Monday, October 29, 2012

Adams to Arapahoe County, a Beautiful Colorado Fall Day

October 28, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I decided to search for the Gyrfalcon that has shown up twice in the past week in the area of the DIA Owl Loop.

Our first stop was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  My photos of the two Harris's Sparrows were not satisfactory and I hoped to take some better ones.  Both Harris's Sparrows were again under the eastern feeder at the Contact Station (old Visitor's Center) when we arrived.

I scoped Lake Ladora looking for a possible Red-necked Grebe reported yesterday.  It was not found; however, the Surf Scoter was in the southern-middle of the lake.  She constantly dove, staying under water 20-40 seconds and coming up for less than a count of 3.  It took a frustrating 45 minutes to identify her.

On the way to the DIA Owl Loop we found 80+ Great-tailed Grackles at Highway 2 (Colorado Blvd) and Hwy 44.  This would be the outside of the northwest corner of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

We drove the DIA Owl Loop for several hours enjoying the warm fall day and sunshine.  No sign of a Gyrfalcon.  Six Red-tailed Hawks were scoped from the location of yesterday's sighting (104th avenue and Tower Road).

Another dozen Red-tailed Hawks, one Rough-legged Hawk, one Ferruginous Hawk and two American Kestrels were found.  The biggest surprise was a Golden Eagle.  The sun shone off the golden head making ID easy.  We would expect Bald Eagles, not Golden Eagles.  However, at least three Golden Eagles have been reported along the DIA Owl Loop in the past ten years.

When we arrived home, my neighbor needed a ride over to Aurora Medical Center.  I got back in the car and drove the 30+ miles over to the hospital.  Being only 8 miles from Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) I of course was "forced" to go over there.

When I arrived at 5:00 pm, a Common Loon was swimming off the Mountain Loop.  Only a few Ring-billed Gulls were on the southwest marina. 

Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls and dozens of California Gulls were standing on the mudflats at the bird observation platform, Prairie Loop.  At least one juvenile Sabine's Gull swam to the northeast (possibly two).

A dark grebe that appeared to be too big for a Horned Grebe or Eared Grebe was too far away for a proper ID.

The only non-Killdeer on the mudflats appeared to be a Long-billed Dowitcher.  By 5:45 pm light was terrible and I would not be surprised if someone called it a Short-billed Dowitcher.

While watching the Dowitcher, a quite small dark wren came out of the thickets west of the Bird Platform.  A Sedge Wren would have been nice; however, it turned out to be a Winter Wren.  No white streaks on a dark brown back, short tail and small bodied.

Conducting a little experiment, I played a Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren and Winter Wren recording.  The bird popped out briefly during the Winter Wren call.

Under a colorful sunset and almost full moon, I walked the group camping area listening for Great Horned Owls.  None called tonight.  Campers claimed they heard one in the southeast corner of the Campgrounds a few nights ago.  I could not find it.

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