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

Water in Fort Collins

October 28th, 2014 · No Comments

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Water was what we wanted when we went wandering out West on Wednesday. Whoops! We actually went on Thursday, which wrecks the alliteration.

Sharon and I went to Fort Collins, which seems to have as much love of alliteration as I do. We went past the city’s Magpie Meanders and on a previous trip had visited Prospect Ponds and Cattail Chorus.

Sharon wanted to go to the Cache la Poudre River Corridor Natural Areas at North Shields Ponds and the nearby McMurry and Salyer Natural Areas. I wanted to go to the Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area. So we compromised and went both places.

We appreciated the Cache la Poudre River, which has so much more water than Boulder’s creeks do.

The Cache la Poudre at First Light

The Cache la Poudre at First Light

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The first big bird we saw was on one of the North Shields ponds just north of the river.

A Great Blue Heron Waits

A Great Blue Heron Waits

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When we returned to the river we spotted two mergansers. As we watched them, they took off.

A Pair of Mergansers Take Flight Together

A Pair of Mergansers Take Flight Together

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Later, we moved on to the McMurry and Salyer natural areas, where we spotted an angler who seemed to enjoy the cold water.

Casting the Fly in the Cache la Poudre

Casting the Fly in the Cache la Poudre

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Sharon and I had never been to these natural areas before, and we appreciated the new experience. We had, however, visited Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area once before, in December 2012. At that time we were able to get close to only one bird, which we spotted with binoculars in the distance. But it waited for us as we hiked at least half a mile to get within photo-shooting range.

This Bald Eagle Was Patient

This Bald Eagle Was Patient

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We saw a Bald Eagle at the reservoir this time too, but it was on the inaccessible north shore. We stayed on the south shore, but walked west beyond the end of the trail in hopes to find a flock of American White Pelicans that we had seen fly there.

​We never found them, but instead flushed a Great Horned Owl. Yet it didn’t fly far, finding safety on the trunk of a cottonwood tree extending over the reservoir. We found it there, nearer to us than any owl that either of us had ever seen before.

The Great Horned Owl was Close -- But Safe

The Great Horned Owl was Close -- But Safe

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Sighting an owl always gives me a thrill. I love their big eyes, especially when they look straight at me (or my camera’s lens). Maybe it’s their rarity too.

I also love the eyes of the Western Grebe. These birds have red eyes and were the opposite of being rare at Fossil Creek. We saw literally hundreds of them.

A Pair of Western Grebes Cross

A Pair of Western Grebes Cross

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Sharon and I ended the afternoon at Fossil Creek sitting in a blind watching more birds at once than we had seen all season. Grebes, coots, and gulls entertained us in the most peaceful scene I could imagine.

Where Water Meets Earth and Sky at Fossil Creek

Where Water Meets Earth and Sky at Fossil Creek

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