Cold Sunshine in the Valley

Brilliant sunshine bathed the South Platte Valley this morning but the overnight chill was slow to dissipate.  Ice coated the wetlands and shallow inlets while the lakes remained open, attracting an increasing number and diversity of waterfowl.

Lesser scaup had arrived, joining our other winter residents: mallards, gadwalls, American wigeons, green-winged teal, common and hooded mergansers, buffleheads, common goldeneyes and American coot.  Ring-necked ducks were not encountered this morning, nor were the white-winged scoters that were recently reported.  Canada geese, on the other hand, have been increasing in number over the past two weeks (later than usual) but have yet to reach their typical winter population.

Once again, songbirds were rather sparse, primarily represented by house finches, black-capped chickadees, northern flickers and white-crowned sparrows, joined by a few American tree sparrows.  Perhaps they were waiting for the intense Colorado sun to thaw the landscape before venturing from their winter retreats.