Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Loveland Ridge and Cherry Creek Reservoir

October 29, 2018

Richard Stevens:

It was another exquisite day in Colorado.  Forecasts predict nice days will end this week with snow on October 31.

Temperatures today reached a high of 76 degrees today at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  Winds were calm in late afternoon.

Terry Michaels, Jacob Washburn, Dave King and I made the annual Loveland Pass Ridge hike today.  Timing is tricky.  We like to wait for a dusting of snow on the pass.  White-tailed Ptarmigan tend to leave nice trails with their tails on new snow.  It is much easier to find them.  

The dilemma, if one waits too long, the chance of avalanches comes into play.  Several times in the past ten years, I have missed the window to hike the ridge from the pass down to the ski area.

Today conditions were good.  We would have preferred more snow; however, a snowstorm of some significant proportion is predicted from tomorrow.

It was a pleasant day.  Winds were less than 20 mph.  I have been up there when it has been difficult to stand and almost impossible to hold binoculars steady.

We eventually found nine White-tailed Ptarmigan above tree line.  A couple was south of the trail about 0.8 miles west/uphill of the parking area.  The other seven were 1.2 to 1.8 miles farther up the trail.

The hike is quite strenuous.  The fantastic views and Ptarmigan sightings made the trip well worth the effort.

Once below tree line, Jacob spotted a Dusky Grouse walking under some evergreens.  Other birds observed included a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, dozens of Pine Siskins, four Red Crossbills, a Clark's Nutcracker, nuthatches, Hairy Woodpeckers and eight Gray-crowned Rosy Finches!

Back in metro Denver, I stopped at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) on my way home.  I decided to take the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Preserve trail to the southeastern end of the lake.

Unfortunately, nothing uncommon was found on the southeastern mudflats or at the Bird Platform mudflats.  Only one Long-billed Dowitcher "drilled" for food off the Bird Platform.

A Golden-crowned Kinglet and Great Horned Owl were spotted at the southeast end of the Lake Loop.

The Pelican Bay sand spit was the most productive stop.  The Mew Gull, one Franklin's Gull, one Herring Gull, four California Gulls joined many Ring-billed Gulls.  At least a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls flew by while I was scoping the sand spit.

Shorebirds were in short supply.  A dozen or so Killdeer and one Lesser Yellowlegs were the total today.

Two Long-eared Owls were found in the Russian Olive trees along the Preserve trail.  No additional Long-eared Owls were found along the Gun Range road.  No Short-eared Owls appeared this evening. 

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