Friday, December 27, 2013

Birding the South Platte River in Adams County

December 26, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Looking for a hike, I chose the S. Platte River trail north of 88th and Colorado Blvd.

I did not find the four birds reported yesterday by Cathy Sheeter (Rusty Blackbird, Barrow's Goldeneye, Harris's Sparrow and Greater Scaup).

A Long tailed Duck on the reservoir east of the trail (after it turns east to north) was a nice consolation prize. Sorry I cannot remember its name of the reservoir.

Other birds found included White crowned Sparrows, groups of Lesser Scaups, one adult Bald Eagle and only one Red tailed Hawk.

One final sight was a rare American Black Duck..........plastic decoy! I do remember that being there three years ago.

After lunch, I returned to the area and walked the South Platte River Birding Area from 88th avenue & Colorado Blvd south to Highway 224.  Then I backtracked to Clear Creek and walked west to Washington Avenue.  From there, I took the RTD bus back to my car.

Quite a few ducks spend the winter on the South Platte River.  Just about every "common" species can be observed.  It is a great place for photographers to get images of the ducks as the waterfowl get use to people walking by and are not too skittish.

The pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes was observed among many Common Goldeneyes on the Platte River, just upstream (south) of the green/white tower.

A Northern Shrike was east of the Platte River and west of Tani Reservoir.  I looked unsuccessfully for the Harris's Sparrow reported between 74th & 78th avenues. 

Sparrows appear to be scarce this winter at many of the Denver birding locations.  I only found six White-crowned Sparrows on my trek today.

All the reservoirs in the area were ice covered.  These included East Gravel Lake, the three West Gravel Lakes, Dahlia Ponds and Barrington Reservoir #5.  The one exception was the lake north of 88th where I found the Long-tailed Duck (later found to be named Cooley Gravel Pond on my map).

The many gulls standing on the ice at the various lakes were all Ring-billed Gulls.

It was a pleasant hike and a great way to spend this warmish winter day.  Temperatures in the high 40s; winds calm down in the river valley.

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