Thursday, November 20, 2014

Long Day at Aurora Reservoir, Short Stop at Cherry Creek State Park

November 19, 2014

Richard Stevens:

Bill Cryder took six hours to hike the 8.7 mile trail circling Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Temperatures reached into the 50s; winds were less than 4 mph.  On the way into the reservoir, we found a Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk perched on adjacent fence posts.

We counted 4500+ gulls at the swim beach.  This was less than 25 percent of the gulls there!  Eventually we recorded: two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, six+ Thayer's Gulls, two Bonaparte's Gulls, and a Mew Gull (cove at mile 3.0).  Of course many Ring-billed, California and Herring Gulls.

One Common Loon swam around mile 4.0.  Two Greater Scaup were at mile 1.0 to the swim beach area.  A Surf Scoter continued around mile 5.0 to the scuba cove.

My birding day ended at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  I enjoyed a superb sunset and watching the hundreds of waterfowl swim around.  Winds were calm; the lake was like a mirror.

I thought finding the Long-tailed Duck in a conglomeration of 400+ Eared Grebes yesterday was a nightmare.  Today they were spread around the lake, making finding the Long-tailed Duck even more difficult.

The Long-tailed Duck was eventually spotted in the large raft of ducks, which included hundreds of Common Mergansers, some Common Goldeneyes and Eared Grebes.  She was over a hundred yards east of the middle of the road below the dam.

While searching for the female Long-tailed Duck, I found two Greater Scaup.  At least ten American White Pelicans continue on the lake as do three Common Loons. 

More than a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls flew back and forth just below the dam.  Their tern like flight makes is easy to pick them out from the hundreds of gulls there.  Sure, their wing tips are an easy field mark to see; I look first for their distinctive flight patterns.

Once again, like last night, a Great Horned Owl flew into the cottonwoods around the dam tower's parking area (around 5:25 pm).

I will post photos of the Bald Eagle and Bonaparte's Gulls on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library later tonight.

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