Friday, May 5, 2017

Cherry Creek Reservoir to Aurora Reservoir to Eastern Arapahoe County

May 4, 2017

Richard Stevens:

I dropped by Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) early in the morning.  Shortly thereafter, the Northern Parula popped out of the wild plum bushes near the northeastern boat ramp upper parking area.

I walked down to Pelican Point to see what shorebirds remained.  The count was zero.

On the walk down an interesting sparrow was observed walking along the cattails.  In total, it was viewed for four to six minutes.  It also for a brief twenty seconds hopped up to a willow.

My first thought was a Clay-colored Sparrow in the shadows.  It was quickly ruled out because the bird had thick stripes on breast and flanks on a background of buffy color.

The bird had a well-defined facial pattern.  When it entered direct sunlight, I could see a buffy face with grayish lores but not cheeks and small bill.  My thoughts turned to a possible Sharp tailed Sparrow except the bird lacked a gray cheek and the stripes were well defined.

Grasshopper Sparrow was ruled out again because of the strong stripes on the breast and flanks and the buffy eye line and moustachial stripes.  It lacked a gray eye line.

When the Le Conte's Sparrow turned, I observed the white edged tertials (not seen on Sharp-tailed, Grasshopper or Baird's.  The facial pattern did not come close to a Baird's Sparrow.

I knew I was in trouble when it was labeled a Le Conte's Sparrow.  I enjoy finding uncommon birds; however, this one was quite out of range.  However, it is not the first Arapahoe County Le Conte's Sparrow (South Platte Park, 11/17/1999).  There has also been an Adams County record (East Gravel Lakes, 12/21/2005).  No Boulder or Weld County records.

Hundreds of gulls stood on the poles lining the southwest marina.  The Lesser Black-backed Gull reported yesterday was not among them.  .  I could only pick out one Bonaparte's Gull. 

I called Terry Michaels and we searched for 1.5 hours without relocating the sparrow.  We could not figure a way to get the bird to emerge from the cattails.

On my way home, I stopped Aurora Reservoir for several hours.  The four White-winged Scoters were south of the scuba cove.  The Common Loon and Greater Scaup found on Tuesday were not relocated.

I detoured home by way of the Eastern Arapahoe County gravel roads.  Nothing uncommon was found.  I did see one Grasshopper Sparrow (CR 129).

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