Date: 11/4/19 12:31 pm From: 'Norm Lewis' via Colorado Birds <cobirds...> Subject: [cobirds] Morgan County yesterday, long-tailed ducks
Good afternoon- sorry for the late post. Yesterday Nina Routh and myself made a run through Morgan County, with a quick dip into Weld. We began at Riverside Park in Fort Morgan, where we found only the usual suspects. We did push up a marsh wren from the marshes along the south side trail. I should mention that on a visit there on Halloween, I found a flock of a dozen eastern bluebirds at the same location. They are probably still around there somewhere. From there we took Highway 144 toward Jackson SP, with a stop at the Bijou Creek bridge, where we found a nice mix of sparrows and other commoners, plus five Wilson's snipe circling and landing here and there.Where the highway crosses the Platte we had a northern shrike on the utility line on the north side of the river. That bird was also there on Halloween. On that visit I also had a dozen snipe hanging out on a sandbar in the river.We drove up the east side of Jackson where we had nice numbers of birds, but the only thing even slightly out of the ordinary was a little flock of three mountain bluebirds. Is three enough to constitute a flock? The plan from there was to do my usual run for Lapland longspurs up MCR 4 from the north side of the reservoir and into Weld County. Dave Leatherman had done this route in reverse (my reverse, not his!) a couple of days before and reported good results. On the drive north we had only a few horned larks and one measly longspur. We ventured several miles into Weld County, and finally gave up and turned back south to continue our day at the lake. Just as I was about to call Dave and accuse him of of spreading some kind of alternative facts regarding his longspur report, we arrived at WCR 80, and were greeted by three harriers and a merlin. Their passing had apparently spooked a flock of larks from the east side of the road, as the sky was filled with them. We quickly lost track of the flock as it settled back down, but we took 80 east to see if we could relocate them. About a half mile east of the main road we were about to give up when a small trickle of horned larks flew from south to north across the road. The trickle quickly turned into a torrent, as hundreds of larks crossed the road directly in front of us. The flock movement went on for at least five minutes, and I estimate that there were at least 500 birds- probably a lot more. Out of that flock we were able to pick out a couple dozen Laplands, and no doubt missed more than we spotted. Dave's veracity remained intact......Returning to Jackson, a quick stop at the SWA on the north end yielded mostly pelicans, ringers and large numbers of eared grebes. So, we circled the lake and tried scoping from several sites in the state park on the west side. As with my visit on Halloween, there were hundreds of ducks, mostly lesser scaup, with lots of smaller numbers of dabblers and divers mixed in. Ebird scoffed at my common goldeneye, of which there were several. The real prize was two long-tailed ducks, both hanging with scaup in the south end of the lake. For reference, we saw them from the southmost picnic area, the first you can access after passing the entrance booth.Now for the intriguing piece- Scott Somershoe reviewed my photos of one of the long-tails, which were horrid, having been taken from several hundred yards with a hand-held 600 mm lens. They may win a "worst in class" award. But, I took them just to have some kind photo evidence of the ducks. However, in looking at my post, the ever-alert Scott noted that a scaup in one of my photos looked suspiciously like a tufted duck. the duck in question clearly (by the standards of a really bad image) had what appears to be a tuft hanging off its head. Unfortunately, I had no other photos that showed a profile of the bird in question.So, if you happen to be out at Jackson any time soon, check for the long-tails and be on the alert for an even better find, courtesy of my bad photography and Scott's attention to detail.