Author Archives: naturallyjax

June 9, 2019

This morning while we were walking the dog in the greenbelt, we had a feeling we were being watched:

Coyote

Two birds who showed up in our back yard this afternoon:

Western Wood-Pewee

House Finch

June 2, 2019

This morning shortly before dawn three coyotes were playing in the field behind our house. Here’s one, just on the other side of our back fence:

Coyote

Early morning is a great time to see wildlife. Yesterday morning I headed to the Bear Creek Greenbelt out for a jog just after dawn. I heard and saw hummingbirds before I even got to the trail. Two coyotes were lurking at the edge of a prairie dog field. There were Mallards in Bear Creek. Ground feeders were everywhere–Northern Flickers, American Robins, rabbits. By the Cooper’s Hawk nest, a male (presumably) was stationed high in a tree, basking in the gentle morning light. Farther down the trail, I saw a juvenile Great Horned Owl (still no tufts) fly up from the ground to a branch maybe twenty feet directly above the trail. I jogged the same path back. The Great Horned Owl was still sitting directly above the trail. The Cooper’s Hawk hadn’t moved. Northern Flickers were working morsels of food from cracks in the paved trail. And then I saw a pair of noisy American Robins, one chasing the other. They mated briefly on a low branch just a few feet of the trail, and then flew their separate ways.

And yet . . . today, just an hour or so after the dawn, when my better half and I (armed with the camera) took the dog for a walk in the greenbelt, the Cooper’s Hawks made themselves scarce. We scanned the trees for quite a while . . . no luck. But I did hear a familiar cry–common on the East Coast–in the thicket on the other side of the paved trail.

Gray Catbird

Later, in the afternoon, we took the dog for another walk in the greenbelt. We passed by the prairie dog field on the way:

Prairie Dogs

A little farther west, the female Cooper’s Hawk was sitting on the nest, but the male was nowhere to be seen. We walked on. A Belted Kingfisher (male) was sitting in the sun:

Belted Kingfisher

So was a Cooper’s Hawk. Finally.

Cooper’s Hawk

May 31, 2019

Late this afternoon my better half and I walked the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. Again, the Cooper’s Hawks chose not to make themselves visible. But we saw a Belted Kingfisher and a Black-crowned Night Heron. And this muskrat, ferrying nesting material across Bear Creek:

Muskrat

May 28, 2019

Around the lunch hour, a quarter inch of hail fell at our house–our first hail storm in Colorado. My better half texted me a picture while I was at work.

When I came home, I looked out back to see what, if any, damage there was. As it turns out, there was a different kind of damage in the field–freshly mowed on Sunday–behind our house:

Coyote with rabbit

Just seconds later, the coyote spotted another rabbit and gave chase:

Coyote chasing rabbit

The rabbit got away–even with a second coyote coming up from the left:

Coyotes out of luck

May 27, 2019

This morning my better half and I–along with the dog–went down to the Bear Creek Greenbelt to see what was going on around the Cooper’s Hawk nest. Not a lot! We walked back toward the Stone House, seeing Song Sparrows, Mallards, Canada Geese, Black-capped Chickadees, and this American Robin gathering nesting material:

American Robin

Canada Geese and their goslings were resting all around the lake. Above on the power lines I saw a Violet-green Swallow and a Barn Swallow. This Red-winged Blackbird provided musical accompaniment:

Red-winged Blackbird

Later in the afternoon, my better half and I–again with the dog–ventured into the Bear Creek Greenbelt to look for the Cooper’s Hawks. The skies grew ominous and thunder rumbled, so we cut our walk short . . . but not before we watched a Mallard and eight chicks take to Bear Creek:

Mallards

May 25, 2019

At dawn I biked into the Bear Creek Greenbelt to find the Cooper’s Hawk that had posed so beautifully for me yesterday when I was sans camera. This time it wasn’t perching low on the picturesque dead tree just feet off the Bear Creek Trail; it was high up in a tall tree, requiring me to get my sneakers wet as I walked through the high grass, trying to find a clear shot. Temperature was in the low 40s, so it’s all fluffed out.

