Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Guanella Pass

October 30, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I ran up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek).  We figured the trek would be easier than waiting for the predicted snowstorm coming in the next few days.

High temperature was 20 degrees up there.  Winds were mild for Guanella pass.  Anemometer readings were 15-17 mph with gusts to 23 mph.  I have been up there when readings were over 70 mph (the upper limit of my anemometer).

We eventually found 29 White-tailed Ptarmigan in a group below the eastern side of the Rosalie Trail.  It was not my highest count.  We observed 74 on a trip 2/2001 (later 56 on 4/2001).  Sixty birds were found 3/2005.

Our plans to also climb the Square Top Trail (west side of Guanella Pass Road) were changed when snowfall increased quite a bit.

No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found.  We rushed back to Denver below the snowstorm reached home.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Loveland Ridge and Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 29, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was another exquisite day in Colorado.  Forecasts predict nice days will end this week with snow on October 31.

Temperatures today reached a high of 76 degrees today at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were calm in late afternoon.

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn, Dave King and I made the annual Loveland Pass Ridge hike today.  Timing is tricky.  We like to wait for a dusting of snow on the pass.  White-tailed Ptarmigan tend to leave nice trails with their tails on new snow.  It is much easier to find them.  

The dilemma, if one waits too long, the chance of avalanches comes into play.  Several times in the past ten years, I have missed the window to hike the ridge from the pass down to the ski area.

Today conditions were good.  We would have preferred more snow; however, a snowstorm of some significant proportion is predicted from tomorrow.

It was a pleasant day.  Winds were less than 20 mph.  I have been up there when it has been difficult to stand and almost impossible to hold binoculars steady.

We eventually found nine White-tailed Ptarmigan above tree line.  A couple was south of the trail about 0.8 miles west/uphill of the parking area.  The other seven were 1.2 to 1.8 miles farther up the trail.

The hike is quite strenuous.  The fantastic views and Ptarmigan sightings made the trip well worth the effort.

Once below tree line, Jacob spotted a Dusky Grouse walking under some evergreens.  Other birds observed included a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, dozens of Pine Siskins, four Red Crossbills, a Clark's Nutcracker, nuthatches, Hairy Woodpeckers and eight Gray-crowned Rosy Finches!

Back in metro Denver, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.  I decided to take the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Preserve trail to the southeastern end of the lake.

Unfortunately, nothing uncommon was found on the southeastern mudflats or at the Bird Platform mudflats.  Only one Long-billed Dowitcher "drilled" for food off the Bird Platform.

A Golden-crowned Kinglet and Great Horned Owl were spotted at the southeast end of the Lake Loop.

The Pelican Bay sand spit was the most productive stop.  The Mew Gull, one Franklin's Gull, one Herring Gull, four California Gulls joined many Ring-billed Gulls.  At least a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls flew by while I was scoping the sand spit.

Shorebirds were in short supply.  A dozen or so Killdeer and one Lesser Yellowlegs were the total today.

Two Long-eared Owls were found in the Russian Olive trees along the Preserve trail.  No additional Long-eared Owls were found along the Gun Range road.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Super Hike Along the First Creek Trail

October 28, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed this great fall day with a drive around eastern Arapahoe County.  My target birds, any longspurs, were not found.  A Loggerhead Shrike was along CR 42, east of CR 161.

A late migrating Burrowing Owl was photographed north of the above intersection.

In the late afternoon, I stretched my legs with a walk along the First Creek Trail from 56th avenue (1/2 mile west of Tower Road) to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal fence line and pond.

No birds were seen along the Denver County section.  The Adams County section on the other hand was quite interesting.

I hoped to relocate the two White-throated Sparrows reported on Friday 10/26.  The first bird found was a Swamp Sparrow.  It popped out of the cattails about 60 yards into Adams County (west of Buckley Road).

While trying to see where the Swamp Sparrow flew after disappearing back into the cattails, a Winter Wren popped up and perched on a cattail for 15 seconds or so.

While I listened to the horde of Red-winged Blackbirds at the Pond a 1st year Bald Eagle landed in the cottonwoods west of the fence line.

On the way back to my car, I wandered around the trailhead at Buckley Road.  A flock of sparrows was in the weeds south of the fence at the southwest corner.

The flock included fourteen White-crowned Sparrows, three Song Sparrows and an adult White-throated Sparrow.

My birding day ended enjoying the sunset while parked along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams County).  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  

I did stop at Barr Lake (Adams) and listened for owls (Great Horned Owl or Long-eared Owl) under the waning (83 percent) moon.  None called.

Birding Around Arapahoe County (mostly)

October 27, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was another spectacular fall day in Colorado.  Temperatures reached 70 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

I decided to bird in Arapahoe County because of a morning report of a possible Tufted Duck at Marston Reservoir (Denver).  The Denver water reservoir is surrounded by Arapahoe County.  In addition, I did make a detour to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) just south of the Arapahoe County line.

I arrived at Marston Reservoir and scoped the duck from quite a distance.  It did not appear right for a Tufted Duck.  A friend lives just north of Marston Reservoir and I scoped the lake from her kitchen window.  At closer range, I concluded that it was not a Tufted Duck.  Perhaps others will change my mind, more later.

From the southwest end of the Lake, I saw two Common Loons, a Pacific Loon, several dozen Western Grebes, a raft of Ruddy Ducks and a group of American Coots.

My next stop was nearby Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  The Red-necked Grebe reported earlier in the week was not found.  Consolation birds included a Surf Scoter and Common Loon.

I passed South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) on the way back to Bowmar neighborhood (Arapahoe).  There was no sign of the Tropical Kingbird.

Wynetka Ponds is located at Blue Sage Drive and West Bowles Avenue (Arapahoe).  Few birds moved around until I reached the exit at the northwest corner.

A Harris's Sparrow accompanied five White-crowned Sparrows under the feeders behind the crème colored house.  They eventually flew east under the pines (next to the colored plastic flowers).  Later they flew south into the Park (trees near the pond).

Cornerstone Park (Arapahoe) had few birds and many people.  This park does host many geese in winter. 

Progress Park is across South Hickory Street (east of Cornerstone Park).  A Hermit Thrush lurked under the willows by the Pond.  A White-throated Sparrow was with four+ White-crowned Sparrows in the riparian area on the north side of the Park (below the apartments).

A stop at Willow Spring Open Space (Arapahoe) did not find the Swamp Sparrow reported yesterday.  The cattail fields here are huge.  The Swamp Sparrow had many places to hide.

I broke my rule about visiting Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the weekend.  As I walked the Cherry Creek dam trail to the Pelican Bay sand spit, I notice four idiots and their unleashed dog chasing the many gulls off.

Nothing uncommon was found at the other end of the Lake at Pelican Point.

My birding day ended at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Waves were high which made scoping the waterfowl difficult.  I did pick out one Common Loon and one White-winged Scoter.  Both were on the far side of the Lake from my vantage point at the upper swim beach parking area.

Gulls were scattered across the lake.  No uncommon ones were identified.

Weld County and Barr Lake

October 26, 2018

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful fall day.  Temperatures reached 69 degrees. Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Jacob Washburn and I had spent the last four days trying to find a Sprague's Pipit lifebird for him.  In that, we did not succeed.  From my view, the Smith's Longspur we relocated on 10/24 at North Sterling Reservoir was a better find. 

On the way home today, we birded in Weld County today.  Banner Lakes Wildlife Area is closed except for hunters on Saturday, Sunday & Monday. 

I should have mentioned earlier.  Terry Michaels and I have hunting licenses and bird as we walk down to the farthest pond to "hunt".  Nothing states that a hunter has to carry a gun! 

Anyway, Jacob and scoped Ireland Reservoir #5.  Six Buffleheads and eight Canada Geese swam in the middle of the lake.  While scoping the cattails we found two Yellow-headed Blackbirds walking at the southwest corner. A Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails behind the Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Ireland Reservoir #1 was slow.  We did see a Great Horned Owl and many Red-winged Blackbirds.

At Hudson Fishing Pond, we saw a Hermit Thrush skulking under the willows and cottonwoods at the northwest corner. 

A flock of White-crowned Sparrows at Memorial Park, east of the Fishing Pond was accompanied by a White-throated Sparrow.

Box Elder Creek crossing Weld CR 4 had only one Song Sparrow today.  On 1/2-1/17/2017, four Rusty Blackbirds wandered along the Creek.

Nearby Horse Creek Reservoir has a low water level.  Most of the trees still have leaves and scoping the lake had limited visibility.

After dropping Jacob off to pick up his car at my house, I drove over to Barr Lake (Adams).  I walked the northern side from mile 6.0 (end of dam) to mile 4.5.

The only shorebirds encountered were eight Killdeer just below the dam.  Highlight was a Common Loon just off shore near mile 4.5.

I did not take the time to walk below the dam.  A Long-eared Owl was found in the windbreak at the southeastern entrance to the Park.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).  No Burrowing Owls were found too.

Raptors included a Rough-legged Hawk, two Red-tailed Hawks, two Ferruginous Hawks, a Prairie Falcon and American Kestrel.  First drive this fall that a Swainson's Hawk was not found.

Search for Sprague's Pipits, Northeastern Colorado

October 23-26, 2018

Richard Stevens:

October 23-26, 2018

Jacob Washburn and I set out to find a Sprague's Pipit for his lifebird list.  We did not succeed.

October 23

High temperature today was 67 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with afternoon gusts to 24 mph.  Birding was unmanageable in the afternoon.

We checked suitable habitat in Washington & Logan Counties on our way to Sterling.  NOTE:  We checked half a dozen WALK-IN-AREAs.  See Department of Wildlife Walk-In-Area Atlas for a map of their many areas.  A hunting license is required to enter the areas.  We have been monitoring many of the Areas for years now.  While a license is required, one does not have to hunt.  We "explore" the areas for future "hunts".  If other hunters are in the area, we move on to less used or not used properties.

The Parks in Sterling still had some interesting birds migrating through.  A White-throated Sparrow was along the South Platte River at Overland Park.

We searched Pioneer Park (Logan) for Eastern Screech-Owls; none was found today.  Consolation birds included a "western" Palm Warbler, Harris's Sparrow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Lincoln's Sparrow.

October 24

High temperature was 68 degrees, made of a pleasant day.  Unfortunately, the day was consistently windy.  Winds 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph made finding any birds difficult.

At dinner last night, we ran into Texas birder Bob Manor.  He told us about a Smith's Longspur sighting at North Sterling Reservoir from yesterday morning.

At first light, Jacob and I walked around the Campgrounds at the State Park.  After about 45 minutes, we relocated the longspur at the north end of the Campgrounds!  Lifebird for both of us, it was an exciting find!  Thanks to Bob!

Shorebirds at the north end of the Lake included a Least Sandpiper, two Baird's Sandpipers and many Killdeer.

We found no uncommon songbirds.  A Barn Owl was at the southern end of the Lake.

Wandering the back roads north and east of North Sterling Reservoir did not find any Sprague's Pipits.  Several Logan County locations that were successful for Sprague's Pipits in past years were checked.

October 25

Another fantastic fall day in Colorado, high temperatures reached the low 70s.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Jacob and I continued our Sprague's Pipit search in Sedgwick County today.  Sprague's Pipits seemed to be "everywhere" just two weeks ago.  Today we found none.

Again, we searched the fields where they were found in past years, especially Sedgwick County Roads 30 & 59.

A stop at DePoorter Lake (Sedgwick) found two Harris's Sparrows along the South Platte River.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was observed along the River at the Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop.

October 26

An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard at Hale Ponds about an hour before sunrise.  We scoped Pipit Hill but found no Sprague's Pipits.  Then we headed back to Denver.

Aurora Reservoir and Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

October 22, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 73 degrees under partly cloudy skies.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts measured at 17 mph.

In the morning, I walked into Aurora Reservoir Park from the southern entrance.  The usual waterfowl suspects were joined by three White-winged Scoters. 

A Common Loon swam around Lonetree Cove.  The Pacific Loon I found a few days earlier was not relocated.  Most gulls were in the center of the Lake; no uncommon gulls were found.  I did not drive around to the northern entrance to scope the swim beach.

My birding day was planned to end at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Adams).  Few birds moved about.  I did relocate one Long-eared Owl in the windbreak between Ponds 6 & 7.

NOTE:  Banner Lakes Wildlife Area is closed to the public during hunting season.  It is opened to hunting on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and legal holidays.  I carry a hunting license and therefore have access.

I try to "reserve" the least used area and farthest from the entrance.  This allows me to scope the windbreaks as I walk to the north end of the Wildlife Area.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  I did hear a Great Horned Owl call from Pond 13 area.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Boulder

October 21, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 73 degrees.  Winds were calm with gusts to 3 mph.

I had not planned on birding today.  A text message about a Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Boulder County changed my mind.

I arrived at Prince Lake # 2 sixty-one minutes after the Fork-tailed Flycatcher report.  There was no need to search for the bird.  Dozens of birders had beaten me to the spot.

What a beautiful bird, only the second state report and possibility a first state record.  The flycatcher was a good distance away (just north of Prince Lake # 2) but flew up several times offering great views!

A stop at Prince Lake # 2 on my way home found the previously reported American Golden-Plover walking along the south side of the lake. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Arapahoe & Adams Counties

October 20, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was another spectacular fall day in Colorado.  High temperature was 68 degrees.  Winds varied from 8-9 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

I walked into Aurora Reservoir from the South end.  Two White-winged Scoters were off Senac Cove along with many American Coots, Ruddy Ducks, Western Grebes, Horned Grebes and Eared Grebes.

The Mew Gull and one of the Iceland Gulls were among several hundred Ring-billed Gulls east of mile 2.5.  Dozens of California Gulls and two Herring Gulls were in the same area.

The Common Loon was around mile 4.5.  The Pacific Loon was not spotted.

I did not drive around to the west side, inside headed for Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).

The Surf Scoter was 20 yards off the south end of Lake Ladora.  Two Western Grebes and a few Horned & Eared Grebes were also on the lake.

Many shorebirds walked the north shore of Lower Derby Lake.  The American Golden-Plover was among Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers and Killdeer.

The American Golden-Plover eventually flew to the south shore; unfortunately, the bird landed below the sandbar and out of sight. 

A Peregrine Falcon circled several times and landed in trees on the north shore.  I briefly searched for Red-headed Woodpeckers along the Wildlife Drive and the Swamp Sparrow at Marys Lake.  Neither was found.

Cherry Creek Reservoir was my last stop of the day.  The Mew Gull was back on the Pelican Bay sand spit.  If I had not been watching it for the past month I could not have picked it out of the hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.  Its distinctive 2nd winter pattern has become an easy id now.

I scoped the lake for scoters and loons.  No scoters, but I did find the Red-necked Grebe reported yesterday by Betty Glass, Great Find Betty!  The bird was in the center of the lake, north of the Mountain Loop, of course will move by tomorrow.

My final stop was Pelican Point.  As I walked to the Point, a Harris's Sparrow was spotted in the Russian Olive tree just north of the huge downed tree near the water's edge.

If it is not here tomorrow, I would look in the group of bushes behind the restroom (spot of the Northern Parula (April 2017).

Most shorebirds were quite far away on the southern shore of the lake.  I scoped 15 Dowitchers (most likely Long-billed), seven Killdeer, two Greater Yellowlegs, one Lesser Yellowlegs and two peeps.

One plover I watched long enough to determine not a Killdeer.  It was too far away to label American Golden-Plover or Black-bellied Plover.

Four American Tree Sparrows and one Song Sparrow wandered along the edge of the willows at Pelican Point.

Photos of the Surf Scoter & Harris's Sparrow (bad light) were put on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library; "recent favorite photos" link: 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Birding A Day At Barr Lake

October 19, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I celebrated this splendid fall day by birding eight hours at Barr Lake (Adams). 
High temperature was 66 degrees.  Winds were mainly 6-7 mph most of the day.

The time was split about in half between the south and north sides.  Mileage covered from mile 0.5 (Niedrach boardwalk) to mile 4.5 of the north side was 10 miles.

Not much was expected in the way of passerines and that proved accurate.  

Shorebirds were too far off the Niedrach Boardwalk for much identification.  Fifteen Dowitchers, one Black-bellied Plover and dozens of Killdeer walked the shore south of the boardwalk.

A juvenile Field Sparrow with its pinkish bill, white eye ring and streaked breast was in the thick bushes in the center of the Niedrach loop.

I scoped the many American White Pelicans looking for a Brown Pelican.  One should have been blown into Colorado with the storms back east or not.

A flock of fourteen Yellow-rumped Warblers fluttered about at mile 8.8 (Visitor's Center footbridge is 9.0 & 0.0).

Another flock of six Yellow-rumped Warblers, two Black-capped Chickadees and an Orange-crowned Warbler were off the banding station.  A lone Hermit Thrush skulked under fallen cottonwoods northwest of the banding station.

The north side of the Lake was a shorebird bonanza.  Some of the birds observed included an American Golden-Plover (below the dam south of the old stone house), five Black-bellied Plovers (halfway between the end of dam (mile 6.0) and the disjoint pond at mile 4.5.

Twenty seven Long-billed Dowitchers and two American Avocets probed for food in the pond.

Shorebirds between the pond and dam included two Pectoral Sandpipers, a Stilt Sandpiper, three Least Sandpipers, forty two Wilson's Phalaropes, two Lesser Yellowlegs, one Greater Yellowlegs, and dozens of Killdeer.

Another Hermit Thrush, a Virginia Rail, two Song Sparrows and an unidentified wren were below the dam on the hike back to the Visitor's Center.  

Surprisingly no Dark-eyed Juncos, Chipping Sparrows or other sparrows were found.

Raptors seen today included an adult Bald Eagle, two Red-tailed Hawks, two Northern Harriers and a Great Horned Owl.

Long-eared Owls were found at two locations.  Below the dam, north of the side canal and in the entrance windbreak!

A Swainson's Hawk was seen along the DIA Owl Loop just south of Barr Lake.  No Short-eared Owls were encountered.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Birding Around Denver

October 18, 2018

Richard Stevens:

What a superb fall Colorado day with temperatures reaching 68 degrees, winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 21 mph.

I enjoyed the fantastic morning by hiking from W. Bowles Avenue to South Platte Park (Arapahoe).  I did not except that yesterday's Green Heron would still be around; however, the walk was enjoyable.  

No birds were seen until I reached the falls near the Landing area.  Two juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons and an adult Great Blue Heron stood on rocks waiting for fish to swim by.

My next stop was Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) in search of the Red-necked Grebe and Sabine's Gull recently reported.  Neither was found; however, a Common Loon swam off the old swim beach area.

I stopped by South Platte Park Reservoir (Jefferson) and scoped the storage units for the Tropical Kingbird.  A Kingbird was briefly seen by another birder and me.  I could not confirm it was the Tropical Kingbird.

The Red-throated Loon was at the extreme southeastern end of Marston Reservoir (Denver County).  Many Western Grebes, a raft of Ruddy Ducks and a few Pied-billed Grebes were also there.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The American Golden-Plover was missed again by me.  The Bonaparte's Gull and Mew Gull stood on the sandbar north of Pelican Bay/Cherry Creek dam trailhead.

I took photos of a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and hope to show the comparison later.

Six Long-billed Dowitchers walked around the mudflats at the Prairie Loop (old bird platform area).  A lone Stilt Sandpiper was also here.

While making sure there were no Short-billed Dowitchers in the mix, a Swamp Sparrow walked along the cattails (west to east).

I ran out of daylight before getting to Pelican Point.  The American Golden-Plover was reported off Pelican Point yesterday. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Weld County Birding

October 17, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 61 degrees today at Hudson.  High winds made the day feel quite cold.  Anomometer readings were 12-14 mph with gusts to 29 mph in the afternoon.

I walked around Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) for four hours.  Highlight was a female Black-throated Blue Warbler in the windbreak west of Ponds 4 to 3.  A Spotted Towhee was between 4 & 3 Ponds.

An Eastern Bluebird perched on top of an evergreen tree at the windbreak at Pond 8.  Only one Long-eared Owl was encountered today.  American Robins and Dark-eyed Junco were abundant north of Hwy 52.

Ireland Reservoir #5 had few birds.  I could not kick up a Swamp Sparrow in the western cattails.  Got the same result at Ireland Reservoir #1, no Swamp Sparrows appeared today.  Another Spotted Towhee was below the dam at #1.

In the afternoon, I visited a friend's ranch (Snowy Owl, March 2012).  We drove north of hwy 52 searching for a Burrowing Owl he had last seen two days ago; without success.

The prairie dog villages along CR 73 area, both sides of the road host Burrowing Owls.

He had a pair of Long-eared Owls nest in his windbreak (Weld).  John showed me a photo of a red Fox Sparrow taken 9 days ago.  Eastern Bluebirds passed through two weeks ago.

I watched daylight disappear back at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  My birding day ended while listening to a Great Horned Owl calling somewhere near Pond 12 area.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Walker Gravel Pit, Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 16, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High today of a "warm" 55 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

My birding day started at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  A drive along the Wildlife Area loop did not find any Red-headed Woodpeckers or any uncommon birds.

The Common Loon was still on Lake Ladora.  I walked the boardwalk on Marys Lake and found a Swamp Sparrow at the southeast quadrant.

A return to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) was not as long as yesterday.  Still no scoters or Long-tailed Ducks found, I did relocate one of the Iceland Gulls and Mew Gull found yesterday.

Misses, the Western Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were not encountered.  However, I did not walk to the northwestern corner or southeastern Coves today.

I searched several hours for the Winter Wren along the Cherry Creek Trail south of the Walker Gravel Pit and Hwy 86 bridge.  A Gray Catbird popped out of the willows where the Winter Wren had been seen last week.

Nothing uncommon was seen at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  One Turkey Vulture circled overhead.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I missed the American Golden-Plover again.  A Bonaparte's Gull and Common Tern were on the sandbar at Pelican Bay.

One Stilt Sandpiper and several Lesser Yellowlegs were on the Prairie Loop mudflats.  Nothing uncommon was found at Pelican Point.

There are mudflats between the Prairie Loop and Pelican Point.  It required bushwhacking through willows and cattails to examine this area, which I did not do today.

Arapahoe County Birding

October 15, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperature high of 46 in Aurora.  Winds 5-6 mph with gusts to 10 mph.

I birded around Arapahoe County today.  Denver's traffic discourages longer drives to Chatfield Reservoir or Harriman Lake Park.

Aurora Reservoir was the birdiest.  I eventually observed one Greater White-fronted Goose and Bonaparte's Gull on my first stop.

I then walked the east and south sides of Quincy Reservoir.  An American Golden-Plover was on the northeastern mudflats.  If a Little Gull was around, it was missed.  A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher fluttered about the southeastern corner.

A return to Aurora Reservoir was quite entertaining.  While trying to decide the age of two Iceland Gulls (Thayer's) the Mew Gull walked in front of them.

The Western Gull was in the middle of the northern fourth of the lake.  

A Pacific Loon was in the southern fourth of the lake while a Common Loon was in the northern half.  A few Western Grebes, Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, dozens of American Wigeons and hundreds of Ruddy Ducks swam around.

It appeared that no scoters or Long-tailed Ducks have arrived.  

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Three Lesser Yellowlegs and a Stilt Sandpiper were on the mudflats off the Prairie Loop.  Two Greater Yellowlegs walked the shoreline at Pelican Point.

The only sparrows found were two American Tree and a pair of Song Sparrows.  No uncommon gulls were picked out.  Dozens of American White Pelicans stood on the Point.

Northeastern Colorado Search for Sprague's Pipits by way of Boulder County

October 10-14, 2018

Richard Stevens:

October 10

Boulder high of 34 degrees.  Fortunately winds were 2-3 mph with gusts only 5-6 mph.

Terry Michaels started late in the week in an attempt to find Sprague's Pipits and migrating sparrows in Northeastern Colorado.

We first detoured to Boulder County where a plethora of uncommon birds was being reported.

Our first stop was Lagerman Reservoir where the Parasitic Jaeger was observed chasing gulls around.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was among the group.  

The Vermilion Flycatcher and Pectoral Sandpiper were still at Walden Ponds.  The Chestnut-sided Warbler was still at Ryssby Church & Cemetery area.

Boulder and Valmont Reservoirs did not added uncommon birds to our day list.

Cobb Lake, Wellington Wildlife Area in Weld County was hosting a couple of interesting Kingbirds.  We relocated a Cassin's Kingbird but missed on the "strange kingbird" possible Couch's Kingbird.

Seeing a Tropical Kingbird and Couch's Kingbird in Colorado within six days would have been awesome.

We continued to Wellington Wildlife Area proper.  Two Long-eared Owls were in the eastern windbreak (Larimer County).  Just after sunset, we observed a Short-eared Owl flying over the hills to the east of County Line Road (Weld County).  Shortly before that, I Great Horned Owl called from the eastern section of the Wildlife Area (Weld).

October 11

Warmed up to 46 degrees today.  Winds 14-15 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

Terry & I walked the Campgrounds at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) shortly after midnight.  Eventually we located two Long-eared Owls (with the help of NVG7-3P Night Vision goggles).

After a few hours of sleep we walked the western Campgrounds.  A flock of  20+ Yellow-rumped Warblers were at Cove Campgrounds.  A Palm Warbler fluttered about Pelican Campgrounds.  A White-throated Sparrow were also here.

Misses: the resident Eastern Screech-Owls did not call today.

Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) had a few interesting birds.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull flew below the northeastern end of the dam.  

A Black-and-white Warbler and White-throated Sparrow was below the dam and east of the ranger's home.  While a Townsend's Warbler was observed at the inlet area.

We relocated Eastern Screech-Owls at the inlet area and later as we left the reservoir at the eastern parking area.

Misses: no uncommon shorebirds were found at the inlet or the southeastern end of the lake.

October 12

Finally some warmth with high temperature of 62 degrees.  Winds 10-11 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Shortly after midnight, Terry and I walked the eastern sections of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) between 5 & 7 East.  One Eastern Screech-Owl was located.

At first light  we drove Logan County Road 46.  A Greater Prairie-Chicken was observed with a couple of Ring-necked Pheasants north of CR 46 & CR 89.  This is a great location especially after a dusting of snow.  The idea was first given to me by the longtime ranger for Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (sorry I cannot remember his name).

We skipped the usually search for passerines at the northern Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area sections and continued to Sedgwick County.

In spite of high winds, we anchored our scopes and checked the many fields along Sedgwick CR 4 & CR 2 (County Line Sedgwick/Phillips).  We continued east of Hwy 385 to the area of previous Sprague's Pipit sightings centered around Sedgwick CR 30 & CR 55 to CR 61.

We eventually found a Sprague's Pipit walking around CR 30 & CR 59.  Just north of the intersection Terry spotted a Greater Prairie-Chicken.  One Grasshopper Sparrow was a surprise find in the area!

October 13, 2018

High temperature of 63 degrees.  Winds strong at 14-15 mph with gusts to 29 mph.

Terry and I spent the day driving the roads between Jumbo Reservoir and Julesburg.  Special emphasis was placed on previous Sprague's Pipit locations.  

We tried to take roads that I had not previously often birded.  We skipped often-birded spots such as Jumbo Reservoir, Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area, Ovid and DePoorter Lake.

Much of the day was on private ranches.  Our tally included Red-bellied Woodpecker (2), Harris's Sparrow (2 locations), Blue-headed Vireo (surprise, late, private ranch # 4), Eastern Meadowlark (private ranch # 1), Sprague's Pipit (private ranch # 1), Rusty Blackbird (2, private ranch # 1), Eastern Screech-Owl (private ranch # 1 & # 3), Long-eared Owl (private ranch # 2 & # 3), White-throated Sparrow (private ranch # 6).

private ranch # 5 reported a Sprague's Pipit two days earlier, not relocated today
private ranch # 6 reported Field Sparrow last week

October 14, 2018

Quite a difference a day makes in Colorado.  High temperature of only 33 degrees, low of 24 degrees.  Winds 11-12 mph with gusts to 29 mph.

Terry & I headed south on this windy day.  No additional Sprague's Pipits were found.  We checked near Phillips CR 27/CR 26 where Terry and I had found a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow a few years ago.  Regrettably, none was around today.

A Broad-winged Hawk clung to cottonwoods at Holyoke Cemetery.  A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was observed at Holyoke City Park.

Our other stops are Holyoke Fishing Pond, Holyoke hotspots and west were uneventful. 

Snowstorms encouraged our rapid return to Denver.

Return to Aurora Reservoir

October 9, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Similar to yesterday with High of 37 degrees.  Winds 8-9 mph, gusts to 12 mph.

I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) in the afternoon.  This trip the Western Gull was on the swim beach.  That was until a dog walker decided it would be fun to let his dog chase the gulls (boo!).

A Bonaparte's Gull flew along the shore near the Lonetree Cove outlet.

Back to chores, my birding day ended at Aurora Reservoir.

Aurora Reservoir

October 8, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature of 39 degrees.  Winds 4-5 mph with gusts to 10 mph at Aurora Reservoir.

I went out to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) to search for the Western Gull reported yesterday.

It was not found by me; however, a Mew Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were spotted.  The Mew Gull looked similar to the one found at Cherry Creek Reservoir a few weeks ago.

No Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Raptors included Ferruginous Hawks (2), Red-tailed Hawk (2), Swainson's Hawk (1), American Kestrel (2), and Northern Harriers (3).

Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 7, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperature high of 47 degrees. Winds 7-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

On the way back from lunch, Rebecca and I passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).  Hundreds of gulls, American White Pelicans and American Coots were around.  We did not find the Black-bellied Plover or Sanderlings recently reported.

Tropical Kingbird, Jefferson County

October 6, 2018

It was not much warmer east of the foothills today.  High temperature on 59 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 25 mph.  

Rebecca Kosten email to cobirders listserve, link to access without subscribing on the CoBus website: 

"Richard Stevens, Terry Michaels and many birders relocated the probable second State record Tropical Kingbird at South Platte Park Reservoir. More precisely the roof of the storage company to the west. The Colorado Records board has received photos of another bird so today's bird may only be the third record. The last two are pending reviews. Richard took some nice photos and will post to CoBus photo library after he shows them at are committed meeting tonight."

Richard Stevens:

The temptation to add a new bird to my Colorado Checklist was too much.  Terry Michaels and I headed to South Platte Park Reservoir (Jefferson).  Afterwards we continued south to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).

When we arrived at Chatfield Reservoir, a Sabine's Gull was observed swimming below the dam's tower.  It eventually swam in both Jefferson and Douglas Counties.

Terry and I walked Deer Creek back at the old balloon launch area.  An Eastern Phoebe hawked bugs north of the now defunct swim beach.

A stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home did not add any uncommon birds to our trip list.  Too many people on the weekends appear to stir up the birds, making them scarce.

Buena Vista to Jefferson, Colorado

October 5, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High at Jefferson, Colorado was only 46 degrees today.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 29 mph on the high plains of South Park (much less in the mountains).

Not wanting to be out on a weekend, I headed back toward Denver.  A brief stop at the Buena Vista overlook found two Pinyon Jays, a Juniper Titmouse and six Bushtits.

Ruby Mountain Park Area (Chaffee) added fourteen additional Pinyon Jays.

I made very brief stops to scope the three Park County Reservoirs near Hwy 24 & Hwy 285.  No scoters or loons were observed.  The Red-necked Grebe was not relocated.  High winds created high waves and made finding waterfowl quite difficult.

The detour up Georgia Pass Road (Park) was interesting.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at their usual location.

A Dusky Grouse was found about 200 yards farther west (uphill).  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording about 50 yards east (downhill) of the Three-toed Woodpecker pullover.

Closer to Denver, I detoured over to Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  No owls were enticed to respond to my recordings.

Buena Vista and Cottonwood Pass

October 4, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Buena Vista was 67 degrees today.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 29 mph.  Surprisingly, winds were calm at Cottonwood Lake area.

Cottonwood Pass (Chaffee CR 306) is closed from Avalanche Trailhead to the Summit and Gunnison CR 742.  After a late start, I spent the day up CR 306 and CR 344.  

It was still possible to reach Ptarmigan Lake (Chaffee) by way of CR 344.  A 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must; however, I would not take mine on this road.  It also requires a 3/4 miles strenuous hike after the road ends.  There are easier routes to get a White-tailed Ptarmigan for Chaffee County.

South Cottonwood Creek and Cottonwood Lake have few bird reports.  Clark's Nutcrackers, Canada Jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers, Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, Pinyon Jays and Mountain Chickadees are common along CR 344.

The drive was a nice adventure on this superb fall day.  I set up my "owl listening stations" along CR 344 on the trip toward Cottonwood Lake.  Eventually I would find American Three-toed Woodpeckers at two locations.

Owling was a bust.  The Owl stations did not pick up any owl calls either.

Buena Vista & Independence Pass

October 3, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperature reached 72 degrees in Buena Vista.  Winds were 13-14 mph with gusts measured at 21 mph.

I drove around Buena Vista this morning.  My search for Western Screech-Owls came up empty.  Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were observed near 125 North Pleasant Avenue.

The view at Buena Vista Overlook was spectacular with the Collegiate Peaks looming over South Park.  Four Pinyon Jays flew around the KOA Campgrounds below the overlook.

I scoped Ice Lake north of Buena Vista and found a flock of 40+ Pinyon Jays.  Not much else could be seen from my vantage point.

It was such a beautiful day, I continued north on Hwy 24 and turned west on Hwy 82.  Independence Pass Road is another spectacular drive in Colorado.

At the Summit, I hiked both the south and north sides of Hwy 82.  I believe the trail is part of the Colorado trail.  A White-tailed Ptarmigan was 50 yards up the northern side.  While I first saw it in Lake County, it walked west into Pitkin County!

Four Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew overhead at the Historical Center (Pitkin County).

My birding day ended back at Twin Lakes Reservoir.  No scoters or goldeneyes were found on the Reservoir or Mt. Elbert Forebay.  Half a dozen Pinyon Jays flew around the north side of Twin Lakes.

No owls were found after dark.  My two "owl listening stations" also came up with no calls.

Park County Reservoirs

October 2, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 54 degrees in Park County today.  Winds were 13-14 mph with gusts to 24 mph throughout the day.

My birding day started at the Park County trio of reservoirs.  Winds made using a scope difficult, which added hours to my search for scoters and loons.  Neither of my target birds was encountered throughout the day.

A Jaeger species chased gulls around Antero Reservoir.  Unfortunately, it was too distant for a proper ID (although I did have a guess).

The best bird at Spinney Mountain Reservoir was a Red-necked Grebe.  It stayed at the western end of the lake.  Western, Horned and Eared Grebes were also swimming around.

Eleven Mile Reservoir also lacked any uncommon birds.  A Sage Thrasher hawked bugs near the boat ramp.  A Chestnut-collared Longspur ran down the southern road.  It allowed nice views for an ID.

I stopped at Trout Creek Pass in late afternoon.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were seen this trip.

After dark I set out my two "owl listening stations" along Chaffee CR 304.  Then drove farther north up the road.  Neither the owl stations nor I found any Northern Saw-whet Owls this night.

Boulder to Leadville

October 1, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Boulder was 64 degrees.  Winds were calm, a few gusts to 6 mph.  It was eerily calm later in the day in the mountains.

Rebecca Kosten; email to cobirders listserve:

"At 7:45 Richard Stevens saw the Vermilion Flycatcher near Walden Ponds. The male bird was in the light green trees near the hill 25 yards east of the parking lot. When Richard left the bird was on the fence with green posts and White caps.

When Richard walked the Pleasant View Marsh path 100+ birds were in the tall willows next to the path. The flock included a Blackpoll Warbler, two Townsend's Warblers, ten Orange crowned Warblers, four Black called Chickadees and many Yellow rumped Warblers. When he passed by 20 minutes later the clock had moved to the light green willows to the north.

He has not found the Prothonotary Warbler."

Richard Stevens: After leaving Boulder County I headed up to Summit County.  The loon was still off the southwest corner of Dillon Reservoir.  It did appear to be a Yellow-billed Loon.

My birding day ended with a hike along the Continental Trail at Tennessee Pass (Eagle County).  I scoped the western side of Highway 24 and spotted a "white" White-tailed Ptarmigan walking just off the path!  Four Brown-capped Rosy Finches circled overhead and disappeared south in Lake County!  

It was a great ending to a superb day of birding!  Awesome!