Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Little Birding Around Aurora, CO

September 30, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Another great fall day with a high temperature of 64 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Rebecca Kosten & I drove through Cherry Creek State Park on the way to lunch.  The Black-bellied Plovers were not seen at Pelican Point or the Observation Platform at the Prairie Loop.  Two Ospreys flew around the swim beach and Dixon Grove.

Earlier we found a Cassin's Vireo along Toll Gate Creek at the Delaney Farm, Aurora

Unsuccessful Search for Uncommon Warblers Along The First Creek Trail

September 29, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Aurora was 83 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph and made for a pleasant afternoon.

Late afternoon I drove to the First Creek Trail (Adams/Denver) to search for the Yellow-throated Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler reported earlier in the morning.

My three hour search came up empty.  A Hermit Thrush was observed in the willows just west of the light rail tracks.  A Swainson's Thrush was in willows with red leafed vines near the dirt road west of Pena Blvd.

The afternoon was very quiet.  Another birder and I found few birds.  Five Dark-eyed Juncos near the Denver County trailhead and a Great Horned Owl west of Buckley were the few birds encountered.

An interesting wren popped out of the cattails east of the rectangular building along the creek.  The wren was quite small.  It was not a House Wren or Marsh Wren.  Unfortunately, we did not have great looks and it remained unnamed.

After dropping my friend off at the parking area, I drove by the horse corrals along 56th avenue, east of the light rail tracks.  A medium sized flycatcher was observed flying around the cottonwoods near 56th avenue.

I parked at the horse corrals (not popular with the horse people) and walked to the cottonwoods.  A nice consolation prize was a photo of the Ash-throated Flycatcher reported yesterday by Dave King.  Photos on the CoBus photo library:

No owls (Short-eared or Burrowing) found on the drive through the DIA Owl Loop.

Another Fall Migration Search on Colorado's Eastern Plains

September 25-29, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I made a short trip to the eastern Colorado Plains to catch the declining fall migration.

September 25

High temperature in Sterling was 64 degrees this afternoon.  Winds were ridiculous at 29 to 31 mph.

My morning stop was Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  Birds were few and far between.  I did run into four Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Townsend's Warbler at the western Campgrounds.  A Long-eared Owl was also relocated.

Shorebirds and uncommon gulls were lacking.  A small flock of Baird's Sandpipers flew by several times.  A Peregrine Falcon on the prowl was the highlight.

I decided to skip Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) with its many mosquitoes, dove hunters, and instead drove to North Sterling Reservoir (Logan).

Few birds moved around there; it was like a ghost town of birds.  Highlight was a lone Sabine's Gull.

Pioneer Park (west side of Sterling) and Overland Park (east side) did not add any interesting birds to my trip list.

September 26

It was a little warmer today with a high of 73 degrees in Crook.  Winds 13-14 mph with gusts in the afternoon measured at 24 mph.

I walked around the eastern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) shortly after midnight.  Surprisingly, no Eastern Screech-Owls called tonight.

However, I woke up 30 minutes before sunrise and heard two Eastern Screech-Owls calling back and forth!

I relocated the Yellow-billed Cuckoo near the Tamarack Pond area.  A quick flash of red may have been a Northern Cardinal.  It was not relocated.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers and sparrows (Field, Lark, Song, White-crowned and Lincoln's) were all encountered.

A Blue-headed Vireo was observed east of Tamarack Pond.  A Nashville Warbler was in willows at 1 East.

The western sections were quiet.  Bell's Vireos appear to have migrated.  No possible Eastern Towhees were found.

My birding day ended with a drive along Logan 46 and CR 89 area.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens or Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Misses: Sprague's Pipits, Eastern Meadowlarks & Nelson's Sparrows.

Two Great Horned Owls and an Eastern Screech-Owl were heard at Roger Danka's ranch.

September 27

High temperature was 75 degrees today.  Winds finally died down.  Measured at 2-3 mph.

I started my birding day several hours before sunrise.  An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard in the Sedgwick Draw area.  After civil twilight, I saw a Short-eared Owl flying along the Draw.

When returning to the Eastern Screech-Owl spot, trying to see the owl, a Tennessee Warbler was observed in the same cottonwood.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker drummed and flew around Sedgwick Cemetery.

Another Red-bellied Woodpecker and two Eastern Bluebirds were relocated a Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area.  My only House Wren sighting of the trip was also here.

