Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another Look at the Ross's Gull

November 20, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I got up at 5:00 am to go over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). Then remembered that this time of year, fog hovers over the reservoir until 9:00 am or so. I finally arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir about 8:30 am.

The Ross's Gull was quite visible from the northern picnic tables east of the swim beach. He flew low over the water, diving down and catching fish. He would rest now and then and continue eating quite a few fish. Perhaps "stocking up" for his long trip back home?

From my vantage point, I could see 3 Common Loons, the Pacific Loon and the Red-throated Loon west of the swim beach (below the dam). While looking for the Red-throated Loon, I also found the Red-necked Grebe among the many Western Grebes.

My main goal (having seen the Ross's Gull yesterday) was to photograph a Snow Bunting. My attempt to find any on the north side of the lake was unsuccessful. Several flocks of American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were in the bushes along the shore. Then I hiked the south side of the lake from the boat ramp to the bird platform at the Cottonwood Creek Loop.

I met a birder on the shore at the extreme eastern shore of the Lake Loop and talked to him for 5 minutes. He left and I turned around and took two steps. A Snow Bunting flew up not 15 feet from me.

Later, I met the birder again and he mentioned that he had watched the Snow Bunting for 5 minutes before I ran into him. Unfortunately, he had just started birding and did not know what he was watching. At least I got good looks at a Snow Bunting flying away, but no photographs.

The Snow Bunting flew east along the shore. I continued to the bird platform where the Mew Gull was among 600+ Ring-billed Gulls and several dozen California Gulls. At least I got a photograph of it.

As a consolation, I did see a Long-eared Owl in the trees that still have green leaves along the path from the Lake Loop to the Cottonwood Creek Loop!

Later, I drove to the Shop Creek parking area and bushwhacked into the extreme southeastern corner of Cherry Creek Reservoir. There is much shore here, however no Snow Bunting. Half a dozen Great Blue Herons and many Killdeer were there.

On the way home, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe). The Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were fairly easy to find. I could not relocate the Black Scoter reported a few days ago.

One final stop, Barr Lake State Park (Adams County). Three Common Loons were swimming below the dam. Two Greater White-fronted Geese were among hundreds of White-cheeked Geese just west of the boat ramp. One Snow Goose was also here.

These thousands of White-cheeked Geese (Canada Geese and Cackling Geese) were only a small percentage of the thousands of geese farther west in the park. If someone took the time, perhaps a Brant, additional Greater White-fronted Geese or a Ross's Goose could be found among them. I could see additional white geese too far away to identify in the distance. Perhaps tomorrow?

A quick stop at the Visitor's Center found a Harris's Sparrow behind (west) of the building. He came with a couple of White-crowned Sparrows below the feeders there. When not at the feeders, he would go to the taller bushes just west of the building.

A dozen Great-tailed Grackles and many Eurasian Collared-Doves continue at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot at 152nd avenue and Picadilly Road (about a mile north of Barr Lake).

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