Thursday, December 26, 2019

Loons at Aurora Reservoir (including Yellow-billed Loon)

Hello cobirders,

Transcript of telephone call from Richard Stevens:

"I skipped Lamar Christmas Count today letting others conduct it.  

On my way southeast, I stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams Cty).  The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull is still there on Lake Ladora.

I also passed Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe Cty).  While scoping the lake from below the lower parking area I saw three loons.  The Pacific Loon was at the mouth of the Lonetree Cove.

A Common Loon swim south of the scuba beach.  Another loon swam below the dam at the northwest corner.  This loon swam to the scuba beach.  When it reached the Common Loon, it looked bigger.  From the lower parking area, I could pick out the larger loon near the dam tower even without binoculars.

Other birder walked from the northwest corner of the dam to the scuba beach.  When I asked, she stated the same field marks that I recorded.  Obvious pale barring on back, light brown head with much white around eye, bill held slightly upright and bill was yellow except for base of upper mandible.  It looked like the Yellow-billed Loon I found last month at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Tens of thousands of White-cheeked Geese flew into the lake.  Relocating the loons became difficult.  When they were feeding, they stayed above the water only a few seconds and stayed below almost a minute."  The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the shore at mile 4.5.

If this is the same Yellow-billed Loon reported both at Aurora and Cherry Creek Reservoir, where or how does it disappear for a day or two?

Good birding!

Directions to birding spots on CoBus website:

Rebecca Kosten, Colorado Birding Society
Denver, Colorado
Contact CoBus/Report Interesting Birds: 303-324-7994
Subscribe to "cobirders" by sending blank email to:
Read "cobirders" at:

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

South Platte Birding Area (Adams County)

December 25, 2019

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature in Denver was 53 degrees in early afternoon.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 18 mph at the DIA Owl Loop (Adams).

With Aurora Reservoir and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal closed today, birding was limited.

Rebecca and I drove through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe) and found 75 percent of the Lake ice covered.  A few Common Goldeneyes, Western Grebes and one pair of Hooded Mergansers were the only ducks found.  Gull count was less than 60 with one Herring Gull among the majority of Ring-billed.

Later we walked the South Platte Birding Area from 88th avenue to hwy 224 and back.  The Barrow's Goldeneye was still on Tani Reservoir.  We did not see any Long-tailed Ducks.  

Once the lakes freeze over the ducks will spend more time on the South Platte River.  Seeing a Barrow's Goldeneye should become less of a chore.

We watched sunset back at West Cargo Road and 96th Avenue.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening.  Raptors included a Ferruginous Hawk, sub-adult Bald Eagle and two Red-tailed Hawks.

Aurora Reservoir to Lookout Mountain to Arvada (Brant)

December 24, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I ran over to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) when they opened.  The loons that Dave King reported yesterday were still on the far eastern side of the lake.  I could make out two Common Loons and the Pacific Loon.  A fourth loon was larger than the Common Loons and may have been the Yellow-billed Loon.  It was too far away to be sure.

High temperature was a comfortable 50 degrees in Arvada.  Winds were mild at 4-5 mph with gusts only to 9 mph.

Rebecca and I have a tradition of birding in the foothills on Christmas Eve.  Today we searched unsuccessfully for the Williamson's Sapsucker reported a few days ago at the Lookout Mountain Visitor's Center.

On the drive back to Denver, we detoured to Lake Arbor.  The Brant was not around at Noon so we tried Far Horizons Park (no geese), Pomona Lake #2 (no geese), Indian Tree area and Fireman's Park (no geese).

We returned to Lake Arbor; the Brant had returned (or perhaps we had just missed it on our first stop).  The goose hunkered down and there was little photo opportunity.

After lunch and grocery shopping (stores closed early), we returned to Lake Arbor hoping for a better photo.  The Brant was not around.  We sat on a bench and waited for sunset.  Around 4:45 pm geese started to return in large number to the lake.  At 5:01 pm, the Brant was observed flying back to the Lake.   Unfortunately, it was too dark for any photos.

Ovid to North Sterling Reservoir

December 23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 53 degrees on the eastern plains.  Winds were mile at 3-4 mph with gusts only to 8 mph.

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn and I lingered in northeastern Colorado today.  The choice turned out to be quite a reward and highlight.

We were making leisure stops along Highway 138 in Sedgwick County.

