Thursday, March 29, 2018

Drive Through Cherry Creek State Park

March 28, 2018

Temperatures only reached 48 degrees today and that was early afternoon.  By 4:00 pm, we saw a 15 degree drop in temperature, rain and then snow.  Winds were 8 mph with gusts to 20 mph once the storm approached.

Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  The only unexpected sighting was an Osprey flying along the swim beach.  No shorebirds encountered.  Water levels are quite high, not allowing for exposed shoreline.

Search for Wet Playas in Eastern Arapahoe County

March 27, 2018

Terry Michaels and I decided to search for wet playas in eastern Arapahoe County.  Any location that might attract shorebirds in the near future would have been nice to know.  Unfortunately, none was found.

A search of spots where Northern Mockingbirds, Grasshopper Sparrows and Kingbirds nested last summer came up empty today.  We did observe our first Western Kingbird of 2018 along Arapahoe CR 42, 0.2 miles east of CR 161.

Temperatures only reached 46 degrees today.  However, winds at 4-5 mph kept the wind chill down.

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 26, 2018

While doing chores I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to update the status on the Vermilion Flycatcher.  I could not find it.  The same result as at least 14 other birders.

Temperature was colder today at 54 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph but increased to 20 mph an hour before sunset.

Great Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 25, 2018

In the afternoon, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to search for the Vermilion Flycatcher reported by Allen Hagood earlier in the afternoon.  I did not relocate the bird in about two hours and started to leave.  

Michael Lester was walking the hillside at the eastern end of the East Shades parking area.  Fortunately, I stopped; he was able to put me on the bird.  

Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's website Photo Library "recent favorite photos" 

Temperature was 64 degrees.  Winds went from 9-10 mph to 29 mph.  The Long-eared Owls were hidden somewhere out of the wind.

I parked an hour before sunset along 88th avenue just west of W. Cargo Road's gravel extension.  Near sunset, a Short-eared Owl was observed below the hill south of 88th avenue.  It flew back and forth along (north) Pena Blvd.  I believe it entered both Adams and Denver Counties.

Another Grouse Trip

March 19-25, 2018

Dan Barker, Violet (V) Simmons and I started out on a Grouse Tour.  We enjoyed beautiful weather, missing the inclement conditions other parts of Colorado were experiencing.  Our trip was similar to my last tour with a couple of notable exceptions.

March 19, 2018

Temperatures were only 43 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 18 mph.  Snowstorms in the mountains just west of Denver predicted to shut down roads.  We delayed the drive west and went to Reynolds Park (Jefferson) instead. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard (but not seen) while we walked along Foxton Road from the two parking areas.  

Instead of hiking up the mountain in snow we chose to continue to nearby Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  Along the drive V spotted an American Dipper in the South Platte River (Jefferson).

I heard the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker as we walked the south side of Pine Lake.  After some effort, the male was seen hanging on the an old snag.  

No Short-eared Owls were found when later we drove the DIA Owl Loop.

March 20, 2018

The day was interesting. Temperatures only reached 10 degrees after yesterday's snowstorm.  Fortunately, the roads were not icy.  Winds in Silverthorne measured 30-32 mph; one gust reached 44 mph.

We scoped the hillside south of Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) at the first pullover on the west side of Hwy 9.  If was our first stop because the bowl is somewhat protected from the winds.  Good fortune, we spotted two White-tailed Ptarmigan hunkered under the pines perhaps 40 yards from us.

A stop at the top of Loveland Pass got anemometer readings of 52 mph.  It was difficult to stand let alone steady our binoculars.  No additional Ptarmigan sighted.

A stop at a friend's home in Silverthorne added three species of Rosy Finches as well as the usual mountain species.  Misses: Band-tailed Pigeons have not arrived yet.

Our birding day ended at the Jackson County Road 26b leks.  Winds were outrageous.  At least five Greater Sage-Grouse braved the winds to walk onto the leks.

March 21, 2018

Hayden: temperatures of 45 degrees with winds 6-12 mph.  Coal Canyon: 58 degrees with winds 10-16 mph.  

We decided to stop at the 80 Route Leks (Routt) first.  Just before sunset, the trusty Dusky Grouse came out of the willows at the second cattle guard up the route.  Greater Sage-Grouse were heard however not seen somewhere in the distance to the northwest.  The snowdrifts on the road were not passable by our SUV.

Then we drove over to the 20 Road Leks south of Hayden.  Five Sharp-tailed Grouse were running around performing their mating dance!

NOTE: for those visiting either leks.  Sharp-tailed Grouse come to their leks rather late in the morning.  Usually well after sunrise.  I suspect those who miss seeing them leave before the Sharp-tailed Grouse arrival.  In addition, they visit their leks late in the afternoon.  Usually after it is too dark to see them.

We continued west past Craig to the Oxbow State Trust Lands (Moffat).  Access is restricted in spring.  However, we scoped the sage covered landscape and found two Sage Thrashers and a Sagebrush Sparrow (all singing).

A stop at Rifle Rest Stop (Garfield) did not find any Great-tailed Grackles this trip.

Coal Canyon was not good to us. No Chukars were found.

Then, we drove up the Grand Mesa (Mesa County).  A Northern Saw-whet Owl was found at its traditional nesting tree.  No Northern Pygmy-Owls called this night at the Powderhorn Ski Area.  A Boreal Owl was heard and briefly seen at the second pullover south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

March 22, 2018

Grand Junction weather: temperatures up to 66 degrees winds 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph

First thing in the morning, we returned to Coal Canyon.  The Canyon was nicer to us today.  A Chukar was found on the hillside southwest of the second pipe gate parking area.  A Black-throated Sparrow sang from the sagebrush along the road.  Two Pinyon Jays were observed flying long the ridge above us.

We skipped a drive through the Colorado National Monument (Mesa); however did stop at the eastern (southern) entrance to pick up our Gambel's Quail.  Nothing moved about the Devil's Kitchen picnic area.

The Western Screech-Owl was out at his favorite tree at Connected Lakes State Park (Mesa).

A Long-eared Owl was found below Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta County).  Nothing uncommon was found at Confluence Park in Delta.

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  Eventually one male Dusky Grouse was found along the South Rim Drive between the entrance Kiosk and the Campgrounds.

March 23, 2018

Gunnison weather: 48 degrees winds 12-13 mph, gusts to 35 mph  Pueblo: temperature 77 degrees winds 17-18 mph, gusts to a whooping 48 mph

At first light, we observed two Gunnison Sage-Grouse along CR 887

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was observed drumming at the Monarch Pass resting pullover (Chaffee)

A Rufous-crowned Sparrow was relocated along Tunnel Drive, Canyon City (Fremont)

A Curve-billed Thrasher and two Scaled Quail were along Swallows Road (Pueblo)

Two Western Screech-Owls were found at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca)

March 24, 2018

Weather: Springfield 68 degrees Winds at 14-15 mph with gusts to 28 mph  

Two Lesser Prairie-Chickens were relocated at a private ranch (Baca) NOTE: my rancher friend does not want unattended visitors due to unpleasant past experiences

We found several Cassin's Sparrows displaying along the old Campo Lek Road (Baca)

A return to Picture Canyon added another Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Curve-billed Thrasher Northern Mockingbird and Field Sparrow to our trip list.

Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) added Bewick's Wren, Eastern Phoebe, Carolina Wren, Canyon Towhee, Chihuahuan Raven, Wild Turkey and another Rufous-crowned Sparrow to our day list

Lamar Community College (Prowers) was quiet with anemometer readings of 19 mph

After sunset, we found an Eastern Screech-Owl at Hale Ponds (Yuma)

March 25, 2018

My birding companions had to catch their flight out of Denver in the afternoon.  Our birding day would be short.

