Date: 9/4/17 9:03 pm
From: Richard <birdertoo...> [cobirders] <cobirders-noreply...>
Subject: [cobirders] Interesting Day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County
Hello cobirders;

At sunrise, I drove to Rocky Mountain Arsenal with some skepticism in finding the four Eastern Phoebes reported yesterday along the Bluestem trail. In my experience, Eastern Phoebes tend to stay near water. I did not recall seeing water along the Bluestem trail on my only previous visit.

The Arsenal opened at 6:30 am and shortly after I was at the Bluestem trailhead. The red-orange sun took quite some time over 45 minutes to burn through what I thought was fog.

Then I remembered the many wildfires burning in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California. The resulting smoke must have been hanging over Colorado; the sun did not burn off any "fog".

Vesper Sparrows, two Brewer's Sparrows and a Savannah Sparrow were encountered along the Bluestem trail. I scoped the far off cottonwoods for any sign of Eastern Phoebes or any flycatchers.

A juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was in a group of dead cottonwoods 50 yards or so from the western side of the Bluestem Southwestern loop.

Farther down the same loop, a raised platform trail slices through a grove of twelve foot high cottonwoods. A Cassin's Vireo was the only bird fluttering about the grove.

My first flycatcher sighting was a Western Wood-pewee at the extreme western end of the trail. It was catching bugs near a large "Hawk looking nest" in the tall cottonwood. The nest was perhaps only ten feet off the ground; therefore probably not a Hawk's nest.

The trail abruptly ends near the dry highline canal. I turned around and continued south. At the extreme southern end of the southwest loop, I thought an Upland Sandpiper was heard. However, it was ignored as an aberration of my ears.

Five Say's Phoebes and eight Western Meadowlarks were walking around an empty prairie dog town at the southern end. Then a head popped up out of the darker green grasses. It was an Upland Sandpiper!

I have seen Upland Sandpipers in Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Both sightings were near the old Eagle Watch Bunker accessed from Buckley Road. I captured a poor quality witness photo and continued my trek.

Six additional Say's Phoebes were observed along the eastern side of the Bluestem Loop. A female type Lark Bunting and five Western Kingbirds were ran upon.

No Eastern Phoebes for me. I would like to talk to the Eastern Phoebe observer and see if Say's Phoebes were not their sightings?

Driving the Wildlife Auto Drive added few birds to my day list. Sparrows did include two additional Brewer's Sparrows, dozens of Vesper Sparrows, one Grasshopper Sparrow, one Savannah Sparrow and two Song Sparrows.

After leaving the bison enclosure of the Wildlife drive, I detoured to Rattlesnake Hill. Having never hiked to the top, I wanted to see the view and get a few photos. Just inside the entrance drive, two Sage Thrashers flew across the road.

Another four Sage Thrashers wandered like mice across the asphalt parking area.

The sky was hazy and limited the view at the Rattlesnake Hill overlook. I could see two ponds that cannot be seen while driving the Wildlife Drive. One hundred+ Bison wandered below the hill.

Temperatures were rising at 11:30 am when I drove to the First Creek Trail. A hike west up the new Adams County section of the trail added mostly only birds previously seen.

An adult Bald Eagle and male Belted Kingfisher were "new" birds for the day.

Finally walking down the Denver County section of First Creek trail did not add any additional birds to my list.

Later at 6:00 pm, Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver). Two Burrowing Owls were at the W. Cargo Road/Third Creek prairie dog village. No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.

Continued Good Birding!

Directions to birding spots and maps on CoBus website:

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

Join us on Facebook!