Saturday, April 28, 2018

Great Birding and Friends in Weld County Today!

April 28, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Skies looked like threatening rain today; however, it never happened. 

Temperatures reached a hot 80 degrees around Peaceful Valley.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 31 (one gust measured 41 mph).

I had planned to visit a friend's ranch near Peaceful Valley and check fields where Mountain Plover had nested the last two years.  Jim and I searched for several hours however found no Mountain Plovers (just a few Killdeer).

We did find five Burrowing Owls on private property northeast of Peaceful Valley.  Two Long-eared Owls were in Jim's windbreak.

Nothing uncommon was found at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  I dropped off Jim and picked up my email.  One email was listed Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel and Willet along Weld CR 49.

I drove CR 49 north from Hwy 52 and past the Power Plant.  An irrigated field just northwest of the Power Plant was quite interesting.

A Long-billed Curlew hunted for bugs just south of the Center Pivot Irrigation Machine.  

Other birds under the irrigation machine included Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, Common Grackles and a few Great-tailed Grackles.

Farther south, a group of shorebirds near the southern end of the irrigated field included two Whimbrel and seven Willets.

Thanks to Michelle Robbins for reporting their whereabouts!

I stopped at Ireland Reservoir #5 just south of the above field.  When I walked into the property, a Red-necked Phalarope was swimming just off shore with two Eared Grebes and five American Coots.

Dozens of Great-tailed Grackles stood on the cattails along the southern side of the Reservoir.

Then I continued south to Ireland Reservoir #1 (about a mile south of Hwy 52.  It looked to have potential when I visited it on January 1st.  

Best bird was a Swamp Sparrow in the cattails below the dam.  It was loosely associated with three or four Song Sparrows.

Two Western Grebes, one American White Pelican and a few Eared Grebes were on the lake.

My birding day ended back at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  I walked along Hwy 52 (from the southern parking area).  A Great Horned Owl called north of Hwy 52.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

A Drive Into Eastern Arapahoe & El Paso Counties with Detour to Douglas County

April 27, 2018

Richard Stevens:

On this spectacular spring day, temperatures reached 67 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with a couple of 14 mph gusts.

My plan was to stop at the Hwy 86 bridge and then continue to eastern Arapahoe & Elbert Counties.

I detoured to Salisbury Equestrian Park (Douglas) and found water levels quite low.  Nine Marbled Godwits, eight Willets and two American Avocets walked the shore.

The stop at the highway 86 bridge over Cherry Creek (Douglas) was a great.  Two Eastern Phoebes (assumed male) chased a third (assumed female) toward the Veterinary Clinic ranch.

A fourth Eastern Phoebe was perched in a willow tree along the bridge.  After one of the first three returned, the pair flew down to the willows along Cherry Creek.  They hawked insects just below for the twenty minutes I stayed.

A Burrowing Owl was north of County Line Road at (where the pavement ends).  The county line does not run along County Line Road but crosses from Arapahoe to Elbert County near there.  

A McCown's Longspur flew from Elbert to Arapahoe County at 0.2 miles east of Antelope Road.

I walked along the County Line Road at the Kiowa Creek Bridge.  No Red-headed Woodpeckers have returned to where they nested north of the bridge last year. 

A male Wild Turkey chased two females along the edge of the Arapahoe County Open Space east of the Bridge.  A Blue Jay, House Wren and my first Bullock's Oriole of 2018 were also along the creek.

Three Burrowing Owls were west of Arapahoe CR 129 at 0.7 miles south of Orchard Road.  Just north of the intersection is the location of Dickcissel sightings the past three years.  None was around today.

The other Dickcissel location is along CR 30 at 0.1 miles east of CR 129.  None was there today.

One Burrowing Owl stood on a prairie dog mound along Arapahoe CR 30, 0.3 miles east of CR 149.

A Sage Thrasher was along Arapahoe CR 161 just south of Berry Road.  About 0.1 miles mile farther south along CR 161 is the large cottonwoods where Cassin's Kingbirds nested in 2017.

Two Loggerhead Shrikes perched in a cottonwood at the cut hill along CR 42 at 1.7 miles east of Arapahoe CR 161.  Another pair was at the intersection of CR 161/42.

I also checked the north end of the Arapahoe County Open Space (Arapahoe CR 30, west of Bradbury Road).  A Cassin's Sparrow was observed here 6/112017 to 6/16/2017.  None was encountered today (again too early).

Arapahoe CR 18, east of CR 157 was a good road for Lark Buntings, Dickcissels, and Grasshopper Sparrows.  None was found today (nor expected as it is just a few weeks early).

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

Birding Around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 26, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Nothing uncommon was found.  We did skip the Wildlife Drive that is enclosed because of the Bison.  Still no Western Kingbirds or Red-headed Woodpeckers are around.

We hiked to the First Creek Trailhead.  The Harris's Sparrow started out near the chain link fence (Denver County) and later followed half a dozen White-crowned Sparrows to the woodpile west of Buckley Road (Adams).

While driving the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) two Burrowing Owls were observed at W. Cargo Road & Third Creek.  Another two Burrowing Owls were along Gun Club Road at 1.7 miles south of 112th Avenue.

No Short-eared Owls to report this evening.

Temperatures reached 59 degrees today.  Winds were 14-15 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area & Barr Lake State Park

April 25, 2018

Richard Stevens:

What a different day from yesterday.  Temperatures reached 66 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 10 mph.

Terry Michaels and I returned to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  Nothing uncommon was found.  The Long-eared Owl was not relocated today.

Note: the northern ponds are closed until July 15; we only birded south of Hwy 52.

Birds encountered included two House Wrens, six Yellow-rumped Warblers, an Orange-crowned Warbler, two Spotted Towhees, a Gray Catbird and many American Robins.

Later we missed the Eastern Phoebe reported yesterday at Barr Lake (Adams).  One Barn Owl was relocated.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 24, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It rained or snowed most of the afternoon today.  High Temperatures were 39 degrees a good 34 degrees colder than yesterday.  Winds were only 8-9 mph with a few gusts to 15 mph.

I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) while out doing chores.  I searched for the Long-billed Curlew reported earlier in the day; it was not relocated.

Basic and alternate plumaged Bonaparte's Gulls swam off the Lake Loop.  Twenty eight Yellow-headed Blackbirds walked around the Model Airplane Field road.  A Great-tailed Grackle and a few Common Grackles were at the Cottonwood Wetlands area.

At least two Marbled Godwits and four American Avocets walked the shore at Pelican Point.  They were partially hidden behind the willows; there may have been additional birds.

Forty two Chipping Sparrows and one Savannah Sparrow were along the road to the 12 mile Beaver Pond parking area.

As I left, Dick Filby called about his group watching a Broad-winged Hawk.  When I returned thirty minutes later, the Broad-winged Hawk was perched in trees between the upper Pelican Point parking area and Shop Creek parking area.

The Common Loon found two days ago was not relocated today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bluff Lake Nature Area

April 23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 73 degrees before the rain came.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 23 mph (which brought a rapid but short downpour).

Plans were to stay home and finish chores today.  Hearing about the Cassin's Kingbird at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) I had to try to see it.

I walked the mile loop around the Lake and did not find the Cassin's Kingbird.

Birds encountered included Wild Turkey, Virginia Rail, two Swainson's Hawks, a Say's Phoebe, one Yellow-rumped Warbler, four White-crowned Sparrows and one Blue Jay.

Then, back to chores............

NOTE: A search for the Upland Sandpiper (DIA Owl Loop, 4/22) was not successful.

DIA Owl Loop

Richard Stevens:

An email sent to the "cobirders" listserve:

Hello cobirders;

We stayed home most of the day during neglected chores.  A drive around the DIA Owl Loop in the late afternoon was a nice break.

Highlight for sure, I pointed out what I thought was a sickly Western Meadowlark walking along W. Cargo Road (0.2 miles south of 96th avenue/Cargo Road intersection).

We turned around and went back for a closer look.  Instead of a Western Meadowlark, it was an Upland Sandpiper.  The bird walked along the shoulder of W. Cargo Road and then flew to the top of the grassy hill a hundred yards to the north!

I always regret when my camera is not along; did not think we would encounter any birds not observed on previous drives.  First bird reported to the uncommon bird report in 2018 that I did not capture a photo.

One Burrowing Owl was at W. Cargo Road and Third Creek; another was along Gun Club Road, 1.7 miles south of 112th Avenue.

Other birds found included two Ferruginous Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks, a lingering Rough-legged Hawk, an American Kestrel pair and one Prairie Falcon.  

Still no Swainson's Hawks have arrived.  Some years it is possible to see both Rough-legged Hawks and Swainson's Hawks on the same day along the drive.

Regrettably, no Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Continued Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Richard Stevens; Director, Colorado Birding Society
Denver, Colorado
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "cobirders" by sending blank email to:
Read "cobirders" at:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 21, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I was going to visit the three eastern Arapahoe County Reservoirs today, however, never made it past Cherry Creek Reservoir.

While scoping the reservoir from the lake loop I found four Bonaparte's Gulls (two adults in breeding plumage and two in basic plumage) and another birder.

Say's Phoebes numbered at least four at the Lake Loop.  Mike, never caught his last name, talked about a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers and a yellowish warbler along the eastern side of the Lake Loop.

A flock of six Yellow-rumped Warblers was found in the willows along the sandy shore at the extreme southeast corner of the Lake Loop.  Following a bit behind the Yellow-rumps was indeed a "yellowish" warbler.

A beautiful male Nashville Warbler with blue gray head, white eye ring, yellow throat and belly popped out of the willows.  Also in this loose flock were two Song Sparrows, a Clay-colored Sparrow and two Savannah Sparrows.

The flock worked their way east along the shore.  When the sandy beach ended, I could not follow.  The nearby path was under water.

Later I walked to the north end of the 12-mile beaver pond.  The Sagebrush Sparrow photographed last week was not observed or expected, had to check it out anyway.

In willows below the Smoky Hill Picnic area (north side of reservoir), another flock of birds included two Brewer's Sparrows, many Chipping Sparrows and two additional Savannah Sparrows.

The Common Loon I found yesterday was not relocated.  Dozens of boats trying to win the walleye fishing contest filled much of the lake.

Arapahoe County In the Rain

April 20, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 57 degrees; it was not near that temperature during our birding in the afternoon.  Winds were 17 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Rebecca and I passed through Cherry Creek Reservoir while going to dinner.  A Common Loon was in the swim beach cove.  A Great-tailed Grackle was at the Cottonwood Wetlands area.  No White-faced Ibis or Long-eared Owls were encountered.  

Earlier I searched unsuccessfully for the Cattle Egret reported at Expo Park.  It was pouring down rain when I limped around the ponds.  No Egrets were around.

Highly Successful Grouse Trip

April 14-19, 2018

Paul Barry, John Peterson and I enjoyed a successful Grouse Trip with a couple of bonus birds this week.

April 14

Temperatures in Silverthorne only reached 20 degrees; it was cold!  Winds were 20-21 mph with gusts to 31 mph!

Our first stop was Loveland Pass.  Paul held the tripod while I scoped the eastern side of the Summit.  Two White-tailed Ptarmigan were hunkered down by the ragged rocks (Summit County).

A stop at a friend's home in Silverthorne added 3 species of Rosy Finches, Mountain Chickadees, White-breasted & Pygmy Nuthatches, Gray Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeak (male), Evening Grosbeak (pair), Downy, Hairy and Three-toed Woodpeckers, and one Band-tailed Pigeon.  As always, a great stop to visit my friends.

We chose the eastern route from Kremmling and got bonus sightings of fourteen Bohemian Waxwings in Hot Sulphur Springs (Grand).  Half a dozen Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand).

Two Rough-legged Hawks and a Golden Eagle were along Highway 125, north of Rand.

Our birding day ended with watching 44+ Greater Sage-Grouse on the Jackson County Road 26b Lek.

April 15

Hayden: Temperatures reached 55 degrees, quite warm of this area.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

We parked at the 2nd cattle guard up 80 Route.  Shortly after civil twilight, the Dusky Grouse walked out of the willows on the east side of the road!  We scoped the hills and found both Greater Sage-Grouse and Sharp-tailed Grouse.  They were too far away for photos; we headed to the Twenty Road Leks.

Twelve Sharp-tailed Grouse ran around the Twenty Road Leks.  A Vesper Sparrow popped out of the grass behind our car (parked at the pipe gate, see CoBus website for directions:

A detour to the Oxbow State Trust Lands added two Sage Thrashers and three Sagebrush Sparrows to our trip list.

We then rushed to the Dinosaur National Monument.  The California Quail was called just before sunrise!  While not on the Colorado Bird checklist, California Quail have been reported for many years in the Monument.

Our route took us over Douglas Pass (Mesa County).  A stop at one of the old owl boxes found a Northern Saw-whet Owl!

April 16

A warm 74 degrees in Grand Junction, almost hot!  Winds were 17-18 mph with gusts to 36-37 mph.

We arrived at Coal Canyon (Cameo, Mesa County) just before sunrise.  A Chukar ran across the open area just north of the parking area (at the 2nd pipe gate up the canyon).  Other birds observed during the hour stop included Black-throated Sparrows, Rock Wrens, two Pinyon Jays, and Say's Phoebes.

A drive down G Road in Palisade found the previously reported Lewis's Woodpecker.

