Date: 12/3/17 7:46 pm
From: Jared Del Rosso <jared.delrosso...>
Subject: [cobirds] Getting into the CBC Spirit – West Arapahoe Co.


I’m quite fond of Christmas Bird Counts. I like how they make each and
every bird, even the most common, count. (Another pigeon!) But my home
circle (based near deKoevend Park in Centennial and with a radius of three
miles) is squished between the two Denver-area count circles. This means
that the local birds here won’t count!



So to get into the CBC spirit and affirm my area birds’ existence, four
other Centennial-area birders (Cynthia Madsen, David Hill, Mary O’Connor,
and Troy Becker) and I, with cameos from Joe Roller and Geoff Stacks,
conducted a count-style day in a portion of my home circle. We spent the
better part of Sunday (12/3) in my favorite quadrant, the northeast portion
that includes Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve, Blackmer Lake, Westlands
Park, Chapel Hill Cemetery, and Holly Park in Cherry Hills Village,
Greenwood Village, and Centennial in Arapahoe County.



Last year, I tallied 37 species (but didn’t visit Blackmer or Westlands
Park) on my unofficial count. I conducted that one alone and about a week
later than this one. It was, if I’m remembering things correctly, a much
colder winter last year. The ponds at Marjorie Perry NP were frozen over,
with only a small patch of water allowing for a few mallards and a coot. My
waterfowl numbers reflected that fact, as well as the fact that I skipped
the two spots in my area that are decent for geese and ducks (the
previously mentioned Blackmer and Westlands).



This year, we logged 41 species. Best Ofs, Misses, & the Ones that Got Away
below!



*Best Ofs*



*Owls. *Last year, I started at 4 a.m. to spend a good amount of time
looking for Great Horns and screeches. This year, I was a bit less
ambitious, starting around 5:00 around the High Line to get both. I figured
the mild, windless, moon-lit morning would mean I’d get all my local Great
Horns. I didn’t. But I picked up five around Centennial and Greenwood
Village, including two while owling with Geoff (a life bird for him). I
called to several of my local screeches. Only one answered.



After owling but before meeting the rest of the group at Blackmer Lake, I
inspected the lone sizeable pond near Three Ponds Park. Lots of Cackling
Geese. A few Ring-necked Ducks became a dozen, then twenty, then forty as
more and more flew in. Joe Roller later told me he had 70+ there earlier in
the week. Perhaps I should have hung around a few minutes longer to see how
many more might arrive. An American Wigeon, the only of the day, was with
them.



*Blackmer Lake*. Blackmer Lake was exceptionally birdy, as it’s been for
the past few weeks. David Hill did us the favor of counting 725 or so
geese, 600 or so of which were Cackling. Around 8:00, Joe Roller joined
Mary, Troy, Cynthia, David, and me for a walk along the High Line. The six
of us chased three dozen Cedar Waxwings up and down the canal, robins
intermingled with them. Three Brown Creepers – our only for the day – were
good finds. A flock of about 14 Pygmy Nuthatch, in a residential
neighborhood off Quincy Ave, left us loitering in a Cherry Hills Village
street.



But the Red-tails at Blackmer stole the show. A Harlan’s flew low and close
by us, eventually taking a relatively low, nearby perch. Another soared
over us later.



*Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve*. Almost as soon as we got to the preserve,
Troy spotted the Harlan’s that has visited the preserve for at least the
last two years. Other highlights: More waxwings, a Belted Kingfisher, which
spit up a pellet, and our first Townsend’s Solitaire. A little slow as far
as the preserve is concerned, but we were there around mid-day.



*Holly Park*. Troy and Mary had to leave after our preserve visit. Cynthia,
David, and I continued on to Holly Park, which was exceptionally quiet. A
hunting American Kestrel, which allowed relatively close approach, was the
highlight.



*Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens*. Holly Park had me worried that everything
but the geese had hunkered down to wait out the rest of the windy day. But
we immediately came upon a trio of Spotted Towhees, which led us to a
quartet of juncos, which led us to a solitary Harris’s Sparrow. This bird
was on my wishlist for the fall / winter (whatever the season now is) and
was a county bird for me. (I’m not sure about for David and Cynthia.) A
very vocal scrub jay kept us entertained after the Harris’s disappeared.



*Westlands Park*. Twenty-one Wood Ducks in the duck pond north of the
parking lot. About the same number of Bushtits.



*Misses*



We could not relocate the Gray Catbird nor the Hermit Thrush that were at
the High Line near Blackmer Lake yesterday. The reliable Snow Goose and
Greater White-fronted Goose at Westlands Park were unreliable. So too was
the large flock of waxwings that has been visiting Westlands seemingly
daily for the past week. Had we encountered them, we would have had a
chance for 100 on the day.



Somehow, no House Sparrows or Cooper’s Hawks. Also, no American Tree
Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Golden-crowned Kinglets, or Sharp-shinned
Hawks.



*The Ones that Got Away*



A sparrow, and probably not a Song Sparrow, sipping the pond water at the
High Line refuge, slipped away before we could identify it.



A distant grayish-white raptor, blowing in the winds around Westlands Park,
tried to circle a few times before giving in to the eastward gusts and
leaving the scene.



*Full Count*



Full “count” totals (41 species), with last year’s totals in parenthesis,
below.



Cackling Goose 1,566 (5)
Canada Goose 746 (830)

Wood Duck 21 (0)

Gadwall 14 (0)

American Wigeon 1 (0)

Mallard 31 (3)

Ring-necked Duck 45 (0)

Hooded Merganser 12 (0)

Great Blue Heron 2 (0)

Red-tailed Hawk 11 (10)
Ring-billed Gull 13 (4)
Rock Pigeon 19 (106)
Eurasian Collared-Dove 8 (17)
Eastern Screech-Owl 1 (2)
Great Horned Owl 5 (8)
Belted Kingfisher 1 (2)
Downy Woodpecker 7 (2)
Northern Flicker 6 (10)
American Kestrel 2 (3)
Blue Jay 5 (17)

Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay 1 (0)
Black-billed Magpie 40 (86)
American Crow 37 (105)
Black-capped Chickadee 31 (31)

Mountain Chickadee 2 (0)

Bushtit 31 (0)
Red-breasted Nuthatch 6 (5)
White-breasted Nuthatch 8 (3)

Pygmy Nuthatch 14 (0)

Brown Creeper 3 (0)
Townsend's Solitaire 2 (4)
American Robin 58 (98)
European Starling 188 (33)
Cedar Waxwing 69 (3)
Dark-eyed Junco 18 (29)
Harris’s Sparrow 1 (0)

Song Sparrow 5 (12)
Spotted Towhee 9 (3)
Red-winged Blackbird 94 (100)
House Finch 51 (104)
American Goldfinch 2 (1)

- Jared Del Rosso

Centennial, CO

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