Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Slow Birding Day Around Denver

April 29, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a slow birding day as I tried to relocate some of the birds on the west side of Denver.  Having a snowstorm roll in the afternoon did not aid matters.  High temperature today was only 42 degrees; that is 36 degrees colder than yesterday.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

My day started at Barr Lake (Adams) where a Black-throated Gray Warbler was fluttering about just northeast of the Visitor's Center footbridge.  

However, it was a day of misses.  The Glossy Ibis at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson) appeared to have moved on to better places.

No shorebirds walked around Clear Creek Valley Park (Jefferson).

No Nashville Warbler was found at Harriman Lake Park (Jefferson).

My only highlight was the Neotropic Cormorant remaining at Hines Lake, Robert A. Easton Regional Park.

Marston Reservoir (Denver) had few gulls and no uncommon birds.

Visibility declined in the afternoon and I gave up on searching for birds on Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

With snowstorms moving into Colorado in the next few days, I was happy that this week's grouse trip was canceled.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Windy Afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 28, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was a warm 78 degrees.

Spent most of the day doing chores; however, I did find time to stop by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) late in the afternoon.

The storm was blowing in with winds 17-18 mph with gusts to 24 mph.  

High waves made finding any waterfowl difficult.  The southwest winds belted Pelican Point with water.

A few shorebirds walked the Point.  Highlights were fourteen Marbled Godwits, eight Willets, one Snowy Plover and one American Avocet.

Search for South Platte Park Birds

April 27, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 67 degrees.  Winds were ridiculous at 14-15 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

After lunch, I chose to make the long time consuming drive to South Platte Park (Arapahoe).  Yesterday's Yellow-throated Vireo had been found.  In four hours, I was not able to relocate the bird.

I walked from the South Platte Park Visitor's Center down to C470 with a stop at Bufflehead Lake where the Yellow-throated Vireo was reported.

On the return trip, I hiked up the western side of the Ponds lining the Trail.  A text message sent GPS waypoints of a possible Yellow-throated Vireo sighting west of Eagle Watch Lake.  

In a 30-45 minute search at the waypoints, I was not able to find the bird.  The waypoints may have been off, because the Yellow-throated Vireo was relocated east of Bufflehead Lake after I left.

As I started up the west side of the Ponds, I mentioned to another birder that the blooming wild plum brushes were excellent places for a Northern Parula.  One had been reported 1.1 mile farther north yesterday.

Less than ten minutes after making the statement, a small grayish blue with a yellow throat and rufous breastband popped out of a group of plum bushes!  Coordinates are on the South Platte Park map on the CoBus website:

After returning to the South Platte Park Visitor's Center, I continued 0.6 miles north to the site of the Northern Parula report of yesterday.  I did not find another one.

My final stop of the day was at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  I could not relocate the Townsend's Warbler reported yesterday at the old heronry.

A Day In Boulder County

April 26, 2019

Richard Stevens:

While windy, the 78 degree temperature made for a superb day.

I decided to spend the day in Boulder County.  Afternoon and evening weather predictions were not great for any owling after dark.

My first stop was the LOBO (Longmont-Boulder trail) at Gunbarrel.  I searched for the previously reported Pacific Wren for about an hour.  Short breaks were taken to watch the "infamous" Great Horned Owl owlets.

Many bikers, hikers and dog walkers passed by during that hour.  One woman (Jeannie) stopped to watch the owlets and asked what I was looking for along the creek.  I explained the uncommon Pacific Wren; she said, "You mean like that bird over there"?

Yes, she saw the wren that I had missed.  We watched the Pacific Wren for another 3-5 minutes before it flew south across the path and disappeared in the thickets.  I will take the sighting anyway it comes!

Next, I drove north to Lagerman Reservoir.  The Pectoral Sandpiper was easy to pick out of a group of shorebirds, which included two American Avocets, a Least Sandpiper and Black-necked Stilt.

I returned south to Boulder Creek and 75th Street.  An Eastern Phoebe flew in and out of the barn on the north side of Boulder Creek, just west of 75th street.  Eventually a second Eastern Phoebe also emerged from the barn.

Before going to lunch, I made two additional stops.  A scan of the prairie dog villages along Lookout Road east of 75th did not find any Burrowing Owls.

A drive down Hollow Crane Road found an additional Eastern Phoebe.  I missed a fourth at 61st Road north of Hygiene Road.

After lunch, I hiked up Hawthorne Gulch searching unsuccessfully for a Northern Cardinal that has been around for several years.

Finally, I explored Mesa South trail and Skunk Canyon.  Nothing uncommon appeared this afternoon.

