Friday, January 18, 2019

Birding East of Aurora and DIA Airport

January 18, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 39 degrees.  Winds varied as stated below.

After visiting a friend in Aurora, I followed a circuitous path home.  My first stop was Aurora Reservoir (Arapahoe County).  It was snowing quite heavily; anomometer readings were 22-24 mph with gusts breaking 30 mph.

The Reservoir is less ice/snow covered than my last trip.  Nothing uncommon was observed from the Lower Swim Beach parking area (I used to refer this to the upper parking area, the sign states differently).

Next, I made the short hike from the West Dam parking area to the southern end of the dam.  One of the Long-tailed Ducks that has been reported since January 2 was swimming 10 yards off shore below the trees, which can be seen, from the Lower Swim Beach area.  

Nothing else uncommon was observed from here. The only non-Ring-billed Gulls that could be identified were one Herring Gull and two California Gulls.  No black-backed Gulls and few geese were around.

As I left the Park, a small flock of Horned Larks, about 14, were on the road.  A Lapland Longspur was among the flock.  It was only the second one I have found at Aurora Reservoir.

A slight detour took me to the First Creek Trail (Denver).  Today I only found two adult male Rusty Blackbirds.  They were just north of the bridge that goes under 56th avenue.

On my last trip to the First Creek Trail, I found two adult males closer to breeding plumage, one adult male in nonbreeding plumage and adult female looking more like breeding plumage.  The three males stayed close together while the female kept feeding when the males moved.

Photos on the Colorado Birding Society's photo library:

Comments welcomed!

I then drove to the east side of DIA and searched for flocks of Horned Larks.  Except for 1 or 2 birds flying around, the biggest flock was still along Haysmount Road, just north of 120th avenue. 

I parked at the south end of the plowed field and watched hundreds of Horned Larks fly back and forth across Haysmount Road.  Thought to give it an hour, after 39 minutes I picked out a Snow Bunting in the flock (previously reported by others).  

There may have been more than one Snow Bunting.  A second sighting or the same bird was observed flying west to east over the road within 20 seconds of the first sighting.  However, the first bird could have circled over my car and out of my view.

Two Ferruginous Hawks stood on the same field northwest of Haysmount and 120th avenue.

The difference in weather conditions was striking.  Aurora Reservoir and south of Interstate 70 had blowing snow and high winds.  North of I70, there was little to no snow and winds less than 8 mph.

I parked near 120th avenue and Trussville until dusk.  No Short-eared Owls were found this evening.  A Prairie Falcon and adult Bald Eagle did fly by.

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