Friday, January 2, 2009

A Great First Day of the Year!

January 1, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed a fantastic first day of the year! Winds were mild most of the day; temperatures reached into the 50s.

At first light I scoped the Dahlia Ponds, Tani Reservoir, West Gravel Lakes, and East Gravel Lake. A Glaucous Gull was temporarily on East Gravel Lake, but flew toward the South Platte River (south of 88th avenue).

Later in the morning, I observed the Glaucous Gull fly up and down the Platte from 88th avenue to the mudflats just south of the green/white tower (about a mile south of 88th avenue). It landed briefly on the mudflats, but again took off to the north.

I counted 3 male and a female Barrow's Goldeneyes on the Platte below the tower. There was another Goldeneye with a totally orange bill. However, it had the skull shape of a Common Goldeneye and I just could not call it a Barrow's Goldeneye.

Returning north, I continued downstream along the Platte River about 200 yards north of 88th avenue. I was looking for the Glaucous Gull. My fourth male Barrow's Goldeneye of the day was about 100 yards north of the 88th avenue bridge.

Most of the wintering ducks were added to my 2009 list: Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Pintail Duck, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Barrow's Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruddy Ducks and American Coots. A big surprise was a male Blue-winged Teal!

Raptors included Northern Harrier and Bald Eagle. A Northern Shrike was below 88th avenue at the most eastern Dahlia Ponds.

I ran into Dave King and Ray Simmons who started down to look at the 4 Barrow's Goldeneyes. Meanwhile I scoped the East Gravel Lake from the east side. A Glaucous Gull was on the ice just offshore and I managed to take about 600 photos (not taking a chance that they would not come out).

One thing I noticed was that this Glaucous Gull was not the 1st year Glaucous Gull that I reported on the S. Platte River mudflats on 12/25. Its mantle and bill appeared like a 3rd year bird (most likely the one reported by Leukering on 12/25).

Next I spend 15 minutes looking unsuccessfully for the American Dipper observed last week near Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area. When I drove around the Loretto Heights University, there were plenty of White-cheeked Geese, but no Greater White-fronted Goose.

Noticing that Fort Logan National Cemetery was below the hill where the college sits, I drove through. A Greater White-fronted Goose stood on the ice at Veteran's Lake (western lake). A juvenile Snow Goose stood on the ice at Memorial Lake (eastern lake). Photos to be posted on the CoBus website tomorrow.

Nearby Marston Reservoir had many waterfowl, but nothing uncommon. I did pick up my first 2 Double-crested Cormorants of 2009.

My next stop was Platte Canyon Reservoir (actually parked at its most southeastern lot and walked to South Platte Park. The Dunlin is still just upstream of the C470 bridge. This access is a slightly shorter walk than driving into Chatfield Reservoir and its dog walking area. Besides, I had not purchased my 2009 State Park Pass yet.

I ran into Steve Stackowiak who gave me directions to a Winter Wren in South Platte Park. I thought I would give the bird 2 hours to show. At 1.5 hours it popped out of the willows and grasses along the western banks of the Platte, gave me a 5 second look, and re-buried itself. It was last seen at the bottom of the willows even with the northern half of the island (described by Steve and the CoBus website directions).

I waited another 30 minutes to see if it would show up again, but then had to leave to meet Bryan and Sue Ehlmann. They had "staked out" a Swamp Sparrow and female Greater Scaup at the Centennial Airport Water Treatment Pond (birds found on 12/28). While waiting for the Winter Wren to reappear, a Prairie Falcon zipped by over my head. A female Belted Kingfisher rattled at me for disturbing her hunting grounds.

We all arrived at the same time and scoped the cattails for the Swamp Sparrow. It was relocated farther north than Bryan and Sue had seen it on last Sunday (about 100 yards north of the gravel road cutting across the canal).

After it disappeared back into the cattails, we scoped the pond. The female Greater Scaup was on the pond, but within 3 minutes of our arrival, a loud truck (airport security) drove by and scared the 300+ ducks into the air. They probably returned, but we did not stay around for that.

This area is within the Cherry Creek State Park Christmas Count circle. Of course, they cannot count it as we protest the $5 reporting fee. At least the bird will count on the Colorado bird list and CoBus' Christmas Count!

No comments: