Sunday, June 30, 2019

Birding Douglas & Jefferson Counties

June 29, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was another hot one today.  High temperature was 96 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 27 mph.

My birding day started before sunrise at Castlewood Canyon State Park/Franktown area (Douglas County).  Target birds were owl's specifically Northern Saw-whet Owls.  

None was found at the State Park.  One did respond to a recording northwest of the Park.  A brief stop at the Creekside Trail found one Ovenbird.

One of the Eastern Phoebes was observed along Cherry Creek, south of the Hwy 86 bridge on my way out of the area.  I did not take the time to see if the Common Loon was still on Walker Gravel Pond.

The next stop was Daniels Park (Douglas).  It has been four days since an Ash-throated Flycatcher was reported there.  None was found today.  One Eastern Bluebird and three Western Bluebirds were spotted along Daniels Park road between the Park and Highway 85.

A thirty minute survey of the old Lewis's Woodpecker area just east of Louviers (Douglas) did not find any woodpeckers.

Next, I hiked from Waterton Canyon Bridge to the scuba ponds at Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  No phoebes (target bird) were found.

Two American Redstarts both adult males were observed.  One was on the north side of the Platte River between the Waterton Bridge and the iron fence at the large drainage entering the Platte from the north.

The second American Redstart was on the west side of the Platte, 50 yards north of when the riverside path entering the State Park proper (signed "entering State Park).

Many other birds were ran across including dozens of Cedar Waxwings hawking insects, dozens of Yellow Warblers, a dozen or so singing Yellow-breasted Chats, several Spotted Towhees and one Gray Catbird.

By now if was afternoon and I decided to checkout the Sharptail Ridge Wildlife Area located four miles south of Titan Road and North Roxborough Park Road (southern entrance to Chatfield State Park).

It was my first visit to this Wildlife Area (Douglas).  Except for a few willow trees near the parking area and pavilion, the open space is high "wild grasses".  I have not heard of any other birder visits.

The trail goes south for over seven miles to intersections with other Douglas County trails.  I had enough time to hike about 4 miles south and return.  The Park closes 60 minutes after sunset.

There was always a chance for an uncommon sparrow, Long-billed Curlew, Burrowing Owl, Bobolink or Dickcissel.  None was found.  I did observe at least three Grasshopper Sparrows.

A Say's Phoebe attending a nest back at the parking area and two Yellow Warblers in the nearby willows were on the short list of birds encountered.  I could add a flyover Golden Eagle, American Kestrel and Common Raven, American Crows, Horned Larks and a Killdeer to my new list.  

After dark, I searched for owls (Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl) up Deer Creek Canyon; without success.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Another Trip to Eastern Adams County

June 28, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was a hot 93 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

I got out early this morning before the predicted 90+ degrees temperatures.  I hoped to relocated some Mountain Plovers, perhaps confirming nesting again this year in Adams County.

No Mountain Plovers were found today.   My usual loop was reversed today and first bird encountered was a noisy Cassin's Kingbird along Bradbury-Krebs Road.

A Short-eared Owl was flying around before sunrise west of Bradbury-Krebs Road and just south of 160th avenue.  The Burrowing Owl(s) continues along 160th avenue (0.5 miles/west/Yellow Jacket Road).

Later I swung by Richmil Ranch Open Space where at least four Cassin's Kingbirds continue.  Another Cassin's Kingbird continues just south of Deer Trail along CR 38 at East Bijou Creek.

It was warming up rapidly by 10:00 am and I headed for home.

Cherry Creek Bike Path: Cherry Creek Reservoir to Castlewood Canyon State Park

June 27, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a hot one today with a high of 94 degrees.  Anomometer readings were 9-10 mph head winds down to Franktown.  Fortunately, when I was quite tired the tail wind returning to Cherry Creek Reservoir was 22 mph.

Today I fulfilled a long time plan to bike from Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to the northern entrance to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas).  

My long day started just before sunrise and ended just after sunset.  The main goal was to search for Yellow-billed Cuckoos, which years ago nested along Cherry Creek from Parker Regional Park (Salisbury Equestrian Park now) to Castlewood Canyon State Park.

Short story, none was found.

Highlights were few.  A Lazuli Bunting was at the south end of Cherry Creek State Park.  The Common Loon was still on the Walker Gravel Pond (Douglas).  One of the Eastern Phoebes was still hawking insects along Cherry Creek just south of the Hwy 86 bridge.

Other birds observed during my trek included in no particular order: House Wrens, Western Kingbirds, one Cassin's Kingbird (north of Hidden Valley Open Space), Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Turkey Vultures, Wild Turkey, Golden Eagle and Western Bluebirds.

Missed any Dickcissels (not yet around), warblers or vireos.

Daniels Park & Castlewood Canyon State Park

June 26, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 90 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts measured at 17 mph.

No success for me trying to relocate the Ash-throated Flycatcher reported yesterday by Anna Troth & Greg Goodrich at Daniels Park (Douglas).  Owling around the area was also abortive.

I swung down to Castlewood Canyon State Park and listened for owls.  One Northern Saw-whet Owl responded to a recording.

Barr Lake

June 25, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 85 degrees.  Winds were 14-15 mph with gusts to 29 mph.

I hiked around Barr Lake (Adams) from Mile 7.5 to 9.0/0.0 to 1.0 then off Buckley Road from 3.0 to 4.0 and back.  Nothing noteworthy was encountered (again no Little Blue Heron).

Mosquitoes were terrible especially at the west end.  

A pair of Great-tailed Grackles was just south of the railroad tracks at the Town of Barr Lake.  Two additional male Great-tailed Grackles and a male Yellow-headed Blackbird were at the pond at mile 4.5 (viewed from service road south of I76).

Monday, June 24, 2019

Search for Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Cherry Creek Reservoir; Owls at DIA Owl Loop

June 24, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I bushwhacked the trails north and south of Lake View Drive, Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County).   We hoped to relocate the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that Rebecca and I found on 6/22.

Yellow-billed Cuckoos have nested along Cherry Creek in past years.  Most recently, an active nest was found at Hidden Valley Open Space.  They once nested at McCabe Meadows Park (once called Parker Regional Park).  Perhaps they are nesting in Cherry Creek State Park?

Regrettably, no Yellow-billed Cuckoos were found during our four hour search.  Highlight was a Red-eyed Vireo that was along the trail about 300 yards south of Lake View Drive.

Other sightings included Yellow Warblers, a male Black-headed Grosbeak, Warbling Vireos, many House Wrens and Song Sparrows.  The male Black-chinned Hummingbird is still searching for females behind the ranger's office.  Several Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are along Shop Creek below the ranger's office.

In the afternoon, we walked the rookery area at Barr Lake (mile 3.0 etc).  The Little Blue Heron sighting reported last Friday was not confirmed again.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.  Burrowing Owl situation is such that someone or organization bulldozed the prairie dog towns at Trussville Road and 114th avenue; no owls have shown up this year.

Two Burrowing Owls were observed at Third Creek and West Cargo Road on 5/18 and 5/20.  I have not seen them since those dates.

Photos of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo found on Saturday (5/22/2019) were put on the Colorado Birding Society's website (recent witness photos)

Douglas County to Jefferson County to Arapahoe County

June 23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

What a great summer day with high temperature of 65 degrees.  Winds were a little strong at 11-12 mph with gusts to 28 mph.

Rebecca Kosten and I set out toward Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas) early this morning.  No Northern Saw-whet Owls responded to our recordings played an hour before sunrise.  It may have been too late in the morning; however, in my experience finding owls after a huge thunderstorm like last night is seldom successful.

We detoured over to the Walker Gravel Pond where the Common Loon found by Hugh Kingery yesterday was still there.  Then we walked down to Cherry Creek and found the Eastern Phoebe still feeding bird(s) south of the Highway 86 bridge.

After an early lunch, we continued west to Waterton Canyon (Jefferson).  The previously reported Black Phoebe was not found.  We did see an American Redstart along the South Platte River.

We walked up (west) Waterton Canyon searching of phoebes and such.  No phoebes were found; however, we did see Lazuli Buntings, Spotted Towhees, Yellow-breasted Chats and Song Sparrows.

Rebecca rested while I walked downstream along the west side of the Platte River at the Audubon Center trails.  Yellow-billed Cuckoos have spent the summer on the east side of the Platte River in the past.  Unfortunately, there was no way to cross the Platte.  Looking for them through the cottonwoods from the west side was not productive.

Our birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  We walked the trail along Cherry Creek at Lake View Drive for about an hour.  The Yellow-billed Cuckoo was not relocated.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Adams, Boulder & Arapahoe Counties

June 22, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures stayed in the pleasant middle 60s today.  Winds were 10-11 mph.  Gusts reached 26 mph during afternoon storms.

I drove the Adams County Loop early this morning.  A Mountain Plover was relocated along 160th avenue west of Piggot Mile Road.  Several detours off 160th avenue (Yulle Road, Piggot Mile Road, Headlight Mile Road and Yellow Jacket Road did not add additional Mountain Plovers to my day list.

The pair of Burrowing Owls continued along 160th avenue at 0.5 miles west of Yellow Jacket Road.

Turning south on Bradbury-Krebs Road most of the Kingbirds were Western.  However, one Cassin's Kingbird was found south of 128th Avenue.  A Great-tailed Grackle was seen as I turned west onto Adams CR 2.

I stopped briefly at the now defunct rest stop at I70 and Hwy 36.  Nothing uncommon was observed.  When the rest stop provided water, this was an oasis for birds; regrettably, that is no longer true.

