Monthly Archives: July 2020

July 31, 2020

For the third morning in a row, we’ve spotted all four juvenile Cooper’s Hawks on our walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  But the dawn’s very early light does not make good pictures.  We usually see one or two beavers in the pond north of Bear Creek.

It’s grown much quieter in the greenbelt these days.  This afternoon after work when I went walking, the only bird I heard was a Black-capped Chickadee.  Yet we have five House Wren nestlings in a bird house in our back yard, and they (not to mention the adults!) make a ruckus.  In the greenbelt I saw what are probably the last couple of broods of Mallards in Bear Creek–a mother with six-half grown ducklings, and a mother with seven half-grown ducklings.

As the sky grew dark, threatening rain, I made my way back home along Bear Creek.  I came across this Black-crowned Night Heron east of the pedestrian bridge:

Black-crowned Night Heron

July 28, 2020

The days are getting shorter, and it’s a little darker when we head out to walk the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt in the morning.  Still, this morning we were able to see a couple of bats flying above the beaver pond by the pedestrian bridge.  We saw several wet beaver footprints on the paved trail going from the creek to the pond.  At the pond we counted four beavers.  A couple of the juvenile Cooper’s Hawks showed up, too, in the trees near the old nest.

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawks

A rainstorm blew through in the afternoon.  Afterward, I walked in the greenbelt.  I saw a Belted Kingfisher, a small flock of Bushtits, a Lesser Goldfinch, and several Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, including this one:

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Another view:


July 27, 2020

This morning on an early morning jog, before I even left my neighborhood I heard a Great Horned Owl hooting down below in the greenbelt.  East of Estes on the Bear Creek Trail I heard one making a plaintive squawk/screech, repeatedly.  It was high in a bare tree, calling away.  I spotted a second–and silent–Great Horned Owl a short distance away on a bare limb of an otherwise leafy tree.  As I continued jogging east on the Bear Creek Trail, an owl flew in front of me and alighted in a stand of trees on the south side of the trail.  Mist hung above the field on both sides of the trail.  As I approached the lone standing tree on the south side of the trail, another owl swooped over Bear Creek Trail and alighted on one of its branches.

This afternoon my friend in Morrison invited me over to see the male Rufous Hummingbird who had shown up in her yard.  He was extremely territorial about a red-glassed nectar feeder, and repeatedly drove away any Broad-tailed Hummingbird who dared land there.

Rufous Hummingbird (male)


July 26, 2020

Perhaps because of yesterday’s rain, the water level was a little higher than usual in Bear Creek.  A Black-crowned Night Heron made an appearance:

Black-crowned Night Heron

All four of the juvenile Cooper’s Hawks were out this morning.  Here’s one:

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawks

An adult, perhaps male, stayed perched in this tree for quite a while.

Adult Cooper’s Hawk

Closer to Yale, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk was calling loudly for breakfast.

Back at Bear Creek, I saw an adult duck with four ducklings.  In size and appearance they looked like the family I saw the other day with seven ducklings.  The adult looked like a Mallard, but the ducklings, much darker than the earlier broods this year, looked more like Gadwall ducklings to me.  And, oddly for what’s sure to be a dabbling duck, one of the ducklings dived repeatedly and came up with a crawfish.  Here it is:

Duckling with crawfish

The consensus seems to be that these are all in fact Mallards . . . even though Gadwalls are known to raise young later in the season, after Mallards, and even though at least one pair of Gadwalls has been present in this stretch of Bear Creek this year.

Later in the morning as my better half and I rode past Bear Creek we spotted seven dark ducklings.  Now I’m unsure how many broods are currently in Bear Creek, or I don’t know whether there are any Gadwalls, but I’ll keep an eye out and my camera handy.

July 25, 2020

This morning’s theme in the Bear Creek Greenbelt was hungry juvenile raptors.  A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk was calling loudly for breakfast from atop a tree.  All four juvenile Cooper’s Hawks made sure they were visible and heard.  Here are three:

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawks waiting for a meal

Later in the morning, while mountain biking through Bear Creek Lake Park, we saw three juvenile Red-tailed Hawks, a juvenile Swainson’s Hawk, and an adult Cooper’s Hawk.   We also saw a young mule deer cross Turkey Creek not far from Pelican Point.

This afternoon at a friend’s home in Morrison we were treated to glimpses of this bird:

Rufous Hummingbird

July 24, 2020

This morning a fellow walker/nature watcher told my better half and me that she’d just seen eight–eight!–beavers cross Bear Creek Trail, walking from Bear Creek to the pond north of the creek.  As we walked down Bear Creek Trail, we came across the beavers’ wet footprints.  On the way to the pond, we saw all four juvenile Cooper’s Hawks perched in a tree (not the bramble).  One of them flew toward the pond and alighted nearby:

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk

Another walker/nature watcher and I counted three beavers in the pond.  Here’s one:


July 23, 2020

Early this morning as my better half and I were just entering the Bear Creek Greenbelt with the dog, we saw four mule deer bucks.  Yesterday on an afternoon bike ride we’d seen three mule deer bucks beside Bear Creek just east of Old Kipling.

This morning after my better half and dog turned to return home, I continued walking for another couple of hours.  I walked down to the pond by Stone House.  There were lots of swallows, a few Mallards, a few Canada Geese, and a couple of hummingbirds buzzing around, but no Hooded Mergansers.  I watched a Belted Kingfisher do some acrobatics above the pond.  I walked down Bear Creek all the way to Wadsworth, but didn’t see any Hoodies.  I did catch a quick glimpse of another Belted Kingfisher:

Belted Kingfisher

When I crossed the pedestrian bridge just west of Wadsworth, I saw a small muskrat swimming in the creek.  At the prairie dog field I spotted a male American Kestrel.

I walked back west along the Bear Creek Trail.  Along the edge of Bear Creek, I saw several American rubyspot damselflies, including this one:

American rubyspot damselfly

I also saw an adult female Mallard with three half-grown ducklings working their way upstream.  Duckling season is almost over . . . or so I thought.

I arrived at the nesting area of the Cooper’s Hawks in time to see an adult bring in prey for four juveniles, all of them in the dead bramble.

Adult Cooper’s Hawk with prey surrounded by juveniles

Here’s one of the juveniles moving in on the prey:

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk very interested in the prey that the adult brought in

The adult flew off, and the prey dropped down into the bramble.  The enterprising juvenile scrambled down to retrieve it:

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk retrieving prey

It then flew off, with the prey, toward the stand of trees where the nest is.  Two of its siblings followed:

Two juvenile Cooper’s Hawks following their sibling with prey

One juvenile stayed behind and called for another meal delivery:

One hungry juvenile Cooper’s Hawk

One of the juveniles enjoying the meal in the shade of the stand of trees:

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk with prey

As I was heading back home, crossing Bear Creek for the last time, I was surprised to see–this late in the season–a duck with seven ducklings.  The adult looks like a Mallard, but the ducklings put me in mind of Gadwalls rather than Mallards.

Adult duck with six of the ducklings

And, to my surprise once again, the seventh duckling was enjoying a crawfish meal:

Duckling with crawfish

The last look back at Bear Creek before returning home:

Double-crested Cormorant

July 20, 2020

In the Bear Creek Greenbelt this morning we saw a beaver hunching over its meal:  a tree limb stripped of bark:


The beaver tears off a strip of wood and eats it:

And in the “billed” category this afternoon in our back yard . . .

Young Black-billed Magpie (Mourning Dove in background)

Broad-billed Hummingbird

July 19, 2020

This morning my better half and I set out early on our mountain bikes for a ride to Green Mountain.  There we saw a small herd of elk–two males and four females.

After we got back home and ate a second breakfast, we headed into the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  To me, what is most noticeable is what is missing.  We didn’t hear a single Red-winged Blackbird or Northern Flicker.  We didn’t see a single Mallard.  Instead, we saw lots of dragonflies–mostly Twelve-spotted skimmers, but also a Widow skimmer and a Pale snaketail–and we heard House Wrens, Black-capped Chickadees, Gray Catbirds, and the calls of raptors, including three Cooper’s Hawk juveniles (in the stand of trees where the nest is), two Red-tailed Hawk juveniles (at the edge of the greenbelt near our neighborhood), and an American Kestrel (in a field adjacent to our neighborhood).

Cooper’s Hawk (juvenile)

Cooper’s Hawk (juvenile) with prey

Red-tailed Hawk calling

American Kestrel (either female or juvenile)

Pale snaketail

Early this afternoon I happened to notice a Red-tailed Hawk land on a power line pole behind our back yard.  There’s a field between our back yard and this pole, and the prairie dogs gave off non-stop alarms.  A dozen or so Black-billed Magpies were spread out between our back yard and the pole, watching the hawk intently.  For a while, the Red-tailed Hawk–which I suspect is a juvenile, and probably one of the two we saw this morning, and most likely from the Yale nest– surveyed everything:

Red-tailed Hawk

Then It launched itself:

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

It flew directly to the two aspens in our back yard, where several Black-billed Magpies (as well as a Mourning Dove, a Northern Flicker, and a couple of House Finches) were perched.  The magpies started screaming.  We thought that the hawk would snatch something, but it did a flyby and returned to its perch.

A few hours later in the afternoon a Red-tailed Hawk was back on the pole, calling:

Red-tailed Hawk (juvenile)

A second one was in a neighbor’s yard, also calling.  It eventually joined its sibling:

Red-tailed Hawks (juveniles)

Magpies were still mobbing our yard.

Black-billed Magpies

Northern Flicker