Thursday, November 29, 2018

Boulder to Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 28, 2018

Richard Stevens:

A friend needed a ride from Boulder to DIA Airport.  In order to miss traffic, I headed up to Boulder at 4:00 am.  High temperature would reach 61 degrees.  Winds were outrageous at 22-23 mph with gusts to 32 mph.

I hiked up the Mesa South Trail to Shadow Mountain trail anyway (Boulder County).  Target birds were Northern Saw-whet and Flammulated Owls.  Neither was found.  The late date for Flammulated Owls in the area is 10/19.  Northern Saw-whet Owls have been found in November.

I picked up Steve; he mentioned seeing a Bohemian Waxwing in a flock of 24+ Cedar Waxwings yesterday.  We managed to find 8 Cedar Waxwings west of Airport Road near Longmont.  While the waxwing flock had split, the Bohemian Waxwing was in today's flock!

We were not far from the Blackburnian Warbler & Blackpoll Warbler spot at Dry Creek and had time to search for them.  Unfortunately, neither was found.

After dropping Steve off at DIA, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A relative is staying at the rehab place not far from there; so I was taking care of two birds etc as they say.

I scoped Cherry Creek Reservoir an hour before the setting sun reached the mountains.  Light was terrible looking southwest from the Smoky Hill picnic area vantage point.  About eight, Bonaparte's Gulls swam not far off shore.  No Long-tailed Ducks could be picked out of the hundreds of gulls.

A short walk to the pond northwest of the swim beach found the male and female Rusty Blackbirds walking along the north shore.  I put a photo of them on the Colorado Birding Society's website, "recent witness photos" link.

The sun went behind clouds and I returned to the swim beach.  Light was better and I observed a raft of 60+ Common Goldeneyes swimming below the dam.  The two Long-tailed Ducks while not together were among the Common Goldeneyes.

No swans flew in, surprisingly few grebes were around.  One male Red-breasted Merganser was another highlight.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ken Caryl Valley, Bluff Lake Nature Area & DIA Owl Loop

November 27, 2018

Richard Stevens:

The temperature reached 54 degrees under cloudy skies in Denver.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

I had been schooling two friends who live in Ken Caryl Valley (Jefferson) in birding.  Today was our first day of birding on lands restricted to Ken Caryl Valley residents.

We started our future trips down Massey Draw.  Highlights were a Harris's Sparrow and Hermit Thrush.  Other birds included White-crowned Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows and Nuthatches.  Regrettably, no owls were encountered today.

On the way home, I stopped at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver).  The Harris's Sparrow was again running along with seven White-crowned Sparrows between rabbit brush behind the building.

My birding day ended when I parked along 88th avenue east of the Disposal Site.  I scoped the 360-degree view from near the "land for sale" sign.

While watching a head of sixty+ Pronghorn north of 88th avenue as they crossed the unnamed gravel road between 88th & 96th avenues, a Short-eared Owl flew over them.

I sighted the Short-eared Owl in Denver County and followed it into Adams County!  It was a nice end to an enjoyable birding day!

Monday, November 26, 2018

DIA Airport and Aurora Reservoir

November 26, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 50 degrees this afternoon.  Winds stayed 6-7 mph at Aurora Reservoir.

This afternoon I went out searching for the Burrowing Owl reported yesterday at DIA Airport (Denver County).  One way roads and traffic made the task difficult.  After an hour, I gave up without seeing the owl.

The last two hours of daylight were spent scoping the thousands of gulls on Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Mostly I looked for large white gulls or black mantled gulls.  They were too far away from the upper swim beach parking area for more detail.

Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were picked out.  Although I still had to watch them for quite awhile, waiting for them to turn to ensure the low southwestern sun was not creating shadows.

Few non-gulls swam on the lake today.  American Coots were in the majority followed by Common Goldeneyes.  Only two Western Grebes were identified.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Birding Around Arapahoe County

November 25, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Not wanting to drive any farther than Cherry Creek Reservoir today, I birded several of the less visited birding locations in Arapahoe County.  The high temperature was a cold 39 degrees today.  Winds were 6-7 mph but they were calm in the late afternoon.

Only a few geese walked around Utah Park (Peoria and Jewell Avenues).  No Greater White-fronted Geese were here.

A walk around Crescent Park (southwest of Belleview Avenue and DTC Blvd) found no birds.  Winter Wrens have been reported in the Park the last two falls.

I hiked about a mile along the Goldsmith Gulch trail south of GM Wallace Park (Belleview Avenue).  A Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails approximately 200 yards south of the north end of the cattail field at Belleview.

No Long-eared Owls were found along the shooting range road in Cherry Creek State Park.  When I checked on the Rusty Blackbird at the swim beach pond the female was high in one of the cottonwoods on the south side of the pond.

The reason became clear when an adult Red-tailed Hawk was found perched in a low hanging limb on the north side.  The Rusty Blackbirds usually walked along the logs under this overhanging tree.  An unfortunate male Green-winged Teal took off and was caught by the Red-tailed Hawk!  Cool, they need to eat also.

There is no way to know what happed to the male, perhaps a raptor got it or maybe it just moved on without the female.  However, that does not seem likely.

