Thursday, December 25, 2008

Adams County Birding on Christmas Day

December 25, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I looked for a walk to take advantage of the 50 degree temperatures today. We started at Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area (Adams County). The American Dipper found by Bob Canter on 12/20 was about 30 yards downstream from the Lowell Blvd Bridge. Thanks much to Bob for finding and reporting the Dipper! I have only observed one other American Dipper in Adams County.

After watching the Dipper for 30 minutes we drove to nearby South Platte River at 88th avenue. We walked the east side of the Platte River from 88th avenue to the green and white tower about a mile South. The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was on the river just below the tower. However, the highlight was a 1st year Glaucous Gull standing with 42 Ring-billed Gulls by the river about 40 yards south of the tower! When a dog walked came by, the gulls flew east to Tani Reservoir.

Most of the lakes in the area were ice and snow covered. About 5 percent of East Gravel Lake was open water. No Long-tailed Ducks or scoters today, another male Barrow's Goldeneye was with 14 Common Goldeneyes. A few Common Mergansers and dozens of Northern Shovelers were also counted. The 51 gulls appeared to be all Ring-billed Gull except for 2 Herring Gulls.

On the way to Barr Lake, we noticed 3000+ White-cheeked Geese along I76 (south side, west of mile marker 16). We only stopped briefly and did not pick out any uncommon geese.

Our final hike was at 3:00pm at Barr Lake (Adams). When we stepped out of the car, the noise made by thousands of geese filled the air. However, we could not see any geese and decided to walk toward the west down to the bird blind about 0.8 miles west of the parking area.

At least 6,200 Canada Geese stood on the ice in the cove west of the blind. It only took seconds after setting up the spotting scope to find a Greater White-fronted Goose among the Canada Geese. No White-cheeked Geese that could be called a Cackling Goose were found.

After further scoping a lone white goose (Ross's Goose) was also found. The noise was tremendous. Interesting though, when 3 adult Bald Eagles flew by (a good 200-300 yards off shore) the geese stopped calling. We could almost hear a pin drop for about 30 seconds.

Our birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop in search of Short-eared Owls. No owls tonight, we did count 5 Northern Harriers, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, and a Ferruginous Hawk along the way.

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