Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Couple of Arapahoe County Reservoirs

November 3, 2008

I took advantage of another great Colorado fall day and hiked the 9 miles around Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).

Hundreds of waterfowl have arrived in the last few days. I have not been able to find a Clark's Grebe among the dozens of Western Grebes. Pied-billed Grebes seem to prefer the southern end. Horned and Eared Grebes are also here.

I relocated the 2 Common Loons near the southeast corner (at mile marker 4.0). The Pacific Loon was farther north near the scuba dive area (below the dam).

Two flocks of American Tree Sparrows were around (one south of the swim beach, the other at mm 4.0).

Redheads, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, Mallards, and a few Northern Pintail Ducks also observed.

I ended my birding day at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The weather was nice until 30 minutes before sunset (now around 5:00pm with time change). Winds increased from 5 mph to 25+ mph pretty quick.

As I entered the Cottonwood Creek Loop, a beautiful Rough-legged Hawk was hovered over the road! It took advantage of the high winds and surveyed the landscape for food.

Ten+ Bonaparte's Gulls were standing on the sand spit off the Bird Platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop. While scoping a strange looking Gull in the water not far from the sand spit, I found a Red-necked Grebe! Watch it for 20 minutes while going back and forth to the Gull.

I scoped the whole lake looking unsuccessfully for loons. Then after the wind starting blowing a Common Loon took off into the strong wind. It was interesting watching the loon struggle to get airborne into the 25+ mph headwind. A second Common Loon followed. Where were they when I was scoping the water surface?

I was at the western end of the Lake Loop; the loons flew toward the eastern end. When I tried to relocate them, they were not found. Perhaps they took off south for good? While scoping the eastern side of the Lake Loop, a first year Thayer's Gull was found among 400+ gulls (mostly Ring-billed and dozens of California Gulls).

The Red-necked Grebe could be seen still off the Bird Observatory Platform to the east. The dozens of American White Pelicans joined the gulls in the east bay to feed on the many minnows (I know they have another name, can not think of it?).

The "strange" Gull was slightly smaller than most of the Ring-billed Gulls. It had the dungy brown head and neck expected on a basic Mew Gull. Its back was slightly darker than the Ring-billed's and it appeared to have broad, contrasting white crescents. However the bill from my vantage point did not look like a Mew Gull. I was pretty far from the bird and even with my scope could not get a good look at the bill on the Gull bobbing up and down on the high waves. Therefore never positively identified the bird.

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