Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cherry Creek Reservoir to Rocky Mountain Arsenal to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area

September 1, 2015

Richard Stevens:

I started the morning at 7:00 am at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Anemometer readings were zero (which is quite unusual); temperature was 62 degrees.  I hiked from the Lake Loop east to the Cottonwood Creek wetlands back and west to the Mountain Loop in the next three hours.

Mosquitoes were quite abundant.  Each time I stopped to scope the trees, my jacket would be covered with hundreds of the pests.

Excluding Northern Flickers and Black-billed Magpies, no birds were encountered until I reached the Prairie Loop parking area.  Several American Goldfinches were attacking the Elk Thistle and occasionally sunflower plants.

A Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret and juvenile hunting for food along Cottonwood Creek, just north of the washed out footbridge.  A Cassin's Vireo was in the willows along Cottonwood Creek at 30 yards north of the washed out area.

About 80 yards west of the Bird Platform area I saw a Great Blue Heron perched (?) in a cottonwood tree.  While trying to photograph the Heron, I was startled by a Long-eared Owl staring at me!

The woods from the Prairie Loop to the Lake Loop were short on birds.  Once back at the Lake Loop, a pair of Wilson's Warblers and an Orange-crowned Warbler were discovered in a Russian Olive Tree along the shore.

The cottonwoods just west of the Lake Loop parking lot were interesting in that 26 Northern Flickers flew back and forth.  I have never seen that many together before.  Fourteen Black-billed Magpies were also here.

Most entertaining was an Osprey that was hunting back and forth along the shore here.  The width of his wingspan was fascinating.  It was much longer than that of the Red-tailed Hawks circled above.

Farther west, two male Belted Kingfishers appeared to be fighting over a lone female.  Nothing else was observed and I turned around at the Mountain Loop parking area.

The lack of birds on the north side of the lake was eerie.  Not one bird was found between the swim beach and the Smoky Hill group picnic area.

My next stop was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams County).  Two Sage Thrashers were still just north of the southwest entrance to the Bison enclosure.

Continuing around the loop, two or three Savannah Sparrows flew about the high grasses along 7th avenue (72nd ave).

Zero birds were on Lake Ladora or Lower Derby Lake.  By 1:00 pm, the day was staring to warm up.  I expected to find few birds during the 4.0 mile round trip to the Rod and Gun Club bird blind and Havana Ponds.  That was the case.

My birding day ended at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld).  By 4:30 pm, the day started to cool off as clouds rolled eastward.

While birding was not great, I found a couple of nice birds.  A Cassin's Vireo was working the trees along the east side of Pond 3.  While a Barn Owl flew out of the windbreak along the western side.

I crossed the road and walked from Pond 5 to Pond 9.  A Townsend's Warbler was in the windbreak west of Pond 7.  Dozens of American Robins flew back and forth between Pond 7 and 9.  One of the Long-eared Owls was relocated between Pond 7 & 8.

No Short-eared Owls appeared at sunset tonight.

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