Today, the last day of 2021, my better half and I took a walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt shortly after dawn. In our hour and fifteen minute walk, we spotted twenty species of birds, from tiny Bushtits to a formidable Red-tailed Hawk (though not so formidable to the American Crows that were harassing it).
We also saw a lone American Goldfinch:
Nearby, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flitted ceaselessly at the very top of a tree:
An American Crow bathing in Bear Creek:
Today I joined a Denver Field Ornithologists birding trip led by David Suddjian. We started at the Robert A. Easton Regional Park, which was mostly frozen over. Then to the South Platte Park, where we saw a number of Greater Scaup:
Nearby we spotted a Northern Pintail:
And this young Cooper’s Hawk:
At the edge of the Bear Creek Greenbelt, White-crowned Sparrows are particularly fond of one neighbor’s yard. Here’s one from a lunchtime walk:
On an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I saw a couple of White-crowned Sparrows just as I entered the greenbelt:
I looked for an American Dipper in the waterfall area just east of the footbridge midway between Estes and Kipling St., but it was not there.So I slogged on to the bridge under Kipling Parkway, and there, lurking beneath the bridge in the shadows, an American Dipper gazed at me warily, but refused to fly (or swim) into the light.
Seen on a lunchtime walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:
The American Robins were back after the berries in the Bear Creek Greenbelt today. I caught two other birds with their tongues out–one was after berries and the other after aquatic insects:
Their glamour shots:
This Christmas morning dozens of American Robins descended on the Bear Creek Greenbelt. They were after berries.
They weren’t the only ones.
Took we swung by Downing Reservoir at the Denver Federal Center, where we spotted two female Canvasbacks (with two American Coots and a diving Redhead):
In the afternoon we saw this female Hooded Merganser in the pond that never freezes in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:
I was looking, fruitlessly, for the American Dipper in the waterfall area downstream from the footbridge halfway between Estes and Kipling St. when a Mallard appeared just feet away from me. I recognized her by the green-olive tip of her bill: it was the female of the late-hatched pair I’ve been watching for the past several weeks. She thrust her head into the rushing water repeatedly, as I had often seen the pair do.
I probably wouldn’t recognize the male anymore; after sporting a green bill and juvenal plumage all fall, now he probably looks exactly like all the other Mallard drakes in the creek.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but the tip of the female’s bill may be becoming more orange now. She’s looking more like any other Mallard female.
So perhaps I won’t be able to recognize either one by sight anymore. Yet if I see a Mallard foraging like an American Dipper, or if I see one chomping after dragonflies in the summer, I’ll have to wonder . . . and remember this pair from the fall of 2021.
Today, on winter solstice, I saw my first Wood Duck of the season in the Bear Greek Greenbelt. It was in the pond that never freezes, along with the Ring-necked Duck that’s been hanging out there for several days, a few dozen Mallards, and 16 Canada Geese.