Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cameron Pass and Aurora Reservoir

December 9, 2016

Richard Stevens:

Two hours before sunrise, a Boreal Owl called from just west of Cameron Pass (Jackson).  Many jays, chickadees and one Pine Grosbeak came to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center feeders.  Only one Brown-capped Rosy Finch stopped.

A male American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed north of the Visitor's Center (north of highway 14).  Disappointed in the lack of Rosy Finches (no photos) I returned to the plains east of Denver.

In the afternoon, I stopped at Aurora Reservoir.  From the southern entrance, I hiked to the bench at mile 2.5. 

About 200 yards of the southern end of Senac Cove was ice covered.  Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Thayer's Gulls were among 2000+ gulls (mostly Ring-billed, dozens of California and five Herring).

A Common Loon was 30 yards north of the bench.  A pair of White-winged Scoters swam around the mouth of Lone Tree Cove.  Another thousand gulls stood on the ice at the southern end of Lone Tree Cove, nothing uncommon.  I continued the walk to mile 4.0.  No additional scoters were found.

Thousands additional gulls were on the lake north of the 2.5 mile bench.  Common Mergansers were in high numbers; a couple of Eared Grebes, many American Coots, three Western Grebes and plenty of Pied-billed Grebe were also there.  I did pick out one Greater Scaup.

Later I drove to the north end of the reservoir.  From the parking area north of the swim beach, I finally relocated the Long-tailed Duck.  She was several hundred yards to the east.  In addition, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were not far off shore.

About 2,500 gulls stood on the swim beach.  When I walked over to purchase the 2017 pass, I picked the first year Mew Gull & Iceland Gull out of mostly Ring-billed Gulls.  Two additional Thayer's Gulls were among that horde.  (NOTE: after review of my photos, I captured the Iceland Gull and a Thayer's Gull standing next to each other!)

The cove south of the swim beach had another 1000+ gulls on the ice.  One more adult Thayer's Gull was the most uncommon Gull among that group.

Thousands additional gulls were at the scuba beach.  My sixth Thayer's Gull of the day was found there.  A fifth Lesser Black-backed Gull of the day stood on the northwest end of the dam with yet another 1200+ gulls.

Overall, White-cheeked Geese were numbered in the thousands.  At least eighteen Snow Geese (one Blue morph) and one Greater White-fronted Goose were counted during my visit.

No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening when I drove the Jewell-Yale Loop.  The Eastern Screech-Owl sometimes found at Powhaton Road and Jewell was quiet tonight.

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