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       


Western Slope Birding in Late Spring

Back to checking out the local birds of the western slope of Colorado.  What I have found since being here is that you never know what … or where … you ‘re going to find our feathered friends.

Case in point, while visiting a local park, we saw a flock of birds arriving at the lake.  I looked and immediately declared (to myself) that these were glossy ibis.  After a quick check for CO birds, I noticed that they don’t get glossy ibis like we did in Florida.  Rather, these were white-faced ibis.  Very similar except for the white colored face … both species though are very beautiful with their iridescent feathers, especially in the light.850_1634Common terns also call my new area home and often seen flying overhead.500_3614One species that we never see in FL (I guess one should never say “never”) are the western grebes.  These birds tend to summer with us and are quite beautiful, especially with that red eye that they possess.850_1653850_1662850_1664850_1667American wigeon taking off across the lake.500_3626Of course, raptors pass through in numbers too.  Take the American kestrel for example … always flying by seemingly in such a hurry.850_1669-EditAlong the water’s edge one can find an assortment of shorebirds, such as this wonderful spotted sandpiper.500_9907Up in the trees, yellow warbler congregate as they flutter in an out of the branches.500_9484Western kingbirds are quite the noisy bunch and difficult to miss when they are present.  500_9872500_9866This male black-headed grosbeak is a routine visitor as well.500_9764While a western kingbird is a type of flycatcher, we also have ash-throated flycatchers.  I just love their head feather crest.500_9689Of course, closer to home, I can always count on the house finch, as well as a variety of other sparrows and finches.  We had so many outdoor cats in our neighborhood in FL, so we never did the bird feeders, but we have here … and also the bird bath fountain, which is a personal favorite of mine to observe.  🙂500_9954Next up:  3 letters … beings with “f” and they get me quite excited when I see them.

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy