Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Interesting Stop at Aurora Reservoir

January 30, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 46 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

A stop at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) this afternoon was quite interesting.  The near ice shelf viewed from the lower swim beach parking area had mostly Ring-billed Gulls with two Herring Gulls and an Iceland Gull in the mix.

The Long-tailed Duck was swimming off the far (eastern) ice shelf.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the ice there.  The highlight was a young Glaucous Gull swimming near the Long-tailed Duck.

Then I hiked up the west dam parking area and scoped below the southwest corner of the dam.  Additional Ring-billed Gulls, three Herring Gulls and the Great Black-backed Gull swam about 25 yards off the corner.

An adult Bald Eagle perched in the cottonwoods along Senac Creek east of the northern Pronghorn Natural Area parking area.

Cherry Creek Reservoir On a Cold and Snowy Day

January 29, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was only 27 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

A brief stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) was uneventful.  I circled Dixon Grove to the swim beach several times.  The Rusty Blackbird and the Brown Thrasher were not relocated.

No gulls were off Pelican Point or at the southwest marina.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Observing the First Creek Trail from the 56th Avenue Bridge

January 28, 2019

Richard Stevens:

We received 5-6 inches of snow last night.  High temperature today was 29 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph at First Creek Trail and gusts to 29 mph near DIA.

I waited until afternoon to go out.  TV showed the terrible traffic jams and accidents in the morning.

My only stop was the 56 avenue Bridge that goes over the First Creek (Denver County).  I observed three Rusty Blackbirds from the Bridge.

No Short-eared Owls were observed along the DIA Owl Loop on the drive home at sunset.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Clear Creek/Summit Counties to Arapahoe County

January 27, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 49 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Dave King and I took two Pennsylvania birders up to Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties).  Winds were quite high with anomometer readings of 38 mph.

We discovered two White-tailed Ptarmigan hunkered down at the ragged rocks on the east side of the summit.

Later we visited a friend's yard (closed to the public) and found three species of Rosy Finches, White-breasted & Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins and a Clark's Nutcracker.

Note: heading into and out of the mountains on a Sunday can result in many hours spent in traffic returning to Denver.  We returned well before 1:00 pm.

After dropping everyone off I passed by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.  The Rusty Blackbird was again along the western stream flowing into the swim beach pond.  

There was not sighting of the Brown Thrasher today.  I did find tracks, which were similar to those I photographed when last seeing the Brown Thrasher walking around in snow.

I scoped the less than 100 gulls off the Pelican Point.  One Iceland Gull was with one Herring Gull and many Ring-billed Gulls.

Visiting Aurora Reservoir on a Saturday

January 26, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 42 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

I returned home from Aurora by way of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Gull numbers were down from my last visit; I assume due to the 68 ice anglers on the ice shelf.

One Lesser Black-backed Gull was picked out of the 200+ gulls.  The Long-tailed Duck was directly east of the lower parking area gazebo.

The four Rusty Blackbirds were still along the First Creek Trail and just north of the 56th Avenue Bridge.

The Barn Owl was not in its nesting box today.  CoBus put up a nesting box last fall.  We hope that any nesting attempts will be in the box and not the light rail bridge like last year.  NOTE: the box cannot be seen from the First Creek Trail.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Another Snowy Owl Search

January 25, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 41 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph.

I searched most of the morning for the Snowy Owl reported on 1/21 & today, 1/25 north and east of DIA (Denver International Airport).  It was not found.

Many raptors were out hunting.  Count included Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Harrier, Prairie Falcon and American Kestrel.

Three large flocks of Horned Larks also encountered.  No Snow Buntings or longspurs in any of the flocks.

I stopped at Aurora Reservoir as I worked my way south.  With most reservoirs and lakes ice covered, Aurora Reservoir had many gulls.  Aurora Reservoir is usually the last reservoir to freeze over.

Among the hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were two Iceland Gulls, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and half a dozen Herring Gulls.  

One additional black backed Gull appeared to be a Great Black-backed Gull.  However, something about it just did not look right.  Further investigation is forth coming.  

On my fourth scan of the lake, I finally found the Long-tailed Duck.  It was close to my spot at the lower swim beach parking area.  The Duck dove many times, staying only 4-5 seconds above the water.

