Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Return to Weld County and Bluff Lake Nature Area

May 10, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Terry Michaels and I returned to private ranches first visited on 5/9.

At private ranch # 1: 2 Mountain Plover (5/9), Nashville Warbler (5/9), Cassin's Kingbird (5/9),  2 Lark Buntings and 4 Bullock's Orioles.

At private ranch # 2: Harris's Sparrow (5/9), Ovenbird (5/9), 6 Lark Buntings, 2 Burrowing Owls, McCown's Longspurs, 1 Chestnut-collared Longspur, Bullock's Orioles, House Wrens.

At private ranch # 3: missed yesterday's warblers but found a Barn Owl and Broad-winged Hawk.

After conducting bird counts this morning at three private ranches in Weld County, I picked up Rebecca Kosten and we headed to Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County).

Anyone else notice the funnel cloud hanging over Forest City (just south of the Nature Area)?  We debated on leaving; however, once on Peoria Street hundreds of cars were stopped.  So we returned to the Nature Area to wait the storm out.

It poured incessantly for about 20 minutes.  Then rain and hail stopped and the sun broke through the clouds.  We walked the one mile loop around Bluff Lake.

Almost no birds were seen along the northern side of the lake (the dam side).  The eastern side was another story.  A Nashville Warbler joined eight Yellow-rumped Warblers and two Black-capped Chickadees.

The warbler stayed high in the cottonwoods.  We walked the upper trail and were tree top level while scoping the trees.

Farther south at the little pond formed by an inlet canal we observed a bird that could have been a Northern Waterthrush.  Unfortunately, we only had a view of its back, flanks and tail.  Missed the head and therefore only recorded possible Northern Waterthrush.

Back at the upper tier north of the parking lot, we sat down and scoped Sand Creek.  Rebecca pointed out a red bird about 100 yards east of the sign "no access to Peoria Street".

We rushed back down and found a male Summer Tanager!  It also stayed high in the cottonwoods.  When we left, it was just west of the clearing with the many downed "whitish" trees.

Once again, up at the upper flat area, we noticed dozens of sparrows.  Eventually the count was 27 Chipping, 2 Brewer's, 1 Clay-colored, 2 Lark and 4 White-crowned Sparrows.

A quite reddish sparrow was viewed several times coming in and out of the sagebrush (as did all the others).  It was too small to be a Fox Sparrow; it was not a White-crowned Sparrow or Song Sparrow.  I will have to check my "Sparrows and Buntings" Byers, Curson & Olsson to see what subspecies of sparrow it might have been.

One final highlight, while trying to see the sparrows an Eastern Phoebe stopped on top of one of the sagebrush bushes.  Winds were 12 mph, gusts to 17 mph.  It blew in from who knows where.

Other birds encountered one male Broad-tailed Hummingbird, two Say's Phoebes, two male American Goldfinches, two Swainson's Hawks and one Red-tailed Hawk.  Not many birds for such a large birding area.

Bluff Lake Nature Area has potential to attract some interesting migrating birds.  We heard a Virginia Rail down in the cattails, no Sora today.

No comments: