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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Colorado’s National Wildlife Refuges

July 21st, 2012 · 2 Comments

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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has eight National Wildlife Refuges in Colorado. Two of them aren’t open to the public, but I have explored all the others, some many times.

The one that I keep going back to the most is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal refuge. It’s not only one of the closest to me, just 25 miles from my apartment in Boulder, but it is also the easiest to explore.

Today I joined a free “Friends of a Feather” tour led by refuge naturalist Claude in search of raptors, colorful migrants, and songbirds. We found them.

The tour goes in a comfortable, new 16-passenger bus that’s much better than the alternatives. They restrict private vehicles to a very small part of this huge refuge. You can hike it, as I have, but it’s so big that you can’t get far into it.

The bus took us from one end of the refuge to another in our four-hour tour. The first bird we got a close view of was this Swainson’s Hawk that had recently arrived on its long migration from Argentina.

This Swainson's Hawk Was Visiting the Refuge When We Were

This Swainson's Hawk Was Visiting the Refuge When We Were

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I especially like to see birds of prey. And we saw others, including this one that is much smaller than the hawk.

A Burrowing Owl Sits on a Stick

A Burrowing Owl Sits on a Stick

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Then we found three species of the tyrant flycatcher family, the largest family of birds on Earth with more than 400 species. We saw both large and small, eastern and western flycatchers. Like the West in general, this Western Kingbird is much more colorful than its eastern counterpart.

The Pretty Yellow Western Kingbird Sits on a Wire Fence

The Pretty Yellow Western Kingbird Sits on a Wire Fence

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The Eastern Kingbird Sits on a Branch

The Eastern Kingbird Sits on a Branch

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The third flycatcher species I photographed today was a bird that I had never seen before. Claude, the naturalist, identified it.

The Western Wood-Pewee is a Small Tyrant Flycatcher

The Western Wood-Pewee is a Small Tyrant Flycatcher

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While this was a birding tour, no tour of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge would be complete without at least one animal.

This Spotted Fawn, a White-Tailed Deer, Studies Us

This Spotted Fawn, a White-Tailed Deer, Studies Us

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Both white-tailed and mule deer live in the refuge. But white-tailed deer like this one are usually much more shy of people.

The main character of the movie that I loved the most when I was growing up was another fawn, Bambi. He was also a white-tailed deer. Bambi lives!

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Posted in: Photography

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Fran Stearns // Aug 1, 2012 at 11:36 am

    This white-tailed faun is a luscious color. ..a strong sienna. Is this an artifact of photography?

  • 2 David Mendosa // Aug 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Dear Fran,

    Actually, that was the fawns natural color!

    David

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