I hiked west enough for the return trip at dusk.  No owls were found this evening.  Flammulated Owls surely are back in Colorado.  Unfortunately, most of the territories are in areas where roads are still inaccessible due to snow and mud.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Visit to Weld County & a Long-tailed Duck at Aurora Reservoir

April 25, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a cool 63 degrees in Prospect Valley this afternoon.  Winds were 9-10 mph.  Out on the Plains in eastern Weld County gusts reached 38 mph.

I went back to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area and hiked the loop around the southern ponds.  A few uncommon warblers are starting to show up in Pueblo to Denver.  Unfortunately, they were not at the Wildlife Area.

A flock of 48 Yellow-rumped Warblers (40 Myrtle and 8 Audubon's) did not include any females.  A pair of Spotted Towhees searched for food under the evergreens east of Pond 4.

I did not relocate any owls; however, I did not cross to the east side of the canal to bird the large windbreak area.

Afterwards I visited a friend's ranch near Prospect Valley.  We relocated one of the Mountain Plovers found on April 7.  Nesting has been confirmed on his ranch the past three years.

Two Burrowing Owls (4/7) and a pair of resident Long-eared Owls continue on the ranch.

Then I wandered back to Aurora by way of Arapahoe CR 30.  No uncommon birds were encountered.

A stop at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) was interesting.  I scoped the Lake from the lower swim beach parking area and found few birds.  

Then I walked to the southwest end of the dam from the western parking area.  The Long-tailed Duck found yesterday by Diane Roberts and David Suddjian  was 20 feet off the dam.  

She looked just like the Long-tailed Duck that hung around nearby Cherry Creek Reservoir for a week.  She also displayed similar behavior.  She circled the fishermen on the dam, just like Cherry Creek Reservoir.

The fantastic spring day ended with a most colorful sunset!

No Neotropic Cormorant at Cherry Creek Reservoir. Yes, Hooded Oriole in Denver County

April 24, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 72 degrees this afternoon.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

Terry Michaels and I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) in an attempt to relocate the Neotropic Cormorant I observed yesterday.  We did not find any cormorants at the Lake this morning.

Neither did we find recently reported Black Scoter or Long-tailed Duck.

After Terry left for work, I wandered over to Expo Park in Aurora Reservoir.  The Greater White-fronted Goose was cooperating and many photos are taken.  See CoBus website's photo library:

I received a text message about a Hooded Oriole at Westerly Creek Park and headed that way.  Joined by several birders we found the Oriole east of the creek at the southeast corner of Martin Luther King Blvd and Beeler Street.

The bird moved around much.  However, I was able to relocate it several times for arriving birders and take just a couple of photos.  CoBus photo library.

I waited for sunset at the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  No Burrowing Owls have arrived yet.  Note on previous posts that many of the prairie dog villages have been destroyed by Airport employees.  Burrowing Owls may not return.

Another Rusty Blackbird Search At Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Aurora Reservoir was 65 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Around 4:00 pm, I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to stretch my legs.  

The walk from the Dixon Grove parking area to Augie's Pond did not find any Rusty Blackbirds.  I have missed them on my last four attempts and most likely will not try again.  Most likely, they have departed.

I scoped the lake searching for the reported Black Scoter and/or the Long-tailed Duck, which has been around for a week now.  Neither bird was found.

A strange duck kept my attention for quite a while.  From a far distance, it appeared similar to a Black Scoter.  When it swam closer, I could see it was a Ruddy Duck.  Photos posted on the CoBus website "recent witness photos" link

No shorebirds were off Pelican Point.  Two unidentified shorebirds walked the mud flats at the extreme southeastern corner of the Lake.  

I decided to bushwhack to the corner by way of the Prairie Loop.  Both birds turned out to be adult Lesser Yellowlegs.

A lone cormorant stood on a log.  I spent a good 30 minutes before being able to identify it as a Neotropic Cormorant.  Facial pattern (dark lores and pointed border) was distinctive of Neotropic.  It also showed a long tail on a bird that was quite small.

As far as I knew, the Robert A. Easton Regional Park Neotropic Cormorant had not been reported for two days.  Later I heard it was reported the day before and two days after my Neotropic Cormorant sighting.

I know cormorants have been known to fly 70 miles a day for food.  Whether this bird was the Robert A. Easton Regional Park bird, I cannot determine.

Another Grouse Trip With A Couple of Detours

April 17-23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Five of us enjoyed a successful grouse trip.  Weather was great and we made a couple of detours not done on previous trips.  The trip required long days, little sleep and many miles driving.

April 17

Highs reached 68 degrees in Wray today.  It was windy with anomometer readings of 24 to 26 mph.

An hour before sunrise we drove Yuma County Road 45 (turns into CR P) in search of Short-eared Owls and Greater Prairie-Chicken.  Not finding either, we parked near the CR 45 Greater Prairie-Chicken and waited for sunrise.  

Five males performed their entertaining dance.  Eventually two females made an appearance.  Although they did not seem impressed with the displays.

