Thursday, October 20, 2011

Denver Zoo and Return to Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 20, 2011

Richard Stevens:

After a few hours of sleep back in Denver, Rebecca Kosten and I went to the Denver Zoo (Denver City Park, Denver County) to search for the White-throated Sparrow that was reported by David Leatherman.

We circled the Crane Area east of the Kookaburra compound; without success. Then we sat at the south end of the Red-crowned Crane area for about two hours. There is a small puddle here and many birds visited during our stay. Unfortunately, the White-throated Sparrow was not one of them.

We circled the Crane Area and couple of times on our way out of the Zoo. I noticed a tanager collecting moths in the fern like tree (with red berries) just south of the Safari Food Court. To our surprise, it turned out to be a female Scarlet Tanager!

It had a uniform olive green upperparts (unlike Summer Tanager & Western Tanager), no sign of wingbar(s) (unlike Western Tanager), blackish undertail (unlike Summer Tanager), short bill compared to Summer Tanager).

After an early dinner, we stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The Red-throated Loon and Surf Scoters were not found when we scoped the reservoir for about 2 hours from the Lake Loop.

When I walked over to the eastern side of the Lake Loop to scope the mudflats (which were empty of birds), a lone tern flew back and forth not far from shore. At times, it was less than 20 feet from me.

It had a relatively short, white tail with dark outer webs, bluish body (unlike whitish of Forster's Tern), conspicuous dark wedge of primaries, lacked silvery white primaries of Forster's Tern. Definitely not an Arctic Tern or Forster's Tern.

Two Forster's Terns flew around the southwest marina. No uncommon gulls were identified. I thought that I had gotten a brief glimpse at a Bonaparte's Gull (however, became distracted by the Common Tern).

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