Saturday, December 24, 2016

Birding East of Denver

December 23, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Today show cased one of the many reasons to live in Colorado.  Temperatures reached 55 degrees in the afternoon; winds were Calm!  It is after all the last of December and 2016!

I began birding at Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld County).  The majority bird constituted American Robins (hundreds).  Dozens of Dark-eyed Juncos sought food under the evergreen trees.  Two Long-eared Owls were concealed almost perfectly in the denser trees along Pond 7.
The Gull report at Aurora Reservoir yesterday was intriguing (disturbingly provocative).  I spent four hours there at the reservoir, again with little wind.  What a pleasant day!
A walk down from the southern entrance to the bench at mile 2.5 (halfway between Senac and Lone Tree Coves found the two White-winged Scoters swimming 70 yards south of the Lone Tree Cove mouth.
A Common Loon was swimming off the cove at mile 4.0.  Three Western Grebes were nearby.  Just like Wednesday, I thought the Red-necked Grebe was briefly observed off mile 4.5.  It quickly was "engulfed" by hundreds of White-cheeked Geese.  My look was so abbreviated; the sighting could not be confirmed and the duck could not be relocated in the next 30 minutes.
Later entering from the northern entrance, I parked at the picnic tables at the northeast corner of the swim beach parking area and scoped the lake for over an hour.  Few gulls were on the shrinking ice shelf off mile 1.5.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese lined the swim beach and adjacent shore.
Eventually on my third scan of the lake, I found the Long-tailed Duck in the center of the lake.  The small duck was hidden quite often by the taller and numerous Geese.  At least five Ross's Geese and a dozen Snow Geese were on the lake.   

At least two blue phase Snow Geese were surprising additions.  I thought one of the "blue phase" geese was small.  Whether it was a Ross's Goose could not be confirmed because of the distance from me.
Next, I hiked to the western dam from the parking area north of the boat storage area.  Few gulls were anywhere on the reservoir today.  Perhaps I visited at a wrong time, although, I was there from 12:15 pm to 4:30 pm.  Nothing uncommon was found from that vantage point today.
When I hiked up the north side of the dam, no gulls were at the scuba beach.  Thousands of White-cheeked Geese continued to fly into the reservoir at dusk.  The noise sounded like a freight train; it was quite entertaining.

My birding day ended under an exquisite sunset! 

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