A walk along Lodgepole Creek in Ovid found a Red-bellied Woodpecker east of the high school and a pair of Rusty Blackbirds about halfway south to highway 138.

We stopped at four friend's yards with feeders and found a young Purple Finch at one and a male Northern Cardinal at another!

Julesburg Wildlife Area added only a Harris's Sparrow today.

Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area was even slower.  Two Eastern Bluebirds perched on telephone wires near the parking area.

It was then that we received a text message about a Snowy Owl sighting near North Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  Needless to say, we took off.

Eventually we found the Snowy Owl after an hour search.  Unfortunately, the owl was quite far from us; we only captured witness photos.

Later we drove the picnic and Campgrounds.  A Barn Owl was not well hidden in the picnic area.

We hoped for uncommon gulls or perhaps a Snow Bunting; neither materialized.  All the same what a great day!

The Sixteenth Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area/Jumbo Reservoir Christmas Count


Full details will be in January's "Colorado Field Notes"

Ten birders and six feeder watchers particated

Trumpeter Swan (2)
Greater White-fronted Geese, Ross's Geese
Greater Scaup (1)
Greater Prairie-Chicken (southern section)
Long-eared Owl (2, Red Lion Wildlife Area)
Short-eared Owl (Jumbo Reservoir)
Barn Owl (1, northwest Jumbo Reservoir)
Eastern Screech-Owl (2, Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area, 1 Jumbo Reservoir)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Gulls: Lesser Black-backed, California, Herring, Glaucous, Iceland
Eastern Screech-Owl (2, Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area, 1 Jumbo Reservoir)
Purple Finch (Tamarack Ranch)
Sparrows: Field, White-throated

The Nineteenth CoBus South Republican Wildlife Area Christmas Count


Full details will be in January's "Colorado Field Notes"

Eight birders and four feeder watchers particated (plus one in Kansas, results not added to Colorado list)

Highlights included:

South Republican Wildlife Area
Red-bellied Woodpecker (3)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Eastern Bluebird (3)
Eastern Screech-Owl (3)
Long-eared Owl (2)
Field Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Fox Sparrow (red), Field Sparrow
Rusty Blackbird (2)
Northern Cardinal

Missed: Northern Saw-whet Owl, Barn Owl

The Fifteenth CoBus Wray Christmas Count


Full details will be in January's "Colorado Field Notes"

Eight birders and nine feeder watchers participated


Wray City Park: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker
Wray Fishing Unit: Northern Cardinal
CR 45/CR P: Greater Prairie-Chicken (2)
private yards: Northern Cardinal (5), Fox Sparrow (red), White-throated Sparrow, Eastern Screech-Owl (2)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Loveland Pass

Hello cobirders,

My brother John David and I made the traffic laden trip to Loveland Pass on Saturday.

When we parked at the first pullover west of highway 9, we found two White-tailed Ptarmigan on the hillside east of highway 9.  While taking photos back at the Summit, John saw two Gray-crowned Rosy Finches circling overhead.

In Silverthorne we saw three species of Rosy Finches at a private residence.  They are beautiful birds!

The drive home was not much better than the trip up.

Amy Davenport

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Adams County Birding

Adams County Birding 12/20/2019

My brother John David and I went over to Barr Lake State Park .  The Trumpeter Swan was swimming northwest of the banding station peninsula.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was off the boat ramp.  Thousands of Common Mergansers filled the open water.  A red morph Red-tailed Hawk was south of the boat ramp area.  A Long-eared Owl was near where Richard Stevens reported it on 12/18.

In the town of Barr, we found 42 male and 2 female Great-tailed Grackles along the railroad tracks north of town.  Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library

The Lesser Black-backed Gull stood on the ice at Lake Ladora, Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Amy Davenport

Friday, December 20, 2019

Highline Canal and Quincy Avenue

December 19, 2019

Richard Stevens:

Much colder today with a high of 44 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

A birding was concentrated along the Highline Canal and Quincy Avenue (Arapahoe) today.  My first stop was John Meade Park (Quincy & Meade) in search of the Northern Goshawk reported by Santiago Tabares on 12/17.

Today the Northern Goshawk was in trees behind the private yard north of Quincy and the Park.  I had to use my scope for good views.  Eventually the Hawk flew into the evergreens just east of the home and north of Quincy.

A walk around the park found no additional uncommon birds.  The Village Trail sign along the south side of the Park stated its intersection with the Highline Canal 0.5 miles to the east.

My plans to return to Aurora Reservoir today were scraped and I hiked the Village Trail to the Highline Canal and then the Highline Canal to Quincy (a half moon configuration).

The most birdy spot was a group of Hackberry bushes that still had berries (near the brown house along Highline Canal).  Eleven Cedar Waxwings, unfortunately no Bohemian Waxwings, two Black-capped Chickadees and a dozen House Finches gulped down the berries.  No berries should be left in another day or two.

Highlights of my trek included two Eastern Screech-Owls.  Both were along the Highline Canal; however, they could only be observed from private property. 

I stopped at a friend's home to see what was around.  She has seen the resident male Northern Cardinal two times in the past ten weeks.  A few houses farther south her neighbor sees it once or twice a month.  

I was able to walk the eastern side of the Highline Canal and observed an Eastern Screech-Owl facing the southern sun.

The second Eastern Screech-Owl sighting happened because I would ask dog walkers who are familiar with the area if they knew of any Eastern Screech-Owls.  One woman said she had one in her yard and was happy to show me.  I made a new friend and got my second Eastern Screech-Owl of the day!

In 2018, Eastern Screech-Owls nested along the western side of the Wildlife Area pond just south of Quincy and around the parking area at Dahlia and the Highline Canal.

The Northern Cardinal appears to wander from Quincy to a half mile south.  I saw and reported it last year, however have not seen it yet this year.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I walked the drainages entering Augie's Pond.  No Rusty Blackbirds, one Brewer's Blackbird was the only bird seen.

The Lake was about 50 percent ice covered.  Many of the Common Mergansers were standing on the ice edge.  Nothing uncommon was observed.  No American White Pelicans and only two Double-crested Cormorants were found.

South Platte Birding Area

December 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 57 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

To stretch my legs I decided to walk the South Platte Birding Area (Adams) from 88th avenue to highway 224.

First, a detour was made to the pond northwest of the International Hearing Dog Training Center.  The pond was 90 percent ice covered when I scoped it; birds included three Common Goldeneyes and a few Buffleheads.  The Long-tailed Duck found by Scott Somershoe on 12/16 was not seen.

I then walked the west side of South Platte from 88th avenue down to highway 124 and returned along the east side of the Platte River.  As in most winters, many of the common ducks can be observed on the South Platte River, nothing uncommon was encountered today.

Northern West Gravel Lake was about half open water while southern West Gravel Lake was ice covered.  Nothing uncommon was found at either Lake.

On my return trip, I found probably the same male Barrow's Goldeneye (10/30) at the southern end of Tani Reservoir.  Farther north, a Long-tailed Duck (probably Scott's duck) was at the southwest end of East Gravel Lake.

Several stops were made on the drive home.  Only one Great-tailed Grackle was found this trip in the Town of Barr.  No Yellow-headed Blackbirds (sometimes winter) or additional Great-tailed Grackles were seen at the cattail fields along the southern I76 service road (just east of Barr).

Later, I scoped Barr Lake from the boat ramp and across from the Visitor's Center; however, no uncommon birds were found.

Later, a couple of squawking Black-billed Magpies lead to a Long-eared Owl sighting in the entrance windbreak!

My birding day ended along West Cargo Road south of the State Park.  I parked 0.2 miles south of Cargo Road and Third Creek.  Raptors included two Ferruginous Hawks, one Red-tailed Hawk and one juvenile Bald Eagle, however no Short-eared Owls.

After sunset, I continued south and parked at the junction of W. Cargo Road and 96th Avenue.  At 5:04 pm, a Short-eared Owl hunted over the field to the northwest.  It continued south across 96th avenue and disappeared near 88th avenue.

Fourteenth CoBus Aurora/Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) Christmas Count

The fourteen CoBus Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) Christmas Count was held on December 17, 2019

Details in January's "Colorado Field Notes"

Six birders and seven feeder watchers participated


Aurora Reservoir:
two Greater White-fronted Geese
two Lesser Black-backed Gulls
one Mew Gull
one Pacific Loon

Cherry Creek Reservoir
one Swamp Sparrow
one Northern Shrike
one Long-eared Owl
one Great Horned Owl

Cherry Creek trail
one Brown Thrasher

one Harris's Sparrow at a private yard
one Cassin's Finch at a private yard

Fourteenth CoBus Georgetown Christmas Count

The fourteenth CoBus Georgetown Christmas Count was held on December 16, 2019

Details in January's "Colorado Field Notes"

seven birders and five feeder watchers had a good day


White-tailed Ptarmigan (11) on Guanella Pass which required a four mile round trip snowshoe adventure

