Sunday, May 26, 2019

Trip to Loviers, Douglas County

May 26, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 73 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 17 mph (accompanied by rain at 5:00 pm)

I was headed to Boulder to search for the Hermit Warbler when a message arrive that it was not found.  I close the town of Loviers instead.

Shortly after arriving, the male Scarlet Tanager flew into the yard two doors down (north) of 1st Street and Elm Avenue.  Many Western Tanagers and a Pine Grosbeak kept the feeder occupied and the Tanager flew to the house at the southeast corner of the intersection.  Superb photos were captured.

Many Black-headed Grosbeaks, mostly male, Western Tanagers, both sexes, American Goldfinches and Eurasian Collared-Doves also visited the feeders.

Later I walked about a 1/4 mile down the Highline Canal from the Orchard Blvd parking area.  The rain was not going to deter; however, huge lightning bolts overhead changed my mind.  It was a good choice as shortly after getting to my car the area was hit with hail.  My birding day ended.

Trip to Eastern Colorado Plains

May 23 to 25, 2019

Richard Stevens:

May 23

High temperature in Sterling was 50 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

Thankfully, I started out for Fort Collins at 2:00 am. I could not imagine what any rush hour traffic would be.  The 50-mile drive was completely a construction zone.  I knew Interstate 25 would not be on my return trip.

There was light snow for about the last 30 miles. Once at Fort Collins it turned to rain.  I arrived well before sunrise and chose to walk along CR 64/CR 3.  

A Long-eared Owl called from the windbreak along CR 3.  Great Horned Owls called from the ranger's home and the private home to the southwest.  Regrettably, no Short-eared Owl was observed at civil twilight.

The Common Gallinule did not show up in the two hours spent at the Schware Unit of the Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer).  It rained the whole time.

I detoured to the Cobb Lake unit of the Wellington Wildlife Area and walked around in the rain.  Not knowing which parking area the Chestnut-sided Warbler was reported I started with the southern one.

No Chestnut-sided Warbler was around; however, the area was quite birdy.  The highlight was a Gray-cheeked Thrush under the trees just west of the parking area.  

A hike down the windbreak and then at the eastern windbreak found a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Spotted Towhee, two Yellow-rumped Warblers, four Swainson's Thrushes and many Robins.

The eastern parking area had few if any birds.  Later I was told that this was where the Chestnut-sided Warbler had spent several days.

A walk down to the lake from the northern parking area added many birds to my day list.  Two Great-tailed Grackles squawked from the cattails.  Several dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers flew around the northern windbreak.  A pair of Great Horned Owls perched in the most eastern tree in the windbreak.

I continued around the Lake and spent an hour exploring the western trees, no Chestnut-sided Warbler.

A return to Schware Unit was a success.  The Common Gallinule was under the tall willow in the western half of the pond.  Other birds included one Pied-billed Grebe, half a dozen Yellow-headed Blackbirds, many Red-winged Blackbirds, nine Wilson's Phalaropes and many ducks including the three species of teal.

From there I drove east toward Crow Valley Campgrounds (Weld).  Stops at traditional listed Mountain Plover locations did not find any.  One was eventually found at an undisclosed nesting area.

Both McCown's Longspurs and Chestnut-collared Longspurs were found along Weld County Road 96, east of CR 69.

Migration appears to be late at Crow Valley Campgrounds.  Only a few uncommon birds were encountered.  These included two Plumbeous Vireos; they hang around the group picnic area each year.

A Red-eyed Vireo was along the western border at campsite 10.  A Veery and Gray-cheeked Thrush were south of the pavilion.  Other birds included 89 Swainson's Thrushes, four Gray Catbirds and three Brown Thrashers.

Having exhausted the bird sightings at Crow Valley Campground I continued east.  My plan was to get to the north side of North Sterling Reservoir (Logan) thirty minutes before dark.  I hoped that the Sharp-tailed Grouse reported a week ago could be relocated.

With plenty of time, I circled Sterling.  At least an hour was spent at each of the following Parks.

A Green Heron walked the banks of the South Platte River at Overland Park (east side of Sterling).  Along the trail and stream, I found a Northern Waterthrush, a Least Flycatcher and a male Baltimore Oriole.

Pioneer Park (west side of Sterling) added a Veery, another Least Flycatcher, a Gray Flycatcher, and young American Redstart to my day list.

A male Baltimore Oriole was flying around the picnic area south of the Lake.  Many sparrows, the least common being Savannah Sparrow flew around here.

Finally, I drove Logan County Roads 58 and 13.  Unfortunately, no Sharp-tailed Grouse were found.  It was quite an enjoyable day on the northeastern plains in spite of the rain.

May 24

High temperature at Crook was 73 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts in the afternoon of 16 mph.

I consider this one of my top five best birding days.  In all 16 miles were hiked at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County).  The east side is 6.8 miles long (13.6 round trip).  The west side is a little over a mile long. 

Birds encountered on the west side of Highway 55 included in no particular order:

Eastern Towhee, although some state that any Eastern Towhees in Colorado are hybrids.  It sounded and looked like an Eastern Towhee.

Three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, one or two Bell's Vireos, a Tennessee Warbler and several Spotted Towhees added.

Then it was time to "get down to business with the approximately 14 mile hike down the east side.  It was quite enjoyable with sightings found.

Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, only one Red-headed Woodpecker, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Least Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher and Great Crested Flycatcher.

Vireos included Blue-headed Vireo (best although the Bell's Vireo was good also) and Red-eyed Vireo.

Warblers included two Nashville Warblers, one Tennessee Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler (best find), Virginia's Warbler, two MacGillivray's Warblers, and only six Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Rest: Gray-cheeked Thrush, one Hermit Thrush, many Swainson's Thrushes, one Eastern Bluebird, and many Robins.

Sparrows: White-crowned, two Field, one Grasshopper, two Cassin's, many Lark Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows.

Male Northern Cardinal and Baltimore Oriole finished my list.

At dusk, I returned to 6 & 7 East Sections.  One Eastern Screech-Owl called.

May 25

High temperature in Sterling was 75 degrees with winds 11-12 mph.

My plan was to be at Duck Creek Wildlife Area (Logan) at civil twilight.  One Upland Sandpiper stood on a fence post as I drove to the parking area.

It was not birdy today.  Highlights included two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Veery and many Swainson's Thrushes. A Great Horned Owl called toward the eastern side of the property.  Another owl flew out of the northern windbreak.  I was not able to identify it as Short-eared or Long-eared.

I had obligations at DIA Airport and returned to Denver.  Before picking up my friends who arrived at 10:00 pm, I decided to try for the Hooded Warbler at Main Reservoir (Jefferson).

I would arrive at 1:00 pm and stayed until almost 7:00 pm.  The Hooded Warbler was observed by three groups near the stream not far from the southern parking area.  Two groups reported it 400 yards father west.  I thought that was quite a distance of the bird to move.

Finally, I caught glimpses of the male Hooded Warbler flying from south to north and later back across the path at 5:17 pm.  I would stay until 7:00 pm hoping for a photograph, which did not happen.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Hike Of An Advanced And Aging Birder at Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 22, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed this cloudy day in Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) with a walk from the Lake Loop to Cottonwood Creek Pond and then up the Butterfly Hill drainage.  High temperature was 50 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Regarding the title of the post,   Birding almost light to dark 5-7 days a week for 25 years qualifies me as an advanced birder.  Last year I spent almost half the year on crutches or in a wheel chair (accidental fall down stairs).

I am happy to say that I can walk 8-10 miles a day again.  Albeit, my normal speed of 13.5 minute/mile has been decreased to 18-19 minutes/mile.

I stood in one location for almost an hour today.  When just a beginner, the first 5-6 years, this was normal.  Today was the first time in years to do such.  Impatience sometimes sets in now, a downside to so many birding years.

On the plus side, with advanced experience, I can now identify birds from 10-20 yards, perhaps 30 yards by standing still.  It is much less strenuous on the neck.  As a beginner, I would stand under the trees and look almost straight up.

Today was much different than yesterday which was filled with hundreds of sparrows.  Total today: five Lark Sparrows, 8 Brewer's Sparrows and 4 Clay-colored Sparrow.
Lark Buntings: 120 at model airplane field, another 80 100-200 yards to west, none anywhere else

My walk started along the sandy shore east of the Lake Loop.  Nine Spotted Sandpipers, several displaying, showed off for a couple of females.  I continued along the path close to the shore and found two Swainson's Thrushes.

Once the path turned away from the shore, I found hundreds of warblers in the taller cottonwoods.  This is where I stood for a long time.  One group of 40 Yellow-rumped Warblers, four Black-capped Chickadees was joined by a Black-and-white Warbler (approximately 60 yards west of the bird platform.

Another flock of 30+ Yellow Warblers had a Tennessee Warbler.  A Virginia's Warbler walked under the burnt cattails (controlled burn) at the bird platform.

My hike continued along Cottonwood Creek to the Wetlands Pond.  Here a Swamp Sparrow was singing from the top of a willow.  We long have suspected that they may nest along this drainage, however not confirmed.

A highly streaked sparrow with buffy breast and face popped out of the cattails along the northern side of the Pond.  It eventually flew to the Cottonwood Creek cattails.

Six or seven photos were captured to be examined later.  It has not been labeled yet; however, I did photograph a Le Conte's Sparrow at Pelican Point on 5/4/2017.

Returning along the west side of Cottonwood Creek I found a female Rufous Hummingbird.  While trying for photos, an adult male Mourning Warbler came out of the thick willows (perhaps 30 yards north of the new footbridge).

I was able to watch the Mourning Warbler for a good 8-10 minutes.  Witness photos were taken; although, the bird never exposed himself completely.

Taking the more southern trail back to the Lake Loop I found two Swainson's Thrushes refusing to leave the trail (photos).  While taking photos a Nashville Warbler jumped out of some short willows.

Just before returning to drainage between the Lake Loop and Butterfly Hill, two Warbling Vireos flew around the cottonwoods close to either side of the trail.  While capturing photos, a Red-eyed Vireo was also observed crossing the path.

Next, I walked the Lake Loop-Butterfly Hill drainage.  From the west side I must have approached an active Hawk's nest.  Two Red-tailed Hawks flew out and a cottonwood tree and circled noisily overhead until I was well away, farther south.

A second Nashville Warbler was found in the willows about 20 yards north of where the riparian area opens up for 20-30 yards.

On the way back down the hill, a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers fluttered about the eastern side approximately 20 yards from Lake View Road.

No owls appeared this evening as I parked along the Shooting Range entrance road.

I must have 2800+ photos to sift through.  It will have to wait until next week.  My six 2019 grouse trips are finished.  I am going to the eastern plains for three or four days for some alone time and to catch the end of spring migration (hopefully).

Great birding to all!

Cherry Creek Reservoir After A Snowstorm

May 21, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today only reached 39 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

I popped over to Barr Lake (Adams) in the morning hoping to relocate one of the Gray-cheeked Thrushes I found last Friday (May 18).  None of Monday's birds was found either.  Last night's snowstorm did bring in many sparrows.

In the afternoon, I searched for the Chestnut-collared Longspurs found earlier by Loch Kilpatrick at the Cherry Creek State Park model airplane field.  They were not found also.

The majority bird(s) were Lark Buntings.  The count included 160 at the model airplane field, 50 at the Prairie Loop, 60 at the Mountain Loop and 40 at West Shades picnic area.  Additional small groups were scattered along Lake View Road (the main road between the east and west entrances).

Sparrows were in high numbers also.  In order of most number, there were Lark Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, Brewer's Sparrows, eight Song Sparrows, six Clay-colored Sparrows, two Savannah Sparrows (one each East Shades picnic area & Lake Loop), two Lincoln's Sparrows (West Shades), one Harris's Sparrow (Prairie Loop), and one White-throated Sparrow (Prairie Loop).  The most difficult find was two White-crowned Sparrows along the shooting range entrance road.  Best find was two Cassin's Sparrows up the Butterfly Hill trail!

Misses included Field Sparrow and Sagebrush Sparrow.  I walked the 12-mile pond trail where a Sagebrush Sparrow was photographed on 4/11/2018 (not so recent witness photos link on Colorado Birding Society's website).

I relocated the Blackpoll Warbler found this morning by Terry Michaels at the east end of West Shades.  While trying to photograph a Yellow Warbler in a cottonwood, the Blackpoll Warbler was seen around two "West Shades" picnic tables east of the restrooms.

An Eastern Phoebe hung around the eastern boat ramp parking area.  I will try to add photos to the Colorado Birding Society's photo library tomorrow.

Finally, a Tennessee Warbler was spotted in the trees at the west end of East Shades.

The only non-Killdeer shorebirds found were a dozen of so Spotted Sandpipers.  Nine of them walked the shore west of West Shades.

A final search for the Chestnut-collared Longspurs at the model airplane field was not successful and I left.

Return to Barr Lake

May 20, 2019

Richard Stevens:

The high today only reached 45 degrees and that was a little after midnight.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 10 mph.

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams) in the afternoon.  The Gray-cheeked Thrushes and Northern Waterthrush I found yesterday were not relocated.

The majority birds were Yellow Warblers.  A Tennessee Warbler fluttered about mile 8.8 (around the willows that hang over the main trail.

An Osprey was laying on the nesting platform.  No Barn Owls were found.  No Short-eared Owl appeared this evening around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Two Burrowing Owls have returned to the prairie dog village at West Cargo Road, south of Third Creek.

Quick Trip to Elbert County

May 19, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High today was 59 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

After picking up Rebecca at the Airport, we rushed south to Elbert County.  Three days ago a friend reported a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on his ranch near Kiowa.  Terry Michaels confirmed it yesterday.

We captured photos of it and had to rush back to Denver for a previous engagement.

Photo on Colorado Birding Society's website: recent witness photos

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Adams and Arapahoe County Birding

May 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 62 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

Terry Michaels conducted the Eastern Arapahoe County spring count yesterday.  Today I ran the Eastern Adams County route.

Regrettably, no Mountain Plover were found this trip.  Grasses were high, perhaps the Mountain Plover are still nesting, and no young were wandering around.

The Burrowing Owls continue along 160th Avenue, approximately 0.5 miles west of Yellow Jacket Road.

Eventually I dropped down south to Richmil Ranch Open Space (Arapahoe).  Three Cassin's Kingbirds constantly chattered at each other.  Perhaps two were males, the third a female.

The Northern Mockingbird found yesterday by Terry was not relocated today.  I understand it flew south across the railroad tracks and into the closed section of the Park.

My birding day ended with a four hour hike around Barr Lake (Adams).  Baltimore Orioles have been found here between 5/17 and 5/23 eight of the last fifteen years.  None was encountered today.

The lack of a variety or large number of warblers was surprising.  Yellow Warblers are back in full force (over three dozen in a two mile section of the trail.

A Northern Waterthrush walked around the water's edge near what would be mile 8.4.  It was hidden well most of the time but did show several times.  A Hermit Thrush was in the same area.

Highlights were two Gray-cheeked Thrushes.  The first sighting was at mile 8.05 (Pioneer trailhead is 8.1).  It walked on the ground and fallen logs below the trail.

I was attempting to photograph a Western Wood-pewee hawking insects at mile 0.5 (just west of the Niedrach Boardwalk) when a second Gray-cheeked Thrush popped out of the underbrush.  I captured several shots of this bird.

While waiting for better photos, a male MacGillivray's Warbler also flew out of the willows here.  Four Eastern Kingbirds also flew around.

Other sightings included many Bullock's Orioles, a few Western Kingbirds, many House Wrens, and an Osprey back on the nesting platform at mile 8.6.

While waiting for Short-eared Owls along the DIA Owl Loop I observed one Burrowing Owl near West Cargo Road and Third Creek.  Two Ferruginous Hawks stood among the prairie dog mounds.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Last Grouse Trip of 2019

May 11-17, 2019

Richard Stevens:

A group of five made up the CoBus Group on the last grouse trip of the season.  Weather was cooperative with most of the inclement weather staying farther east.  The third week of May is getting late for a successful trip; however this one turned out spectacular! 

May 11

High temperature today in Kremmling was 59 degrees.  Winds were 3-4 mph with afternoon gusts to 14 mph.

The trip started at Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties).  It took about an hour before two White-tailed Ptarmigan were spotted along the western trail at approximately 0.7 miles from the parking area.

In Silverthorne (Summit) the trip list added Rosy Finches (no Black),  White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Evening Grosbeaks, a Pine Grosbeak, Clark's Nutcrackers, Pine Siskins and a surprise Band-tailed Pigeon!

Nothing uncommon was found in Kremmling.  Five Barrow's Goldeneyes were among twice as many Common Goldeneyes at Windy Gap Reservoir (Grand).

Walden Reservoir (Jackson) added Marbled Godwit and Willets to the day list.

The birding day ended at the Jackson County Road 26b Leks.  Twenty seven Greater Sage-Grouse still were visiting the Leks.

May 12

High temperature in Hayden was 61 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

Just before sunrise, seven Sharp-tailed Grouse stomped around the Twenty Road Leks (Routt).  Phil thought he heard a Greater Sage-Grouse on the opposite side of the Road.  Earlier in the spring, several other birders reported the same experience.  

A drive west of Maybell (Moffat) to the Oxbow State Trust Lands provided sightings of a Sagebrush Sparrow and two Sage Thrashers.  The area is closed until August 15; however, the birds could be found with a scope.  Both species can be found later in the trip and the detour to Oxbow is long.  As a bonus, a Ferruginous Hawk was observed flying over the Snake River.  They are uncommon in Moffat County.

The next stop was Coal Canyon (Mesa).  A Chukar responded to a recording played at the large parking area at the second pipe gate.  With patience, it was found standing on a large boulder on the hill to the southwest of the parking area.

Then the group headed to the Grand Mesa (Mesa County).  Owling was quite successful this evening.  The Northern Saw-whet Owl was relocated along the switchbacks to the Powderhorn Ski Area.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed in the small grove of trees behind the maintenance shed.  While Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to a recording played near the Ski Lodge entrance.

Finally two Boreal Owls were heard along highway 65, south of the Ski Area.  The first was heard south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds.  The second was seen at the third pullover south!

May 13

Temperatures reached 68 degrees with winds of 6-7 mph.

A drive through the Colorado National Monument (Mesa) is always worth the time as least once.

Gambel's Quail were running around the subdivision outside of the eastern entrance.  A Black-throated Sparrow sang south of the road at the eastern entrance.

Devil's Kitchen trail is a good stop.  Today a Gray Vireo fluttered about.  Unfortunately, no Black-chinned Sparrows are around this year.

The Campgrounds added four Pinyon Jays, two Juniper Titmice, and two Black-throated Gray Warblers to the trip list.

A drive down Escalante Canyon (Delta) found two Black Phoebes.  One was near the Gunnison River and the other below Pinnacle Rock.  No Chukars were encountered.

Fruitgrower's Reservoir did not have any shorebirds or Sandhill Cranes.  A Lewis's Woodpecker was spotted below the dam.

The rest of the day was taken for a leisure drive to Cortez.

May 14

Temperatures reached 81 degrees with hot winds of 11-12 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

The hike down to Yellow Jacket Canyon (Montezuma) was quite successful.  Two Lucy's Warblers, the prize of hike, were fluttering about the cottonwoods near the open gate.