My birding day ended across Quincy Avenue at the Pronghorn Natural Area.  I scoped Senac Creek, which runs south of DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site).  No Short-eared Owls appeared 30 minutes either side of sunset.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

An Hour Or So At Cherry Creek Reservoir

January 24, 2019

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature today was only 25 degrees.  Winds were 15-16 mph with gusts to 20 mph.

Fortunately, the streams flowing into the Cherry Creek Reservoir swim beach pond and the pond themselves are somewhat sheltered from the winds.  It was quite pleasant for this Minnesota nature!

I was near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this afternoon and stopped for an hour.

Besides relishing the crunch of the unmarked snow under my boots, I enjoyed encountering a few interesting birds.

I usually park at the Dixon Grove Parking area and walk east along the main road back to the western stream that flows into the swim beach pond.

It was absorbing following the Rusty Blackbird that was kicking up leaves under the metal culvert just south of the road.  The bird appeared quite skilled and deliberate at his task.  Every now and then, the Rusty Blackbird would pick up a blackish 1/2 to 1 inch worm.  Two Song Sparrows mimicked the behavior and success.

An additional three Song Sparrows were along the same stream just farther south of the main road.  Half a dozen Robins also took advantage of the running stream and occasional damp areas to search for food.

I then circled north and east to the eastern stream flowing south to the pond.  The Brown Thrasher was getting a drink of water perhaps 20 yards north of the pond.

No additional Rusty Blackbirds visited the pond itself.  The Brown Thrasher eventually flew from the eastern stream and disappeared in the cattails along the southern end of the pond.

It was a superb way to enjoy this morning's snowstorm.

Later a ranger mentioned that Cedar Waxwings were feeding on the Russian Olive trees along the entrance road to the shooting range.  Unfortunately, they were not around today.

Two Bald Eagles perched in the cottonwoods along the fishing "pier" at the southwest marina.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Rocky Mountain Arsenal to Aurora Reservoir

January 23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 41 degrees today.  Winds were measured at 10-11 mph with gusts to 19 mph.  It felt quite cold all day.

We had a visit from several friends who are leisure birders.  After picking them up at DIA, I took them to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to see the bison.  BYW, the only buffalo in Colorado/US are in zoos.

Birds were few.  One adult Bald Eagle, one Ferruginous Hawk and two Red-tailed Hawks were all the raptors encountered.  A brief walk around Lake Mary found no Swamp Sparrows.

A 20 minute stop at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver) did not find any sparrows.  This was my first trip that not one sparrow was seen, although high winds may have kept them hidden in the many rabbit brush behind the maintenance building.

The trip home to avoid traffic passes by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  No uncommon gulls were found and few geese were about.  However, the Long-tailed Duck was still east of the lower swim beach parking area.

The Common Redpoll found yesterday at our feeders was not seen today by Rebecca and Sue who stayed around all day.  Yesterday's snowstorm may have blown it to our yard for just one day?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Unsuccessful Search for a Snowy Owl

January 22, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I was not going out birding after last night's snowstorm.  A report of a Snowy Owl near DIA changed my mind.

High temperature today was only 27 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  Wind chill put the temperature at 16 degrees at 3:00 pm.

The Snowy Owl was never found.  A sighting was reported east of Trussville and south of 114th avenue.  My three hour search of scoping the fields east of Trussville came up empty.

I detoured over to the First Creek Trail (Denver).  The four Rusty Blackbirds were found along the eastern fork of First Creek just north of the 56th Avenue Bridge.  Same birds in photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library: 

The highlight was a female Barn Owl somewhat hidden and staying out of the winds.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Birding A Couple of Locations In Denver County

January 21, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I made two stops on my way downtown Denver today.  It was another great Colorado winter day.  High temperature reached 54 degrees.  Winds were 16-17 mph.

The four Rusty Blackbirds were again along the First Creek (Denver County) north of the horse corrals.

It took an hour and twenty minutes before the Harris's Sparrow was relocated behind the Bluff Lake Nature Area maintenance building.  

