Date: 2/6/18 1:16 pm
From: Joe Roller <jroller9...>
Subject: [cobirds] Out of season Long-billed Dowitcher continues at York St & S Platte River
A basic plumage Long-billed Dowitcher, first reported to eBird by Gabriel
Wiltse on Sunday, Jan 28, was seen today at 12:30 PM
at the York St bridge across the South Platte River. See directions below. *

Tom Whitten had found the bird on Jan 25 and after he and I tried again
with no luck, he saw it again yesterday, Feb 6, when he captured splendid
image seen below. Previous photos by Gabriel and Tom had been taken in poor
light, so it's nice to have this one.

The bird is usually feeds within 50 meters of that bridge, upstream or
down, although Tom's first sighting was farther downstream at the mouth
of Sand Creek.

Today I saw the bird in excellent light, with a 25-60 zoom scope, about 40
meters away. It was probing in it's Singer sewing machine/Dowitcher
feeding style in shallow water, and I also saw it sleeping, with its long
bill tucked under a wing, and preening.

Description _ This was a rotund, gray shorebird, medium sized and it had
that "swallowed a grapefruit" or rounded back appearance, that
is not diagnostic, but often seen, compared to the flat back of the
Short-billed Dowitcher. The bill was quite perfectly straight, long, dark,
a bit paler near the base. Legs were yellowish-green.
It had a narrow, white supercilum, gray head, neck and upper back. Wings
and back were nearly gray, but with some brownish feather edgings.
The flanks were white, spotted not barred, suggesting Long-billed over its
less endowed cousin.

Belly and lower chest were white, breast and throat light gray.

Tail was banded above, with dark bands wider than white.
Bird was silent and not seen in flight.

Similar species:
Short-billed Dowitcher has barred flanks, and white tail bands are wider
than black ones. Bill size is not reliable, but this one looks long.


When I heard in January that this dowitcher had been found, I checked eBird
and found no CO records for Jan through mid Feb, so this bird
is quite out of season. It may have spent the winter in this suitable
ice-free S Platte habitat. Who knows?


* Driving NW on Interstate 270, exit at York Street and drive south and
eventually cross the S Platte River. I chose to park just past the bridge
on the right shoulder, where some gravel trucks were resting. I would not
leave a vehicle here all day, but it is not signed. I suggest sticking to
the South Platte trail and staying off the bridge, as it is not totally
safe with a crumbly sidewalk and big trucks rumbling past.

OR reach that site by driving east on 58th Ave from I-25 to the junction
with York, then continue across the bridge and park.

By the way, my eyes and nose told me that this area is the foul underbelly
of the Denver industrial zone. It would qualify for the
axilla of the metro area, but that honor has been garnered by the oil
refinery complex nestled nearby along Brighton Blvd.

Joe Roller, Denver


[image: Inline image 1]
PHOTO CREDIT TOM WHITTEN. THANKS!

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