Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Adams County: Barr Lake & DIA Owl Loop

September 22, 2010

Richard Stevens:

What a beautiful fall day in Colorado. Winds were calm to mild all morning. Temperatures started out in the low 50s and stayed in the 70s well past noon.

At civil twilight (6:00 am, when they open), I started by walking the main road from the Visitor's Center to the old governor's row at Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Primarily listening for owls, I would have enjoyed a sighting (did not happen). No owls were heard today in that area. In the far distance, a Great Horned Owl called from somewhere around the Visitor's Center.

I drove the DIA Owl Loop on the way to Barr Lake (Adams). Two Burrowing Owls were along Picadilly Road (between 128th and 120th avenues).

At Barr Lake, I walked the main road/path from mile marker 0.0 to 0.5, then returned and went north to the boat ramp, mm 7.8. I returned to my car by way of the shoreline.

The area inside the Niedrach Boardwalk loop was quite birdy. Forty or so birds kept me busy trying to identify them all. The best were a Brown Thrasher, 2 Lincoln's Sparrows and 2 House Wrens. Thirty or so Wilson's Warblers were joined by an Orange-crowned Warbler.

Back in the northern direction, the woods 0.1 mile north of the banding station was also quite birdy. At mile marker 8.6, a flock of birds included a Cassin's Vireo, 11 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Orange-crowned Warblers, a non-male Blue Grosbeak, a first year Black-headed Grosbeak, 4 Wilson's Warblers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Chipping Sparrows.

Continuing north, another loose flock of birds at mm 8.3 included 17 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Orange-crowned Warblers, 9 Wilson's Warblers, and a Townsend's Warbler.

Shorebirds were few, 6 Baird's Sandpipers, 1 Sanderling and a Willet (west of the point jutting into the lake from the banding station. I was a few days or weeks late for shorebirds; the mud was covered with little shorebird footprints.

Ourside the park, I looked for Great-tailed Grackles at the feedlot just south of the Picadilly Tree Nursery (152nd avenue and Picadilly Road). None were around today, however more Eurasian Collared-Doves then one would want to see were there (60+, I did not bother to get an exact count).

On the way to lunch, I again drove the DIA Owl Loop. Two Burrowing Owls were at the east side of the power plant at 128th avenue and Powhaton. Another two Burrowing Owls were at the site 3.4 miles east of Tower Road & 96th avenue; with a third pair at the site 0.3 miles north of Tower Road and 56th avenue.

At the Power Plant, a flock of 9 Clay-colored Sparrows walked along the near fence line. Hundreds of Vesper Sparrows came out of the field covered in sunflowers, east of Powhaton and south of 128th avenue. I also identified a dozen Brewer's Sparrows and one or two McCown's Longspurs (along 128th avenue at 0.5 miles east of Picadilly Road).

When I turned the corner at Trussville Road and 114th avenue, 37 Swainson's Hawks stood on the fence around the Airport Gas Tanks. Quite a sight, I soon saw why. Another 112+ Swainson's Hawks were in the field, east of Trussville, between 112th and 109th avenues! A few more were scattered along the Owl Loop.

At the prairie dog village, 3.4 miles east of Tower and 96th, the two Burrowing Owls were maybe "brave". Two Swainson's Hawks, three Red-tailed Hawks and a Ferruginous Hawk stoop around them.

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