A male Summer Tanager was also spotted.  It has been confirmed that they nest here.  Other birds included Gambel's Quail, Plumbeous Vireo, a Juniper Titmouse and a few Bushtits.

Three Acorn Woodpeckers were observed at their usual location at Wildcat Canyon (La Plata).  While a Grace's Warbler was found along Junction Creek Road on the way to the Campgrounds (a spot that has been good most years since 1999).

A text message informed that a Neotropic Cormorant was found at Pastorius Reservoir (La Plata).  A Red-necked Phalarope and the Neotropic Cormorant were great bonuses for the trip list!

The Group rushed to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park (Montrose) and arrived an hour before sunset.  Eventually three male and one female Dusky Grouse were observed.

Most were just east of the first speed limit sign east of the western end of the South Rim Road.  Joey heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl way off in the distance toward Warner Point (most western point of the South Rim).

May 15

Hot temperature today was 70 degrees.  Winds were 10-11 mph with afternoon gusts to 31 mph.

A drive down Gunnison County Road 877 an hour before sunrise added two Gunnison Sage-Grouse for our grateful troop!  

A rest stop at the large pullover at Monarch Pass (Chaffee) found two male American Three-toed Woodpeckers drumming along the south side of the road.

A quick stop at Tunnel Drive in Canon City (Fremont) found a Rufous-crowned Sparrow on the rocky hillside at the trailhead.

A Curve-billed Thrasher at a private yard in Canon City avoided a later drive down Swallows Road.  A Greater Roadrunner was observed on the trip into Brush Hollow Wildlife Area (Fremont).

Birds encountered below the dam at Brush Hollow included a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, two Juniper Titmice and Bushtits.

A text message informed about a Black-billed Cuckoo at Carrizo Creek Picnic Area.  Sure enough, it responded to a recording, which made the long drive well worth the effort!

The birding day ended at Cottonwood Canyon (Carrizo Creek and Baca County Road M).  Two Western Screech-Owls flew around south of the primitive Campgrounds.

May 16

Temperatures continued to be hot with a high of 89 degrees.  Winds of 12-13 mph with gusts to 18 mph brought the warm temps.

Thirty minutes before sunrise, two Lesser Prairie-Chickens flew into a Lek that is located on private land in Baca County!

Later a drive down Baca County Road G found Cassin's Sparrows at the old Campo Lek Road, a Burrowing Owl west of the entrance and farther west a Curve-billed Thrasher.

Back at Cottonwood Canyon (Baca), the usual birds were added to the trip list: Eastern Phoebes, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Gray Flycatcher, Canyon Towhees, Cooper's Hawk, Chihuahuan Ravens, Wild Turkey and Bewick's Wrens.

The birding day ended 220 miles north at Bonny Reservoir (Yuma).  A Lewis's Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal and Wild Turkey were found at Fosters Grove Campgrounds.

A Northern Waterthrush walked along the Republican River at 0.3 miles west of the Kansas border.  At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl called at Hale Ponds.  Misses: no Common Poorwill was enticed into calling this evening.

May 17

It was a little cooler with a high of 76 degrees.  Winds were quite strong at 18-19 mph with gusts to 28 mph.

A drive down Yuma County Roads 45 & P did not find any Short-eared Owls hunting this morning.  Shortly before sunrise, three male Greater Prairie-Chickens were observed on the CR 45 lek.  No females made an appearance.

Wray Fishing Unit and Stalker Pond were skipped and the Troupe headed to the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld).

One Mountain Plover was relocated along CR 100, west of Hwy 390.  While searching for McCown's and Chestnut-collared Longspurs a second Mountain Plover was encountered on a traditional nesting ground.

McCown's Longspurs were easy to find, while Chestnut-collared Longspurs not so much.  Finally, one was located in the field southeast of Highway 85 and CR 114 (a permit maybe required to bird here).

With some time left in the afternoon, the Schware unit of the Wellington Wildlife Area was scoped.  The Common Gallinule made a brief show!

No Short-eared Owls appeared around Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld) at sunset.  Two Great-tailed Grackles were not a good consolation.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Birding In Boulder County

May 10, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 53 degrees in Boulder.  Winds stayed less than 4 mph throughout the partly sunny day.

I returned once more to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  This time I stood in the dark about two hours before sunrise.  After an hour, I played several records.  First King Rail, getting no response after 10 minutes I tried a Clapper Rail.  Ten minutes later Virginia Rail recordings enticed one to respond.  Finally, a Sora recording got a response from a Sora.  Conclusion, confirmation of a potential King Rail at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands will not be affirmed by me.

Next, I drove up to Boulder County and the CU Campus.  The riparian area along the creek north of Varsity Pond was hopping with birds.

Of course, the best was the Golden-winged Warbler.  I may have a photo or two, will checkout tomorrow.