Before leaving the Wray area, we stopped at the Wray Fishing Unit and walked the entrance road.  The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker first discovered on 12/21 was still flying around the Pine Trees.  An Eastern Phoebe first found on 3/23 was relocated along the Creek east of Yuma CR FF.  

A male Northern Cardinal with bright red color was observed off in the distance along the southwestern side of nearby Stalker Pond.

Continuing south, we made a brief stop at Bonny Reservoir Wildlife Area (Yuma).  Two Long-eared Owls continue in the windbreak at Foster's Grove Campgrounds area.  

Our second male Northern Cardinal of the day was also in the Campgrounds.  On the drive out fourteen Wild Turkeys crossed CR 3.

Along the long drive to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) we noticed a Mountain Plover along Baca CR M, about 0.1 miles west of Highway 287/385.

Shortly after sunset, we heard and later saw a Western Screech-Owl around the Cottonwood Canyon primitive Campgrounds at Carrizo Creek.  A Great Horned Owl called somewhere to the west.  No Common Poorwill were enticed to respond to our recordings (probably not here yet).

April 18

High temperature at Cottonwood Canyon was 66 degrees.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 22 mph on the southeastern plains.

At first light, we were parked on a friend's ranch.  Five male Lesser Prairie-Chickens visited this private lek.  No females joined them.

Later a walk along the gravel two-track road north of the entrance road to the old Campo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek found two Cassin's Sparrows east of the tracks.

Returning to Campo, Burrowing Owl was perched on the fence along Baca CR G.

We returned to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) which always offers a variety of birds.  Today it added two Eastern Phoebes, an early migrating Ash-throated Flycatcher, two Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Canyon Towhees, Chihuahuan Ravens, a Bewick's Wren and Spotted Towhee to our trip list.

On the drive out along CR M, we observed a Greater Roadrunner running alongside the road.

A brief detour to the Carrizo Creek picnic area was a fortunate choice.  Two Bewick's Wrens were fluttering about.  The highlight was a male Vermilion Flycatcher along Carrizo Creek and the south end of the public area!

It was discovered that tomorrow would be a closed day at the Waunita Hot Springs Gunnison Sage-Grouse Lek.  We booked it to Gunnison.

A five-minute stop at Monarch Pass for a rest stop added a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drumming and two Gray-crowned Rosy Finches circling overhead.

We arrived at the Waunita Hot Springs road just 15 minutes before sunset.  I usually tell birders that visiting in the evening is not successful.  In past trips, the birds show up after it is too dark to see them.  We were quite fortunate as two males were staring each other down north of the main lek!

April 19

Southwestern Colorado was a warm 78 degrees this afternoon.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts on the open plains of 18 mph.

Continuing our long day, we decided to drive to Durango.  After a couple of hours of rest (who could sleep), we proceeded to Cortez (Montezuma) and beyond.

A visit to Yellow Jacket Canyon made the detour quite rewarding.  Eventually we found a singing Lucy's Warbler, a Gray Flycatcher and male Black-throated Gray Warbler!  

Back in Durango (La Plata), two Acorn Woodpeckers were found at their usual spot in Wildcat Canyon (Rafter J).

Huck Finn Pond and area was disappointing as both Lewis's Woodpeckers and Black Phoebes were missed.

We also missed Grace's Warblers at Haviland Lake Wildlife Area (La Plata).  A male Williamson's Sapsucker was hardly a consolation prize.  My early date for Grace's Warblers in La Plata County is 4/3; however, 4/22 is a more successful date.

Our birding day ended at the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose).  The south rim drive was open and we drove up and down the road.  Eventually two male Dusky Grouse was observed displaying.  No females were found.

We retired early this evening in Delta for some greatly needed rest.

April 20

We experienced another beautiful day with a high of 75 degrees.  It felt hot on the dusty arid lands around Delta and Grand Junction.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  The Grand Mesa was much cooler this night.

After a good night's sleep, we stopped by Fruitgrower's Reservoir (Delta).  Two Willets walked along the western shore.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was found west below the dam.

A detour to Escalante Canyon north of Delta was successful.  A Chukar was observed in the field west of the Gunnison River.

Farther into the Canyon, we ran across another Chukar (near the old goat farm).  Eventually two Black Phoebes were found.  One was near a traditional nesting spot at Pinnacle Rock.

Next, we drove through Colorado National Monument (Montrose).  Gambel's Quail were seen just outside the eastern entrance.  A drive through the subdivision there is a great location to find them.

Devil's Kitchen trail added a Gray Vireo to our trip list.  A Gray Flycatcher was along the trail across from the Visitor's Center.  Four Pinyon Jays flew through the Campgrounds.  

