Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clear Creek

Saturday's walk wasn't all goofy Mallards. I had headed over, hoping to add a couple more species to my list for the year. After some of the goodies found in the area last year I thought it would be a good place to start. My plan was to check to the west, where Rusty Blackbirds had been seen last year, and then turn back to check the ponds to the east of I70. It didn't take long for me to hear, and then see a pair of Killdeer.

But there was another species that I had seen in the same spot before, and was hoping to relocate last weekend. I find it entertaining that the last post on this bird was from the same spot, posted exactly one year ago. I wonder if the bird was thinking - oh boy there is that human watching me hunt with that big eye looking thing again!

As the number of pictures and my previous posts can attest, I get a huge kick out of American Dippers.

They make their living in rushing water that would push us downstream with ease. As my cloudy day shots can attest, they are well suited to blending with rock and water. But, what could otherwise be an easily overlooked bird is actually fascinating to watch. Not only do they swim in the torrent, they also emerge and submerge body parts in all sorts of comical ways!

Not only that, but when out of the water they are constantly bobbing up and down on their legs. They totally remind me of old Disney cartoon characters dancing.

Dippers also seem to do a lot more wing stretches. Not sure if it is more because they get worked under water more, or if it is just so cold in there that they try to warm them up every chance they get!

Their activity makes them really fun to watch, but as the temps warm up and trees leaf out they get harder and harder to watch or photograph. This spot is a bit unusual because the bird is basically out in suburbia. They are normally associated with mountain streams, but this one is a good seven miles from the foothills.

I really like that this bird has made itself such a convenient stretch of creek for its territory, hopefully it won't be another year before I get to watch again.

Maybe the reason it was stretching above was because this species is always mixing eating and swimming - didn't its momma ever tell it to wait thirty minutes?

The mostly-cloudy skies didn't lend themselves to great photos, so I just kept walking west rather than turning back to the ponds.

I finished my walk passing the miles of Coors Brewing campus before reaching Golden. Any brewery that has their own working yard locomotive to move around train cards of supplies has my respect!

With that, Mr. Ring-necked Duck says farewell. The beginning of this week featured freezing rain, sleet, light snow and fog - so photography has been minimal. Hopefully the beautiful if cool evening last night will be a sign of things to come.


  1. I also enjoy watching the dippers. I have not seen them in this are, but I remember many pleasant hours spent watching them in the high country of southern Utah. Very interesting birds!

  2. I would love to see a dipper doing its thing! Very cool photos!