Early Spring Birding in Cherry Creek (Part 2)

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Yesterday I visited Cherry Creek again to do some birding. I managed to photograph quite a few birds. Yesterday I wrote about the songbirds, of which the Chickadee most definitely stood out as the photogenic one. In addition to the songbirds, I managed to get quite a few shots of pelicans, cormorants, ducks, and geese. The featured image today just had to be a photo of a mother goose nesting in the nook of a tree stump beached just off shore. The lighting wasn’t great, but I think the composition was good. Her mate was always around, gobbling up grass and giving me a look every so often as if to say “Don’t mess wit’ ma girl!” Not long after the featured photo above was taken, I took a high speed shot of one of them drinking, frozen water droplets caught mid air:

The nice thing about the Canada Goose is they are largely unafraid of humans. They’ll allow you to get pretty close, and so long as you don’t act threatening, will munch grass within a foot before moving off. While nearly everyone has seen a Canada Goose at one point or another, and they are somewhat “boring” subjects as a result, they do present plenty of good opportunities to practice my photography. Earlier in the day, while chasing down songbirds and scouting for Double-Crested Cormorants…a bird I was really hoping to see…I noticed a group of birds I’d never seen before and couldn’t identify. I found a few more a little later in the day, and after some research today I managed to identify them as American Coots. Definite marsh birds, they spent most of their time hanging around the cattail marshes that line the shores of the lake and are scattered throughout the southern wetlands area of Cherry Creek State Park. A dark bird, a nearly black dark navy blue, they have bright white beaks and deep red eyes. Kind of a curious combination, but beautiful birds none-the-less. I only managed to get a couple shots, including this one, which I’ve titled “In Wake of Coot!”:

One of the birds I actually set out to find yesterday was the Double-Crested Cormorant. I’d recently found a few photos of Double-Crested Cormorants, and they are pretty intriguing birds. A well-known breeding site here in Colorado is at Chatfield State Park, another managed wetland and reparian area here in Colorado…also known as a Great Blue Heron breeding site. Chatfield is a bit farther away, and needs a bit more planning before I head out there (something I hope to do soon), however I figured if Cormorants migrated to Chatfield they would probably migrate to Cherry Creek as well. As luck would have it, I managed to find several of these birds, darkly feathered with brilliant orange beaks and vibrant, detailed blue eyes, hanging out where I spent the latter part of the day. This was the same area where I found the nesting mother goose. While the closest of the Cormorants was a bit too far away to photograph with any amount of real detail with my current lens, I did manage to get a couple good shots.

At one point, a lone Mallard drake hauled himself up on the same log as this Cormorant was sunning on. For a short while the two eyeballed each other, however it seems they eventually decided to become friends. You can find that photo, titled “Log Buddies”, in the gallery at the bottom of this blog. Another one of the better shots of the day was of a different Mallard drake swimming around in one of the wetlands areas. Generally, mallards around here seem to have rather dull, yellow-green bills…however this guy had a rather vibrant, yellow bill and a great head of iridescent green feathers:

I kind of like the reflections in this shot…although I wish there had been fewer ripples. Just underneath the water, largely obscured by reflections, were some VERY LARGE fish…I would say 12-18 inches in size, grazing the sandy bottom. Every so often, they would rise as a group to the surface of the water, break through the surface in a tight knot, and then slowly descend again. Strange behavior…but then again…their fish.