Saturday, March 23, 2019

Two Return Trips to Spratt Platte Lakes Area

March 23, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature today was 45 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with afternoon gusts to 22 mph.

I returned to the Spratt Platte Lake (Adams County) area seeking the Neotropic Cormorant.  It was not found; however, the Red-throated Loon was still on the 104th gravel pond south of Elaine T. Valente Open Space.

I mentioned Friday to a couple of birders that size is not a great field mark to distinguish Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorants.  Friday, one of the cormorants was almost 30 percent smaller than the rest of the group.  We had to wait thirty minutes before it raised its head.  It had the crests of a Double-crested Cormorant.

Finally giving up on the Neotropic Cormorant, I passed the 89th avenue Lake on the drive home.  The male Barrow's Goldeneye was again swimming along the eastern side of the Lake.

A stop at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) for an unsuccessful hunt for Burrowing Owls and Eastern Phoebes did discover two Lesser Black-backed Gulls lounging around Lake Ladora.

Once home, I read the Neotropic Cormorant was relocated and decided to return to Spratt Platte Lake.  This time we relocated the bird on the shore of the second lake south of 100th Avenue. 

Its small size, small head and distinct head pattern (no yellow above its bill and pointed gape) confirmed a Neotropic Cormorant.

Many gulls had returned to the West Spratt Platte Lake.  Among them was the Mew Gull.  A lone American White Pelican swam on the East Spratt Platte Lake.

Several birders had been looking for and missing the Red-throated Loon.  I pulled out my scope and found the Loon in the middle of the 104th Pond.

No owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop at sunset.  Winds were 22 mph at the time.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Birding In Adams County

March 22, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I finally made it out of the house around Noon.  High temperature was 55 degrees (early afternoon).  Clouds blew in and temperatures dropped rapidly in late afternoon.  Winds became 15-16 mph with gusts to 28 mph.

Several stops were made on my way to the Spratt Platte Lake Area (McKay and 100th avenue).  One adult Lesser Black-backed Gull remained at Lake Ladora in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).

The male Barrow's Goldeneye swam approximately 50 yards north of the southeast corner of the 89th avenue pond.

The Red-throated Loon continued on the western half of the gravel pit across 104th avenue (south of the Elaine Valente Open Space).

Finally, I made it to Spratt Platte Lakes area.  Many gulls again were on the sandbars in the Lake on the southwest corner of McKay Road & 100th Avenue.  Today a Mew Gull and again an Iceland Gull were among the many Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of California Gulls.  Misses: the Glaucous Gull and Glaucous-winged Gull photographed on Monday were not around.

I scoped the many Lakes; the previously reported Neotropic Cormorant was not found among a dozen of Double-crested Cormorants.

Then I headed east to miss rush hour traffic.  A pair of Great-tailed Grackles was again found in the Town of Barr.  Nothing uncommon was observed off the Barr Lake State Park boat ramp.  Osprey have not yet returned to their nesting platform south of the boat ramp.

I drove over to the First Creek Trail (Denver County) and walked from the 56th Avenue Bridge to Pena Blvd and back.  No Rusty Blackbirds were found during my last three hikes.  I did find a Barn Owl and heard a Virginia Rail.

No owls appeared while I drove the DIA Owl Loop.

Castlewood Canyon State Park to Aurora Reservoir On a Windy Day

March 21, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I had business in Parker and proceeded to Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas County) afterwards.

It is still early in the season and few birds were expected as turned out the case.  A couple of Mountain Bluebirds were the only Bluebirds around the old Winkler Ranch.  

No Turkey Vultures or Golden Eagles circled overhead in the Park.

The Eastern Phoebes have not yet returned to Cherry Creek and Hwy 86.  A Great Horned Owl was on a nest along the Cherry Creek Trail.

I took back roads home and passed Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were steady at 22 mph!  A few gusts reached 29 mph.  At least the temperature reached 60 degrees yet it was cold with the wind.

High waves on the Lake made finding waterfowl close to impossible.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls stood on the ice off the swim beach.  A Great Black-backed Gull swam nearby.

I abandoned further birding and headed home.  No owls were seen along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Weld & Arapahoe County Birding

March 20, 2019

Richard Stevens:

What a great winter day with a high temperature of 57 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

Terry Michaels attempted to find Mountain Plovers in the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld) today.

We passed Cozzens Lake on the drive up where the previously reported three Tundra Swans were still around.

On the grasslands, many of the traditional locations were searched and no Mountain Plover was detected.  These included two nesting spots.

Seven Sharp-tailed Grouse were discovered along Weld CR 111, north of CR 132.  This area appears to be the best location for a sighting.

A few McCown's Longspurs were run across; unfortunately, no Chestnut-collared Longspur was among them.  No Chestnut-collared Longspurs have yet to return to their nesting area, the field southeast of Highway 85 and Weld CR 114.  There were no Snow Bunting sightings to report either.

We hiked the northern end of the CPER land down to Owl Creek and several hundred yards up and down the Creek.  A Short-eared Owl was found 200 yards south of our entry point.  A Great Horned Owl called 300 yards north of the same point.

After dropping Terry off, I stopped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way to visit a sick friend at nearby Aurora Life Care Center.

A male Red-winged Blackbird chased the female Rusty Blackbird from the north shore of Augie's Pond (northwest of the swim beach).  She disappeared in the grasses north of the floating log (northern center of pond).

I believe I observed the Red-necked Grebe reported several days ago.  It dove often and only stayed on the surface for short periods of time.  Looks were less than desirable.  I was scoping the Lake from the Dixon Grove parking area where light from the southern setting sun was terrible.  

Later I relocated the grebe while scoping from the Lake Loop.  The grebe was again far away in the center of the Lake.  The angle of the sun was better from the Lake Loop. 

Highlights from the Lake Loop included a nice assortment of gulls.  Among them were a Glaucous Gull, two Iceland Gulls (one Iceland & one Thayer's), Herring Gulls, California Gulls and of course many Ring-billed Gulls.

A search for an early Western Kingbird or any Kingbird was not successful.  My time ran out before an owl search could commence.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Wandering Around Arapahoe County

March 19, 2019

Richard Stevens: 

High temperature was 46 degrees.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

I scoped Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) before heading east.  Over four thousand gulls stood on the ice shelf just off the swim beach.  Another thousand swam in the open water.

One adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was the only uncommon gulls picked out of the tightly group gulls.  At least three dozen Herring Gulls and a dozen California Gulls were among the horde.

Afterwards I headed to eastern Arapahoe County.  Several Northern Mockingbirds have already shown up along the Front Range.  Perhaps historical nesting locations would yield another or two?

No Northern Mockingbirds were found in the loop, which included Arapahoe County Open Spaces along County Line Road and Arapahoe CR 61.  No Burrowing Owls or Red-headed Woodpecker were encountered.

Richmil Ranch Open Space in the southeast corner of Arapahoe County was quiet today.  Northern Mockingbirds have nested here at least three of the recent years.

A pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers flew around the old Byers Rest Stop.  Not much else was found.  Many Eurasian Collared-Doves were found around Strasburg (Arapahoe).  

A Good Day For Gulls & a Red-throated Loon, Adams County

March 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

I spent most of the day in Adams County.  High temperature was 46 degrees under partly sunny skies.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

The Red-throated Loon was swimming along the southwest section of the lake south of 104th Avenue/east of McKay Road (south of Elaine T. Valente Open Space).  A large number of Canvasbacks were also on the Lake.

A large group of gulls stood on the sandbar on the gravel pit at the southwest corner of McKay Road and 100th Avenue.  These included a Glaucous Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, possible Glaucous-winged Gull and two Iceland Gulls (one Iceland and one Thayer's subspecies).

My next stop was the 89th Avenue Pond where a Glaucous Gull and Mew Gull were reported yesterday.  While no gulls were at the lake, the male Barrow's Goldeneye I found Sunday was still there.  

The Adams County gulls appear to move between the many lakes and gravel pits between I76 and McKay Road.

A stop at Rocky Mountain Arsenal found the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull still at Lake Ladora.  Still no Surf Scoter was found.   I drove the wildlife loop and found no Red-headed Woodpeckers, Eastern Phoebes or Burrowing Owls.

No Short-eared or Burrowing Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop as I drove home.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the First Creek Trail

March 17, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature reached 49 degrees.  Winds were 8-9 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

I did not make it as far west of 89th avenue Lake (Adams County) but was close.  The Red-throated Loon was not found yesterday by me so skipped the lake today.

Instead, I went to Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Scoped Lake Ladora for over an hour, I could not find a Surf Scoter among the dozens of female Redhead Ducks and Ruddy Ducks.  The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was along the eastern side.

A check of Lower Derby Lake found no uncommon birds.  Missed my target birds during a drive around the Wildlife Loop, no Burrowing Owls, Red-headed Woodpeckers or Eastern Phoebes were found today.

Later I walked the First Creek Trail from the Light Rail Tracks to the 56th avenue Bridge.  There was no sign of the Rusty Blackbirds for the second day in a row.  Perhaps they moved on during last week's blizzard?

No Short-eared Owls or Burrowing Owls were found along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) this evening.