Duck Creek Wildlife Area (Logan) was slow.  I did run into two additional Eastern Bluebirds and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker.  While late dates for Logan & Sedgwick County Upland Sandpipers are 9/11 & 9/12, I have encountered one in Morgan County on 9/25.  None was expected or found.

Others have been found 9/15 (Yuma), 9/17 (Otero), 9/17 (Boulder) and 9/21 (Douglas).

My search for Sprague's Pipits, Eastern Meadowlarks and Nelson's Sparrows came up goose egg.

September 28

What a difference a day makes.  High temperature today was only 46 degrees.  Winds were 13-14 mph with a couple of gusts measured at 17 mph.

An Eastern Screech-Owl called at Hale Ponds about 45 minutes before sunrise.

Today's highlight was definitely a single Sprague's Pipit walking around Pipit Hill.  It probably had no desire to fly up into the high winds.

A walk along the Republican River from Hale Ponds to the Kansas border and then along Yuma CR 2 from six Northern Bobwhite, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker.

A Blue-headed Vireo flew from Kansas into Colorado and back.  Thanks from my Colorado Yuma County list!

A walk along the Republican River at Hale was not exciting.  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, two Red-headed Woodpeckers and a flock of 12+ Eastern Bluebirds were somewhat expected.

Bonny Reservoir was slow also.  A Nashville Warbler was along the river, south of Fosters Grove.  Six Wild Turkeys walked CR 3, east of Fosters Grove.  Wagon Wheel Campgrounds offered only a Red-naped Sapsucker (which may be out of range).

Last week's Prairie Warbler had moved on from my friend's ranch.  I have not mentioned in awhile that one Kansas rancher went to Mankato, MN High School with my parents; it is a small world.

I returned to Hale Ponds and into Kansas at dusk to an unsuccessful search for Common Poorwills and/or Whip-poor-wills.

After dark, I walked the Republican River from hwy 385 to Fosters Grove and heard two Eastern Screech-Owls and two Great Horned Owls.

September 29

Temperature fluctuations continued.  Forty six yesterday and 87 degrees for a high today!  Winds were somewhat a consistent 14-15 mph on the eastern Plains.

On the trip home, I detoured for a quick look at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  The area below the dam was productive with a Cassin's Vireo and a Swamp Sparrow sighting.  

A Palm Warbler fluttered about the cottonwoods at the northeast side of the lake.  A Magnolia Warbler was observed at the southern end of the property.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Parker to Aurora Reservoir

September 24, 2018

High temperature today was 73 degrees.  Afternoon, winds were 16-17 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

After lunch today, Rebecca and I had some business in Parker.  We also received a text message about an Eastern Towhee sighting at a friend's feeders.  Unfortunately, the Eastern Towhee did not return in the two hours we watched the feeder.

Best I can do on location is along East Homestead Road after it passes East Robin Road.  E. Homestead Road runs east of North Pine Drive, south of East Lincoln Avenue (Douglas County).  My friend does not want people going up his long driveway.  Perhaps the bird will move along Homestead Road?

Afterwards Rebecca and I passed by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Hundreds of gulls swam off the swim beach.  We picked out a juvenile Sabine's Gull (possibly two).  

Another sighting looked more like an adult Bonaparte's Gull than Little Gull or Black-headed Gull.

No Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver Counties).

Colorado Northeastern Plains

September 19 to 23, 2018

I was joined by Terry Michaels.  Our target birds included Sprague's Pipits, Smith's Longspurs, Eastern Meadowlarks and uncommon sparrows.  Can not call the uncommon sparrows "ammodramus sparrows" as they are now "centronyx and ammospiza sparrows" now.  A Baird's Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow, Le Conte's Sparrow or Nelson's Sparrow would be a great find.

September 19

It was a beautiful day to be in Colorado.  Temperatures only reached 77 degrees.  Winds were only 5-6 mph.

First, we drove to the southern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) and searched unsuccessfully for Greater Prairie-Chickens (and to a lesser extent for Sharp-tailed Grouse).

My last sighting of a Sharp-tailed Grouse at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area was 5/16/2006.  The last report I have for Logan County is 11/17/2017.

Terry Michaels and I did the old hopscotch routine.  I dropped him off at the west end of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.  I then left the car a little bit east of hwy 55 and walked to the eastern end of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area.