Wray weather: 41 degrees winds 13-14 mph with gusts to 18 mph

Just before sunrise, three Greater Prairie-Chicken were observed dancing at the Yuma County Road 45 Lek

We made brief stops at Wray Fishing Unit (looking unsuccessfully for a Barn Owl), however picked up an Eastern Phoebe and Stalker Pond picking up a Northern Cardinal

Then rushed back to Denver International Airport

Monday, March 19, 2018

Windy Afternoon In Aurora

March 18, 2018

Temperatures reached 51 degrees today.  The strong winds 9-10 mph with gusts to 22 mph made for a cold day.  Snow started to fall around 5:00 pm

In the afternoon I discovered that access to Windsor Lake, TAVA Waters was limited to property owners.  However, I did talk myself into visiting as a potential leaser.  The American Avocets reported yesterday were not found by me.

Then I scoped Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) from the upper lookout.  Nothing uncommon was on the lake.  Eventually I did find one of the two Eastern Bluebirds reported earlier by Jeff Dawson.

Winds were stronger at the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Gusts to 22 mph, then rain turning to snow sent me home.

Windy Afternoon at Arapahoe County Reservoirs

March 17, 2018

Winds were outrageous today.  After taking my tax papers to Parker, I returned by way of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Temperatures were 61 degrees.  However, anemometer readings were 19-20 mph with gusts to 32 mph.

I scoped Aurora Reservoir four times and only found a pair of Buffleheads.  Perhaps the waterfowl were at the northwest corner using the dam as a windbreak.  Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls swam in a raft.  Nothing uncommon was found.

Two of the four Long-eared Owls were at their usual spot at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

Slow Drive Through Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 16, 2018

It was another windy winter day.  Winds were measured at 13-14 mph with gusts to 30 mph.  One gust topped 39 mph.  High temperature was 54 degrees.

Rebecca and I drove the Wildlife Tour at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Migration has not started there yet.  I scoped Lower Derby Lake for 30 minutes or so.  Nothing I would call a Greater Scaup was found.  The Lake does have a nothing collection of common waterfowl, unfortunately too far away for photos.

Waves were quite high at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) and Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  There was not much to see on the lakes.  We watched an American Crow try to fly into the wind.  It stayed in one spot for minutes.

North Park Trip

March 12-15, 2018

Rebecca Kosten and I headed up to North Park for a few days.  Typical for the area this time of year, temperatures were in the middle 40s.  Winds were 6-9 mph with gusts to 12 mph at night.

March 12

On the trip up, we stopped at Fort Collins City Park (Larimer).  The Red-necked Grebe (David Leatherman, 2/28) was still there.  We stopped at the Joe Wright Reservoir parking areas, found no Boreal Owls.

We walked highway 14, west of Cameron Pass and eventually heard two Boreal Owls. It was a strange night as winds were calm.  Another Boreal Owl was heard at Ranger Lakes.

March 13, 2018

Five Greater Sage-Grouse came to the Jackson County 26b leks around sunrise.  It was the first time I have observed them dancing this season.

Rebecca and I continued on to Steamboat Springs (Routt).  Target birds were Sharp-tailed Grouse and Bohemian Waxwings.  Fifty percent was not bad.  Two Sharp-tailed Grouse were found along Anglers Drive (east of the McDonalds Restaurant).

While searching for Bohemian Waxwings another two Sharp-tailed Grouse were found along Elk Lane.  Both locations are traditional wintering spots for Sharp-tailed Grouse.  

On the way to Craig, we detoured to the 80 Route.  There was no way our SUV would make it down the road.  

March 14, 2018

About an hour before sunrise, we drove down Moffat County Road 3.  A Sharp-tailed Grouse crossed the road as we drove to the Lek.  Another five Sharp-tailed Grouse were on the Lek.  Unfortunately, a scope is required to view the birds off in the distance.

Next, we returned to Craig and searched unsuccessfully for Bohemian Waxwings.  Then we drove west to Oxbow State Trust Lands.  Public access is closed this time of year; however, birds can be seen and heard from the parking area.  Two Sage Thrashers and a Sagebrush Sparrow were added to our trip list.

Another search for Bohemian Waxwings around Craig was unsuccessful.

After dinner, we listened for Boreal Owls on Rabbit Ears Pass (Routt/Grand).  None was heard this night; winds were 18-22 mph.  Hearing the soft calling owls is quite difficult under these conditions.

March 15, 2018

About two hours before sunrise, a Boreal Owl was heard 1/4 mile up Ruby Jewell Road (Jackson).  Flammulated Owls are heard in the same area; however, it may be too early for them to be in the area?

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered as we hiked back to our SUV parked at Michigan Creek & Ruby Jewell Road.

Again, we checked the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders without finding any Rosy Finches.  The Rosy Finches reported around Gould also avoided us.

We had missed the inclement weather down in Denver and west of the Front Range this week.  A snowstorm was predicted to arrive farther north of west of the Front Range; we decided to return to Denver a day early.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Long-eared Owls at Cherry Creek State Park

March 11, 2018

Richard Stevens:

After dinner, Rebecca & I passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  No evidence that the Sagebrush Sparrow remained was found.  The two Long-eared Owls were close to the entrance road. 

I will post new photos of the owls to the recent favorite photos, CoBus photo library soon. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Return to Aurora Reservoir

March 11, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 48 degrees.  Winds of only 4-8 miles per hour helped keeping the wind chill factor down.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I went to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Most gulls were quite a distance from the swim beach pavilion #4.  After scoping the lake four times, one White-winged Scoter was found in the middle of the lake.  We were not able to relocate the two Red-necked Grebes reported two days ago.  The four Long-tailed Ducks appear to have moved on.

From our vantage point, perhaps 15 percent of the reservoir cannot be seen.

A Brief Drive Through Cherry Creek State Park

March 10, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was colder today with a high of 51 mph.  The 12-13 mph winds with gusts to 27 mph made the wind chill much colder.

I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) while out doing chores.  The two Long-eared Owls were at their usual spot along the shooting range entrance road.  I circled the Lake Loop three times, did not find the Sagebrush Sparrow.  It was last reported four days earlier.  The high winds created high waves and few birds could be found on the water.

Littleton and Southwestern Metro Area

March 9, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 63 degrees. Winds were 7 mph with gusts to 23 mph in the afternoon.  One gust was measured at 31 mph.

Rebecca and I had business in Littleton and made a couple of nearby stops.  The Brant was on the lake in Ketring Park.  The Eastern Screech-Owl was sticking his head out of his favorite tree.

I had to circle Lower Ridgewood Park twice before finding the Eastern Phoebe.  It was along the canal and gravel road southwest of the ball field.  The Hermit Thrush reported a few days earlier was not found.

We could not get home in any good time with Denver's Friday traffic, instead headed south.  Nothing uncommon was on South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson).  The Yellow-billed Loon was relocated from the heronry overlook.  The previously reported Red-necked Grebe was not found.

Eastern Half of Our Grouse Trip

March 6-8, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I conducted the eastern side of our grouse trip.  

March 6

Temperatures only reached 44 degrees today.  Winds were ridiculous at 21-22 mph with gusts to 38 mph.  One gust was measured at 52 mph, wow!

Terry Michaels and I arrived at the Yuma County Road 45 Leks about an hour before sunrise.  Three male Greater Prairie-Chickens started their mating dances about 20 minutes later.  If you go, be sure to stay until after sunrise.  Some days they do not start until sunrise.

Later we stopped at Sandsage Wildlife Area (Yuma).  One White-throated Sparrow was among dozens of White-crowned Sparrows, four Song Sparrows and one Lincoln's Sparrow.

Stalker Pond was slow.  We did see a male Northern Cardinal in its red glory far off at the west end of the pond.  Nearby Wray Fishing Unit hosted the resident Barn Owl, however not much else.

Friend's yards in Wray added two male Northern Cardinals, one female, an Eastern Screech-Owl and one red race Fox Sparrow.

Beecher Island (Yuma) had a male Red-bellied Woodpecker and not much else.

No Eastern Phoebes found yet in Yuma County.

Our birding day ended at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area.  Birding was slow.  One Long-eared Owl was found in the Foster Grove windbreak.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls called along the Republican River east of Highway 385.  Another called at Hale Ponds.

