Been wandering various county roads in various directions from my home in
Milliken off and on over the last week (Jan. 3, 5, 8, 9 for a couple/few
hours in the afternoon) just exploring and hoping to find one of those rare
white owls that seem to be irrupting this winter. No luck with a Snowy
yet, but a few highlights, pretty much all within a 20mi radius mostly
south and east of Milliken. Most wetlands are still frozen, so waterfowl
are sparse other than Lower Latham (too distant) and South Platte River
(open water, but hard to find good access). Made my first ever visit to
Johnstown Reservoir 8 Jan. and the lake was frozen over but still hosted
several thousand white-cheeked geese, 2 Snow Geese, and 1 hybrid (white
goose sp. X white-cheeked goose sp.). Lower Latham has at least tens of
thousands of geese daily, including at least 40 white geese today.
Black Swan - 1 today 9 Jan. 2018 among thousands of white-cheeked geese on
the South Platte River at the CR 61 bridge crossing just east of the town
of Kersey. After googling "black swan colorado," I came across this local
article from last June. That bird was spotted about 1.5 miles (as the swan
flies) from this bird today, so I assume it is the same individual. Surely
a hardy escapee still hanging out.
Mute Swan - 1 today, also among the same massive goose flock where the
Black Swan was, at one point in the same scope field of view, where the
Mute Swan appeared significantly larger than its black cousin. Also
assuming this is an escaped not-countable bird.
Snow Goose - 2 at Johnstown Res., 1 in a field near Hudson
white goose sp. ~40 at Lower Latham,
Wood Duck - 1 near Stewart's Pond 5 Jan.
Green-winged Teal - 15 at the swan spot today, not real common in winter
Lesser Scaup - 5 at CR 61/Platte River crossing today
Common Goldeneye – 25 at CR 61/Platte River crossing (no Barrow’s detected)
Common Merganser – 15 at CR 61/Platte River crossing today
Ring-necked Pheasant - 6 scattered about, my first for this area (I need to
get out more)
Northern Harrier - avg. about 5/day
Bald Eagle - avg. about 4/day
(no Golden Eagles)
Red-tailed Hawk - fairly common, including one carrying a large stick today
Harlan's Hawk - 1 dark juv. 5 Jan.
Rough-legged Hawk ~ 8 total in the 4 afternoons of birding
(no Ferruginous Hawks)
Kestrel - 5-10 per day
Merlin - 2 prairie males 3 Jan.
Prairie Falcon - 1 adult 5 Jan.
Great Horned Owl - at least a couple per day, including a pair that is
roosting in a small tree at Lower Latham every time I drive through, quite
close to the road
Not many passerines other than the typical thousands of Red-winged
Blackbirds in cattail areas, a smattering of Western Meadowlarks, a small
handful of White-crowned and Song Sparrows, a few juncos, robins, and a
lone female Great-tailed Grackle hanging out with the cattle, and of
course, Eurasian Collared-Doves everywhere (no Mourning Doves at all).
Photos of the odd swans and a couple of the raptors are here: