Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir, Arapahoe County

April 28, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca & I drove the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) about an hour before sunrise.  We were treated to a Short-eared Owl flying along Gun Club Road just before the emblazoned sunrise.

After dropping Rebecca off, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) to see if the Northern Parula and stayed around.  He was fluttering about the wild plum gleaning unnamed bugs off the flowers.

My plan was to drive the eastern Arapahoe County Roads in search of migrants.  While picking up an unhealthy although tasty breakfast at Burger King, I received a text message about a Red-necked Phalarope and Eastern Phoebe at Cherry Creek Reservoir.   Besides, the gravel roads turn to mush when it rains.

Directions were vague, something about the fishing trail to the Wetland Preserve.  Unfortunately, this could refer to four or five trails.  I decided to walk the shore at Pelican Point (location of the Northern Parula).

Thirty two Yellow Warblers, mixed sexes and races flew around the cottonwoods that lined the shore.  Several House Wrens noisily called from the underbrush.  A lone Chipping Sparrow popped out of the bushes several times to get a drink of water.

I scoped the southeastern end of the lake from the sand spit.  No Red-necked Phalarope was found.  It was not a surprise; trying to pick out a skinny bird just a little bigger than a House Sparrow on the waves is a difficult task.

Many swallows mostly Barn but also Tree, Cliff, Violet-green and Barn hawked bugs low off the lake.  I was reminded that while insects are bugs, not all bugs are insects.  I think that is correct?  Anyway, the swallows were catching little bugs.

The predicted rain and snowstorm was slowly rolling in from the west.  I decided to skip driving the gravel Arapahoe County Roads and spent the afternoon at Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Three additional "fishing" trails were walked down to the lake.  No Eastern Phoebe was found.  Winds picked up and waves grew higher.  The Red-necked Phalarope was not found either.

A flock of fifty or so Chipping Sparrows was found at the bird platform area of the Prairie Loop.  I captured some nice photos of a Snowy Egret standing on a fallen log where Cottonwood Creek crosses the now fallen down Prairie Loop footbridge. 

A Marsh Wren responded nicely to a recording.  He allowed nice looks but disappeared before I could boot up my camera.  I walked Cottonwood Creek south to the main road (Lake View Road) in search of the Swamp Sparrow I had found back on April 1st; without success.

Few birds were swimming on the Lake.  Numbers appear to be way down from past springs.  A few American Coots and American White Pelicans were just off the Lake Loop.

A shorebird walked the shore at the West Shades Picnic area.  It was too small to identify from the parking area and I walked down to the beach.  A lone Baird's Sandpiper walked among half a dozen gulls.

An adult Franklin's Gull in breeding plumage and two Bonaparte's Gulls in basic plumage were picking food off the sandy shore.

While trying to photograph the gulls a midsized "Gull" flew past.  I thought the dark headed bird was another Franklin's Gull until I noticed the orange bill.  It was an adult Caspian Tern.

When I reached to southwest marina, two smaller terns were flying overhead.  I sat on a bench and took dozens photos of the flying terns.  Distinguishing between Common and Forster's Terns is a little tricky.

The adult terns did appear to be "quite frosty".  Their silvery primaries did contrast with the rest of the upperparts.  I call them Forster's Terns.  Later the photos confirmed my suspicions.

Driving around to the northern side of the reservoir, I detoured to the ranger's office.  A lone male hummingbird flew between the office and the homes to the east.  It was a male Black-chinned Hummingbird!   Whether it was the same one that has returned for seven years, could not be determined.  Still nice to see one in the Park.

No shorebirds were on the swim beach today.  Few birds were seen off the dam tower parking area.  About thirty-six Western Grebes were not too far off shore.  Some with heads in their backs were trying to rest on the rising waves.

A drive around the Campgrounds did not add any birds to my list today.

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