May 5, 2021

This morning I swapped the telephoto lens on my camera for a wide-angle lens in order to better show what Bear Creek looks like these days in my neck of the Bear Creek Greenbelt.

This is a shot taken from the south bank (just west of the footbridge) looking west:

Bear Creek

What’s left of the beaver dam just west of the footbridge:

Bear Creek

Looking east from the footbridge:

Bear Creek

May 4, 2021

The spigot at the dam at Bear Creek Lake Park must be wide open.  Bear Creek is running very high and fast.  The current has worked carnage on all the beaver dams.

Here are breaches at the dam by the footbridge west of Estes:

Beaver dam with breach

Beaver dam with breach

A couple of Cinnamon Teals were hugging the bank a bit west of the dam:

Cinnamon Teals

A female Red-winged Blackbird vocalizing:

Red-winged Blackbird

The resident female Red-tailed Hawk appeared to be drying off at her favorite perch.  The last three numbers–651–can be seen on the band . . . but I’m missing the two digits that precede those:

Red-tailed Hawk

A few minutes later, our resident pair on the same perch (keeping an eye on the nest):

Red-tailed Hawks

A Hooded Merganser in a ditch that leads off Bear Creek just east of the footbridge:

Hooded Merganser

May 2, 2021

Such a nice assortment of wildlife early this morning in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  We saw one beaver, one muskrat, and the usual avian wildlife, including a Black-crowned Heron, two Double-crested Cormorants, a Red-tailed Hawk on the nest, and a dozen or more Yellow-rumped Warblers, including both Audubon (yellow-throated) and Myrtle (white-throated).

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)

Common Grackle

A little later in the morning we rode our tandem road bike to Bear Creek Lake Park.  Wild plum is in bloom everywhere in the park.  We also saw one Red-tailed Hawk and one Swainson’s Hawk.

Still later in the morning I took another walk by myself in the greenbelt before the rain started.  I saw my first Yellow Warbler of the year:

Yellow Warbler

Our resident female Red-tailed Hawk was on her usual perch near the greenhouse.  I shot from quite a distance because I decided that discretion was the better part of valor when it came to that ominous sky.

Red-tailed Hawk framed by ominous sky

As I was hotfooting it back home, I also saw three ratty-looking Red-tailed Hawks flying overhead.  Here are two:

Red-tailed Hawks

The one in focus, the one on the right, has light-colored eyes, making it a younger individual.

May 1, 2021

This morning I joined a bird walk put on by the Front Range Birding Company at the Audubon Nature Center, with Chuck Aid as our guide.  We began by watching a presentation put on at the bird banding station by Meredith McBurney, of the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.  There were several volunteers, including Charlie Chase, who led us around some of the mist nets.   (These are the same folks who run the bird banding station at Barr Lake in the fall.  For a more comprehensive write-up of how their bird banding stations are run, click here: https://naturallyjax.com/?p=5538).

The first bird to be banded this morning was a Wilson’s Warbler:

Wilson’s Warbler

It was followed by a Black-capped Chickadee, two American Goldfinches, and a Spotted Towhee.

American Goldfinch (female)

American Goldfinches (female on right, male on right)

Spotted Towhee

Afterward, we walked around the nature center.  Highlights included two immature Bald Eagles, a Broad-winged Hawk, and two House Wrens (first of year, for me).  We saw some thirty-odd species in all, including these two:

Cooper’s Hawk

Say’s Phoebe

In the late afternoon my better half and I walked the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  For the first time, we saw a Snowy Egret there, above the pond that never freezes:

Snowy Egret

April 29, 2021

After work we hopped on our mountain bikes and headed toward Bear Creek Lake Park to ride the Mt. Carbon Loop.  On the way, we saw a few people gathered by the side of Bear Creek Trail, looking at something.  Turns out it was a snapping turtle:

Snapping turtle

Leaves are now budding out everywhere and a few flowering trees have begun to bloom.  On one stretch of the Mt. Carbon Loop, the wild plums have blossomed, giving off an intoxicating scent.  We also saw the nesting Great Horned Owl along the Cottonwood Trail and at least one owlet.

I received another email from the Bird Banding Laboratory.  I’d sent a second picture of the band on our resident female Red-tailed Hawk.  Here are the two pictures with partially legible numbers:

Here is the response:

Thank you for your patience and thank you for the additional photo. I have re-searched our database for 1957-XX651, and unfortunately, I still cannot rule out several individuals banded in California. Please let me know if you happen to get either or both of the last digits. 

 

April 28, 2021

At the noon hour I took a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  Bear Creek was still running high, for the third day in a row.  About a week ago my better half and I watched someone–a Lakewood employee, perhaps–open up the gate on a ditch that leads off Bear Creek (just east of the footbridge between Estes and Old Kipling).  The ditch began running higher than we’d eve seen it.  Then two days ago, Bear Creek began running high, as though someone had opened up the dam at Bear Creek Lake Park.   We’d never seen the current moving so fast.  We weren’t alone in wondering whether Mallard nests on low-lying areas near the edge of the creek were getting flooded.

After work I took another walk in the greenbelt, and Bear Creek, though still high, was no longer running fast.  Maybe the spigot at the dam has been tightened.

Then I turned and headed east and explored a little of the greenbelt east of Estes.  The Great Horned Owl was “sleeping” sentry:

Great Horned Owl

I got word that the nest is indeed nearby and that there are three owlets, none of which can be readily seen.

Just across the creek I got my first look this year at a Swainson’s Hawk in the greenbelt:

Swainson’s Hawk

Back on the west side of Estes I caught sight of this Belted Kingfisher:

Belted Kingfisher

Also–yesterday I saw the first-of-year Broad-tailed Hummingbird at the nectar feeder on our back deck.

April 26, 2021

This morning I took a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt shortly after dawn.  I saw Yellow-rumped Warblers in the treetops (which is where American Goldfinches, in their spring plumage, are being seen these days).

Song Sparrows perch lower, sing loudly, and are more easily photographed:

Song Sparrow

At the pond that never freezes I saw two beavers, including this one:

Beaver

A good assortment of waterfowl was out:  a female Hooded Merganser, a male Cinnamon Teal, three Blue-winged Teals (two males and one female), a pair of Gadwalls, a pair of Canada Geese, and Mallards.

Blue-winged Teal

In the afternoon in the greenbelt I saw a couple of Bushtits.  Here’s one:

Bushtit

At first there was one Double-crested Cormorant:

Double-crested Cormorant

And then there were two:

Double-crested Cormorants

A new addition at the pond that never freezes:

Bat House

And the Red-tailed Hawk pair:

Red-tailed Hawks (female on left, male on right)

April 25, 2021

This morning on our walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt the Red-winged Blackbirds were the most populous, and vocal, of the species we saw.

Red-winged Blackbird (male)

Red-winged Blackbird (female)

Red-winged Blackbird (female) with nesting material

There’s still a variety of waterfowl:  Mallards, Canada Geese, Gadwalls, Cinnamon Teals, Blue-winged Teals, a Double-crested Cormorant, and a couple of female Hooded Mergansers, including this one:

Hooded Merganser

The female Red-tailed Hawk was on the nest at Yale.  The male was on one of their favorite perches:

Red-tailed Hawk

At midway we rode our mountain bikes at Bear Creek Lake Park.  The Great Horned Owl was on her nest along the Cottonwood Tail, and we’re pretty sure we saw a white downy head next to her.

The temperature soared into the upper 70s today.  I took another walk in the greenbelt in the afternoon.  The darker-headed Red-tailed Hawk was on the nest:

Red-tailed Hawk

 

A pair of Gadwalls:

Gadwalls

The birds below may or may not have been yawning.  The Double-crested Cormorant was definitely doing some gular fluttering on the warmest day of the year so far.

Hooded Merganser

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

April 24, 2021

This morning I joined a birdwalk at Chatfield State Park led by Joey Kellner.  The weather was beautiful, the company genial, and the birding pretty good!

Birds weren’t the only wildlife we saw:

Beaver

Mule deer

We saw several Bald Eagles, including these two immature individuals:

Bald Eagles

We saw several shorebirds, including Greater Yellowlegs, a Semipalmated Plover, a number of sandpipers (including Western Sandpiper) and this Marbled Godwit:

Marbled Godwit

There were also Blue-winged Teals, Mallards, Redheads, and Northern Shovelers . . . and White Pelicans.

White Pelican

We saw a nesting Great Horned Owl and a Long-eared Owl on the wing.  Here’s a Townsend’s Solitaire:

Townsend’s Solitaire

I saw my first-of-year hummingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, and Yellow-rumped Warblers (both Audubon and Myrtle).

In the afternoon my better half and I took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  There were five Cinnamon Teals west of the footbridge (a single female), as well as a pair of Blue-winged Teals and a pair of Gadwalls.

Gadwalls

We saw three Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting on the south bank of Bear Creek–both Audubon and Myrtle.

In the pond that never freezes two female Hooded Mergansers were curled up on a log:

Hooded Mergansers

The darker-headed Red-tailed Hawk was sitting on the nest at Yale.  Four Common Grackles were displaying in what appears to be a kind of lek.  One by one, each would spread its wings and vocalize:

Common Grackle

For the first time ever, we saw an Osprey flying over the greenbelt.

When we got home, our neighbors were working in their back yard.  One said she thought she heard a Broad-tailed Hummingbird earlier today.  I’ve had my feeder up for almost ten days (I change the nectar regularly), but haven’t seen one on our back deck yet.

April 23, 2021

On our early morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt we saw the first Black-crowned Night Heron of the year . . . just where I expected it to show up, which is in the marsh east of the pond that never freezes.

In the afternoon we saw several teals, including these three:

Cinnamon Teal (male) and two females (Cinnamon and Blue-winged)

The female Red-tailed Hawk was at the nest:

Red-tailed Hawk