Saturday, November 30, 2019

Return to Arapahoe County

November 30, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 34 degrees.  Cold but it was warmer than the past few days.  Winds were measured at 14-15 mph with gusts to 21 mph.  The wind caused high waves on the Lakes.

I returned to Arapahoe County to see if some of the previously reported birds were still around.  The Common Loon was observed swimming near the mouth of Lone Tree Cove at Aurora Reservoir.  The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the shore near mile 4.5.

My next stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Winds had picked up quite a bit.  I received a text message about the sighting of two Trumpeter Swans.  Unfortunately, I did not find them as I scoped the Lake four times.

Two to four Bonaparte's Gulls and the Glaucous Gull flew around the Reservoir during my stay.  Dozens of Western Grebes and some common ducks were more toward the swim beach.  

Only three American White Pelicans remained of the sixty-eight+ seen Thanksgiving Day. I did not find the Yellow-billed Loon, however it could have been hidden by the high waves.

On the way home, I stopped at the apartments south of the horse corrals on 56th avenue.  High winds bent the tall grasses back and forth.  I relocated several of the Song Sparrows, however did not see the Harris's Sparrow Rebecca and I found on Thanksgiving.

No Short-eared Owls were observed this evening as I parked at 88th avenue and the Toll Road Bridge.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Aurora Reservoir, Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 29, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures only reached 25 degrees today.  Anomometer readings hovered between 11-12 mph.

Rebecca and I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Most gulls were too far away to id properly.  We did see the continuing Common Loon.

We then visited Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) to see if the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was still there.  No gulls or waterfowl were around as both Lake Ladora and Lower Derby Lake were ice covered.

After visiting friends, we passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) at 4:00 pm.  Heavy fog reduced visibility to less than 30 feet.  Yesterday's large gulls and the Yellow-billed Loon could not be seen.

Cherry Creek Reservoir & First Creek Trail

November 28, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was only 28 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph most of the day.

Rebecca and I took Thanksgiving dinner to a friend living near Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). 

We stopped afterwards to look for the reported two Trumpeter Swans.  Around the marina area, we found two American White Pelicans, two Double-crested Cormorants, four Snow Geese and various common ducks.

Two large white gulls caught our attention.  One was a young Glaucous Gull.  The second bird appeared to look like a Glaucous-winged Gull.

The Yellow-billed Loon is still on the Lake.  At least two Bonaparte's Gulls also remain at the State Park.  Over sixty eight American White Pelicans swam in the cove west of the swim beach.

Our final stop was the Denver County section of the First Creek Trail.  We parked at the new apartments south of the horse corrals along 56th avenue.  A walk from 56th avenue to the light rail bridge found few birds.  No Rusty Blackbirds have yet returned after wintering here last year.

While returning to our car we noticed a large flock of sparrows in the high grasses northwest of the apartment buildings office.  Half a dozen Song Sparrows, at least ten American Tree Sparrows and a Harris's Sparrow were observed.

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

Southeastern Trip

November 25-27, 2019

Richard Stevens:

A big storm storm was the forecast for Denver.  I chose to drive to Baca County where the storm was predicted to miss.  Later I found out that DIA received over 9 inches of snow.  I did not see snow until driving highway 25 north of Trinidad!  My trip was quite enjoyable and snow free!

November 25

High temperature was 53 degrees near La Junta.  Winds blew at 16-17 mph with gusts to 23 mph.  

I arrived at Vogel Canyon Recreation Area shortly after Noon.  Not many birds can be expected this time of year.  A Say's Phoebe sang its "pweer pee ee" from the parking area.

A hike down the trail found a Rufous-crowned Sparrow running along the rocky hillside along the Canyon Trail.  I continued down the loop, Canyon, Prairie & Mesa Trails.  Other interesting birds discovered along the loop included three wrens (Bewick's, Rock & Canyon).

The highlight was a Greater Roadrunner running behind the ruins at the parking area when I returned to my car.  A flock of four Mountain Bluebirds flew along the drive back out of the canyon.

Later I drove down CR 804 (Higbee Cemetery Road).  While it was late in the year to find a Black-throated Sparrow, Late sighting dates include 11/10 & 11/23.

A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker and a Lincoln's Sparrow fluttered about the Cemetery.  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow was found farther down the road.  Nothing else uncommon was found on the drive to the end of CR 804.

My route to Cottonwood Canyon (Baca) was by way of Carrizo Mountain.  Another Greater Roadrunner and Rufous-crowned Sparrow was discovered along the trip.  I arrived in Cottonwood Canyon after dark.  One Western Screech-Owl called at the camping area near Carrizo Creek & CR J.

November 26

High temperature reached 42 degrees on this windy day.  Winds were 20-21 mph with gusts to 40 mph.  Many birds were found in spite of the winds.

