Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wanding Around Adams County

February 16, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Once again, Rebecca Kosten and I were seeking a place for a leisure walk.  The South Platte Birding Area was chosen (Adams County).  We hiked from the Denver Water Treatment Plant at York, South of I270 north to Highway 224 and back.

It was a windy day, anemometer readings were 16 mph with gusts to 26 mph.  However, once we reached the South Platte River Basin north of I270, the banks sheltered us from the wind.  Temperatures reached into the 60s; it was a beautiful winter day!

The unusual suspects were found on the River.  Just about any common wintering duck in Colorado can be found on the South Platte River and in good numbers.  Belted Kingfishers rattled at more than three Locations.  Half a dozen Black-crowned Night-Herons kept their eyes on the water looking for some food.  Most are used to people along the bike path and do not fly away when we passed.

Red-tailed Hawks appeared in higher numbers than usual.  Perhaps to take advantage of the high winds, expending little effort to stay above the river.  Several pairs appeared to be getting "frisky"; mating time is getting close.

A Prairie Falcon zoomed down the Platte and scared up a pair of Rusty Blackbirds.  They would not have revealed their location if not for the Falcon.  They flew into a leafless cottonwood tree on the west bank and returned to be hidden on the eastern shore shortly after the Falcon left.  (This was just north of the halfway mark of Barrington Reservoir # 5).

A flock of Brewer's Blackbirds offered a nice comparison with the Rusty Blackbirds.  They really are easy to tell apart when seeing both at the same time.  (This was just south of the wooden fence along the bike path, southern end of Barrington # 5).

When we reached the footbridge just north of I76, we detoured east over to Engineer Lake.  The shoreline was scoped well and two Rusty Blackbirds were observed coming in and out of the tall yellow grasses at the southeast shore.  (They were just southwest of a cement "dock"/bridge like platform in the southeast corner of the lake).

No Yellow-rumped Warbler today, he had been observed several times over the pass couple of weeks.  Perhaps he moved on or did not survive the snowstorm earlier in the week?

Later, we drove to Colorado Blvd and 88th Avenue then walked the half mile upstream (south) to the green/white tower.  A pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was diving for food just south of the tower.

On the way home, we stopped at Barr Lake State Park (Adams County) and walked the canal below the dam (from the Old Stone House parking area).  The Long-eared Owl found yesterday by Jerry Petrosky was not relocated by us.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop this evening.  Two Rough-legged Hawks a Ferruginous Hawk, two American Kestrels and three Red-tailed Hawks added to the raptor count.

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