Cooper’s Hawk

Back at home this morning, I watched plenty of bird activity in our back yard. Magpie vs. fox squirrel antics made for a noisy display. A couple of House Wrens were adding to a nest in a bird house. The usual suspects showed up at the feeders: Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Bushtits, Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, House Finches, Northern Flickers, and–although it’s not a great shot, it’s definitive (see below)–a male Lesser Goldfinch.

House Wren adding yet another stick to the nest
House Finch (male)
Lesser Goldfinch (male)

May 24, 2019

On an early morning jog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I saw a juvenile Great Horned Owl just west of where the active nest at Kipling Parkway had been. And by the Cooper’s Hawk nest, just east of Kipling Street, I saw a Cooper’s Hawk posing on top of a dead tree just feet off the Bear Creek Trail. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me–just as I didn’t last week when I saw a bobcat out on a jog.

In mid-morning, I watched several White-tailed Deer jump a fence and forage in the field behind our house:

White-tailed Deer

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were alighting on the feeders at our house all day:

Female Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Male Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Later, after work, when my better half and were riding our mountain bikes to Bear Creek Lake Park, we stopped and marvelled at a Swainson’s Hawk.

Even later, when my better half and I were walking the dog on the Bear Creek Greenbelt, we watched in astonishment as Tree Swallows flew back and forth over a field of grass, snatching up gnats and other flying insects.

I had hoped–since I was toting my new camera–that the Cooper’s Hawk would be posing again. No such luck, but we did catch one at the nest:

Cooper’s Hawk

And we did spot several Yellow-rumped Warblers (Audubon’s), a bird that’s been remarkably resistant to my photographing it for the past several weeks:

Yellow-rumped Warbler

May 22, 2019

After three straight days of wet weather, all sorts of birds were showing up for sustenance late this afternoon in our back yard: House Finches, Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Flickers, a Downy Woodpecker, a House Wren, a Lazuli Bunting (first time I’ve seen one in our back yard–kudos to my spotter, a.k.a., my better half), several Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and a few Bushtits, including this one (shot with my new D850):

Bushtit

May 19, 2019

Today a couple of friends and I hiked twelve miles at Waterton Canyon.

Waterton Canyon

We saw Bighorn Sheep:

Bighorn Sheep (male)
Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep (baby)
Baby Bighorn Sheep keeping up with mom
Baby Bighorn Sheep in a herd grazing
Bighorn Sheep (mother and baby)

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds could be heard everywhere. Yellow Warblers were visible up and down the length of the trail:

Yellow Warbler

But not everything yellow was a Yellow Warbler:

Yellow-breasted Chat

In and around the South Platte River we saw swallows, a Belted Kingfisher (female), and Spotted Sandpipers. Here’s one:

Spotted Sandpiper

We also saw several Canada Geese (including one gosling, swimming), a Common Merganser (male), Spotted Towhees, a Lazuli Bunting, a Say’s Phoebe, a Northern Flicker, and a Great Blue Heron.

May 18, 2019

Five-and-a-half hour hike at Deer Creek Canyon this morning. Twelve miles by noon.

View from Deer Creek Canyon (downtown Denver visible to the left)

At the start of the hike, the sun was out. So were the Spotted Towhees.

Spotted Towhee

Then it clouded over and stayed that way. In addition to the birds shown here, I saw a White-breasted Nuthatch, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-capped Chickadees, Chipping Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Dark-eyed Juncos (including “Gray-Headed “).

Western Tanager
Mountain Chickadee
Plumbeous Vireo
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Lazuli Bunting
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Trail notes: in general, more birds are found on the sunnier trails (even better if there’s water nearby). Good bets: Golden Eagle Trail, Meadowlark Trail, Plymouth Mountain Trail (east side). Red Mesa Loop (2.3 miles) makes a nice mountain bike trail: much in shade and not too rocky or steep. Homesteader Trail (1.0 mile), a hiker only trail, is a gorgeous walk through woods. Scenic View Trail (an out-and-back 0.4 mile trail from Plymouth Mountain Trail) is a playground with small boulders to climb.

In the late afternoon, a House Wren was singing up a storm in our back yard:

House Wren