Monday, December 7, 2009

Enjoyable but Cold Birding Day in Adams County

December 7, 2009

Richard Stevens:

This morning I walked along the South Platte River from 88th avenue to the Water Treatment Plant south of I76 and back (7.0 miles) and with a detour along Clear Creek to Washington Avenue and back (3.2 miles).

Most surprising was that the lakes along the route had no ice on them. East Gravel Lake, West Gravel Lakes, Tani Reservoir, A New Unnamed Reservoir, & Dahlia Pond were all ice free. The second surprise was the complete lack of gulls or maybe not since there was no ice or shoreline on which for them to stand.

Plenty of ducks and geese were on the lakes; however, the only uncommon ducks was a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes. They were first on the Platte River 20 yards south of the green/white tower (about a mile south of Colorado Blvd); later they flew to Tani Reservoir.

The detour along Clear Creek was to search for sparrows. Harris's Sparrows have shown up in several past years; none today. A small flock of 7 American Tree Sparrows and 2 Song Sparrow were the total.

Afterwards I searched for the 100+ Great-tailed Grackle flock previously found 0.9 miles east of Harvest Road and 168th Avenue; without success. Four to six Great-tailed Grackles were around the cows and first house south of Picadilly Road and 152nd Avenue.

I spent 30 minutes scoping Barr Lake for the Long-tailed Duck reported Saturday by Bill Kaempfer; without success. The search was hindered by a 10+ mph wind directly in my face. Watering eyes, mist coming off the lake, and hundreds of ducks cramped together hampered my attempt. These 30 minutes was much colder to my bones than the 10.2 mile hike along the South Platte River (which was sheltered from the wind).

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop found 8 Northern Harriers, 1 Ferruginous Hawk, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, and 1 Rough-legged Hawk.

I parked at Trussville Road and 128th Avenue and watched for 1.5 hours thousands of Horned Larks fly back and forth across 128th. Watching them walk and plow through the several inches of snow was quite comical.

My target bird was a Snow Bunting (not found) and I settled for nice views of 2 Lapland Longspurs and several of the harriers flying by my car.

At dusk, I repeated the trip around the DIA Owl Loop going for a Short-eared Owl; again without success. Quite an enjoyable day of birding in spite of temperatures around 12 degrees.

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