Back at the eastern (southern) entrance to the Colorado National Monument, we found another Black-throated Sparrow.  No Gray Vireos, Gray Flycatchers or Black-chinned Sparrows lurked about the Devil's Kitchen Trail.  Rock Wren and Canyon Wren were around the Picnic Area.

We relocated one of the Black Phoebes near Phoebe Rock at Connected Lakes State Park.

After a late lunch, we headed up the Grand Mesa.  Nothing uncommon was found in the Town of Mesa and we continued south.

The Northern Saw-whet Owl at the switchbacks popped out of its hole when we scraped the tree with a tree limb.

We then continued to the Grand Mesa Visitor's Center to wait until dark for a Boreal Owl search.  

A Northern Goshawk flew across the road when we checked for White-winged Crossbills at the Campgrounds south of the Visitor's Center.

The Boreal Owl near the Visitor's Center last week was not cooperative this night.  We stopped at five pullovers along Hwy 65 during the drive north.  A Boreal Owl was finally found at the first pullover south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds.

April 17

Switching drivers several times, we drove most of the night to Dove Creek. (Montezuma County).  At first light, we found a Gunnison Sage-Grouse near Coalbed Canyon Wildlife Area.  See May 2018 "Colorado Field Notes" 

Cortez: temperatures reached 59 degrees.  Winds were 14-15 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Later, we walked Yellow Jacket Canyon.  It took over an hour to find one Lucy's Warbler.  If Paul had not heard it, we would not have found it.  Paul's hearing/ears were amazing!  What a great gift for a birders!

On the way to Durango, we drove through Wildcat Canyon.  The Acorn Woodpeckers are always a reliable find here!

Getting a text message about a Semipalmated Plover at Pastorius Reservoir, we took another detour.  It was a new La Plata bird for me!

April 18

Another long drive we stopped at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) just after midnight.  Two Western Screech-Owls called back and forth at the primitive Campgrounds near Carrizo Creek.

Springfield: 61 degrees, winds 15 mph with gusts to 36 mph
Lamar: 65 degrees, winds 13-14 mph with gusts to 32 mph

An hour before sunrise we stopped at my friend's ranch in Baca County.  Two Lesser Prairie-Chickens are still coming to the Lek on his ranch.  On the drive out of Cottonwood Canyon, a Short-eared Owl was observed on a fence post along Baca County Road M.

A short drive up the old Campo Lek Road found three or more Cassin's Sparrows performing their mating flight!

A return to Cottonwood Canyon added Eastern Phoebes, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Canyon Towhees, Greater Roadrunner, Chihuahuan Ravens, Bewick's Wrens, Cooper's Hawk, Lark Sparrows, and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker to our trip list.

Misses: Northern Cardinal, Mississippi Kite (too early for them), Canyon Wren

A Long-billed Curlew was observed walking the field north of Baca County Road M, 0.5 miles west of Highway 385.  MIsses: no Burrowing Owls

Great-tailed Grackles were along Hwy 385 as we passed through Springfield.

Two Buttes Reservoir (Baca) added Wild Turkey, another Ladder-backed Woodpecker and a Brown Thrasher to our trip list.  Misses: Winter Wren, Eastern Phoebe, the previous reported Northern Mockingbird, any vireos or warblers (too early)

We skipped Lamar Community College (Prowers) and reached Bonny Reservoir (Yuma) in late afternoon.  Birds encountered included Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebirds, one Northern Cardinal, Wild Turkey, and one Long-eared Owl!

After sunset, an Eastern Screech-Owl called at Hale Ponds.

April 19

At first light, we parked at the Yuma County Road 45 Lek.  Five male Greater Prairie-Chickens appeared.  No female birds visited.

We continued east along the loop looking for Short-eared Owls, none found.  A Northern Bobwhite did run across CR P.

Briggsdale: 59 degrees Winds were 13-14 mph with gusts to 26 mph

About the only birds left on our target list were to be found near the Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld)

One Mountain Plover was found south of Briggsdale.  We then drove to Keota and found another Mountain Plover along CR 100, west of CR 390.  While we did not find the 150 Chestnut-collared Longspurs reported by Bertrands on 4/18, we did see two Chestnut-collared Longspur near CR 100 and CR 89.

We then took Weld County Road 89 north to Grover and drove the roads east in search of Sharp-tailed Grouse (Plains species).  Wanted to add them to our trip list in case they are added to the Colorado State Bird Checklist, all indications are that this will happen soon.

After striking out along CR 136, we drove Weld County Road 111 from CR 136 to CR 124.  We missed on the drive south, turned around and went back north.  The second attempt was successful.  Two Sharp-tailed Grouse were encountered near CR 134.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Douglas County Birds

Email to cobirders listserve:

Hello birders,

Birds around Douglas County today

Great stop at Hwy 86 and Cherry Creek

2-3 Eastern Phoebes (probably only two, but could have sworn I saw three at one time) because of Sharp-shinned Hawk they stayed along eastern edge of Creek

2 Say's Phoebes chasing each other and insects, also stayed along eastern side of Creek

Sharp-shinned Hawk stayed in dead willows along Creek below western side of over 30 minutes, did not aid in the time it took to see the Eastern Phoebes

One male Eastern Bluebird along eastern fence to bike trail

Best bird:  An Eastern Wood-Pewee called several times for over a minute or so, he was in trees along Castlewood Canyon Road between highway 86 and veterinary center to south
Pee a wee, pee a wee, pee a wee

Castlewood Canyon Road, south of State Park: both Western Bluebirds and Mountain Bluebirds, nine Wild Turkeys

Salisbury Equestrian Park: no Pectoral Sandpiper or shorebirds at all

Stonegate North Pond: no longer exists, it is now a frisbee golf course northwest of a dog walking park

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Terry Michaels, President, Colorado Birding Society
Centennial, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "cobirders" by sending blank email to:
Read "cobirders" at:

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Two Anna's Hummingbirds!!!

April 13, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It snowed overnight into early morning.  High winds in the afternoon made the 41 degrees felt quite cold.

I do not know how many birders were able to see two Anna's Hummingbirds at different Colorado locations in one day.

I started out in Fort Collins and was able to glimpse the female Anna's Hummingbird within 10 minutes.

The male Anna's Hummingbird at Eldorado Springs (Boulder) took 2 hours and 16 minutes to see.  Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library: 

I had to pick up two birders at DIA at 6:00 pm.  Gave myself until 4:15 pm for the male Anna's Hummingbird to show, it appeared at 4:01 pm!

After picking up my new birding friends, we decided to skip the drive to Wray.  Both I70 to Kansas and I76 to Sterling were experiencing blizzard like conditions.

Instead, we drove to Barr Lake and saw the Barn Owl near the boat ramp.  Then a drive along the DIA Owl Loop found one Burrowing Owl braving the wind, well only his head.

No Short-eared Owls appeared; they would have been blown to Colorado Springs with 20+ mph winds out of the north.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 75 degrees today.  Winds were 11-12 mph.  Gusts in the afternoon measured 31 mph.

Once again, while out doing chores I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A walk to the north end of the 12 mile beaver pond and back did not find the Sagebrush Sparrow.

No Long-eared Owls, kingbirds or any sparrows were encountered.

Looks like weather is changing for the worse on Friday.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Couple of Birding Stops in Arapahoe County

April 11, 2018

Richard Stevens:

While out doing chores, Rebecca and I stopped at several places.  Temperatures reached 79 degrees today.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

The Greater White-fronted Goose was near the ponds at the south end of Expo Park in Aurora.

Photos on Colorado Birding Society's photo library: recent favorite photos

Winds had stopped at 6:00 pm when Rebecca and I walked the 12 mile Beaver Pond trail at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

We walked to the north end of the ponds and returned to our car.  The Sagebrush Sparrow was not observed on the way south.  I had given up that the sparrow was still there.  However, it was on the path when we returned.  

The location was halfway between where the trail goes through a willow patch and the next willow patch to the south.

I only took a couple of witness shots before my favorite dog walker (see yesterday's post) came down the path and scared the sparrow away for the second day in a row.  I did inform her, that we would not return tomorrow.

photo: recent witness photo link

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Westerly Park and Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 10, 2018

I enjoyed a spectacular spring day and successful bird searches today.

It was another spectacular spring day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached 70 degrees under partly sunny skies.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

I could not remember seeing a Sage Thrasher in Denver County and headed to Westerly Creek Park (Denver).  Sue Clasen & Mary Keithler found on at the Park this morning.  There was also a chance to relocate the Harris's Sparrow reported by Jason Begood on 4/1.

A walk from 23rd and Beeler Street to 26th Street did not find either target birds.

On the way back, I crossed Beeler and checked the bushes in the park northwest of Beeler & 25th street.  While trying to identify a White-crowned Sparrow under the bushes, the Sage Thrasher popped up to the top of the bushes (4:05 pm).

Photos in the Colorado Birding Society's photo library; recent favorite photos link 

My next stop was Expo Park in Aurora (Arapahoe).  G. Stacks had found a Greater White-fronted Goose in the park this morning.  The only geese among the hordes of people were twenty three White-cheeked Geese.

After receiving a text message about a Sagebrush Sparrow (Bob Righter, 4/10) along the 12 mile beaver trail at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) I headed that way.

As I walked along the trail, a sparrow scurried along the gravel path in front of me.  It was 15 feet south of the Number 3 signpost.  Later it wandered north to 10 feet north of the post.

While trying to photograph the sparrow a dog walker who was talking on a cell phone walked by and scared the sparrow back into the willows.

After pointing out that, she had to pass a "no dogs allowed" sign to get to this point,  she offered some nasty words and continued south.  

I waited about 20 minutes.  The sparrow reappeared just about the time the dog walker decided to return and make the point that she had a "right of way" down the trail.

I waited another 20 minutes and the Sagebrush Sparrow reappeared.  This time it was at the willows/tall trees on the west side of the trail and first reached when walking south from the parking area.

Photos in the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library.

NOTE:  I watched where the first Sagebrush Sparrow sighting flew into the willows.  The second sighting was quite farther north.  I do wonder if there are two Sagebrush Sparrows here.  Two Sagebrush Sparrows were not however, seen at the same time.

My birding day ended by watching a Long-eared Owl deep in the Russian Olive trees along the road to the Shooting Range.

Not a bad afternoon of birding.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Eastern Phoebe Back at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 9, 2018

Temperatures reached 55 degrees this afternoon.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

I started out at Barr Lake (Adams) searching for the Broad-winged Hawk reported yesterday.  Because of the long distance hiked on my broken ankle and toes yesterday, I could only scope the trees from the paved road.  The Broad-winged Hawk was not found.

Went to see the Red-necked Grebe at Coors Pond (Jefferson) early in the afternoon and then I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).

At 3:30 pm, winds were dead calm and the temperature was 55 degrees.  What a beautiful spring day it was.  My target birds were the Eastern Phoebes that have nested the past four years at the arsenal.

I did not see any Eastern Phoebes along the canal at 64th Avenue and Potomac Street.  A Gray Catbird came out of the willows near the cement ledge (below 64th) for a drink of water.

Continuing to the beginning of the one-way section of the Wildlife drive no Red-headed Woodpeckers, Kingbirds or uncommon birds were encountered.  So, I returned to the canal.

An unknown woodpecker was drumming; I walked along 64th trying to see the bird.  Not sure, I could tell the difference between a Northern Flicker and Red-headed Woodpecker drumming, therefore needed to see the bird.  It turned out to be a Flicker.

It was such a superb day; I sat for an hour at the canal listening to the drumming of the woodpecker and chatter of tens of dozens of American Robins.

After 35 minutes, an Eastern Phoebe was spotted in the two small cottonwoods along the road going south along the canal.  It only moved twice in the next 30 minutes.  Once to the logs lying on the ground and then it moved behind the willows south of the logs.

While I was waiting, a House Wren popped out of the woodpile north of 64th and east of the canal.

The Eastern Phoebe was not moving closer and I departed.  A drive up to the Rattlesnake Hill parking area found a Great-tailed Grackle on the telephone poles near the buildings to the south.

The western side of the Wildlife Area was closed today.  It required backtracking to leave the Park.

One Burrowing Owl was relocated at West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Harris's Sparrow of First Creek Trail

April 8, 2018

Temperatures reached 62 degrees today.  With winds 12-13 mph, gusts to 25 mph, it felt cold.

Rebecca Kosten and I hiked the First Creek Trail (Adams/Denver) this afternoon.  It was my first walk longer than 20 yards since breaking my ankle and toes several months ago.  It was a long walk.

When we arrived at the First Creek trailhead, fourteen White-crowned Sparrows flew from the woodpile, Adams County side of Buckley, to the tumbleweeds below the gate inside the chain link fence to the south.

I noticed movement in the woodpile and eventually the Harris's Sparrow popped up to the limbs.  Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library, recent favorite photos link.

While wandering south to the large cottonwoods along Buckley Road to inspect a flock of small birds, we found two dozen House Finches.

Then we then noticed the White-crowned Sparrows flew to the chain link fenced area on the Denver County side of the trailhead.  The Harris's Sparrow eventually followed the White-crowned Sparrows.

The Harris's Sparrow was recorded in both counties today!

On the way to dinner, we again passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  The Lesser Black-backed Gull was again on the poles outlining the southwest marina.

Misses: no Long-eared Owls, uncommon birds, kingbirds or sparrows.

Northern Goshawk Search in Arapahoe County

April 7, 2018

Temperatures reached 59 degrees on this party sunny day.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 17 mph.  

Rebecca Kosten and I searched for the Northern Goshawk reported around Quincy Reservoir this morning.  It was the third report of a Northern Goshawk this year between the 7.5 mile stretch between Pronghorn Natural Area (near Aurora Reservoir) and Quincy Reservoir. No suspense, we did not find it. 

We tried to follow the tall metal electric poles that run from Quincy to Aurora Reservoir.  They seemed to be the best spot for a Goshawk to perch.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull was with hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, several California Gulls and a Herring Gull at Quincy Reservoir.

Nothing uncommon was found at Aurora Reservoir.  Both Eared Grebes and Horned Grebes swam around, some in breeding plumage.

A drive around the Jewell-Yale Loop found a Sage Thrasher east of the fracking tanks along Yale.  Not one sparrow was found throughout the trip.  Only one Horned Lark was along the loop.

After an early dinner, we drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe). Still no Western Kingbirds encountered.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the poles surrounding the southwest marina.  Few waterfowl were on the water.

The Long-eared Owls were nowhere to be seen.

Trip to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

April 6, 2018

Terry Michaels and I drove to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) this morning.  The section north of highway 52 is closed until July 15.  I watched Terry walk along the eastern side of Ponds 4 & 5 and return by way of the windbreak along the entrance road.  He found a Long-eared Owl about 1/3 way (south) up the windbreak.  

Later we drove to the ranger's office/home to clarify some access rules.  Regrettably no one was home.  A quick stop on the way out, allowed me to get a glimpse of the Long-eared Owl.

We checked on two Burrowing Owl locations and two Mountain Plover locations; none was found.

Two Long-eared Owls were relocated on a friend's nearby ranch (Weld).

Yet Another Grouse Trip 2018

March 30 to April 5, 2018

March 30

Ohio birders Rob Rouse, Tom Renee, Rick Odum and I started on a Grouse trip.  Like my last trip, we managed to miss the snowstorms hitting Colorado.  It snowed last week and soon after our return.

Temperatures in Silverthorne were 27 degrees.  Winds were horrible at 36-37 mph with gusts to 51 mph.  I believe my anometer has a limit of 60 mph; one gust hit that.

It took quite awhile for us to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan today.  We checked my four favorite locations twice before finding a lone bird below the western summit (Clear Creek).

A brief stop in Silverthorne as our time was running short found three species of Rosy Finches.  Numbers were down from previous visits (10 Gray-crowned, 1 Black and 37 Brown-capped).

We arrived at the Jackson County 26b lek with snow falling rapidly.  Fortunately two Greater Sage-Grouse were walking along CR 26 when we drove in.  Only three Greater Sage-Grouse were observed on the lek.

Our plan to drive back to Cameron Pass (Jackson) for a Boreal Owl searched was called off as snow continued well after dark.

March 31

Temperatures in Hayden reached 57 degrees when we left the area.  Winds were a mild 6-7 mph.  Gusts at times reached 23 mph.

We parked at the 80 Route 2nd cattle guard shortly before sunrise.  A male Dusky Grouse walked out of the brush on the east side of the road, looked around for 5 minutes and disappeared to the east.

While waiting for the Dusky Grouse, we heard many Greater Sage-Grouse booming when it was still dark.  Thirty minutes before sunrise we found several of them dancing to the northwest.  Rick even managed to put a scope on two Sharp-tailed Grouse far off in the distance (southwest).

We then rushed over to the Twenty Road Leks and found another five Sharp-tailed Grouse running around.  In my experience, Sharp-tailed Grouse visit their leks well after civil twilight.  I have seen them still displaying two hours after sunrise.

After breakfast in Craig, we detoured to Oxbow State Trust Lands in Moffat County.  Two Sagebrush Sparrows popped up out of the sage south of the parking area.  Two Sage Thrashers sang less than 10 yards east.

The hunt for Chukar at Coal Canyon tested our patience.  A Chukar ran across the landscape perhaps 20 yards north of the parking area.  Howeve, it took over two hours to see it again.  Two Pinyon Jays flew along the ridge during the Chukar chase.

We then headed up the Grand Mesa.  I was able to relocate the Northern Saw-whet Owl that has used the same tree for three years now!

Powderhorn Ski area did not provide sightings of Northern Pygmy-Owls or American Three-toed Woodpeckers this trip.

The Boreal Owls at Spruce Grove Campgrounds, and the next two pullovers to the south did not cooperate this night.  We eventually found a Boreal Owl at the clearing about 0.2 miles along the road heading east from the Visitor's Center located along hwy 65.

April 1

Temperatures reached 75 degrees in Delta today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with a few gusts to 20 mph.

