Tuesday, February 19, 2019

First Creek Trail and Aurora Reservoir

February 19, 2019

Richard Stevens

Another cold winter day in Colorado with a high temperature at 19 degrees.  Winds did not help at 8-9 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Three Rusty Blackbirds continued along First Creek just north of the 56th avenue Bridge in the morning.

I made it to Aurora Reservoir in the afternoon and froze in the head winds hitting the lower swim beach parking area.

The Long-tailed Duck continues today in the largest of the open water areas.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also on the ice edge nearby.

Gull numbers were way down.  Geese almost non-existent at 4:00 pm.  A male Ruddy Duck and several Common Goldeneyes swam in the small open area just below the pavilion.

No Short-eared Owls or Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop on my drive home.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Western Bluebirds At Cherry Creek State Park

February 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

We did not bird much on this cold day.  High temperature was 18 degrees with winds 10-11 mph, gusts to 15 mph.

We photographed three Western Bluebirds below the ranger's office when passing through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).
CoBus photo library: coloradobirdingsociety.net 

Nothing uncommon was found along the DIA Owl Loop when we drove home.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Uneventful Birding Day

February 17, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was not a successful day of birding.  Rebecca and I managed to get outside in spite of a high temperature of 32 degrees.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

After visiting friends in Denver, we stopped at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County).  In forty-five minutes, not one sparrow was encountered.  A few Black-billed Magpies flew below the upper loop behind the maintenance building.

We walked Westerly Creek Park (Denver) for thirty minutes.  Again, no sparrows were found.

A drive through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) also ran into few birds.  Lower Derby Lake and Lake Ladora were mostly ice covered.  Ring-billed Gulls were the only gulls observed.

It is too early for Red-headed Woodpeckers or flycatchers to show up and none was found.

Just to see at least one uncommon bird today, we stopped at the 56th Avenue Bridge over First Creek.  Two Rusty Blackbirds walked along the creek, just north of the bridge.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Aurora Reservoir in a Snowstorm

February 16, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 41 degrees just before Noon.  Temperatures dropped greatly after that and were only 28 degrees at 5:00 pm.  Winds showed a similar pattern.  5-6 mph before Noon and 14-15 mph by 2:00 pm.

I took country roads to Aurora Reservoir, again avoiding Saturday traffic in Aurora and Denver.  Then I hiked to Aurora Reservoir from the southern entrance.

It is 1.5 miles to the mouth of Senac Cove and another 0.5 miles to the bench overlooking the southeast corner of the Lake.  Low visibility due to the approaching storm forced me to walk another 2.0 miles to mile marker 4.0.

Gulls were few today and no uncommon birds were observed.  The single Long-tailed Duck of the three on the lake two months ago swam 100 yards north of the Senac Cove mouth.

Later I drove to the lower swim beach parking area (off the northern entrance).  It started to snow and visibility dropped to 30 yards or so.  No uncommon gulls were added to my trip list today.

Heavy snow along the DIA Owl Loop at 4:00 pm canceled plans to search for Short-eared Owls and Snow Buntings.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Boulder County Birding

February 15, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperature reached 57 degrees.  Wind speed was variable, in Boulder 21 mph, slightly higher in mountains.

To miss Denver traffic, I left home around 4:00 am.  A about eight Gray-crowned Rosy Finches flew around Allenspark.  Later I found ten Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and four Brown-capped Rosy Finches in Ward.

A snowshoe hike up the Brainard Lake road added a drumming male American Three-toed Woodpecker to my day list.

Dropping back down in Boulder, I sat in my car for 2 hours before the Varied Thrush flew into the yard at 3896 Bosque Court.  The bird came from the backyard of the house directly west (white truck in driveway).

Misses: no Vermilion Flycatcher found at Walden Ponds.  Then I walked the White Rocks trail.  No Rusty Blackbirds or Swamp Sparrows encountered.

My birding day ended at Lagerman Reservoir.  No Short-eared Owls found this evening.

Walk Around Barr Lake

February 14, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was another fantastic winter day in Colorado.  Temperature reached 58 degrees.  Winds were strong today at 13-14 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Stuck with chores most of the day, I did find time for a hike at Barr Lake (Adams).
Two Long-eared Owls and a Barn Owl were the highlights.  No Short-eared Owl appeared along the DIA Owl Loop 30 minutes either side of sunset.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Return to Arapahoe County Reservoirs

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 62 degrees this afternoon.  While the foothills saw high winds, my anemometer readings were only 6-7 mph at Aurora Reservoir.

I returned to several Arapahoe County Reservoirs today.  After missing the Rusty Blackbird and Brown Thrasher at Cherry Creek Reservoir, I walked into Aurora Reservoir from the southern entrance.

Gulls galore, my count included three Glaucous Gulls, one Glaucous-winged Gull looking, and one Great Black-backed Gull among thousands of Ring-billed Gulls.  The Long-tailed Duck was also off Senac Cove.

Later I drove to the lower swim beach parking area and found one Iceland Gull, at least two California Gulls and three Herring Gulls among the many Ring-billed Gulls.

A hike to the southwest corner of the dam did not add any additional uncommon gulls.

The four Rusty Blackbirds continue along the First Creek Trail north of the 56th avenue Bridge.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop 30 minutes either side of sunset.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Trip to Northern Colorado

February 10, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperatures today were only 30 degrees north of Denver.  Winds were surprisingly calm at 1-2 mph.  Gusts on the prairie measured only 8 mph.

Terry Michaels and I headed north today.  

Another birder was looking at the Varied Thrush when we arrived in Boulder.  Sorry we did not get the opportunity to ask your name.

Just for fun, we walked around Walden Ponds to see if the Vermilion Flycatcher was still there.  It was not found.

Fossil Creek Reservoir (Larimer) and Warren Lake (Larimer) did not have any uncommon birds.

Several birders were looking at the Pine Warbler in Fort Collins (Larimer) when we walked along the Oakridge Village trail (Larimer).

Then we drove around Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld) searching for the Snow Bunting and Sharp-tailed Grouse reported yesterday.  We were not finding the birds when a text message said to try Weld County Road 111.

Two Snow Buntings were relocated along CR 111 a bit north of CR 128.  We continued north and spotted two Sharp-tailed Grouse north of CR 132.

We sat at Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer) 30 minutes before sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

A good bird list for this cold winter day.

Aurora Reservoir Update

February 9, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 48 degrees.  Winds were brisk 8-9 mph with gusts to 24 mph.

Staying away from Denver traffic I took back roads to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).

A brief stop at the 56th avenue bridge over First Creek found the four Rusty Blackbirds walking along the east fork of the Creek.

Then I walked into Aurora Reservoir from the southern entrance off East Southshore Parkway.  It is about a 1.5 mile walk to the mouth of Senac Cove.

The Long-tailed Duck was swimming approximately 40 yards off the mouth of the Cove.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the ice shelf.  Two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls stood out among the many Ring-billed Gulls.

The large white Gull swam about 60 yards off Senac Cove.  It is all white with a pink bill and black tip.  It appears to be a juvenile Glaucous Gull.  

Birding Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area

February 8, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 34 degrees. Winds were strong all day at 24-25 mph with gusts into the 30s mph.

I spent a long day at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area.  

Two Eastern Screech-Owls called along the Republican River several hundred yards east of Highway 385. 

Five Greater Prairie-Chickens were north of Yuma County Road 3 and east of Highway 385.

Other highlights included a Northern Cardinal at Fosters Grove.  Two Long-eared Owls in the windbreak.  Seven Wild Turkeys walked along CR 3, west of Fosters Grove.

Another Red-bellied Woodpecker was along the gated road along the south side of "Bonny Reservoir".

Yet another Red-bellied Woodpecker and six Eastern Bluebirds were spotted back at Hale Ponds.  A covey of eight+ Northern Bobwhite scattered from a Bushtit at the northeast corner of Hale Ponds.

