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

Greenlee Wildlife Preserve

May 5th, 2015 · No Comments

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For two days in a row I sacrificed sufficient sleep, getting out of my warm bed well before sunrise. While I am usually the instigator, this time I can credit Sharon.

The big reason why I like to be to the trailhead by sunrise is the special quality of first light for photography. Last light can also be glorious, but here in Colorado the clouds often roll in during the afternoon. I am more of a photographer than a birder.

Sharon’s interests complement my own because she is more of a birder than a photographer. She appreciates that we can see more birds at the crack of dawn. So a few days ago she suggested that we plan a 6 a.m. arrival at the Greenlee Wildlife Preserve in nearby Lafayette, Colorado.

I doubt if many people rejoice at the chance to get up while it’s still dark, but we thought of still more reasons why we like to do that. As we drove out to Lafayette from my apartment in Boulder we would have been driving straight into the sun if we had left a few minutes later.

Also because of our early start we avoided the heat of the day. The temperature reached 81° that afternoon, but by then we had returned to our homes. We completed our jaunt by 7:30 a.m. and had a whole day ahead of us after our early start.

Of course, we see both more birds and fewer people when we get an early start. But we certainly appreciated it when an older couple who were walking their dog stopped and asked us, “What kind of duck sits up in the trees?”

“A wood duck!,” Sharon exclaimed, because we had been looking for one. The couple then led us back a few feet and showed us where it was.

​A Male Wood Duck Near the Nest

A Male Wood Duck Near the Nest

Click on the picture above to enlarge

This bird is so colorful that it doesn’t look real. But it quacked and moved, and then it flew down to the pond at the preserve. All of our previous Wood Duck sightings had been on other ponds or creeks.

We had gone first to the Greenlee pond as we hoped to see Wood Ducks there. Instead, just after sunrise the best bird I found there was this Killdeer and its reflection.

A Killdeer on a Golden Pond

A Killdeer on a Golden Pond

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Actually, the very first bird we spotted when we arrived at the preserve was a hawk. The sun hadn’t yet hit the tree where it was perched, so we went on by. But when we retraced our steps as we left an hour or so later, I optimistically suggested that we look to see if the hawk was still in the same tree. It was, and it only flew away after we had watched it intently for a few minutes.

​A Swainson's Hawk Lifts Off

A Swainson's Hawk Lifts Off

Click on the picture above to enlarge

​”Birds trump bed” could be my bumper sticker.

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