Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Return to Barr Lake (Adams County)

April 11, 2016

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Barr Lake (Adams County) this afternoon for my third and final attempt to find the Harris's Sparrow reported by John Breitsch.

It was a fantastic spring day for a hike anywhere.  Temperatures reached the middle 60s; anemometer readings were less than 6 mph.  My legs are still recovering from three weeks of grouse trips (2200 to 2600 miles every seven days).  It was great to get out and excercise them!

I waited at the woodpile at the small gazebo trailhead (mile 3.3) for 20 minutes.  Only one immature White-crowned Sparrow appeared.  Looking around I guessed at an area where sparrows might be foraging.

The grassy area south of the canal and east of the plank bridge across the larger canal appeared to be a good spot for sparrows (about 90 yards west of the above woodpile).

A flock of a dozen White-crowned Sparrows, two Song Sparrows and the Harris's Sparrow were deep in the brush when I walked over.  Eventually the loose flock flew to the thin iron fence/old walkway located north of both canals.

Off and on, the flock may return to the woodpile.  Perhaps only in the morning, I was there at 4:30 pm.  Photos of the Harris's Sparrow were put on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library:

Afterwards, I drove around to the Barr Lake Visitor's Center and walked the Niedrach trail to mile 0.6, then the opposite direction to mile 8.0.  I have been taking photos for an article on birding Barr Lake Periphery.

Along the hike from mile 9.0 to 8.0, (northward) I found three House Wrens, many Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, two Common Grackles and many Red-winged Blackbirds.  Flocks of 45-60 White-crowned Sparrows were found at both mile 8.4 & 8.2.  I have never observed that many together before.

A Barn Owl was back at the banding station area.  While the Osprey pair is back on the nest at mile 8.4.  Photos were put on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library.

My birding day ended with a drive around the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver).  Eventually I found 9 Burrowing Owls scattered over four locations (prairie dog towns).

Not quite the end, I made it over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) just before sunset.  The Glaucous Gull was back on the southwest marina at 7:23 pm.

Most gulls were still flying around in the middle of the lake.  One dark mantled Gull may have been the Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Several California Gulls were slightly lighter in color. 

However, the bird may have been the odd California Gull with a darker mantle.  It has been showing up each spring for half a dozen years.  I did not have my scope; views through binoculars in the dim light were not the best.

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