Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pleasant Winter Day at Aurora Reservoir and Rocky Mountain Arsenal

January 29, 2014

Richard Stevens:

I enjoyed the mild winter day with a trip to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Winds were calm and temperatures reached into the 50s.

When I arrived at the east end of the dam at 1:20 pm, many gulls were less than 20 feet below.  The gulls in this group included the Iceland Gull, an adult & 1st cycle Thayer's Gulls, a 1st cycle Mew Gull, Herring Gulls, California Gull & Ring-billed Gulls.  Hopefully photos of the Iceland Gull will come out well?

Farther out (quite far south) on another ice shelf, I saw a Glaucous Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

At the western end of the dam, the many gulls included the Slaty-backed Gull and another Thayer's Gull.

Several Common Goldeneyes, American Coots and a Common Merganser swam around the open water. 

When I returned to the eastern end of the dam, the Iceland Gull was still there (farther south of dam, 20 yards or so). 

Most gulls took off for DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) around 3:00 pm.

Next, I drove over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) and stayed until 5:55 pm (they closed at 6:00 pm). 

All of Lake Ladora and most of Lower Derby Lake were ice covered.  A few Hooded Mergansers and Common Mergansers, American Coots and several Common Goldeneyes were in a small opening of water at Lower Derby.

About 20 minutes before sunset (5:16 pm), I scoped the eastern hills looking unsuccessfully for Short-eared Owls. 

On the way between Lake Ladora and Governor's Row, a Great Horned Owl was observed on one of the telephone poles around the Contact Station.

With limited time, I spent 15 minutes at the Governor's Row area.  Hundreds of Black-billed Magpies swarmed the area.  Recordings of Long-eared Owls and Barn Owls were played.  I did hear (only) one Long-eared Owl. 

What a pleasant winter evening and a great way to end this fantastic day.  Hundreds of White tailed Deer roamed the hills east of Lake Ladora.  Dozens of Mule Deer were to the southwest of Ladora.  The only sounds were the "rek rek rek rek" of the Black-billed Magpies (and one briefly crying Long-eared Owl).

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