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS two just south of Clear Lake Campgrounds

Dusky Grouse: one north of Clear Creek Campgrounds

male American Three-toed Woodpecker at Echo Lake Campgrounds

Pine Grosbeaks, Red Crossbills (Guanella Campgrounds)

Rosy Finches: 42 at a private yard; 3 species (one black) represented

Seventh CoBus Silverthorne/Summit County Christmas Count

The seventh CoBus Silverthorne, Summit County Christmas Count was conducted on December 15, 2019

Details in January's "Colorado Field Notes"

eight birders and five feeder watchers enjoyed a successful day


Northern Pygmy-Owl along Argentine Pass
Boreal Owl (2) up St. Johns trail

White-tailed Ptarmigan (5) at Loveland Pass

Rosy Finches (3 locations) total 282, three species represented

Barrow's Goldeneye (1)

Swamp Sparrow at private yard in Frisco

Common Redpolls (2) private yard in Silverthorne

Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Clark's Nutcracker

Twelfth CoBus Colorado State Forest Christmas Count

The twelfth CoBus Colorado State Forest Christmas Count was conducted on December 14, 2019

Full details will be in January's "Colorado Field Notes"

Eight birders and six feeder watchers enjoyed a great birding day.

American Three-toed Woodpeckers
  (1) one across from the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center
  (2) one at ranger lakes Campgrounds

Boreal Owls
  (1) two west of the Cameron Pass Summit
  (2) one at ranger lakes Campgrounds
  (3) one south of Crags Campgrounds

Greater Sage-Grouse
  two birds about a mile south of Gould

Dusky Grouse
 (1) one below south side of Cameron Pass
 (2) just south of Campgrounds south of Gould

Rosy Finches
two groups at private feeders totaled 423 birds, all three species represented

White-throated Sparrow
one at a private yard

Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins

Northern Pygmy-Owl called at a private yard

Friday, December 13, 2019

Littleon (Varied Thrush) & Cherry Creek Reservoir (White-winged Scoter & Tundra Swan)

December 13, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 46 degrees today.  Winds were strong at 14-15 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

Rebecca and I had business in downtown Denver.  Later on, we decided to attempt for a better photo of the Varied Thrush near Carmody Park.

Friday the thirteenth was not bad for us.  The Varied Thrush appeared less than 30 seconds after I turned off the car at the Hoyt Street cul-de-sac.  It came to the birdbath and then flew into the tall pine tree.  Later it landed in the tree with the red can (behind the Pine).

When the Thrush tried to return to the birdbath, two Blue Jays kept scaring it away.  After the third attempt, the Thrush flew north into the yard of the yellow house.

We debated on whether to continue south to South Platte Park Reservoir (Long-tailed Ducks & Black Scoter) and Chatfield Reservoir (White-winged Scoter).  Traffic was horrible; we decided to head for home instead.

As we passed through Cherry Creek State Park (Arapahoe), I scoped the Lake from the southwestern boat ramp.  A dark duck caught my eye.  It turned out to be an adult White-winged Scoter.  Anyone see the White-winged Scoter at Chatfield Reservoir today?  Perhaps this was the same bird.

We drove around to Pelican Point where only White-cheeked Geese and Ring-billed Gulls were.  No Pelicans were among them.

While scoping the swim beach from the Dixon Grove parking area, Rebecca noticed two large white birds just off the southern end of the parking area.  They turned out to be two Tundra Swans!

Either many Tundra Swans have passed through the State Park in recent days, or these two come, go each evening, and depart in the early morning hours?

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Aurora Reservoir, First Creek Trail & Barr Lake

December 12, 2019

Today felt colder than yesterday with a high temperature of 49 degrees.  Winds of 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph made it feel even colder.

I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) and circled the 8.7 mile path with my bike.  Target bird/question, is the Yellow-billed Loon still around?

I carried a smaller Nikon Scope and light tripod instead of my heavy Vortex Scope and stopped to scope the Lake every 0.5 miles.  After many stops, I concluded that the Yellow-billed Loon is no longer on the Lake.

Highlights included the Pacific Loon found yesterday (off mile 4.5), the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (lower parking area), 2nd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull (Lone Tree Cove) and a Mew Gull (Lone Tree Cove).

No uncommon geese or waterfowl were encountered.  Several dozen Snow Geese (two Blue phase) were among tens of hundreds of White-cheeked Geese.  