Look for a small flock of 6-8 White-crowned Sparrows crossing the gravel paths between the rabbit brush.  The Harris's Sparrow is usually with them, however does not linger on the paths.

A major snowstorm is predicted for the metro area tomorrow (Tuesday, 1/22).  If roads allow travel,  it is a good time to search for longspurs and Snow Buntings around the country roads around Denver International Airport.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Another Trip to Arapahoe County

January 20, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Not much of a birding day with NFL championship games today.  Another great Colorado winter day with a high temperature of 53 degrees and winds 6-7 mph.

After visiting friends and family just north of Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), I stopped at the Reservoir.  The Rusty Blackbird(s) were missed for the second day in a row.

A brief stop at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe), about 8 miles east of Cherry Creek Reservoir, the Long-tailed Duck was again found swimming 50 yards east of the Pavilion at the Lower Swim Beach parking area.

On to football, the refs stole the game from the Saints..........

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Passing Through Arapahoe County

January 19, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached the middle 40s today.  Winds were much better than yesterday.  Afternoon winds were 4-5 mph with gusts only to 12 mph.

After visiting friends in Aurora, I drove a few miles over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  A brief walk around the swim pond and streams flowing into it did not find any Rusty Blackbirds.

I passed Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home and scoped the Lake from the Lower Swim Beach parking area.

The Long-tailed Duck was 40 yards off shore and directly east of the Pavilion.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the ice.  No black-backed, large white or pink-legged gulls were among the hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.  Few White-cheeked Geese were out there today.

I scanned the DIA Owl Loop from 88th avenue in the late afternoon.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Birding East of Aurora and DIA Airport

January 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 39 degrees.  Winds varied as stated below.

After visiting a friend in Aurora, I followed a circuitous path home.  My first stop was Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  It was snowing quite heavily; anomometer readings were 22-24 mph with gusts breaking 30 mph.

The Reservoir is less ice/snow covered than my last trip.  Nothing uncommon was observed from the Lower Swim Beach parking area (I used to refer this to the upper parking area, the sign states differently).

Next, I made the short hike from the West Dam parking area to the southern end of the dam.  One of the Long-tailed Ducks that has been reported since January 2 was swimming 10 yards off shore below the trees, which can be seen, from the Lower Swim Beach area.  

Nothing else uncommon was observed from here. The only non-Ring-billed Gulls that could be identified were one Herring Gull and two California Gulls.  No black-backed Gulls and few geese were around.

As I left the Park, a small flock of Horned Larks, about 14, were on the road.  A Lapland Longspur was among the flock.  It was only the second one I have found at Aurora Reservoir.

A slight detour took me to the First Creek Trail (Denver).  Today I only found two adult male Rusty Blackbirds.  They were just north of the bridge that goes under 56th avenue.

On my last trip to the First Creek Trail, I found two adult males closer to breeding plumage, one adult male in nonbreeding plumage and adult female looking more like breeding plumage.  The three males stayed close together while the female kept feeding when the males moved.

Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library:

Comments welcomed!

I then drove to the east side of DIA and searched for flocks of Horned Larks.  Except for 1 or 2 birds flying around, the biggest flock was still along Haysmount Road, just north of 120th avenue. 

I parked at the south end of the plowed field and watched hundreds of Horned Larks fly back and forth across Haysmount Road.  Thought to give it an hour, after 39 minutes I picked out a Snow Bunting in the flock (previously reported by others).  

There may have been more than one Snow Bunting.  A second sighting or the same bird was observed flying west to east over the road within 20 seconds of the first sighting.  However, the first bird could have circled over my car and out of my view.

Two Ferruginous Hawks stood on the same field northwest of Haysmount and 120th avenue.

The difference in weather conditions was striking.  Aurora Reservoir and south of Interstate 70 had blowing snow and high winds.  North of I70, there was little to no snow and winds less than 8 mph.

I parked near 120th avenue and Trussville until dusk.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.  A Prairie Falcon and adult Bald Eagle did fly by.

A Trip to the Northern Mountains

January 14-17, 2019

Trip in search of White-winged Crossbills and Rosy Finches:

Richard Stevens:

January 14, 

I started out to confirm the sighting of two Red-necked Grebes at Welton Reservoir (Jefferson) by Diane Roberts 1/13.  

