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