Sunday, February 15, 2009


Getting out on a dreary weekend can be tough. I was glad I forced myself to endure the cooler weather and drab skies over the past few days.

Friday evening I swung by Stearn's Lake, but decided to hike through the Preserve area and Open Space instead of looking at the geese in low light. I was greeted by a curious calf.

I then got to watch a Red-Tailed Hawk having supper.

The light degraded even more, so I abandoned the camera and just enjoyed walking in the open countryside. As I returned I checked some trees where I thought I had seen a Great Horned Owl on an early morning in January, but had not had enough of a view to be sure. This time I was fortunate to see him perched on a branch before he took flight for his evening hunt. Seeing an owl always makes time outside exciting.

Yesterday I had time, so despite the heavy clouds I decided to see where inspiration would lead me. I stopped by Lower Church Lake and saw the Trumpeters again. They were present along with tow cars of people watching them. I stopped for a bit, waved to the others who were there, and then decided to head on to Stanley Lake Park.

There were some Sparrows and Finches near the parking area, and this Rock Pigeon appeared undeterred by the giant fish above his head.

The lake was very quiet. I did get to continue my now apparent trend of seeing Ring-billeds eating crayfish.

He seems to be enjoying the snack.

I ended up on the far side of the lake, which had even fewer birds, there were two coyotes that passed a land bridge to an island.

Coyotes are getting a lot of bad press in the Denver metro area, and the media is full of proposed culling methods. I do understand population management issues, and that regulation is required at times. I grew up in Minnesota where for a time White-tailed Deer in the Minneapolis metro area seemed more numerous than rabbits. On the other hand it frustrates me that individuals blame the Coyote for attacking small pets. Personal accountability seems so unpopular these days. Despite the good time at the lake the leaden skies were getting to be a bit much, but Colorado offers a great solution....mountains!

Late afternoon didn't give me a large window, but I did get up to the Crescent Meadows section of Eldorado Canyon State Park. It was one of those quick moments that really makes me appreciate Colorado. A quick drive got me up 1500 feet, and above most of the clouds. I hiked up to the top of an outcrop and settled in to enjoy the sunset. While I was there I had what I thought was a Townsend's Solitaire perch in a treetop just above me. He was up sun from me, but I took a few frames while I had the chance. Despite the poor light conditions, the picture showed that this was not a Solitaire. Look at the shape of the bill:

It is a Northern Mockingbird. Correction - it is a Clark's Nutcracker, the Northern Mockingbird was a bad seasosnal fit, but I didn't think of the Clark's and as I had not seen it previously it did not pop into my mind immediately. A bit out of range, but fun to see that the sunshine was enjoyed by all sorts of species.

As the sun dropped I quickly headed back down the hill, and made one last pass by the Trumpeters on my way home.

Glad I made it outside!

2009 Count: 59
Lifetime: 89

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