March 7

Temperatures reached 58 degrees in Lamar.  Winds were only 5 mph with gusts to 10 mph.  It was quite pleasant after yesterday.

We chase reports of Lesser Prairie-Chickens at the Leks along the River Road between Coolidge and Syracuse, Kansas.  We hoped this new location for us would pan out; unfortunately, we found none. 

A Field Sparrow was along the old Hwy 50 just west of the Holly Rest Stop.  No Burrowing Owls had arrived at the huge prairie dog village north of the road.

One male Northern Cardinal was the only interesting bird behind Lamar Community College (Prowers).  The red race Fox Sparrow had not been reported for a couple of weeks.

We did not find the resident Barn Owl at Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca).  The Winter Wrens, which spent the winter, appeared to have moved on.

Two Western Screech-Owls were found at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  It was a little after midnight so 3/8.

March 8

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures in southeastern Colorado were up to 66 degrees.  Anemometer readings were 6 mph with gusts to 19 mph in the afternoon.

We were quite happy to find two Lesser Prairie-Chickens on a private lek in Baca County.  Lesser Prairie-Chickens are becoming quite scarce anywhere in Colorado and southwestern Kansas.  We decided not to visit the Elkhart, Kansas leks this trip.

A survey of the old Campo lek did not find any birds.  None has been reported for the past three years.  The only sparrows fluttering about were White-crowned Sparrows.

A Cassin's Sparrow surprised us in the field north of the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek along Baca County Road G.  It beat the early arrival date by two days. 

We hiked several hours at Picture Canyon (Baca) and relocated a Rufous-crowned Sparrow on the short rocky hillside just south of the parking area.  A Curve-billed Thrasher walked along the short rocky hill south of the old cave/mine.

On the drive out Terry spotted a Greater Roadrunner atop the hill at the entrance.

A return to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) added three additional Rufous-crowned Sparrows (1.4 miles east of the rustic Campgrounds at Carrizo Creek and Baca County Road 7.  A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Eastern Phoebe were south up the draw at the Campgrounds.  Other birds included Bewick's Wren, Canyon Towhees, Chihuahuan Ravens, and another Greater Roadrunner.  Nothing uncommon moved about the draws to the west.

Our return to Denver was by way of hwy 109.  We hoped to run across the Snowy Owl reported last month, did not.  A Chihuahuan Raven was found at Pritchett.  Perhaps the one Jim Dennis reports now and then.

A Rufous-crowned Sparrow was relocated at Vogel Canyon.  Our third Greater Roadrunner of the day ran across the entrance road.

Higbee Cemetery and CR 884 lacked any interesting bird.  Although we did see a Northern Mockingbird west of the Cemetery.  No Black-throated Sparrows have returned yet.

At La Junta, we drove west to Hwy 71 then north to I70.  That section of the trip was uneventful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Windy Afternoon At Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 5, 2018

Richard Stevens:

We spent most of this windy day doing chores.  In the afternoon, we passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) and searched unsuccessfully for the Sagebrush Sparrow.  

Looked for a sparrow that does not like to leave the ground and winds were 17-18 mph with gusts to 29 mph.

The two Long-eared Owls were at their usual location.  They stayed about a foot off the ground.  Were they trying to escape the wind?

An Osprey and adult Bald Eagle hunted along the north shore of the lake.  We observed the Bald Eagle diving claws first into the water and catching a fish, Osprey style.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Birding Around Denver

March 4, 2018

Richard Stevens:

A predicted snowstorm was approaching from the west.  Rebecca Kosten and I got out early to check on some recent bird sightings.

The Yellow-billed Loon and Red-necked Grebe were still on Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  Both stayed in Douglas County during our visit.

After three trips, we finally found the Brant at Ketring Park (Arapahoe).

In the afternoon, temperature reached 70 degrees with winds at 17-18 mph, gusts to 26 mph at Aurora Reservoir.  The resulting high waves made finding waterfowl difficult.  A couple of Herring Gulls were among 60-70 Ring-billed Gulls.  No uncommon gulls were observed.

