Friday, December 28, 2012

Trip to Chatfield Reservoir and the South Platte River

December 27, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten and I finally made the long trip down to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas Counties).  We were quite disappointed as the reservoir was 100 percent ice and snow covered (except for the dozen holes drilled by ice anglers).

We drove to the north side of Interstate 470 and checked the South Platte River for the Long-tailed Ducks reported there off and on since November 17. 

When none was found around the parking area and south to the dog walking area back in Chatfield State Park, Bryan and I decided to walk the several miles north to South Platte Park.  Sue and Rebecca planned to drive to the Park and pick us up.

Bryan and I found a nice collection of ducks along the Platte River, however, no Long-tailed Duck was found.  Some sharp looking male Hooded Mergansers, brightly colored male Buffleheads and many common ducks took advantage of the open water along the S. Platte River.

We kept eyes open for a wintering Dunlin and checked the thicker bushes for Stub-tailed Wrens; without finding either.

Sue and Rebecca enjoyed better fortune.  They noticed that the South Platte Reservoir had open water.  They set up scopes at the Parking Area for the Kiewit Company (I may have that spelled incorrectly) along South Platte Canyon Road.  From there they saw many Common Mergansers, a Red-breasted Merganser or two and more importantly, a Long-tailed Duck.

They also saw briefly what they thought was a Red-necked Grebe.  The bird swam out of sight along the western shore and never returned.

Later, we drove to Marston Reservoir, which had several strips of open water.  The closer open water had 58 Common Mergansers and a couple of Common Goldeneyes.

The northern strip had 36 American Coots.

The farthest strip of open water had the two White-winged Scoters and Long-tailed Duck among many Mallards and Gadwalls.  I have a friend living in the nearby complex and we were able to get some nice closer views.  Without this access, a good scope is required to view this strip of open water far out along the northern shore of Marston Reservoir. 

After a late lunch, we drove the DIA Owl Loop.  The usual raptors were found including a Prairie Falcon; no Short-eared Owls appeared.


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