Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gilpin County Owls and Rosy Finches; Ross's Gull at Cherry Creek Reservoir

November 19, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann, Gary Weston and I did some owling hours before sunrise in Gilpin County. Mainly we drove up to Rollinsville and back along Highway 119. The scenery sure has changed since gambling went big time in Blackhawk and Central City. It is quite ugly.

Considering the time of year and traffic, we did quite well. We ended up hearing 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls and 1 Boreal Owl. A drive around Rollinsville found two flocks of Rosy Finches. Total number of birds was approximately 310+. They were mostly Gray-crowned Rosy Finches (80 percent) and Brown-capped Rosy Finches. We could only pick out one Black Rosy Finch.

Afterwards, we detoured to Loveland Pass and found 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan north of the large pullover south of the Summit (first pullover south and west of hwy 6). We found little activity at the few feeders in Empire (Clear Creek County).

The excitement today was definitely at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). Glenn Walbek found an adult basic Ross's Gull. Fortunately, many birders were able to see it.

Skipping sleep unlike my companions, I arrived at Cherry Creek Reservoir around 1:00 pm. First, I tried to find the Snow Bunting reported by Rozinski. I walked from the swim beach to the old jet ski rental area and back. On the second pass, I found a Snow Bunting with 14+ Dark-eyed Juncos and 7+ American Tree Sparrows along the shore. They were in the bushes and along the shore west of the handicapped fisherperson's dock (near the cement stairs leading down to the lake.

About 2 hours later, the many birders looking at the Ross's Gull (from the Lake Loop) saw a Snow Bunting along their shore. Perhaps it was the same bird that flew directly south, or perhaps there were/are several Snow Buntings at the State Park? Snow Buntings are being reported at quite a few locations around Colorado this fall.

From the swim beach, I was able to see at least 3 Common Loons and the Pacific Loon. I missed the Red-throated Loon, which was relocated later in the day by Bryan Ehlmann. I am not sure anyone looked for the Red-necked Grebe today with the Ross's Gull being the priority.

I eventually worked my way over to the Lake Loop and got some great looks at the Ross's Gull. Thanks Glenn!

Almost forgot, on the way home, relocated the Great-tailed Grackles at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot and saw a Common Loon below the dam at Barr Lake (Adams).

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