Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Superb Day of Birding In Colorado

October 20, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County) this Saturday morning.  Weather was fantastic, a beautiful fall day in Colorado.  Unfortunately, several hunters had reserved areas north of Highway 52.  So as to not "conflict" with the hunters, we birded the southern sections (Ponds 1-4).

As it turned out, the birding was good here.  We found a Black-and-white Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler with four Black-capped Chickadees in the windbreak just south of the parking area.

The area was covered well in a couple of hours and we continued east to visit a friend's ranch.  He has a pair of Long-eared Owls that may have stayed on his ranch for several years now.  They successful fledged two owlets this summer.

After dropping Bryan off at home, I picked up Rebecca and we continued to Barr Lake (Adams) where I enjoyed a fantastic afternoon.  Fantastic does not cover it.

While walking below (northwest) of the banding area, two Black-capped Chickadees caught my attention.  In the next 15 minutes, bird activity was marvelous.  Three Brown Creepers loosely "followed" the Black-capped Chickadee activity south along the line of trees that jut toward the lake.

Then a warbler appeared and allowed me to watch it for 5 or 6 minutes.  It turned out to be a first fall Prairie Warbler.  However, that was not the end of the parade.  Another warbler followed and it turned out to be a female Black-throated Blue Warbler!

I called Bryan Ehlmann who was not home. Sue Ehlmann rushed over and we relocated the Prairie Warbler (for the third time, this time to the southwest).  I left Sue with Rebecca to look for the female Black-throated Blue Warbler and I hiked the shoreline of the dwindling lake.  They could not relocate the Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Shorebirds were few, in fact only Killdeer were found (not even a lingering Spotted Sandpiper).  After covering about 2 miles of the shore, I met up with Rebecca and Sue at the boat ramp.  Sue went home and Rebecca and I drove the DIA Owl Loop on the way to dinner in Aurora.

To top off our great day of birding we found a Peregrine Falcon perched on the northern fence to the DIA runways.  At Trussville and 114th Avenue, we found a Prairie Falcon perched on the solar farm panels.

Continuing east, I spotted another large falcon on a post at 3.1 miles east of Tower Road and 96th Avenue (just south of the infamous Prairie Dog Town and Burrowing Owl Site).  It was quite large; however, my first thought was that the Peregrine Falcon had moved.

I put a scope on the bird and we were surprised to see a Gyrfalcon (update: it was relocated on 10/27 by Bob Conway).  Unfortunately, I rushed to the car to get my digascoping camera and the bird flew.  We were not able to see if it had any straps on its legs (which may indicate that it was an escaped bird).  I have not contacted Bob to see if you had a better look at the Gyrfalcons legs.

It put a nice end to our superb day of birding (although, no Short-eared Owls appeared tonight) along the DIA Owl Loop.

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