The Denver Field Ornithologists hosted a Barr Lake birding event on Sunday, April 20th. Gregg Goodrich was the leader, and it was open to the public. 15 or 20 people participated and it was a very friendly and knowledgeable group. Gregg had canvassed the area a few days earlier so he was able to lead us directly to a great horned owl nest and to clue us in on expected birds elsewhere. The eagle nest seen from the observatory was sadly vacant. The group concensus was that it was a failed year, as earlier 2 eggs were reported.
I would never have known of this opportunity if not for the new Events Calendar on the Colorado Birder. Great addition, Gary! Thanks!
Birds I saw Sunday at Barr Lake: ring-necked pheasant, red-winged blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbird, northern flickers (red and yellow-shafted), gadwalls, buffleheads, northern shovelers, yellow-rumped warbler (1 for sure, 2 others maybe), American kestrel, downey woodpeckers, Swainson's hawks (on the wing, in trees, and 1 pair mating in a cottonwood), great blue heron, great horned owl and 2 owlets, starlings, brown-headed cowbirds, American robins, grackles, spotted towhee, blue-winged teals, common goldeneye, lesser scaup, American coots, tree swallows, song sparrow, wood ducks, earred grebes*, horned grebes*, ruddy ducks, Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, white-crowned sparrow, killdeer, mourning doves, meadowlark, black-capped chickadee, blue jays, white-breasted nuthatch, American goldfinches.
*new life birds
I didn't dare bring my camera with me as my intent was to participate fully in the birding aspect of this trip. I went back with camera on Wednesday to take advantage of the easy access to the owl nest and to do a little more birding on my own. I took many, many photos and movies and culled them down to 2 decent pictures and 2 or 3 minutes of worthwhile movies. Digiscoping remains very, very difficult for me.
Additional birds I saw Wednesday: house wren, green-winged teal, Wilson's phalarope, red-tailed hawk, belted kingfisher, and a Cassins's sparrow.
Observation: While videoing the phalaropes, I heard what I thought was a yellow-headed blackbird amongst many red-wingeds. I searched and searched and finally found that yellow-headed bird buried deep in some old, dead cattails. He remained hidden the entire time I was there. I wonder, was he hiding from the red-wings and waiting for more of his own kind before making himself visible and perhaps vulnerable? If so, he was surely giving himself away by the racket he was making. Maybe he was just busy feeding or excavating. H-m-m.
The visitor center staff had very good news, indeed. The eagles did not use the nest visible from the observatory this year, although they do continue to defend it. The eggs were laid in a nest newly constructed this spring and it requires a 2 1/2 mile hike to view it. The eggs have hatched, and the eaglets are not expected to fledge until July. Definitely worth another trip to Barr Lake this spring or early summer!
Another bonus to Wednesday's trip: since it was the second Wednesday I came back through Platteville and caught the buffet at the Double Tree. Perfect end to a wonderful morning.