Monthly Archives: September 2019

September 22, 2019

Another brisk weekend morning with temps in the mid 40s. Again, we were taking the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt when–this time–we saw two beavers. Here’s the smaller of the two:


Views of Bear Creek this morning:

Bear Creek
View of Bear Creek as seen from the footbridge near our home

September 21, 2019

It was brisk morning, with temperatures in the mid 40s. As we were walking the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt this morning, we caught sight a beaver reinforcing the dam in the creek just west of us:


Coming back home, we spotted five coyotes playing in the field behind our house. These photographs were shot from our back deck:

Coyotes at play

Later in the morning we drove out to Buffalo Creek to mountain bike. On the road in, County Road 126, we saw mule deer and wild turkeys.

September 19, 2019

This morning a friend and I took a few hours to drive the Old Fall River Road at Rocky Mountain National Park. According to the National Park Service, this road was opened in 1920 and was the first auto route in Rocky Mountain National Park offering access to the park’s high country. Unlike the Trail Ridge Road, Old Fall River Road is a one-way, gravel road, just eleven miles in length, ending at the Alpine Visitor Center at Fall River Pass. In bird life, we saw a Townsend’s Solitaire, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a Dusky Grouse hen and five chicks. Some views from the Old Fall River Road:

View from Old Fall River Road
View just off Old Fall River Road
Tundra view from Old Fall River Road
Marmot on the side of Old Fall River Road
Dusky Grouse on Old Fall River Road

We took the Trail Ridge Road back down to the Bear Lake trailhead. On the way, we spotted Red-breasted Nuthatches and a pair of Red Crossbills. Here’s one of the latter:

Red Crossbill

Then we hiked to Dream Lake. We heard chickadees along the way, and we saw Red-breasted Nuthatches, Steller’s Jays, and Clark’s Nutcrackers.  We saw least chipmunks and a lot of golden-mantled ground squirrels.  Showing very little fear of the steady stream of hikers, the ground squirrels dotted the edge of the trail, steadily munching down seeds in preparation for hibernation.  We watched one break to take a dust bath. 

View from the Dream Lake trail
Dream Lake

September 18, 2019

The Black-crowned Night Heron is making a habit of showing up on our afternoon walks in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:

Black-crowned Night Heron

Here’s a familiar neighborhood bird at the top of a pine tree:

Northern Flicker

September 14, 2019

This morning my better half and I hopped on our mountain bikes and rode out to Green Mountain via Bear Creek Lake Park. From the Rooney Valley Trail at Green Mountain, we saw elk grazing: a cow and calf, three other females, and a very large bull. The ride was quicker than last Saturday’s, but a little shorter and a little less taxing: 26 miles in two hours and forty-five minutes, with 2,200 feet of climbing.

After we got home, I watched this Western Wood-Pewee hunt from a hook for the hummingbird feeder. Again and again, it sallied out, nabbed an insect, and returned to its post.

Western Wood-Pewee

September 8, 2019

Yesterday my better half and I went mountain biking at Buffalo Creek. Thirty miles in just over four hours, with 3,792 feet of climbing (Nice Kitty–Buffalo Burn–Little Scraggy–Colorado Trail–Redskin–Gashouse–Homestead–Charlie’s Cutoff–Homestead–Sandy Wash). We saw three mule deer, least chipmunks, pine squirrels, Mountain Bluebirds, and Dark-eyed Juncos. My better half also spotted Abert’s squirrels.

Today I went hiking solo at Staunton State Park. Hit the trail just before dawn, and covered slightly more than twelve miles in a bit over six hours. The route was Dines Meadow–Mason Creek–Bear Paw (with stops at Catamount Overlook (9,402 feet), Pikes Peak Overlook (9,209 feet) and Eagle Cliffs Overlook (9,579 feet))–Mason Creek–Border Line (with a stop at Staunton Rocks (9,410 feet))–Marmot Passage–Scout Line–Staunton Ranch. Temperature at the start was 48 degrees, and 68 degrees at the finish.

I hadn’t been hiking long on Mason Creek when I was startled by the alarm calls of a pine squirrel behind me. I walked back twenty feet on the trail and spotted it maybe fifteen feet above me on a branch. For a small creature, its alarms are loud, especially on a very quiet morning in dim light.

But pine squirrels can’t make alarm calls when their mouths are full:

Pine squirrel

Also on Mason Creek (before I veered off on Bear Paw), I saw two female mule deer. Here’s one:

Mule deer

Here are two views from Catamount Overlook:

View from Catamount Overlook
View from Catamount Overlook

As I continued hiking throughout the day, some pine squirrels sounded the alarm and others, living up to their name, were much more interested in green pine cones (pine squirrels had the numbers today; I saw only one least chipmunk and one golden-mantled ground squirrel):

Pine Squirrel

Of the three overlooks on Bear Paw, Eagle Cliffs Overlook was the best. A spur trail off Bear Paw leads hikers up a steep, rocky section to a commanding view of Lions Head.

Lions Head

While at the overlook, I saw several Clark’s Nutcrackers (quite far away–due west of the overlook, but distinctive), and, closer by, a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos, and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

Clark’s Nutcracker

On the way back down the spur trail, I finally got a good glimpse of a Red-breasted Nuthatch, whose plaintive, single-note toots I’d been hearing all the way up. I also heard something behind me, and turned around to spot three female mule deer, not far off the trail. And below me in the forest there was a buck. As I wound my way downhill, joining Mason Creek trail again, I kept catching glimpses of the buck. He was hounded by the alarm calls of pine squirrels.


After turning back onto Mason Creek, I walked through an aspen forest that was alive with birds: a Pine Siskin, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a White-Breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Juncos, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and chickadees (which I heard but did not see–they were probably Mountain Chickadees).

Before I left Mason Creek for Border Line, I spotted a male American Three-toed Woodpecker:

American Three-toed Woodpecker

While hiking Border Line, I climbed up to Staunton Rocks and took in the view:

View from Staunton Rocks

But, to me, the more exciting view was right behind me, a Brown Creeper–the first time I’ve spotted one!

A very well-camouflaged Brown Creeper

September 2, 2019

Early this morning at Bear Creek we spotted two adult raccoons and three kits. Then we went to Roxborough State Park and climbed up to Carpenter Peak (7,160 feet) for a three-hour hike. It was 68 degrees at the start and 88 degrees at the finish. We saw just a couple of least chipmunks and very few birds–Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-Eyed Juncos, a solitary Spotted Towhee scratching around on the ground, a Red-breasted Nuthatch (which we heard, but did not see), and Woodhouse’s Scrub-jays, including this one at the top of Carpenter Peak:

Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay

September 1, 2019

This morning a coyote chose to make itself visible in the field behind our house. It walked with a limp–back right leg. This shot was taken from our back deck:


Over the past couple of days, wildlife has made itself more visible, in general. Early yesterday morning we spotted a couple of beavers at Bear Creek. A little later in the morning as we were riding our tandem through Red Rocks we saw two mule deer grazing close to the road. And this morning as were riding our mountain bikes at Buffalo Creek on a trail called Nice Kitty (allegedly, a mountain lion was lurking around as the trail was being built), we saw several mule deer, male and female, close to the trail. This was my seventh time riding out at Buffalo Creek in the past four months, but just the first that I spotted mule deer.