Monday, October 29, 2007

Birding Adams County

October 28, 2007

I spent 6 hours walking around Rocky Mountain Arsenal Sunday. There was nothing rare, but I still enjoyed a few highlights.

The Surf Scoter on Havana Ponds was a surprise though I did go there looking for scoters at Lake Ladora and Havana Ponds. Unfortunately, it is not possible to see Lower Derby Lake which should have the best birds on it (more isolated, maybe deeper).

I watched a Northern Shrike hunt for about an hour at the Rod and Gun Club Pond area. He caught a mouse and ate lunch during my stay.

The local Peregrine Falcon flew over Lake Ladora about 3:00pm. He has made an appearance now on my last four trips over to the Arsenal (usually in the morning).

A yellowish bird flew out of the bushes along the western side of Lake Ladora. I thought it might be a late Wilson's Warbler and took 20 minutes to find out it was a Common Yellowthroat. A few winter in Colorado and I hope to return in a couple of weeks and relocate it. The location is a small group of bushes (opposite leaves, reddish, look willowish) next to the cattails where the shoreline runs a straight line north to south. The high weeds to the west are usually filled with sparrows.

In the same area was a flock of sparrows which included 9 Song Sparrows and 37 American Tree Sparrows. On the northwest side of Ladora, there was a flock of 29 White-crowned Sparrows (which were first seen a couple of weeks ago). The White-crowned Sparrow was not observed with them on this trip.

Both Bryan and I have found a Long-eared Owl in the same area (not the sparrow areas) on our last two trips. Perhaps it will stay the winter.

After hiking the Arsenal I headed over to Barr Lake to see if the "missing Ross's Gull ended up there. No luck on any uncommon gulls, however I did see one Pacific Loon and 2 Common Loons. A fourth loon was too far away to identify (I was at the boat ramp). If the Cherry Creek Reservoir Red-throated Loon is no longer there, Barr Lake may be the place to check?

I ended my birding day watching several dozen White-crowned Sparrows below the feeders behind the Visitors Center. About 30 minutes before sunset, I watched a sparrow that was quite interesting. It was larger than the "rest" of the White-crowned Sparrows and appeared to be darker. While I had good looks for about 25 seconds, it kept its back to me the whole time.

Its back appeared blackish without any brown or rusty color. A 5-8 second look at the top of its head appeared to be blackish with a yellowish center. The bird was in the shadows with the sun 90 degrees to the left. The bird appeared to be a Golden-crowned Sparrow. I list it as "possible" to be cautious (perhaps the sun somehow shone of the center and made it appear yellow and the rest of the dark head was due to being in shadows?).

I continued to watch hoping to see if the cheeks were grayish (Golden-crowned) or had brown (first year White-crowned). Unfortunately, two hikers walked around the side of the building and scared all the sparrows away. I stay an extra 30 minutes waiting for the birds to return. When I lost enough light that I could not see, I departed.

The bird will have to be left for another day; however I am leaving town for the week and can not get back there until next weekend.

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