Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Search for Gyrfalcon and Pink-footed Goose

December 14, 2018

Richard Stevens:

The temperature warmed up quite nicely to 52 degrees in the afternoon.  Winds were calm most of the day.

Terry Michaels, Dave King and I commenced our birding day more or less after midnight.  We set up our "owl listening stations" around/south of Bobcat Ridge Natural Area (Larimer).  Eventually we caught glimpses of two Northern Saw-whet Owls!  It adjudicated the question of whether they are still in Northern Colorado.

An hour before sunrise we passed by the Larimer County Landfill (Larimer).  We had planned to visit some of the reservoirs around Fort Collins and come back when the landfill opened.

That was not necessary.  The previously reported Gyrfalcon was rested on one of the tall poles along Trilby Road, west of Taft Road.  Once again, we planned to return when the light had improved.  That plan was altered when we received a text that the Gyrfalcon had flown.

In the meantime, we relocated the three Tundra Swans at Boyd Lake State Park (Larimer).  At least one Iceland Gull and one Lesser Black-backed Gull were still at the State Park.

Our next target birds were the Pink-footed Goose and Brant at Firestone Recreation Area (Milavec Reservoir).  Both were easy to spot although among hundreds of White-cheeked Geese.  

Photos of the geese are in the Photo Library on the Colorado Birding Society's website: (recent favorite photos link) 

I might add that Dave relocated the Long-tailed Duck while Terry and I were photographing geese.

Luna Reservoir was the next stop.  It was 90 percent ice covered, had few gulls and waterfowl.  One Iceland Gull (Thayer's subspecies) was among several dozen Ring-billed Gulls and one California Gull.

Horse Creek Reservoir (Weld) is quite far from a public road.  No gulls were found while we scoped the lake.

Prospect Reservoir (Weld) turned out more newsworthy.  We drove down the un-maintained gravel road along the west side of the Reservoir.  An adult Glaucous Gull was among several hundred gulls on the west shore.

While scoping the lake, we found a Swamp Sparrow in the weeds near the fence line west of the Lake.

Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) added another Swamp Sparrow (cattails at Pond 5) and a Long-eared Owl to our day list.

Our birding day ended at a nearby private ranch.  A Short-eared Owl flew over the prairie dog village just north of my friend's ranch.

While barbecuing, we walked around the windbreak and relocated two Long-eared Owls.

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