I stood on the northern shore west of the swim beach until dark.  Hundreds of noisy White-cheeked Geese flew down from the north and landed in the swim beach bay.  Winds were now calm.  The sight and sound was quite enjoyable.

No swans flew in this evening.  As I have written before, four of the five times that I have observed Swans at Cherry Creek Reservoir, it was during the last hour or two of daylight.

It was a pleasant end to a nice afternoon of birding!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Birding In Sunshine then Rain & Snow

November 24, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was a strange late fall day in Colorado.  Sunny in the morning, it rained and snowed by mid afternoon.  High temperature was 59 degrees at noon; at 3:00 pm, it was 33 degrees.  Winds in the morning were measured at 13-14 mph.  Anemometer readings at 2:00 pm were 35-36 mph.

I walked the First Creek Trail (Denver/Adams Counties) from Tower Road to Buckley Road to its terminus at the western Rocky Mountain Arsenal fence line in early morning.  

Palm Warblers appear everywhere especially near water.  I hoped to find one along First Creek.  

The White-throated Sparrow was still with a flock of White-crowned Sparrows at the southwest corner of the First Creek Trail and Buckley Road.  They popped up onto the chain link fence several times.

A Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon flew by along the Adams County section of the Trail.

Winds started to pick up just before noon.  Rain and then light snow pelted down.  It was time to rush back to my car without encountering any warblers.

On the way home, I stopped by Idalia Park, Green Valley Recreation Area and Gateway Park.  While dozens of White-cheeked Geese (mostly Canada Geese) were at each park, no Greater White-fronted Geese or Brant were among them.

Birding the Foothills west of Denver

November 23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I had been up most of the night however decided to bird the western side of Denver.

A hike along the Clear Creek Trail from Youngfield Road & I70 to Golden (Jefferson) did not find the previously reported Black Phoebe or Prothonotary Warbler.  The highlight came on the return hike.  An Eastern Screech-Owl was sunning itself in one of the larger cottonwood trees.

My next stop was South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson).  The Palm Warbler had been reported again earlier this morning.  When I arrived, several birders remarked that they had searched unsuccessfully for about an hour.

I scoped South Platte Park Reservoir across the road from the Palm Warbler spot and found the Black Scoter swimming below the dam.

Then I noticed that several House Finches and a Song Sparrow flew west across South Platte Canyon Road.  I drove over and parked near the Eagle Service Station.  A walk south down S. Platte Canyon Road found the Palm Warbler in the pine tree nearest the Station!

A text message stated that Joey Kellner had found a Red-throated Loon from the Lake View overlook at nearby Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  One can no longer drive through the park as Kingfisher Bridge is under repair.

Not wanting to drive the long detour around to the other side of the Park, I scoped the lake from the North Marina area, no loons.

Then I stopped and scoped the lake from the Eagle (Cove) area.  The Red-throated Loon was loosely swimming with two Western Grebes below the Rookery overlook.

Unfortunately I had not heard about the Swan at the Denver Botanic Gardens (just west of Chatfield Reservoir), even had driven by the area twice.

Instead, I drove up Deer Creek Canyon Road (Jefferson) and stopped several times.  Nothing uncommon was found on the drive up to the Park.  However, on the way back a Northern Pygmy-Owl was found near the entrance to the Deer Creek Canyon subdivision.

Southeastern Colorado to the Mountains near Eagle

November 20-23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

November 20

Temperature reached 56 degrees today.  Winds were 3-4 mph with gusts only 10 mph.  That is not bad for this late in fall.

My birding day started at Pueblo City Park (Pueblo County).  I just followed behind a couple of birders and relocated the Cape May Warbler and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  

Neither was a first county bird; however, the warbler was my first for 2018.  I had planned to end up at Fairview Cemetery in Burlington later this trip.  Now that part of the trip was scraped.

Just west of Pueblo City Park, I added eight Bonaparte's Gulls, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Great Black-backed Gull, a Common Loon and Curve-billed Thrasher to my trip list!

Next stop was Lathrop State Park (Huerfano) on my way to Lake Dorothy Wildlife Area.  A Barrow's Goldeneye was on the eastern lake.  A Greater Roadrunner ran around the northwestern corner of the Park.  In past years, Greater Roadrunners have nested in this Park.

To enter Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (Las Animas) one has to drive down to New Mexico and backtrack.  A stop at the pullover just north of New Mexico added a Rufous-crowned Sparrow to my day list!

Two Lewis's Woodpeckers were at the northwest corner of Lake Dorothey.  A Swamp Sparrow was at the southeast corner.

I hiked about a mile north (uphill) and discovered a Northern Saw-whet Owl somewhat hidden in a pine tree (not quite hidden well enough for me to miss it).

My route to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) was east from Lake Dorothey then north into Colorado.  When I arrived at the Cottonwood Canyon Campgrounds, a Western Screech-Owl responded to my recordings.

November 21

It was another pleasant fall day with a high temperature of 60 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph most of the day.

A walk around Cottonwood Canyon this morning found two Rufous-crowned Sparrows about 1.4 miles east of the Campgrounds.  

Other birds encountered included Canyon Towhees, Wild Turkeys, Chihuahuan Ravens, a Cooper's Hawk, and a Bewick's Wren.

A Winter Wren was found about 0.8 miles west of the Campgrounds.  A pair of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers was also in the draw here.

A hike in Picture Canyon south to North Canyon added a Northern Mockingbird, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, four American Kestrels and a Curve-billed Thrasher to my day list.

A Greater Roadrunner was observed on the hill near the entrance.

My birding day ended at the Upland Bird Management Area.  Two Lapland Longspurs flew about.  A Short-eared Owl flew by just after sunset.

November 22

High temperature at Lamar was 63 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph at Two Buttes Reservoir.  Temperature was 42 degrees in Eagle in the afternoon.  Winds were 9-10 mph.

A Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, Brown Thrasher and Ladder-backed Woodpecker were observed below the Two Buttes Reservoir dam just after sunrise.

A severe snowstorm lasting several days was predicted for the mountains.  Instead of birding a few more days around Lamar, I decided to rush to the Lake Creek Village Wetlands area (Eagle).  

The Sedge Wren would be a new county bird for me.  There was only one other western slope Sedge Wren record (12/19/2004 to 1/15/2005; the Preserve in Grand Junction).

After making the 360-mile drive in record time, I searched for the Sedge Wren.  As the sun went behind the mountains I was about to give up.  I played a recording for about 30 seconds.  The Sedge Wren popped up and allowed a ten-second look.  Unfortunately, it was too dark for my camera to focus on the wren.

On the return trip to Denver, I decided to do some owling in the Montezuma area, as the weather was not bad yet.

This time of year, my snowshoes are kept in my truck.  I would have preferred cross county skis, but had to do with the snowshoes.

Eventually I went about a mile up the Montezuma trail, returned to my car and went about a mile up the Hunkidori trail.  The almost full moon lit up the snow covered landscape quite well.  I could see without using my headlamp.

No owls heard or found up the Montezuma Trail.  I enjoyed better fortune on the Hunkidori Trail.  A Boreal Owl was calling without any encouragement.  Fortune continued when I returned to the parking area.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl briefly responded to my recordings.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mostly Boulder County

November 19, 2018

Richard Stevens:

At 7:30am the temperature was 21 degrees, fortunately winds were calm.  Later the high only reached 48 degrees with anomometer readings of 3-4 mph.

It was a tough sell; I convinced Rebecca to leave for Boulder at 4:30 am.  A later time would result into getting into the Denver traffic.  Birders moving around later in the morning know what I mean.

We arrived in Boulder around 5:30 and waited for sunrise at the McDonalds along Baseline Road.  Surely, after sunrise we headed to the CU South Campus off Table Mesa road.

When we reached the rise in the trail, south of the two green gates, the Golden-crowned Sparrow was walking along the east side road.  I risked taking out my camera, which instructs not to expose to lower than 35 degrees.  Before the camera focused, a dog walker and her two dogs ran by and scared the bird back into the willows.

We continued up the hill to wail for the sparrow to return to the road.  After looking at photos taken by Rebecca, we concluded that a Swamp Sparrow was found near the cattail pond uphill of the Golden-crowned Sparrow spot.

About 25 minutes later, it did.  Once again, I tried to take a photo and again two dog walkers walked by and the sparrow disappeared again.

Not wanting to wait another twenty minutes in the now 23 degrees temperature, we continued to other birding locations.

As we passed by Baseline Reservoir, we observed a Common Loon swimming on the north side of the lake.

We detoured at Valmont Road east to Teller Farms parking area.  Golden-crowned Sparrows have wintered in the windbreak 2011 through 2016.  No sparrows were around this morning.

Our next detour was to Walden Ponds.  Just for the heck of it, we looked for the Vermilion Flycatcher.  Sure enough, the male flycatcher managed to survive the latest snowstorm.  We saw the little red bird on the willows north of the entrance road.

We continued east and north and parked at Dry Creek Greenway and Staghorn Drive.  A short walk west took us to Nelson Road and then north of the road median.

The Blackburnian Warbler was fluttering about the three tall and one shorter pine trees north of the median, east side of Nelson Road!  We searched the creek briefly but did not find the Swamp Sparrow reported yesterday by Luke Pheneger.

Nelson Road was taken east to I25, and then we drove south to highway 52 and east to Hudson.  From Hudson we continued to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (now in Weld County).

The Wildlife Area is open now as duck hunting season (part 1 & 2) is over.  We did not expect to run into an Eastern Towhee; however, they were found 11/17/2013 and 10/16/2016.  

Rebecca spotted a Towhee in the underbrush northwest of the stop sign at the entrance.  The secretive bird allowed only brief looks as it scurried away from us.  We observed it twice for less than three seconds.  The female towhee did not appear to have any spots.  Regrettably, we did not see it well enough to conclude it was indeed a female Eastern Towhee.  The bird disappeared in the thick under story.

We walked down the eastern side of the windbreak along Ponds 5 to 8.  All four ponds were ice covered.  When a Long-eared Owl was spotted in the thick trees, we turned around and left.

A detour to Ireland Reservoir #5 found hundreds of White-cheeked Geese, one Snow Goose and half a dozen Common Goldeneyes.  The lake was 70 percent ice covered.

Our final stops of the day included Horse Creek and Weld County Road 4.  Rusty Blackbirds were along the creek 1/2 to 1/17/2017.  

Horse Creek Reservoir is private and difficult to scope from public roads.  Prospect Reservoir is also private; however, it can be scoped from a rather rough road running along its western side.  Neither reservoir had any uncommon birds on it today.  A Say's Phoebe flew about the western side of Prospect Reservoir.  A Great Horned Owl called as well.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 18, 2018

High temperature was 49 degrees in Aurora today.  Winds were calm, it was quite a pleasant afternoon for a hike.

Been up all night, want to write a quick note before giving up for the day.  A friend of Rebecca's was in a car accident in yesterday's snowstorm so we stopped by Cherry Creek Hills on our way back from the mountains.  While Rebecca took care of Jean, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

The pair of Rusty Blackbirds was still at the pond northwest of the swim beach.  It is nice to see them so close up.

I scoped the lake from tower loop.  Two Common Loons and eight Bonaparte's Gulls were below the dam.

Drove around to Pelican Bay and scoped the sand spit.  Only a few gulls were there as a fisherman walked down the spit.  The Mew Gull was with dozens of Ring-billed Gulls and a Herring Gull standing on the long black hollow tubes outlining the Bay's marina.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the Prairie Loop mudflats.  I managed to get a couple of Bonaparte's Gull photos.  Well that was until two adult Bald Eagles flew over.  The Eagles returned 10 minutes later and ensured that the gulls did not return from their first escaping flight to Pelican Point.

From the Prairie Loop I took advantage of the receding water and frozen ground and walk west to the Lake Loop.  I was looking for Swamp Sparrows or Marsh Wrens.

Best bird was a Long-eared Owl somewhat hidden in a Russian Olive Tree about 100 yards west of the bird platform (Prairie Loop).

A Virginia Rail was just south of the beaver dam below the Cottonwood Creek bridge (Prairie Loop).   In past years, standing on the bridge for thirty minutes would surely turn up a Virginia Rail sighting.

I hung around until after sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Jackson County

November 15-18, 2018

Richard Stevens:

November 15

On the way to Gould, we stopped in Longmont.  The Blackburnian Warbler was easy to find, we just followed the crowd of birders.

After receiving a text message from Sue, we detoured to North Poudre Reservoir #3 (Larimer).  It took awhile; however, we were able to find the American Black Duck in the horde of waterfowl.

After dark, we stood at the upper parking area for Joe Wright Reservoir.  Surprisingly, winds were calm.  A Boreal Owl called from north of highway 14.

November 16

High temperature today was 31 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

We found two Gray-crowned Rosy Finches at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Note: Bears have not hibernated yet; therefore the rangers only hang the Visitor's Center feeders out from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (or so).

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard drumming at the Ranger Lakes area, while we were standing on Highway 14.

A friend's ranch near Walden had 180+ Rosy Finches visiting her feeders.  All three species represented with two Blacks, majority were Gray-crowned Rosy.

Boreal Owls were heard just west of the Cameron Pass pullover/restroom area.  Winds were surprisingly calm.

November 17

Snowed most of the day.  Nothing uncommon found during our short trek into the Colorado State Forest.

November 18

Winds were again surprisingly calm four hours before sunrise.  High temperature would only reach 28 degrees.

A Boreal Owl was heard when I snow shoed down to the Crags Campgrounds before sunrise.

Later, we found a Greater Sage-Grouse walking along the east side of Jackson CR 26, west of Highway 14.

Six Gray-crowned Rosy Finches visited the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders this morning.  The male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed north of Highway 14 and the Visitor's Center.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area & Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 14, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 54 degrees before we left Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Early this morning, Terry Michaels and I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl calling north of Hale Ponds (Yuma).

We circled Hale Ponds and found two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a pair of Eastern Bluebirds and six Northern Bobwhite.  Origin of the Bobwhite is always in question as dog trainers use them for training.

A Harris's Sparrow was a wagon wheel Campgrounds.  A Northern Cardinal was at Fosters Grove along with twelve Wild Turkeys.

What a fantastic afternoon.  Temperature was 60 degrees and winds were calm at 3:30 pm.

After scoping the mudflats from the Lake Loop to Prairie Loop, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County), Mark Chavez suggested the pond on the north side of the lake.

The pair of Rusty Blackbirds walked the northern end of the pond west of the swim beach.  Frank Farrell was already looking at the birds when I arrived.

Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library (recent favorite photos link). 

We stayed around until well after sunset which is not long a wait with the shorten late fall days.  Hundreds of geese flew in, no swans.

I did not see many uncommon birds on the lake when scoped earlier.  The Mew Gull was back on the sand spit north of Pelican Bay.

Trip to Wray and Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma County)

November 13, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I headed to Wray, CO.  I wanted to be at an interesting location or at least out of Denver when reaching a milestone in my birding.

High temperature in Wray was 51 degrees on this pleasant day.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts only measured at 8 mph.

Best bird at Wray Fishing Unit outside of Wray was a red Fox Sparrow. A Marsh Wren popped out of the cattails at the eastern end of the Wray Fishing Unit (Yuma CR FF).  A late House Wren was around Stalker Pond.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flew around Wray Community Hospital. One found each fall/winter since 2012!

Other birds found at various private yards: 
private yard #1: pair of Northern Cardinals
private yard #2: Varied Thrush &White-throated Sparrow 
private yard #4: Northern Cardinal & red Fox Sparrow  

A drive around the county roads north of Wray around sunset did not find any Greater Prairie-Chickens or Short-eared Owls this trip.

The MILESTONE:  After visiting Wray Fishing Unit, Terry and I stopped near Wray City Park, and broke out a couple of cans of Dr. Pepper to celebrate.  I reached my one millionth  mile birding/driving IN Colorado.

This was after 26 years, wearing out five personal cars and 271 rental cars!

I have kept track of hours birding and distance hiked at each birding location.  Terry suggests that I post that, perhaps later.

Terry also asked what the most missed adventure was to date.  After climbing the fifty-four 14,000+ feet mountains and thirty or so "lesser" mountains, I wanted to hike the Colorado perimeter border (1320 miles) planned for 1998.  

I had arranged for a TV station and others to drop supplies and had collected donations for charity.  Obviously, I had to cross some private lands and could not contact each landowner personally.  I asked then governor of Colorado Roy Romer's office for some type of pass explaining my pursuit.  They refused stating that it would set a precedent that could cause future problems.  Pass denied, end of that quest.  

Monday, November 12, 2018

Aurora Reservoir Loons

November 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I returned to inspect the Arapahoe County Reservoirs this afternoon.  Temperatures never warmed up; the high was 26 degrees.  Winds were calm to 2 mph at Aurora Reservoir.  The lack of wind made it feel not cold at all. 

I spent several hours at Aurora Reservoir.  Daylight ended before I could get over to nearby Cherry Creek State Park (8 miles to the west).

The Gull count at Aurora Reservoir was six+ times greater than my visit yesterday; thousands of gulls swam on the lake.  I scoped the horde from the upper swim beach parking area and the only uncommon Gull identified was one Lesser Black-backed Gull.

A Common Loon swam off mile 5.0, while a second loon kept my attention for more than half an hour.  Unfortunately, it stayed quite far away off mile 4.0.

The loon did not dive during the 45+ minutes I watched it.  I assumed the bill was not wet.  It lacked the neck markings of a Common Loon.  Its bill appeared yellow.  Its back appeared barred.  The head appeared lighter than the back.

I am always a little hesitant to call a loon's bill yellow at sunset.  Many times a wet black bill appears to pick up the sunset colors.  Therefore, I waited until sunset.  Shortly after the sun went behind the mountains, the loon's bill still looked yellow.

This was most likely a Yellow-billed Loon.  I was informed tonight that a Yellow-billed Loon was reported yesterday at Prospect Reservoir (Weld County).  Aurora Reservoir is located 25 miles almost directly south of Prospect Reservoir.

Later I walked a half mile either direction of Piccadilly Road and Jewell Avenue.  Both Eastern Screech-Owls and Barn Owls have been observed/heard during my previous hikes.  However, none was encountered tonight.

Arapahoe County Reservoirs on Sunday

November 11, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 30 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

I could not find anyone who wanted to go birding in the snowstorm.  I walked into Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) from the south gate by myself.  

A Black Scoter swam around in Lone Tree Cove. Two Iceland Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull were among hundreds of gulls at mile 2.5.  Most were Ring-billed Gulls; I did see at least two Herring Gulls and a dozen California Gulls.

By the time I reached Cherry Creek Reservoir in the afternoon, visibility was quite pathetic.  Less than half the lake could be seen from any viewpoint.

The four Tundra Swans reported earlier in the day appeared to have left.  In my experience, four of the five times, I have observed swans here; they had flown in after 4:00pm and departed before 9:00am the next day.  Staying to watch sunset can be advantageous.

Only a couple of Killdeer walked the mudflats off the bird platform area, Prairie Loop.  From the southeast corner of the Lake Loop, I could see two Rusty Blackbirds walking the mudflats, which cannot be seen, from the bird platform.

Next, I hiked the Cherry Creek Reservoir Dam trail from Pelican Bay to the Dam's Tower.  Eight White Pelicans and many Ring-billed Gulls were on the sand spit.  The Mew Gull was not here today.

Waterfowl were closer than usual from the shore probably because visibility was so poor.  Best sighting was a White-winged Scoter among a group of Goldeneyes.  I had to wait quite a while for it to flat its wings and cement the ID.

At least ten Bonaparte's Gulls joined Ring-billed Gulls diving for food below the dam.  Misses: the previously reported Black Scoter, Red-necked Grebe, Long-tailed Duck and Common Loon were not found.  That may have been due to low visibility?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Birding In Adams County

November 10, 2018

Richard Stevens:

The calm before the storm, it was a beautiful day until late afternoon.  High temperature was 56 degrees around 2:00pm.  Winds were 6-7 mph.  At 4:00pm a storm blew in from the east northeast.  Temperatures dropped rapidly and anomometer readings soared to 24 mph.

Rebecca wanted to see a Harris's Sparrow so we walked the First Creek Trail at Buckley Road.  The previously seen Harris's Sparrow did not show; however, one White-throated Sparrow did.  Again, the bird was with a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, three Song Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow on or just south of the chain link fence southwest of the trailhead.

Missing the Harris's Sparrow, we headed to Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver).  This Harris's Sparrow was cooperative to a point.  It appeared several times as it scurried across the gravel trails behind (north) the maintenance building.

Our next choice was either Cherry Creek Reservoir, which we have visited several times this month or something new.  Our choice was to hike the South Platte Birding Area (Adams) from 88th avenue to hwy 224 and back.

It turned out to be a first-rate selection. 

We scoped the northern West Gravel Lake from the road running east to west along the north side of the lake.

First, a female Long-tailed Duck was spotted about 50 yards to the south.  I put photos of the adult female in basic plumage on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library.

Next, we noticed a bird that was too big to be a Pied-billed Grebe.  It was too far away to judge the actual size of the lone bird.  It did not look like a Western Grebe, more like a small loon and not a Common Loon.

After watching it swim closer, it was identified as a Red-necked Grebe!

We continued south scoping the Platte River from the trail along the east side of West Gravel Lakes.  Fifteen Common Goldeneyes were at the southern end of the northern lake.  Another six were on the southern West Gravel Lake.

Dropping down to the Platte River trail at the end of the West Gravel Lakes trail we found a male Barrow's Goldeneye with five female/immature Common Goldeneyes.  A dog walker came by and his dog chased the Goldeneyes east to Tani Reservoir.

Later we scoped both East Gravel Lakes and Dahlia Pond, no additional uncommon birds were found.  High winds encouraged us to give up on scoping Tani Reservoir or lakes farther south.

Not a bad afternoon with a predicted snowstorm arriving sometime in the night or later!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Denver Foothills

November 9

Richard Stevens:

It felt cold today with a high of 43 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

After a few hours of sleep this morning, I headed toward a White-eyed Vireo sighting at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  

A stop at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) found the Harris's Sparrow with four or so White-crowned Sparrows behind the park building.

Thanks to Dave King for the heads up, his photos are on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library (recent favorite photos): 

Many birders and I searched for over two hours for the White-eyed Vireo near the Red Rocks Park trading post.  Most birders finally left. 

At last, I relocated the vireo beneath the pine tree at the north end of the trading post trail (near the road up to the amphitheater.  This was around 2:45 pm.  Unfortunately only one birder was still around to tell.

Next, I went to the southern end of the trading post trail (north of the old chapel).  I scoped the juniper trees for Northern Saw-whet Owls, which historically have been found in them in November & December.  None was found today.

While scoping the evergreen trees north of the elementary school I found a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Originally, in the two tall evergreens, it flew to the shorter pines to the west.

At one time, birders could walk down the drainage to this area.  Regrettably, it is now behind a no trespassing sign.

After checking this area, I ended my birding day at Mt. Falcon Park, target bird, a Northern Pygmy-Owl.  While no Northern Pygmy-Owls were found, a Dusky Grouse walked across the southern trail.  It was past the fence.  This trail runs south from the main trail and starts just east of the upper parking area.

No owls called this night at Mt. Falcon Park or surrounding neighborhoods.

Southwestern Colorado

November 5-8, 2018

Richard Stevens:

November 4

High temperature in Trinidad was 48 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 14mph.

Terry Michaels and I birded at Trinidad State Park (Las Animas County) this afternoon.  Nothing uncommon was found.  Our bird list included Greater Roadrunner, Juniper Titmouse, Sage Thrasher, four Pinyon Jays and Lapland Longspurs.

Owling this night was a bust.

November 5

It was a pleasant 57 degrees this afternoon.  Winds were 6-7 mph, although anemometer readings peaked at 22 mph around 3:00 pm.

Terry Michaels and I went to check on some land in Cortez.  Highlight of the day would be the Eurasian Wigeon on Industrial Park Pond (Montezuma).  It was a county lifebird for both of us.

Later we walked around the Huck Finn Pond and Durango Fish Hatchery (La Plata).  A Lewis's Woodpecker and the Harris's Sparrow continued at previously reported locations.

Two Acorn Woodpeckers were relocated at Wildcat Canyon (Rafter J) area.

We walked the northern half of the Animas River Trail.  No Black Phoebes or additional Lewis's Woodpeckers were found.

Once again, owling was a bust.  However, we have not had time to check the "owl listening stations" recordings.  The software to do so is back in Denver.

November 6

Temperature was 42 degrees when we reached Silverton.  Winds were 6-7 mph.  Little Molas Lake was no warmer and winds measures 22 mph there.

Terry and I birded Haviland Lake (La Plata) this morning.  No Grace's Warblers (not expected) or Williamson's Sapsuckers (possible?) were found.

We enjoyed the drive to Silverton, great scenery.  Approximately twenty Rosy Finches (no black) were found in town.  If I remember correctly, we were walking around 12th Street.

On the way back to Durango, we hiked/snow shoed about 1.5 miles up the Little Molas Lake trail.  Four Red Crossbills were found west of Little Molas Lake turnoff.  A White-tailed Ptarmigan pair was encountered about 1.1 miles west of the turnoff!  A San Juan first for Terry.  I had come across one along Minnie Gulch Road back in June 2015.  It is always nice to see one anywhere, especially in winter plumage.

We explored Little Molas and Molas trails for owls.  None was found this night.

November 7

High temperature in Crested Butte was 43 degrees.  Winds however were only 3-4 mph.

Terry and I found just one Dusky Grouse this morning at Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  Two unidentified Rosy Finches flew by the Visitor's Center.

Later we relocated the Barrow's Goldeneyes found yesterday by Betty Fenton near Crystal Dam.

Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were on Blue Mesa Reservoir (Gunnison) when we passed by.  A Lincoln's Sparrow was at Steven's pullover.

We detoured north to Crested Butte (Gunnison).  Twenty three Rosy Finches (again no Black) flew around town.  They did not appear to settle anywhere particular.

Owling was restricted to open roads.  None was found tonight.  Again, we have not checked the "owl listening stations" put out, to be updated later.

November 8

High temperature in Canon City was 46 degrees.  Winds measured only 2-3 mph.

A drive down Gunnison County Road 38 found two Gunnison Sage-Grouse walking along the road.  They were half a mile or so north of CR 38a.

A stop at the large pullover at Monarch Pass (Chaffee) found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker and six Rosy Finches (five Brown-capped and one Gray-crowned).

We skipped turning north to Buena Vista and the Park County reservoirs and instead continued east on Hwy 50.

A brief stop at the Tunnel Drive trailhead in Canon City added two Rufous-crowned Sparrows to our trip list.  Nothing moved about Sells Pond; we did not take the time to walk the trail to Raynolds Avenue.

No owls or sapsuckers were found at Rouse Park, Lakeside Cemetery, Lions Park or the Old Abbey.  It did not appear too early for them to show up, perhaps it was?

Owl was fantastic this night.  We ended up finding three Northern Saw-whet Owls and the highlight, a Spotted Owl!  All were up Phantom Canyon Road.

Later we heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Winter Like Day in Arapahoe County

November 3, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was an interesting day with a mixture of sunny skies, rain, snow, clouds and wind.  High temperature was 51 degrees around 2:00pm.  Winds varied from 20-21 mph (Dahlia Hollow Park & Highline Canal) to 14-15 mph at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  At 5:00 pm, winds went down to calm at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

I sat on the green bench along the north trail at Dahlia Hollow Park for about an hour.  The vantage point allowed for a wide view of the stream and surrounding trees in the middle of the Park.

The Black-throated Green Warbler did not show up for me.  Bird count included at least eight Red-breasted Nuthatches, four White-breasted Nuthatches, at least twenty Black-capped Chickadees, dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos, five Blue Jays, many Robins and House Finches.

I then walked up and down the Highline Canal in either direction for at least 1/2 mile.  When encountering locals or people thought to walk the canal much, I inquired about Eastern Screech-Owl sightings.

Any information below is supplied with the promise not to reveal exact locations.  The local residents do not want a horde of birders descending on their properties.

The question offered locations of four Eastern Screech-Owls (or at least four locations with potential five Eastern Screech-Owls).  One person took me to her yard where a pair of Eastern Screech-Owls has nested for the past eight years.  In total, I enticed four of the little owls to peak out of their trees!

My birding day was not quite over.  I noticed a red bird visiting a feeder south of Quincy Avenue.  A beautiful male Northern Cardinal it was!  The property owner came out and asked what I was doing, binoculars not really looking at his house.  He stated that the cardinal comes by once or twice a week.

A brief stop was made at Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) on my way home.  It was snowing during my stay.  When I arrived at the bird platform mudflats, (Prairie Loop) a Swamp Sparrow was walking along the edge of the cattails!  I first encountered the sparrow on 10/18.  At least three additional birders have relocated the bird.

Two Killdeer were the only shorebirds on the Prairie Loop mudflats.  Three Killdeer were at the Pelican Point mudflats.   I did not relocate the Rusty Blackbirds (10/31 & 11/1).

Pelican Bay sand spit and mudflats were not visited.  The swim beach was void of birds.  Many Western Grebes, one Clark's Grebe and 160+ Eared Grebes were scattered across the lake.  No loons, Red-necked Grebe, Greater Scaup or Barrow's Goldeneyes were found.

Adams County, Colorado Most of the Day

What a windy day it was.  While high temperatures reached 64 degrees, winds were steady 14-15 mph.  One gust was measured at 29 mph.

I looped my way down with the first stop being Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  It took several hours to work my way through the hundreds of ducks on Lower Derby Lake.  Unfortunately, none was rare although there were dozens of our common ducks. No shorebirds or uncommon gulls found.

