Thursday, December 22, 2016

Arapahoe County Birding

December 21, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Another cold day, temperatures only reached the middle 30s; winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 16 mph.  It was all right first day of winter!

Again, my back refused to let me drive the 180 miles to the northeastern corner of Colorado where several Christmas Counts are being conducted.  Terry Michaels and the group were enjoying a fine time with some interesting bird sightings!

In the morning, I decided to drive south to South Platte Park Reservoir and check on several uncommon birds, which have been hanging around for a week, or two.

I scoped the South Platte Park Reservoir (Arapahoe/Jefferson) from the southwest corner.  Love my new Vortex Razor scope, it has saved many long hikes, almost the whole reservoir could be seen while I was sitting in one spot!

The previously reported Long-tailed Duck and Black Scoter were swimming along the eastern edge of the dam.  Half a dozen Greater Scaup were at the northeastern corner of the lake.  Other birds included Canvasbacks, Redheads, many American Coots, Buffleheads, Gadwall and Mallards.

Later I walked the South Platte River for about 1/2 mile north of Highway C470.  Both nearby Eaglewatch and Blackrock Lakes were frozen, thought maybe recent birds found there had moved to the nearby river.

Several Greater Scaups and the second Long-tailed Duck were indeed on the Platte River!

Next I drove to Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas) located south of C470.  No Lapland Longspur (previously reported) or Horned Larks appeared at the model airplane field.

Checks at the southeast marina, Plum Creek delta and the swim beach did not find any sparrows.  Target birds were previously reported Grasshopper, Harris's and White-throated Sparrows.  None was found.

To avoid the Interstate as most of them around Denver are filled with slow moving cars, I took a back way to Castle Rock and Parker.  Both Bar CCC Pond and the Salisbury Equestrian Pond were scoped.  The previously reported Greater Scaup and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at neither.

From Parker I took another "back way" and passed by Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe).  A hike to the bench at mile 2.5 (by way of the southern entrance) added two White-winged Scoters to my day list.  They were about 100 yards south of the mouth of Lone Tree Cove.

One of the three Common Loons I found on 12/18 was 40 yards north of the bench.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese swam in long lines across the reservoir.  Finding non-geese birds was quite hard.

Afterwards, I drove to the swim beach area (northern entrance) and again scoped the lake.  On my third scan of the reservoir, I found the Long-tailed Duck that has been around since at least 12/3.

The ice shelf at the swim beach had recessed with the "warmer" temperatures.  Most of the gulls were several hundred yards away in the cove at mile 1.5.  They stood shoulder to shoulder making identifying rather difficult.  I did pick out one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull among the vast multitude.

While scanning the rest of the reservoir, there was a break in the long line of geese on my third attempt and I thought the Red-necked Grebe was briefly observed.  I am not confident in the three second look to confirm the sighting.

Once the sun set, further identification was too difficult and I headed for home.   No Short-eared Owls appeared when I drove the Jewell-Yale Loop this evening.

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