It appears that you are currently using Ad Blocking software. What are the consequences? Click here to learn more.
Advertisement
Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Pawnee National Grassland Birding Tour

October 8th, 2014 · No Comments

Print This Post Print This Post

The birding tour in the Pawnee National Grassland is self-guiding on 21 miles of dirt road. We went in Sharon’s Subaru because it has a little higher clearance than my Prius.

We drove sections of this route on each of the three days we visited. One of the two prime birding areas in the grassland, it starts 90 northeast of where Sharon and I each live in Boulder. But those 90 miles make a huge difference in the landscape. Boulder lies at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The Pawnee National Grassland is on the shortgrass prairie with mountains a speck on the horizon, if that.

This and other national grasslands exist because of the tragedy of the Dust Bowl. The U.S. government created the national grasslands in the 1930s after a long drought withered the Great Plains and the Great Depression left farm families destitute. The program purchased submarginal Great Plains grasslands and resettled farm families. About 3.8 million acres of the 11.3 million acres purchased became the original nineteen national grasslands in 1960. The Pawnee National Grassland consists of 193,060 of those acres intermingled with private land in two separate sections of Weld County in northeast Colorado.

​The Sky on the Prairie Has Character

The Sky on the Prairie Has Character

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Sharon and I had good resources to help us search at the most likely places to find birds. Besides the Forest Service’s map, we used the Colorado County Birding website, the Colorado Birds group to which we each belong, eBird, and Hugh Kingery’s book, Birding Colorado. We carefully planned our trip to get the most out of the three days we explored the grassland.

With all that planning, we certainly didn’t expect to have hitchhikers. This guy jumped right on the hood of Sharon’s car and rode with us until after we stopped.

​The Grasshopper Liked the Heat

The Grasshopper Liked the Heat

Click on the picture above to enlarge

This monster actually jumped inside the car.

​We Asked This Hitchhiker to Leave

We Asked This Hitchhiker to Leave

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We didn’t get quite so close to the birds. But by using the car as a blind and by making good use of my beanbag to steady my camera, I was able to get closeups of some of them near the road. Many of these were birds on a wire.

​This Western Meadowlark Sings Its Melody

This Western Meadowlark Sings Its Melody

Click on the picture above to enlarge
​This Male Horned Lark Has Small "Horns"

This Male Horned Lark Has Small "Horns"

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Raptors are birds that I have a special fondness for, probably because I identify with them. I was especially delighted to see several Swainson’s Hawks.

​A Cooper's Hawk and a Pair of Pronghorns Ignore Each Other

A Swainson's Hawk and a Pair of Pronghorns Ignore Each Other

Click on the picture above to enlarge
A Closer Cooper's Hawk

A Closer Swainson's Hawk

Click on the picture above to enlarge
The Hawk Flew

The Hawk Flew

Click on the picture above to enlarge
​Then We Left Too

Then We Left Too

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Birding in the grassland is best during the spring migration of May and June. But I was happy to be in this land of many birds and few people during the migration of early autumn.

Share

Never Miss An Update

Subscribe to my free newsletter “Diabetes Update”

I send out my newsletter on first of every month. It covers new articles and columns that I have written and important developments in diabetes generally that you may have missed.

I also include new photo essays from this blog in my newsletter.

Your Email Address

Posted in: Photography

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment