Thursday, December 25, 2008

Great Day at Aurora Reservoir

December 24, 2008

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). About 45 minutes before sunrise I searched for the Short-eared Owl reported on 12/5 by Glenn Walbek. I was able to relocate the owl on 12/6. On 12/12, I was real fortunate to find it along the 12 mile Beaver Pond trail. It was not found on Wednesday.

I met Gary Weston and Bill Cryder just after sunrise at Aurora Reservoir. In the next 6 hours we circled the 8.0 bike trail. We went for lunch and returned to end our day there.

We started our hike near the northwest corner of the reservoir. About 400 gulls were along the shore at the southwest end of the dam. An adult Mew Gull allowed us great looks. This was approximately mile marker 7.0.

Bill had said that 90 percent of the lake was frozen on Saturday. Strong southern winds today had opened up about 60 percent of the reservoir.

At around mile marker 4.5, we found a female Greater Scaup and male Barrow's Goldeneye swimming among 38 Common Goldeneyes and 2 Common Mergansers. (The swim beach is mm 7.7 and 0.0 as numbers increase counterclockwise).

We counted many White-cheeked Geese and a few more Common Goldeneyes and found few uncommon birds until we returned to the northwest corner of the dam (mm 6.8).

At a little after Noon, many gulls flew in from DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) to the northwest. First one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was observed landing on a small island of ice south of the dam's tower. Then a second adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, and finally a third adult Lesser Black-backed Gull also came in. Eventually we also observed a 1st year Lesser Black-backed Gull come in from DADS.

Other gulls counted included 17 Herring Gulls, hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls, and 2 California Gulls. The only additional waterfowl were Mallards, Gadwalls, and at least one Cackling Goose.

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