During the winter “that wasn’t”, we would often head out locally to some of our favorite areas to look for wildlife … mammals and birds. One of our most visited treks is the trip between us and Highline Lake State Park in Loma. The usual 13 mile trip can often take hours … because of all of the stopping along the way. 🙂 Such as for cuties like this ….The domestic sheep herd is moved around the rural farmlands to assist with the grazing of the land. I never know where they’re going to turn up. I just loved this darker one in the middle of all of those white sheep. I guess it had to be different. LOLThis one was probably one of my favorite ones … I just love the way that the fencing was perfectly framing its face … plus that grassy nose.Of course, along the way, we needed to stop for this herd of deer, mainly does, with a few buck sprinkled in. all traveling through a field, when it begain to lightly snow.One of the usuals in the area is the Northern flicker, which is actually a woodpecker, as you can tell from its beak. I find them so incredibly beautiful with their black speckled bodies and touches of red.Another usual woodpecker is the downy woodpecker or the hairy woodpecker. They look quite similar, except for the length of their beaks, with the hairy woodpecker’s being longer.However the biggest stars in the area are the bald eagles. We see them in all sorts of ages … juvenile to mature. I find them quite interesting and I’ve always found the juvenile ones, with their mottled feathers, a favorite.Though not as abundant in the winter, the golden eagles are also soaring about and perched on the buttes and mesas.Looking at the feather coloration patterns, especially in the tail feathers, as well as the size of the beaks, it’s generally easy to tell the difference between the two.Yep, there are few things as randomly patterned as a juvenile bald eagle. 🙂Always lurking in our parks, rural farmlands, city downtowns, and even my backyard, the Cooper’s hawks keep a keen eye out for prey.And then there are the juncos … lots and lots of them. Each season has such varied birding, that’s for sure, and I’m learning the ropes as they say.Next Up: Wild horses of Wyoming
Since moving to Colorado, I have learned a lot about hawks. I’ve learned that not every hawk is a red-shouldered hawk … in fact, out in CO, it’s highly unlikely that any of them would be. 🙂 However, one thing that’s for sure is that all of them are quite remarkable and beautiful.While I thought that Florida had a lot of eagles, there are plenty of them here as well. The biggest difference is that here in CO, we have bald eagles, but we also have golden eagles, which I have found completely fascinating!We also have Cooper’s hawks, in addition to sharp-shinned hawks, which are both smaller hawk species … the type that are likely to hang out in your yard looking for some unsuspecting birds.While in Florida we had eastern screech owls, here we have western screech owls. They are just as beautiful to hear late in the dark of night and even to witness as they peek out of their cavity or owl box dwelling on cold days as they sun themselves. We have so many western screech owls out here … that on the Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count day, the 15-mile circle from Grand Junction, we found 93 of them … the highest in the nation!Sometimes the wildlife is right outside your window, as was in this case. This beautiful sharp-shinned hawk was poised right outside my window standing on our rain gutter downspout.We have a variety of woodpeckers and I was quite delighted when I found this gal at a nearby state park.The rivers are full of a variety of ducks and other water birds … some residents and some migratory. These common merganser ladies are fairly common and often found in the company of other waterfowl.The views ain’t too bad either … as evidenced by this shot of the Book Cliff Mountains … only only of the mountains in our distance, of which we also have the Grand Mesa and the Colorado National Monument.Some nights you can see pairs of predator birds, such as these two bald eagles or great horned owls, as they roost in the early evening. Of course, the sunsets can be quite colorful and very relaxing as well. Ahhh!Yes, western Colorado is quite a magnificent place to call home and is close to many other equally fascinating locales. Yep, we love it here. 🙂
Of course, Everglades NP is much more than crocs … the weekends were filled with many different photo opps, featuring a wide variety of many different species of migrating birds. I know that if I ever left south Florida, the Everglades would be sorely missed. Never the same place on any given time – always evolving and changing. Of course, no trip to the Everglades is ever complete without a side trip to Roberts for a strawberry-key lime milkshake – at least not if I make the trip down there with Tom!
Burrowing owls were also a big focus for us this year, visiting them at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City quite often. They’re just so gosh darned cute! In 2012, I really felt that I got to know the various families of owls, as we watched their young grow up, literally through our lenses. I have to admit, it was a bit sad when they were all grown up and finally “flew the coop” – or should I say “flew the burrow”.
Our very first sighting of the little ones
Testing out its wings and balance
Some of the gang showing off in the nearby tree
Can’t wait until the burrowing owl families are back in full swing!
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