The Birds, Wildlife, & Stars of the Mesa

One of our favorite places to go not too far from our home base is the grand Mesa Wilderness.  It’s only about 1/2 hr to the exit off I-70, then about another 1/2 hr all of the way to the top.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of fun stuff from the canyon floor to the Mesa vista to see … to the contrary, there are subjects to see all along the way.  On this couple of days in late spring, I thought I would share some fun images.

I was speaking to someone today about birds that you see in one locale (i.e. state) that you don’t in another … such birds are what I call “ho hum” birds … the ones that are quite plentiful.  See, when i lived in south Florida, I loved to see white-crowned sparrows, since I didn’t see them all of the time … or hardly there at all.  Here we see them pretty much all over … and in all stages.

500_4923Then there’s the pine siskin … a never seen (usually) bird in south Florida, but another uite common bird in the western Colorado geography.  I have been having a great time photographing them.500_4733500_4749The western kingbird is a beautiful flycatcher, which is common here and known to winter in south Florida … that doesn’t mean that I’ve photographed one there … for I wasn’t known for my knowledge of “non-raptor” birds.  LOL850_4386Some birds which migrate through Florida during migration, actually spend their summers here in Colorado … such as the beautiful yellow warbler.  500_4840During the summer, they nest here and that’s when my skills as a bird ID’er really get challenged … fledglings are seemingly everywhere.500_4770I absolutely love the yellow-dumped or Audubon’s warblers.  They have the most striking combination of black, gray, and white, with a sprinkling of beautiful yellow as well (this is the male).

500_5064Speaking of beautiful … the lazuli bunting summers here as well and it’s quite a thrill for me to see it when I’m out and about.  I was fortunate even to get a few who visited my back yard feeder.500_5354Singing birds are such fun to encounter as well.500_5506Not only do we have western kingbirds, but we also have eastern kingbirds (OK, truth be told I THINK that this is an image of one … but even if it isn’t, we do have them).850_4167Of course, my favorite of all types of birds are the ones in the raptor heading.  All kinds of raptors … from hawks to owls to eagles to falcons and everything in between.  Prairie falcons are quite fascinating raptors in the falcon family.  We never had them in Florida, so I’ve learned a lot about them lately.  It nests on cliffs and can often be found there or searching for prey on the prairies.850_4268850_4319The most common raptor we have is the red-tailed hawk.  Contrary to belief not all red-tailed hawks actually have red tails, but you can be pretty sure if you see a red tail, that’s what it is.  Other clues are things like belly bands and patterns on the back of the birds when perched.850_4096Wait a minute … now that’s not a raptor or even a bird.  Actually when up on the Mesa, Tom enjoys flying his RC glider sailplanes.  LOL.  It’s always fun to hear people talking about it when they see it flying about.850_4345Of course, the Mesa is not only birds.  In fact, there are lots of wildlife species up there too.  There are smaller animals such as the squirrels and the chipmunks … which have been quite habituated.850_4352500_4055850_4356850_4370Several times we’ve also encountered some nice healthy-looking coyote.  It always amazing me how they freeze their action when spotted until they assess that you’re not a threat … at which time they go about their normal day and hunting.850_4157Then there are yellow-bellied marmot and in the late spring, there are lots of them.  Both adults and their young can be found scurrying about.  Of course, the interactions of the young are simply fabulous to observe.  Sometimes their play fighting takes on quite the realistic look.  LOL500_5587-EditLike pika, young marmot gather up grasses and run their payload into the cracks and crevices of the rock piles they live in.500_5836-EditThen there’s the nighttime skies over the Grand Mesa.  Trust me, it gets pretty dark up there and it’s fabulous to take in some astro photography up there.  If not, you can still enjoy the millions of stars and the Milky Way as it rises over the night sky.  The perfect way to end the day … or I should say night … on the Mesa.850_4473-EditNext Up:  A favorite Colorado pastime in the autumn

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com                 http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

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My World That Surrounds Me

In late fall/early winter, the Grand Valley area of western Colorado plays host to a variety of migrating birds.  Of course, one of my favorites are the sandhill cranes.  It’s not unusual to see groups of 1,000 or more in the early morning or pre-dusk hours, as they roost in the farmlands.  Mostly we see adults, though sometimes you get a few teenagers.

DSC_6171-Edit-2Whenever I see sandhill cranes, I’m immediately taken back to one of my first encounters of fields of them, back at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, AK.  There’s few sights or sounds as beautiful as congregating and celebrating sandhills.  Don’t even get me going as to how fabulous they are when courting.  🙂DSC_6223-Edit-Edit-2Home in Colorado now, I’ve had my share of “new” birds.  Now this doesn’t mean that these birds are “lifers” for me, but to have them share my immediate surroundings, has been a thrill.  One of them that I take great joy in viewing is the Steller’s Jay.  Such attitude it seems to possess with that fancy crested ‘do … I always stop to grab a shot or two when I see them.DSC_6503-Edit-2DSC_6516-2Often hanging out with the jays are the Clark’s Nutcrackers … also in the jay family, they’re quite social and beautiful as well.DSC_6384-2DSC_6413-2To say that I’ve seen my fair share of the Canada Goose is an understatement.  Some days it seems as though every field or body of water is filled with them.  I’ve delighted in watching and yes, hearing them as they arrive to any given lake or such.  Calling out, organizing themselves in that V-formation that they’re known for, as well as performing acrobatic maneuvers as they approach their landing … it’s all been fascinating to be part of.DSC_7463-Edit-Edit-2Now perhaps I’ve seen snow geese before, but if I did I probably didn’t realize what they were.  The snow goose has been a thrill to observe as well, though for the most part, I’ve found them to be a bit frustrating to photograph at a close proximity.  LOL.  Oh well, I’m sure that they don’t care.DSC_8480-2One day, though, they treated me to some nice captures.  Just wished that they spread themselves out a bit. DSC_8500-Edit-Edit-2I just loved the way they swam about, walked the shoreline, preened themselves, and took floating naps on the waters surface.  So very beautiful they were._DSC3771-Edit-2Not a stranger to me was the pied-billed grebes which I see regularly in Colorado as well as I did in Florida.DSC_8671-2When the white-crowned sparrow is in the area, you cannot ignore or mistake its song, movement, or sight.  Though I’ve seen them in FL occasionally, they seem to be everyday sightings here.  DSC_8694-Edit-Edit-2The Western scrub jay, which is now referred to as the Woodhouse’s scrub jay, is another bird that I’ve taken a delight to.  This particular one was taken on a very cold day, so it was a bit fluffed up, resembling more of a mountain bluebird!  LOLDSC_8843-Edit-2Now all of these birds already shared doesn’t mean that there aren’t any 4-legged wildlife out in the area.  How about this one?  Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful (or handsome) coyotes I had ever seen.  ❤DSC_8740-2One last look back at me before it trotted off into the wilderness.  Loved it!DSC_8745-2Cousins to the bighorn sheep, only a smaller version, the desert bighorn sheep are always a fun way to spend a day.  By now, the females have most likely dropped their young, so this shot reminds me that I need to return to the scene to check things out again.DSC_9072-2Of course this area is home to many herds of mule deer.  This particular guy had one of the most fascinating, though quite odd, set of antlers.  Has anyone ever seen anything like that before?  I mean, within the mule deer?DSC_6298-2About an hour or so east of Fruita is the town of Rifle, CO, home to Rifle Falls State Park.  Rifle Falls is a triple waterfall amidst the natural stone formations found in the area.  So unique and quite a thrill to photograph when the frost forms on the accompanying rocks and vegetation._DSC3697-2_DSC3699-2So, I hope that you enjoyed a peek into the beauty that surrounds me in western Colorado.  As I now enter a 3rd season here, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  🙂

Next Up:  The San Juan Mountains

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com