January 12, 2022

Late yesterday afternoon my better half and I counted thirteen Hooded Mergansers in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  One was in the pond that never freezes (along with dozens of Mallards, a pair of Gadwalls, and a Common Goldeneye), six were in Bear Creek just west of the footbridge midway between Estes and Kipling St. (along with a couple of dozen Mallards), and six were in the new pond by the park bench beaver dam.  They shared the area with at least one muskrat:

Muskrat

We didn’t stay long enough to spot any beavers.  Slowly but surely, the beavers are turning the area into a Major Attraction for wildlife . . . diving ducks, muskrats, a Great Blue Heron.

January 11, 2022

On a lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I saw dozens of Mallards in Bear Creek, as well the Wood Duck, with his favorite Mallard, sitting on the north bank.

Wood Duck and Mallard

The Wood Duck chases off any Mallard drake who comes too close to his favorite Mallard.

Wood Duck chasing Mallard drake

Meanwhile, a female Common Goldeneye was diving for food near the footbridge between Estes and Kipling St.

Common Goldeneye

After work when my better half and I went back into the greenbelt, the Wood Duck and his favorite Mallard were holding court at the pond that never freezes.

Wood Duck and Mallard

Shortly before sunset, I joined a friend at the park bench beaver dam.  A lone male Hooded Merganser was diving for a meal in the beaver pond.  A muskrat swam from bank to bank, then settled on the north bank.   Eventually, a beaver hauled itself out of the water and gnawed on a tree.

Beaver

January 9, 2022

This morning I spent a few hours in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  It was cold at the start–less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit–and it didn’t get above freezing the whole time I was out there, but the sun was shining.

American Robin

Great Blue Heron

American Dipper

January 7, 2022

On an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, I ran into a photographer friend, and we walked to the pond that never freezes to see what was happening.  It was full of Mallards, but it also held five Hooded Mergansers, three males and two females.

The males began putting on courtship displays, throwing their heads back:

Hooded Mergansers

But most remarkably, they were also making deep, rolling, frog-like croaks.  We were standing on the northern edge of the pond, looking into the sun, so photographing them was challenging.  Utterly entranced, we watched and listened for several minutes.

After work, my better half and I ventured in the greenbelt with the dog.  Right away, my better half picked out a Red-tailed Hawk.  It was a Harlan’s–probably the same individual I’d seen the other day.

Red-tailed Hawk (Harlan’s)

At the new beaver dam by the park bench (on the south bank of Bear Creek between Estes and the first footbridge to the west–so from here on out I’m going to call it the park bench beaver dam), two beavers were out.

Beavers

Beaver

At the pond that never freezes, the five Hooded Mergansers were relaxing:

My better half turned back home with the dog, while I walked back to the park bench beaver dam to join a friend who had shown up.  Though the light was fading, we eventually picked out three beavers.

Beaver

Beaver

January 6, 2022

This morning dawned cold (6 degrees Fahrenheit), with snow still lightly falling.  On a mid-morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, my better half spotted a Northern Shrike perched just feet away on a low branch.

Northern Shrike

January 5, 2022

On an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I approached the pond that never freezes from the south.  The ducks reacted to my movement by quacking and moving to the north side, but when I stayed still, they quieted down and began feeding and drifting around the pond again.  The Common Goldeneye from the last couple of days was gone, but the Hooded Merganser pair was there, as was a Wood Duck drake.  The Wood Duck appeared to be fond of a female Mallard:

Wood Duck and Mallard

It repeatedly fended off a Mallard drake:

Wood Duck and Mallards

On my walk home I watched three American Crows chase a Red-tailed Hawk across the sky:

Red-tailed Hawk harassed by three American Crows

January 3, 2022

On a lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I found an American Dipper beneath the Kipling Parkway bridge:

American Dipper

Not too far away a Belted Kingfisher perched over Bear Creek:

I also saw four Red-tailed Hawks, including a Harlan’s:

Red-tailed Hawk (Harlan’s)

Red-tailed Hawk (Harlan’s)

The last bird I saw was a Spotted Towhee, which made me smile because I’ve been hearing this bird for weeks–usually right around dawn–but haven’t caught sight of one until today.

Spotted Towhee

After work my better half and I took the dog for a walk in the greenbelt.  At the pond that never freezes we saw 80 Mallards, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, a pair of American Wigeons, and a first-of-season female Common Goldeneye.

Common Goldeneye

American Wigeons

January 2, 2022

This morning on our walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I spotted a coyote, briefly, before it ran behind tall grass.  I ran parallel on the other side of the tall grass.  The coyote stopped at the top of a rise to look back at me, and then it was gone.

Coyote

Just as yesterday, I found a Song Sparrow gleaning insects from a tree along Bear Creek.

Song Sparrow

Later in the morning a friend and I drove out to Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  Bison were grazing:

Bison

Bison

We saw a number of birds of prey, including an American Kestrel, several Red-tailed Hawks, several Bald Eagles, and a couple of Ferruginous Hawks.

Ferruginous Hawk (light morph juvenile)

Ferruginous Hawk (dark morph adult) perched . . .

. . . Ferruginous Hawk taking off

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with prey

We saw dozens of Horned Larks and half a dozen Western Meadowlarks, including this one with a crossed bill:

Western Meadowlark

Here’s one without a crossed bill:

Western Meadowlark

The refuge was full of White-tailed Deer.  In fact, we saw only a couple of Mule Deers.  Here are two White-tails sparring:

White-tailed Deer

January 1, 2022

We woke up to several inches of snow on the ground, and more snow falling.  The temperature was in double digits, barely.

In the Bear Creek Greenbelt, here are views of the pond that never freezes just after noon:

Though the western end was icy, the pond lived up to its name

The eastern end wasn’t iced up . . . yet

On the doubletrack nearby, song sparrows were digging past the snow into the dirt for some sort of tasty morsel:

Song Sparrows

As I was heading home, I heard a Song Sparrow vocalizing beside Bear Creek.  I turned around and looked.

Song Sparrow

It was gleaning insects:

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Maybe the last thing an insect sees . . .

Song Sparrow