While scoping the Reservoir from the gate at the southwest end, two Red-breasted Mergansers and a few Common Goldeneyes were observed swimming around the southeast corner.

I had to walk down to the eastern end of the Lake to see the extreme northwestern corner.  A Western Grebe and some American Coots were here.  Two slightly smaller grebes may have been the Red-necked Grebes.  They were just two far away for me to be certain.

Later I drove around the 55th avenue neighborhood not far from Welton Reservoir.  A small flock of Rosy Finches, perhaps 20-30 birds included mostly Black Rosy Finches and several Gray-crowned Rosy Finches.

From there I headed to Cameron Pass.  Winds this night were relatively slow for the mountains.

You could hear a pin drop from the Upper Joe Wright Reservoir parking area.  A Boreal Owl called without any prompting.

A second Boreal Owl was heard as I walked 0.2 miles west of the Cameron Pass restroom parking area.  

Yet a third Boreal Owl was heard about 2 miles west of the pass.  I would stop every 0.5 miles and listen.  My Boreal Owl study has Owl Boxes every 0.5 miles west of the pass (potential nesting and/or territories).

January 15, 

An hour before sunrise I drove to the Greater Sage-Grouse Leks along Jackson County Road 26.  Two Greater Sage-Grouse were walking along CR 26 at 0.2 miles west of Highway 14.  

No additional Greater Sage-Grouse were found.  Two flocks of Horned Larks had a total of 140+ birds, unfortunately no longspurs.

No Rosy Finches were found in and around Walden.  Back at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center two Gray-crowned Rosy Finches came by several times.

A snowshoe trip into the Colorado State Forest did not add any uncommon birds to my bird list.  No Boreal Owls were heard in the Colorado State Forest or at Crags Campgrounds.

January 16, 

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found drumming on pines at the Ranger Lakes Campgrounds.

I visited two friend's ranches today.  One required a mile snowshoe trip.  The first ranch had at least 300 Rosy Finches visiting.  The mix was 80 percent Gray-crowned, 15 percent Brown-capped and 5 Black.  

My other friend's ranch, the one requiring the long snowshoe trip had none today.  She had 100+ visiting the last two days.

To rest my legs I cross county skied several miles down Jackson County Road 21.  The feeders at Gould had Pine Siskins, Dark-eyed Juncos, four Pine Grosbeaks and nuthatches visiting.

Shortly after midnight (now 1/17), I heard a Boreal Owl at Ranger Lakes.

January 17, 

The American Three-toed Woodpecker was again drumming on pines at Ranger Lakes.

Heavy snowstorms were predicted and I decided to head back to Denver.  

I spent several hours snow snowing up Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail (Larimer).  No White-winged Crossbills were encountered.  Highlights were a male American Three-toed Woodpecker and eight Red Crossbills.

An hour snowshoe trip around Chambers Lake, also in Larimer County found an American Three-toed Woodpecker however no Crossbills.

My birding day ended started (1/18) with a drive up Pingree Road to Pennock Pass Road intersection (Larimer).  I snow shoed up Pennock Pass for a mile or so, no owls called this night.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Impromptu Day of Birding!

January 13, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 36 degrees.  Lack of wind made for a fantastic day!

I was not planning on birding today, just watching two football games.  Took a friend to early church and lunch, but when I passed Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) had to stop and check for the Rusty Blackbird(s).

My only equipment today was the 8X21 binoculars that I keep in the car.  We had stopped by another friend's house to say hi.  He was gifted a new scope for Christmas and returned my backup scope (good deeds do pay off, later).

It was a beautiful morning with mostly unmarked snow covered grounds.  Wind was calm to immeasurable. The female Rusty Blackbird was searching for food up the western stream that flows into the swim beach pond.  

The male was not found, neither was the Brown Thrasher.  I circled the pond area looking for Brown Thrasher tracks.  Several Black-billed Magpie tracks were observed as they made them.  Whether I could distinguish between magpie and thrasher tracks was undetermined.

I detoured to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  My backup scope came in handy!  From the signed Lower swim beach parking area (northeast of Visitor's Center), I picked out an Iceland Gull among hundreds of Ring-billed and two Herring Gulls.

Then I hiked up the western parking area (just north of the boat storage area).  Another Iceland Gull was not far off the dam.  The Long-tailed Duck continues in the open water off the swim beach parking area.  However, it was around the corner from that parking area and out of view from the lower parking area.

I did see what could be called a Glaucous-winged Gull if one is so inclined.  The Glaucous Gull and Great Black-backed Gull reported yesterday were not found.

The way home passes not far from the eastern end of the First Creek Trail (Denver).  Hence, I had to stop and go for Rusty Blackbirds in two Counties in one day.

The four Rusty Blackbirds were in approximately the same area of First Creek as yesterday.  They were just northeast of the horse corrals.  Three Rusty Blackbirds stayed close together as yesterday, the fourth loosely trailed behind when they moved.

I will put photos on the Colorado Birding Society's website in a few hours.
"recent favorite photos" link

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

I missed the football games, enjoyed a great winter day of birding!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Birding Around Denver County

January 12, 2019

Richard Stevens:

After yesterday's snowstorm, today was a fantastic day.  High temperatures reached 34 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph.  The 4-6 inches of snow melted rapidly.

On the way home from downtown Denver, I stopped at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County).  The Harris's Sparrow that has been hanging around since late October is usually with a small flock of White-crowned Sparrows.

It took about ten minutes to find the flock of eight White-crowned Sparrows under a Rabbit Brush.  The Harris's Sparrow was among them!

I also passed the First Creek Trail (Denver) and stopped.  A flock of 100-150 Red-winged Blackbirds without Rusty Blackbirds popped out of the cattails northwest of the horse corral.

I continued to walk east along First Creek.  Judith Henderson and Melissa James were also walking the Creek.  Judith was the first to spot Rusty Blackbirds.  Eventually we relocated four Rusty Blackbirds walking up and down First Creek, just northeast of the horse corral.

No Short-eared Owls appeared when I parked at sunset along West Cargo Road, south of Third Creek.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Southern Arapahoe County to DIA Airport

January 11, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Yesterday's weather prediction was correct.  We woke up to snow covered ground and it continued to snow most of the day.

High temperature was 42 degrees at the airport.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Two things I did not want to do today.  First, I did not want to count Red-winged Blackbirds along the First Creek Trail (Denver County).  Searching through 400+ Red-winged Blackbirds during two previous trips and missing the Rusty Blackbirds were enough.  Second, I did not want to drive on the snowy roads and in the traffic.

What to do, I parked at the 64th Avenue Light Rail parking area off Tower Road and took the Light Rail down to South Platte Park off Mineral Avenue (Arapahoe).

A 1.3-mile hike got me to the South Platte Park Reservoir.  Along the way, The Tundra Swan was observed just 10 feet offshore at the southern end of Eaglewatch Lake.

At South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe side), the Black Scoter was directly west of the gazebo outside of the east side of the Lake.  At least two Greater Scaup were also on the Lake.

Another two Greater Scaup were on the South Platte River, north of C470 Bridge.  

Back at the Carson Visitor's Center, an American Dipper flew up river and landed under the Mineral Avenue Bridge.

The Harris's Sparrow was with a dozen American Tree Sparrows and four White-crowned Sparrows in the willows at the southwest corner of the building.

I hopped on the Light Rail and headed toward the 64th Avenue parking area.  With a couple of hours of daylight remaining and an all day Light Rail pass, I decided to ride out to the Airport.

The return trip was timed to pass by the Disposal Dump and outlying areas at sunset.  While I did not see any Short-eared Owls, a Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon and two Red-tailed Hawks were a nice consolation.

I missed Denver's terrible traffic and enjoyed quite a birding day on this snowy Friday!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Searching for Rusty Blackbirds

January 10, 2019

Richard Stevens:

If the weather prediction is correct, two days of snow are coming.  It was necessary to take advantage of this fantastic winter day and go birding.  Temperatures reached 60 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

My first stop was Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Long-tailed Duck continued to swim around one of the open water pools while the majority of the Lake was still ice covered.  

The Northern Saw-whet Owl found yesterday was gone.  At least six birders were able to see it yesterday.

I walked the Denver County section of the First Creek Trail for about two hours.  Unfortunately, no Rusty Blackbirds were picked out of the 400+ Red-winged Blackbirds flying around the cattails.  

Half a dozen Song Sparrows mixed with two dozen House Sparrows also flew around.  A dozen Mallards, two Northern Pintail Ducks and two Green-winged Teal swam up and down the creek.

A Virginia Rail called from the small dam area east of the Light Rail tracks.  Two Wilson's Snipes called along the creek opposite the horse corrals.  Two responded to my recordings but did not come into view.  Nothing responded to an American Woodcock recording...darn.

Finally tired at looking at Red-winged Blackbird, I headed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The Brown Thrasher was the main target bird.

A walk up the western stream that flows into the swim beach pond found the female Rusty Blackbird about 30 yards north of the paved path.  The male was nowhere to be seen.

Then I sat on the bench at the southeast corner of the pond and waited for the Brown Thrasher.  After an hour and a half, the Brown Thrasher was a no show.

The female Rusty Blackbird appeared twice as did two Song Sparrows, a dozen Black-billed Magpies and two Northern Flickers.  The male Rusty Blackbird did not.

A search for the Long-eared Owls along the shooting range road also was a bust.  I parked until dusk, no Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Birding Along the West Side of Town

January 9, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperatures reached the low 50s today.  Winds were 3-4 mph.

At first light, I drove the DIA Owl Loop; no Short-eared Owls appeared.

About 75 percent of Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) was ice covered.  One of the Long-tailed Ducks of three was easy to spot swimming around one of the open water areas.

Common Merganser numbers were up from my last visit.  Perhaps the many that stayed at Cherry Creek Reservoir, 8 miles to the west, had to relocate when Cherry Creek became 99 percent ice covered.

A walk up from the western parking lot found a Lesser Black-backed Gull with several dozen Ring-billed Gulls and a Herring Gull on the ice below the northwestern end of the dam.

The highlight however, was a Northern Saw-whet Owl in the evergreens at the upper swim beach parking area.  It was quite a surprise!  It is the sixth Arapahoe County record.

The only other Northern Saw-whet Owl I have encountered in Arapahoe County was also completely out of place (pines at Mississippi Avenue & I225 on 12/9/2012).

I texted several birders and at least Terry Michaels, Dave King, Jacob Washburn and Jamie Thompson were able to confirm the sighting.

My next stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The goal was to get a photo of the Brown Thrasher that has been reported around the pond northwest of the swim beach from 11/16 to 1/8.  No photo, I did not find it during a two-hour walk.

The female Rusty Blackbird was about 20 yards up from the paved path along the western stream flowing into the pond.  The male Rusty Blackbird was not relocated.

Both Rusty Blackbirds have been reported since 10/31/2018.  The pair originally stayed close together until about two weeks ago.  I found both last on January 1st.  They were quite far from each other that time.  Others have seen them both as late as yesterday.

After lunch, I decided to try for the Rusty Blackbirds reported along the First Creek Trail (Denver County).  I walked from the Tower Road end of 56th avenue to the pond just east of Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Denver/Adams).

The Rusty Blackbirds were never found.  A search for the White-throated Sparrow that has been hanging around the weedy field at the southwest corner of the Buckley Road trailhead also came up unsuccessful.

Eighteen Song Sparrows, the most I have observed in one place and four White-crowned Sparrows popped up and down from the chain link fence to the tall grasses.

A little farther west I ran into a flock of twenty eight Dark-eyed Juncos and two additional White-crowned Sparrows.

I may have observed the White-throated Sparrow that has been reported since 10/26 (last reported 11/24).  Unfortunately, it had its back to me and I could not see its yellow lore.

The weak moustachial bar, smallish bill and faint streaks on its flanks would indicate a White-throated Sparrow.  A Song Sparrow has a much stronger moustachial bar, thicker bill and strong streaks on its flanks.  I left the identification undecided.

The highlights of the several miles hike were a Belted Kingfisher and Great Horned Owl.

See comments!

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop while I was parked along Gun Club Road north of 104th avenue.

Some Additional 2019 Birds

January 8, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was in the middle 40s today.  Winds ranged from 8-9 mph with gusts to 20 mph.

