Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weld and Denver Counties

May 17, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Skies were cloudy most of the day.  Temperatures stayed in the 50s; winds were 8+ mph.

Early in the morning, I visited a friend's ranch in Weld County.  From quite a distance, we are keeping an eye on a Mountain Plover nest.  A pair of Long-eared Owls is also nesting on his ranch.

Other interesting sightings included a Blackpoll Warbler, Veery, and Cassin's Vireo.

After getting a text message concerning 21 Red-necked Phalaropes at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County) I headed that way.  I have found Red-necked Phalaropes in Denver County before.

A report that Northern Waterthrush were still there was more interesting.  I hoped to get a photo of that elusive bird.  While walking the northern side of the lake, I found a Northern Waterthrush.  Then a second Northern Waterthrush followed the first.

They were under the large downed cottonwood trees.  I spent about 25 minutes trying to get a photo.  Unfortunately, they stay mostly hidden under the tree roots over the lake.

After giving up on that, I continued west along the trail.  Then a third Northern Waterthrush was observed walking the shore near the bench on the northern side.  To my surprise, another Northern Waterthrush followed it.  I did not try to get a photo and continued my trek.

Many times, I am now adopting the "Don Beltz" theory of birding.  For years, I would go up to Crow Valley Campgrounds and see Don sitting in the shade of his camper near the water fixture at campsite seven or eight.

I would spend 4-6 hours walking around Crow Valley Campgrounds.  Rarely did I see a bird that Don had not at his vantage point.

With this in mind, I sat down on the bench at the northwest corner of the Park.  While scoping the trees to the north of the pond below the bench, I observed a Nashville Warbler.  After watching him for 10 minutes and finishing "painting the trees" with my binoculars, I continued around the lake.

BTW, the twenty one Red-necked Phalaropes were performing their circling swimming just off the end of the boardwalk (photos in a day or two on the Colorado Birding Society's website).

At the bench on the west side of the mile trail around Bluff Lake, I again sat down and scoped the trees.  This time I found a Tennessee Warbler with a dozen of so Yellow-rumped Warblers in the cottonwoods and willows below.  The bench sits at tree top level of the trees lining the western side of the Lake.

Finally, I continued around to the staircase up to the parking area.  Terry Michaels had seen my text message and rushed over.   We hiked back to the north side and relocated the Northern Waterthrushes, Nashville Warbler & Red-necked Phalaropes.

Other birds encountered on the hikes included three Say's Phoebes, many House Wrens, Chipping Sparrows, Brewer's Sparrows, one Clay-colored Sparrow and a Great Horned Owl.

We ran out of daylight before I could have driven to First Creek Trail (my other target for the day).

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