I decided to checkout Metzger Farm Open Space (also Adams County) a place I had never visited.  The male Baltimore Oriole was singing when I arrived.

Photos will be posted on the Colorado Birding Society's website soon.  I want to point out that the closest I got to the Oriole was 84 feet (paced off after the bird left).  The fact is mentioned because a past president of the CFO arrived about 15 minutes after I found the bird.  He proceeded to look at the bird from underneath the tree the Oriole was perched.  Will not mention his name; however, I did take photos of him under the tree.

Under ominous skies, I continued to Boulder and Chautauqua Park.  The Chestnut-sided Warbler was close to previously reported sightings along the McClintock trail.  I was planning to stay until dark and owling up Mesa South Trails, heavy rain changed my mind.

Later Rebecca Kosten and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) on the way to dinner.  As we passed through the woods along Lake View Drive at Cherry Creek, a large bird with a long tail caught our attention.

It was not black and white like a Black-billed Magpie; we had to make a u-turn for another look.  Rain was quite heavy and the bird did not appear to want to move.  It was still in a cottonwood close to the road.

It turned out to be a cuckoo.  It was getting too dark for a photo; however, we could make out the large white tips on black, indicating a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Bill did appear to have a lower yellow mandible.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Possible Little Blue Heron at Barr Lake State Park

June 21, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 67 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph until the afternoon thunderstorms.  Anomometer readings reached 21 mph.

We received a report of a Little Blue Heron at Barr Lake (Adams).  Unfortunately, the exact location was not specified. Eventually I searched from the Visitor's Center bridge (mile 0.0/9.0) to the south end of the dam (mile 7.0) then back to the west end of the Niedrach Trail (mile 1.0).

Later I drove to the western end of the Park and walked the Buckley Road end from mile 2.5 to 4.0.  A Little Blue Heron was not found.

The highlight was a female Baltimore Oriole in the willows at mile 8.8.  

The usual summer suspects included Yellow Warblers, House Wrens, Warbling Vireos and Red-winged Blackbirds were found in expected numbers.

Threatening weather ended my birding day in the early afternoon.

Roxborough State Park & Deer Creek Canyon Park

June 20, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a warm day with high temperatures reaching the middle 80s.  Winds were 5-6 mph until a front blew in, early afternoon.  Anomometer readings measured 29 mph.  The front blew in and out quickly and late afternoon was quite pleasant.

Rebecca Kosten and I drove down to Roxborough State Park (Douglas County).  We hiked the 3.5 miles of the combined Willow Creek and South Rim trails.  While the trails are considered "moderate", the hike is a long one!

Highlights included two Ovenbirds along the South Rim Trail.  To relocate search near the top of the trail.  

An American Redstart, Lazuli Buntings, a Indigo Bunting, House Wrens, Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers, and an Orange-crowned Warbler were found along the Willow Creek trail.

Afterward lunch we drove to Deer Creek Canyon Park (Jefferson).  We ran across another Ovenbird while hiking the Rattlesnake Gulch trail.  No owls were found this evening.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Back Birding Arapahoe County

June 19, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached into the middle 80s today.  Winds were 6-7 mph.  Gusts reached 23 mph when a front blew through.

I drove around Eastern Arapahoe County most of the day.  One of my target birds not found was Arapahoe County Dickcissel.

Cassin's Kingbirds were encountered at several locations including East Bijou Creek at CR 38.  This is just south of the town of Deer Creek.  Four Cassin's Kingbirds were relocated at Richmil Ranch Open Space.

Two Burrowing Owls were relocated along CR 129 at 0.7 miles south of Orchard Road (once a Dickcissel site).  Two additional Burrowing Owls were found along CR 30 (Quincy Road) at 0.2 miles east of CR 149.

Dickcissels were not found along Kiowa-Bennett Road, CR 129 and CR 161.  Red-headed Woodpeckers could not be relocated at County Line Road and Richmil Ranch Open Space.

Cassin's Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrow were missed at CR 30 west of Bradbury Road and the northern end of the Arapahoe County Open Space.

On the way to dinner, Rebecca Kosten and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park.  The Black-chinned Hummingbird is still flying around east of the ranger's office.  The Great-tailed Grackle is still singing at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands.

Water level is quite high.  There is almost no shoreline at which to search for shorebirds.  The shore at West Shades Picnic Area was crowded with people/swimmers.  It was the first afternoon in a while that I was not birding between thunderstorms!  

Trip to Pawnee National Grasslands Area

June 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures warmed to 75 degrees today.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 9 mph (except during a rainstorm).

Doug Shannon and I headed up to the Pawnee National Grasslands area in Weld County.

A search for Sharp-tailed Grouse at the many previous locations CR 136 to CR 130 (north to south) and CR 99 to 111 (west to east) was unsuccessful.

No Mountain Plovers were located along their usual summer grounds along CR 100 (between CR 390 and CR 77.

We finally found one at a traditional nesting field (location to remain unlisted).  A nest with two eggs was also encountered!  Two Swift Fox dens were also ran into!

After an hour search we found one male Chestnut-collared Longspur in the field southeast of highway 85 and CR 114 (permit may be required to enter, we had one).  

McCown's Longspurs were scattered throughout the grasslands.  Unfortunately, no Upland Sandpiper was discovered.

We ended our birding day at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County).  Two Long-eared Owls were observed.  An Eastern Screech-Owl was heard and found also.

Mt Evans Byway & Highway 103

June 17, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 68 degrees (much colder at Mt Evans).  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 21 mph during the thunderstorm.

Doug Shannon and I headed to Mt. Evans Byway today.  A brief stop at Echo Lake found a male Barrow's Goldeneye swimming along the eastern edge.

At Summit Lake, we hiked to the northwestern corner.  Two Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew around and landed on the rocky hillside.

We then spent over 1.5 hours before running into a White-tailed Ptarmigan in the field east of the Summit Lake parking area.  Winds were cold and strong which made the search quite unpleasant.

Our legs recovered on the flatter trails at the Echo Lake Campgrounds.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard and seen along the Mt Captain trail between the Campgrounds and the cabins to the south.

Several stops were made along highway 103 between Echo Lake and Squaw Pass Road at highway 74.  No owls were found/heard this evening.

Reynolds Park to Rampart Range Road

June 16, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was measured at 77 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts measured at 23 mph during the thunderstorm.

New York birder Doug Shannon and I arrived at Reynolds Park about 60 minutes before sunrise.  A Common Poorwill called from northwest of the larger parking area.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded briefly to our recordings as we walked along Foxton Road to the smaller parking area.  We returned by way of the Songbird trail; however did not relocate the bird.

We then hiked the loop Oxen Draw Trail to Eagle's View to Raven's Roost back to the Songbird trail.

Highlights were a female American Three-toed Woodpecker just north (downhill) of the Oxen Draw/Raven's Roost/Eagle's View intersection.

A Dusky Grouse called from the top of the Eagle's View trail.  With some effort, we found the bird about 15 yards into the forest (downhill of center).

A male Williamson's Sapsucker was found just south (uphill) of the old service road area.

We crossed the road and hiked part of the hummingbird trail without finding any additional target birds.

Our route continued Foxton Road to Platte River Road to Sugar Creek Road to highway 67 to Rampart Range Road.

Northern Pygmy-Owls were heard along Platte River Road and Sugar Creek Road.  We walked down Rampart Range Road south of highway 67 and found a Northern Saw-whet Owl (within half a mile). 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A First Denver County Record

June 15, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Denver was 79 degrees this afternoon.  Winds were 6-7 mph with anomometer readings at Genesee Mountain Park during the weather front were 26 mph.

I had to chase the Blue-winged Warbler (Doug Kibbe, 6/14) at Fort Logan National Cemetery for a new Denver County bird this morning.  

Now and then, fortune shines, the male Blue-winged Warbler was fluttering about the willows at the southeast corner of the waste pond when I arrived.  It did not allow for many photos and focus was not great:
recent witness photos link on Colorado Birding Society's website:

Stopped by Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) on my way to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson), one Barn Owl was relocated during another brief stop.

I walked from the group picnic area to the top of Genesee Mountain Park.  A male Williamson's Sapsucker drummed on his favorite pole northwest of the area.

Another male Williamson's Sapsucker flew from the top of the park to 20 yards below the western side.

Traffic changed my mind about continuing to Mt Evans.  Birding on the byway will have to wait for another day.

Drive Around Douglas and Arapahoe Counties

June 14, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was a hot 85 degrees along the Douglas -Arapahoe Loop this afternoon.  Winds were 12-13 mph; gusts were measured at 28 mph during the thunderstorm.

Rebecca and I got some enjoyable birding in before the thunderstorms and hail.

We started at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas); however we could not find an Ovenbird.  A male Bobolink was in the usual field south of the Winkler Ranch entrance.

I got photos of the Eastern Phoebe along Cherry Creek, just south of the highway 86 bridge (Douglas).

From there we turned east into Elbert County.  Thanks to Jacob Washburn and Jamie Thompson we knew to look for the male Bobolink in the Elbert Road Dickcissel field 4.1 miles south of Kiowa.  At least one Dickcissel also flew up from the mowed field several times.  We heard Grasshopper Sparrows to the west of the road.

Turning north we could not find the previously reported Chestnut-sided Warbler along Arapahoe County Road 42.

