This morning’s early walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt put me more at ease as I saw an uptick in wildlife–some familiar but recently elusive, and others returning to spend winter in Colorado. The golds and reds of the trees warmed the cool, gray sky.
As I set out, a Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the loudspeaker. This had long been the haunt of the resident, female Red-tailed Hawk, but I haven’t seen much of her this year. Unlike the previous three years, she did not use the nest along Yale. The male I’d seen her with this year appeared different–more white on the head, and perhaps lighter eyes–from her mate of the last three years. I don’t know where they nested, if they did.
I kept an eye on the hawk. At one point, the hawk stood up and I was able to discern a band around the right leg. It was indeed our resident, female Red-tailed Hawk. She stayed perched on the loudspeaker, alone and silent, for the two hours I walked around.
Our resident Red-tailed Hawk–a banded female
Two other familiar denizens of the greenbelt I glimpsed were a beaver, swimming across Bear Creek with freshly chewed-off branches and leaves, and a coyote making tracks across a prairie dog town.
Townsend’s Solitaires have been showing up in numbers–which is not to say in flocks–across the front range in the last few weeks. From time to time one will appear in the greenbelt, as one did today:
And unlike yesterday, where we saw only a single Ruddy Duck at Bear Creek Lake Park, today at the pond next to Stone House I saw four Hooded Mergansers–an adult female, an adult male, and two immature individuals. The adult female was vocalizing. I used Merlin Sound ID to record the sound. Merlin called it a Common Raven. Twice.
Hooded Merganser (female)
I also saw five Gadwalls, at least as many Mallards, three Northern Shovelers, and a Pie-billed Grebe. Yet I also saw one–maybe two–Double-crested Cormorants, who haven’t yet left for warmer climes.
Pied-billed Grebe (Northern Shovelers in background)
Closer to home, in Bear Creek, Mallards are pairing up.
Pairing awaits for others.