Saturday, December 22, 2012

Search for a Thayer's Gull and Harris's Sparrow, Bonny Christmas Count

December 16, 2012

Richard Stevens:

German birder, Jurgen Lehnert had two target birds, a Thayer's Gull and Harris's Sparrow.  I figured our best chance was Pueblo Reservoir (Pueblo County).  Both were found on their Christmas Count the day before.

While no gulls were on the south marina tires when we arrived, the cove to the west of the marina was full of gulls.  An hour was spent counting 450+ Ring-billed Gulls, 12 California Gulls, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Great Black-backed Gull.

We then drove to the western end of the lake (off W. Fisherman's Point Road) and scoped from there.  Over 150 Bonaparte's Gulls flew about and dove for fish.

Jurgen picked out a first year and female Greater Scaup among 150 Common Goldeneyes.  I found one male Barrow's Goldeneye in the raft of ducks.

No gulls were back at the North Marina.  Two Curve-billed Thrashers were found, one on a trash bin and the other on the road sign on the way to the marina.  See photos on the CoBus photo library (

A stop at the Sailboard Launch Area did not find additional Gull species.  However, a Pacific Loon swam not too far off shore and allowed us great looks!

Next, we headed to Valco Ponds area of Pueblo Lake State Park.  No Swamp Sparrows or the Harris's Sparrow was found during an hour search. 

Back at the south marina, thousands of gulls now stood on the tires surrounding the marina.  It took us the next two hours to scope all the gulls.  They were tightly packed, shoulder to shoulder along the line of tires. 

Eventually I was able to find one adult Thayer's Gull among the horde.  Twenty+ mph winds, gusts to 32 mph did not aid in the search.

Then we rushed to Fountain Creek Regional Park (El Paso) and arrive an hour before sunset.  Unfortunately, the Harris's Sparrow was a no show (near the gazebo at the waterfall, its most often reported location).


Meanwhile, Bryan Ehlmann counted the CoBus Bonny Reservoir Christmas Count

They found most of the birds found on the Audubon Christmas Count and in addition:

Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl (different location than Audubon)
Barn Owl
Northern Mockingbird
Winter Wren
Field Sparrow 

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