Part 3: Community Science with iNaturalist at the
Denver Audubon Nature Center and Trails Project November 2020
By Rick Kenney and Tom Loucks
On November 16th, we returned again to the Nature Center and found that winter bird species have arrived, plants have gone to seed, and insects are seeking shelter. This was our fourth visit since we commenced our recordings, and it may have been our last for the calendar year. All of our observations have been entered into iNaturalist (in the Audubon Nature Center and Trails project) and are now Research Grade.
Looking out to the north of the fishing pond, we could see a number of duck species on the water, and we attempted to walk out there to check them out. All of them were far from us, and thus the capabilities of our cameras were strained. We positively identified American Coots, Mallards, American Wigeons, Pied-billed Grebes, a Belted Kingfisher, and a Red-tailed Hawk.
We’re relatively certain that we saw Redhead ducks (an ID also shared with us by a wildlife photographer with a 600mm lens). The Redheads were grouped together and a long way north of us. Although the distance strained the capabilities of our cameras, we strove to watch them carefully as they swam around in full sunlight. Parameters supporting our identification (as opposed to Canvasbacks or female goldeneyes) were that their heads showed bright rufous coloration, the bodies were gray, not white, there were prominent dark-colored breasts ahead of the gray body, and dark tertials behind the gray body. Importantly, E-Bird confirmed to us that other sightings of the Redhead had been made nearby.
As we walked the Nature Center grounds, we were surrounded by Rabbit Brush gone to seed, as well as abundant Western Virgin’s Bower, also gone to seed.
We observed Eastern Boxelder Bugs in two settings: at the Audubon Nature Center building, where many bugs were swarming in the warm sun at the door and windows, and in the field on tree trunks where they could be seen to be scouting out shelter under flaking pieces of bark. The bugs will overwinter in these sheltered places and emerge in the spring when the weather warms.
We will continue to make periodic visits in each season to document and report changes in the natural surroundings of the Audubon Nature Center.