Other birds found included a MacGillivray's Warbler, two Tennessee Warblers, a Virginia's Warbler, two or three Orange-crowned Warblers, a Green-tailed Towhee, and a Hermit Thrush.  It was an enjoyable two hours watching the birds!

My next stop was the CU East Campus.  One of the Gray Flycatchers was still around the Ponds (Peter Burke, 5/1).

An Eastern Phoebe flew around Boulder Creek west of 75th Street.  It flew in and out of the barn north of the creek (west of 75th).  I believe the pair has a nest in the barn!

I circled southwest of Boulder where traffic is as terrible as Denver now.  Twenty years ago when I live northwest of the airport, one could drive across town in less than twenty minutes, not any more.

A hike around the Mayhoffer-Singletree trail did not find the previously reported Sagebrush Sparrow.   I believe it was last reported on Wednesday.

After dark, I searched unsuccessfully for Flammulated Owls at several of their traditional nesting locations west of Boulder.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Trips to Cherry Creek State Park

May 9, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 40 degrees today.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 17 mph through the day.

I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) three times today.  At first light, I listened for the mystery Rail at the Cottonwood Creek Pond.  Nothing, no sighting or it was heard.

Next I drove to Clear Creek Valley Park (Adams).  The previously reported Piping Plover was just south of the parking area!  Not often one can find Piping Plovers on one day in two Counties around the Metro area!

I returned around 2:00 pm.  This time I played a recording and though a bird with a similar voice responded for 5-10 seconds.  Again, there was no sighting.

This trip I drove over to the swim beach.  Both the Piping Plover and Semipalmated Plover were standing along the shore.  Photos on the CoBus photo library: 

I walked from the swim beach to Augie's Pond to search for the Rusty Blackbirds.  None was found.  Many Brewer's Blackbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, a pair of Yellow Warblers, a pair of Wilson's Warblers and a Lincoln's Sparrow were around the Pond.

A stop at the model airplane field found two Yellow-headed Blackbirds and a male Lark Bunting.

Many sparrows were again at the Lake Loop.  While no Field Sparrow was found, the sparrows did include Chipping, Lark and White-crowned Sparrows.  Several Yellow-rumped Warblers also fluttered around the sagebrush.

I watched the Wild Plum grove back at the eastern boat ramp for 30 minutes.  Many Yellow-rumped Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, three Orange-crowned Warblers and a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers grabbed insects on the bushes.

On final return to Cherry Creek Reservoir was around 7:00 pm.  I did not see or hear the mystery bird (Rail?).  This time I circled the pond.  My thoughts that it would be dry were not correct.

First, the water level in the field to the east of the pond had just a little water, no big deal.  Continuing east and north the water level rose, no big deal my hiking boots are waterproof.  Then water levels rose to the tops of my boots, then to the top of my socks.  It was too late to turn back; boy, the water was cold.

Birds around the Pond included one Great-tailed Grackle, many Common Grackles, and many Red-winged Blackbirds.  One Sora and two Virginia Rail responded to recordings.

Back at the model airplane field, a female joined the male Lark Bunting.  Sparrow count along the Lake Loop had not changed.

No owls appeared along the shooting range entrance road this evening.

Birding On a Rainy Spring Day

May 8, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a rainy day off and on.  High temperature may have reached 52 degrees; however, it never felt that warm.  Winds were 11-12 mph most of the day.  They reached 25 mph when the rainstorms moved in.

I circled the southern ponds at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) and found many birds.  Highlights were a Palm Warbler at the Pond 3 eastern windbreak and a Black-and-white Warbler at the Pond 2 western windbreak.  A Barn Owl flew out of the western border windbreak.

It was not possible to cross the canal to bird the large windbreak on the western side.

Other birds encountered included many sparrows (Chipping, Brewer's, Lark, Vesper, White-crowned and a Grasshopper Sparrow being the best), Spotted Towhees, one Green-tailed Towhee, Bullock's Orioles, Western Kingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Bushtits, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, one Hairy Woodpecker, Killdeer, one Greater Yellowlegs, one Broad-tailed Hummingbird, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warblers and several House Wrens.

Back at the CoBus office, I picked up Sue Ehlmann.  We had to decide to chase the Piping Plover at Clear Creek Valley Park or the Field Sparrow at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Terrible traffic made the choice for us; driving across town would have been a nightmare.

When we arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), numerous sparrows were along the entrance road to the Lake Loop.  Sparrows were similar to my Banner Lakes Wildlife Area experience (Lark, Vesper, Brewer's and Chipping Sparrows.  Two additions included a Savannah Sparrow at the entrance.

When we drove the Lake Loop, four Clay-colored Sparrows were searching for food at the northern eastern gravel parking areas!

When we returned to the flock along Lake View Road, Sue pointed out the Field Sparrow reported earlier in the day.

A downpour started when we arrived at the Smoky Hill Picnic area and we decided to leave.  Did not hear until much later about the Piping Plover and Semipalmated Plover on the swim beach.

One additional observation that I am reluctant to report except to a limited number of friends.  Hopefully they will confirm.  When we passed the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond we stopped to scope for Green Herons.

It was getting dark at 7:00 pm, although sunset would have been 8:00 pm.  Rain was coming down quite rapidly.  We noticed a 14-15 inch bird perched on a cattail (past the first span of water).  

It is not often that a bird stumps me.  We stood in the rain for 20 minutes watching a bird that we could not identify.  Finally it turned its head and showed a long pointed bill, a little longer than its head.  Head appeared lighter than the darker (likely rusty colored breast).  Its flanks were barred white and black.  In the rain and limited light we could not determine how thick/dark the bars were.

After 20 minutes the bird jumped down into the cattails.  Could we have seen a 14-15 inch Rail?  The bird was too big to be a Virginia Rail as it was definitely bigger than a foot ruler.  Did we see a King Rail or Clapper Rail?  There are two reports of King Rail presently in Colorado.  While there are no Clapper Rail records in Colorado, there are two King Rail records (6/12/1976 & 5/23/1985).

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Return to Salisbury Equestrian Park, Douglas County

May 7, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 58 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph.  Anomometer readings rose to 28 mph when the thunderstorm blew through.

After yesterday's traffic mess from Parker to Cherry Creek Reservoir (51 minute drive that normally should last 17 minutes), I was not going to bird today. A report of a Black-bellied Plover in breeding plumage changed my mind.

No Black-bellied Plover was on the Salisbury Equestrian Park pond.  The shorebird mix was different from yesterday.  Shorebirds included six American Avocets, two Lesser Yellowlegs, at least thirty six Spotted Sandpipers and a Least Sandpiper.

The eight Baird's Sandpipers found yesterday were still at the south end of the pond.  Three of the Wilson's Phalaropes also remained.

I made a quick circuit around the pond; however, I did not have time to search for yesterday's warblers and orioles.  Four Yellow-rumped Warblers and a male Wilson's Warbler fluttered about the willows at the northwest corner of the Pond.

It started to rain when I was halfway around the Pond.  Fortunately, I was back at my car when the downpour hit.

The Parker to Cherry Creek Reservoir drive was 50 minutes today.  The Metro traffic is a nightmare most of the day.

A quick drive through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) did not find that the Black-bellied Plover had flown downstream to the Park.  No shorebirds were on Pelican Point or at Pelican Bay (opposite end of the Park).

Following Dave King's Trip to Douglas County

May 6, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 70 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph except when the rainstorm brought 24 mph winds late in the afternoon.

I visited Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas) under cloudy skies.  The lack of birds included no empidonax flycatchers, warblers or vireos sightings.

No Bobolink have shown up at the Winkler Ranch yet; several Western Bluebirds and Mountain Bluebirds were around the nesting boxes.

I stopped at Salisbury Equestrian Park (Douglas) when I received a text about White-rumped Sandpipers.  It rained for a short period of time.  I waited it out and photographed the shorebirds at the eastern pond.

All the "little" shorebirds had dark center tails and rumps and appeared to be Baird's Sandpipers.  White-rumped Sandpipers would have shown white rumps.

Five Wilson's Phalaropes and one Greater Yellowlegs were also on the southern shore.  A Least Sandpiper walked the northeast shore.

I walked the many Wild Plum groves at McCabe Meadows Park.  Birds encountered included two male Broad-tailed Hummingbirds (made sure they were not Ruby-throated Hummingbirds), two male Bullock's Orioles, one male Orchard Oriole, and many White-crowned Sparrows.

A Nashville Warbler popped out of the thick willows below the northern end of the pond.  

Walking north along the McCabe Meadows trail a flock of 34 Yellow-rumped Warblers included a Palm Warbler.  The flock was about 100 yards north of the footbridge; however, it was moving north.

Later I visited Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Few waterfowl were on the lake.  Perhaps high waves prevented seeing them.  Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were swimming in the center of the Lake.

High lightning strikes over the Lake convinced me to leave without setting up my scope.

Search for Flammulated Owls

May 4-5, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I searched two days (nights) for Flammulated Owls in northwestern Larimer County.

The temperature reached 45 degrees in Walden today.  Terry and I spent most of the last two days in the forest along Pennock Pass.  It was much colder there.

We finally got out of Denver Saturday afternoon.  Equipped with snowshoes, tent and warm clothes our plan was to attempt to find Flammulated Owls.  Snowdrifts usually restrict access until late May.  

While we used our snowshoes on several occasions, the lack of snow surprised us.  Eventually we hiked about nine miles into the forest.

On Saturday night, we found a Flammulated Owl near a historical nesting spot.  Shortly after midnight (5/5), we would locate two additional Flammulated Owls.

May 4 & 5 are nowhere near our early dates for Flammulated Owls; access is tricky.  My early date is 3/16 (2004) and 3/31 (2015) with two earlier May dates 5/2/2011 and 5/4/2003.

