Monday, December 10, 2018

Aurora Reservoir & Pronghorn Nature Area

December 9, 2018

High temperature was 43 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 12 mph.  Sitting at Aurora Reservoir and watching the White-cheeked Geese was quite pleasant from the covered picnic area!

Yesterday on my trip to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe), it was noted that most of the lake was ice covered.  Today, I figured that perhaps that many of the Cherry Creek Reservoir waterfowl might have moved to Aurora Reservoir.  Aurora Reservoir usually becomes ice covered much later than Cherry Creek Reservoir and Chatfield Reservoirs.

The lake was mostly ice-free.  It was not the case that Cherry Creek Reservoir waterfowl had moved to Aurora Reservoir.  First, I walked in from the south entrance.  Senac and Lone tree Coves had no uncommon birds.

I circled (drove) around to the northern entrance and scoped the lake from the upper swim beach parking area.  While tens of thousands of geese and hundreds of gulls were around, few other waterfowl were included.

I did see half a dozen Ross's Geese, a few more Snow Geese (one Blue), only one Western Grebe and one Eared Grebe.  One Lesser Black-backed Gull and one Iceland Gull (Thayer's) were picked out of the many gulls swimming in the lake.

It was too nice a day to go home; instead, I drove 0.3 miles east to Pronghorn Natural Area.  The sign stated open dawn to dusk which I interpreted to mean it does not close at sunset.  Important because I decided to stay until well after sunset.

Time (daylight) only allowed for the 1.2 mile hike on the North trail.  Along the way, I stopped many times along the cattails.  Finally, I found a Swamp Sparrow in the cattails 15 yards southwest of the northern bat box.  The wooden pole with a green top may not be a bat box; it is a strange one if so.

Just before sunset, I stood on the hill on the west side of Senac Creek and scoped the hills to the north (and below DADS trash dump).  My cold hands and feet were rewarded with the sight of a Short-eared Owl flying along Senac Creek (about 1/4 north of the northern boundary of the Natural Area).

Beware, the ice on Senac Creek does not support a human as my wet and cold feet will attest.

Four mule deer watched my hike from their high post on the hills to the east.  Strangest sight:  A few cottonwoods are scattered along Senac Creek.  As I walked by one cottonwood, a guy fell out of a tree.  Quite startling considering I thought I was alone, not seeing anyone else.  The guy was geo-caching and trying to hide a marker in a knothole 12 feet up the tree.

Beautiful day and great birding hike!

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