Monday, November 12, 2018

Aurora Reservoir Loons

November 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I returned to inspect the Arapahoe County Reservoirs this afternoon.  Temperatures never warmed up; the high was 26 degrees.  Winds were calm to 2 mph at Aurora Reservoir.  The lack of wind made it feel not cold at all. 

I spent several hours at Aurora Reservoir.  Daylight ended before I could get over to nearby Cherry Creek State Park (8 miles to the west).

The Gull count at Aurora Reservoir was six+ times greater than my visit yesterday; thousands of gulls swam on the lake.  I scoped the horde from the upper swim beach parking area and the only uncommon Gull identified was one Lesser Black-backed Gull.

A Common Loon swam off mile 5.0, while a second loon kept my attention for more than half an hour.  Unfortunately, it stayed quite far away off mile 4.0.

The loon did not dive during the 45+ minutes I watched it.  I assumed the bill was not wet.  It lacked the neck markings of a Common Loon.  Its bill appeared yellow.  Its back appeared barred.  The head appeared lighter than the back.

I am always a little hesitant to call a loon's bill yellow at sunset.  Many times a wet black bill appears to pick up the sunset colors.  Therefore, I waited until sunset.  Shortly after the sun went behind the mountains, the loon's bill still looked yellow.

This was most likely a Yellow-billed Loon.  I was informed tonight that a Yellow-billed Loon was reported yesterday at Prospect Reservoir (Weld County).  Aurora Reservoir is located 25 miles almost directly south of Prospect Reservoir.

Later I walked a half mile either direction of Piccadilly Road and Jewell Avenue.  Both Eastern Screech-Owls and Barn Owls have been observed/heard during my previous hikes.  However, none was encountered tonight.

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