Saturday, November 23, 2013

Birding East of Denver

November 23, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I birded Adams and Weld Counties today.  Temperatures stayed in the low 40s, winds were around 8+ mph.

At sunrise, we drove around the Adams County Reservoirs along the South Platte River.  We hoped that with the many Long-tailed Duck sightings, there might be one along the Platte River Reservoirs; none was found.

We quickly walked to the green/white tower area and found a male Barrow's Goldeneye (loosely associated with Common Goldeneyes).  No uncommon ducks were on the West Gravel Lakes (as we hiked back to our car).

A drive around the York Street/East 144th avenue area did not find the possible Red-shouldered Hawk reported yesterday by Bruce Neuman (to be fair, not much time was spent searching).

Then we headed to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) to see if last weekend's Eastern Towhee was still around (in spite of the mid week snowstorm). 

Many hunters had the northern ponds reserved.  We walked down to the pond 6-7 windbreak to look for Long-eared Owls (found one).  Two hunters were putting out decoys on Pond 5 and since they had just started, we asked if we could quickly walk the Russian Olive Tree windbreak along the southern end of the pond.  They were happy and generous to allow us to do so.  Unfortunately, the Eastern Towhee (or any towhee or bird for that matter) moved about the windbreak.

Since we had made the long drive, we walked the Russian Olive Tree windbreak along Ponds 3 and 4 (south side of highway 52).  Waterfowl are not dumb.  While the northern ponds were mostly frozen, they also had no ducks.  Pond 4 was ice and hunter free and had 100+ ducks.

Again no towhees or robins (there had been many Robins last weekend).  A small bird moved about under the clump of Russian Olive Trees at the southeast corner of Pond 4.  As we circled the small "grove" a Long-eared Owl called several times (we would have missed it if not for the call).  The small bird turned out to be a Song Sparrow.

With a couple of hours of daylight remaining, we decided to drive back to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  Harris's Sparrows have been reported at more than three locations this month.  We hoped that the Harris's Sparrows that wintered under the Contact Station feeders had returned.  None was found.

One hundred and fifty plus gulls on Lake Ladora all turned out to be Ring-billed Gulls.  Ninety+ percent of the waterfowl on Lower Derby Lake were American Coots (a few Western Grebes, Mallards and Gadwalls were the remainder).

Sunset is now around 4:38 pm and the arsenal is open until 6:00 pm.  We stayed around and searched for Long-eared Owls; without success.

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