Saturday, September 3, 2016

DIA Owl Loop to Chatfield Reservoir to Arapahoe County Playas

September 3, 2016

Richard Stevens:

At first light Rebecca Kosten and I drove the DIA Owl Loop in search of Short-eared or Barn Owls; neither was found.

We stopped at Box Elder Creek and found Red-headed Woodpeckers at 96th Avenue and 104th Avenue.  A couple of Western Wood-pewees were also seen; no Cassin's Sparrow were around today.

I dropped Rebecca off and continued to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) to look for the Little Gull reported by Joey Kellner this morning.  The Little Gull was below the dam at the northeast corner.

Several times the Little Gull flew up circled and landed in the same area.  Nice views of its wings were digiscoped.

Many boats were on Chatfield Reservoir today because of the holidays.  Eventually the Little Gull was forced up and it flew toward the dam tower.  When it reached slightly west of the tower, it was in Jefferson County!

Finally, below I left, it returned to the northeast corner in Douglas County.

Next I drove to the Arapahoe County Road 30 playa (0.5 miles east of Arapahoe CR 181).  The Buff-breasted Sandpiper was not far off the road when I arrived at 4:30 pm (got some nice photos!).

A thunderstorm rolled in about 4:45 pm.  About half of the 110+ Killdeer and the Buff-breasted Sandpiper walked to under the two trees at the southeast corner of the playa.

Other birds included at least 24 Baird's Sandpipers, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 1 Stilt Sandpiper, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, and 1 Western Sandpiper.

At our meeting tonight, we decided to keep the name of this playa as the CR 30 playa.  Gene Rutherford first "discovered" the playa and called it the Power Lines playa.  Our name helps to locate it.  There are two additional playas closer to Byers. 

The Byers County Store playa (behind the store) had about 22 shorebirds this afternoon.  These included one Pectoral Sandpiper, six Baird's Sandpipers and fifteen Killdeer.

The CR 185 playa (0.7 miles south of Hwy 36) was a gold mine of shorebirds.  List below is minimum number of the hundreds of shorebirds present.  The thunderstorm reached here before I could look at every bird:

Killdeer - 140
Greater Yellowlegs - 8
Lesser Yellowlegs - 10
Sanderling - 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 11
Western Sandpiper - 20
Least Sandpiper - 6
Baird's Sandpiper - 160
Pectoral Sandpiper - 8
Stilt Sandpiper - 8
Dowitcher sp. 2

Lightning and high winds ended my superb birding day.

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