Most of the day was spent hiking around Cottonwood Canyon (Baca).  When I started birding, my first excursion was at Cottonwood Canyon.  It has provided many birding memories in the 208 days birded there.  It accounts for 109 lifebirds, at least 50 good finds and one first state record (Tufted Titmouse, 11/2/1994)!

I revisited the three routes that I would walk every day when visiting Cottonwood Canyon.  1. Camping area to bear canyon 4.5 miles round trip 2. Up the southern draw, 2.6 miles round trip & 3. Camping area west to Carrizo Mt road and draw 2.5 miles round trip.  Several days I would duplicate the hike for a total canyon mileage of 2247 over the 25 years

1. Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows moved around the rocks near the entrance of Bear Canyon.  Fourteen Wild Turkeys were spotted near there.  A good number considering I ran into several hunters who had not ran across one.  Canyon Towhees were found at several locations along the walk.  Chihuahuan Ravens roosted on the canyon walls.

2. Highlight of the visit was a Winter Wren about 60 yards up (south) the southern draw.

3. A pair each of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers and Downy Woodpeckers all found up the western draw.  It was this draw in 1994 that I heard and later tracked down a pair of Tufted Titmice!  I have seen Long-eared Owls in the evergreens here and Short-eared Owls on the top of the rocky cliffs several times over the years.

Bewick's Wrens are usually found in the evergreens along East Carrizo Creek near the camping site.  A Cooper's Hawk was just west of there.

Misses: Lewis's Woodpeckers appear to have abandoned Cottonwood Canyon several years ago.  Last reported sighting(s) were 8/20/2014.  Many of the old taller cottonwoods have fallen down.

Mississippi Kites still visit in the summer.  I have found Northern Cardinals in November and December; none was found this trip.

Another note on my Cottonwood Canyon history, Rufous-crowned Sparrows were a nemesis bird.  I search 19 days (those 10 mile hikes) before finding my first one.  I would hike the road, halfway up the cliffs and the top of the canyon without a sighting.  

The time was not a waste as many other birds (and some good finds) held my attention.  Once I found my first Rufous-crowned Sparrow, I learned just how and where to look for them.  Very seldom are they missed on my visits now.

I ended my birding day at the Upland Bird Management Area (east of Picture Canyon).  No Short-eared Owls were found this trip.  Three Lapland Longspurs were the highlight.

November 27

High temperature today was 41 degrees.  Winds were 21-22 mph with gusts to 30.  It was a pleasant day while back in Denver they were digging out of a snowstorm.

I camped at Picture Canyon (Baca) and walked to the Oklahoma border.  A Rufous-crowned Sparrow ran around the short red hillside near the parking area (camping spot).

Continuing to North Canyon, I observed a Curve-billed Thrasher hunting for food along a short cliff (five feet high is probably not worthy of "cliff").

Later I drove to Sand Canyon and spent a couple of hours exploring.  A Northern Mockingbird was the highlight there.

Then I took the eastern route to the Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (Las Animas).  A Swamp Sparrow popped out of thickets near the parking area.  Just a few hundred yards up the hill (north), a Juniper Titmouse also came into view.

At dusk I set up my two "owl listening stations" and stayed for several hours listening for owls.  One Northern Saw-whet Owl was found north of the pond.

My trip needed to end as additional snow was predicted for the next day.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Aurora Reservoir, Pronghorn Nature Area & Star K Ranch

November 24, 2019

Richard Stevens:

What adjective to use to describe the magnificent fall day it was in Colorado?  Rebecca and I went to Aurora Reservoir to look for the Northern Goshawk reported yesterday.

We entered from the southern entrance and walked down to the Lake at mile 2.0 then west to mile 0.5.  A pair of Rusty Blackbirds flew up from the cattails along Senac Cove about halfway between the entrance and the lake.  They were most likely the same pair I observed on 10/18/2019.

We scoped the trees along the east and south sides of the Lake; no Goshawk was found.  A pair of Great Horned Owls stood on the same cottonwood branch near mile 0.8.

The contrast between the two in color was interesting.  One was a light gray color while the other almost brown in color.  Both were similar in size.

Gulls were scattered across the lake because of the many boats and fisher people.  Groups of gulls were on shore at mile 2.0, 4.5 and 5.5.  Most were too far away to identify.  The Common Loon was near the mouth of Lone Tree Cove.

Next, we decided to hike the northern Pronghorn Open Space trail to its end (about 1.2 miles one way).  We watched the large cattail fields along the way for sparrows (Swamp Sparrow).  

The highlight was a dark morph Ferruginous Hawk hunting over the field just outside of the Open Space boundary.  We observed one over nearby Aurora Reservoir on 8/7/2016.  The Open Space and nearby DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) comprised a huge territory for a Ferruginous Hawk to hunt or live.

The southern Pronghorn Trail was scoped from the trailhead.  A lone adult Red-tailed Hawk was perched in one of the larger cottonwoods.

Our final stop was the Star K Ranch (Arapahoe).  Two American Woodcocks have been reported in the area (1/1/2005 & 10/16/2016) over the years.  We became excited when a long bill was spotted sticking out of the cattails along the southern side of the Nature Loop Pond.  Regrettably, it belonged to a Wilson's Snipe.

Not much else was around.  There was no repeat of the 12/29/2002 male Red-bellied Woodpecker who wintered through 3/8/2003.  A Great Horned Owl called from the southeast corner of Sand Creek.

Daylight ran out before we could make it to nearby Coal Creek Regional Greenway.  Perhaps we can visit it tomorrow.  American Woodcock was photographed there on 10/16/2016 (cover of November 2016 "Colorado Field Notes")

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek State Park

November 23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Temperature reached 57 degrees today.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

To enjoy this superb fall day, Rebecca and I drove through the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  The Lesser Black-backed Gull continued on the east shore of Lake Ladora.

Four Common Goldeneyes, pair of Hooded Mergansers and a Western Grebe were on the Lake.  A first year Barrow's Goldeneye was a surprise find.

Afterwards we drove to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way to dinner.    The Yellow-billed Loon continued to swim in the middle of the Lake.  At least four Bonaparte's Gulls flew by and dove in attempts to catch their dinner.

Another Trip to Northeastern Colorado

November 20-22, 2019

Richard Stevens:

November 20

High today was 50 degrees.  Winds were 14-15 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

Jacob Washburn and I returned to Northeastern Colorado.  We arrived at Prewitt Reservoir around sunrise to find the many gulls on the small strip of land at the western end of the Lake.

From the main entrance near the ranger's home drive west staying as close to the Lake as possible.  After passing the second restroom, there is a pullover about 10 yards farther west.  The water level currently allows for a strip of land about 3 feet wide and 40 feet long.  Gulls have been spending the night here.

The previously reported Mew Gull was among hundreds of Ring-billed, six California and two Herring Gulls.  We did not find the Laughing Gull.

We walked from the ranger's office to the east and south end of the dam.  The Eastern Screech-Owl was again sunning himself.  The Red-headed Woodpecker and Red-bellied Woodpecker were not found.  The 11/18 swans and Surf Scoter were also missing.

It took about 30 minutes to relocate the three White-winged Scoters at Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick).  Winds were 18-19 mph, which created high waves.

No additional uncommon ducks were found.  Thousands of white geese (Snow & Ross's) formed a large raft in the middle of the lake.

We parked near sunset at the southeastern hill and watched nearby fields for owls.  None appeared this evening.

November 21

It was much colder today with a high of 34 degrees.  Winds were 11-12 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

After camping at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan), Jacob and I explored the southern sections before sunrise.  Greater Prairie-Chicken favorite locations (windmill just south of I76 & Logan CR 81 and the intersection of CR 46 & CR 89) did not yield a bird this trip.

Later, Jacob and I walked the riparian area at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) from 2West to 8East and back.  Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and two Field Sparrows were relocated.  Misses included the Eastern Screech-Owl, any warblers or vireos.

Ovid Woods (Sedgwick) and Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area (Sedgwick) did not add any uncommon birds to our trip list.  Sedgwick Cemetery and Sedgwick Draw also were a bust.

An Eastern Screech-Owl called briefly while we enjoyed a barbecue near sunset at a friend's ranch.

November 22

Cold weather continued with a high of 32 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

Jacob and I departed our friend's ranch early enough to reach Yuma CR 45 at dawn.  We drove the loop of CR 45--CR PP.  No Greater Prairie-Chickens or Short-eared Owls were found this morning.

Brief stops at the Wray Fishing Unit, Stalker Pond and the Wray City Park did not find any uncommon birds.

The highlight at the Republican Wildlife Area (Yuma) was two Long-eared Owls in the Fosters Grove windbreak.  Twelve Wild Turkeys walked across CR 3 as we continued to Hale.

Hale Ponds added a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, four Eastern Bluebirds and an Eastern Screech-Owl to our trip list.  In summary, birding was slow.

Target birds, American Woodcocks, Greater Prairie-Chickens and the Laughing Gull were all missed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Birding Parks: Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Aurora Reservoir & Barr Lake

November 19, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 64 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph.  

I left home at 4:00 am to miss the traffic across town to Chatfield Reservoir.  The goal today was to see three species of scoters in one day.  I had not done so since November 2, 2001.

The first two hours before sunrise I drove up and down Deer Creek Canyon Road in search of owls.  Northern Pygmy-Owls sometimes hunt along Deer Creek and Short-eared Owls hunt north of the same Road in South Valley Park.  Unfortunately, none was found this morning.

I scoped Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) from above the dam.  Only one of the two reported White-winged Scoters was found.  Nothing else uncommon was discovered.