In the afternoon, we drove Mesa County Road 4 north to Brewster's Ridge.  We did not find any Sagebrush Sparrows until entering Garfield County.  The road is now Garfield CR 201.  Sagebrush Sparrows can be quite elusive because they like to stay on the ground.  I have found them to be enticed by recordings.

Our birding day ended on the Grand Mesa.  Eventually we relocated a Northern Saw-whet Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl (Powderhorn Ski Area) and a Boreal Owl (pullovers south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds).

April 21

Temperatures in Hayden only reached 53 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  

We visited the Twenty Road Grouse leks outside of Hayden (Routt) just before sunrise.  Four Sharp-tailed Grouse eventually flew into the grassy hillside west of the parking area.  No Greater Sage-Grouse were heard or seen.

Afterwards we rushed to the 80 Route Leks.  The road is still impassible due to snow drifts.

We wandered around Steamboat Springs (Fish Creek Road) where Sharp-tailed Grouse usually spend the winter months.  A stop at a friend's home found that she had not seen any in weeks.

Stagecoach Recreational Area (Routt) did not add any uncommon birds to our trip list.  Some years waxwings (Bohemian Waxwings being more rare) will be seen in the cottonwoods around the Lake.

Rabbit Ears Pass did not provide any Crossbill sightings this trip.  We also missed the American Three-toed Woodpeckers usually observed along the entrance road to the maintenace sheds.

Finally we moved on to the Jackson CR 26b Greater Sage-Grouse lek.  As the sun set and darkness fell, about twenty males and three females finally emerged from the sagebrush and walked to the lek!

April 22

High temperature in Silverthorne was 34 degrees.  It had to be 10 degrees colder on Loveland Pass.  Winds were 28-29 mph.  On Loveland Pass they reached a "mild" 36 mph.  I have been on the Pass and measured 70+ mph.  We enjoyed the slower speed. 

Shortly after sunrise, we visited a friend's home in Silverthorne (Summit County).  They no longer welcome visitors to their feeders (too many rude experiences).  However, they make an exception for me!

All three species of Rosy Finches are still visiting their feeders.  Other visitors included Evening Grosbeaks, a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Pygmy Nuthatches, Hairy Woodpeckers, and Clark's Nutcrackers.  They have not seen Band-tailed Pigeons yet this spring.

One Barrow's Goldeneye was on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit) as we passed by.

Finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan today was a task.  After four stops on Loveland Pass, we found a pair below the western summit.  Fortunately, winds were not super strong today.  Keeping our scopes steady was not a problem; some days the winds make it difficult to stand upright.

We picked up one of our missed target birds at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson).  It was quite an afternoon hike up the switchbacks.  However, a male American Three-toed Woodpecker was encountered along the Strawberry Jack Trail about 300 yards south of the Pine View Trail intersection.

The trek is usually a good place to find a Northern Pygmy-Owl or American Dipper; neither was seen today.

April 23

Temperatures only reached 47 degrees on the Grasslands.  Fortunately, winds were on 4-5 mph.

One day left, we drove to the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld) to search for our missing target birds--longspurs.

A drive west of the Pawnee National Grasslands found ten Sharp-tailed Grouse along Weld CR 134, east of CR 111 and another six along CR 111, north of CR 132.  They are the plains subspecies of Sharp-tailed Grouse; perhaps someday will be considered a separate species.

Two Chestnut-collared Longspurs were at the northeast corner of Weld CR 69 and CR 96.  Half a dozen McCown's Longspurs were found along CR 96, west of the Murphy's Pasture Road.

A lone Mountain Plover was found along CR 100, a mile or so west of CR 390!

My friends needed to catch their flight home and we headed to DIA Airport.  A Ferruginous Hawk was seen along the DIA Owl Loop, just outside of the airport.

Eastern Adams and Arapahoe Counties

April 16, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Deer Trail was 69 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

Today I drove the roads in Eastern Adams County and down to Eastern Arapahoe County.  Temperatures reached 70 degrees.  Winds were 14-15 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

I checked many of the Adams County Roads where Mountain Plover have been found in recent years.  Missed both Mountain Plovers and Burrowing Owls but did find several dozen Horned Larks, two McCown's Longspurs and a Chestnut-collared Longspur.

A walk around Richmil Ranch Open Space for a couple of hours also found few birds.  A Northern Mockingbird was in the southeast corner.  One Killdeer and two Northern Flickers wandered around the small northern pond.

Eastern Arapahoe County Roads were also slow, bird wise.  The Northern Mockingbird I found along CR 42, east of CR 161 was not around this afternoon.

The Burrowing Owls that nested along CR 30, east of CR 149 have not returned yet?

No Red-headed Woodpeckers were encountered at their summer haunts East Bijou Creek at Deer Trail and West Bijou Creek at County Line Road (Arapahoe/Elbert Line).

My birding day ended at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Nothing uncommon could be found.

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