My next stop was the First Creek Trail, which I walked from the eastern 56th avenue bridge (Denver) across Buckley Road and continued to the eastern Rocky Mountain Arsenal fence line.

No Rusty Blackbirds appear to be around this year.  Sparrows were scarce; only a handful of White-crowned Sparrows and two Song Sparrows counted.  Dark-eyed Juncos were the majority bird.  Two Red-tailed Hawks circled over Adams County section.

I spent 30 minutes or so trying to relocate the Harris's Sparrow Rebecca and I had found in the high weeds south of 56th avenue and the horse corrals; without success.

Continuing north, I scoped Barr Lake (Adams) from the Niedrach Boardwalk and the boat ramp.  No Tundra Swans were found.  The Bald Eagle count was 38 birds of various ages.

Various common ducks were obscured by thousands of Common Mergansers swimming on the Lake.  Nothing uncommon could be separated from the horde.

I did find one Long-eared Owl in surrounding windbreaks.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening along the DIA Owl Loop.  I parked along West Cargo Road at 0.2 miles south of Third Creek.  One Ferruginous Hawk, two Red-tailed Hawks and an adult Bald Eagle flew by before sunset.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Aurora Reservoir

December 11, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was a pleasant 50 degrees.  Winds were 10-11 mph during my visit.

I found the time to scope Aurora Reservoir from the lower parking area this afternoon.  An adult and younger Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Mew Gull, two California Gulls were among several hundred Ring-billed Gulls below the Pavilion.

A Pacific Loon swam off mile 4.5.  No additional uncommon birds were observed.

I hiked to the north end of the Pronghorn Nature Open Space north of Quincy Avenue and Aurora Reservoir.  No uncommon birds or Short-eared Owls were encountered today.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Search for Owls and a Varied Thrush

December 10, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It was another superb day around Denver.  High temperature was 40 degrees.  Winds were calm to 3 mph in Lakewood.

Rob Baker and I left Denver at 4:00 am.  Our target bird was a Northern Pygmy-Owl or possibly a Northern Saw-whet Owl.  

We walked Foxton Road from the large to small parking areas at Reynolds Park (Jefferson).  Our return was along the Songbird trail and then up Oxen Draw Trail.  Regrettably, there was no hint of a Northern Pygmy-Owl this morning.

At nearby Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson) we hiked up to the Strawberry Jack trail intersection with the Skipper Trail and back.  Then we hiked the Narrow Gauge trail to its western end.  Again, no owls were encountered.

Our return trip to Denver was by way of Jefferson CR 126 to Hwy 67.  Fortunately, Rob spotted a Northern Pygmy-Owl hunting from low in a willow along the South Platte River (east of CR 126 and Forest Road 529!

Rob did not have additional time and we returned to his hotel at I25 and Hampden.  After dropping Rob off, I was close enough to the Lakewood Varied Thrush spot and gave it a try.

I walked back and forth along the boundary of Carmody Park for an hour behind the houses along South Hoyt Court.  No other birders or Varied Thrush appeared; there were however many dog walkers.  A flock of 22 Bushtits hung around where the park and entrance path intersected.

I asked numerous dog walkers if they had seen a Varied Thrush or people with binoculars.  After almost a dozen inquiries, one local person had heard of the infamous sighting.

Taking her directions, I detoured over to South Hoyt.  Less than 30 minutes into my stakeout, the Varied Thrush made a brief appearance!  By the way, original directions were way off.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Clear Creek & Summit Counties

December 9, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in Georgetown was 34 degrees.  It was at least 10 degrees colder at Loveland Pass and Silverthorne. 

Rob Baker and I searched for White-tailed Ptarmigan on Loveland Pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties) this morning.  Two and a half hours passed before we finally turned up one along the western trail.  

The Ptarmigan was a good 0.7 miles uphill, south of the trail.  The climb from the parking area (11990 feet) to the Ptarmigan location (12414 feet) was only 424 feet in elevation.  However, starting from 11990 feet, the thin air makes the hike effortful.

We had first checked more likely and easier locations 1. east of hwy 9 at first pullover south of the Summit, 2. west side of hwy 9, 2nd pullover south of Summit, 3. eastern side of Summit, then the strenuous hike up the western trail!