Cassin's Kingbirds were found at CR 38 and East Bijou Creek and at Richmil Ranch Open Space (Arapahoe).  That is when the downpour started.  We had not desire to drive the dirt roads when they turned to mud, instead we headed for home.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Colorado State Forest Owl Study, Jackson County

June 9-13, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Great mountain weather, cool days and cold nights!

Terry Michaels and I conducted our owl nesting box survey in Jackson County.  Eventually we found seven Boreal Owls in the Colorado State Forest and two additional in Larimer County.

Hikes required (two overnight stays):
North Canadian River: 4.5 miles one way
Michigan Ditch: 5.0 miles one way
Gould Mountain: 3.0 miles one way
Lake Agnes & Crags Campgrounds: 3.0 miles one way
Bull Mountain: 5.0 miles one way

We also came across three Flammulated Owls and one Long-eared Owl (Michigan Ditch trail) in the Colorado State Forest.

Other birds encountered included:

The male American Three-toed Woodpecker north of the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (6/10).  We did not try to find it again.

Fox Sparrow (Slate-colored) behind the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center on 6/13.  Along with Wilson's Warblers and a Lincoln's Sparrow

Rose-breasted Grosbeak fluttering about Grizzly Creek near highway 14.  It was a young male.  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have been found nearby in three past years.

Greater Sage-Grouse: a male wandering the Delaney Butte Lakes area on 6/10.  A lone Red-necked Phalarope was also here.

No Greater Sage-Grouse were found around the Jackson County 26b and 26 leks; we searched twice.

Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers along the Zimmerman Lake Loop (Larimer) on 6/13. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Coal Creek Canyon to Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 8, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 79 degrees today.  Winds varied between 14 to 15 mph.  When the afternoon storms hit anomometer readings topped at 28 mph.

My birding day started at Coal Creek Canyon.  The Red-headed Woodpecker was feeding young at the published snag when I arrived.

I drove up and down Plainview Road for several hours before hearing a Dickcissel singing.  This was a surprise because my information stated that the Dickcissels were feeding young.  I did not expect any singing to give away their position.  The Dickcissel sang from the top of a deciduous bush at the upper end of the southern drainage.

My next stop was the Arvada-Blunn Reservoir (Jefferson).  The Pacific Loon was swimming below the falls.  Unfortunately, the loon was too far away for a photo.

A stop at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt (Jefferson) found no uncommon birds.  The drive through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) was also uneventful.

My birding day ended with a hike up the Adams County section of the First Creek Trail.  Again, nothing stood out.  An empidonax flycatcher was left unidentified.

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

Washington and Arapahoe Counties

June 7, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Aurora was 86 degrees this afternoon.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 21 mph during the thunderstorm.

One stop at a friend's home added an Eastern Screech-Owl to our trip list.  Terry and I figured we had worn out spring migration sightings and we turned west back to Denver.

We circled the Washington Country Club Golf Course Park and found an American Redstart along the east side of the Pond.  A Red-eyed Vireo sang around the southwest footbridge.

A detour to Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington) was our last stop.  The Northern Waterthrush was walking the log along the east side of the pond.  Nothing else uncommon was found and we headed for home.

Rebecca Kosten and I went to dinner in Denver after the thunderstorm finished.  On the way, we stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  

A walk up the butterfly hill drainage did not find the Bell's Vireo reported yesterday by Dave King.  Birds were not moving around.  

When we stopped at the Smoking Hill Group Picnic Area, a Red-eyed Vireo was singing just west of the pavilion!

No owls showed up along the shooting range entrance road this evening.

Birding Around Wray

June 6, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperature again only reached 68 degrees.  Winds 3-4 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Yesterday, we received a report of a Whip-poor-will at the South Republican River and Highway 34 approximately 1.6 miles west of Nebraska.  Would have loved to confirm the sighting, however, we listened for an hour before sunrise without success.

A walk around Wray Fishing Unit found a male Blackburnian Warbler in the area where I photographed a Connecticut Warbler on May 29.  The Eastern Phoebe, Baltimore Oriole and hybrid (Baltimore X Bullock's) were also east of Yuma CR FF.

We hiked Stalker Lake as far as possible to its western end.  Missed any uncommon sparrows, "empidonax" flycatchers or uncommon birds, did see two Baltimore Orioles.

Birding around Beecher Island was uneventful.  A singing Great Crested Flycatcher was the highlight. 

We circled around the county roads over to County Road Railroad finding nothing to report.  The trip was timed to return to the Whip-poor-will spot thirty minutes before sunset.  No poor-wills responded to our recordings.

Julesburg to Wray

June 5, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 68 degrees.  Winds were calm with afternoon gusts only measuring 5 mph.

We left Julesburg (Sedgwick) just after sunrise.  A quick stop at the Elementary School found no uncommon birds.  We left long before students would show; it is not a good idea to walk around schools with binoculars these days.