Terry found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, two Red-headed Woodpeckers, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and a Nashville Warbler in the western sections.  He also found a Blue-headed Vireo at 1 east.

I encountered an Eastern Screech-Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, two Red-headed Woodpeckers, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Cassin's Vireo, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and Field Sparrows in the eastern sections.

We returned later and picked up the Blue-headed Vireo, Magnolia Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler for both our lists.

Misses: no Long-eared Owls, Northern Cardinals, or Baltimore Orioles this trip.  Least Bitterns have been found in past Falls; none seen today.  Bell's Vireos have appeared to move on south?

A walk at Little Jumbo Reservoir found a Cassin's Kingbird near the parking area.  A Nashville Warbler was under the cottonwoods at southeast corner.

Later we circled Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick), relocated two Pectoral Sandpipers, and found a Common Tern at the southeast corner.

Additional shorebirds included Semipalmated Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers and one Least Sandpiper.  A male Orchard Oriole perched on the southern fence line at the Campgrounds.

No Short-eared Owls appeared at sunset.

September 20

High temperatures stayed close to 80 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with afternoon gusts to 23 mph.

We detoured to Ovid and found a male Red-bellied Woodpecker drumming behind the high school.  A White-throated Sparrow was the only uncommon sparrow fluttering about the willows along the Platte River near the Ovid Sewage Ponds.

Later we spent the rest of the day searching locations where Sprague's Pipits, Nelson's Sparrows, Smith's Longspurs and Eastern Meadowlarks have been found in past years.  None was found today (Sedgwick County).

We enjoyed a terrific barbecue at a friend's ranch and listened to Great Horned Owls and an Eastern Screech-Owl call at dusk.

September 21

High was a cool 78 degrees in Holyoke.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts in the afternoon at 14 mph.

We again search locations (Sedgwick County) of target bird sightings from past years (see yesterday's post).  None was again found.

Best bird of the day was an Alder Flycatcher hawking bugs in the cottonwoods along the northeast side of Holyoke Fishing Pond.

Holyoke Cemetery, City Park and the "hotspot" at the east end of Akron did not add any uncommon birds to our trip list.

We skipped the "hotspots" at Wray and continued to Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).

September 22

High temperature was 85 degrees today in Burlington.  Winds were a strong 14-15 mph all day with gusts measured at 24 mph.

After waking up to a calling Eastern Screech-Owl, we walked my favorite 2 mile loop at Hale Ponds.  The highlight birds were a Gray-cheeked Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Magnolia Warbler and Eastern Screech-Owl.

A stop at Hale added a Blue-headed Vireo, Mourning Warbler and four Eastern Bluebirds.

Pipit Hill (west of Hale) did not provide any Sprague's Pipit sightings today.

Then, Terry and I must have hiked 12 miles as we circled Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area.  Our leisure trek found some really nice birds.

Highlights included in no particular order:
Wild Turkey (9, just west of foster's grove)
Red-headed Woodpeckers (foster's grove)
Palm Warbler (foster's grove)
Northern Cardinal (foster's grove)
Red-headed Woodpeckers (wagon wheel)
Eastern Phoebe (wagon wheel)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (southern reservoir road)
Sparrows: Vesper, Savannah (2), Grasshopper (1), Chipping (many), White-crowned (many), Field Sparrow (1), Song (6+), Lark (4), Brewer's (2), Clay-colored (2), White-crowned (6+), Dark-eyed Juncos (many)

No longspurs, pipits, only owls, Great Horned Owl (4), one osprey

September 23

Temperatures reached a high of 87 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph most of the day with gusts to 18 mph in late afternoon.

A quick stop at Fairview Cemetery in Burlington found few birds.  A juvenile Broad-winged Hawk was the highlight.

Our stop at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) was the best of the day (which was slow).  A possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher gave us good looks but confusing.  It looked similar to a Cordilleran Flycatcher but showed a complete and bright eye ring.

A Cassin's Vireo and several House Wrens were below the dam.

The rest of the day was uneventful.  Winds picked up.  Temperatures in the high 80s made the day feel quite warm.

We searched for Mountain Plovers and longspurs at locations where they were found in the spring; without success.  From Kit Carson County, we dropped down south as far as Karval Wildlife Area.

Hugo, Kinney and Karval Wildlife Areas had little to add to our trip list.  We even missed the Gray Vireo reported by Joey Kellner at Karval on 9/21.

Jackson Reservoir & Prewitt Reservoir

September 18

It was a hot 90 degrees in the afternoon around Fort Morgan.  Winds were 9-10 mph with anomometer readings reaching 18 mph.

My target birds today were the Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Jackson Reservoir and the Dunlin at Prewitt Reservoir; neither would be found.

The woods along the western Campgrounds were quite birdy this morning at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  I recorded a Cassin's Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo at Pelican Campgrounds.  Cove Campgrounds added a Blackpoll Warbler and two Townsend's Warblers to my day list.  

Be sure to look far ahead when walking the riparian area between the two Campgrounds.  One Long-eared Owl was found today.  They see you long before you see them.  No telling how many I missed.  A few weeks ago, we had six.

Shorebird action was disappointing.  I found two Least Sandpipers, one Western Sandpiper, and one Stilt Sandpiper.  The high winds most likely kept the previously reported Red-necked Phalaropes well hidden in the high waves on the lake.

No flycatchers or uncommon sparrows were run across.

Winds were just as strong at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington).

The Little Gull found by Bill Kaempfer on 9/13 was not relocated and probably long gone.  As was the Lesser Black-backed Gull reported on 9/15.

I was able to pick out two Red-necked Phalaropes bobbing up and down on the high waves.  A Common Tern flew by several times near the northwestern camping area.

Only common shorebirds were found.  These included Least, Western, & Semipalmated Sandpipers, American Avocets, several Stilt Sandpipers and Spotted Sandpipers.

I walked the eastern to southern end of the lake.  A Common Yellowthroat was the most interesting bird during that trek.  Two Great Horned Owls called back at the eastern parking area (and Campgrounds).

At dusk, I returned to the inlet area and heard one Eastern Screech-Owl.  I did not bother trying to see or disturb it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mt Evans to Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 17, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Back on the Plains, it was 91 degrees at Cherry Creek Reservoir in the afternoon.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Bob Harvey and I started the day up Mt. Evans Road (Clear Creek County).  Three Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Echo Lake.  A Green-tailed Towhee and Lincoln's Sparrow were along the west side of the Lake.

We scoped the rocky hillside southeast of Summit Lake and spotted a White-tailed Ptarmigan walking among the rocks crunching down the flowers.

It took a wait of 45 minutes before a couple of Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled over the northwest corner of Summit Lake.  They landed several times on the rocky hillside and provided nice looks.  The cool temperatures and partly cloudy skies made for a fantastic view.

We continued to the top of Mt. Evans however did not find any additional Ptarmigan or Rosy Finches.

Back at the Echo Lakes Campgrounds, we walked down to the Mt Captain trail and quickly heard an American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming.  With a little patience, we eventually found the bird moving between the Pines.

After dropping Bob off in Lakewood, I decided to stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.  On Saturday, I had observed a strange shorebird on the Prairie Loop mudflats.  

It was not there today; however, I did see it later on the Pelican Point mudflats.  Unfortunately, it was at the far southern shore.  I still cannot figure out what it is.  Doug Schoch was there on Saturday; hopefully he took a photo of it?

The Mew Gull was back at the little sandy shore northwest corner of Pelican Bay.  While scoping the lake, I observed one of the Sabine's Gulls flying below the dam.

No uncommon migrating birds were seen around the Smoky Hill Picnic area and swim beach.  It was quite hot during my visit, not much was moving around.

After receiving a text message, I stopped at Coal Creek Regional Greenway.  The Least Flycatcher reported earlier by Cathy Sheeter was not found by me.  

A Western Wood-pewee hawked bugs west of the parking area.  Cathy's bird was reported to the east.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Back To Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

September 16, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 91 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Rebecca and I left early in the morning before the heat arrived.  A possible third day in a row record high was expected.

We enjoyed the morning with a hike around Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).

We at the southern lakes of the Wildlife Area we found several nice birds.  A Cassin's Vireo fluttered about pond 3 windbreak.  The highlight was a sparrow that gave us fits for over half an hour.  It turned out to be a Cassin's Sparrow!

The only owls found today were a Great Horned Owl near Pond 8 (northern ponds).  We did not relocate the Pectoral Sandpiper reported yesterday by Ben Sampson.

Friends Bob and Dale provided a fantastic barbecue for our dinner!

Birding Around Denver

September 15, 2018

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature of 94 degrees beat the old record of 92 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 20 mph.

I left home before sunrise.  One of my target birds was the Northern Waterthrush reported yesterday by Jerome Cech at the Buckley Ranch Open Space (Adams County).  I wanted to arrive before too many dog walkers past by (and many did about 20 minutes after my arrival).

The Northern Waterthrush was walking around the inlet area.  Unfortunately, it only allowed a ten second look before it flew to the outlet area.  The outlet canal had much weeds around it.  The Northern Waterthrush walked south down the outlet canal a disappeared.

The area had a no trespassing sign; I could not follow the bird or get closer.

A walk around the northern side of the pond added two Wilson's Snipes, four Wilson's Warblers, a female Common Yellowthroat and several House Finches to my list.  A Brown Thrasher at the northwest corner was a pleasant surprise.

Already at 104th avenue, I decided to continue west toward Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson).  

A stop at Margret's Park (Adams) in Westminster was especially rewarding.  The first hike around the Pond found only one Western Wood-pewee (northern side).  

The second trip was much better; however, I was always 1-2 seconds late in taking a photo.  A male MacGillivray's Warbler perched for a good 8-10 seconds along the southern canal.  My camera did not boot fast enough.

A pair of Wilson's Warblers, a Yellow Warbler and the Western Wood-pewee were along the southern side.  A calling Gray Catbird finally popped out of the willows below the trail.

While trying to find a second calling Gray Catbird on the northern side, a Cassin's Vireo flew out of the cottonwoods.  Shortly after a Nashville Warbler appeared from the willows.  A second pair of Wilson's Warblers was also in the willows.

After talking to a couple of local residents, It was pointed out that the partial leucistic Red-tailed Hawk was still in the area and seen this morning.  I headed over to the east end of the Legacy Golf Course and sure enough, the Hawk was perched in a tall cottonwood!

My next stop was Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson).  I did not expect the Hooded Warbler found by many last week to be around.  In fact, nothing uncommon was encountered during my hour stay.

It was a beautiful day, although hot, I decided to continue south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  It took about a whole three minutes to spot the Prothonotary Warbler south of the north marina.

It stayed 12-15 feet above in the cottonwoods.  See Colorado Birding Society's website (recent witness photos) for a look at the bird. 

I then scoped the lake from the western end of the dam.  The Parasitic Jaeger and Long-tailed Jaegers, and Sabine's Gull were below the dam.  Regrettably, still too far away for anything but a witness photo.

I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  The Mew Gull was not at its usual spot on the small sandy beach northwest corner of Pelican Bay.

The adult Sabine's Gull was seen flying around below the dam.  I did not relocate the juvenile bird.

Four Semipalmated Sandpipers, a Lesser Yellowlegs and a few Killdeer were the only shorebirds on the Prairie Loop mudflats.  Eventually, these mudflats should attract more shorebirds.

A quick scope of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) from the upper swim beach parking area, did not find any jaegers or uncommon gulls.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Birding South of Denver

September 13, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I drove south to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) about an hour before sunrise.

Temperatures reached 93 degrees today.  Winds of 15-16 mph with gusts of 26 mph blew hot winds across Douglas County.

While driving south down Parker Road we noticed three birds flying along the Cherry Creek riparian area.  Their large size and rounded wings caught our attention.  

I quickly pulled over and we watched three Short-eared Owls working the field just north of the Hidden Mesa Open Space (Douglas)!

Continuing to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas), we made a rest stop at the first restrooms south of the western entrance.  Ten Wild Turkeys walked around the two picnic tables.

We put binoculars on the sixteen Vultures circling overhead.  All were Turkey Vultures.  The last Black Vulture reported in the Park was 7/3-7/9/2009.

A walk along the Creekside Trail from the old homestead to the junction with the Rock Rim Trail found many Spotted Towhees, White-breasted Nuthatches, one Plumbeous Vireo, two male Wilson's Warblers and one Orange-crowned Warbler.  The previously reported White-eyed Vireo was not relocated.

A Least Flycatcher was observed hawking insects along the Creekside Trail much farther south (closer to the old dam).

Nothing uncommon was found at the Winkler Ranch.  We hoped for a Lewis's Woodpecker.  The nesting Bobolinks have long since moved south.

A stop at Hwy 86 and the Cherry Creek Bridge did not find any Eastern Phoebe.  Perhaps they have also moved on.  A Gray Catbird popped out of the willows just north of the bridge.

Then we walked nearby Tomichi Gulch but found no uncommon birds.  An Eastern Towhee was discovered here on 11/20/2010.  The area has potential for a big bird checklist; however, it is not birded often.

Now early afternoon it was getting quite warm; we headed for home.

A stop at Salisbury Equestrian Park did not find the Semipalmated Plover reported two days ago.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Bluff Lake Nature Area & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

September 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca and I walked around Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) in the afternoon.  Temperature was 90 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

We found neither the previously reported Green Heron nor Northern Mockingbird.  Few birds were moving about.

A drive through Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) did not find any uncommon birds.  Highlight was one Sage Thrasher inside the southeastern end of the bison enclosure.

Nothing uncommon was around the dwindling pools near mile nine of the Wildlife Area.  We did not see the previously reported Red-necked Phalaropes.

Afternoon Walk at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

September 11, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperature reached 93 degrees in the afternoon.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 26 mph (at 4:00pm, died down at 5:00pm)

Rebecca and I went for a leisure hike at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) in the afternoon.  Winds slowed down and we greatly enjoyed the solitude and beautiful afternoon.

American Robins were the majority bird at the northern section.  No Long-eared Owls could be located.  A Great Horned Owl flew out of the trees along Pond 12.  A Spotted Towhee lurked around the northern parking area.

No owls were found along the southern Ponds either.  An American Redstart fluttered about the Russian Olive trees just south of the southern parking area.

Beautiful sunset, perhaps it is due to the continuing wildfires?

Birding Around Denver, Welchester Tree Park, Chatfield Reservoir to Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 10, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 87 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 25 mph.  Wish I could blame my miscue ID on the shaky tripod, but will not.

I headed to Welchester Tree Park (Jefferson County) about two hours before sunrise.  It is the only way to miss the horrendous Denver traffic.  After breakfast at McDonald's, I walked around the Park shortly after sunrise.

The Hooded Warbler was moving about the willows along the creek, west of the footbridge.  Unfortunately, he stayed deep in the thickets, no photo.  

I walked around the rest of the park.  A flock of six Black-capped Chickadees was in the northeast corner of the park.  It is the similar location of the Blue-winged Warbler of May 2015.  None today, however a Townsend's Warbler was loosely associated with the flock.

Nothing else moved about and I headed to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) where a Jaeger had been reported yesterday.

From the marina sand spit at Chatfield Reservoir, I could see two jaegers.  One was a juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger.  The other a dark Jaeger appeared to be a Pomarine Jaeger.  

I moved to the north side of the lake (on top of the dam) trying to get closer to the birds.  Regrettably, it was not much closer.  Scoping the lake to relocate the jaegers I discovered a third Jaeger.  Clearly, it was another Long-tailed Jaeger.

Later I found out from birders who had rented a boat to get closer to the birds that my "Pomarine Jaeger" was a Parasitic Jaeger.  That is what I get to trying to identify a Jaeger from 1/3 mile (measure with gaps).

On the way out of the park, I stopped at the old balloon launch area.  Access was limited because of construction, however I scoped the beach and found a Sabine's Gull walking around.

My next stop was Salisbury Equestrian Park (Douglas).  The Semipalmated Plover reported yesterday did not appear to be around today.

Heading north, I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  The Mew Gull continued on the small sandy shore at the northwest corner of Pelican Bay.

Three Sabine's Gulls flew around below the dam (north of the Mew Gull spot).

Stops at the Prairie Loop and Pelican Point did not find any shorebirds other than Killdeer.

A quick stop at nearby Quincy Reservoir (Arapahoe) and Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) did not find additional jaegers or uncommon gulls.

No owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver Counties).

Personal note:  I have been publicly incorrect only five times now on bird identifications.  Three of those mistakes were jaegers, all of which were quite far away.  I am going to stop calling them in public.  Most of my identification mistakes were correct ids that I refused to tell the public.  Cannot very well call them after someone else finds them.

Quick Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

September 9, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Back from an enjoyable and successful birding trip to Baca & Las Animas Counties,   Rebecca and I passed through Cherry Creek State Park on our way to dinner.

The Mew Gull was again and still on the little sandy beach at the Cherry Creek Reservoir dam trail, northwest of Pelican Bay.

I stopped by the Bird Platform Area, Prairie Loop to look for shorebirds.  Killdeer were the only ones there.

Great stop however, four Caspian Terns stood on the mud flats east of creek.  An adult Nashville Warbler fluttered about the willow near the large rocks at the end of the trail.

Nothing uncommon was at Pelican Point; it was a nice welcome back to Denver.

Southeastern Colorado Trip

August 30 to September 8, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I started out to check on some rare bird sightings and do some owling in southeastern Colorado.

August 30

Temperatures reached 99 degrees in La Junta today.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Arrival at the Fort Lyons Wildlife Easement (Bent) found the White Ibis quite cooperative.  Although far off, we managed good views through our scopes!

We backtracked 30 miles to Las Animas and continued south to Vogel Canyon (Otero) which has been a hot spot this summer.  It was not as birdy as our trip on August 14; still some nice birds were around.

We eventually would come up with a Greater Roadrunner, Red-headed Woodpecker, two Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, the Vermilion Flycatchers, two Rufous-crowned Sparrows and a Black-throated Sparrow.  No Zone-tailed Hawks but they had not been reported since our sighting on 8/16.

In the afternoon, we continued south to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  A Western Screech-Owl called in the early night!

August 31

It was 95 degrees in Cottonwood Canyon.  Winds were only 6-7 mph in the canyon but gusts measures 35 mph once we drove out.

Birding in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) was good considering the wind.  We found a Gray Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, two Eastern Phoebes and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows to name the more interesting birds.

Local residents were also around Chihuahuan Ravens, Canyon Towhees, Bewick's Wrens, Rock Wrens, a Greater Roadrunner (calling early in the morning) and a Cooper's Hawk.

Nearby Picture Canyon (Baca) was okay also.  We found a Vermilion Flycatcher in North Canyon area and Northern Mockingbird and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows near the Picture Canyon parking area.

September 1

It was a "cool" 86 degrees today.  High winds continued at 20-21 mph with gusts to 29 mph.

Things got interesting today.  We went by to visit a friend who mentioned hearing a Barred Owl.  My friend is originally from Missouri and familiar with the Barred Owl call.

It has been since March 1996 that anyone has reported a Barred Owl in Colorado.  Bryan Ehlmann and I had confirmed nesting in Furnish Canyon (Baca) on 7/6/1995.

We wandered around southern Baca County and with permission hiked the Cimarron River in the afternoon.  No Barred Owls could be confirmed as we spent most of the night searching.

September 2

It was cooler today, only 82 degrees as a high.  Winds died down to 8-9 mph however I measures gusts to 17 mph.

We returned to the Picture Canyon area (Baca) and concentrated on Sand Canyon today.  Scott's Orioles have been found in the past (May 21, 2014 by Andrew Spencer; 6/16/2015 by Stevens & Ehlmann; 8/12/2017 by Stevens & Michaels).

It was a miss on Scott's Orioles; we did find two Lewis's Woodpeckers, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a Curve-billed Thrasher and a Black-throated Sparrow.  Others have found them in Cottonwood Canyon; this was my first Baca County Black-throated Sparrow.

September 3

High temperature was again 82 degrees.  Winds stayed 12-13 mph with gusts to 24 mph.

We returned to the Cimarron River and again searched/listened for a Barred Owl, without success.

I suggested my friend send a text message if he heard the owl again while Terry and I headed east to the north end of the Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (Las Animas).

A stop at a private ranch on the way found a young Hepatic Tanager.  We walked around the north end of the Wildlife Area and found our second Hepatic Tanager of the day.

My late date is 8/25/2009.  Super birder Dan Bridges saw one on 8/27/1994.  Others have reported Hepatic Tanagers in Colorado as late as 9/18 & 9/24.  It difficult to get a latest date because much of the lands they are expected on are restricted access.

We set up our two "owl listening stations" and wandered around doing some owling.  Two Northern Saw-whet Owls were found at different locations.  The "owl listening stations" did not pick up any owl sounds. 

While Northern Pygmy-Owls will give contact calls, I find that Northern Saw-whet Owls are quiet.  You have to be around the recordings and pick up shadows of the owls as they fly around.

Terry & I spent the night on a private ranch in Las Animas County.  We stayed at one of my favorite places, Twenty plus miles from anywhere.  The cabin once housed ornithologist Elliot Coues (one of my favorite characters).  It is always a treat to stay there!

