Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Western Side of Denver

May 7, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached a pleasant 79 degrees today.  Winds were 9 mph with gusts to 22 mph.  I birded in congested areas of Jefferson County and seldom was exposed to the winds.

Doug Ward had reported a possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and a second "empidonax" flycatcher near Huston Park (Denver).  After returning from a successful Flammulated Owl search in Larimer County last night (Pennock Pass area), I decided to give it a shot.

No flycatchers were encountered in two hours walking around the four blocks where the possible Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was observed.  I circled Huston Park just to the north.  The park has potential with a large cattail lined lake.  A Cassin's Vireo at the northeast corner of the lake was the best bird found.

I continued south and stopped at Belmar Historic Park (Jefferson).  Many birders had searched unsuccessfully for the Baltimore Oriole reported on 5/6. My approach was to walk the outside perimeter and scope down each of the side road.  That approached worked no better than the other birders'.

My birding day ended at Harriman Lake Park (Jefferson).  From previous visits, I calculated that the Northern Waterthrush reported yesterday had to be up the side canal located about 2/3 the way down from the parking area.  Later it was learned to be a good guess.

On the way to the canal, I passed a male Great-tailed Grackle, which was constantly calling.  He would chase the male Red-winged Blackbirds found what I would guess were prime nesting spots.

Few birds moved along the canal.  The southern end of the canal leads into private yards.  A small pond is just east of the canal.  The pond has a piece of plywood "floating" at its north end.  While scoping the pond with my binoculars I noticed movement behind me.  It took another twenty minutes to get several partial views of the bird walking under the gooseberry bushes.  It was the Northern Waterthrush.  Other birds flying into the bushes included a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches, two Black-capped Chickadees, three Robins and a Yellow Warbler.  I was standing in the path with a half-buried yellow golf ball in its center.

On the return trip to my car, a second male Great-tailed Grackle was observed having a verbal battle with the first one (see Colorado Birding Society's website, "recent favorite bird photos" link.  Then the cause of the verbal scuffle was revealed.  A female Great-tailed Grackle popped out of the cattails.

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