Monthly Archives: May 2022

May 31, 2022

While we were on an early walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, my better half spotted a coyote in a prairie dog town:

Coyote

Later in the morning, our neighbor texted us to say she’d seen a fox in our back yard around 7:40 a.m.  We had missed it!

At lunch I darted out to see what the eastside (East of Estes) Great Horned Owlets were up to before the rain moved in.  Foot cleaning in close quarters, apparently.

Great Horned Owlets

Papa was across the creek.  Mama was up high in a tree east of the nest tree.

I walked around the pond at Stonehouse to see if I could find the Hooded Mergansers.  No luck, but I found a snapping turtle:

Snapping turtle

On the way back home, I stopped by the nest to see whoooo was there:

Great Horned Owlet

May 30, 2022

A bit after dawn I checked on the eastside (East of Estes) Great Horned Owl nest in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  The nestlings were hunkered down.

Great Horned Owlets

Mama Great Horned Owl was in a tree above them, and papa was across the creek.

A little later my better half and I walked the dog in the greenbelt, and we headed west toward the westside (West of Estes) Great Horned Owl family.

On the way we were treated to a trio of Cedar Waxwings.  Here’s one:

Cedar Waxwing

The owlets were perched together (mama was in the same tree, on a much higher limb):

Great Horned Owlets

A little while later they were more alert:

Great Horned Owlets

Then they flap-walked their way across the branch.  A nearby crow got their undivided attention:

Great Horned Owlets

Each flew across the creek to the south side.  Here’s one before takeoff:

Great Horned Owlet

Toward close of day I checked on the eastside nest again.  The nestlings were hunkered down.  So I wandered around by the pond by Stone House and found a Hooded Merganser with several ducklings, including one Mallard duckling:

Hooded Merganser with ducklings

She eventually brought the ducklings to shore, but the Mallard duckling apparently dropped off somewhere.

Hooded Mergansers

When I walked back to the nest, both nestlings were out.  They were not amused.

Great Horned Owlets

May 29, 2022

This morning my better half and I took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  At the Cooper’s Hawk nest, both adults were in residence:

Cooper’s Hawk nest

At the pond that never freezes, we saw mama Hooded Merganser and her ducklings (two more are tucked up under her):

Hooded Mergansers

And just because I like Hooded Mergansers so much, here’s a shot from a different angle:

Hooded Mergansers

Later in the morning I headed out into the greenbelt again.  Here’s mama Great Horned Owl near the eastside (East of Estes) nest:

Great Horned Owl

Nearby, American Robins and House Wrens sing nearly non-stop.  This bird made for a pop of color:

Yellow Warbler

Sights on my walk home, taking the scenic route:

Red-tailed Hawk with prairie dog

Hooded Mergansers with all three of her ducklings visible

Mallard with four ducklings

Mallard with ten ducklings

May 28, 2022

This morning I went on a Denver Field Ornithologists field trip to Deer Creek Canyon led by David Suddjian.  One highlight was watching courtship behavior of Wilson’s Snipes.  In a quieter moment:

Wilson’s Snipe

Another highlight was being able to photograph a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher at fairly close quarters:

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Another bluish bird:

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

Moving from blue to black and yellow:

Red-winged Blackbird

Anise Swallowtail (at least, most of it)

This afternoon I checked in on the eastside (East of Estes) owlets in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.

Great Horned Owlets

Great Horned Owlet

Great Horned Owlets

May 24, 2022

After work my better half and I walked east in the Bear Creek Greenbelt to check out the eastside (East of Estes) Great Horned Owl nest.

Great Horned Owlets

 

May 22, 2022

This morning I walked in the Bear Creek Greenbelt for a couple of hours.  Most of the snow from earlier in the weekend is gone, but broken tree limbs and branches are everywhere.  The weather has pushed in lots of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and Western Wood-Pewees.

I found one adult and one owlet from the westside (West of Estes) Great Horned Owls.  Both were in the same tree on the south side of Bear Creek.  Here’s the adult:

Great Horned Owl

Red-winged Blackbirds are conspicuous and ubiquitous.

