Saturday, January 7, 2017

Return to Aurora Reservoir

January 7, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I returned to Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this afternoon.  Temperature was 28 degrees at 2:00 pm.  Fortunately, winds were calm.  It took awhile to decide if I would first walk down from the southeastern gate or drive to the swim beach (northern entrance). 

I chose to enter from the south end first.  As I walked down to the lake, it came to me that my recently purchased entrance pass was on the office desk.  There would be no northern entrance today.

The lake was scoped from the bench at mile 2.5.  Both Senac and Lone Tree Coves were ice and snow covered.  Over a hundred ice fishing people were standing over newly cut holes in the ice.  Everyone has to have his or her own hobby; it would not be one of mine.

Thousands of White-cheeked Geese stood on the ice covered lake.  Less than five percent of the reservoir had open water.  Many of the open areas were quite small.

The closest group of geese included three white and two blue phase Snow Geese (no blue phase Ross's Goose today).  A group of White-cheeked Geese in Lone Tree Cove included six Greater White-fronted Geese.  While two additional Greater White-fronted Geese and one Ross's Goose were at the mouth of Senac Cove.

The closest open water to the bench was lined with hundreds of gulls.  These included seven Thayer's Gulls and five Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Farther out another Thayer's Gull and two additional Lesser Black-backed Gulls were found.

Even farther out gulls surrounded a sliver of open water; I could see the 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull.  I watched this pool at the limit of my 65mm eyepiece for over half an hour.

Eventually most of the gulls flew off and I could see the ducks swimming around.  The two White-winged Scoters were among a dozen Common Goldeneyes and several dozen American Coots.  I was not able to find the Long-tailed Duck of previous weeks.

At 4:00 pm, thousands of the White-cheeked Geese took off for nearby fields.  This opened up views of the groups of gulls around the lake.  However, nothing extra was added to my trip list.

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