The recently opened trail (from Lower Derby Lake parking area) to the Rod and Gun Club Pond and bird blind cuts the walk down from 4 miles round trip to less than a mile.  The pond was loaded with Buffleheads, Gadwalls, American Coots and Mallards.  Again no uncommon ducks, no shorebirds and no gulls.  A Wilson's Snipe walking the southern shore was the highlight.  No Swamp Sparrows could be conjured up either.

No waterfowl were on the north end of Lake Ladora.  The southern end had many Hooded Mergansers, American Coots and a few Gadwalls.

My next stop was Barr Lake (Adams).  The route appears circuitous; however, it was designed to miss most of our busy Friday traffic.  Try driving north on Tower Road toward Barr Lake, any day of the week it is a nightmare.

On the drive to Barr Lake, I stopped at the Town of Barr.  Best place to pick up a Great-tailed Grackle, a pair was just south of the railroad tracks.  The cattails along the I76 south service road added a Yellow-headed Blackbird to my day list.  These cattails usually provide my first and last Yellow-headed Blackbird sightings each year.

I scoped Barr Lake from the north end of the dam (mile 6.0).  No shorebirds were found.  The Common Loon continued off is the distance near mile 5.0.

No additional uncommon waterfowl was observed from the boat ramp area.  Shoreline is now far off.

My final and best stop was the First Creek Trail.  I walked from 56th avenue (west of Tower Road) to the western end at the Pond outside the border fence.

No sparrows were found on the hike west.  I searched for the Swamp Sparrow found a few days ago at 50-80 yards west of the Adams County trailhead.  Thirty+ Dark-eyed Juncos, two Song Sparrows and four American Tree Sparrows were along the path.

Continuing west, I was checking First Creek where a Harris's Sparrow has spent much of last winter.  Only a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos and a Song Sparrow were found when a Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails.

The Swamp Sparrow flew upstream along First Creek at least five times.  Unfortunately, it dove into the cattails when it stopped (so no photos).

Many Red-winged Blackbirds and a couple of Gadwall were around the pond.  Then I turned around.

Back at the trailhead at Buckley Road, I walked slowly along the chain link fence at the southwest corner.  Sparrows would pop out of the grasses and land on the fence to look around.

The count was sixteen White-crowned Sparrows, three Song Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow.  While trying to photograph the White-throated Sparrow, a Harris's Sparrow also flew up and landed on the fence.

Eventually, most of the "flock" few across Buckley Road to the willows by the brown building at the trailhead.  The White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow were recorded in both Adams & Denver Counties!

I believe photos of all four species of sparrows were captured, will not have time to look through them until Saturday.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Cherry Creek Reservoir & Crescent Park

November 1, 2018

Richard Stevens:

High temperature on this pleasant fall day was 52 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph in the afternoon.

After morning chores, I headed to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to search for the Rusty Blackbirds reported yesterday by Edward Donnan.  Not knowing the exact location, many stops were made.

Nothing was found off Pelican Point.  The mudflats at the Prairie Loop (bird platform area) had no uncommon birds, no Rusty Blackbirds.

I enjoyed better success by walking east from the southeast end of the Lake Loop.  The two Rusty Blackbirds were walking the mudflats east of the sandy beach!

My final stop was the sand spit at Pelican Bay.  The Mew Gull was not there today.  Several Bonaparte's Gulls dove for food just off shore.

I then continued to Crescent Park (approximately a mile southeast of the Park).  The Swamp Sparrow reported earlier today was not found.

I hiked the goldsmith gulch trail through GM Wallace Park.  The Park hosts over a mile long series of cattail fields.  While a likely location for a Winter Wren or Swamp Sparrow, none was found today.

My birding day ended while I parked along a high point of the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

Search for Murrelets and Sagebrush Sparrows

October 31, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Denver received a couple of inches of snow overnight.  Fortunately it has been warm enough and road were clear.  High temperature was 45 degrees.  The day was windy with 8-9 mph winds and gusts to 16 mph.

Terry Michaels and I headed to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  Most of the Murrelet records in Colorado have been discovered after or during a snowstorm the first week of November.  Many of the Sagebrush Sparrow records at Chatfield Reservoir are recorded after a late fall snowstorm.  They were our target birds; neither of which was found.

We did find the Surf Scoter in the extreme northeast corner.  Loons were missed both at Chatfield and nearby McLellan Reservoir.

Both a Pacific Loon and Common Loons were relocated at Marston Reservoir (Denver).

Bonaparte's Gulls were still at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Common Loon and Swamp Sparrow were not relocated.

I spent several hours scoping Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Rangers were working on the swim beach, therefore no gulls.  The southern half of the lake did have hundreds into a thousand gulls swimming around.  Nothing uncommon was found.

No loons or scoters were picked out among the hundreds of Gadwalls and Ruddy Ducks.

I then hiked up the western trail to the north end of the dam.  Twice as many gulls swam just offshore.  Eventually I was able to find a Mew Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, Iceland Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

No loons, scoters or Red-necked Grebe were at the northern end either.

My birding day ended at the First Creek Trail.  One of the White-throated Sparrows continued among White-crowned Sparrows and Song Sparrows behind the chain link fence at the southwest corner of the trailhead.

Misses, the Winter Wren and Swamp Sparrow found a few days ago were not relocated.