June 20, 2020

Early this morning with the temperature around 47 degrees I set off on a mission to find the Hooded Merganser and her five ducklings in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  Immediately  I was sidetracked by a Black-crowned Night Heron perched above Bear Creek, and then by a Great Blue Heron, flying west along the creek.  At the underpass at Estes, I paused to watch the dozens of swallows flying in and out of their nests:

Barn Swallow at nest

To find the Hoodies, first I checked the small pond east of the pond next to Stone House.  I didn’t see them there, but I did see my first Cedar Waxwing here in Colorado:

Cedar Waxwing

The Hoodies were in the pond by Stone House.  I followed them around the pond for about an hour and a half, through two complete cycles of eating, cleaning, and resting.

Mama Hooded Merganser with crawfish

When the ducklings caught a crawfish, they tended to speed away from their siblings so they could wrestle with their catch in peace.

Hooded Merganser duckling with crawfish

Hooded Merganser duckling with crawfish

Hooded Merganser duckling with crawfish

Nap time for Hooded Merganser ducklings

Mama Hooded Merganser was never far from her ducklings

Portraits of mama Hooded Merganser:

Mama Hooded Merganser

Mama Hooded Merganser

While I was observing the Hoodies, a few different birds dropped by the trees at the edge of the pond.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Barn Swallow

Violet-green Swallow

As this Red-eared Slider found out, birds leave their feathers lying around.

Red-eared Slider

Other birds that I saw near Stone House include a Swainson’s Hawk and dozens of Canada Geese.  The paved trails are littered with their droppings.  Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starlings, and American Robins were out in numbers, but I heard not a single Belted Kingfisher.

On my walk home, I saw a few more birds in and above Bear Creek, including a Mallard and five ducklings working their way upstream, and these birds:

Black-crowned Night Heron above Bear Creek

Gadwalls

When I got back home, it was 63 degrees–and then it proceeded to shoot up another 20 degrees.