Red-winged Blackbird (female)

In the afternoon my better half and I rode our bikes to Bear Creek Lake Park.  There we checked in on the Great Horned Owls near the park entrance.  My better half spotted a pair of ears sticking out above the leaves; it was an adult owl.  I found the owlets perched together on a single branch on a tree to the west of where the adult was.

May 21, 2022

Yesterday a late spring snowstorm moved into the area.  It snowed through the night and continued this morning.  Several inches were on the ground, and tree limbs were freighted with with globs of snow stuck to leaves.

In other words, a perfect day for dawn patrol in the Bear Creek Greenbelt!

At first all I could see clearly was one owlet in the eastside (East of Estes) nest:

Great Horned Owlet

I heard tree limbs crashing down around me.  A second owl-watcher showed up, and we walked along the south side of Bear Creek, where the second owl-watcher spotted Papa high in a cottonwood.  A tree limb lay smashed across the paved trail.

It began to snow harder.  We returned to the nest.  The second owl-watcher discerned an adult in the nest.

Great Horned Owl and owlet

After two hours I packed it up and headed home for breakfast and dry clothes.  While at home, I saw a surprise visitor to our back yard:

Black-headed Grosbeak (female)

I went back into the greenbelt a little later in the morning, after it had stopped snowing.

Red-tailed Hawk

Dozens of Violet-Green Swallows patrolled the pond by Stone House, as well as several Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows.  In a moment of repose:

From left to right, Cliff Swallow, Violet-Green Swallow, and Barn Swallow

Canada Goose and goslings

Hooded Merganser with eleven ducklings (Canada Goose for scale)

And as they say in Italian bike races (the Giro is going on now!), here’s the gruppo compatto:

Hooded Merganser and ducklings

Back at the eastside owl nest, much of the snow had melted and the leaves had sprung back up again:

Great Horned Owlet

Great Horned Owl

In the afternoon I went out into the greenbelt again (after I fortified myself with lunch).  Western Wood-Pewees have returned in numbers.

Western Wood-Pewee

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Common Grackle

Red-winged Blackbird (female)

Black-crowned Night Heron

Lest we forget the mammals:

Coyote

Muskrat

May 18, 2022

My better half and I began the day at Colorado River State Park (Connected Lakes section).  We spent a couple of hours walking around the three lakes . . . and spotting 25 species of birds.  We heard Black-headed Grosbeaks and Gambel’s Quail non-stop, but didn’t get a glance.

Here are a couple of the more visible birds:

Bullock’s Oriole

Bewick’s Wren

Back at home, we couldn’t wait to see what the westside owls were up to.  One of the owlets was resting in a drey:

Great Horned Owlet

Mama and the second owlet were perched in a nearby tree:

Great Horned Owls

Here’s a muskrat along Bear Creek:

Muskrat

May 17, 2022

Today my better half and I rode our mountain bikes at 18 Road Trails, in Mesa County.  On the way (on said 18 Road) we saw wildlife perched on the side of the road:

Loggerhead Shrike

Squirrel

The trails were awesome.  We took Prime Cut uphill and rode Kessel Run and PBR (Pumps, Bumps, and Rollers) downhill, the latter repeatedly. Wildflowers were in bloom.  We saw dozens of Rock Wrens, several Horned Larks,  a Common Raven and three young, and a Red-tailed Hawk.  We also heard a Gray Vireo and a Black-throated Gray Warbler.

Afterwards, we stopped by Highline State Park.  It was so hot (and relatively un-shady) that we didn’t stay long.  I did get a good look at this bird:

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Afterward, we drove the entire 23 miles of road at Colorado National Monument.  While hiking Otto’s Trail we got a good look at Independence Monument:

Independence Monument

May 16, 2022

We started the day around dawn in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  It’s a good time to spot raccoons, or be spotted by them.

Raccoon

Both westside (west of Estes) owlets had branched out to a tree west of the nest tree:

Great Horned Owlets

Mama was keeping watch nearby:

Great Horned Owl

At the end of our walk we saw another mammal:

Muskrat

Then we drove over to the Grand Junction area.  At Rabbit Valley we saw a Rock Wren:

Rock Wren

Wildflowers and cactus were blooming:

Flora

At Colorado National Monument we spotted a Say’s Phoebe along the Alcove Trail:

Say’s Phoebe