Since we are leaving on our California road trip tomorrow, I decided to get in one more visit to South Platte Park. While recent visits to the preserve occurred on warm, sunny days, this morning promised a different experience; low clouds, chilly air and a steady northeast breeze greeted me at the parking lot.
Despite these conditions (and, indeed, because of them), birding was excellent at the floodplain refuge. Violent-green swallows were especially abundant, strafing the lakes and the woodlands; other sightings of note included 55 yellow-rumped warblers, 17 yellow warblers, 6 yellow-breasted chats, 4 western tanagers, a few chipping sparrows and a lone great horned owl that stared at me from a lakeside tree. In all, my two-mile walk turned up 33 species, better than my counts on the warm, sunny days.
A gray overcast produces lighting that mimics dawn and dusk, when many species tend to be most active. In addition, the chilly air invigorates birds and mammals alike, stoking the drive to move and to feed. As a consequence, birding is often most productive on days that are less appealing to birders; today's visit to South Platte Park reinforced that fact.