Terry Michaels and I headed up to Loveland around 3:00am.  Unfortunately, it requires an early start if one wants to avoid Denver's awful traffic.

A dawn we stopped at Trilby and Taft Roads to see if the Gyrfalcon and was around.  It was not and we continued south.

We heard and later saw the Carolina Wren in the alley between Pierce and Adams streets (almost at Adams).

Later a brief stop at Lake Loveland (Larimer) did not find any uncommon gulls.

We then headed to Frederick Recreation Area.  The Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose and Greater White-fronted Goose were on Milavec Reservoir and the golf course to the north (photos taken of all).  

Then we continued east to Ireland Reservoirs #5 & #1.  The Northern Mockingbird reported earlier at #5 was not relocated.  Nothing uncommon was found at either reservoir.

The rest of our birding day was spent at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  First, we walked the northern sections from Pond 5 to Pond 9.  Highlight was a Long-eared Owl hidden in the Russian Olive trees along the western windbreak.  

The Eastern Bluebird reported yesterday was not relocated.  The Swamp Sparrow we found on 12/14 was not found either.  A Great Horned Owl called from Pond 13.

A hike down the southern sections from Pond 4 to 1 was uneventful.  Two Spotted Towhees, many Robins and Dark-eyed Juncos were just about everything seen.

We held around until dusk, no Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

East of the Metro Area

January 7, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperatures in Aurora were 47 degrees.  It was a bit of a change after the middle 60s in Baca and Las Animas Counties last weekend.  Winds were 15-16 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  Last night winds reached 45 mph!  An airplane was blown sideways at DIA airport.

Terry Michaels and I wandered around east of Aurora after a late start.  

A Barn Owl and two Long-eared Owls were relocated at Barr Lake (Adams).

We relocated one of the Rusty Blackbirds and the Brown Thrasher around the swim beach pond at Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe).

A return to the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) did not find any Short-eared Owls at sunset.  The high winds perhaps discouraged even Short-eared Owls from flying around.

Southeastern Christmas Counts

January 4-6, 2018

January 4

It was a beautiful day in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  High temperature was 61 degrees, fantastic for winter!  Winds were 3-4 mph in Cottonwood Canyon and 5-6 at Picture Canyon.

The sixteenth Cottonwood Canyon Christmas Count includes Picture Canyon.

Four CoBus birders arrived in Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) around 4:00 am.  A pair of Western Screech-Owls responded to our recordings played near the camping area.  A Great Horned Owl called quite a distance to the west.

Eventually the bird count at Cottonwood Canyon included a Barn Owl (CR 7), Northern Saw-whet Owl (CR M), Greater Roadrunner (CR M), Long-eared Owl and Northern Cardinal (western draw), a pair of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and Winter Wren (southern draw), and Canyon Towhees, a Swamp Sparrow and two Rufous-crowned Sparrows (eastern end), Bewick's Wrens at Campgrounds.

Picture Canyon added a Curve-billed Thrasher, another Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and 4-5 Lapland Longspurs.  Four Mountain Bluebirds were observed as we drove out of Cottonwood Canyon and the way to Picture Canyon.  A Short-eared Owl was along CR M seen along CR M near CR 30.

January 5

Even a better winter day in Colorado, high temperature was 66 degrees!  We were not in the lower canyons today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

The CoBus group conducted the first annual Las Animas County Christmas Count today.

Highlights included a Western Screech-Owl, three Northern Saw-whet Owls, two Great Horned Owls, a Greater Roadrunner and male Northern Cardinal.

The count included the northern end of Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area and private lands to the north and east.  Two of the Northern Saw-whet Owls were found here.

Other birds recorded included a flock of fourteen Lapland Longspurs, one McCown's Longspur, Canyon Towhees, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Chihuahuan Ravens, Bewick's Wrens, and a Rock Wren.

January 6

Another gorgeous day with a high of 65 degrees.  Winds were higher at 16-17 mph with gusts measured at 29 mph.

The CoBus group found a Lesser Prairie-Chicken near the old Campo Lek (Baca) this morning.

We returned to Baca because of a report of a Painted Bunting in Furnish Canyon.  High winds did not aid in our birding today.  The female/young Painted Bunting sighting was never confirmed.

