Saturday, February 26, 2011

Birding Around Denver

February 25, 2011

Richard Stevens:

I called this birding around Denver. Long trip however, total mileage was about 120 miles before our day was over.

I had a meeting downtown and afterwards Rebecca Kosten and I made the leisure drive over to Red Rocks Park (Jefferson County). Temperature at noon was 28 degrees, winds mild; it felt cold.

We only stayed 50 minutes. Within minutes of throwing out birdseed, the Harris's Sparrow came out of the bushes. He stayed the whole time of our visit. The White-throated Sparrow came shortly after. While the Golden-crowned Sparrow did not arrive until minutes before our departure.

I wanted to stay until the Golden-crowned Sparrow showed because when we arrived, a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow was already there. That made for a four "Zonotrichia" sparrow day! I had that happen here in 2010, first time in 2011! It is a rare occurrence in Colorado! One American Tree Sparrow was also there when we arrived.

After lunch, we walked the South Platte River bike path from 88th & Colorado Blvd to 74th avenue (I returned for the car and picked Rebecca up at 74th). It is not often I get her to expose herself to such conditions (38 degrees, winds 14+ mph).

On the way over, we passed the Lowell Ponds Wildlife Area. A quick and short hike from the parking area to the I76 bridge found the American Dipper under the bridge. Thanks Bob Canter for our Weld County dipper for 2011!

A pair of Barrow's Goldeneye was on the Platte River just south of the green/white tower. The Long-tailed Duck was on the southern West Gravel Lake. There is still road grading at the northern West Gravel Lake which is probably why the duck moved. I did see it at Dahlia Ponds last week.

While looking for gulls on the area lakes, we observed a second pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes on Tani Reservoir (south of East Gravel Lakes). Many gulls were at East Gravel Lakes, all Ring-billed Gull except for two Herring Gulls. No large white gulls or black backed gulls however.

At Barr Lake (Adams), a Common Loon swam off the boat ramp. Many ducks and gulls (mostly Common Mergansers and Ring-billed Gulls) were too far away to identify. We counted 19 Bald Eagles on the ice along the northwest ice edge.

Six white geese included five Snow Geese and a Ross's Goose! Our own mini Snow Goose Festival!

Fifty plus Great-tailed Grackles were at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot just south of Picadilly Road and 152nd avenue.

A Northern Shrike was at the Lochbuie Ponds (Weld).

We ended our birding day at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld). Rebecca sat in the car at the southern parking area (keeping an eye out for Short-eared Owls). While I hiked down to pond 8. It was difficult, but I finally found a Long-eared Owl deep in the western windbreak between ponds 7 & 8.

At sunset, we listened to a Great Horned Owl call as we waited for Short-eared Owls to fly over the cattails; none did this evening.

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