Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 15, 2019

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature was 71 degrees.  It was windy with anomometer readings 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

A return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) and a drive around the Wildlife Loop did not find any Long-billed Curlews.  The Western Meadowlark that sang an Eastern song on April 13 was also missed (see April 13 post).

I did pick up my first Western Kingbird for the Front Range 2019.  We did find my first of the year Western Kingbird in Cottonwood Canyon a few weeks ago.

No Eastern Phoebes, Red-headed Woodpeckers or other uncommon birds were recorded.

After lunch, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The shimmering waves over the Lake at 4:00pm made identifying waterfowl quite difficult.  I scoped the Reservoir from the Lake loop and could not identify many of the fuzzy birds on the water especially a Long-tailed Duck.

Two Bonaparte's Gulls landed 15 yards off the Lake Loop point and close enough for an ID.  Seven Franklin's Gulls accompanied them as they picked bugs of the Lake.

My Long-tailed Duck strategy had to change.  Instead of trying to pick out a Long-tailed Duck, I focused on finding a waterfowl/duck that dove under for more than 30 seconds or up to a minute.

After half an hour or so, I found one such duck.  It stayed under for almost a minute and would surface for a count of three or four before disappearing again.  After half a dozen dives, I was able to see enough of the duck to call it a Long-tailed Duck.

Things then got strange.  The Long-tailed Duck flew from the center of the Lake to below the dam.  She ended up about 300 yards north of Pelican Bay where a fisherman was catching fish and throwing back the small ones.   The Long-tailed Duck ended up about 10 yards from this fisherman perhaps focused on the task.

I hopped in my car and drove to Pelican Bay.  The Long-tailed Duck was still circling around the fisherman and I rushed down the trail.  She was maybe 20 feet off shore not bothered by the fisherman or me.

Photos are posted to the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library "recent favorite photos" link

Other birds observed included at least two Clark's Grebes, a few Western Grebes and some Redhead Ducks.  Raptors included an Osprey and adult Bald Eagle.

My birding day ended at the DIA Owl Loop.  I parked along 88th Avenue, east of Tower Road.  About 7:39, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying north of the chain link fence north of the Airport Guard Station.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 14, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a much nicer day with a high of 66 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph which probably factored into our pleasant warm day!

After the Masters Golf tournament ended, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  It was too nice a day to spend it indoors.

My usual loop/hike from Dixon Grove to Augie's Pond did not find any Rusty Blackbirds (now missed on the last four attempts).  A pair of Osprey flew over the Dixon Grove parking area.

Nothing uncommon was encountered at Pelican Point (too many people with dogs running around and chasing the Killdeer).

Pelican Bay also did not add any uncommon bird to my day list.

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  I could not find the Burrowing Owl discovered on April 12 along Third Creek at 100+ yards west of W. Cargo Road.

See previous posts on the condition of Trussville Road and 114th Avenue where the prairie dog mounds have been bulldozed over.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal to Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 13, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 46 degrees today.  Winds were 8-9 mph with 20 mph gusts at Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

I drove the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Drive attempting to relocate the four Long-billed Curlews reported yesterday.  Other target birds along the way included Eastern Phoebes, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Burrowing Owls and a possible Eastern Meadowlark reported a few days ago.  None of the secondary target birds was found.

When I arrived just west of 88th Avenue (north end of drive) and Peoria Street an adult Bald Eagle was flying low over the field north of 88th avenue.  All of a sudden, the focus of its flight was discovered.

A flock of 38 Long-billed Curlew rose and flew south over my car!  Once 50 yards south of 88th avenue, they turned around and returned northeast of their original location.  This occurred approximately 12:45 pm.

I mention the time because 21-22 birds were found at 2:00pm a mile or so east of this location.  Others reported seeing a similar number later yet in the day farther east at Potomac Street and 88th avenue and still later at Potomac Street and 64th.

Other sightings included Ferruginous Hawk, Red-tailed Hawks and a Rough-legged Hawk.  Most interesting was a Meadowlark near mile 5 that sounded just like an Eastern Meadowlark.  Photos were taken and when examined last night showed the bird to be a Western Meadowlark.

A House Wren popped out of the log pile at the entrance to Rattlesnake Hill Drive.

A stop at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) did not find any uncommon birds.  The Harris's Sparrow the wintered has not been reported since January 21.

In the afternoon, I birded at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I made my usual loop between Dixon Grove and Augie's Pond.  I have not encountered the Rusty Blackbirds on three trips in a row (not since April 10).

A Bonaparte's Gull flew off Pelican Point.  No shorebirds were on the sand spit or southern mudflats.

An adult Bald Eagle perched along the shore at West Shades picnic area.  While another Bald Eagle flew over the lake.

Gulls were few and no uncommon ones were found.  A Clark's Grebe swam below the dam at Pelican Bay.  Numerous American Coots were also in this area.

No owls appeared this evening along the Shooting Range entrance road or Lakeview Drive (main Cherry Creek road).

A Sharp-shinned Hawk was not prompted to move from his perch at the Shop Creek trailhead.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Long Day Along the Foothills

April 12, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was a cool 41 degrees.  Winds were mild at 3-4 mph.

Finally, a Burrowing Owl showed up along the DIA Owl Loop.  The bird was just south of Third Creek and a good 100 yards west of West Cargo Road (Adams County).

A check of the first mile of the Wildlife Drive at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) did not find any Eastern Phoebes or Red-headed Woodpeckers (yet?)

I was headed toward Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Jefferson) where Bez Bezuidenhout photographed a Neotropic Cormorant yesterday.

A stop at Clear Creek Valley Park (Adams) did not find any shorebirds.

A text message indicated that the Neotropic Cormorant had moved from Belmar Historic Park to Robert A. Easton Regional Park (Jefferson).  The Neotropic Cormorant was 10 yards off the western shore!  Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library:

Other interesting birds included at least two to six Greater Scaup among dozens of Lesser Scaup.  Five species of swallows flew over Hine Lake.  One Chimney Swift flew high overhead.  A male Yellow-headed Blackbird popped out of the cattails along the western side of the Lake.

I circled back north to Belmar Historic Park (Jefferson) to see if a second Neotropic Cormorant was in the area.  None was found, which does not mean there are not two in the metro area.

Photos of the Robert A. Easton Regional Park bird do not look like the Belmar Historic Park's Neotropic Cormorant.

The park was circled twice hoping for a Vermilion Flycatcher, Northern Parula, Pine Warbler or any uncommon bird.  None was found.  Two American Avocets were the first of the year for me.  Three Western Bluebirds fluttered about the eastern side of the Park.  Say's Phoebe count was eight!

Back southward, I walked the southern side of Harriman Lake Park.  The only interesting bird was a male Great-tailed Grackle.  He called constantly; no female appeared.

There was no way to get home in Friday's traffic, I continued south to Waterton Canyon and the Audubon Nature Center.  The Fox Sparrow and Eastern Phoebes recently reported were not relocated.

My birding day ended up Deer Creek Canyon.  I walked the road and surveyed the creek for Northern Pygmy-Owls.  None was found this evening.  No Short-eared Owls appeared north of the road (South Valley Park).

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Return to Arapahoe County

April 11, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was only 35 degrees.  Winds were measured at 7-8 mph with gusts to 28 mph at eastern Arapahoe County.

Return trip to eastern Arapahoe County to see what the snowstorm brought was a disappointment.

The highlight was a Northern Mockingbird just east of the cut hill along CR 42 at 1.7 miles east of CR 161.

Searches for Mountain Plovers, longspurs, Red-headed Woodpeckers and other uncommon birds were unsuccessful.

Later I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Target bird was Sagebrush Sparrow, which are usually found just after a spring snowstorm.  None was found.

I did not look for the Rusty Blackbirds found yesterday.

Again, no owls encountered along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Birding Arapahoe County During A Snowstorm

April 10, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures hovered around 38 degrees when I went out before the snowstorm.  Winds were 13-14 mph with gust to 23 mph.

I returned to Aurora Reservoir this morning and had less success than yesterday.  Yesterday's Bonaparte's Gull was not found neither was the reported Red-necked Grebe and Common Loon.

Visibility at nearby Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) was worse.  Few gulls and no shorebirds were found.  

The two Rusty Blackbirds walked along the Lakeshore south of Augie's Pond.  A Sage Thrasher was observed at the model airplane field area.

I missed them on five trips, then find them once and then missed them on three trips.  I have not determined where they go on the unseen days.

I scurried home myself when the snow fall increase.

As written on the trip blog a few days ago, someone plowed the prairie dog mounds at Trussville Road and 114th Avenue last week.  No prairie dogs and I would not expect any Burrowing Owls this summer.

Does anyone know who did it or who authorized the task?  I called the airport and got the run around?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

First Creek Trail and Aurora Reservoir

April 9, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 78 degrees today.

While walking the First Creek Trail this morning I received a text message about a Red-necked Grebe at Aurora Reservoir.  Nothing uncommon was found between the 56th avenue bridge and 56th Avenue trailhead.

I changed plans to search for the Arapahoe County Northern Parula and instead drove to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).

I scoped Aurora Reservoir for about two hours first from the lower swim beach parking area then the West Parking area.  The Red-necked Grebe was not found.  There were many Eared Grebes, a few Horned Grebes and one Western Grebe.  A Bonaparte's Gull swam below the lower parking area pavilion.

No uncommon gulls were encountered.  Winds were 16-17 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  Many waterfowl may have been missed.

No owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop about 30 minutes before sunset.

Another Brief Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 8, 2019

Richard Stevens:

After doing chores, I made a brief stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Temperatures reached 76 degrees. Winds were 8-9 mph before gusts of 22 mph rolled in around 5:00 pm.

Only one of the Rusty Blackbirds was relocated today.  She was walking in the cattails where the western drainage enters Augie's Pond.

A flock of five Brewer's Blackbirds flew around the Dixon Grove parking area.  Few birds were on the Lake.  No shorebirds were found at Pelican Point.  Only Ring-billed Gulls and one California Gull were at Pelican Bay.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Weld County & DIA Owl Loop

April 7, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was a beautiful 68 degrees today.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  What a pleasant day it was!

I returned to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) this morning.  Nothing stuck out as uncommon.  A Spotted Towhee called from the western windbreak at Pond 3.

No owls were located today.  I did not walk the windbreak west of the canal today.  That was most successful location on our last visit on April 1.

My friend's ranch continues to host a Mountain Plover, two Burrowing Owls and a pair of Long-eared Owls (no public access).

No owls were spotted along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.  As stated on yesterday's post, someone bulldozed the prairie dog village at Trussville Road and 114th Avenue.  No prairie dogs probably equal any Burrowing Owls showing up here this year.

On three previous visits to the corner, two Ferruginous Hawks stood on the northern hill.  I guess they have no incentive to return also.

E. Arapahoe County & Unsuccessful Greater Roadrunner Search Adams County

April 6, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 70 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with several gusts at Barr Lake at 24 mph.

I was out driving the Eastern Arapahoe County Loop when receiving a text message about a Greater Roadrunner at Barr Lake State Park (Adams County).

Eastern Arapahoe County was quiet this morning.  Misses: no Red-headed Woodpeckers at usual location (County Line Road and Box Elder Creek); no Northern Mockingbirds along CR 42 east of CR 161.

The Burrowing Owls have not yet arrived along CR 30, east of CR 149.  No Kingbirds were found along the route.

I scoped the fields around Barr Lake for four hours or so.  This included a walk along the main Barr Lake trail from the Visitor's Center to the western boardwalk.  I even hiked the prairie trail from the Visitor's Center east to the Park border. 

The Greater Roadrunner was never seen.  While I would not report finding the bird, I heard a series of (as Sibley states) low, hollow, wooden clatter or rattle "trrrt" that is produced by the bill.  

I played a Greater Roadrunner recording and this rattle was repeated at least twenty times in ten minutes or so.  

Unfortunately, I was standing next to the cattail field at the Niedrach boardwalk.  I do not know if the many Red-winged Blackbirds could produce such a noise.

The sound may have come from the tall yellow grasses just west of the only 6-7 foot leafless bush along the south side of the canal.  Location is about 200 yards from the nature center where the bird was seen earlier in the morning and later running west.

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.

On an editorial note, has anyone else noticed that someone bulldozed all the prairie dog mounds at Trussville Road & 114th avenue? If anyone knows, who did or who authorized the action, please leave a comment on this post.  I called the Airport and only received a run around.

Owling In Fremont County

April 4-5, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels, four additional birders and I headed to some owling in Fremont County.

April 4

The temperature reached 71 degrees in Canon City this afternoon.  Winds were a steady 10 mph.

We stopped at Blue Heron Ponds south of Penrose but did not find the Long-tailed Ducks reported a few weeks ago.

Brush Hollow Wildlife Area was more exciting.  A Greater Roadrunner ran across the entrance road (CR 42) 50 yards north of CR 123 (Penrose 3rd street).

Then just before entering the Wildlife Area Jean spotted a Curve-billed Thrasher in the same field (west of CR 42).

A walk around the Wildlife Area was interesting.  A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker drummed below the dam.  

Two Juniper Titmice and a flock of eight Bushtits fluttered about the Junipers at the northwest corner of the property.

While we walked around the southeast corner a flock of twelve Pinyon Jays flew overhead.  They noisy call is quite distinctive!

No Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers could be found at Lakeside Cemetery, the MacKenzie brushpiles or Rouse Park.

A Rufous-crowned Sparrow was kind enough to pop out of the rocks at the Tunnel Drive trailhead!

We did not find our target bird (Spotted Owl) this night.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl responded to our recordings near Oro Juno.

April 5

It was a cooler 60 degrees in Canon City today.  Winds were a steady 6 mph most of the day.  

A unanimous vote decided a stay at a motel. 

In the morning, we checked the eastern entrance to the Royal Gorge.  No White-throated Swifts, Peregrine Falcons or Rosy Finches appeared this morning.

With time to spare, we decided to drive through Temple Canyon Park.  It really was too early for some of the birds that nest in the Park (Black-throated Gray Warblers, Gray Flycatchers, and Gray Vireos) but we gave it a try.

A Juniper Titmouse flew around the Junipers on the east side of the Arkansas River.  Four Violet-green Swallows surprised us.  The majority bird(s) were in a flock of 80 Pinyon Jays near the western entrance.

We again missed Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers at yesterday's locations.  No Kingbirds or Wood-pewees have arrived yet.

No Spotted Owls could be located tonight.  Although we did get a ping from our equipment, nothing came of it.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl was observed at Beaver Creek Wildlife Area when we passed on the drive back to Denver.

Birding Along the Front Range

April 3, 2019

The Front Range saw temperatures reaching 61 degrees.  Anomometer readings stayed between 8-9 mph.

I went searching for the Fox Sparrow (red race) that was found yesterday by Bez Bezuidenhout.  This maybe the same red Fox Sparrow that had been wintering in Waterton Canyon since 11/22/2018 (Brian Johnson).

After wandering around for an hour, the Fox Sparrow emerged from the willows near the trailhead.  Others may have reported a Fox Sparrow near/behind the Nature Center.  If any of the observers read this I would like to know the location of their bird.  Could there be two birds?  Please leave comment on this post.

Afterwards I drove to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson).  It is time for Williamson's Sapsuckers to return.  Sure enough, I heard one drumming near the group picnic area.  A stunning male Williamson's Sapsucker was on "his favorite telephone pole" on the west side of the pavilion.

I stayed until dark to do some owling.  None was found.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 2, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 55 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 14 mph late in the afternoon.

The report of numerous Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) the past week caught my interest and I went to check it out today.

Unfortunately, only one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was around during my visit.  Burrowing Owls and Eastern Phoebes appear not to arrive yet.

My last couple of visits to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) had not turned up the Rusty Blackbirds or the Brown Thrasher.  A report from a friend of both Rusty Blackbirds and the Brown Thrasher seen after our latest blizzard induced a stop around 5:00 pm.

Both Rusty Blackbirds walked on logs along the western side of Augie's Pond (northwest of the swim beach).  Thanks Angie!  The Brown Thrasher did not show up (last report 3/28).

Birding In Weld County

April 1, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High was a pleasant 58 degrees.   High winds at 14-15 mph probably blew in the warmer temperatures.  Anomometer readings reached 22 mph.

Terry Michaels and I spent the day visiting friends in Weld County.  

As Sue Ehlmann reported, Mountain Plover may be on the move north.  We discovered on Mountain Plover on their traditional breeding ground on a private ranch.  Other breeding birds on the ranch included two Long-eared Owls.

Four Lapland Longspurs were encountered at a different ranch.  A pair of Burrowing Owls had returned to a prairie dog village for the ninth year.

Our birding day ended with a hike at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area.  The northern ponds are now closed 4/1 through 7/15.  We relocated two Long-eared Owls in the windbreak west of pond 3 and the canal.

Just before sunset, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying along the eastern side of Ponds 5 & 6 (we scoped from the eastern (southern) parking area.

Search for Eastern Phoebes in Douglas County

March 31, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 49 degrees.  Winds of 14-15 mph made it felt quite cold.

I drove to Douglas County to see if any Eastern Phoebes have arrived along the Cherry Creek trail south of the Walker Gravel Pit.  One Eastern Phoebe was found hawking bugs 3 feet from the Creek at about 20 yards south of the Highway 86 bridge.

I walked north to the gravel pit and back and found few additional birds.

A stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home was quite interesting.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and the possible Glaucous-winged Gull stood at the end of Pelican Point.

A lone sparrow walked out of the willows just south of the Cherry Creek inlet.  It turned out to be a Swamp Sparrow.

A walk around Augie's Pond and the streams entering the pond did not find any Rusty Blackbirds.

Second Grouse Trip of 2019

March 25 to 30, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Laura Simmons, James Knight and I started out on my second grouse trip of 2019.  Weather was pleasant the whole trip.  Although we ended the trip a day early because all target birds were found and a blizzard was predicted (and did arrive).

March 25

High temperature in Silverthorne was 16 degrees.  It was much colder on Loveland Pass with winds reaching 30 mph.

Our first stop was Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit).  My usual circuit is to first check the eastern hillside across from the first large pullover on the west side of highway 9 on the south side of the Summit.

Having found no White-tailed Ptarmigan then we head back north to the Summit.  We were fortunate to find two Ptarmigan hunkered down in the ragged rocks below the eastern side of the Summit!

Then we drove to a friend's yard in Silverthorne (Summit).  Their yard added 3 species of Rosy Finches, White-breasted Nuthatches, Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins to our trip list.

On drive to the Jackson County Greater Sage-Grouse Leks, a brief stop at Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand) found two Barrow's Goldeneyes among a small group of Common Goldeneyes.

At sunset, we watched six Greater Sage-Grouse walk around the Jackson 26b Lek.

March 26

High temperature in Craig was 48 degrees.  Winds were calm.

Just before sunset, we parked at the Twenty Road Leks south of Hayden.  Four Sharp-tailed Grouse flew from the east side of the Road to the leks on the west side!

We backtracked to the 80 Route to investigate road conditions.  Drifts across the road made it impossible to drive to Greater Sage-Grouse & Sharp-tailed Grouse Leks farther up the road.  

There was no sign of the Dusky Grouse that displays near the first cattle guard up the road (our turn around point).  We did hear Greater Sage-Grouse somewhere way off in the distance.

After breakfast in Craig, we continued west to the Oxbow State Trust Lands (Moffat).  Two Sage Thrashers and two Sagebrush Sparrows were observed from the parking area.

While the area is closed March 1 to August 31, birds can be seen sometimes close to the parking area.  In past years, we have also observed Black-throated Sparrows and Pinyon Jays in the area.

Our next stop was Coal Canyon (Cameo).  Unfortunately, we did not find any Chukar this afternoon.

We then continued up the Grand Mesa.  A Northern Saw-whet Owl was coaxed out of its nesting hole up the way to the Powderhorn Ski Area.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found drumming below the maintenance shed at the Ski Area.  No Northern Pygmy-Owls were found this trip.

Eventually we heard two Boreal Owls while we stopped at the pullovers along Hwy 65 (south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds).

March 27

High temperature in Delta was a superb 70 degrees.  Winds were a mild 4-5 mph.  Gusts reached 22 mph just before sunset in the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park.

We returned to Coal Canyon, which was interesting this morning.  A Chukar was heard on the hill southwest of the parking area at the second pipe gate.  It took a good 20 minutes before it was seen.

A Black-throated Sparrow sang from the willows southwest of the parking area.  Two Pinyon Jays flew along the ridge to the north.

We drove to the eastern (southern) entrance to the Colorado National Monument (Mesa).  Gambel's Quail were found in the subdivision just outside.  Nothing uncommon was encountered at the Devils Kitchen trail.  

Juniper Titmice and four Pinyon Jays were observed at the Campgrounds.

A detour up Escalante Canyon (Delta) did not find any additional Chukar.  A Black Phoebe near Pinnacle Rock was a nice consolation.

No shorebirds were around Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta).  We did locate one Lewis's Woodpecker west of the Reservoir.

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  Just before sunset, a male Dusky Grouse walked out of the willows and displayed briefly.

The road is closed at the Visitor's Center due to snowdrifts.  Unfortunate as the best Dusky Grouse and Northern Pygmy-Owl locations are at the west end of the South Rim Drive.

March 28

High temperature in Pueblo and Walsenburg was 80 degrees (too warm for this time of year).  Winds were 5-6 mph most of the day.

At first light, we found two Gunnison Sage-Grouse near the Waunita Hot Springs Lek (Gunnison).

We then headed east.  Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers were observed drumming at the Monarch Pass pullover (Clear Creek).  No Rosy Finches were found this trip.

A detour up Swallows Road at Pueblo West found a Scaled Quail but missed Curve-billed Thrashers.

We continued east and south to Orlando Reservoir #2.  The Eurasian Wigeon provided nice views after we pulled out our scopes.

The Black Scoter was still on Martin Lake at Lathrop State Park (Huerfano).

Then we continued to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  The Canyon added Eastern Phoebe, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Canyon Towhees, two Western Kingbirds, Lark Sparrows, Chihuahuan Ravens, a Greater Roadrunner, Bewick's Wren, Rock Wren, and Wild Turkeys to our trip list.

Just after sunset, a Western Screech-Owl called from the Campgrounds area.  A Great Horned Owl hooted farther to the west.

March 29

Temperatures reached 44 degrees in Wray (early in the day).  Winds were measured at 4-5 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

Thirty minutes before sunrise, we parked at Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek at a friend's ranch.  Just after sunrise, two Lesser Prairie-Chickens flew in and started to dance!  No females appeared.

Afterwards we drove to the old Campo Lek where a Cassin's Sparrow was found along the entrance road.  A Curve-billed Thrasher was later observed along Baca County Road G.

When we scoped Pasture G across from the Washington Work Center (Baca) a Mountain Plover was observed at the western edge.  No Burrowing Owls have shown up yet.

We continued north to Wray (Yuma County).  Regrettably, this required passing up some superb birding spots in Prowers and Kiowa Counties.

A stop at Stalker Pond just west of Wray added an Eastern Phoebe and Northern Cardinal to our trip list.

Our birding day ended along Yuma County Road 45.  Three male Greater Prairie-Chickens appeared just before sunset.

On the drive back to Denver, we stopped at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area and Hale Ponds.  An Eastern Screech-Owl was enticed to respond to our recordings!

When we reached Limon (Kit Carson), it was starting to snow.  We returned to Denver just in time!

March 30


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Slow Day In Eastern Arapahoe County

Hello birders,

Richmil Ranch Open Space, an Arapahoe County park had few birds today.  A dozen European Starlings, half a dozen Western Meadowlarks, not even an Eastern Meadowlark, and six Dark-eyed Juncos were the list.

My highlight was getting a quick look at the resident Eastern Screech-Owl.  At least one has been around for the past three years!

Migration has not reached the area yet.  Last year Western Kingbirds, Cassin's Kingbirds and Northern Mockingbirds nested in the area.

The slow day continued along the eastern Arapahoe County loop.  There was not much to report.

Barr Lake State Park in Adams County was not much better.  The Barn Owls were not around.  The Osprey have not shown up yet.

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Arapahoe County Search for the Glaucous Gull

March 24, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 57 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

I had encountered a Glaucous Gull at Aurora Reservoir than Cherry Creek Reservoir (both Arapahoe County) in the past week.  Another birder relocated the Glaucous Gull on Friday while another birder found one at Chatfield State Park (Jefferson/Douglas Counties) on Saturday.  It is likely that this is the same Gull flying between the three reservoirs.

Today I hope to relocate the Glaucous Gull back in Arapahoe County.  That did not happen.  Few gulls were at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Few birds were on the lake at all.  I did relocate the Rusty Blackbird back at the western stream that flows into Augie's Pond (northwest of the swim beach).

Thousands of Gulls stood on the southern ice shelf at Aurora Reservoir.  I was able to get quite close to half the gulls (several thousand) by scoping from the handicapped fisher person parking area.

The gulls were shoulder to shoulder and separating them was a challenge.  I was able to pick out two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Iceland Gulls (both Thayer's subspecies).

High waves on the Lake made finding waterfowl on the lake close to impossible.  Nothing uncommon was discovered.

Again, no owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver Counties).

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Two Return Trips to Spratt Platte Lakes Area

March 23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 45 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with afternoon gusts to 22 mph.

I returned to the Spratt Platte Lake (Adams County) area seeking the Neotropic Cormorant.  It was not found; however, the Red-throated Loon was still on the 104th gravel pond south of Elaine T. Valente Open Space.

I mentioned Friday to a couple of birders that size is not a great field mark to distinguish Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorants.  Friday, one of the cormorants was almost 30 percent smaller than the rest of the group.  We had to wait thirty minutes before it raised its head.  It had the crests of a Double-crested Cormorant.

Finally giving up on the Neotropic Cormorant, I passed the 89th avenue Lake on the drive home.  The male Barrow's Goldeneye was again swimming along the eastern side of the Lake.

A stop at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) for an unsuccessful hunt for Burrowing Owls and Eastern Phoebes did discover two Lesser Black-backed Gulls lounging around Lake Ladora.

Once home, I read the Neotropic Cormorant was relocated and decided to return to Spratt Platte Lake.  This time we relocated the bird on the shore of the second lake south of 100th Avenue. 

Its small size, small head and distinct head pattern (no yellow above its bill and pointed gape) confirmed a Neotropic Cormorant.

Many gulls had returned to the West Spratt Platte Lake.  Among them was the Mew Gull.  A lone American White Pelican swam on the East Spratt Platte Lake.

Several birders had been looking for and missing the Red-throated Loon.  I pulled out my scope and found the Loon in the middle of the 104th Pond.

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.  Winds were 22 mph at the time.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Birding In Adams County

March 22, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I finally made it out of the house around Noon.  High temperature was 55 degrees (early afternoon).  Clouds blew in and temperatures dropped rapidly in late afternoon.  Winds became 15-16 mph with gusts to 28 mph.

Several stops were made on my way to the Spratt Platte Lake Area (McKay and 100th avenue).  One adult Lesser Black-backed Gull remained at Lake Ladora in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).

No Burrowing Owls or Eastern Phoebes have shown up yet.  I did see my first of the season pair of  Bank Swallows!

The male Barrow's Goldeneye swam approximately 50 yards north of the southeast corner of the 89th avenue pond.

The Red-throated Loon continued on the western half of the gravel pit across 104th avenue (south of the Elaine Valente Open Space).

Finally, I made it to Spratt Platte Lakes area.  Many gulls again were on the sandbars in the Lake on the southwest corner of McKay Road & 100th Avenue.  Today a Mew Gull and again an Iceland Gull were among the many Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of California Gulls.  Misses: the Glaucous Gull and Glaucous-winged Gull photographed on Monday were not around.

I scoped the many Lakes; the previously reported Neotropic Cormorant was not found among a dozen of Double-crested Cormorants.

Then I headed east to miss rush hour traffic.  A pair of Great-tailed Grackles was again found in the Town of Barr.  Nothing uncommon was observed off the Barr Lake State Park boat ramp.  Osprey have not yet returned to their nesting platform south of the boat ramp.

I drove over to the First Creek Trail (Denver County) and walked from the 56th Avenue Bridge to Pena Blvd and back.  No Rusty Blackbirds were found during my last three hikes.  I did find a Barn Owl and heard a Virginia Rail.

No owls appeared while I drove the DIA Owl Loop.

Castlewood Canyon State Park to Aurora Reservoir On a Windy Day

March 21, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I had business in Parker and proceeded to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) afterwards.

It is still early in the season and few birds were expected as turned out the case.  A couple of Mountain Bluebirds were the only Bluebirds around the old Winkler Ranch.  

No Turkey Vultures or Golden Eagles circled overhead in the Park.

The Eastern Phoebes have not yet returned to Cherry Creek and Hwy 86.  A Great Horned Owl was on a nest along the Cherry Creek Trail.

I took back roads home and passed Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were steady at 22 mph!  A few gusts reached 29 mph.  At least the temperature reached 60 degrees yet it was cold with the wind.

High waves on the Lake made finding waterfowl close to impossible.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls stood on the ice off the swim beach.  A Great Black-backed Gull swam nearby.

I abandoned further birding and headed home.  No owls were seen along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Weld & Arapahoe County Birding

March 20, 2019

Richard Stevens:

What a great winter day with a high temperature of 57 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Terry Michaels attempted to find Mountain Plovers in the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld) today.

We passed Cozzens Lake on the drive up where the previously reported three Tundra Swans were still around.

On the grasslands, many of the traditional locations were searched and no Mountain Plover was detected.  These included two nesting spots.

Seven Sharp-tailed Grouse were discovered along Weld CR 111, north of CR 132.  This area appears to be the best location for a sighting.

A few McCown's Longspurs were run across; unfortunately, no Chestnut-collared Longspur was among them.  No Chestnut-collared Longspurs have yet to return to their nesting area, the field southeast of Highway 85 and Weld CR 114.  There were no Snow Bunting sightings to report either.

We hiked the northern end of the CPER land down to Owl Creek and several hundred yards up and down the Creek.  A Short-eared Owl was found 200 yards south of our entry point.  A Great Horned Owl called 300 yards north of the same point.

After dropping Terry off, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way to visit a sick friend at nearby Aurora Life Care Center.

A male Red-winged Blackbird chased the female Rusty Blackbird from the north shore of Augie's Pond (northwest of the swim beach).  She disappeared in the grasses north of the floating log (northern center of pond).

I believe I observed the Red-necked Grebe reported several days ago.  It dove often and only stayed on the surface for short periods of time.  Looks were less than desirable.  I was scoping the Lake from the Dixon Grove parking area where light from the southern setting sun was terrible.  

Later I relocated the grebe while scoping from the Lake Loop.  The grebe was again far away in the center of the Lake.  The angle of the sun was better from the Lake Loop. 

Highlights from the Lake Loop included a nice assortment of gulls.  Among them were a Glaucous Gull, two Iceland Gulls (one Iceland & one Thayer's), Herring Gulls, California Gulls and of course many Ring-billed Gulls.

A search for an early Western Kingbird or any Kingbird was not successful.  My time ran out before an owl search could commence.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Wandering Around Arapahoe County

March 19, 2019

Richard Stevens: 

High temperature was 46 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

I scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) before heading east.  Over four thousand gulls stood on the ice shelf just off the swim beach.  Another thousand swam in the open water.

One adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was the only uncommon gulls picked out of the tightly group gulls.  At least three dozen Herring Gulls and a dozen California Gulls were among the horde.

Afterwards I headed to eastern Arapahoe County.  Several Northern Mockingbirds have already shown up along the Front Range.  Perhaps historical nesting locations would yield another or two?

No Northern Mockingbirds were found in the loop, which included Arapahoe County Open Spaces along County Line Road and Arapahoe CR 61.  No Burrowing Owls or Red-headed Woodpecker were encountered.

Richmil Ranch Open Space in the southeast corner of Arapahoe County was quiet today.  Northern Mockingbirds have nested here at least three of the recent years.

A pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers flew around the old Byers Rest Stop.  Not much else was found.  Many Eurasian Collared-Doves were found around Strasburg (Arapahoe).  

A Good Day For Gulls & a Red-throated Loon, Adams County

March 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I spent most of the day in Adams County.  High temperature was 46 degrees under partly sunny skies.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

The Red-throated Loon was swimming along the southwest section of the lake south of 104th Avenue/east of McKay Road (south of Elaine T. Valente Open Space).  A large number of Canvasbacks were also on the Lake.

A large group of gulls stood on the sandbar on the gravel pit at the southwest corner of McKay Road and 100th Avenue.  These included a Glaucous Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, possible Glaucous-winged Gull and two Iceland Gulls (one Iceland and one Thayer's subspecies).

My next stop was the 89th Avenue Pond where a Glaucous Gull and Mew Gull were reported yesterday.  While no gulls were at the lake, the male Barrow's Goldeneye I found Sunday was still there.  

The Adams County gulls appear to move between the many lakes and gravel pits between I76 and McKay Road.

A stop at Rocky Mountain Arsenal found the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull still at Lake Ladora.  Still no Surf Scoter was found.   I drove the wildlife loop and found no Red-headed Woodpeckers, Eastern Phoebes or Burrowing Owls.

No Short-eared or Burrowing Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop as I drove home.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the First Creek Trail

March 17, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 49 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

I did not make it as far west of 89th avenue Lake (Adams County) but was close.  The Red-throated Loon was not found yesterday by me so skipped the lake today.

Instead, I went to Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Scoped Lake Ladora for over an hour, I could not find a Surf Scoter among the dozens of female Redhead Ducks and Ruddy Ducks.  The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was along the eastern side.

A check of Lower Derby Lake found no uncommon birds.  Missed my target birds during a drive around the Wildlife Loop, no Burrowing Owls, Red-headed Woodpeckers or Eastern Phoebes were found today.

Later I walked the First Creek Trail from the Light Rail Tracks to the 56th avenue Bridge.  There was no sign of the Rusty Blackbirds for the second day in a row.  Perhaps they moved on during last week's blizzard?

No Short-eared Owls or Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) this evening.

Search For The Red-throated Loon

March 16, 2019

Richard Stevens:

The day was cold with a high of 49 degrees with winds 9-10 mph, gusts to 17 mph.

After dropping a friend at DIA, I went back to Adams County and the South Platte Birding Area.  We enjoyed a successful grouse trip missing few birds and the horrific weather that hit Denver and the Eastern Plains.  Only target bird misses were Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail.

The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was just upstream of the green/white tower (approximately 1/2 mile south of the 88th avenue parking area).

Another birder and I scanned the 89th Avenue Pond for 30 minutes or so.  No loons were found.  A male Barrow's Goldeneye hung around a group of Common Goldeneyes.

I checked East Gravel Lakes, Dahlia Ponds and Tani Reservoir and found no loons.

A walk along the First Creek Trail (Denver) did not find the Rusty Blackbirds and Barn Owl this afternoon.

The female Rusty Blackbird continues at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  She was along the eastern drainage that runs into Angie's Pond (northwest of the swim beach).  The bird was 25 feet south of the paved path.

No owls showed up for me along the shooting range entrance road.

FOS Grouse Trip

March 11-16, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Jan Baker and I enjoyed a strenuous first grouse trip of 2019.  Recent avalanches in the Colorado Mountains had delayed and several days were lost.

On the fortunate side, we had to reverse my usual route to avoid the hundreds of avalanches and closed roads.  We birded Colorado Eastern Plains first.  As a result, we were in and out of the areas that were hit by blizzards the next day!  In fact, we experienced relatively nice weather the entire trip!

March 11

High temperature in Wray was only 37 degrees.  Winds were calm to 6 mph.  Later the high temperature in Springfield was 42 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Jan and I began with a long day, which demanded 700 miles on the road.  At first light, we scoped the Yuma County Road 45 Lek.  Three Greater Prairie-Chickens did visit the lek briefly.  However, they did not perform their mating dance.

Regrettably, we had to pass numerous interesting birding locations to get to Baca County in the early afternoon.

A drive through Cottonwood Canyon contributed some nice birds to our trip list.  We came across Canyon Towhee, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Wild Turkey, Chihuahuan Ravens, Bewick's Wren, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Cooper's Hawk.

I am fortunate to have a friend nearby who has one of the few Lesser Prairie-Chicken Leks still active in Colorado.  Thirty minutes before sunset, we parked a distance away from the lek and watched two male Lesser Prairie-Chickens wandered around the lek.  They briefly danced for an audience that did not show.

We passed through Cottonwood Canyon on the 400 mile drive to Gunnison.  One Western Screech-Owl called near the camping area.  While a Great Horned Owl called quite a distance to the west.

March 12

High temperature in Gunnison was 39 degrees.  Temperatures at sunrise were only 24 degrees.  Fortunately, winds were calm to 3 mph.

Shortly after first light, Jan Baker and I discovered two Gunnison Sage-Grouse walking along Gunnison County Road 887!

Note: the Waunita Hot Springs Lek is not open until April 1.  Parking on CR 887 is not allowed.   There is a legal loophole in their rules.  I will let others figure out what that is.

We searched traditional Rosy Finch spots north of Gunnison; however, none was found.

Then, we drove to Crested Butte and meandered around town.  A few Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy Finches were eventually found.  Unluckily, no Black Rosy Finches were among the small flocks.

Blue Mesa Reservoir (Gunnison) was mostly ice covered.  There was no uncommon waterfowl to report.

We exhausted the last couple of hours of daylight sightseeing and searching for Dusky Grouse at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  The road is closed near the Visitor's Center due to snow.

Eventually a male Dusky Grouse was found along the South Rim Road, just east of the Campgrounds.

March 13

High temperature was 44 degrees in Grand Junction.  Winds were something else 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  Strange however, winds on the Grand Mesa were less than 5 mph?

We stayed in Delta and visited Fruitgrower's Reservoir in the morning.  Nothing uncommon was on the lake.  We did see two Sandhill Cranes, our only cranes of the trip.

A Lewis's Woodpecker flew around west of Evelyn Horn's home.  Another was by the Eckert post office!

