Just before the snow and the cold return tomorrow, today was sunny and in the 50s. Here are just a few of the female birds I saw in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:
It snowed most of the day, blanketing the Bear Creek Greenbelt with a few inches of snow. During a lull, after lunch, I ventured forth. At the pond that never freezes I watched a female Wood Duck fly in with a Canada Goose. I didn’t see any male Wood Ducks in either the pond or the creek. On my walk back home, I spotted a young male Common Goldeneye in the creek near the footbridge:
On an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I saw dozens of Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins. The robins were after berries.
There were many dozens of Mallards in Bear Creeks, but just one Wood Duck:
And I saw just one manky Mallard–this one a male:
Of the three Red-tailed Hawks I saw, one was a Harlan’s subspecies:
In the field northwest of the pond that never freezes two coyotes showed themselves. Here’s one:
After work, I went back into the greenbelt. It was colder, windier, overcast. Snow is on its way, and 2-3 inches is forecast for tomorrow.
This time I saw the female manky Mallard in the creek.
I also saw an adult male Common Goldeneye in the creek. It was stretching out its neck and pulling it back:
Finally, here’s one of the juvenile White-crowned Sparrows (Gambel’s) making the greenbelt its home this winter:
Seen on a noontime walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:
And a little later:
Snow starting falling around noon today. Before then, I took an early walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. Here’s a Common Goldeneye In the waterfall area of Bear Creek:
Five Hooded Mergansers were on the west side of the footbridge. Three males were putting on moves for the females:
Manky Mallard was hanging out with the Mallards in the creek:
And the American Wigeon was in its usual spot:
Yesterday’s icy fog gave way to brisk, blue skies today. I took a late lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. At the waterfall area of Bear Creek a Red-tailed Hawk flew in and posed. It’s the one with the pale aspect to its head:
I found the American Wigeon in its usual spot:
Just two female Hooded Mergansers were in the pond that never freezes. But there were five (three males and two females) by the park bench beaver dam, as well as a Common Goldeneye.
Birds can be streaky. A Great Blue Heron has used the woods behind our house as a roost for the past several days. It spent nearly all morning there today. Most of the time it looked like this:
Just before noon it stretched before flying off:
Today I joined a Denver Field Ornithologists field trip called Rosy-Finch Ramble, led by David Suddjian. We stopped by several homes in Jefferson and Park counties that have feeders known to be frequented by Rosy Finches.
At the first home, in Golden, there were no Rosy Finches, but there was a Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay.
In Park County we stopped by a three different homes, two of which had Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches. Here’s one:
At these two homes there were other birds nearby, including a Mountain Chickadee, American Tree Sparrows, and Steller’s Jays, including this one:
We stopped along a road in order to view a far-off Rough-legged Hawk. This Horned Lark sat on a fence nearby:
At the third house we visited, we did not see any Rosy Finches, but we did see a few Cassin’s Finches. Here’s one:
There were Downy Woodpeckers and Hairy Woodpeckers, including this one:
There was other wildlife besides birds.
In the afternoon my better half and I walked the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. We saw two Common Goldeneyes, a female diving in the pond near the park bench beaver dam, and this young male swimming in Bear Creek:
There were dozens of Mallards in Bear Creek, along with a lone male Wood Duck. We wondered what happened to his favorite Mallard. But then we saw another Wood Duck, with his favorite Mallard, at the pond that never freezes. Five Hooded Mergansers were there, including this young male:
On the walk uphill back to our neighborhood I caught sight of a Northern Shrike. It was in the brush along a fence bordering an old horse farm. I watched it fly to the top of a small tree and cough up a pellet. Here it is immediately before:
About a half hour after dawn my better half and I headed into the Bear Creek Greenbelt to walk with the dog. The temperature was in the mid 20s and the trail was icy in places. Over about an hour and twenty minutes, we saw most of the birds that I saw yesterday, including a flock of Bushtits, the Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, and American Tree Sparrows. Notably, we did not see (or hear) any House Finches or European Starlings (but then again, how did we not see any American Robins or Dark-eyed Juncos yesterday?)–and we did not walk as far as the Kipling Parkway Bridge or the Wadsworth Bridge to check for American Dippers.
However, we did see a few birds that were not seen yesterday:
Also, at the pond that never freezes we found a young male Hooded Merganser:
While we were out walking we ran into a neighbor, who told us about a “black hawk” that she and her husband had seen the day before. It was in their yard, eating a rabbit . . . the whole thing, she said. I’m pretty sure they saw the Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk.
In the afternoon we went out for another walk in the greenbelt. The Great Blue Heron was back in the same trees it’s been frequenting for a few days. Here it is napping:
We walked to the park bench beaver dam. A Common Goldeneye was diving there:
West of the footbridge midway between Estes and Kipling St. we spotted a pair of Hooded Mergansers and a second Common Goldeneye, a young male. The Wood Duck was still keeping close to his favorite Mallard:
This morning I took part in a Denver Field Ornithologists field trip to the Bear Creek Greenbelt. The City of Lakewood–uncharacteristically–hadn’t plowed the Bear Creek Trail, which had two to three inches of snow, by the time I started walking toward the Stone House to meet the group at 8:00 a.m. It was cold at the start–maybe 10 degrees or so–but the sun was out and the group was game and warm-hearted.
In the next three hours we saw 26 species of birds, a good haul for mid-January. The crowd favorites were the flocks of Bushtits, the American Dipper, and the Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk.
Surprisingly, we did not catch sight of yesterday’s Great Blue Heron or any Dark-eyed Juncos–not to mention a Northern Shrike, a Common Goldeneye, a Wood Duck, or a Gadwall. And we saw only a handful of Hooded Mergansers, even though I’d seen more than a dozen the past few days. Yet thanks to the collective birding skills, we did tick off a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, an American Tree Sparrow, and an American Goldfinch, which are birds I see only occasionally in the greenbelt.
Here are a couple of views of the American Dipper, which one sharp-eyed participant spotted east of the Kipling Parkway bridge:
Here are views of the (non-Harlan’s) Red-tailed Hawk we saw. This is not our resident female (the banded one–see May 21, 2021) , nor her mate last year. This one is pale around the bill and above the eye. Maybe it’s the one I saw with the resident female last fall (see November 9, 2021).
On my walk back home, I spotted a Common Goldeneye just east of the footbridge midway between Estes and Kipling St. To my surprise, it wasn’t the female that’s been hanging out lately–I’m pretty sure it’s a 1st-winter male.