Another brief stop this time at Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop relocated the Baltimore Oriole however missed the Chimney Swifts, Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Bluebirds.

Holyoke was once again a disappointment.  Highlight was a Red-eyed Vireo at the City Park.  No uncommon birds found at the Cemetery, Fishing Ponds or traditional "hotspots".

In Wray (Yuma) we visited homes of four of my friends.  Bird count included: 3 male and 2 female Northern Cardinals, one Rose-breasted Grosbeak, two White-throated Sparrows.

Our birding day ended back at the Yuma CR 45 Lek.  Once again no Greater Prairie-Chickens appeared.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Logan Back to Sedgwick County

June 4, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It warmed up even more today with a high of 88 degrees in Julesburg.  Winds were 15-16 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Terry Michaels and I were back near the Logan/Sedgwick border today.  We walked quite a bit of Little Jumbo Reservoir (Logan).  Highlight was another Bell's Vireo to add to our trip list.  A Red-headed Woodpecker also drummed along the western side.

After several hours at Little Jumbo Reservoir, we moved on to the big one, Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  We scoped most of the western and southern sides and then walked the eastern Campgrounds to the northwestern end.  Quite a bit of mileage was put on our hiking boots today.  Again, afternoon storms shorted our birding day.

Highlights included two White-rumped Sandpipers off north of the southern restrooms.  Few uncommon were found along the eastern side or west below Logan County Road 95.  Usually a Northern Cardinal or interesting warbler is found below the road (toward Little Jumbo) not today.  A male Hooded Warbler popped out below the tall willows at the southwest end of the CR 95.

We played a recording of Least Bittern toward the eastern cattails and below the southern end of the dam.  No response was heard (found 7/2006 & 4/2012).  

Yet another Baltimore Oriole and a pair of Orchard Orioles were in the eastern Campgrounds.

A Mourning Warbler was almost perfectly hidden in willows west of the northern Campgrounds.  He popped out several times and provided nice views.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called from just west of there (however on private property).

We made a brief detour to the Pony Express Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).  No startling birds were found.  A drumming male Red-bellied Woodpecker was our only uncommon bird (really not uncommon for northeastern Wildlife Areas).

Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop (Sedgwick) was visited again.  Still no Common Ground-Dove, perhaps someday they will once again visit.  Two Chimney Swifts, the Great Crested Flycatcher and male Baltimore Oriole were seen.

Rain and hail with potential tornados ended our birding day.

Birding Around Sterling, Logan County

June 3, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures stayed warm topping 83 degrees.  Winds were around 9-10 mph most of the day.  Afternoon storms brought gusts of 28 mph.

Afternoon thunderstorms and threats of tornados greatly shortened our birding day.

We started at Overland Park on a pleasant warm and windless morning.  A Black-billed Cuckoo called approximately 1/4 mile down the trail.  We relocated a male Baltimore Oriole and several Bullock's Orioles on the walk back to the Visitor's Center.

There was no sign that the Purple Martin had remained in the area.  A Nashville Warbler came down for a drink perhaps 50 yards east of the Visitor's Center.  Nothing uncommon was found across the street and we headed up and down Logan County Road 370.

Knudson Wildlife Area calls for a good hike to get to the riparian area.  Eventually we encountered two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, four Eastern Bluebirds and a male Baltimore Oriole.

Bravo Wildlife Area on the east side of Highway 6 was a great stop today.  A Bell's Vireo gave us fits before we could positively identify it.  A calling Great Crested Flycatcher continued our frustration.  Trying to pick it out of the blowing cottonwood leaves was defeating.  Eventually we spotted the darn bird.  A drumming male Red-bellied Woodpecker did not cooperate much either.

Misses: no uncommon warblers, vireos and owls were found throughout our trek.  Looming thunderstorms arrived shortly after noon and we ran/drove for cover.

North of Sterling

June 2, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Sterling warmed up to 82 degrees.  Winds were 10-11 mph with afternoon gusts to 22 mph.

Most of our day was expended driving roads north of Sterling and North Sterling Reservoir.  We encompassed north to Nebraska, west to Weld County and east to Crook.

Several locations produced Sharp-tailed Grouse sightings last month.  We came across none today.  Our entire list of target birds was missed (Mountain Plover, Short-eared Owls, and Sprague's Pipits).

While few birds were encountered today, we enjoyed exploring roads that seldom are visited by birders.

Highlights came from stops at two friend's ranches.  One has a nesting pair of Long-eared Owls.  The other had an Upland Sandpiper (Logan County).

Logan County

June 1, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 75 degrees in Sterling. Winds were only 3-4 mph with gusts to 10 mph.

Afternoon storms returned with a furry today. We hope that it will bring some interesting birds with them.

We headed into Logan County with our first stop Red Lion Wildlife Area.  An Upland Sandpiper stood on a fence post about 50 yards west of Logan County Road 93.  The Common Tern spotted by John Vanderpoel two days ago did not appear around.

