November 4, 2022

On an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I spotted a Cooper’s Hawk–first one I’ve seen in several weeks.

Cooper’s Hawk

After work I zipped down to Bear Creek Lake Park.  In Bear Creek upstream from Skunk Hollow I found a young American Dipper.

American Dipper

American Dipper

Nearby a young Red-tailed Hawk was perched, watchful.

Red-tailed Hawk

I drove down to the Boat Launch area, where the word was sparrows, lots of them.  Here were the two varieties:

White-crowned Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

October 30, 2022

This morning I co-led, with David Suddjian, a Denver Field Ornithologists trip to Bear Creek Lake Park.   We saw two species of sparrows that return to Colorado in fall:

American Tree Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile)

We had distant views of five Western Grebes on the reservoir, and we also counted three American Dippers, including this one:

American Dipper

In the afternoon I walked in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  For only the second time ever, I saw a Hairy Woodpecker there:

Hairy Woodpecker

I heard a Townsend’s Solitaire, and tracked it down:

Townsend’s Solitaire

Both White-crowned Sparrows and American Tree Sparrows were present.  Here’s one of the latter:

American Tree Sparrow

The Northern Shrike appears to be making the greenbelt home for the winter:

Northern Shrike

Finally, I’m always heartened to see our resident, banded female Red-tailed Hawk.  Here she is on her usual perch:

Red-tailed Hawk

October 23, 2022

This morning I walked around the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  One of the first birds I saw was a Dark-eyed Junco:

Dark-eyed Junco

One of the first birds I heard was a Townsend’s Solitaire:

Townsend’s Solitaire

At the pond next to Stone House:

Pied-billed Grebe

Hooded Mergansers

European Starling contemplating a Red-winged Blackbird:

European Starling and Red-winged Blackbird

Portrait of a Red-winged Blackbird:

Red-winged Blackbird

First-of-season Northern Shrike:

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrikes

First-of-season (for the greenbelt) American Dippers:

American Dipper

American Dipper

October 22, 2022

Today I joined a Denver Field Ornithologists trip to Centennial Park.  Guest guide Linda Purcell showed us how she birds this particular patch.

We were treated to good views of a Red-breasted Merganser:

Red-breasted Merganser

There were also several Gadwalls:

Gadwalls

Though ubiquitous, House Finches are still striking:

House Finch

Seeing this young Merlin was a nice surprise:

Merlin

Then we moved on to South Platte Park–Northern Wildlife Area, where an Osprey gave us a show:

Osprey

Osprey (Black-billed Magpie saying, “You gonna eat that?)

Osprey

October 17, 2022

After work I slipped into the Bear Creek Greenbelt and spent twenty minutes or so watching this Belted Kingfisher.  She stayed perched above Bear Creek.  Twice she vocalized, but didn’t fly off.

Belted Kingfisher

October 16, 2022

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.

Coyote

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:

Townsend’s Solitaire

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.

Mallards

Pairing awaits for others.

Mallard

October 15, 2022

Today I birded on an Evergreen Audubon trip led by Chuck Aid at Bear Creek Lake Park.  Overall impression:  very, very, very quiet, even if we did tally 29 species over four hours.  No Downies, no nuthatches, no warblers, no ducks on the water (with the exception of a Ruddy Duck, below), even though we scoped the reservoir and the Soda Lakes.  Red-tailed Hawks were the only raptors we saw.  Two American White Pelicans linger, as do several dozen Double-crested Cormorants.  No shorebirds apart from a couple of Killdeer.  There was an American Dipper in Bear Creek at Skunk Hollow, but I missed it.

Ruddy Duck