Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bonny Lake State Park

Recent news that budget restrictions will lead to the closure of Bonny Lake State Park made a decision to head out to eastern Colorado this weekend an easy one. I have heard of this plains migrant trap, but hadn't ever been there. So Saturday was my day. Granted, this site really doesn't heat up until spring migration, but off-season has the advantage of no crowds. Getting out to the Eastern border of Colorado did require an early start, but a full moon made for a well lit drive. I timed it right to arrive just before the sun rose.

I knew that the variety would be somewhat limited by the season, but I had two species that I hoped to see while I was there. Two of my favorite birds from growing up in Minnesota can be found in the extreme eastern portion of Colorado, the Northern Cardinal and Red-bellied Woodpecker. I hoped to find one or the other, and luckily got to see both while I was there. They were great, three Cardinals, one of which was singing, and one Red-bellied Woodpecker. Unfortunately, my shots of those two species were not, so I'll leave it to previous posts for pictures of those two...for now. Instead, Saturday apparently was about flying birds, like the White-crowned Sparrow above. As I was watching the white-crowneds and other sparrows I heard a rustling just in front of me in the patch of scrub. Moving slowly I hoped to get a view of the bird I had a feeling was just feet in front of me, and then.....

She, and a dozen of her friends exploded just in front of me. What I had thought were two, ended up being thirteen Ring-necked Pheasants. I was glad to get one keeper shot, those birds fly fast!

Red-tails were courting everywhere, and this fellow (I believe) was screaming romantically at his lady. It must have worked, because eventually the two went soaring off together.

After I had searched both sides of the lake I headed off, but being within sight of the Kansas boarder I decided to head over for a quick look. I spotted a Northern Harrier, and before I had a chance to turn around a dozen Horned Larks. Just as I recrossed back into Colorado I stopped on the shoulder to get shots of this intermediate Rough-legged Hawk. Not as tolerant of human presence as the light Rough-legged Hawk seen ion Boulder last month, this one was flying off, but still let me get a series of shots before it settled onto a distant power pole.

Yuma County Colorado doesn't get much attention, it lies between Interstates I70 and I76, but my tour between the two was a great day trip. Even in an off season I had a nice 40 species list. If times allow I hope to make it back out later in the spring to see if I can visit a Greater Prairie Chicken lek.

2011 Count: 70
Lifetime: 252


  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Great pictures and post. How is your GBBC coming?

  2. is this near midway blvd and lowell? we've been wondering what nest is in the big tree there.

  3. Hi Nicole, and thanks for visiting. I saw this comment come across on a post for Bonny Lake SP, of course that is nowhere near Midway and Lowell. There are a bunch of posts here about a large nest near that intersection, which may still be home to the Great Horned Owlettes. I haven't been by in a while, but this has reminded me I should check back.