A drive through the Colorado National Monument (Mesa) added Juniper Titmice (Campgrounds), Pinyon Jays (Campgrounds), Bushtits (Campgrounds), and a Bewick's Wren (western entrance) to our trip list.

We drove down Escalante Canyon to Pinnacle Rock.  One Black Phoebe was along the creek at 50 yards east of the Rock.  Missed additional Chukars.

A Lewis's Woodpecker was at Eckert Post Office.  Good fortune as no additional Long-eared Owls could be found at Fruitgrower's Reservoir area.

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  After taking in the spectacular views, we eventually found one male Dusky Grouse between the Campgrounds entrance and the Park entrance.  The south rim drive is still closed at the Visitor's Center.  See Colorado Birding Society's website for notification of its opening.

April 2

Temperatures in Pueblo were 76 degrees, almost hot.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts roaring to 32 mph at Pueblo Reservoir.  

We were quite fortunate to find two Gunnison Sage-Grouse walking along CR 887.  As far as I know, Gunnison Sage-Grouse have not been seen at their traditional lek yet this year.

Our plans changed when news of the Vermilion Flycatcher at the Hanover Fire Station reached us. 

One stop along the way, the Monarch Pass pullover added two male American Three-toed Woodpeckers drumming.  One was on the south side and one north side of highway 50.

The 32+ winds at Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo) encouraged a pass and our troop continued to the Hanover Fire Station (El Paso).

It was a superb stop.  The stop added the male Vermilion Flycatcher, a Curve-billed Thrasher, Burrowing Owls and a Sage Thrasher to our trip list.  Unfortuntely we could not identify any Cassin's Sparrows. 

Shortly after our arrival to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) a Western Screech-Owl was heard and later seen in the draw south of the primitive Campgrounds.

April 3

Temperatures reache 56 degrees today in Springfield (Baca County).  Winds were strong at 19-20 mph with gusts to 37 mph.

Only two Lesser Prairie-Chickens visited my friend's ranch (Baca) this morning.  Sightings are rare anywhere in Colorado and northwestern Kansas.

A drive down the old Campo Lek road added two Cassin's Sparrows (singing) to our day list.  A Curve-billed Thrasher walked around the cemetery west of the Lek.

A return to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) found two Eastern Phoebes, a Winter Wren (up southern draw), two Rufous-crowned Sparrows (1.2 miles east of Campgrounds), Bewick's Wrens, Chihuahuan Ravens, Greater Roadrunner, Canyon Towhees and Wild Turkeys (to add to our gallinaceous bird list).

A Mountain Plover was found along the south side of Baca County Road UU on the way to Two Buttes Reservoir.  Below the dam at the Reservoir we found two Eastern Phoebes, another Winter Wren and one of the resident Barn Owls.

We continued to Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers worked the cottonwoods at the western end of Hale Ponds.  After civil twilight, an Eastern Screech-Owl called from the northeast corner of Hale Ponds.

April 4

Temperature reached a warm 68 degrees in Wray today.  Winds varied from 7 mph to 23 mph throughout the day.

We scoped five Greater Prairie-Chickens at the Yuma County Roa 45 lek.  An additional Greater Prairie-Chicken was perched on a fence along the road to the Fitsmueller Ranch.

Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma) added another Eastern Phoebe and two White-throated Sparrows to our trip list.  A Northern Cardinal was seen in the Russian Olive trees at the west end of Stalker Pond.

We chose to skip Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) and Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld) as our target birds familiar with those locations had already been found.  Instead to continued to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) for Long-eared Owls with a detour to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).

The Glaucous Gull and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued at Prewitt Reservoir.  Shorebirds were unfortunately non-existent.

Two of the resident Long-eared Owls were found around the Pelican Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).  Few birds were moving around and we continued back to Denver.

April 5

Temperatures reached 64 degrees in Denver today.  Winds were again strong at 11-12 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

About an hour before sunrise three of us walked South Foxton Road listening for Northern Pygmy-Owls.  My healing broken ankle did not allow me to join them.  Parked at the larger western parking area they turned around at the smaller eastern parking area, returning by way of the Songbird Trail.  Rob picked out a small nest shape in the cottonwoods.  It was a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Later they hiked the Elkhorn trail to the Raven's Roost trail.  A Dusky Grouse scurried rapidly across the trail, not to be relocated.  On the trip back they found a male Williamson's Sapsucker south (uphill) of the old service road.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 29, 2018

Temperatures reached 46 degree today with winds 6 mph, gusts to 22 mph.

A drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) did not find the Long-eared Owls or any uncommon birds.