Monthly Archives: February 2021

February 28, 2021

Not too long after dawn my better half and I headed into the Bear Creek Greenbelt for a walk with the dog.  As we approached the footbridge, I heard a Brown Creeper giving its two-note call.  It took me a a few minutes to find it, but eventually I found it working its way up a cottonwood tree.  Later, I found another Brown Creeper (or maybe the same one) west of the footbridge on the north side of the Bear Creek Trail:

Brown Creeper

My better half and I spotted a Hermit Thrush at the same time:

Hermit Thrush

A fellow birder let us know about an American Dipper he’d seen between Old Kipling and the Kipling Parkway.  We headed down there and caught a glimpse.   We’d hoped to see a Great Horned Owl near a likely nest there, but no luck.

In the afternoon, I took another walk in the greenbelt.  I saw a muskrat swimming in the pond that never freezes.  These days, we don’t see them on the banks of Bear Creek, or on logs in the creek.


I walked over to the Red-tailed Hawk nest by Yale.  Both hawks were perched in a nearby tree., the male a few branches higher than the female.  The male has a darker head and isn’t banded.  The female gave me a blood-curdling cry and took off.  Here’s the male:

Red-tailed Hawk (male)

Here’s the female:

Red-tailed Hawk (female)


February 27, 2021

If you’ve ever felt that you were being watched as you walked along the Bear Creek Trail, you’re probably right:

Great Blue Heron

Unlike this stealthy, silent Great Blue Heron, some birds, like this female Belted Kingfisher, see you coming and fly away, laughing, long before you get a good look:

Belted Kingfisher (kingfisher is カワセミ, or kawasemi, in Japanese)

Other birds, like the Red-winged Blackbirds these days, are singing rowdily in crowds at the tops of cottonwoods (captured beautifully by the Japanese word にぎやか, or nigiyaka, which means “crowded, lively, cheerful”), and they pay no mind to us humans walking below.

Another aspect of the greenbelt is that you never know what you’re going to see.  Last weekend I saw a Virginia Rail twice.  Then, in the next couple of days, in the same spot, I saw a Wilson’s Snipe, twice.  But for the past few days, I’ve seen neither bird, and apparently no other birder has, either.  The same goes for the mink, which I saw for several weeks beginning last December.  But for the past three weeks . . . not a glimpse.

Yet this afternoon, after a month’s absence, a female Common Goldeneye returned to the stretch of Bear Creek just west of the beaver dam by the footbridge:

Common Goldeneye

February 25, 2021

This afternoon my better half and I took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  My better half spotted a Winter Wren in the waterfall area east of the foot bridge.  It was there just a few seconds, and this is the best I could manage:

Winter Wren


I spotted a Great Blue Heron in the marsh area north of Bear Creek.  Unfortunately, it spooked quickly:

Great Blue Heron

Today  an acquaintance in the greenbelt taught me the Japanese word for “owl.”   It’s fukurou, written in katakana:   フクロウ.  (“Eared owl” is mimi zuku, which can be written in kanji like this:  耳木菟.)

I also learned this:  “The usual native name of plants and animals is called its wamei (和名) (“Japanese name”). The convention followed by many references is to write all wamei in katakana, regardless of whether the animal or plant has a kanji name.”

February 23, 2021

This morning a birding acquaintance did me the great favor of showing me exactly where a Wilson’s Snipe was in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.

Wilson’s Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

I spotted a Swamp Sparrow near the Wilson’s Snipe, but couldn’t manage a shot clearer than this:

Swamp Sparrow

Another birding acquaintance pointed out a Great Blue Heron:

Great Blue Heron

A female Ring-necked Duck was by herself east of the dam:

Ring-necked Duck

After work, my better half and I walked the dog in the greenbelt.  There’s a new manky Mallard in the neighborhood!  (A year ago we saw a similar manky Mallard . . . .

Manky Mallard

The Ring-necked Duck was still east of the dam:

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck


February 22, 2021

This afternoon in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I caught a glimpse of a Golden Eagle, and I saw these Red-tailed Hawks courting:

Red-tailed Hawks

A Great Blue Heron surprised me by flying right over the Bear Creek Trail:

Great Blue Heron

A pair of Hooded Mergansers were looking for a meal east of the dam.  Here’s the female:

Hooded Merganser

February 21, 2021

Last night a mix of rain and snow fell, making the sidewalks and roads icy before the sun came up today.   I spent an hour or so on a short stretch of the Bear Creek Trail.  I watched two male Downy Woodpeckers chase each other from tree to tree, and eventually I spotted the female.  Dark-eyed Juncos were also giving chase to each other, as they’ve been doing the past several days.   Red-winged Blackbirds and Black-capped Chickadees were singing.  Here are two shots of a Virginia Rail:

Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail

A pair of American Wigeons were in the creek mixing with the Mallards.  Here’s the male:

American Wigeon

This American Robin was foraging in the same watery area as the Virginia Rail.  Eventually, it flew up to a branch:

American Robin

February 19, 2021

Here are some birds I saw in the Bear Creek Greenbelt this morning:

Virginia Rail

Song Sparrow

American Goldfinch

American Wigeons (in front)

And two shots of a Townsend’s Solitaire:

Townsend’s Solitaire

Townsend’s Solitaire