The lake was mostly open water today.  We scoped the reservoir four times and did not find the White-winged Scoters or Long-tailed Ducks.  Most likely, they moved on during the recent 95+ percent ice cover.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Burrowing Owls have arrived yet.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 3, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Another spring like day in Colorado's winter.  Temperatures reached 70 degrees, not quite the record of 76.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

My plans to search for the Brant at Ketring Park and area were sidetracked by Glenn Walbek's Sagebrush Sparrow sighting around the Lake Loop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

I circled the Lake Loop and on the third attempt, a sparrow was observed in the middle of a Rabbitbrush.  In the four-second look, I saw a light gray body.  Unfortunately, neither the head nor tail was observed.  

The sparrow appeared to light for a Song Sparrow and too big for an American Tree Sparrow.  Still, it was not enough to call it a Sagebrush Sparrow.

The bird was not seen again while several of us tried to relocate it.  By 4:00 pm, three other birders had unsuccessfully searched and gave up.  I hoped that by 5:00 pm (dinnertime?), the bird would appear to eat before dark.

Almost on time, at 4:53 pm, the Sagebrush Sparrow popped out of the Rabbitbrush and landed on the road.  It was great to see the sparrow; unfortunately, it landed about 10 yards from six dog walkers.  

As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared into the bushes farther north.  Later I got glimpses of the sparrow as it moved from bush to bush.  Three additional birders were attempting to relocate the sparrow when I had to leave.

Broomfield, Weld and Adams Counties

March 2, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I drove up to Highway 7 and Huron Street, Broomfield County.

It was a pleasure to meet Ivan Mota who has been watching a Burrowing Owl in the southwest field since last year.  Today they were capturing Prairie Dogs for relocation to another part of Broomfield County.

After an hour, I found the Burrowing Owl on a fence post along the fence running east to west at the ditch north of the oil rig road (suggested by Ivan, thanks much)!

My next stop was Luna Reservoir located only 2-3 miles east of the Burrowing Owl.  The reservoir was 3/4 ice covered.  Hundreds of gulls stood on the ice. 

I scoped the reservoir for two hours and picked out a Glaucous Gull, adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and Iceland Gull.  The afternoon sun lit up the legs, which helped picking on the Iceland Gulls, etc.

At least four Greater Scaups utilized the open water.  The many female Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks made it quite difficult to find a Long-tailed Duck in the heat waves.  If one was still there, I missed it.

Several Great-tailed Grackles flew around the Town of Barr.  No Yellow-headed Blackbirds have returned yet at the cattail fields north of the Reservoir.

A stop at Barr Lake (Adams) found it mostly ice covered.  No uncommon birds were encountered.  I cannot walk so could not check on the Barn Owls, Long-eared Owls and Great Horned Owl(s) nest(s).

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop did not find any Burrowing Owls.  It is several weeks early.  It is believed the Broomfield owl was a hold over from last summer.  It has been there for at least 3-4 months.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening when I was parked 0.2 miles north of West Cargo Road and Third Creek.

Two Red-tailed Hawks, one Ferruginous Hawk and one Rough-legged Hawk watched the prairie dog village here.

Western Half of Grouse Trip

February 26-March 1, 2018

Richard Stevens:

February 26

Terry Michaels and I started the western half of the CoBus Grouse Tour.  High temperature today was 21 degrees.  Winds were 33 mph with gusts to 44 mph.  We considered ourselves fortunate to find any birds.

We found one White-tailed Ptarmigan hunkered under a pine tree east of Hwy 9, across from the first pullover west of the road and south of the Pass's Summit.

Next, we visited a friend's yard and observed many mountain species including three species of Rosy Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Clark's Nutcrackers, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers and White-breasted & Pygmy Nuthatches.

Our birding day ended at the Jackson CR 26b leks.  Two male Greater Sage-Grouse were observed crossing the road.  They did not display; no females appeared.

February 27

Temperatures reached 36 degrees in Hayden.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

We sat at the Hayden Twenty Road Leks for a couple of cold hours at sunrise.  Eventually two Sharp-tailed Grouse flew from the east side of the road over to the grassy hillside.  They looked around, however never did they mating dance.

We drove to Oxbow Wildlife Area (Moffat).  No Sagebrush Sparrows have arrived yet.  Not much was moving around.

A Great-tailed Grackle was encountered at the Rifle Rest Stop (Garfield).

No Chukars were found at Cameo (Coal Canyon) and we headed up the Grand Mesa (Mesa County). 

We found a Northern Saw-whet Owl close to where one was the last two years.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl called at the Powderhorn Ski Area.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found this evening.

A drive to the Visitor's Center and back, unfortunately did not find any Boreal Owls this night.  Anemometer reading was 32 mph.

February 28

We enjoyed the warmer day with high temperatures of 55 degrees in Grand Junction.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

A return to Coal Canyon (Mesa) found a male Chukar calling from the steep hillside across from the parking area at the second pipe gate.  It called a good twenty minutes before Terry spotted it under the rocks.

We returned to Grand Junction and continued west to Mack, then north on Mesa County Road 4.  A Sagebrush Sparrow was found at one of my favorite spots about seven miles north of S Road.  They have been found here the past six years.  On the return trip, a stop at Bar X Wash added a Long-eared Owl to our trip list.

A detour over to Mesa CR 2 relocated two of the Sagebrush Sparrows reported by Denise & Mark Vollmar on 2/18.  Our target bird a Northern Mockingbird was not found.  The area is good for Scott's Orioles in May.

The Western Screech-Owl was out of its favorite tree at Connected Lakes State Park.  A drive through Colorado National Monument added two Juniper Titmice and five Pinyon Jays to our day list.  Both were flying around the Campgrounds.  It was too early to expect any Black-throated Gray Warblers, Gray Flycatchers and Gray Vireos.

A detour to Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta) found a lone Lewis's Woodpecker.  We were told that one of the homeowners along M50 Road enjoys shooting the woodpeckers.

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  The south rim drive is closed at the Visitor's Center.  While enjoying the view at the Visitor's Center overlook, we saw a lone Brown-capped Rosy Finch fly by below us.

Thirty minutes before sunset, we parked at the turnoff between the Entrance Kiosk and the Campgrounds.  The technique worked as a male Dusky Grouse was observed crossing the road!

March 1, 2018

Temperatures reached a comfortable 63 degrees in Pueblo today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 20 mph.

Thirty minutes before sunrise, we drove Gunnison 887 Road.  A Gunnison Sage-Grouse was observed crossing the road a good 1/2 mile north of the Waunita Hot Springs Lek.  Local residents travel up and down the road most mornings; we saw no reason to think our drive would affect the birds.  The Lek itself is closed until April 1.  Parking on the side of the road is now prohibited.  

We do wonder if the sheriff can stop birders from walking up the road.  Several years ago when parking was still allowed, we parked a good 1/4 mile south of the lek and walked up the road.  We scoped the road quite a distance north and observed the Gunnison Sage-Grouse without having to park at the lek.  The distance from the grouse was too far to disturb the birds.

With little chance of finding a Lesser Prairie-Chicken in southeastern Colorado and a recent visit to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca), we decided to skip the eastern half of the grouse trip.  Instead, we took a roundabout route through Pueblo County.

A detour up Tunnel Drive in Canon City (Fremont) found two Rufous-crowned Sparrows near the parking area trailhead.

A drive down the Swallows Road (Pueblo) added two Scaled Quail and a Curve-billed Thrasher to our trip list.

The Great Black-backed Gull and a Common Loon were observed at the Pueblo Reservoir south marina (Pueblo).

Then we headed to Colorado City, Rye and Beulah (Pueblo).  The White-winged Scoter was not on Lake Beckwith as we passed.  One Acorn Woodpecker was at its favorite tree at Pueblo Mountain Park.

Our birding day and trip ended with some owling around Beulah.  Unfortunately, owls were quiet this night.  Which was the story during the whole trip.