Thursday, February 22, 2007

Great Birding Day Along Clear Creek & S. Platte River

I found myself downtown Denver at 6:30am and decided to bird along Clear Creek and the South Platte River. What a fantastic winter day. Temperatures made it into the 50s; winds were calm to mild.

My trek started at Washington Avenue and Clear Creek around 7:00am. As I walked east along Clear Creek I found an American Dipper searching for food just below the first water fall east of Washington. While I have found one in Denver County, I believe this is a first Adams County record for me.

Continuing east, I found a pair of Canvasbacks on the creek just west of where it passes under I76. As I was watching them, a flock of sparrows moved about the bushes between I270 and Clear Creek. With some effort I made my way over to the south side of the creek to examine the sparrows. The loose flock included 1 Harris’s Sparrow, 7 White crowned Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows, and 3 American Tree Sparrows.

Nothing uncommon was found on the way to the confluence with the South Platte River. Once there I scoped down the S. Platte from the bridge which goes to Engineer Lake on the east side of the Platte. I could see the male Long-tailed Duck about 50 yards downstream.

Today I hiked the eastern side of the Platte down to 88th avenue (kept the sun at my back and this side seems to have more sparrows than the west side). I was allowed closer looks at the Long-tailed Duck and continued south.

A lone Ruddy Duck swam near the Long-tailed Duck. About 100 yards further north, a female Greater Scaup swam among a small group of Lesser Scaups. I did not find a male Greater Scaup today.

I again searched for the Harris's Sparrow reported a couple of weeks ago near the 74th avenue bridge; without success. A Northern Shrike was on the chain link fence at the southern end of Tani Reservoir.

A group of Goldeneyes were just stretching and moving about at 10:00am on the ice at East Gravel Lakes. A male and female Barrow's Goldeneye were among the 29 Common Goldeneyes. A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers completed the triple merganser sightings (17 Common Mergansers, 2 pairs of Hooded Mergansers).

Once at 88th avenue I crossed over and went back to the northern West Gravel Lake (the southern lake was frozen). The smaller male Barrow's Goldeneye was here along with 22 Common Goldeneyes and many Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards, and Gadwalls.

I continued north about 2 miles along the Platte. Found 2 Rough-legged Hawks, 6 Red-tailed Hawks, and a Northern Harrier. No falcons today or additional uncommon birds.

Went back to 88th avenue and hiked to I76. Dahlia Ponds was frozen as were the lakes on the north side of 88th avenue (by the Wildlife Area, no name on the sign other than Wildlife Area).

Caught a ride home by way of Barr Lake. Three dozen+ sparrows on and below the feeders included the 1st year Harris's Sparrow.

I added additional Long-tailed Duck photos, a lone Ruddy Duck seen today, and photos by Dick Vogel to the CoBus photo library.

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