Misses: no Winter Wrens, Northern Saw-whet Owls, Harris's & White-throated Sparrows or Barn Owls were found this trip.

Another Eastern Screech-Owl called at sunset at Hale Ponds.

Birding Around Wray, Colorado

February 7, 2019

Richard Stevens:

What a cold day.  High temperature was 14 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

I drove Yuma CR 45 about an hour before sunrise.  No Short-eared Owls flew around this morning.  Many Horned Larks and two Lapland Longspurs ran up and down the road.

A Greater Prairie-Chicken called from the north side of the road.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens visited the CR 45 Lek.  No additional Greater Prairie-Chickens were found when I drove the road to the Kitzmiller Ranch (private Greater Prairie-Chicken tours later in the year).

I visited friends in Wray most of the day.  Spread over four yards highlights included four male and two female Northern Cardinals, one Eastern Screech-Owl, one young male Purple Finch and one red Fox Sparrow.

A return to CR 45 at sunset did not find any Greater Prairie-Chickens.

Misses: Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Winter Wrens, uncommon birds at Stalker Ponds and the Wray Fishing Unit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Logan County to Sedgwick County

February 6, 2019

Rebecca Kosten: Transcript of phone call from Richard Stevens:

Eastern Screech-Owls found along Platte River, east of Hwy 55, Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area using night vision goggles.

Then searched unsuccessfully for Greater Prairie-Chickens mostly Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County) south of I76.

Gulls at Jumbo Reservoir included an Iceland Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Do not believe it was the North Sterling Reservoir bird from yesterday.

Continued on to Ovid.  Highlight birds were a juvenile Purple Finch at Lee's house.  The American Woodcock is still at JB's, now since 12/18.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker drummed on telephone pole behind High School.  A White-throated Sparrow was among White-crowned Sparrows at the Sewer Ponds.  No Harris's Sparrows this trip.

Eastern Screech-Owl called during our barbecue at RD's ranch.

Birding Around Sterling

February 5, 2019

Rebecca Kosten: Transcript of phone call from Richard Stevens:

Spent morning at North Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  Lesser Black-backed Gull was at northeast cove.  Barn Owl at Campgrounds.  Target bird (Snow Bunting) not found.

No uncommon encountered at Overland Park or Pioneer Park in Sterling.  Few birds found at either location.

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) in afternoon.  Highlights were three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Hermit Thrush, Field Sparrow and Northern Cardinal all east of Highway 55.

Two Eastern Screech-Owls heard after sunset.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area and Jackson Reservoir

February 4, 2019

Rebecca Kosten

Transcript of phone call from Richard Stevens:

I stayed about six hours at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  Target bird was the Snow Bunting reported Saturday (2/2).  Short of it, the bird was not relocated.

I walked the length of both sides of Banner Lakes Wildlife Area, mostly taking photos for an article on the Wildlife Area.

Eventually three Long-eared Owls were found.  They were in windbreaks at Pond 7, Pond 8 & Pond 10.  They are quite difficult to spot.  I looked every tree up and down and probably still missed one or two.

Snow Bunting was reported at Pond 9.  Snow Buntings would be expected more often along the muddy or sandy shore of lakes and ponds.  Pond 8 and Pond 10 have exposed frozen shores.

A Swamp Sparrow was found in the cattails at Pond 10.  It popped out 10 yards west of the Pond 10 sign.

Long-eared Owl at Pond 10 was interesting.  I was counting American Tree Sparrows (14) through binoculars when staring right at me was the Owl deep in a Russian Olive Tree!

Robins were majority bird as north end of Pond 8, Ponds 9 & Pond 10 have Russian Olive Trees with many seeds.

Other birds were a flock of 22 Dark-eyed Juncos along west side of Pond 11.  Two Great Horned Owls, one Pond 13 and one Pond 3.  Barn Owls along western windbreak between Ponds 4 & 3.  Another at extreme western end of Pond 12.

Ended birding day at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  Found two Long-eared Owls and many Robins.  Eastern Screech-Owl and Great Horned Owl also detected.

Going back out with night vision glasses to see whatever!"

Super Bowl Day

February 3, 2019

Rebecca Kosten

Richard and I passed through Cherry Creek State Park, Arapahoe County on our way back from lunch.

We did not relocate the Rusty Blackbird at the swim beach pond or its drainages.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wandering Around East of Denver

February 2, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 57 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  Our superb warm winter continues as the northeast is swamped.

Rebecca and I observed three Rusty Blackbirds on First Creek.  They mostly searched for food on the eastern fork just north of the 56th avenue Bridge.

We could not find the Rusty Blackbird around the Cherry Creek Reservoir swim beach pond.  It was my third unsuccessful search to relocate the bird.  I probably will not try again.

After dropping Rebecca off, I walked around Barr Lake (Adams) to enjoy the warm afternoon.  One Barn Owl was relocated.  No uncommon birds were spotted today.  

It was just too nice a day to go home.  I parked along the DIA Owl Loop (Denver/Adams).  Raptors observed included two Ferruginous Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks and a Bald Eagle.  No Short-eared Owls appeared again this evening.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Aurora Reservoir and a Few Additional Stops

February 1, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 54 degrees on this beautiful winter day.  Winds were 6-7 miles with gusts to 12 mph.

After concluding business in Aurora, I visited some Arapahoe County reservoirs.

I did not find the Rusty Blackbird around the Cherry Creek Reservoir swim beach pond and eastern & western streams flowing into the pond.

My next stop was Aurora Reservoir.  I hiked two miles into Aurora Reservoir from the southern entrance.  It was an interesting choice as many gulls stood on the ice shelf at the mouth of Senac Cove.

Most interesting were a Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and an Iceland Gull (Thayer's).  I do not believe most could be observed from the western lower parking area at the swim beach.

The Long-tailed Duck swam about 20 yards off the ice shelf.  I did see her two days ago from the lower swim beach parking area.

I did get witness photos.  The gulls were still 30 yards from shore; I was not stepping on the snow covered ice on such a warm day (or any day for that matter).

I passed the First Creek Trail (Denver) on my way north.  Three Rusty Blackbirds were again feeding along the eastern fork just north of the 56th avenue Bridge.

My birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  The majority bird was American Robins.  One Long-eared Owl was relocated along the western windbreak between ponds 6-7.  A Great Horned Owl called from pond 13.  

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  Watching the spectacular winter sunset from a human less area was a great end to an enjoyable day!

Sixty Minutes at Bluff Lake Nature Area and Star K Ranch

January 31, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 50 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

Around noon, I stopped at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County).  The flock of White-crowned Sparrows wintering here with a Harris's Sparrow was not found today.

I found one sparrow along the east side trail among the rabbit brush behind the maintenance building.  Unfortunately, the look was so brief that a proper ID was not possible.  

Its back was toward me and its head was never observed.  Overall, I thought the streaks on the back were duller brown (White-crowned) than blackish (Harris's).  The tail appeared to short and size a bit small for a Harris's.  However, I wanted to make sure.

The sparrow stayed deep in one bush while I continued to watch for 15 minutes.  I dislike missing an ID and decided to give it 30 minutes.  

Just before the self-imposed time limit, a second sparrow flew into a nearby bush.  This was less shy and stayed on the outer edges.  It was clearly a Song Sparrow.  Watching the Song Sparrow kept my interest and I decided to stay for another 30 minutes.

At 55 minutes, the mystery sparrow emerged long enough to ID it was a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.  

My next stop was Star K Ranch (Adams County).  The majority bird here was Northern Flicker.

A snipe flew up from the pond in the Wildlife Area.  After 15 minutes or so, it was relocated and turned out to be a Wilson's Snipe.

I wanted to confirm the ID since two American Woodcocks have been found within 3 miles.  Star K Ranch (1/1/2005) and Coal Creek Regional Greenway (10/16/2016).

No Short-eared Owls appeared when I parked at 88th avenue & 470 toll road 30 minutes either side of sunset.