Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Seasonal Firsts at South Platte Park

Those of us who have been birding for many years rarely encounter a "new species" unless we travel to a new region of the country (or of the planet).  To compensate, we generally look for birds that are "the first of the year" or "the first of the season."  Of course, these species are either migrants or season residents.

This morning, despite a gusty southwest wind, I headed down to South Platte Park, hoping to see some "seasonal firsts" and I was not disappointed.  The first of these firsts was a male yellow-headed blackbird, lounging on a beach of Eaglewatch Lake; perhaps tired from his journey, he was basking in the bright sunshine, oblivious of the strong wind.  The second was an American avocet, foraging in the residual pool of Bufflehead Lake (where the water level remains low); joined only by six green-winged teal, he is on his way to ephemeral pools of the Northern Plains.  Finally, two ospreys graced the scene, cavorting in the gusty wind; though I saw many in Florida this past winter, they were seasonal firsts (for me) in the South Platte Valley.

Strong winds rattled our windows through the night and, when I awoke this morning, I almost canceled my plan to visit South Platte Park; as I have discussed in the past, strong winds are one of the weather factors most likely to keep birds inactive and inconspicuous.  Having encountered these "new" spring birds (and 28 other species as well), I'm glad I ignored my own advice.