We searched Duck Creek Wildlife Area for additional Upland Sandpipers, however found none.  A Dickcissel popped up on the fence line about 100 yards south of the terminal parking area.

A quick run around Jumbo Reservoir found nothing uncommon and we headed to Sterling.

Overland Park has had cuckoos nest in the past.  While we did not run into any today, a male Baltimore Oriole was found along with many Bullock's Orioles.

Terry spotted our highlight bird of the day.   A Purple Martin flew up and down the South Platte River, observed from the highway 6 bridge.

A Mississippi Kite flew over Riverside Cemetery as we watched a male Baltimore Oriole harass a female Oriole of unknown species.  I had observed a hybrid Baltimore Oriole X Bullock's Oriole at Wray Fishing Unit back on May 29.  Therefore, it does happen.

Another Mississippi Kite flew over Pioneer Park when we explored that Park.  The highlight was a Broad-winged Hawk.

Our birding day ended at North Sterling Reservoir.  No uncommon gulls, warblers or vireos showed up.  Just before the thunderstorm hit, we found a Barn Owl north of the Campgrounds.

Sedgwick County

May 31, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It warmed up to 82 degrees today.  Winds were calm with afternoon winds increasing in the afternoon to 21 mph.

The storms again stayed away as we visited Sedgwick County today.  It turned out to be a nice one!

Sand Draw Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) has always been one of my favorites.  A Barn Owl flew out of the western windbreak as we parked.  We discovered a Loggerhead Shrike nesting in the Wild Plum!

Two Eastern Bluebirds fluttered about the northwestern corner, while we found our target bird, a Field Sparrow along the eastern border.  Misses: the Wildlife Area is usually good for a Harris's Sparrow sighting, none today.

Much time was spent at Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop.  We discovered a male Baltimore Oriole, calling Great Crested Flycatcher and four Eastern Bluebirds.  

The area east across from the main section was checked. A Common Ground-Dove was found there on November 12, 2011 seen through December 2.  None was found today.

DePoorter Lake is another good spot to find Harris's Sparrows year round; although none was found today.  We did identify a Bell's Vireo and possible Alder Flycatcher.

We detoured west and stopped at Julesburg Wildlife Area (actually south of Ovid, not Julesburg).  A Broad-winged Hawk was perched in a cottonwood about 20 yards east of Sedgwick County Road 29.  

A bright red Northern Cardinal sang from the west side of the road. He eventually flew north into Ovid.  We could not relocate him; however did find a Red-bellied Woodpecker along Lodgepole Creek in Ovid Woods.  

Ovid Sewage Ponds area was quiet today.  It is another good spot for Harris's Sparrows and White-throated Sparrow.

Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area added another Red-bellied Woodpecker and Great Crested Flycatcher to our trip list.  We had hoped for an Upland Sandpiper or American Woodcock.

Our birding day ended at Roger Danka's ranch with a great barbecue and listening to an Eastern Screech-Owl call!

Phillips County

May 30, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 79 degrees in Holyoke (Phillips County).  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 17 mph.

Storms finally subsided for a day.  It appeared that many of the birds waiting out the weather took off once it cleared.

Highlights were few in today's high winds as I was joined by Terry Michaels.   We found a Red-eyed Vireo at Holyoke Cemetery (Phillips County).

A Blue-headed Vireo was along the east side of the Holyoke Fishing Pond.

Holyoke City Park had no uncommon birds.  Traditional Holyoke hotspots such as East Gordon Street & South Interocean Avenue and the east end of Akron Street had few birds today.

Haxtun Sewage Ponds was uninteresting also.

Our birding day ended at a Greater Prairie-Chicken lek south of Holyoke.  Two birds visited this lek on private land!

A Couple of Days Alone on Colorado's Eastern Plains

May 28-29, 2019

May 28

High temperature in Burlington was 78 degrees. Winds were 8-9 mph with afternoon gusts to 29 mph.

I headed to eastern Colorado for a few days of alone time and hiking after leading six grouse trips this spring.  Today (Tuesday) and Wednesday it rained almost all of the time.  Several times, I left birding areas to avoid hailstorms.  I escaped hail damage at least three times with a quick exit.

It was raining when I stopped at Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington).  Therefore, I stood in the rain for an hour watching the pond below the parking area.

Eventually two Veeries, one Northern Waterthrush and a Nashville Warbler emerged from the surrounding vegetation.  Not wanting my camera exposed to the rain, photos were not taken.  A hailstorm forced by departure.

Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) was not very birdy.  Presently, the reservoir has almost no water in it.  A male Blue Grosbeak and two Great-tailed Grackles were among the few birds observed.  Another hailstorm pushed me out of there.  The storm(s) appeared to be moving out of the northwest, heading south, and west.