A male Northern Cardinal the third of the trip was observed at the private ranch in Furnish Canyon.  

Other birds recorded included Chihuahuan Ravens, Canyon Towhees, Bewick's Wren, female Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and another Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Denver Foothills

January 3, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 55 degrees today.  Winds were mild at 4-5 mph with gusts only 6 mph.

First stop today was Morrison.  After a short wail, the Golden-crowned Sparrow showed up under the feeders at the east end of Summer Street.  Rumors were that the homeowners were upset with birders looking at their feeders.  Some birders said that the homeowners did not mind birders visiting?

Next, we searched for an hour for the Winter Wren at Morrison Park (Jefferson).  It was not found.  Rumor has it that earlier birders had played recordings for a long time to find the wren.

The Tundra Swan reported yesterday on the South Platte River, south of Mineral Avenue was not relocated.

Six Trumpeter Swans were on South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe section).  I do not know who first found them.  We received a text message about the Cynthia Madsen sighting.  Note: several may be Tundra Swans?

The Black Scoter is still on South Platte Park Reservoir.

The Harris's Sparrow made a brief appearance at South Platte Park (Arapahoe).  Again, it was behind the Carson Nature Center.

After dropping off my passenger, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  Raptor count was good with two Ferruginous Hawks, two Red-tailed Hawks, a Rough-legged Hawk, three Northern Harriers and an American Kestrel.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Adding Uncommon Birds To My 2019 Bird List

January 2, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperatures reached the high 30s today.  Winds were only 4-5 mph.

Rebecca Kosten and I started our birding day an hour before sunrise.  We made several stops adding uncommon birds to our trip list.

The Gyrfalcon was briefly on the pole along Trilby Road just west of Taft Road (Larimer).

The Black-legged Kittiwake flew around the southern end of Horsetooth Reservoir (Larimer).

The Pink-footed Goose and Long-tailed Duck were both still on Milavec Reservoir at Frederick Recreation Area (Weld).

I dropped Rebecca off at a friend's home in Denver and continued west.  Dylan Cooper had found the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at 10:00 am & 12:00 am in the three Pines on the north side of the tennis courts.  It allowed a brief look at 1:00 pm and disappeared.  

At 1:30 am, Diane Roberts relocated the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in a Pine east of the tennis courts.  

My next stop was Dahlia Hollow Park (Arapahoe).  While I did not find the Northern Goshawk and Hermit Thrush reported yesterday, my 2019 list was increased with Bushtits, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Crows, one Common Raven, Blue Jays and a Spotted Towhee.

My final stop was the Highline Canal south of Colorado Blvd.  My friend who has had a Northern Cardinal visiting her feeders for several months was not home.  I did not see the bird and have no recent update.  A flock of four Pygmy Nuthatches was in the area.

Other birds encountered today in Arapahoe County included Eastern Screech-Owls at three locations.  I now know of seven locations in Arapahoe County.

I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) on the way home.  The Lake is completely ice covered.  The few waterfowl around were standing on the ice.  No owls could be found this evening.

Searching For 2019 Uncommon Birds

January 1, 2019

Richard Stevens:

After having a good 2018, I wanted to start 2019 off well.  

Barn Owl at Barr Lake (Adams).

Barrow's Goldeneye is still on the South Platte River (Adams), south of green/white tower (Adams).  South Platte Birding Area is good location to find many varieties of common ducks.

Fox Sparrow (red) was at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  Missed Golden-crowned Sparrow in Morrison for third time.

Black Scoter is still on South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Greater Scaup also around.

Rusty Blackbird pair was along western stream just south of Cherry Creek Reservoir main road.  Lake mostly frozen, missed Long-tailed Ducks, perhaps they were the pair reported in Littleton today.  Did find a Long-eared Owl, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Brewer's Blackbirds, Northern Shrike, Song Sparrows.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Brief Stop at Aurora Reservoir

December 31, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It snowed most of the day.  High temperature was 18 degrees.  Winds were 15-16 mph in the afternoon at Aurora Reservoir.

While going out to get dinner I made a long detour to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was the only uncommon Gull picked out of hundreds of gulls off the swim beach.