Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Summer Update

I have not posted an update in an eternity! The summer was...slow. Hot. I found it difficult to get motivated to go out on long bike rides in the 90 degree heat. Also, there just weren't many targets to go chase. There were a few that I should have gone to get, but didn't. Namely Orchard Oriole. Also, there were a few birds that I saw while not on my bike that I could have chased later to get but failed such as Sage Thrasher and Loggerhead Shrike. But, there's still hope for both of those although the train is certainly leaving the station as winter is creeping into the foothills. To skip to the good stuff, I'm up to 227 species and I've ridden 1640 miles.

And here's the summer run-down:

Indigo Bunting (#208)- My friend Scot Pipkin and I found a nice adult male a few hundred meters up the Flagstaff Mtn trail from the entrance to Gregory Canyon on July 18th. Steve Jones gave me the heads up on this guy. I found several frustrating hybrid Lazuli x Indigo Buntings this summer, so it was nice to have a pure bird.

Flammulated Owl (#209)- Scot, Kristin Brinkmann and I took a hike on the same evening of July 18th up Gregory Canyon in search of owls. We had plenty of moonlight to hike by, and after hearing a distant Flamm I called this guy in to within a few meters although we never got any looks other than a shadowy figure flying through the canopy.

Dusky Grouse (#210)- On a hike up to Green Mountain via Bear Canyon on July 20th, I heard a Dusky booming in quiet gully. Unfortunately I couldn't track him down although it vocalized several times. While conducting forest hawk surveys for the City I ran into several DUGR in July and August, seemingly the best time of year to find these guys. On this same hike I found a Milk Snake and a Black Witch Moth, two extremely exciting creatures by their own measure, although not countable.

Rufous Hummingbird (#211)- My first of the summer was the sound of an adult male's wing twirl during twilight on my way down Bear Canyon on the 20th.

Common Loon (#212)- A young bird had been hanging out at Baseline Reservoir for a few weeks (still there +1 as of a few days ago), and on August 16th I tracked it down.

Stilt Sandpiper (#213)- A real banner year for Stilt Sands in Boulder Co. On August 16th I saw a flock of 6 at Cottonwood Marsh. A few weeks later I found a flock of 10 at Cottonwood.

Calliope Hummingbird (#214)- As of August 27th, I hadn't found a Calliope and was getting nervous that they would all up and leave. I sent an email to John Vanderpoel to ask if I could take a peek at his hummingbird feeders. I went over on the afternoon of the 27th and soon picked up a female Calliope. There were a few Rufous and Broad-taileds zipping around, and a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Brewer's Sparrow were some extra goodies.

Red-necked Phalarope (#215)- A pair of these small shorebirds cooperated on September 2nd at Cottonwood Marsh.

Brown Pelican (#216)- Woah! A Brown Pelican in CO? Darn rare! Word got out on the listserve that an immature Brown Pelican was at Baseline Reservoir during the late morning of September 5th. It's a 2 minute bike ride from my office, so I cut out early for the day and headed over. Unfortunately, I chose to drive to work that day. Fortunately, the bird was gone!! I drove to several other spots including Valmont Res and Cottonwood Marsh. There was a dark blob with some American White Pelicans out in Valmont, but I couldn't tell if it was a goose or something better. When I returned to Baseline, viola, there was the Brown Pelican soaring over the lake. It headed off in the general direction of Valmont Res, so I made phone calls and headed home to get my bike. As I was leaving the house, I got a call from Bill Kaempfer saying that the bird was out at Valmont and was sleeping. I rode like an athlete and got there in record time. And as things usually go, I arrived to the sounds of "it just took off, sorry." Arg. But I did not give up hope and started scanning the horizon. It wasn't long before I picked up the gargantuan bird off to the north-east over Gunbarrel Hill. I even got it in the scope for a second as it cruised off towards Boulder Res.

Townsend's Warbler (#217)- A walk along the Bobolink Trail produced a single TOWA on September 6th.

Long-tailed Jaeger (#218)- September is great :-). Word got out that there was an immature LTJA at McIntosh Lake in north Boulder Co. on September 7th. I scooted over and it was sitting on the water not far from shore. These pelagic birds aught to be way out in the ocean, but a few stray straight south from their breeding grounds in the high arctic instead of heading down the coasts.

Sanderling (#219)- A few birds were scattered along the north shore of McIntosh on the 7th.

Sabine's Gull (#220)- On September 9th I rode out to Boulder Res to look for some reported Sabine's. They were easy enough to find with some help from Walter Szeliga, but soon after I headed home I got a flat tire. While out on the LTJA chase I had received another flat and had used my spare tube. This time I had not spare tube, so had a friend come pick me up. According to my rules, this meant the SAGU did not count. I went back two days later and the Sabine's Gulls were still around, and I didn't get any flats :-)

Common Tern (#221)- A bonus bird (2) on Sept 11th's visit to Boulder Res.

Clay-colored Sparrow (#222)- Plenty of Spizella sparrows were moving through the county in September, and on the 14th I found a Clay-colored for the list near the CU tennis courts in S. Boulder.

Snow Goose (#223)- I spotted a white goose one afternoon while playing frisbee golf at the S. Boulder Rec Center, but I had driven there and didn't bother to investigate closely to see if it was a Snow or just a domestic goose. Soon thereafter, birders reported a Snow Goose with the local flock of Canadas at the S. Boulder and E. Boulder Rec centers. On the afternoon of Sept. 17th I rode home via a route going past the E. Boulder Red Center and I picked up the beautiful adult Snow Goose. Strange bird being all by its lonesome, with no skeens of other white geese in sight (still! they should show up any day now...).

Clark's Grebe (#224)- One pair was out on Valmont Reservoir on Sept. 30th.

Brown Thrasher (#225)- While watching the Clark's Grebes, I got a call from Walter Szeliga that there was a BRTH along Boulder Creek off of 61st. I bolted over and we were able to track it down as the sun was setting.

Red Phalarope (#226)- Another goodie! This is another bird (like the Jaeger and Sabine's Gulls) that aught to be far out to sea. I had headed out to Cottonwood Marsh on Oct. 5th in search of Pectoral Sandpipers. One of the first shorebirds I put the scope on was a basic plumaged adult Red Phalarope! A real mega for Boulder Co., and CO.

Pectoral Sandpiper (#227)- There they were out in Cottonwood, just as I had hoped.

Whew! I missed a few good birds like Dunlin and Black-bellied Plover this past weekend since I was out of town. If I'm going to get to 250, I'm going to have to stop living and get back to birding! I take the GRE in a few days and once that's out of my way I hope to be back out enjoying fall birding with vigor.

Birds: 227
Miles by bike: 1640

Monday, June 30, 2008


Long-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl
With spring migration winding down and the breeding season in full swing, I found myself becoming a little more lethargic than in May with fewer oddities to chase. I took some weekends off from BGBYing, too, which may have taken a small toll. I went to AZ for a long weekend (life Gray Vireo :-) ), got a flu the next, and then enjoyed three days of music this past weekend. Needless to say, all the extra-curricular activities have delayed my attempts to search out Orchard Oriole and Ring-necked Pheasant. I'm not too worried about them.
I did track down a few good birds. On June 11th, I tracked down one of the last birds to set up shop in the local fields, a singing GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (#205) near my office on Cherryvale Rd. A SCARLET TANAGER (#206) returned for his second summer a little ways up Gregory Canyon. And finally, this morning I was fortunate enough to locate three young LONG-EARED OWLS (#207) while hiking around Shanahan Ridge. I returned in the heat of the afternoon to tick them off (off my list...tried not to literally) and to get a few photos.

Miles by bike: 945
Bird species: 207

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Rest of May

Gray-headed Dark-eyed Junco


Rose-beasted Grosbeak

Hooded Warbler

After three tries, I finally tracked down a skulky WORM-EATING WARBLER (#186) that had been found in "Warbler Woods" along Boulder Creek. This was on May 20th.
On the 23rd, I took a ride out to the Doudy Draw Trail to see if I could find a reported Indigo Bunting. Unfortunately, the late afternoon doldrums had set in, and I couldn't find the Indigo, but did find my first BLUE GROSBEAKS (#187) and MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (#188) for the green year. After striking out on the bunting, I rode up to the Eldorado Mountain Open Space. I had found a singing male Hooded Warbler on the 20th while at work, and it had stuck around. On the hike up to the warbler spot, I had an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (#189) hunting in an old burn. The HOODED WARBLER (#190) piped up on cue. A few meager "twees" brought a ROCK WREN (#191) bopping into view.
The mature cottonwoods along Boulder Creek as it goes through the Sawhill Ponds complex attracted a vocal YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (#192) that I tracked down on the 24th. A bonus was a female ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (#193).
When I read a report of a Yellow-throated Warbler up in the Eldorado Mountain Open Space, near the Hooded Warb, I made a mad dash out there. Unfortunately, no warblers at all other than Virginia's. I did hear a RED-EYED VIREO (#194) singing down in the hamlet of Eldorado Springs.
I rode out in a soggy rain storm on May 26th after Walter Szeliga reported Lark Buntings at Walden. When I got there I was drenched and the Buntings weren't there. I took a walk around the perimeter of the ponds picking up two SNOWY EGRETS (#195) and 1 GREEN HERON (#196). When I completed my loop, the two female LARK BUNTINGS (#197) were sitting right there where they were supposed to be.
On May 28th, a bunch of good birds were found at Greenlee Preserve. Things like Yellow-throated Vireo. Unfortunately, I've been doing bird surveys at work, and this means I have to start around 5:30 am, which really takes a bite out of the morning birding. But when I get home in the early afternoon, I have plenty of time to go out on bike rides. But it's early afternoon...and it's hot...and birds don't show themselves easily in those conditions. When I got to Greenlee, it was pretty difficult to find any birds at all. Luckily, a WILLOW FLYCATCHER (#198) made the trip worth while. While at Greenlee, word of a Least Tern at Walden came through the grapevine, so off I went! When I got to Walden, there were two BLACK TERNS (#199) flying around, but the Least was MIA. After about 20 minutes, the LEAST TERN (#200!) flew in.
On June 1, I took a hike up Bear Peak. I had found an Ovenbird on the 30th while doing point counts, and my main goal was to track him down. As I headed up the Bear Canyon Trail, I found a singing GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (#201) and CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHERS (#202). In the early afternoon heat, the OVENBIRD (#203) sang away.
I just returned from Safeway, and while unlocking my bike I spotted a COMMON NIGHTHAWK (#204) soaring around under a huge thunderhead.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Too much sleep

I had ambitious plans to embark on a Big Green Big Day on Saturday, May 17th. But when I woke up and saw that it was light outside, I knew I had blown it. I had slept through my 3:30 am alarm and woke up at 6 instead. I decided that an all out epic bike ride would probably kill me anyway, so I just rode up to the OSMP Lindsey property where I work every day to track down some neat things I've been seeing up there. I made a stop by the Mesa Trailhead first to see if there was anything good around. Here I picked up YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (#180) and LAZULI BUNTING (#181). I hiked around the Lindsey property for a few hours, searching for an Ovenbird I had heard on the 15th and also looking for a Rock Wren up on one of the hogbacks. Didn't have any luck with those two, but did find singing VIRGINIA'S WARBLERS (#182), a SWAINSON'S THRUSH (#183), a LESSER GOLDFINCH (#184) and a COMMON POORWILL (#185) on a nest!

Chasing Migrants

Cassin's Vireo
American Robin
Wilson's Warbler

On the morning of May 14, word of a Swainson's Warbler at Sale Lake came from Walter Szeliga. I had just arrived at my office, but decided that it was worth leaving work for a few hours to chase such an incredible bird. I rode up to Sale Lake to join throngs of searchers. No one found the Swainson's again :-( However, it was a happening place and I picked up a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (#173) and a CASSIN'S VIREO (#174). A Summer Tanager had also been reported that morning along Boulder Creek. When I went to look for that, I again could not find the bird, but did have two fly-over EVENING GROSBEAKS (#175).

On May 15, I birded along Boulder Creek in hopes of finding that Tanager. No luck, again. There were few birds in the area around Folsom and the Buff's Stadium. I did find a HERMIT THRUSH (#176) feeding in the path. I found a great pocked of migrants near the Confluence Ponds, including one LEAST FLYCATCHER (#177). There were two singing Wilson's Warblers, Western Wood-Pewee, Orange-crowned Warblers and many Yellow-rumps. Along the Centential Path on the north side of the Burke I property, there was a calling SORA (#178) and singing BOBOLINKS (#179).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

East meets West

You never really know what will turn up where. Walter Szeliga called me this morning to report a continuing Black-throated Gray Warbler and an American Redstart. The BT Gray is a western warbler, breeding in Pinyon/Juniper woodlands. Redstarts are an eastern species. They both managed to find the small patches of cottonwoods around Sale Lake in north Boulder. This tiny little pond and the riparian habitat that surrounds it have already produced several good vagrant warblers this spring including Northern Waterthrush and Black-and-white Warbler. I rode out after work this afternoon. The first thing I heard when I stopped to get off my bike was a WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (#170). With Walter's help, I tracked down the AMERICAN REDSTART (#171) and the BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (#172). I visited Walden Ponds after Sale Lake, but didn't turn up anything of note there except stunning views of the continuing American Bittern.

On May 9, I birded along Boulder Creek before work. I picked up a singing WARBLING VIREO (#168) and an adult BROAD-WINGED HAWK (#169)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


There's only one downside to birding. If done correctly, there aught to be very little time left over for other worldly needs, such as blogging. Such is the case as of late. I have really been going at it gung-ho. Since Jan 6th, when I bought my bike computer, I've ridden 539 miles.
The best bird of the year, so far, was a Ruff (see field sketch above) that was present at Boulder Reservoir on May 1. Ted Floyd discovered it in the morning, and it stuck around all day giving me the opportunity to ride out to see it after work. The rarest bird that I have discovered was a White-eyed Vireo on May 6 at the Greenlee Preserve. Standing at 168.

Here's a list of the birds I have seen since my last blog post, in order of oldest to newest:

Big Blue Stem Trail, April 8, 2008

Bushtit (# 109)
Cooper's Hawk (# 110)
White-throated Swift
Peregrine Falcon

Westview Drive, April 12, 2008

White-crowned Sparrow

Pella Crossing, April 13, 2008

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler

Lagerman Reservoir, April 13, 2008

Baird's Sandpiper

Boulder Reservoir, April 17, 2008

White-faced Ibis
Marbled Godwit
Wilson's Phalarope
Sandhill Crane
Least Sandpiper (# 120)

Gregory Canyon, April 20, 2008

Canyon Wren
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Clark's Nutcracker

Walden Ponds, April 20, 2008

Bank Swallow

Boulder Reservoir, April 20, 2008

Eared Grebe

Cherryvale Office, April 22, 2008

Brown-headed Cowbird
Vesper Sparrow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Baseline Reservoir, April 22, 2008

Spotted Sandpiper (#130)

Bobolink Trail, April 22, 2008

House Wren

Greenlee Preserve, April 25, 2008

Solitary Sandpiper
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Violet-green Swallow
Chimney Swift
White-throated Sparrow
North Teller Lake, April 25, 2008

Black-necked Stilt
Semipalmated Plover

Walden Ponds, April 25, 2008

Western Sandpiper
American Bittern (# 140)
Orange-crowned Warbler

Sale Lake, April 27, 2008

Black-and-white Warbler
Wilson's Warbler

Soccar fields near Diagonal Highway, April 27, 2008

Chipping Sparrow
Boulder Reservoir, April 27, 2008

Savanna Sparrow

Walden Ponds, April 27, 2008

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Brewer's Sparrow
Virginia Rail
Lincoln's Sparrow

Bike Path east of Foothills Parkway, April 27, 2008

Lark Sparrow (# 150)
Swainson's Hawk

Walden Ponds, April 29, 2008

Long-billed Dowitcher
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Kingbird

Boulder Reservoir, May 1, 2008


House .3 mi south of Boulder Res, fixing flat tire, May 1, 2008

Plumbeous Vireo

Cottonwood Trail, May 1, 2008

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Walden Ponds, May 4, 2008

Bullock's Oriole

Valmont Reservoir, May 4, 2008

Common Loon

Walden Ponds, May 5, 2008

Yellow Warbler (# 160)

Lookout Road, May 5, 2008

Western Kingbird
Burrowing Owl

Back at Walden Ponds, May 5, 2008
Great Egret

Greenlee Preserve, May 6, 2008

White-eyed Vireo

Mt. Sanitas Trail, May 7, 2008

Dusky Flycatcher

Gregory Canyon Trail Head, May 7, 2008

Black-headed Grosbeak
Western Tanager (# 167)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Eldorado Mountain and N. Teller Lake 4-6-08

Today I went on a rather long excursion covering over 30 mi. I started out riding out to my field site where there have been several good birds that I see daily...but not BGBY countable. These include pairs of Eastern and Western Bluebirds, a Red-naped Sapsucker, a Cooper's Hawk on territory, and rarely a Golden-crowned Kinglet.
My biggest nemesis so far has been Pine Siskin. I hear them every day up in the Ponderosa Pines, and occasionally down here in town. The other day I drove to work and stopped at the local coffee and bagel shop. As I was walking in, I heard a PISI fly over...arg. I've been taking almost daily walks around my neighborhood in search of things like Siskins and other common feeder birds, but with no luck. Today was different. I was only two blocks from my house, on a street that I normally don't walk, when I heard my first PINE SISKIN for the day (#99).
I headed to the Eldorado Corner Market and grabbed some Gatorade and stepped out back to see if I could find the Say's Phoebe that I had seen there a few days ago. No luck. So off towards Eldorado Springs to the Eldorado Mountain Open Space I went. On the ride I heard what sounded like the begining of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet song. I stopped and pished for a moment but didn't have anything other than Mountain Chickadees and some Dark-eyed Juncos respond. Hmm, I must have heard a junco sqeeking. As soon as I stopped my bike at the trail head, however, a bonafide RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (#100) began to chatter from the drainage. On my way out he was singing.
Today was very mild, around 60 degrees maybe and sunny with clouds and wind building in the afternoon. I hiked up to the burn area where I had been seeing the above mentioned birds. There has been one pair of Eastern's and two pairs of Western's around acting very territorial and I'm really hoping they stick around to breed. From what I can tell from the CO Breeding Bird Atlas, a nesting record of Eastern in a Ponderosa Pine forest would be unique for the state. There are some historical records of all three bluebird species nesting in the same stand of trees, but my impression was that those were in Aspens. When I arrived at the burn...all was quiet. I spotted an Abert's Squirrel and some Mule Deer. I headed over to where I have a remote camera set up to look for a strange aster-like flower I had seen a few days before. When I got to my camera spot, the pair of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS (#101) appeared, getting all riled up, chattering and singing away. Just prior to their appearance, I could have sworn I heard a distant tooting, almost like a Pygmy-Owl, but I left it as just a distant Flicker or something.
The Eastern's were acting agitated, and I didn't want to bother them. I started to head over to where I had seen a male Red-naped Sapsucker and Western Bluebirds. But the Eastern's just kept flying around chattering away, going in the same direction I was. Man, I thought, I'm really pissing these guys off. Who knew I'd be such an annoyance to them? Suddenly, I heard another bluebird enter the chatter. I looked up and spotted an adult male WESTERN BLUEBIRD (#102) only 15 m away in a snag. He flew right towards me and landed in the crown of a another snag, right next to a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (#103)!!!!! No wonder they were so pissed off. And all that time I was selfish enough to think that they really cared about me, ho hum :-( I enjoyed killer looks at the Mountain Pygmy-Owl as it sat in the snag for several minutes. I shot a few record shots and even got shots with both Western and Eastern Bluebird harassing the owl. I turned around and looked to where the sapsucker should be, and there he was, a beautiful male RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER (#104) right on cue.
I searched around Spring Brook for the Golden-crowned Kinglet and Cooper's Hawk, but didn't have any luck. I hiked around to the back side of the hogback where I had a good view of Eldorado Canyon. I scanned and scanned for Peregrines and White-throated Swifts, but struck out. That's ok since there are still some upper foothill birds (Canyon Wren, Bushtit, Long-eared and N. Saw-whet Owls, Violet-green Swallow etc.) that I need and I'm sure to pick those up later on in the spring. I did spot a pair of Prairie Falcons flying around the north side of the canyon and watched one bird shoot up into her aerie. As I was riding back out towards Boulder, I began to think about that Say's Phoebe again. I began to think "dang, where is this sucker?" rather than "OK, this is a nice area for Say's, should keep an eye out" when I spotted the bird on a fence. I like how that works sometimes, just thinking of a bird and having it magically appear. SAY'S PHOEBE (#105).
North Teller Lake out near Valmont and 95th has been producing some good shorebirds this week. Earlier in the week, one of the City Rangers, Jean, sent out a heads up email that there was a large flock of American White Pelicans here. That night the same word was out on the local bird sighting listserve, as well as news of other goodies like both Yellowlegs and Avocets. With the wind at my back, I made really good time getting out east of town to the lake. And just as reported, 170 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS (#106), 5 AMERICAN AVOCETS (#107), 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS (#108) and 25 Greater Yellowlegs were milling around. I made a quick stop at Cottonwood Marsh but there wasn't anything too exciting going on there. Then it was a blustery ride into the head wind back to my house.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Valmont 4-2-08

Although all the ice in the area has long since melted, there are still good numbers of gulls going in to roost at Valmont Reservoir. California Gulls are now abundant, about 1/3 of the birds present this evening and last. On my ride over to Legion Park from the office, I spotted a MOURNING DOVE (#97) on Westshore Dr. As I set up my scope on my already crippled tripod, the little knob that is used to screw the scope to the mount snapped off. Now it's missing 2/3 of a leg and I can't attach the scope. I can still balance the scope on top which seems to work just about as well as before. Piece of junk, but trustworthy. I scanned the gulls a few times, and was disappointed not to find my target Franklin's Gull (there were 9 here last night). I took a minute to study the local male Red-tail that was perched on his favorite utility pole below the overlook, and when I looked back at the gull flock 5 adult FRANKLIN'S GULLS (#98) had materialized.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Walden Ponds, 3/30

More and more birds are arriving. I had several new birds for the season, and for my BGBY, today. After waking up to a dusting of snow, I thought my hopes for a ride out to Walden Ponds were destroyed. But by lunch time the sun was peeking out and the roads were dry, so I saddled up. I took a route that followed some urban trails (Skunk Creek and Boulder Creek Paths) to Valmont Rd, then east to 75th St. Near the Foothills Parkway underpass, I had my first BGBY bronze COMMON GRACKLE (#84). I went up to the bridge on 75th that crosses Boulder Creek. My friend Ben and I discovered a pair of American Dippers building a nest here last week. Today, the male was sitting on a rock singing away under the bridge.
As soon as I arrived at Cottonwood Marsh, I picked out a few new birds including GREEN-WINGED TEAL(#85), CINNAMON TEAL (#86) and a GREATER YELLOWLEGS (#87). After repositioning for better lighting, I spotted two male BLUE-WINGED TEAL (#88) as well. No snipe or Marsh Wrens were evident, though, so I took a walk out around the perimeter of the ponds. A few small groups of TREE SWALLOWS (#89) were hunting over the ponds and Boulder Creek. When trying to get a better look at a strange dark-morph Red-tailed Hawk, I discovered a series of trails that led down to the creek on the west side of the property. Some great riparian habitat back there that should be productive as spring progresses. I found these two primaries from an intergrade Red-shafted x Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker. I was thrilled to find 2 male, 1 female WOOD DUCK (#90) hiding back there. I was alerted to the presence of a day-roosting Great Horned Owl by a few noisy Black-capped Chickadees. 4 TURKEY VULTURES (#91) floated overhead.
When I arrived back at Cottonwood Marsh, there was a large flock of swallows feeding low over the water. I stared at the flock for a few minutes and was able to pick out 2 CLIFF SWALLOWS (#92) from about 70 Trees. A single WILSON'S SNIPE (#93) was sitting right where it was supposed to be at the edge of the cattails. Another check of the swallows produced a BARN SWALLOW (#94), and the local MARSH WREN (#95) began to chatter near the boardwalk.
Although the sun had come out for about two warm hours, by 5:30 the cold clouds had rolled back in and I packed it up and headed home. I made a quick stop at Legion Park to see the OSPREY (#96) sitting on its nest. An added bonus was a flock of 20 Bohemian Waxwings sitting in a willow tree with fresh spring leaves on the side of Baseline Rd. A healthy 13 new birds!

66th Street Arrivals

March 25th was a gorgeous day, so I took advantage of the fair weather and rode out to 66th Street off of Marshall Road after work. A few new arrivals for the spring have become abundant in the last two weeks including Western Meadowlarks, Killdeer and Mountain Bluebird. These were my targets as I headed out from the office. About a mile down the road I had my first singing WESTERN MEADOWLARK (#81) on Cherryvale Rd. It wasn't long after I had turned onto 66th St that I heard an agitated KILLDEER (#82) near a small cattail marsh and Black-tailed Prairie Dog colony. I spotted a pair scurrying around the Prairie Dog burrows. Chorus Frogs have begun to trill. There was a group of 5 MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS (#83) hunting in the field to the west of the road. An adult Red-tailed Hawk showing characteristics of a Fuertes' Red-tail has been hanging out on the utility poles here. It's got a very pale head, with brown being limited to the auriculars, malar area, and the back of the crown and nape. The belly only has a couple, barely visible, light tan stripes. The tail is completely red, with no black band. A neat bird on the pale extreme.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Late Winter Doldrums

Well it's been quite a while since I posted, primarily because it's been quite a while since I found a new species. The last several weekends have been filled with several birding trips around CO, a trip to SD to unsuccessfully chase the Ivory Gull in Pierre, and a 6-day trip to CA. Today I finally added a new species to my BGBY list, a cooperative AMERICAN DIPPER (#80) in Boulder Creek underneath the Foothills Parkway. Ted Floyd reported this bird at this spot on March 3, and apparently it hasn't moved since :-)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Greenlee Preserve and Valmont 2-3-08

With a slew of rare birds around the Boulder area, I headed out in search of rare gulls and sparrows this afternoon. I went out to the Greenlee Preserve in Lafayette. This is a small open space in the midst of houseing developments. There are two small bodies of water and some riparian habitat. A Swamp Sparrow has been hanging out here for quite a while. I arrived at the preserve and soon ran into an active flock of feeder birds. A quick go through didn't produce any odd sparrows. But as soon as I got to the edge of Greenlee Reservoir where Walter Szeliga had the bird in the morning, I heard the SWAMP SPARROW out in the cattails. It called quite a few times and I finally spotted it sitting in a small shrub out in the marsh. Walter also had a White-throated Sparrow here this morning, so I started to beat the bushes. I worked my way slowly down towards Waneka Reservoir. In the brush beside the trail I had a male SPOTTED TOWHEE (#75) scratching about. Out in Waneka, there was a pair of female/imm GREATER SCAUP snoozing with a bunch of Common Mergs and Ring-necked Ducks. As I was headed back towards my bike, I spotted three groups of Bohemian Waxwings flying up from the neighborhood off of Salina St. There were about 120 birds total. Back near where I parked my bike there were a few bird feeders that had lots of activity. The Swamp Sparrow made another appearance here undernieth the feeders on my way out. I found the flock of Bohemians out near a big brown water tank near the corner of Gold Hill Dr and Baseline.
The next stop was at Legion Park overlooking the Valmont Reservoir complex. A whole bunch of rare gulls were found here on Saturday and this morning. When I got up there, several birders were already looking through the quickly growing gull flocks out on the ice on Valmont. Soon, Norm spotted the adult GLAUCOUS GULL. Soon thereafter, we both got on an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL preening vigorously. More and more birds where streaming in. Norm spotted a group of 1st year gulls way out. There was a 1st winter Herring Gull, a dark 1st winter Kumlien's ICELAND GULL and a 1st winter Thayer's. The Kumlien's was very dark, but paler overall than the Theyer's, with primaries that were the same shade as the body. I later saw this bird flying and it had a paler tail and secondaries than a Thayer's. While watching these young birds, a 1st winter Glaucous flew through my field of view. I couldn't stay on it, but it later showed up in one of the flocks standing off by itself, giving good looks. Later on I picked up another adult Lesser Black-backed. No sign of the reported Great Black-backed.
Total: 79

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Boulder Creek

Today I decided to go down to where 75th crosses Boulder Creek. Near this area on the Boulder Christmas Bird Count, we found 1 Winter Wren, 1 Swamp Sparrow, 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brewer's Blackbirds, American Dippers and assorted waterfowl. However, this area is closed off due to a Bald Eagle nest buffer zone. So, you can only stand near the road and hope something moves upstream into view. The only new bird here today was a group of 7 BREWER'S BLACKBIRD. A few Mallards and some Lesser Scaup flew over. Not much else going on. I then went down to the hill that is on OSMP land overlooking Valmont Reservoir. The Gull show was fun, but nothing other than Ring-billeds, Herring and a California Gull. There were only 2-3 non-adult gulls, and all were either Herring or Ring-billeds. No Thayer's or Lesser Black-backeds. On the way home after sunset, I enjoyed a Ferruginous Hawk, 1 Great Horned Owl teed up on a telephone pole next to the road, and an immature Red-tailed Hawk. Today's warm weather has opened up some small pockets of water on Baseline Reservoir, so I'll have to check it more often on the way to and from the office.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lower Foothills 1-20

I traveled up to Allens Park in the morning to enjoy the Rosy-Finches at the Fawn Brook Inn. Ted Floyd, Bill Schmoker, Nathan Pieplow, John Breitsch, Pam Tarall and I enjoyed all three species of Rosy-Finch, including Interior and Hepburn's Gray-crowneds, at the Inn's feeders. About a dozen Pine Grosbeaks where at a feeder near the Olive Ridge Campground.
I got back down to Boulder fairly early, around 10. I took a quick walk down the street for a cup of coffee, enjoying a pair of Solitaires at the park down the street and noting Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees in the neighborhood along the way.
At about 1:30 I left on a bike ride. I headed down Baseline to Cherryvale and south from there. Along Cherryvale next to Baseline Red I had a dark Harlan's Hawk. There has been a strange hybrid goose hanging out at the corner of South Boulder Rd and Cherryvale Rd. It was way out and only the head and neck could be seen. It was off by itself, and I was a little worried that a pair of Coyotes that were walking around could have something to do with that. A beautiful rufous morph Western Red-tail was on the edge of this field, as well.
Further on down the road there is a little house with some bushes in the front yard that had a nice group of American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. A Prairie Falcon soared overhead heading west. Two American Kestrels were also in the area.
My next stop was at the Mesa Trailhead. I was hoping for Scrub-Jay or some other bird in the riparian area along the creek. There wasn't really much going on, but I did pick up some common woodland species like WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and HAIRY WOODPECKER. A light Ferruginous Hawk, a 1st year Bald Eagle and another Prairie Falcon soared overhead.
I continued on down towards Eldorado Springs. I soon spotted a WESTERN SCRUB-JAY perched beside the road. I stopped to watch it and an AMERICAN GOLDFINCH flew over. Three Scrubbies where in the area.
At the turn to the Eldorado Mountain Open Space, I stopped to look at a couple of Juncos. As I lifted my sunglasses of my face and picked up my bins to take a closer look at the Juncos, a pickup drove by and kicked up a 1 x 1 cm pebble that zinged straight into my right eye. My life as my right eye had seen it flashed before my mind's eye. I buckled over in agony, clutching my eye socket and murmuring quiet damnations at the pebble. I nervously opened my eyelid, expecting the worst. Lo and behold I could see! There was no eye juice gushing out of my retina! There was a big black spot in my vision, but it soon went away. I got on my bike and went to the trailhead.
The Eldorado Mountain Open Space is a large tract of land owned and managed by the City of Boulder. It encompasses large areas of foothills grasslands, ponderosa pine forest and cliff habitat. I work up here almost every day, so I have a good idea where to find many of the foothills bird species. I headed up the dirt road and into the ponderosas. Right on cue, a flock of PYGMY NUTHATCHES pipped up. Soon after, an adult GOLDEN EAGLE soared low overhead. Once I got to Spring Brook, I began to pish in a group of Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches and some Mountain Chickadees. A flock of RED CROSSBILLS began to vocalize nearby, possibly in response to the commotion.
I hiked up Spring Brook in hopes of finding Golden-crowned Kinglet. I searched for almost two hours for a Golden-crown, but to no avail. I was, however, rewarded with a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. I hiked up to the top of one of the hogbacks where I located a possible Wild Turkey roost sight. Several large pondos with large amounts of turkey droppings and feathers underneath. I was on my way to a turkey roost that I monitor frequently that was a ways to the south, so I didn't stick around to see if any birds would show up. I hiked across Bull Gulch and up to what we call the T19 roost. At 500, right on cue, a group of WILD TURKEY showed up.
As soon as I spotted the birds I turned right around and headed back the way I had come. It was about a mile hike back to an area of the property where I had had two Northern Saw-whet Owls vocalizing a few nights previous. But, as soon as I looked up I saw an ominous storm cloud to my north. Soon it was snowing and the clouds had covered the whole sky. As night fell, the temperature dropped quickly. I hoofed it over to the north side of the property, tooting occasionally along the way. But, no luck. Not even a Great Horned. The weather just wasn't conducive to owling. A wicked 9 mile ride back to my house and I was ready for a hot shower and some sleep. Nine more birds makes the total 72.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


After reading reports of Ruddy Duck and Snow Goose at Valmont Res today, I decided to brave the cold and ride out to see if the birds would stick around. The Snow was a no show, but two RUDDY DUCKS were floating around with a group of about 15 Lesser Scaup in Hillcrest Reservoir. Leggett was packed with gulls as they came in to bathe before roosting on the ice on Valmont. There were many times more gulls here today than on last weekend's trip. From my vantage point at Legion Park, all I could pick out were Ring-billed and Herrings. The Horned Grebe, all three Mergs, Mallards, Shovelers, Canada Geese, 8 Western Grebe, Pied-billed Grebes and Coots continue. A light morph Ferruginous Hawk was perched by the large Black-tailed Prairie Dog colony south of Legion Park. A single Horned Lark flew over.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Boulder Bird Club Valmont Excursion '08

Today was the annual Boulder Bird Club trip to the Valmont Reservoir Complex (Valmont, Hillcrest and Leggett Reservoirs) via the Xcel Energy power plant. This set of water bodies is usually only viewable from Legion Park or from a City of Boulder Open Space property, making a close inspection here difficult. This annual trip allows birders to get up close to this unfrozen mecca. Over 70 birders showed up for the trip. The weather was perfect with sunny skies and a few scattered clouds, mild temps and calm winds. Soon after walking out to the water past the huge coal-burning power plant, several DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS and a GREAT BLUE HERON flew by. There were many Canada and Cackling Geese, Ring-necked Ducks, Canvasbacks, Mallards, Gadwall, American Wigeon and Northern Shoveler in Leggett. Also, there were two drake REDHEADS, 6 Western Grebe, and multiple Pied-billed Grebes. We couldn't find any passerines in the shrubs or cattails, but soon after entering a Black-tailed Prairie Dog colony to the north of Leggett we had an immature NORTHERN SHRIKE fly by and land on a utility wire. We came to the top of Valmont Butte and were greeted by ~12 HORNED LARKS and a cooperative Prairie Falcon. Several Western Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles were in the area, but a spectacular adult light-morph FERRUGINOUS HAWK was an added bonus. We later spotted another (perhaps the same?) light-morph adult off on the east side of Valmont giving the Prairie Dogs a hard time. Out on the edge of the ice in Valmont we spotted 4 NORTHERN PINTAIL as well as 3 drake Hooded Mergansers who where strutting their stuff in front of a female. There was a small gathering of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls out on the ice, and this gang slowly grew throughout the afternoon and really swelled when the masses came in to roost around 5 pm. Along the shore of Leggett we found 3 AMERICAN PIPITS bobbing around the rocks. In Hillcrest there were lots of dabblers, 4 (2m,2f) Redhead, Western, Pied-billed and a HORNED GREBE, a Belted Kingfisher and a lingering adult BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. At about 4, the remaining birders gathered at Valmont to study the ever-growing gull flock. We watched as a kettle of several hundred gulls approached from the east and streamed in to the area, most going over to Leggett for a late afternoon dip. In amongst the masses of Ring-bills was one 1w THAYER'S GULL. Later on we spotted an adult Thayer's hanging out with some Herrings on Valmont. Finally the sun was well below the horizon and we headed back in. To top things off, there was a pair of GREAT HORNED OWLS in the trees next to the parking lot. A fantastic day with some great company! Tack on 12 more species to the list and the total stands at 62.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Hmmmm, a little editing read through brought my attention to the fact that I somehow got the link of this very blog in the place where I meant to have a link to this site:

I certainly didn't get the idea from me.


Just walked around the neighborhood this afternoon to see if anything good was around. I was rewarded with three new species for the year list: CEDAR WAXWING, STELLER'S JAY and MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE. The Merlin made a pass, which is the third time this week I've seen it in the area.

Total: 50

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Trip to Valmont Reservoir complex

After dropping Tim off at the Denver Airport this afternoon, I got back to Boulder and hopped on my bike. I headed up the bike path to Boulder Creek. There are a few little ponds where the path near my house intersects the S Boulder Creek path near Arapaho and the Foothills Parkway. There is still some open water here, and there were 8 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 10 GADWALL, 2 RING-NECKED DUCK (#30) and 2 LESSER SCAUP hanging out. I watched as one female Goldeneye rode low in the water with her head stretched out in front of her in a display posture. She pursued another female and even dove under water and went after the other female's feet and tail from under the surface. While looking through a group of Canada Geese at the ball fields off Stanzio Dr, I spotted a PRAIRIE FALCON (pic of a bird caught at the Goshute Mtn Hawkwatch, Fall 2006) flying by overhead. I then rode over to Legion Park which is a great place to scope the Valmont Reservoir complex. This complex has three reservoirs, Valmont, Hillcrest and Leggett. Valmont is now about 97% frozen and it had a couple hundred gulls roosting on the ice, including 5 HERRING and 2 CALIFORNIA GULLS. A TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE was calling and singing in the pine trees. Water birds included AMERICAN COOT, PIED-BILLED and WESTERN GREBES, NORTHERN SHOVELER, HOODED, RED-BREASTED and COMMON MERGANSERS, 1 CANVASBACK, Mallards, Gadwall and American Wigeon. Two BALD EAGLES (1 1st year, 1 3rd year) were out on the edge of the ice on Valmont as well. I heard a single Bohemian Waxwing fly over. Before it got dark, I got over to the Bobolink Trail and caught up with a BELTED KINGFISHER and AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS. The local Great Horned was a no show this evening. A healthy 19 new year BGBY birds! While riding to work yesterday morning, I picked up a single EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE putting my total at 47.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


On the 2nd I didn't spend much time near my house during daylight hours and chose to drive to work :-( So didn't add anything to the list. But today was a different story. On the ride to work I picked up a few common things like ROCK PIGEON (#20), NORTHERN FLICKER, DARK-EYED JUNCO, and BLUE JAY. But the real fun began when I got home from work around 4:15. While letting my roomie's dog out in the front yard, a flock of ~40 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS zoomed by on the far side of the street! A great bird that has been around in numbers this winter, but one that I was worried I'd miss. These are the first I've seen in the neighborhood, although there are plenty of ripe fruit trees around. I grabbed my bins and headed outside with my brother to see if we could track down the flock. We couldn't find them, but there were plenty of other goodies in the neighborhood. Before it got dark we picked up BROWN CREEPER (#25), a MERLIN (pic of a bird captured in the Goshute Mountains, NV in 2006), and COMMON RAVEN.

Total: 27

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Day One

I got out for about an hour this afternoon. I rode down to my office on Cherryvale Rd and back, checking around the Bobolink Trail and East Boulder Rec Center on my way back. Very cold out today, but sunny. Here's the list:

Ring-billed Gull
Sharp-shinned Hawk
House Finch
Red-tailed Hawk
Canada Goose
Cackling Goose
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
American Wigeon
Northern Harrier
Red-winged Blackbird
European Starling
House Sparrow
Song Sparrow
American Kestrel
American Robin
Downy Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee

Total: 19