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

Staunton State Park

November 3rd, 2014 · 4 Comments

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Staunton State Park is so new that it’s not even finished. Opened to the public only since May 2013, Colorado’s newest state park is six miles west of Conifer and an hour south of Boulder.

Sharon discovered the park by searching the Internet and suggested that we hike there this week. We chose a cloudless and still day, but the temperature was below freezing when we got to the trailhead at 8,200 feet just after the park opened at 8 a.m.

I had no great expectations, particularly because we knew that the dams for the ponds at the end of the 2.2 mile Davis Ponds Trail were still being built. Nevertheless, this trail seemed to each of us to be the best place for us to begin to explore the new park. However, we wanted a somewhat longer hike, so later we made another loop of about 2 miles around the Staunton Ranch and Mason Creek trails.

When we got out on the trails, we were most pleasantly surprised. The mature ponderosa pine forest we found there is less dense and more attractive than many other pine forests in the state. The trail itself could not have been more to my liking: Not only does it have a smooth gravel surface without rocks or roots so I didn’t have to watch it constantly, but it is also wide enough for two to walk abreast and climbs just enough to give us moderate exercise.

​Sharon Pauses on the Davis Ponds Trail

Sharon Pauses on the Davis Ponds Trail

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I also didn’t expect to see much wildlife or many birds up this high in the mountains. But one of the first animals we saw were Abert’s Squirrels, which are confined to the Colorado Plateau and the southern Rocky Mountains and we have rarely seen before.

Abert's Are the Only Squirrels That Have Prominent Ear Tufts

Abert's Are the Only Squirrels That Have Prominent Ear Tufts

Click on the picture above to enlarge

​I was also surprised to see and hear several large flocks of birds, including this little bird that is less than 4 inches long.

A Pygmy Nuthatch Prepared to Land on a Pine Cone

A Pygmy Nuthatch Prepared to Land on a Pine Cone

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The Pygmy Nuthatch Rests on the Pine Cone

The Pygmy Nuthatch Rests on the Pine Cone

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​The other bird that particularly attracted my attention at Staunton State Park was a woodpecker.

A Female Downy Woodpeckers Rests from its Labor

A Female Downy Woodpeckers Rests from its Labor

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​Male Downy Woodpeckers are about 6 inches long and like all male woodpeckers are red on some part of their bodies. This is the smaller female Downy Woodpecker. While males have a stronger bill, females pry under the bark with their shorter bills, so that a pair can share the resources of the forest within competing with each other.

We plan to return to Staunton State Park next year. I’m hoping to see birds on the Davis Ponds then.

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Posted in: Photography

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dan Karkoulas // Dec 2, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Great pictures. How long of a lens do you usually use for these bird pictures?

  • 2 David Mendosa // Dec 2, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Dear Dan,

    Thanks for asking. For my bird photography I use the Canon 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens on my Canon 7D. It’s heavy and expensive and is as long a lens that we can use without a tripod. Of course, I have a tripod, actually two of them, and the one that will carry this lens and camera without vibration is even heavier and too hard to carry on my hikes. However, when we have enough light or use a high enough ISO setting, we can get 1/1500 or faster shutter speed, which is as good as you can get with a tripod except that you will probably get a little less noise with the different settings you would use with a tripod. By the way, Canon has just announced a replacement for my 100-400mm lens. I am sure that it will be even sharper, but it is not only more expensive, $2,200, but it heavier. I want a LIGHTER lens!

    Best regards,

    David

  • 3 Andrea // Dec 6, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Splendid photos! I can see every feather on those birdies!

  • 4 David Mendosa // Dec 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Dear Andrea,

    Thank you. I always try to make the feathers sharp and clear, like in these photos, but that’s only possible with my long telephoto lens (400mm) plus, of course, having the birds not all that far from me.

    Best regards,
    David