Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gulls, Arapahoe to Douglas to Arapahoe Counties

December 2, 2015

Richard Stevens:

Trying to avoid Denver's traffic, I birded mostly east and south of town today.  Temperatures reached 48 degrees; winds were less than 6 mph where I birded.

Thousands of gulls filled Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  Hundreds at a time flew north to nearby DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site) while just as many returned at the same time.

I did not circle the reservoir today.  Hundreds of gulls stood on the shore at mile 2.0 and 3.0 and were too far away to ID.  Six hundred+ stood on the shore below the parking area north of the swim beach.  In this group, I found a Thayer's Gull and Mew Gull.

Another five hundred+ were on the scuba area beach at the northeast corner of the reservoir.  A Lesser Black-backed Gull was with them.

I did hike the 3/4 mile from the scuba beach to the northwest corner of the reservoir.  One thousand two hundred+ gulls here included another Thayer's Gull and two Bonaparte's Gulls.

Swinging south, I drove the "back way" into Parker and stopped at McCabe Meadows Park and Bar CCC Park (Douglas County).  A nice selection of the ducks, which historically winter in Colorado, was on the McCabe pond.  I did not find the previously reported Barrow's Goldeneye or Greater Scaup.

Bar CCC Pond was almost completely covered with ice.  No ducks, a Thayer's Gull was among the 83 gulls standing on the ice.

My next and final stop was Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were calm and scoping the birds was easy.  One Common Loon swam in the southeast corner of the lake.  A male Barrow's Goldeneye continues in the middle of the reservoir.

Most of the gulls were on the ice off the southwest point of the swim beach.  Here I saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull and at least six Bonaparte's Gulls.  If the Mew Gull was present, I could not pick it out in the thousands of gulls.

Three adult Bald Eagles stood on the ice watching the many gulls.  The gulls must have been nervous as they flew up, circled and returned many times.

After sunset, I searched for the resident Great Horned Owls and Eastern Screech-Owl west of the Shop Creek trail without success.

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