Then across C470 at South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson), both the Surf Scoter and Black Scoter were observed.  No Greater Scaups were found at Blackrock Lake or Eaglewatch Lake.  Some usually winter here; perhaps it is early in the season.

Both the Yellow-billed Loon and Common Loon were still on Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) when I passed through.  Another Common Loon swam on Aurora Reservoir.  Gulls were too far away to identify today.

I spent the late afternoon walking the canal below the Barr Lake dam (Adams).  With so many late migrants being reported along the Front Range, it seemed to be a good choice.  However, few birds moved about. It was cloudy unlike my visit last week.

The highlight was a probable Winter Wren.  I would have liked another look, only got two (90 percent sure of ID).  It was under the fallen tree at the first break in the riparian willow row as one comes from the Old Stone House.

Additional birds found were two Wilson's Snipes, nine Song Sparrows and a pair of Black-capped Chickadees.

Later, I scoped the Lake from the boat ramp.  Hundreds of Western Grebes, hundreds of Northern Shovelers and many other ducks as well as White-cheeked Geese were scattered across the Lake.

My birding day ended as I sat at 88th avenue and the toll road 30 minutes before and after sunset.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Search for American Woodcocks Along the I76 Corridor

November 16-18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

November 16

One of my Wray, CO friends died last week.  Another had died several months ago and I wanted to deliver condolences in person.

I departed Denver at 3:00 am in order to drive Yuma County Roads between Joes and Yuma (highway 59).  Eventually I ran into a Greater Prairie-Chicken on one of the County Roads, which are driveways for several ranches.  Nevertheless, they are public roads; I have previously met with landowners and obtained permission to head toward their homes early in the morning.

When I arrived in Wray, I walked the City Park and hospital area searching for Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  While none turned up, a local resident out for a walk pointed me in the direction of Jackson Street, south of Kitzmiller Street (south side of hospital).  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was easy to find with its loud, harsh "kwrrr" call.

I then drove into the Wray Fishing Unit located just a few miles east of the City Park.  The resident male Northern Cardinal was foraging in the evergreen trees along the entrance road (near the 10 mph sign).

While watching the Northern Cardinal, an Oriole was popped out in the same area.  Orioles are uncommon sightings in November and I needed to determine if it was a Bullock's or Baltimore Oriole.  Both Orioles breed in the area and a hybrid was even photographed back in September 2019.

It took 45 minutes before the Oriole revealed enough of itself for an id.  The bird's head was dull brownish color down to its weak orange breast.  Its two wingbars were well defined.   Its back was streaked and brownish scapulars had dark centers.  It was a young Baltimore Oriole!

A young Bullock's Oriole is expected to have a yellowish head, neck and auriculars, grayish less streaked back, yellowish malar and breast areas.

The Baltimore Oriole eventually flew to the cottonwoods below the Stalker Lake parking area and so did I!

While attempting to relocate the Baltimore Oriole I noticed two swans swimming on the west end of the Lake.  I circled a distance to the south around to the west end of the Lake.  Unfortunately, I got greedy, wanting good photos of the Swans.  I wanted a great photo of the birds and did not take any far away, long shots. 

The swans had all the field marks of Trumpeter Swans.  Regrettably, as I approached, the hundreds of ducks swimming around the Swans took off and frighten the Swans.

As I returned to my car, I noticed that the Swans and ducks did return to the Lake.  However, I did not have the time to return and also concluded they would fly away again if approached. 

My original plan was to visit Wray, drive to Jumbo Reservoir and end my day at North Sterling Reservoir.  Too much time was spent in Yuma County and I did not arrive at Jumbo Reservoir until 3:30 pm.  There was not enough daylight to visit North Sterling Reservoir this day.

At Jumbo Reservoir, I scoped the Lake from the south side, the eastern Campgrounds and west side.  On my second attempt along the south side of the Lake, I discovered the three White-winged Scoters not far off Logan County Roads 1 & 24.8 (recent witness photo on Colorado Birding Society's website: 

Later I would take GPS waypoints and found that the ducks had swum in both Logan and Sedgwick Counties!

Originally, I had reported only two White-winged Scoters.  Winds were 20+ miles and waves were quite high.  After examining my photos, I had captured all three White-winged Scoters in two of the shots!

At sunset, the fields south of the Reservoir were watched.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

After dinner in Sterling, I returned to Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan).  A walk between Eastern sections 1 to 8 found one Eastern Screech-Owl!

November 17

I camped at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan), woke up to 21 degrees.  First, I hiked west sections 1 & 2, reversed and continued east to section 8.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found in 1 West and later 2 East sections. The most active birding was between sections 6 East and 8 East.  Two Field Sparrows were in the 7 East windbreak while a Harris's Sparrow was found in the 6 East windbreak.

No warblers or vireos were encountered.  Several Lapland Longspurs were on the main road as I drove to the Tamarack Pond area.  Nothing uncommon was encountered there.

A return to nearby Jumbo Reservoir found the three White-winged Scoters still north of CR 1 & 24.8, although the Scoters were farther away from shore today and too far for photos.

No birds were found at Duck Creek Wildlife Area (north of Crook).  Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan) was more interesting, in spite of more than half a dozen duck hunters lining the Lake and S. Platte River.

To avoid the hunters, I walked west from the Lake and found a Red-bellied Woodpecker on the north side of the Platte River.  GPS stated the woodpecker was 1461 feet west of the fence along the west side of the Lake. 

Another 142 feet west, a flock of sparrows on the south side of the Platte River contained nine Song Sparrows, fourteen American Tree Sparrows and a Harris's Sparrow.

A brief detour to North Sterling Reservoir (Logan) found few birds and nothing uncommon.  My trek then resumed toward Jackson Reservoir (Morgan).

I stopped at Riverside Park Nature Trails (formerly Morgan Ponds.  A birder had just finished her two mile loop of the trails where she had found two Eastern Bluebirds and an Eastern Screech-Owl.  Jane was nice enough to take me back to the Eastern Screech-Owl; during the walk, we saw the Eastern Bluebirds!

Finally I reached Jackson Reservoir (Morgan), however did stop at Bijou Creek and Highway 144.  It is one of the most reliable spots to find a Wilson's Snipe in Colorado; one Snipe walked just below the south side of the bridge.  Regrettably, my American Woodcock search continued unsuccessfully.

Jackson Reservoir was scoped three times from the north side Wildlife Area and five times from the west (Lakeside Campgrounds).  The previously reported Long-tailed Ducks were not found.  I also did not find the Harris's Sparrow reported awhile back at Morgan CR CC & 4.  The lack of sparrows anywhere at the Park was surprising.

Eventually I found three Long-eared Owls along the west side of the Lake.  Two were in an area that most birders would not think to look.  The days of 11-14 Long-eared Owls wintering are most likely over.  I will no longer list exact locations; the park is overrun with people, just too busy and a disturbance to the owls. 

Perhaps additional owls will return once cold weather discourages people from camping.  Yet, additional campsites and new trails through the west side riparian area may dishearten Long-eared Owl from wintering here.

At the end of the day, the plan was to park at the northwestern Campgrounds and wait for dusk, perhaps seeing Short-eared Owls hunt over the open fields.  Unfortunately, the Campgrounds were closed to cars for the season.  It was too far to walk over a hill to view the open fields.

Instead, I parked along the west side of Andrick Ponds Wildlife Area (Morgan CR 2) and walked along the cattail fields hoping for a Swamp Sparrow or Marsh Wren.  Neither was found and no Short-eared Owls appeared over the Wildlife Area this trip.

I drove to Fort Morgan for dinner and a motel stay.  Two nights camping in the cold and without a shower was too much.

November 18

Went to Prewitt Reservoir this morning and found hundreds of gulls on a narrow strip of land at the inlet area.  One dusky brown Gull with a slightly hooked bill caught my attention.  After long looks, it was determined to be a first year Laughing Gull.

Note: I had not noticed at the time.  While studying photos later during lunch, I noticed that an adult Mew Gull was standing less than ten feet from the Laughing Gull.

Then I hiked the dam, it was 25 degrees at 7:00 am.  Once I got moving, it warmed up nicely.  A few interesting birds were moving around.

I drew arrows in the dirt on the dam trail for anyone trying to look for the birds.  A Red-headed Woodpecker flew below the dam.  It stayed approximately 3-4 yards north of the edge of the woods.

Continuing south, I found a Surf Scoter at the next arrow.  The duck was approximately 30 yards south of the dam.  While the other birds were in Washington County, the scoter swam from Logan County to Washington County.

The third arrow marks the location of a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Originally, it was in cottonwoods in Logan County.  Eventually it flew south into Washington County.

I did run into an Eastern Screech-Owl sunning itself in Logan County!

On the way back, I circled the riparian area west of the outlet canal.  Six American Tree Sparrows and two Song Sparrows were just about all there.  Two Lapland Longspurs flew up from the short grasses to the north.

On the trip back to Denver, I stopped at several Wildlife Areas along the Platte River and searched for an American Woodcocks; none was found.  Stops included Atwood, Dune Ridge, Knudson, Messix, Elliott, and Jean K. Tool Wildlife Areas.

Nothing stood out at any of the six Wildlife Areas.  Most of the late afternoon was spent at Jean K. Tool Wildlife Area.  The Rufous-crowned Sparrow reported back in September was not found.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl was not out today.

Missed target birds included American Woodcocks and Short-eared Owls.  Uncommon birds found included Savannah Sparrows (Yuma & Logan Counties), Lincoln's Sparrow (Morgan), Swamp Sparrow (private land, Morgan), my first Rough-legged Hawk of season along hwy 138 (Logan), second Rough-legged Hawk (Washington), Ferruginous Hawks (Yuma, Logan, Washington Counties), Long-eared Owl (Logan) and two Wilson's Snipes (Logan, Morgan).

It was quite an enjoyable three days with weather in the 60s, sunshine, good friends and great bird walks!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Aurora Reservoir Area

November 15, 2019

Richard Stevens:

After staying up most of last night (owling), I got a late start on the birding day.  Rebecca and I drove to Aurora Reservoir around 1:00 pm.   

A group of gulls beneath the lower parking area pavilion included an Iceland Gull (Thayer's), two Herring Gulls and hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.  We examined the gulls for almost an hour; no Mew Gull was among them.

The only other group on shore was near mile 4.5.  Too far away for most IDs, we could pick out an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.  

Few waterfowl were on the Lake today.  We did see nine Western Grebes in one cluster.

We hiked to the Lake from the West Dam parking area.  Several hundred geese, including one Greater White-fronted Goose stood on the shore at the southern end of the dam.

One Common Loon swam along the scuba beach.  Most gulls standing on the northwest corner of the dam were Ring-billed with a few California Gulls.

We hiked part of the Pronghorn Open Space (north of Aurora Reservoir) searching unsuccessfully for a Swamp Sparrow in the large cattail fields.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.

A 24 hour Birding Day

November 14, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Okay perhaps I am a crazy birder.  Today I found two akin!  We departed Denver around 4:00 am.  Stops at several of the Campgrounds along Guanella Pass Road (Park County, from Grant side) did not uncover any owls.  If any Northern Saw-whet Owls were still around, they were not enticed by our recordings.

Once at the Summit, we scoped the 603 and Rosalie Trails and found two White-tailed Ptarmigan near the intersection.  Later, we found another five birds along the trail to the lake below the main parking area.

Continuing north, Guanella Pass Campgrounds yielded few birds.  Two Pine Grosbeaks (pair) were spotted.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers could be located.

We reversed our trek and ended up at Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson County).  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was finally run into just downhill (north) of the intersection of the Parkview and Strawberry Jack trails.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl called briefly near the rocks about 400 yards south of the intersection.  It went quiet before we could put binoculars on it.  The Park closes at sunset and we had to retreat to our SUV and leave.

The experience was the same at nearby Reynolds Park.  It was now dark.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard near the main parking area and the Songbird Trail.  Again, we did not see it.

The trip was about to end when I mentioned that Flammulated Owls could possibly still be around Wellington Lake.  The Lake was not far away and we headed for it.  Regrettably, no owls were found.  Perhaps they had migrated south for the year.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

November 13, 2019

Richard Stevens:

My brother drove up from Arizona and I took him to see the Bison and deer at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  The day was cooler than yesterday with a high of 54 degrees; still it was a nice fall day.

The low number of birds at the Arsenal is not surprising anymore.  We did see two adult and two juvenile Bald Eagles.

The highlight was the continuing Lesser Black-backed Gull at Lake Ladora.  Most of Colorado's common ducks swan on Lower Derby Lake.  Two Long-billed Dowitchers walked along the shore at the island in the middle of the Lake.

Adams County Birding

November 12, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High today was a warm 64 degrees.  Winds stayed 4-5 mph.

What a stunning fall day in Colorado.  I was considering the day a throw-away- day, no planned searches for uncommon birds, just relish leisure hiking.

I did stop at Ken Mitchell Park and Open Space.  It had been three days and a snowstorm since a Northern Mockingbird was reported.  I walked from the southeastern parking area at Mockingbird Lane along the South Platte River Trail to Highway 7.

Highlight was a Northern Shrike at the northern corner of the Park.  It stayed near the yard of the green house on the corner and the bushes across the trail.

Next at Barr Lake (Adams), I decided to focus on the canal below the dam.  I walked the dam from mile 6 to 7 and then dropped down to the canal.  While scoping the Lake from the southern end of the dam, I saw a Pacific Loon and Common Loon swimming west of the boat ramp.

The canal below the dam was quite interesting although no uncommon birds were encountered.  A flock of birds near blind #4 included six Black-capped Chickadees and four Song Sparrows.  

While watching a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (late?) in the same area, a Golden-crowned Kinglet popped out of the Russian Olive trees.  I had not seen a Golden-crowned Kinglet at Barr Lake since a flock of 11 fluttered around the banding station on 10/23/2001.

A Virginia Rail walked out of the cattails along the stream near blind #5.  A Wilson's Snipe flew up near outlet canal #4a (nowhere near blind #4).

One Long-eared Owl was found buried deep in thickets.  It was not along the main canal but thickets to the east.

Success tonight, after a dozen misses. a Short-eared Owl was observed flying along Third Creek, south of 104th avenue.  I was parked along West Cargo Road about 0.2 miles south of its intersection with Third Creek.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Birding Around Denver After A Snowstorm

November 11, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today reached a nippy 24 degrees.  Winds ranged from 9 to 12 mph with several gusts at 22 mph.

I left for Chatfield State Park (Jefferson/Douglas) around 4:30 am to beat traffic.  Target birds during a drive up and down Deer Creek Canyon Road were Northern Pygmy-Owl or Short-eared Owl; neither found this trip.

I scoped Chatfield Reservoir from above the dam.  Target birds were any Murrelets; none was found.

The two White-winged Scoters were swimming off the south marina.  Nothing else uncommon was found.

The Black Scoter was found when I scoped Bear Creek Lake (Jefferson).  Again, no other uncommon birds were found.

A brief stop at South Platte Park (Arapahoe) did not find the Nashville Warbler reported yesterday.  Perhaps last night's snowstorm encouraged it to move on to warmer places.

I took the toll road to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Again, most gulls were at the shores of mile 2.0 or 4.5.  I could pick out an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at mile 2.0 (from lower parking area pavilion).  Gulls were too far away to identify a Mew Gull (previously reported).

My final stop of the day was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I found a strange looking sparrow with a flock of American Tree Sparrows (14) along the Lake Loop at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

The face appeared similar to an adult Chipping Sparrow (gray face, blackish eye line, white supercilium) but had characteristics of an American Tree Sparrow (bicolor bill, rufous patch on sides, isolated dark spot on chest).

I spent an hour trying to photograph the bird.  My seven or eight photos were blurry because of fading light.  It seemed that every time the flock came down to the Lake Loop road, a car would come by.

I checked the "Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World" and found no mention of a Chipping Sparrow/American Tree Sparrow hybrid.  Their breeding grounds are quite far apart.  It was interesting how many times Chipping Sparrows, Clay-colored Sparrows, Brewer's Sparrows and Field Sparrow interbred.

Will do additional research later.  The Yellow-billed Loon, one Common Loon and two Bonaparte's Gulls continue.  Dozens of American White Pelicans, a few Double-crested Cormorants, many Horned & Eared Grebes (no Red-necked Grebe) and Western Grebes are also still there. 

Since it was getting late anyway, I stayed around until after sunset to look for owls.  I found one Long-eared Owl, no Barn Owls.

Eastern Metro Area November 10, 2019

November 10, 2019

Rich Stevens, Rebecca Kosten, Sue Ehlmann and I birded several less visited areas today.  Nothing rare/uncommon was found.

Highlights at the First Creek Trail both Adams & Denver Counties was a flock of 10-12 American Tree Sparrows.

Richard and I walked the length of Sand Creek that runs through the Aurora Sports Park.  The creek has been mostly dry for several years.  We walked the west side to Colfax and back along the east side to the southeast corner of the Park.

A Say's Phoebe was on the fence at the southeast corner.  Our best bird was a Brown Thrasher.  It was under Russian Olive trees directly west of halfway between the south end of the pond and the soccer fields to the south.

A Ferruginous Hawk flew along the field east of the park.  The subdivision of homes southeast of the park has many Eurasian Collared-Doves and House Sparrows.

The four of us then hiked Coal Creek Regional Park, Arapahoe County.  An American Woodcock was photographed here on 10/16/2016 (cover of November 2016 "Colorado Field Notes")

No woodcocks today, we did find one Spotted Towhee and many American Tree Sparrows.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Rocky Mountain Arsenal November 9, 2019

Hello birders,

Rich Stevens, Rebecca Kosten, Sue Ehlmann and I drove the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife drive this afternoon.  It had to be almost 80 degrees, oh Colorado!

Total birds seen on the Drive: two Black-billed Magpies, one first year Bald Eagle, one Western Meadowlark, eight or so Lapland Longspurs, twenty plus Horned Larks and one female American Kestrel.

Things were a little more interesting at Lake Ladora.  Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls but also a Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull.  Very few ducks were there, nothing uncommon.

Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Terry Michaels, President, Colorado Birding Society
Centennial, CO
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 7, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 48 degrees.  Winds measured at 6-7 mph, enough to keep medium sized waves on the reservoirs.

I spent about two hours scoping Aurora Reservoir from the lower parking area.  Today most of the gulls were on the shore at mile 2.0 and mile 4.5.  I was not up the walking that distance today.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull stood among hundreds of gulls at mile 2.0.

Later I walked to the northwest corner of the dam by way of the western parking area.  Nothing uncommon, gulls or waterfowl was found.

Next I scope Cherry Creek Reservoir for over three hours; target bird was the Red-necked Grebe (was never found).

Two Common Loons and a third loon that I thought was a Yellow-billed Loon on 10/28 swam in the middle of the lake.  The mystery loon was bigger than the two Common Loons, held its bill upward while the Common Loons held theirs level, had a larger bill than the Common Loons and appeared to have a light & yellow bill.  The two Common Loons bills were definitely darker even at sunset.

