Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rocky Mountain Arsenal & Cherry Creek Reservoir

April 15, 2019

Richard Stevens:

The high temperature was 71 degrees.  It was windy with anomometer readings 12-13 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

A return to Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams) and a drive around the Wildlife Loop did not find any Long-billed Curlews.  The Western Meadowlark that sang an Eastern song on April 13 was also missed (see April 13 post).

I did pick up my first Western Kingbird for the Front Range 2019.  We did find my first of the year Western Kingbird in Cottonwood Canyon a few weeks ago.

No Eastern Phoebes, Red-headed Woodpeckers or other uncommon birds were recorded.

After lunch, I drove over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).  The shimmering waves over the Lake at 4:00pm made identifying waterfowl quite difficult.  I scoped the Reservoir from the Lake loop and could not identify many of the fuzzy birds on the water especially a Long-tailed Duck.

Two Bonaparte's Gulls landed 15 yards off the Lake Loop point and close enough for an ID.  Seven Franklin's Gulls accompanied them as they picked bugs of the Lake.

My Long-tailed Duck strategy had to change.  Instead of trying to pick out a Long-tailed Duck, I focused on finding a waterfowl/duck that dove under for more than 30 seconds or up to a minute.

After half an hour or so, I found one such duck.  It stayed under for almost a minute and would surface for a count of three or four before disappearing again.  After half a dozen dives, I was able to see enough of the duck to call it a Long-tailed Duck.

Things then got strange.  The Long-tailed Duck flew from the center of the Lake to below the dam.  She ended up about 300 yards north of Pelican Bay where a fisherman was catching fish and throwing back the small ones.   The Long-tailed Duck ended up about 10 yards from this fisherman perhaps focused on the task.

I hopped in my car and drove to Pelican Bay.  The Long-tailed Duck was still circling around the fisherman and I rushed down the trail.  She was maybe 20 feet off shore not bothered by the fisherman or me.

Photos are posted to the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library "recent favorite photos" link

Other birds observed included at least two Clark's Grebes, a few Western Grebes and some Redhead Ducks.  Raptors included an Osprey and adult Bald Eagle.

My birding day ended at the DIA Owl Loop.  I parked along 88th Avenue, east of Tower Road.  About 7:39, a Short-eared Owl was observed flying north of the chain link fence north of the Airport Guard Station.

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