Monday, February 28, 2011

A Beautiful Colorado Winter Day

February 28, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Three California birders and I headed into the foothills to search for some mountain birds. We managed to find Rosy Finches to everyone's delight. Fourteen Barrow's Goldeneyes remained at the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County).

We turned around and went up Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan. Some times, luck does shine on a weary birder. Our scope was not up 2 minutes before I picked out a Ptarmigan among the ragged rocks below the eastern side of the parking area!

A stop at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson) added Red Crossbills, 3 species of Nuthatches, Pine Siskins and Mountain Chickadees to our day list. The target bird was a Williamson's Sapsucker. None were found; my early date for the park is 3/31 (2006, 2007, 2008).

We stopped at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson) and had another 4 Zonotrichia day (Golden-crowned Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow)! The Curve-billed Thrasher also made an appearance, while no Rosy Finches were found.

We exited the park to the south and stopped briefly at the pullover north of the Chapel. A Canyon Wren called from the rocky cliffs. A flock of 16 Bushtits fluttered by, not stopping for any time. Do these guys ever stop moving!

I dropped them off at the motel on the western side of Denver and continued east. The male Barrow's Goldeneye was still on eastern Bass Lake (at one time, the eastern and western sections were one lake) at Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. I only saw a male Common Goldeneye and two female Common Goldeneyes, no female Barrow's Goldeneye.

Next, I stopped at Smith Lake in Washington Park (Denver County). The Long-tailed Duck was still there. Beware of the mistake I made Saturday (first trip, had to go back later in the day). She feeds much and stays under water more than on the surface when doing so.

I ended my birding day under a fantastic sunset (spent the last two hours before sunset at Barr Lake, Adams County). The Common Loon was still there around mile marker 5.0. The six white geese (5 Snow Geese and 1 Ross's Goose) took off and flew north. That ended our weekend mini Snow Goose festival (started Saturday)!

While walking the road above the dam, I picked out three locations below the dam where I would guess Long-eared Owls would hide and two locations where a Winter Wren might.

Two Long-eared Owls were at the first stop! Later I found another two Long-eared Owls, four total! One of the Long-eared Owls stood on a branch in the open (photo added to the CoBus photo library)! Started me when I saw its two eyes in my binoculars (from only about 8 paces.

It took two stops to find the Winter Wren! I played a Winter Wren recording for 20 seconds at both. First, he sang for 45 seconds, and then he popped up for 6 seconds to have a look around. Sounded like a Winter Wren and looked like one!

Great birding day and a wonderful Colorado winter day!

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