Monthly Archives: May 2020

May 31, 2020

Our Colorado Parks and Wildlife annual pass expires today, so I figured it would be a good day to venture back into a state park.  I went to Roxborough State Park, arriving just after 6:00 a.m.  I hiked up to Carpenter Peak (6.2 miles roundtrip, three hours and change).   All the way up and back, I heard and saw dozens of Spotted Towhees and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.  I also saw a Lazuli Bunting, two Black-headed Grosbeaks (male and female, separately), a pair of Lesser Goldfinches, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Dusky Flycatcher (I think), a Dark-eyed Junco, a Brown-headed Cowbird, a Golden Eagle, an American Crow, and a Common Raven.  I  heard a number of chickadees, as well as a Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Lazuli Bunting

Spotted Towhee

Black-headed Grosbeak

Lesser Goldfinches

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Dusky Flycatcher (I think)

American Crow

Common Raven (on top of Carpenter Peak)

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Here’s another shot of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, with background:

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Wildflowers lined the trail:

Here’s another flying thing (working guess is a Greater Fritillary):

While I was hiking, my better half texted me that mama Hooded Merganser and five ducklings had been spotted in the usual stretch of Bear Creek.  I headed into the Bear Creek Greenbelt directly after returning home from Roxborough.  I found mama Hooded Merganser and five ducklings–though we can’t be sure which five ducklings they are.  The little ones were diving for meals.

Hooded Merganser duckling with crawfish

Hooded Merganser duckling with some tasty morsel (mama looking on)

Hooded Merganser and duckling

Hooded Merganser ducklings

Later in the afternoon when my better half and I were walking the dog in the greenbelt, I spotted this snake (working guess is Northern Watersnake) sunning itself on a rock on Bear Creek east of the pedestrian bridge by the beaver dam:

Prairie dogs striking a pose:

Prairie dogs

May 30, 2020

This morning I went into the Bear Creek Greenbelt early to try to find the Hooded Merganser duckling.  I found it on the south shore, not far from the beaver lodge, staying close to a couple of Mallard families (including mama Mallard and the original thirteen ducklings) and a female manky Mallard.  It took to the water and swam upstream, where it began diving for a meal.

Lone Hooded Merganser duckling

I met up with my better half and the dog.   We walked by the Cooper’s Hawk nest closest to our house.  The female was on the nest, and all we could see, through the leaves, were her tail feathers.  The male was across the Bear Creek Trail:

Cooper’s Hawk

At the pedestrian bridge, we watched this beaver effect repairs to the dam:


I headed off to look at the Red-tailed Hawk nest.  On the way I saw a couple of Western Kingbirds.  I’d been catching glimpses for the past couple of weeks, and today they finally stayed low enough and still enough for some shots:

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Mama Red-tailed Hawk spotted my approach and gave a couple of blood-curdling cries.  One youngster was visible in the nest:

Red-tailed Hawk nestling

On the way back home, in the stand of trees that have so many birds’ nests–those of Black-billed Magpies, Blue Jays, European Starlings, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Northern Flickers–I saw this raccoon, right where a birding friend of mine told me it would be:


May 29, 2020

This morning a beaver was hard at work repairing the breach in the dam:


A Mallard and her brood of five:

Mallard and ducklings

Unfortunately, mama Hooded Merganser and five of her ducklings have vanished.  One duckling was out on Bear Creek alone all morning:

Lone Hooded Merganser duckling

Lone Hooded Merganser duckling

May 28, 2020

This morning in the Bear Creek Greenbelt my better half and I saw the Mallard pair and all thirteen original ducklings.  Getting them all in one picture, however, was a bit difficult.  Here’s the whole family except for the adult male:

Mallard (bottom right) with her thirteen ducklings

And here’s a picture with both Mallard parents, most of the ducklings, and the Hooded Merganser family:

Two broods of ducklings

May 27, 2020

It has warmed back up, with the temperature around 80 degrees.  During a lunchtime walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, I saw some young prairie dogs:

Young prairie dogs

Here’s a Mallard in eclipse:


The Hooded Merganser was on Bear Creek with her brood of her six.  A very nice couple with a dog alerted me to their whereabouts.  “It’s the duck with the hairdo,” the woman said.

Hooded Merganser with crawfish

The ducklings are interested in the crawfish, but she’s not sharing

The ducklings can catch their own crawfish

Hooded Merganser duckling close-up shot

“My, what big feet you have!”

Getting ready for a nap

Mama Hooded Merganser watching her brood nap

Not far from one of the Cooper’s Hawk nests, a Cooper Hawk was perched and alert:

Cooper’s Hawk

May 26, 2020

This morning I was out early enough in the Bear Creek Greenbelt to catch the Hooded Merganser still asleep with her ducklings:

Hooded Merganser covering her ducklings

Hooded Merganser with ducklings

Mama Mallard was out with all thirteen of her half-grown ducklings, working their way upstream along the south bank.

Several of the original thirteen Mallard ducklings

It was a beautiful morning:

Bear Creek

A little later in the morning, I saw the Hooded Merganser and her six ducklings swimming in the beaver pond.