Highline Lake State Park was the hotspot of the day.  We missed the Tundra Swans but did find the two Trumpeter Swans, Greater Scaups and Bonaparte's Gull.

A detour to Rabbit Valley contributed a Sagebrush Sparrow to our trip list.  More importantly, this avoided the long drive up Mesa County Road 4 north of Mack to inspect their traditional nesting grounds.

We enjoyed better fortune at Coal Canyon (Mesa).  A Chukar appeared to respond to our recording played at the large parking area near the second iron pipe.

Then we headed up the Grand Mesa, Mesa County section.  An avalanche closed the highway before the Old Lodge.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard and observed drumming behind the Powderhorn Maintenance building.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording south of the buildings near the entrance.

It took several hours; however, we did find a Boreal Owl at the second pullover south of the Spruce Grove Campgrounds!

March 14

Temperatures only reached 43 degrees today.  It felt much warmer than yesterday with winds 4-5 mph.

After a late start, we drove through the Colorado National Monument (Mesa) from the eastern entrance.

Several Gambel's Quail were found around the subdivision just outside of the entrance.  We listened for Black-throated Sparrows; however, none was found.  The Devil's Kitchen Trail just inside the entrance was quiet.  It is really a month too early for migration to come to the area.

Three Pinyon Jays and a Juniper Titmouse were found at the Campgrounds.

Continuing north, we checked around Craig unsuccessfully for Bohemian Waxwings.

Then we decided to drive to the Timberline Greater Sage-Grouse Leks near the Wyoming border (north of Craig).  Weather reports predicted inclement weather to the east.  Additional grouse may not be encountered later.

One Greater Sage-Grouse was observed walking along Moffat County Road 3.  The road did not allow us to drive all the way to the Timberline Lek; however, we were close.

March 15

Yesterday's 43 degrees would have been welcomed.  High temperature was only 28 degrees (high?).  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Shortly after sunrise, we drove Twenty 27 Road to the Twenty Road Leks.  Locals call the road one name while maps list it different.  Two Sharp-tailed Grouse eventually visited the lek a good hour after sunrise.  No Greater Sage-Grouse appeared this morning.

The Hayden Airport and the Carpenter Ranch did not add new species to our trip list.  It was too early for Yellow-headed Blackbirds to show.

We checked out the 80 Route Road.  Snowdrifts prevented any travel to the leks north of Hayden.

No Sharp-tailed Grouse were found at their usual wintering grounds east of Steamboat Springs.  My friend has not seen any grouse since December.

Our birding day ended at the Jackson County Road 26b Leks.  While two Greater Sage-Grouse walked the road, neither displayed any mating rituals.

Afterwards, we stopped at four Boreal Owl spots along highway 14 west of Cameron Pass (Jackson).  Boreal Owls responded to our recordings at two of the locations.

March 16

It was another frigid day with a high of only 27 degrees.  Winds were calm to 3 mph.  However, once we arrived at Loveland Pass, winds were measured at 39 mph.

Only four Gray-crowned Rosy Finches flew around the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  The resident American Three-toed Woodpecker (north of hwy 14) was not enticed to appear.

A visit to a friend's ranch west of Gould found a flock of 200+ Rosy Finches (three species).  Then we headed back to Denver by way of Kremmling (Grand).

Loveland Pass was finally open after a week of storm storms.  We scoped from the top of the Summit, trying to steady our scopes from the raging winds.   After 30 minutes, we finally found a White-tailed Ptarmigan hunkered down from the blowing snow near the ragged rock line.

Then we rushed to DIA to catch Jan's flight.  Great Trip!  2318 miles!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Little Dry Creek Trail

March 10, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High Temperature today was 52 degrees.  The winds made it free quite cold at 14-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

I headed southwest today.  The Black Scoter that has been wintering on South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) was not found.

The Harris's Sparrow continues at South Platte Park (Arapahoe).

I received a text message about a Northern Mockingbird along Little Dry Creek and stopped on my way home.  Text stated the bird was along Walnut Hills trail, which was interpreted to mean the spur off Little Dry Creek trail, west side of Walnut Hills Elementary School.

I walked the spur and Little Dry Creek trail from South Uinta Street west to South Quebec, no Northern Mockingbird.

It was too nice a day to go home; I hiked east to Walnut Hills Park and continued to South Yosemite Street, no Northern Mockingbird.

On the returned to Uinta Street, I checked the two yards, which I had picked as good places for a Northern Mockingbird.  Out of nowhere, the Northern Mockingbird flew into a willow bush along the chain link fence just west of the Harley Davidson trailer.

Unfortunately, the Northern Mockingbird stayed deep in the bush or on the ground behind the fence.  While I waited for a better view and dog walker came by and asked what was so interesting.  Her dog started barking and the Northern Mockingbird flew south across Little Dry Creek to the yard with the blue gate on its chain link fence.

It is a beautiful bird even it flight!  I put terrible witness photos on the "recent witness photos" link of the Colorado Birding Society's website

I passed through Cherry Creek State Park on my drive home.  No interesting birds, but I did take photos of the white deer near the intersection of Lake View Road and old Parker Road.

No Short-eared or Burrowing Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop again this evening.

Birding Around Eastern Metro Area

March 9, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 48 degrees today.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

Rebecca and I visited some of the locations of previously reported birds.

The three Rusty Blackbirds were again walking along First Creek just north of the 56th Avenue Bridge (Denver County).

The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was again on the ice at Lake Ladora in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull that I first photographed yesterday was also there.

We scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  One adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the ice hundreds of yards east of the Lower Parking Area pavilion.  The Long-tailed Duck was not found (now three trips in a row).

The Rusty Blackbird at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) was along old Parker Road.  She walked along the western drainage about 25 feet south of drainage pipe.

No owls showed up along the shooting range entrance road.

Friday, March 8, 2019

South Platte Birding Area, First Creek Trail & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

March 8, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 53 degrees today.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

I celebrated the fantastic winter day with a hike from the South Platte Birding Area parking area at 88th avenue (Adams County) south to the sewage treatment plant south of I76 and back.

My route was down the west side of the S. Platte River with a return on the east side.  From 2002 to 2018 except 2014 & 2017, a Long-tailed Duck has wintered in the area.  None was found today (last seen on 11/10/2018).

The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was diving in the Platte below the green/white tower about 1/2 mile south of the 88th avenue parking area.

Passerines were few.  The highlight was a Swamp Sparrow on the east side of the Platte River about 50 yards north of the two green benches on the west side of the Platte.  

