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Crow Valley

Posted By admin16 On August 4, 2015 @ 12:56 pm In Photography | 3 Comments

The 21-mile long birding tour [1] is the best way to see birds and other wildlife in the Pawnee National Grassland [2]. During a two-day camping trip ​there ​I logged 90 miles on its dusty roads and ​saw only three other vehicles.

But​ I saw thousands of birds​, nine pronghorn, and one snake.

​Camping at Crow Valley [3], I was as close as possible to the tour route. Mornings and evenings found me hiking the campground’s Trail of the Mourning Dove and touring the grassland. The hot middays found me in the shade of the six cottonwood trees around my campsite, either reading or napping. The cool but not cold night was perfect for sleeping in my tent.

Raptors are some of my favorite birds, and the first one that I photographed was this Swainson’s Hawk in full cry. It was screaming to its nearby mate in its strangely high-pitched voice [4].

th_hawk [5]

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Owls are also raptors, and three times I stopped to watch several Burrowing Owls near the tour route. Once I found a family of three together.

Three Burrowing Owls Watch Me Carefully [6]

Three Burrowing Owls Watch Me Carefully

Click on the picture above to enlarge

​A pair of pronghorn says close together even on the wide plains.

​These Pronghorn Intently Study Me and My Camera [7]

These Pronghorn Intently Study Me and My Camera

Click on the picture above to enlarge

While I have seen and photographed these raptors and pronghorn before, I seldom see snakes and even more rarely am able to photograph one. The biggest thrill for me in the grassland was this rattlesnake, the first I have ever seen in Colorado. It was soaking up the sun at 8 p.m. one evening, just three minutes before the sun faded.

A Diamondback Rattlesnake in the Middle of the Road [8]

A Diamondback Rattlesnake in the Middle of the Road

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The snake hardly moved when I got out of the car to photograph it. I would have liked it to have stuck its tongue out at me — I mean near me. But it didn’t do that until I slowly drove very closely past.

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URLs in this post:

[1] birding tour: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5318485.pdf

[2] Pawnee National Grassland: http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6IeDdGCqCPOBqwDLG-AAjgb6fh75uan6BdnZaY6OiooA1tkqlQ!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfMjAwMDAwMDBBODBPSEhWTjJNMDAwMDAwMDA!/?navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=fsm91_058278&navid=170000000000000&pnavid=null&ss=110210&position=Not%2520Yet%2520Determined.Html&ttype=detail&pname=Arapaho

[3] Crow Valley: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recarea/?recid=32174

[4] strangely high-pitched voice: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Swainsons_Hawk/id

[5] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/hawk.jpg

[6] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/owls.jpg

[7] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/pronghorn.jpg

[8] Image: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/snake.jpg

[9] Image: http://www.addtoany.com/share_save

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