November 28, 2019

My better half and I started this Thanksgiving Day by walking the dog (with new booties!) down to the Bear Creek Greenbelt. It was about 15 degrees, and there was snow everywhere and the edges of the creek were iced up. We saw a male Belted Kingfisher that’s recently taken up residence along a stretch of the creek. We also saw a muskrat swimming across the creek with a branch in its mouth.

A little later we went hiking at Staunton State Park. We hiked up the Mason Creek trail, which was snowy, but with a few footprints and ski tracks–about 15 inches had fallen there. We headed up Bear Paw, too, breaking trail; nobody had been up that way since it had snowed. It took over three hours to hike just five miles. Some of the wildlife we saw:

Mule deer doe
Mule deer buck
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Mountain Chickadee

November 23, 2019

Yesterday we got our second snowfall in November. By mid afternoon much of it had melted in the Denver area, but not so to the west. My better half and I went back to hike at Staunton State Park, this time with ice spikes and Yak Trax. We were just outside the entrance when we saw the first wildlife of the day: a black fox with a white-tipped tail. Once inside, we strapped on our ice spikes (and warm clothing–it was in the 20s) and headed up the Mason Creek trail. We saw a mule deer buck on the way up to the overlooks. The quiet was profound, everything still beneath the blanket of snow. The snow itself was gorgeous, with crystals glinting in the sun like jewels. The ice spikes worked great at first. But as the day warmed up (relatively, I should add–after we hiked about nine miles, the temperature was still in the mid 40s), the snow formed clumps in our ice spikes. We traded them for the Yak Trax, which worked well.

The birds were not out quite as much as they had been the week before. Again, the most predominant birds were Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Dark-eyed Juncos. We also saw a couple of Steller Jays and Downy Woodpeckers, and a lone Brown Creeper.

View from Catamount Overlook
Rock formation at Staunton State Park
Aspens at Staunton State Park

November 18, 2019

Shortly before sunset we walked the dog down to Bear Creek in the greenbelt. We stood on the south bank for several minutes. My better half was the first to see a muskrat swimming toward us from the west. It swam within just a few feet of us, then dived with a splash.

Muskrat

November 16, 2019

This morning my better half and I headed out to Staunton State Park for a hike. It was 38 degrees at the start, and by the time we left it was 58 degrees. We’d hoped to hike the Mason Creek trail, but portions were covered with ice and snow, so we headed up the Staunton Ranch trail, then took Old Mill to Border Line, and back down on Staunton Ranch. All told, it we hiked about 10 miles, under mostly sunny skies. Bird life was not incredibly varied, but it was abundant. We saw dozens of Mountain Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches, a handful of Clark’s Nutcrackers, Steller’s Jays, and White-breasted Nuthatches, and the odd Dark-eyed Junco and Downy Woodpecker.

Mountain Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Clark’s Nutcracker at Staunton Rocks Overlook (9,410 feet)
View from Staunton Rocks Overlook

November 11, 2019

First snowfall in November. Later the sun came out, but the temperature stayed below freezing. Twelve species of birds visited the back yard: Magpies, Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, Eurasian Collared-doves, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Bushtits, Black-capped Chickadees, House Finches, and American Goldfinches.

American Goldfinch
House Finch (male)
House Finch (female)

November 3, 2019

It’s apparently season of the muskrat . . . some shots from Bear Creek this morning.

Two muskrats near the south bank of Bear Creek
Muskrat near the north bank of Bear Creek
Yellow teeth of the muskrat

Mallards are highly visible, year-round residents of Bear Creek:

Mallards