Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Creek Trail, east of Rocky Mountain Arsenal

January 18, 2017

Richard Stevens:

To take a break from chores I walked the First Creek Trail from the western end of Buckley Road to its eastern end at 56th Avenue (Denver County) at 3:00 pm.  Round trip is approximately 2.6 miles. Temperature reached 51 degrees; winds were 7 mph.

Birds along the Trail are limited in winter.  A mixed flock of Dark-eyed Juncos flew around the abandoned and broken water plant.  The pair of adult Bald Eagles was again in the small group of cottonwoods just southwest of the Trailhead at Buckley Road.  Four Red-tailed Hawks perched in trees along the main route.

Again sixty plus House Sparrows were in the large brush pile 30 yards northeast of the horse corrals.  Fourteen White-crowned Sparrows and the Harris's Sparrow walked under the tall yellow grasses at the northeast corner of the corral.

The Harris's Sparrow popped up to the top of the grasses briefly and then disappeared again.  I tried pishing it back up.  Instead, two Sharp-shinned Hawks flew in from behind me.

The smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk perched on the tall fence post while the larger one landed on log covered in the grasses.  After ten seconds or so the smaller one flew to the large brush pile, scattering the House Sparrows.  Was the departure to fool the "ammodramus" sparrows that all was safe?

The sparrows stayed deep in the grasses for the next 20 minutes.  The Sharp-shinned Hawk stayed put on its log.  I decided to leave.

On the hike back I found a Great Horned Owl in a tall cottonwood north of the Buckley trailhead, (I checked several evergreens for smaller owls).

The Bald Eagles were still on their perch, sunset now approaching.  A second Great Horned Owl and a Red-tailed Hawk were in the tallest cottonwood near the northeast end of the parking area.  In the distance, a Prairie Falcon stood on one of the tall metal poles lighting Pena Blvd (road to DIA Airport).

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) this evening.

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