Aspen birding II : Hallam Lake ACES
When: August 2019 Weather: Cool 10-25C
NikonP900, Sony RX10 Mk4, Leica M10P 35mm Summilux
In Aspen there is a place called the Aspen Centre for Environmental Services (ACES) which coordinates the environmental issues of the area…it also organises nature and birding walks and rambles. We were able to sign up for one organised ramble but we decided to ask their main birding guide Rebecca Weiss to take us on a 2 hour private bird outing; thankfully Rebecca was able to fit us in at short notice and she picked us up from The Little Nell Hotel at 7am and took us to the ACES centre which is on the edge of Hallam Lake. It is also where the Rio Grande Trail is accessed. The plan was to do some birding at Hallam Lake, then head off to one or two other locations….
The front entrance to ACES where we saw a number of interesting birds…
Hallam Lake is a beautiful secluded lake
Male mallard on the water
Canadian geese were very noisy!
On a dead tree across the lake, black capped Chickadees were busy tending their nest holes
cedar waxwing with red flashes on wing
the waxwings then started an aerial show of aerodynamic flight maneouvres….
waxwing in flight
Eyeing a bug
Western tanager from afar….it’s the ibrd featured on the front cover of Rebecca Weiss’ book on the Birds of the Roaring Fork Valley.
And then some yellow rumped warblers appeared….
yellow rumped warbler
and then the aerobatics started
We can see the yellow rumped warbler picking off the insects in what Rebecca called ‘aerial plankton’! A most appropriate term
Here the yellow rump is clearly seen…
tranquil Hallam Lake
Female Black Headed Grosbeak
Female Black headed Grosbeak
Great Blue Heron from afar across the lake
and then Rebecca quietly whispered ‘Bear!’…and there it was…across the lake thankfully
He lingered for a while and had a drink…highlighted against his dark fur are the light specks of ‘aerial plankton’
before he slowly lumbered off…..we thought he was a pretty large specimen but Rebecca said he was merely medium sized….
Outside the main gate, there is a curved stone wall on the left as you exit and we spotted a few more birds here…..a mountain chickadee on the rocks next to a brook
the cute white breasted nuthatch
Brown creeper with typical down-curved bill
Our first morning there we had intended to bird on the Rio Grande Trail but finding Lake Hallam behind the ACES building meant we saw many more birds there than on the Rio Grande Trail itself…..so if you are in Aspen and want to bird, you won’t do much better than birding behind and in front of the ACES office. Highly recommended