Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mostly Boulder County

November 19, 2018

Richard Stevens:

At 7:30am the temperature was 21 degrees, fortunately winds were calm.  Later the high only reached 48 degrees with anomometer readings of 3-4 mph.

It was a tough sell; I convinced Rebecca to leave for Boulder at 4:30 am.  A later time would result into getting into the Denver traffic.  Birders moving around later in the morning know what I mean.

We arrived in Boulder around 5:30 and waited for sunrise at the McDonalds along Baseline Road.  Surely, after sunrise we headed to the CU South Campus off Table Mesa road.

When we reached the rise in the trail, south of the two green gates, the Golden-crowned Sparrow was walking along the east side road.  I risked taking out my camera, which instructs not to expose to lower than 35 degrees.  Before the camera focused, a dog walker and her two dogs ran by and scared the bird back into the willows.

We continued up the hill to wail for the sparrow to return to the road.  After looking at photos taken by Rebecca, we concluded that a Swamp Sparrow was found near the cattail pond uphill of the Golden-crowned Sparrow spot.

About 25 minutes later, it did.  Once again, I tried to take a photo and again two dog walkers walked by and the sparrow disappeared again.

Not wanting to wait another twenty minutes in the now 23 degrees temperature, we continued to other birding locations.

As we passed by Baseline Reservoir, we observed a Common Loon swimming on the north side of the lake.

We detoured at Valmont Road east to Teller Farms parking area.  Golden-crowned Sparrows have wintered in the windbreak 2011 through 2016.  No sparrows were around this morning.

Our next detour was to Walden Ponds.  Just for the heck of it, we looked for the Vermilion Flycatcher.  Sure enough, the male flycatcher managed to survive the latest snowstorm.  We saw the little red bird on the willows north of the entrance road.

We continued east and north and parked at Dry Creek Greenway and Staghorn Drive.  A short walk west took us to Nelson Road and then north of the road median.

The Blackburnian Warbler was fluttering about the three tall and one shorter pine trees north of the median, east side of Nelson Road!  We searched the creek briefly but did not find the Swamp Sparrow reported yesterday by Luke Pheneger.

Nelson Road was taken east to I25, and then we drove south to highway 52 and east to Hudson.  From Hudson we continued to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (now in Weld County).

The Wildlife Area is open now as duck hunting season (part 1 & 2) is over.  We did not expect to run into an Eastern Towhee; however, they were found 11/17/2013 and 10/16/2016.  

Rebecca spotted a Towhee in the underbrush northwest of the stop sign at the entrance.  The secretive bird allowed only brief looks as it scurried away from us.  We observed it twice for less than three seconds.  The female towhee did not appear to have any spots.  Regrettably, we did not see it well enough to conclude it was indeed a female Eastern Towhee.  The bird disappeared in the thick under story.

We walked down the eastern side of the windbreak along Ponds 5 to 8.  All four ponds were ice covered.  When a Long-eared Owl was spotted in the thick trees, we turned around and left.

A detour to Ireland Reservoir #5 found hundreds of White-cheeked Geese, one Snow Goose and half a dozen Common Goldeneyes.  The lake was 70 percent ice covered.

Our final stops of the day included Horse Creek and Weld County Road 4.  Rusty Blackbirds were along the creek 1/2 to 1/17/2017.  

Horse Creek Reservoir is private and difficult to scope from public roads.  Prospect Reservoir is also private; however, it can be scoped from a rather rough road running along its western side.  Neither reservoir had any uncommon birds on it today.  A Say's Phoebe flew about the western side of Prospect Reservoir.  A Great Horned Owl called as well.

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