This morning on our walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt we heard an American Dipper before we saw it. Perched on a log in the creek, it was singing beautifully.
American Dipper singing
We also saw a Winter Wren:
I took a walk by myself in the early afternoon. The American DIpper was still there:
At lunch I took a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. Parts of Bear Creek are still frozen. Here’s a view west of the pedestrian bridge:
East of the pedestrian bridge I saw several Mallards, three male Hooded Mergansers, a Ring-necked Duck, and a Common Goldeneye.
By afternoon the mercury was nudging 60 degrees. After work, we rode our path bikes to Bear Creek Lake Park. Just west of the dam, we saw several Northern Shovelers, a couple of Hooded Mergansers, Gadwalls, a Common Merganser, and a Common Goldeneye. We also spotted an American Kestrel and a Red-tailed Hawk.
After work we took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. We saw seven Hooded Mergansers: two in Bear Creek (both male) and five in the pond that never freezes (three females and two males). We also saw a pair of Wood Ducks in the pond that never freezes:
Male Wood Duck (female Mallard behind)
Female Wood Duck (female Mallard behind)
The waxing gibbous moon, hanging low in the western sky, with snow still on the ground made our early morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt absolutely beautiful. It was also magical as the moonlight allowed me to pick out the silhouette of a silent owl in a tree. We walked closer and trained our flashlights briefly on the owl. It was smaller than a Great Horned Owl and lacked its ear tufts. We think it was an Eastern Screech-owl.
A short while later, once it was light (but the temperature was still in the single digits), I went back into the greenbelt. Here are a few birds I saw:
At lunch I took another quick walk in the greenbelt. At the pond that never freezes over a hundred Mallards had gathered, plus this female Hooded Merganser:
Snow began falling last night, and it was still falling this morning. On our early morning walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt the snow revealed coyote tracks, rabbit tracks, and raccoon tracks. We also saw a beaver making its way upstream in Bear Creek.
A little while later, once it got light, here are a couple of creatures that were out in the greenbelt:
As I was heading home, I saw Ranger Lindsey leading a walking tour of some ten folks. She was pointing out the two male Hooded Mergansers in Bear Creek. One person spotted one of the four muskrats that were huddled up on logs, just like in the picture above. “Is that a beaver?” the person asked.
At lunch I took a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. Near the beaver pool there were two male Hooded Mergansers and one female Common Goldeneye, as well as a few Cackling Geese. Here’s one:
On the north shore, a muskrat blended in with the mud, dead grasses, and dark water:
I walked east along Bear Creek and saw a female Ring-necked Duck, as well as another male Hooded Merganser and another Common Goldeneye (immature male).
Overhead a Bald Eagle was soaring. One of these days I’m going to find it perched in the greenbelt!
NB: Over the last few weeks I’ve experimented with writing birds’ names in all lowercase (unless it contains a proper noun, such as American dipper). However, it feels unnatural and it invites ambiguity (is it a goldeneye that’s common, or is it a Bucephala clangula?), so with this post I’m switching back to capitalizing birds’ names as they are commonly shown.
This morning in the Bear Creek Greenbelt a mallard was quacking up a storm. To our surprise, it was the manky mallard, here looking less exercised:
Even though it has a green head (suggesting that it’s male), it lacks the curly tail feathers of a male and it quacks like a female mallard.
I showed my better half the yellow-bellied sapsucker. Actually, I led my better half to the pines where I’d seen it before, and though I could hear it drilling (my better half couldn’t), it was my better half who picked it out with the binoculars.
Check out the sapwells:
Compare the sapwells above with the sapwells created by a yellow-bellied sapsucker that frequented our back yard in Jacksonville, Florida (picture taken March 15, 2015).
This morning we saw the mink, so briefly, in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. Here it is peeking out from its favorite spot in the dam:
A quick look at the mink before it disappeared under the ice:
On an early lunchtime walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, I saw this yellow-bellied sapsucker:
A couple of photos from a lunchtime walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt: