scans.  The Yellow-billed Loon was not found.  However, lack of mobility forced me to scope from the southwest corner.  About 10-15 percent of the lake could not be seen.  The Yellow-billed Loon was reported later in the afternoon.

The Brant was not found at Ketring Park, Edwin Bemis library fields, Gallup Park and Ida Park (Jefferson).  The Eastern Screech-Owl was out sunning in his usual cottonwood.

The pair of Long-eared Owls was back in their usual Russian Olive trees along the Gun Range road at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

Friday, February 16, 2018

Visit to Aurora Reservoir in a Snowstorm

February 15, 2018

Richard Stevens:

While doing chores we drove through Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) this afternoon.  A blizzard like snowstorm came from the east around 4:00 pm.

We managed to scope the lake just one time before visibility became 20 yards or so.  Winds were clocked at 17-18 mph with gusts to 31 mph.  Snow was flying parallel to the ground.

One White-winged Scoter and the two adult female Long-tailed Ducks were the only uncommon birds found before lost of visibility.  

Snow continued east of DIA Airport on our return trip home.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Arapahoe County: Cherry Creek & Aurora Reservoirs

February 14, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Super winter day in Colorado, temperatures reached a comfortable 63 degrees.  Warmer temperatures resulted because of the 11-12 mph winds from the south-southeast.  Anemometer readings reached 25 mph with several gusts to 37 mph.

While out doing chores and having dinner, we passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Today the two Long-eared Owls were out in the open.  I put several photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library (recent favorite photos link)

Later we scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) for an hour or so.  The high winds produced high waves making finding waterfowl difficult.

Eventually we relocated the two female Long-tailed Ducks however missed the two juveniles.  One of the White-winged Scoters was also found.

South-southeastern winds may have pushed many waterfowl into the northwestern corner of the lake.  We could not see about 1/6 of the reservoir from our vantage point.

Two hundred + Ring-billed Gulls were the only species on the swim beach ice shelf.  We did see one adult and one first winter Lesser Black-backed Gull swimming east of pavilion #4.

Birding Around Denver

February 13, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I searched several hours for the Standley Lake Snowy Owl.  We did not find it.

A drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) did not come across any uncommon birds.

When we passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) two Long-eared Owls perched on the same branch along the shooting range road.

A few Ring-billed Gulls stood on the remaining ice shelf off the Mountain Loop.  No uncommon birds were encountered.

It was a fantastic winter day.  Temperatures reached 57 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Parker & Aurora Reservoir

February 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I will not talk about my fractured ankle after today, got to put a shoe on after three weeks!  Someday I hope to walk soon!

Temperatures reached 28 degrees; however it was 17 degrees in Parker at 3:00 pm.  Winds were 5-6 mph with several gusts at Aurora Reservoir at 22 mph.

Rebecca and I had business in Parker.  We checked Salisbury Equestrian Park, Bar CCC Park and surrounding fields.  Only a few White-cheeked Geese were found and no Brant.

Taking the back roads home we passed by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Long-tailed Ducks, two White-winged Scoters and a Lesser Black-backed Gull continue at the lake.

I detoured 8 miles to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A Long-eared Owl was perched on the fence along the shooting range access road.

No Short-eared Owls were encountered along the DIA Owl Loop after sunset.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Aurora Reservoir Again

February 10, 2018

Richard Stevens:

After 4+ inches of snow last night, Terry Michaels and I checked on the Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) birds.  Temperatures only reached 17 degrees.  Winds were 4 mph with gusts to 8 mph.  It was cold.

We found the two White-winged Scoters, the four Long-tailed Ducks out on the lake.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the ice shelf east of the swim beach.

Barr Lake & DIA Owl Loop

February 9, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reach 48 degrees today.  However, that was early in the day.  It was 27 degrees at 3:00 pm.  Winds were 11 mph with gusts to 26 mph.  Visibility was less than 1 mile.  It started to snow around 5:00 pm.

Terry Michaels took me out to Barr Lake (Adams).  We could not see much from our car.  As mentioned before, my broken ankle does not allow me to walk any distance.  Terry went by himself and found one Barn Owl at the Pioneer Trail.  He found a Long-eared Owl at the entrance windbreak.

Around 5:00 pm, we drove the DIA Owl Loop.  A Short-eared Owl was on the chain link fence at West Cargo Road and 96th avenue.

Another Trip to Aurora Reservoir

February 8, 2018

Richard Stevens:

After soaking my sore foot yesterday, Rebecca Kosten took me over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) this afternoon.  I still have not figured out how to drive with broken bones in my foot. 

What a beautiful day.  In spite of overcast skies, temperatures reached 60 degrees.  Winds were calm and the reservoir looked like a mirror.

The two White-winged Scoters were in the center of the lake off the Pavilion #4 (upper swim beach parking area).  Even closer, the four Long-tailed Ducks were all together in one photo shot!  A Glaucous Gull was quite far off shore.  I had heard of it wintering at Aurora Reservoir; this is the first time for me to see it.

Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, a couple of Herring Gulls, at least one California Gull and one Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the melting ice shelf near the swim beach.

No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight when we drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver)

Return to Aurora Reservoir

February 6, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures were around 47 degrees today.  Winds were 8 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  High waves on Aurora Reservoir made picking out birds difficult.

We did find the two White-winged Scoters quite far off from Pavilion #4 at the Aurora Reservoir swim beach.  The Long-tailed Ducks were never relocated.  Hundreds of gulls on the swim beach ice shelf were mostly Ring-billed Gulls.  We did pick out one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.  We scoped the gulls for a long time hoping to find a Mew Gull or the previously observed Iceland Gulls; without success.

No Birding February 3-5, 2018

February 3-5, 2018

Richard Stevens:

No birding, broken bones in my ankle did not feel good.  I have not figured out how to drive either.  I resisted the thought of birding in a wheel chair or crutches.

Fort Collins Harris's Hawk!

February 2, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Sue Ehlmann sent this email to the "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders,

Amy Davenport, Rebecca Kosten and I saw the Harris's Hawk at Prospect Road and the Frontage Road, near the Colorado Visitor's Center
We could not find the Common Redpoll at the Schware Unit/Morris Reservoir of Wellington Wildlife Area
A Long-eared Owl was in the evergreens at the Wellington Unit of the Wildlife Area. No Short-eared Owls flew around at dusk

Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots and maps on CoBus website:

Sue Ehlmann, CoBus & RMORC Project Director

Southeastern Colorado Bird Trip

January 29-February 2, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I took off for some birding in southeastern Colorado.

January 29
It was another beautiful winter day.  Temperatures reached 54 degrees.  Winds were 4 mph with few gusts.

Our first stop was the Broadmoor area.  It only took about 15 minutes to relocate the Red-breasted Sapsucker at 13 Mirada Drive.  We did not have the same luck at Cheyenne Mountain Road.  The Varied Thrush was not relocated during our 45 minute search.  We saw the male a few weeks ago.  Birders are reporting a female now?

Our main goal today was to bird Apishapa Wildlife Area (Las Animas County).  Winds were calm fifty degree temperatures felt warm.  Our highlight was an Eastern Phoebe hawking bugs down in the canyon.  The mystery would be, did it winter here in this seldom birded area or is it migrating north or possibly south?

Several Rufous-crowned Sparrows wandered below the road.   On the road out a Curve-billed Thrasher was found near the parking area.

The rest of our day was spent driving the Las Animas county roads hoping for a Snowy Owl or at least a Short-eared Owl.  Just before sunset, we ran across a Short-eared Owl along County Road 15, south of CR N (west of Timpas).

January 30
We spent the night at Vogel Canyon (Otero).  Temperatures did reach 27 degrees in the night.  However, during the day they rose to 77 degrees!  Winds were high at 14 mph with gusts o 31 mph.

A walk down Vogel Canyon found two Rufous-crowned Sparrows along the cliffs.  On the drive out of the canyon, a Greater Roadrunner ran across County Road 30.

We checked CR 804 and Higbee Cemetery (Otero).  A Northern Mockingbird was near the Cemetery.  We relocated a Rufous-crowned Sparrow near the GPS waypoint of Kathy Mihm-Dunning's sighting (1/27).

We continued south toward Cottonwood Canyon zig zagging the Otero & Las Animas County roads in search of Snowy Owl or Short-eared Owls

January 31

Temperatures were a little colder than yesterday's 77 with a high of 51 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

The highlights at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) included a Winter Wren, three Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a Western Screech-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Canyon Towhees, Cooper's Hawk, Bewick's Wren and Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Picture Canyon highlights included another Winter Wren, Northern Mockingbird (North Canyon), Rufous-crowned Sparrow (near Picture Canyon parking area), a Curve-billed Thrasher.

We wandered by car around the Baca county roads in search of owls; without success.

February 1

Colder temperatures hit overnight.  The high today was only 39 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

A Short-eared Owl flew around the Upland Bird Management Area (Baca) before sunrise.  A couple of Lapland Longspurs and several dozen Horned Larks fluttered about.  No Chicken-like Birds or uncommon sparrows were found.

We backtracked to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) because of a report of a possible Long-billed Thrasher.  No thrashers of any species were found by us.  We did relocated two Rufous-crowned Sparrows and one of the Winter Wrens.

Springfield had few birds and we continued to Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  A Greater Roadrunner ran along the dam road about the same time as us.  We could not fin the resident Barn Owls and settled on two Winter Wrens (which have been reported since 11/26).  Five Wild Turkeys and a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker were also encountered.

Again backtracking, our birding day ended in a search for Lesser Prairie-Chickens east of Springfield; none was found.

February 2

We drove late into the night and rested at Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).  One Eastern Screech-Owl called at Hale Ponds about 30 minutes before sunrise.  Nothing uncommon was found in the couple of hours we drove around.  My ankle did not handle the cold night and hurt too much for any hiking.

Local resident birds observed included three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, seven Eastern Bluebirds, a male Northern Cardinal (Fosters Grove) and 14 Wild Turkeys.

On the drive back to Denver, we detoured at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  One of the previously reported Common Redpolls was in the northeast corner of the property.  Few birds were around today.

Temperatures reached 54 degrees.  Anemometer readings were 5-6 mph with gusts to 18 mph.