Friday, October 12, 2012

Superb Day of Birding Around Denver

October 11, 2012

Richard Stevens:

My birding day started out at Centennial Park in Englewood (Arapahoe County).  I wandered around Oxbow Lake (northeast "wing" of Centennial Lake for about 30 minutes before running into a flock of sparrows in the southwest corner. 

The first sparrow to pop out of the willows was a beautiful adult Swamp Sparrow.  This bird stayed mostly deep in the tall willows along the southwest corner.

Nine or ten White-crowned Sparrows eventually also popped up and flew back and forth between the southwest and northwest corners.  The Golden-crowned Sparrow remained loosely associated with this flock. 

It was first identified when it flew to the two small Russian Olive Trees/bushes on the north shore.  I was able to get several decent looks, however, it mostly stayed deep in the bushes or willows.

While walking back to the parking area, a flock of 3-4 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Orange-crowned Warblers and a Tennessee Warbler were found in the cottonwoods bordering the northern side of Oxbow Lake!

As I was getting ready to leave, Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons came. Fortunately I was able to somewhat quickly relocate the sparrows and warblers for them!

I picked up Rebecca Kosten for lunch and afterwards stopped at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) where a text message stated that Gary Weston had found a Harris's Sparrow under feeders at the old Visitor's Center.

We watched the feeders for 30 minutes without seeing the Harris's Sparrow.  Fourteen+ White-crowned Sparrows and an assortment of Dark-eyed Juncos did visit the feeders.  While Rebecca continued to watch for another hour, I hiked to the northeast corner of Lake Ladora.

There were no warblers there today; however the two White-throated Sparrows (Ehlmann, 10/7) were relocated.

A quick trip around Lake Mary did not find any Swamp Sparrows. 

Our final stop was Barr Lake State Park (Adams) where we heard John Breitsch had found a Harris's Sparrow around the feeders behind the Visitor's Center.  It was first discovered yesterday by one of the rangers.

We watched for about 45 minutes before they closed the Visitor's Center for the day, no Harris's Sparrow.  I did pick out a young White-throated Sparrow among a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and dozens of House Sparrows.

Then we walked behind the building where there was a better view of the backside of the bushes.  After 1.5 hours, success, the Harris's Sparrow came out of the bushes by the old farm equipment.  He was quite shy and came out for only seconds on several occasions.  The Harris's Sparrow stayed mostly under the feeder along the watering hose.

Our birding day ended with a drive along the DIA Owl Loop.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  To our surprise, three Swainson's Hawks, all adults, stood in the field along 114th avenue.  We also saw one Rough-legged Hawk (along 96th) and two Ferruginous Hawks around the prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of 96th and Tower Road. 

No colorful sunset this evening as storm clouds rolled in over the mountains to the west.  Winds which were 8-10 mph throughout the day, increased to 18-22 mph.  Temperatures dropped quite a bit.

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