Date: 2/24/18 9:09 pm From: William H Kaempfer <William.Kaempfer...> Subject: [cobirds] NE Quadrant, Denver Area Birds
John Vanderpoel and I headed into the NE quadrant of the Denver area today (north of I-10 and east of I-25) in order to try to escape the high wind forecast. We had great fortune in our birding adventures with upward of 57 species for the day including several rarities and surprises.
We started off at the Firestone Recreation Area (MIlavec Reservoir) at Colorado and Grant in Firestone. This large reservoir has a few bubblers that keep open water and there were several thousand geese on the ice around open spots when we got there. Included in these thousands of white-cheeked geese were three Snow Geese and a Greater White-fronted Goose. We then made our way to the Brighton Water Treatment Facility located at US 85 and 168th (the Weld/Adams County Line). This spot has a few warmed ponds and a trail along the South Platte that offer good cold-weather birding opportunities. Best here were four American Pipits along the river.
We continued to Barr Lake where we had usual offerings including a couple of Ring-necked Pheasants. Setting off down Piccadilly toward DIA, and then turning east on 120th Ave. we were surprised by a black corvid that showed all the right field marks at close range for Chihuahuan Raven. It was feeding in the road on a dead prairie dog, and we were both struck by its intermediate size, rounded tail and bristle covered bill. Just down the road from this spot we encountered a small flock of Horned Larks with a couple of slightly smaller Lapland Longspurs easily picked out in the flock.
We made the loop around DIA to get to First Creek which was really windy and pretty disappointing, so we started to make our way home with a stop at LUNA Reservoir along the way. This Thornton water supply reservoir was 85% frozen, but hosted close to 2,000 geese, unfortunately far away and closely packed, for the most part. We were able to find small numbers of Iceland (Thayer's) and Lesser Black-backed plus one Great Black-backed that towered over even the large number of Herring Gulls present.