On this cool, cloudy morning along the Colorado Front Range, I returned to South Platte Park in southwest Metro Denver. Except for the friendly chatter of chickadees and the distant calls of belted kingfishers, the refuge was noticeably quiet as I walked north along the river and then turned west above the north shore of Eaglewatch Lake. Double-crested cormorants were abundant, their flocks streaming overhead on their way to Chatfield Reservoir, and seven snowy egrets foraged on the shores of the lakes and ponds.
When I reached the woodlands west of Eaglewatch Lake the noise level rose a bit as gray catbirds mewed from the thickets and whispering flocks of cedar waxwings moved among the trees; many other species, including great horned owls, kestrels, northern flickers and a pair of western kingbirds, remained mute. But the morning silence was eventually broken by the strident calls of a black-billed magpie, perched atop the reservoir wall; thrilled by this disruption, I could now include a magpie on my eBird report from South Platte Park, the first that ventured into my count area since I started keeping records last spring (see No Magpie Zone).
Overall, it was a pleasant and rather quiet morning at South Platte Park. Though my species tally was modest, a nice mix of birds turned up along the trail. Besides, the autumn-like weather offered both a comfortable respite from the summer heat and a subtle reminder that the first flurries of the season may be less than a month away.