Hooded Merganser

Three of the six Hooded Merganser ducklings

May 25, 2020

Early this morning I spotted a beaver swimming in Bear Creek.  I followed it as it swam west, upstream.  It wasn’t in a hurry.   My better half and the dog joined me.   The beaver eventually paused on the north side of the creek by a wide, gentle slope, dotted with pebbles, that rises up to the paved Bear Creek Trail.  Slowly, it emerged from the water:


My better half and I backed up, giving the beaver lots of space.  The beaver paused before crossing the paved trail.  Then, slowly, it walked across:


It disappeared into the reedy marsh on the other sided of the paved trail.  We walked around to the pond north of the creek and spotted the beaver again.  It swam east in the pond to the old beaver dam and disappeared into the reeds.  We picked it back up again in the marsh on the other side.  Eventually it disappeared heading south back toward Bear Creek.

We did not see the Hooded Merganser and her brood this morning.  A fellow birder told me that a friend of hers had spotted the family yesterday at 12:30 by the beaver dam, so it’s likely she’s still around, well hidden.

In the late afternoon my better half and I walked the dog in the greenbelt again.  As usual, the prairie dogs were on alert:

Prairie dogs

Both Red-tailed Hawk nestlings were in the nest, but only one was visible at a time:

Red-tailed Hawk nestling

Their parents were not far:

Red-tailed Hawks

The Hooded Merganser and her brood of six were in the beaver pond:

Hooded Merganser and six ducklings

Hooded Merganser

May 24, 2020

On my early morning jog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I saw a raccoon in Bear Creek.  When it became aware of me, it splashed its way to the opposite bank, sat at the base of a tree, and watched.  At the beaver dam near our house, I saw a pair of Mallards and seven ducklings.  As usual, a Great Blue Heron was standing in the water near the beaver lodge.

After returning home, I spotted four coyotes in the field behind our house, including Notched Ear (see below).  Three of them were playing and one stayed a distance from the others.  Here are two of them:


A short while later, my better half and I walked the dog in the greenbelt.  We saw a pair of Common Mergansers in Bear Creek.  The Hooded Merganser and her ducklings–now six of them–were swimming in the pond north of Bear Creek.

Hooded Merganser

Today was a cool, rainy day.  The temperature stayed in the 50s all day.  I went out into the greenbelt in the early afternoon.  A pair of Mallards and four ducklings were feeding near the beaver dam.

Mallard duckling

I looked for the Hooded Mergansers and ducklings, but they were tucked away somewhere.  On my way to look at the Red-tailed Hawk nest, I saw this Black-billed Magpie:

Black-billed Magpie

I was still walking toward the nest when the male Red-tailed Hawk alighted on a tree close to me, followed closely by the female Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-tailed Hawks

Only one of the nestlings was visible in the nest:

Red-tailed Hawk nestling

Not far from the nest is a prairie dog field.  I heard Killdeer.  I followed its call and found a pair.    Here’s one:




May 23, 2020

This morning I started my walk slightly later than usual and so was able to witness the Hooded Merganser and her eight ducklings walk across the paved Bear Creek Trail toward Bear Creek.  Apparently they spend the night in the pond to the north and they spend the day in Bear Creek.  She led them downstream:

Hooded Merganser with half her brood

I saw two Great Blue Herons in the stretch of Bear Creek from the beaver lodge to just a ways west.  Three more flew overhead, and then a Black-crowned Night Heron alighted on the south bank.

Over at the pond by Stone House I saw two more Great Blue Herons, including this one:

Great Blue Heron

A Barn Swallow was perched and singing:

Barn Swallow

Later in the morning I saw this Tree Swallow at Lake Harriman:

Tree Swallow

Here’s a Redhead:



May 22, 2020

On an early morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I found the Hooded Merganser, with her ducklings, in the same spot as yesterday.

Hooded Mergansers

Later in the morning the Hooded Merganser and her ducklings were in Bear Creek:

Hooded Mergansers

A short while later, the ducklings tucked up beneath her:

Hooded Mergansers

The cottonwoods have begun shedding their cotton-like bits of fluff.  I walked over to the Red-tailed Hawk nest.  Both parents were keeping an eye out.  The nestlings seemed fascinated by their own feet and talons:

“What do you suppose we use these for?”

After work I stopped by Bear Creek Lake Park to look at the owls.  I didn’t see the Cottonwood Trail fledglings, but I did spot both parents, who, sensibly, were sitting in shade:

Great Horned Owl (male)

Great Horned Owl (female)

I didn’t get any good shots of the owls at the nest at the pedestrian bridge, but mama owl and at least one nestling was present.

At the Cottontail Picnic area nest, the smallest of the three is still in the nest, but the larger two have branched out:


Then to Harriman Lake Park.  Love was in the air.

Tree Swallows

And who can resist a baby bunny?


Then to Marston Lake to look at the Bald Eagles:

Female Bald Eagle on nest

Male Bald Eagle nearby

A final stop by the Red-tailed Hawk nest:

Red-tailed Hawk nestling stretching its wings