Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Windy Day on the Eastern Plains

October 17, 2011

Richard Stevens:

If we ever imagined winds were crazy in the past week or so, what an experience today. Winds were 20+ mph with gusts to the middle 30s (that was at the "slow windy places"). Temperatures did not reach the middle 40s.

We stopped at Ovid (Sedgwick County) and enjoyed a couple of respectable birds (probably just trying to hold on and not be blown South (that is one way to migrate).

A pair of Rusty Blackbirds was found along Lodgepole Creek, which runs through Ovid Woods (east side of town). At least they were protected from the winds (more or less, down in the creek bed).

I brought up that Purple Finches sometimes are found in the northern woods (east of the high school). None there today, however when we walked to the southern section of woods (on the way to Ovid Sewage Ponds), Bryan spotted a male Purple Finch! Eventually, this bird was "blown" west into town. We later searched for it and the resident Northern Cardinals; without success.

The high grasses at the Ovid Sewage Ponds and along the South Platte River yielded a White-throated Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow!

We had planned to remain in the area for another day. However wind predictions of 20+ mph steady winds with gusts into the middle 30s for at least the next couple of days, forced our decision to return to Denver.

To demonstrate our decision was a good one, we stopped at Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties). Anemometer readings were steady 28-31 mph, two gusts measured 51 mph. Temperature was 42 degrees at 1:00 PM.

Back home, I went over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) with an hour of daylight remaining. The Red-throated Loon and 3 Surf Scoters swam in the middle of the lake (in direct line with the tip of the Lake Loop and the swim beach).

At first, the Red-throated Loon was diving frequently. It finally stopped and preened for 10 minutes, giving us great however far away looks at him.

Strange, the 12+ mph winds seemed mild (Denver birders were kvetching about the wind and waves). If they have only experienced our day on the eastern plains.

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