At least six Bonaparte's Gulls flew around the reservoir.  Look first for gulls that are diving constantly, then the white leading edge on the wing and then the black ear spot.  A Little Gull would have more black on its head and dark underwing. 

Once again no Short-eared Owls were observed at the DIA Owl Loop.

Search for a Red-flanked bluetail

November 5-6, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperatures were around 50 degrees during our trek into Wyoming.  Winds were varied from 6 to 14 mph with afternoon gusts to 22 mph.

Terry Michaels, Rebecca Kosten, Sue Ehlmann and I searched off and on for 14 hours over the two days for the Red-flanked bluetail.  Congratulations to the birders who saw it on Monday.  We have not heard of any sightings since.

I bet we could draw and map of the area by memory.  The search was enjoyable; success would have made it better.

On the way home on Wednesday, we detoured to the Larimer County Landfill.  The Gyrfalcon was not at Trilby and Taft, but we did see it chase a Gull over the Landfill and then disappear to the north!

After dark, we visited a friend's home west of Loveland.  We listened for owls for a couple of hours but found none.

Reynolds Park in Jefferson County

November 4, 2019

Richard Stevens:

The temperature hovered around 32 degrees during our visit.  Winds remained close to 5 mph all morning.

Don Beers and I walked Foxton Road along the north side of Reynolds Park an hour before sunrise.  We did not hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl until we hiked up Oxen Draw toward Eagle View.  The owl was somewhere in the line of trees east of the trail at the south edge of the clearing south of the Songbird trail.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard drumming about 20 yards east of the Eagle View, Oxen Draw, and Raven's Roost intersection.

Our final highlight was a Dusky Grouse along the Eagle View Trail, just west of the overlook clearing.

No Williamson's Sapsuckers appeared to be in the area.

I did not see any Short-eared Owls along the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Brief Trip Into the Mountains On a Sunday

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Denver was 53 degrees, 26 degrees in Silverthorne.

Visiting birder Don Beers and I made one of those trips that are not my favorite.  Heading into the mountains on a Sunday is a disaster waiting to happen with the ridiculous traffic jams.

We left Denver way before sunrise and watched the pulchritudinous (wondered if I would ever use that word) morning unfold from Loveland Pass (Clear Creek).  A walk along highway 6 back toward Interstate 70 found two White-tailed Ptarmigan below the summit!

Later we drove into Silverthorne (Summit) to a friend's home.  It is a shame for Colorado birders that numerous trespassing incidents caused my friend to close access.

We found three species of Rosy Finches (although only one Black), Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Pygmy Nuthatches, a Clark's Nutcracker, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, and many Crows.

Shortly after, we headed back to Denver to miss returning traffic.  One Barrow's Goldeneye was on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit).

Nothing uncommon was found during a brief stop at the Denver West Office Complex hot spot.

Northeastern Colorado; Jackson to Riverside to Lower Latham Reservoirs

November 2, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 43 degrees. Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Don Beers and I headed northeast to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan); target birds were Long-eared Owls and Longspurs.

Eventually we ran into two Long-eared Owls in the western Campgrounds.  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl could not be enticed to show today.

Other birds in the Campgrounds included a White-throated Sparrow, Gray Catbird, six Yellow-rumped Warblers and two Spotted Towhees.

From the Campgrounds, we circled around and headed up Morgan CR 4, which turns into Weld 105 as it crosses the county line.  Lapland Longspurs were found in several flocks of Horned Larks (both Morgan & Weld Counties).

Having found our target birds we decided to explore Weld County Road 89 and the area around Riverside Reservoir.  The area has been great for Snowy Owls in many previous years.  While none has been reported in Colorado yet this year, it is worth a check.  No suspense, no Snowy Owls were found.

We continued west on Highway 34 to Kersey and then south to the Lower Latham Reservoir area.  Unfortunately, no Short-eared Owls made an appearance this evening.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Arapahoe County: Goldsmith Gulch Trail & Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 1, 2019

High temperature was only 34 degrees today.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 12 mph.

While taking care of appointments at the Denver Tech Center I realized that nearby Crescent Park (Belleview & DTC Parkway) has a Winter Wren (2017) and Swamp Sparrow (2018) on its checklist.

Unfortunately, nothing uncommon flew around the pond and creek at Crescent Park today.  I walked across the street, headed up Goldsmith Gulch Trail continuing to Orchard Road, and turned back to Belleview Avenue.  It has been awhile since I birded in a suit and dress shoes; therefore I could not get close to the stream.

The Hackberry bushes along the trail had many berries but no birds.  A Swamp Sparrow popped out of the cattails about 300 yards south of Belleview. 

Later I searched for swans on Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Swans seem to be everywhere the last two days, none here however.  I only had 8x21 binoculars and could not see small birds such as the Red-necked Grebe.

No Short-eared Owl found along the DIA Owl Loop, perhaps tomorrow?