Later we dropped in on a friend in Silverton (Summit County).  We stood around in a cold 26 degrees for over an hour.  Birds encountered included three species of Rosy Finches, a Clark's Nutcracker, two Canada Jays, four Pine Grosbeaks, seven Evening Grosbeaks, Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees and Pine Siskins.  

A stop at the Georgetown Park (Clear Creek) added four Red Crossbills to our day list!  No Rosy Finches were found during a drive around Town.

On the way back to Denver, we detoured up hwy 103 to Echo Lake (Clear Creek).  Birds were scarce around the Lake.  Eventually we found an American Three-toed Woodpecker at the southeast corner of the Campgrounds.

Then we stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).  No uncommon birds were found; we missed the Barn Owls also.  Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Western Scrub-Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos and a Spotted Towhee were observed behind the Trading Center.

Eastern Colorado Birding Trip

December 7-8, 2019

Richard Stevens:

December 7

High temperature in Wray was 56 degrees.  Winds were 2-3 mph.

Rob Baker and I headed to Wray by way of Hwy 59 (near Joes).  Two county roads north of Joes were searched unsuccessfully for Greater Prairie-Chickens.

We continued to the Republican Wildlife Area (a.k.a. Bonny Reservoir, Yuma).  At Fosters Grove, we found a Long-eared Owl (windbreak) and ten Wild Turkey (along CR 3).  The absence of songbirds and sparrows was surprising.

Birds were scarce at the old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was spotted during a hike along the southern gated road, which is quite overgrown with vegetation.

After lunch in Burlington, we drove back north.  We searched Fairview Cemetery north Burlington for Pine Warblers and other uncommon birds.  Two Red Crossbills were the most interesting birds there.

A couple of hour's walk around the Republican Wildlife Area (Hale ponds) found two Eastern Bluebirds (CR 4), a male Red-bellied Woodpecker and an Eastern Screech-Owl (called shortly after sunset).

December 8

Our target birds this morning along Yuma CR 45 were Greater Prairie-Chickens and Short-eared Owls.  We drove to CR 45 by Yuma CR P.  I have seen Short-eared Owls on several occasions near the bend where CR P turns into CR 45; none was around this morning.

Fortune shined, a male Greater Prairie-Chicken was observed in the field south of CR 45 (between the gravel road to the CR 45 lek and Hwy 385).

The highlight of the trip for me was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker just south of the Community Hospital.  We missed the resident Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  Two local birders had seen one along the draw just east of the Hospital about 10 minutes before our arrival.

Nothing uncommon was found at Stalker Lake.  We searched the cattails below the parking area for a stray wren (Winter, Marsh or House).  We could not find the resident Northern Cardinal at Wray Fishing Unit.

A brief stop at Washington Country Club Golf Course Park did not find any uncommon birds.  Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) did not add any uncommon birds to our trip list.

Return to Aurora Reservoir Under Better Weather Conditons

December 6, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 42 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph.

I returned to Aurora Reservoir today hoping for better visibility.  

The swim beach was scoped from the Lower Parking Area.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull were among 1500 gulls on the swim beach.  At least one Herring Gull and two California Gulls were also there.

Four additional groups of 1000+ gulls were scattered along the shore (mile 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 and 2.5).  After an hour, the gulls on the swim beach were dispersed by human activity.

I hiked up from the Western Parking Area to the west side of the dam.  My target bird, the Yellow-billed Loon was also not found from here.  In fact, few birds were at the northwestern corner of the dam today.

It was such a beautiful day, warm and calm winds, that I decided to hike down to the Lake from the south side.  It is approximately a 1.5 hike one way to the shore.  Yet another group of 1000+ gulls was on the shore in Lone Tree Cove.  

This group included most likely the same Glaucous Gull previously found, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and at least one Mew Gull.  Another scope of the Lake from the mouth of nearby Senac Cove did not find the Yellow-billed Loon.

To continue enjoying the excellence day I walked the length of the nearby northern Pronghorn Open Space trail.  It is about 1.2 miles one way to the northern border.

Song Sparrows were the only species found in the long cattail fields today.  No Short-eared Owls appeared at sunset as I hiked back to my car.

Brief Afternoon Visit to Aurora Reservoir

December 5, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature in the afternoon at Aurora Reservoir was 39 degrees.  Winds were 14-15 mph with gusts to 19 mph.

We stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe) on the way home.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, one Herring Gull, two California Gulls and one Mew Gull were among 1600 Ring-billed Gulls on the swim beach.

It took almost an hour to scope the beach and shore at mile 2.0.  By the time we arrived at the dam at the scuba beach, visibility was less than 10 yards; we left. 

Yellow-billed Loon and whatever could still be on the Lake.

Trip to North Park

December 2-5, 2019

Richard Stevens:

December 2

Rebecca and I drove to Cameron Pass and the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center (Jackson County).  Nothing uncommon was found at the Visitor's Center.  After dark, a Boreal Owl called from west of the Pass's Summit.

December 3

High was 39 degrees west of Cameron Pass.  Winds were a whooping 23-24 mph with a few gusts reaching 29 mph.  Owling under these conditions was (is) a bust.

We checked the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center this morning.  A lone Gray-crowned Rosy Finch was observed.  Among other birds seen were a Clark's Nutcracker and Canada Jays.

On the way to the Colorado State Forest, we walked hwy 14 near Ranger Lakes.  A drumming male American Three-toed Woodpecker made the stop worthwhile.

Then we explored the main road in the Colorado State Forest and did a little cross-country skiing.  Nothing noteworthy was found.  

Two hundred and fifty Rosy Finches (66 percent Gray-crowned Rosy, 33.9 percent Brown-capped and a few Black) entertained us at a friend's ranch.  Other birds stopping by included Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins and a pair of Clark's Nutcrackers.

At sunset, we skied down to the Crags Campgrounds.  No Dusky Grouse or additional Boreal Owls were found.

December 4

It warmed up to 43 degrees today.  Winds 14-15 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

Rebecca and I drove Jackson County Road 26 an hour before sunrise.  Our early rising was rewarded with a Greater Sage-Grouse sighting (northwest of CR 26b).

A drive along the streets of Walden did not find any Rosy Finches.  We visited another friend's ranch this time west of Walden.  They had a flock of about 100 Rosy Finches visit most days.  Unfortunately, the Rosy Finches did not visit during our stay.

Walden Reservoir was snow covered.  The few birds around were American Crows.

December 5

It was relatively warm this morning at 34 degrees.  Anomometer readings were 6-7 mph.  However, snowstorms were in the forecast; we got out of there.

We checked behind the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center, again found only one Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, and then headed for home.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker could be heard drumming north of hwy 14 across from the Visitor's Center.

Stops at Joe Wright Reservoir and the Zimmerman Lake Loop Trail parking areas did not find any uncommon birds.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Weld to Arapahoe to Jefferson County

December 1, 2019

Richard Stevens:

It warmed up, sort of as high temperature today was 44 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

Rebecca and I headed north to Union Reservoir (Weld.  Eventually one Long-tailed Duck was relocated.  We could not find any of the reported Mew Gulls.  Other sightings included a Barrow's Goldeneye and possible Eastern Meadowlark (singing).

Next, Rebecca and I settled on driving to the South Platte Park Reservoir area (Arapahoe/Jefferson).  Only on Sunday is there a chance at not running into heavy traffic in Denver/Littleton.  

The two Long-tailed Ducks found earlier this morning by Adam Vesely were at first in Jefferson County at the western end of the Reservoir.  They swam around much and ended up in Arapahoe County before we departed!  The previously reported Black Scoter stayed at the western side of the Lake in Jefferson County.

We parked near Blackrock Lake and walked between Blackrock and Eaglewatch Lakes.  No swans were at either Lake.  Our target birds were Greater Scaup, which historically spend late, fall and early winter on the two lakes before they freeze.  None was found today.  

A consolation bird was a Surf Scoter on the northwest corner of Eaglewatch Lake.  Most likely, this was the South Platte Park Reservoir duck.  Both scoters seem to disappear for a day or two from the Reservoir.  Perhaps they are flying back and forth between the Reservoir and the two Lakes just below and to the east.

We had no strategy to travel to nearby Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas).  However, because we had observed two of the three species of scoters our next stop was Chatfield Reservoir.  The White-winged Scoter was observed while we scoped the Lake from above the dam.

We then continued northwest to Harriman Lake Park (Jefferson).  The six Tundra Swans stood on the ice at the northwest corner of the Lake.  The yellow spots on their bills were visible on all six birds.  

Thanks Lucy Dealcins for reporting them!  I put photos on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library: 

Our final stop was Addenbrooke Park (Jefferson) where our target bird was a Greater White-fronted Goose.  Regrettably, not one goose was at the Park.  More distressing, I had to spend 35 minutes digging our car out of a snow bank, which used the remained daylight.