Others early dates include: 3/29/2003 (Boulder) and 4/2/2001 (Wunderland Lake, Boulder Cty)

On the way to Gould the early morning of 5/5, we found (heard) two Boreal Owls within 0.2 miles west of Cameron Pass (Jackson).

After a few hours of sleep, we drove around Walden Reservoir (Jackson).  It must be too early in the spring; we found few birds.

Lake John Wildlife Area and Delaney Buttes were also a disappointment.

Our birding day ending by watching 40+ Greater Sage-Grouse at the Jackson County Road 26b Lek.

Birding Around Metro Area

May 3, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a pleasant high temperature of 67 degrees today.  Winds were 6-7 mph in the city.  I decided to bird the western metro area today.

On my way to Belmar Historic Park (Jefferson), I stopped at Bear Creek Greenbelt.  I Winter Wren that was around for weeks eluded me.  A Broad-winged Hawk perched in a cottonwood at Wadsworth and Yale was an outstanding consolation.

I walked around Belmar Historic Park (Jefferson) for a couple of hours searching for warblers.  Two female and a male Red-necked Phalaropes swam around the northern end of Kountze Lake.  

The Short-billed Dowitcher allowed for great photos.  It was more interested in finding food along the shore at the trail to the bird platform than my presence.  Photos of both species were posted to the Colorado Birding Society's photo library: 

A small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers worked the trees west of the wooden footbridge over the horse trail (western end of park).  Another couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers and an Orange-crowned Warbler flew around the smaller lake/pond west of Kountze Lake.

A stop at Washington Park (Denver) did not find the Barrow's Goldeneye reported yesterday on either Smith or Grasmere Lakes.  

While circling Grasmere Lake I encountered a flock of 82+ Yellow-rumped Warblers at the western side.  They worked the trees west and north of the porta potty.  

One warbler dropped its tail down on many occasions.  It was a Palm Warbler.  The Palm Warbler followed the flock as it moved north along the west side of the main road/ bike and pedestrian trail.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Once again, I searched unsuccessfully for the Northern Parula reported two days earlier.

Three Orange-crowned Warblers and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees fluttered around the wild Plum bushes near the north end of Pelican Point.

No uncommon shorebirds could be found at Pelican Point or Pelican Bay.  No owls appeared at sunset along Lake View Road and the shooting range entrance road.

Another Northern Parula Search at Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 2, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 67 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

After morning chores, I returned to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) to search for the Northern Parula reported yesterday.

I examined the many wild Plum groves throughout the park.  These included the Pelican Point grove, the large grove north across the road, the model airplane grove and Cottonwood Creek groves.  No Northern Parula was found.

The trail north of the road at Pelican Point up to the Plum grove added a couple of new birds to my Cherry Creek Reservoir 2019 list.  A Vesper Sparrow ran up and down the trail searching for food.  A pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers worked through the Plum grove.  A Lincoln's Sparrow popped out of the bushes also.

On my way out of the Park, I found two Willets along the shore below the West Shades Picnic area.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

May 1, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was not raining when I reached Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) in the afternoon.  However, it was quite cold.   High temperature was 47 degrees today; however, it was only 39 at 4:00 pm.  Winds were 15-16 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

I was not plan on birding today.  Loch Kilpatrick's report of a Cassin's Kingbird and Northern Parula changed my mind.

The Northern Parula was not found during my two hour search.  Over that time, Western Kingbird count increased to 32 birds.  Eight Say's Phoebes and a flock of fourteen Yellow-rumped Warblers also flew into the area.

I was not able to find a Cassin's Kingbird or the Northern Parula.  A check of the Smoky Hill Group Picnic area produced the same results.

Wellington Wildlife Area to Aurora Reservoir to Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 30, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today in Denver was 39 degrees.  Winds were mild at 4-5 mph with gusts to only 10 mph.

Several birders were leaving when Terry Michaels and I arrived at the Schware Unit of Wellington Wildlife Area (Larimer).  The Common Gallinule allowed good views at the pond North of CR 60!  Great find, thanks to Josh Bruening!

Heading south back toward Denver, we stopped at Cobb Lake section of Wellington Wildlife Area.  We missed the Blue-headed Vireo that was reported later in the day.

Nothing uncommon was found at Lower Latham Reservoir or nearby Beebe Draw Ponds (Weld).  We were not able to confirm the Short-billed Dowitcher report at the Weld CR 37/46 wetlands.  

A stop at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) relocated the Long-tailed Duck swimming at the southwest corner of the dam.  It was about halfway along the line of leafless trees.  An Osprey stood in the south end of the same row of trees.  It was rainy when we birded there.

Our final stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Two Willets were behind the willows at Pelican Point.  Twenty six American Avocets walked among thirty four American White Pelicans standing on the submerged sand spit.

We looked for kingbirds and a Northern Parula around the blooming bushes and parking area; without success (mentioned because of May 1 sightings).