September 4

High temperature of 83 degrees, will it ever cool down?  Hot winds 10-11 mph with gusts to 18 mph blow over us all day.

This morning Terry and I entered the south end of Lake Dorothey by way of Raton, New Mexico.  We planned to hike into the Wildlife Area and stay the night and owling most of it.

Birding around Lake Dorothey was okay.  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers and a Cassin's Vireo were added to our trip list.

Hiking north, we found two Townsend's Warblers.  Misses: no Acorn Woodpeckers or Hepatic Tanagers were encountered.  Acorn Woodpeckers were last reported at Lake Dorothey September 1994.  One was found farther west at Spanish Peaks 9/2/1996.

Owling was good.  Eventually we found three Northern Saw-whet Owls and one Northern Pygmy-Owl 

September 5

Finally a high of only 72 degrees!  Winds of 15-16 mph with gusts to 22 mph actually made for a pleasant day.

We returned to our jeep in late morning and returned by way of Raton Pass.  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow was spotted at the first pullover once back in Colorado.

Highlight of the day was another male Vermilion Flycatcher at a friend's private ranch in Las Animas County.  I met the once state senator while looking for Hepatic Tanagers on a county road that went through his property.  

Both of us were spelunking fans and we have done several caving trips in southern Colorado.  His ranch added five Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, two Lewis's Woodpeckers, three Eastern Phoebes, two Gray Vireos, seven Cassin's Kingbirds (nest here), a Northern Mockingbird, another Black-throated Sparrow (First County for Terry) and another Hepatic Tanager to our trip list.

September 6

Cool temperatures continued with a high of 70 degrees.  Winds were measured at 8-9 mph with gust to 16 mph.

Terry and I headed up Pryor area (Santa Clara Creek, Huerfano County) today.  Our quest to find additional Hepatic Tanagers did not pan out.  Best bird was a Great Crested Flycatcher that appeared to be out of range.  

NOTE: checking later I found two previous Huerfano County records (Richard Taylor 5/24/2015 & Leukering 6/23/2001).

We did enjoy a great birding day under the cooler temperatures.  Our bird list included Red-headed Woodpeckers, Cassin's Kingbirds, Bullock's Oriole, Greater Roadrunner, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers.  

Owling was a bust this night.  Winds continued at 16+ mph.  

September 7

A little warmer today, high temperature of 74 degrees and quite pleasant.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Terry and camped at Apishapa Wildlife Area (Las Animas).  We set up our "owl listening stations" for a couple of hours and attracted one Northern Saw-whet Owl!

About 5:00am, we heard a Flammulated Owl or thought we did.  Unfortunately, we could not locate the spot it was hiding.

While the 4-mile (8 mile round trip) hike was not as long as the 8-mile (16 mile round trip) hike at Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area, it did seem longer.

Interesting birds observed today included a pair of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, two Eastern Phoebes (separate locations) a Curve-billed Thrasher, a Greater Roadrunner running along the ridge) and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows (my nemesis bird).

I spent more time trying to find my first Rufous-crowned Sparrow than any other bird.  It is always a happy occasion when I run across one now!

We stayed until well after dark hoping to hear a Flammulated Owl again.  It did not cooperate.  We did not play Northern Saw-whet Owl calls incase that would scare the Flammulated Owl away.

September 8

High was 81 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph in the sheltered forest in the afternoon. 

Stops at Lathrop State Park (Huerfano) and Walsenburg Reservoir did not find any uncommon birds.  A Greater Roadrunner did cross the road at the northwest corner of Lathrop State Park.

A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, Townsend's Warbler barely kept our interest.  It took awhile to identify a small tern flying around as a Common Tern.

Two Pinyon Jays flew around Walsenberg Reservoir.

We headed up to Spanish Peaks Wildlife Area (Huerfano) in search of Hepatic Tanagers, Acorn Woodpeckers and Rosy Finches.  None of which were found.

Best bird was a Grace's Warbler, a good find for Huerfano County.  

We started back toward Denver but with another detour.  We walked around the St. Charles trail north of Rye.  A Dusky Grouse ran across the road about a mile south of the trailhead (Custer County).

It was a great night of owling.  Eventually we located two Flammulated Owls (west side of hwy 165) and three Northern Saw-whet Owls (trailhead camping area, east side of hwy 165).

We camped for a couple of hours and headed back to Denver in the morning 9/9.