Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fantastic Winter Day in Colorado, Birding Along the Foothills

February 8, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I enjoyed this fantastic Colorado winter day while birding along the foothills.  Winds were 12+ mph; temperatures reached 70 degrees!

We parked at South Platte Park at C470 and the South Platte River (Arapahoe County).  Ten Greater Scaup swam on Eaglewatch Lake (just north of the parking area).

Winds were almost calm along the Platte River as we walked the lower basin area below Chatfield Reservoir dam.  We hiked up the creek that flows into the Platte River (just south of C470).

This was my third attempt at looking for the red form of Fox Sparrow that has been reported since at least 1/13.  Thanks much to Alec Hopping for sending a map of previous sightings.  Fortunately (but not successfully) I had been searching in the correct area on past attempts.

This time when I reached the broken fence near the eastern border of the State Park, the Fox Sparrow jumped up from the tall grasses and "posed" on a rabbit brush.  We were able to get a five or six minute look before it dropped back down.

To experiment, I played an eastern Fox Sparrow recording.  The Fox Sparrow jumped up and sang for about 10 seconds before disappearing into the thicker bushes underneath the two tall cottonwoods along the fence line (and south of the creek).

South Platte Park Reservoir appeared to be ice-free as we drove out of the Park.  We did not stop to scope for gulls.

Our next stop was Denver West Office Complex (Jefferson).  Winds were back to 14+ mph.  We circled building three and four and heard several White-breasted Nuthatches calling.  A Red-breasted Nuthatch and two Black-capped Chickadees were in a loose flock, which also included the Pine Warbler.  Unfortunately, the Pine Warbler stayed high in the pines.  The flock fluttered about the trees above the statue of three kids next to a picnic table.

A drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams) at dusk did not find any Short-eared Owls this evening.

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