Harriman Lake: May 12, with Chuck Aid

Tree Swallow (c) Bill Schmoker
Barn Swallow (c) Bill Schmoker

Saturday, May 12, as part of the Front Range Birding Company’s Annual Expo, we offered four different bird walks. Six of us went to Harriman Lake (Kipling & Quincy), and managed to tally 51 species.  As the early morning was humid and cool with a low cloud cover, one of the first things to greet us were hundreds and hundreds of swallows flying low over the lake and perching on the lower tree branches and cattails.  We later on got good looks at individual species, but that first onslaught was both miraculous and daunting.

Female Bufflehead (c) Bill Schmoker

One never knows at this time of year how many ducks to expect, as the majority of several species have already flown north by the middle of May.  We saw no Common Goldeneyes, but we did manage one pair of Ring-necked Ducks and one Hooded Merganser.  The most interesting observation regarding this group of May-migrants is that we saw 15 Bufflehead, but they were all females.  Apparently, the males have left already for the prairie provinces of Canada where they will be setting up territories – looking for ponds that have nearby trees with old woodpecker cavities which are attractive to such cavity nesters as Buffleheads.

Great Horned Owl juvenile (c) Bill Schmoker

Another fun sighting was of a mom Great Horned Owl with her two youngsters that are quickly approaching adult size. We got great looks, and they were totally at their ease.

The highlight of the morning was the great views we had of three Virginia Rails.  They came out into the open on several occasions and were actively calling much of the time.  I recommend that northwest side of Harriman where the trail is near the cattails.  It was in this same area that I saw an American Bittern last October.  We also had a Sora here on Saturday.

Hope to see you soon on another bird walk!

Virginia Rail (c) Bill Schmoker

Harriman Lake, May 12, 2018
51 species

Canada Goose  6
Blue-winged Teal  1
Northern Shoveler  2
Gadwall  18
Mallard  6
Redhead  11
Ring-necked Duck  2
Bufflehead  15
Hooded Merganser  1
Ruddy Duck  18
Pied-billed Grebe  7
Double-crested Cormorant  5

Sora (c) Bill Schmoker

Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  1
Turkey Vulture  9
Osprey  1
Swainson’s Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  3
Sora  1
American Coot  46
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Eurasian Collared-Dove  2
Mourning Dove  11
Great Horned Owl  3
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
Say’s Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  3
Black-billed Magpie  2
Tree Swallow  500 
Violet-green Swallow  700
Barn Swallow  25
Cliff Swallow  100
Black-capped Chickadee  1
House Wren  1
American Robin  8
European Starling  1
MacGillivray’s Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  1
Clay-colored Sparrow 3
Lark Sparrow  2
Vesper Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  5
Spotted Towhee  2
Yellow-headed Blackbird  1
Western Meadowlark  5
Red-winged Blackbird  70
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
Common Grackle  15
House Finch  6


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