The highlight of the detour was finding two Mountain Plover in the fields northeast of the Wildlife Area.

It was raining when I reached the South Republican Wildlife Area (formerly Bonny Reservoir, Yuma County).

The Eastern Meadowlark reported a week earlier at Highway 385 and Yuma CR 3 was not relocated.  Photos of the four Red-headed Woodpeckers were captured.  A Great Crested Flycatcher was heard and located with some effort in the thick cottonwoods.

Fosters Grove Campgrounds (now closed to camping) added an Eastern Phoebe, Northern Cardinal and Bell's Vireo to my trip list.  Another Great Crested Flycatcher was heard calling from behind the restrooms.

The rain let up a bit and I walked the old south gated road.  It really cannot be called a road anymore as vegetation has taken it over.  The deer have kept a narrow path open.  

Two male Baltimore Orioles, a male Red-bellied Woodpecker, two Warbling Vireos and two Brown Thrashers were run across.

My second Bell's Vireo of the day was seen back at the turn where CR 2 goes from east off highway 385 and turns sharply south then east again.

After dark, I walked CR 3 close to Fosters Grove and back.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls were heard south of the road.  A walk to Hopper Ponds did not add any additional owls.

May 29

High temperature today was only 66 degrees.  Winds were 10-11 mph with gusts to 23 mph in the afternoon.

The previously storms produced a great birding day.

I woke up to an Eastern Screech-Owl calling northeast of the western Hale Pond.  When I hiked through the wet field searching unsuccessfully for it, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was perched above in a cottonwood.

Additional birds found included two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and two Eastern Bluebirds.

I continued to Wray for what turned out to be a fantastic day.  A light drizzle fell as I walked around Wray City Park searching for a Mourning Warbler reported yesterday.  At least 52 Turkey Vultures were roosting in the Park.

It was not found, but I was able to photograph a Northern Waterthrush, a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a Blue-headed Vireo.  The Waterthrush was at the bridge at the south end of the Park while the other birds were along the stream between the hospital and the Park.  

Next, I looked for yesterday's reported Alder Flycatcher at now Stalker Lake.  They put up a new sign, replacing the Stalker Pond sign.

The first bird exiting my car was an "empidonax" flycatcher.  Whether it was an Alder Flycatcher, I am not certain.  I do know what it was not (Cordilleran, Least, Hammond's, Dusky or Gray).  Perhaps later inspection of my photos will clear the id up?

Baltimore Orioles seemed to be everywhere.  I watched two males harass a female at the northeast corner.  Another male chased a female at the southwest corner.

A male Northern Cardinal flew around the thicker evergreens at the western end of the Wray Fishing Unit entrance road.  

The section east of Yuma County Road FF was more interesting.  First, I watched a male hybrid Baltimore X Bullock's Oriole chase a female Bullock's Oriole near the green gate at CR FF.  

An Eastern Phoebe flew back and forth along the Creek below CR FF.  Then I walked along the creek to the eastern end of the property.  A first year American Redstart flew around the taller cottonwoods.

The highlight however was a longish "Oporornis"/"Geothlypis" warbler popped out of the willows lining the stream.  Once Kentucky, Connecticut, Mourning and MacGillivray's Warblers were all "Oporornis" warblers.  Now have joined Common Yellowthroat as "Geothlypis" leaving Connecticut Warbler the lone "Oporornis" warbler.

While the whole bird did not coming out at one time, eventually I was able to see the whole bird in bits and pieces.  The light gray hood, complete eye-ring, pale yellow under parts and long undertail coverts revealed a Connecticut Warbler!

Later I wandered to Yuma (Yuma County) however, few birds were found.  My birding day ended back at the Yuma County Road 45 Leks.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens appeared this evening.

Trip to Steamboat Springs

May 27, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 60 degrees in Steamboat Springs; of course much colder on Rabbit Ears Pass and the Greater Sage-Grouse Leks.

Rebecca and I headed up to Steamboat Springs (Routt) hoping the Prothonotary Warbler was still there.  It provided nice views at its previously reported spot along the Yampa River between the Botanic Garden and the Osprey nesting pole!

On the return trip, we stopped several locations of interesting birds.  No Sharp-tailed Grouse were found along the Fish Creek Road loop this trip.  It is getting late for them to still be on their wintering grounds.

Rabbit Ears Pass was more exciting.  We parked on the maintenance shed road.  Playing a recording produced a response from a female American Three-toed Woodpecker.  She flew back and forth across the road several times.

We then walked up the main road and found a flock of crossbills.  Six Red Crossbills had a pair of White-winged Crossbills with them.

We wandered around until an hour before sunset.  Greater Sage-Grouse were still coming to the Jackson County Road 26b leks!

Several stops at the numerous picnic and Campgrounds along highway 14 to listen for owls regrettably did not find any this trip.