Shorebirds were represented by four Killdeer and a Spotted Sandpiper.  A Prairie Falcon zoomed upstream during my return trip.  Other raptors included a Sharp-shinned Hawk and a pair of Northern Harriers.

On the drive over, I made several stops.  The three Rusty Blackbirds were still along First Creek just south of the 56th Avenue Bridge (Denver).

The Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on Lake Ladora at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).

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

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Walking the Highline Canal In Arapahoe County

March 7, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Our first Grouse Trip of 2019 is still delayed.  Predictions of snowstorms with 2-4 inches accumulation in the Walden and Craig areas does not fair well for driving up there.  Loveland Pass was closed today and probably tomorrow because of avalanches.

High temperature was 51 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  

Today was an Eastern Screech-Owl Day.  Five Screech Owls in all were found.  Three other locations were misses (DeKoevand Park, Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve and a private yard in Denver.  I should note that all owls were staked out (previous sightings).

My day started by finding the resident Eastern Screech-Owl at Ketring Park (Arapahoe).  Then I walked the highline canal from E. Belleview to S. Colorado Blvd, and then took buses back to my car.

Three other Highline Canal sightings (all Arapahoe County) were the Quincy Wildlife Area, Dahlia Tennis Courts and Dahlia Hollow Park.  The fourth owl was observed when I visited a friend who lives near Washington Park (Denver).

Passerines were few today.  The highlight was my first Hermit Thrush of 2019.  It was seen as I tried to photograph a Spotted Towhee in the Dahlia Hollow Park Willow Grove east of the Beaver statue.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Aurora Reservoir and First Creek

March 6, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 39 degrees today.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 10 mph.

Rebecca and I drove to Aurora Reservoir in the afternoon.  Most of the Lake was snow and ice covered.  The few slivers of open water hosted few waterfowl.  The majority were American Coots with eight Lesser Scaups and six Common Goldeneyes.  The Long-tailed Duck was not spotted as I scoped the Lake five times.

Highlights would be the adult Great Black-backed Gull, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, at least one California Gull and one Herring Gull.

On the way home, we stopped at First Creek and 56th Avenue.  Two Rusty Blackbirds walked the creek just north of the Bridge.

No Short-eared Owls appeared again this evening as we drove the DIA Owl Loop.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

An Hour at Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 5, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Terry and I have been wishing for a break in the snowstorms waiting for our first grouse trip of 2019.  Our hope to set new early records has gone.  Still it would be nice to be back on the birding road.

High temperature today was only 32 degrees.  The lack of winds, only 3-4 mph made for a pleasant winter day.

I took an hour out of finishing chores to stop by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  My usual walk is from the Dixon Grove parking lot, along old Parker Road to the western stream flowing into Augie's Pond.  Then I go over to the eastern stream and down to the pond, returning to my car by walking along the cattails at the south side of the pond.

Today, as I approached the western stream at old Parker Road, the male Rusty Blackbird was searching for bugs about 20 feed south of the drainage pipe.  He walked into the cattails and did not return in 30 minutes.

The female Rusty Blackbird was in the cottonwood above the stream.  She flew about 20 yards south of the drainage and walked the small puddle formed by the stream.

I continued my route, however found the Brown Thrasher around the pond or up at the Smoky Hill Group Picnic Pavilion.

Three Western Bluebirds and two Mountain Bluebirds perched on the cattails along Lake View Road (between the main road and Shop Creek parking area.

No owls were found along the shooting range entrance road.  Half a dozen birders were looking.  I did not stay until dusk.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Birding East of Aurora

March 4, 2019

Richard Stevens:

After spending all day yesterday in the house (high temperature was single digits), I had to get out this afternoon.  High temperature today was 19 degrees.  Winds were 5-7 mph.

The three Rusty Blackbirds made it through the snowstorm.  They were walking along First Creek (Denver) and could be viewed from the 56th avenue Bridge.

Nothing uncommon was found at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and I returned home by way of the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Short-eared Owls appeared 30 minutes either side of sunset.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Brief Stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir

March 2, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Before the snowstorm, I went to Walmart and purchased a Black and Decker leaf blower/vacuum ($45).  There was a good 4-5 inches of empty sunflower shells under our feeders.  The vacuum sucked them all up and solved our messy problem!

On the way home, I made a brief detour over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The female type Rusty Blackbird was again along the western stream that flows into Augie's Pond (northwest of the swim beach).  The other Rusty Blackbird was not relocated.

No owls (Barn or Long-eared) were found along the shooting range entrance road this afternoon.  It did start to snow rapidly at 5:00 pm.

To address another problem we had, a birder I met along the High Line Canal last month solved it.  Squirrels continually would climb up the eight foot poles holding up our bird feeders.  I spent hours chasing them down over the years.  

She suggested putting a toy slinky around the pole, hanging it from the feeder.  Squirrels unsuccessfully attempted climbing the poles several times and have not tried since.  If I knew the birder's name, I would offer her great thanks!  $3 at Walmart gave my sanity back!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Wandering East of Barr Lake

March 1, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a warm "calm" day before the storm with temperatures to 47 degrees.  Winds 15-16 mph with gusts to 28 mph.  Forecasts are for 4-6 inches of snow in the next two days.

I left home shortly after sunrise in search of owls along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  None was found.  Burrowing Owls should show up any day now.  March 1 is "birders spring" not to be confused with official spring March 20.

A detour over to the First Creek Trail found three Rusty Blackbirds walking along the east and west forks of First Creek, just north of the 56th Avenue Bridge.

Back at Barr Lake, I was not able to relocate the Glaucous Gull reported this morning.  The Bald Eagle count stood at thirty-eight (assorted ages).

A three-hour hike at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) was quite interesting.  My owl count was seven Long-eared Owls, two Barn Owls and one Great Horned Owl!

Two Long-eared Owls were in the Pond 3 western windbreak.  Another four were in the windbreak west of Pond 3 and the Canal.  A final Long-eared Owl was in the windbreak west of Pond 7.

A Northern Shrike hunted at the southwest corner of the Wildlife Area.  While a Say's Phoebe flew around the northern parking area.  Misses included the Swamp Sparrow found on my last two visits.

The Great Horned Owl was in the cottonwoods south of Pond 12.

Nothing uncommon was found at Ireland Reservoir #5 and Ireland Reservoir #1.

Four male and two female Great-tailed Grackles flew around the Town of Barr.  A return visit to Barr Lake did not find the Glaucous Gull.  

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening along the DIA Owl Loop.