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

North Park‏

August 5th, 2010 · 3 Comments

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My friend Sharon and I took a chance on the weather this week. The weather prediction for North Park called for it to be overcast and wet, but we made a photo safari there anyway.

While we did get a lot of rain, we also lucked out on enough sun to make the photographs that we wanted. I wanted to return to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, which I had most recently visited three years earlier. I wanted to see the waterfowl there.

Although Sharon also loves to photograph birds, she most wanted to see moose. Colorado has about 600 moose, almost all of which are in the North Park area. Walden, the only incorporated town in Jackson County, which covers most of North Park, is — by decree of the Colorado Senate — the “Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado.”

With a population of about 700 — half of Jackson County’s residents — Walden has most of the county’s accommodations. We got rooms in downtown Walden’s old and pleasant Antlers Inn.

North Park isn’t a park in the usual modern sense of a place set aside for human recreation and enjoyment. Instead, it is a park in the sense of a broad, fairly level valley between mountain ranges. About three hours northwest of Boulder, North Park sits at between 8,000 and 9,000 feet.

Covering 1,613 square miles, North Park is grassland, brush, and streams. It’s the headwaters of the North Platte River.

We made several visits to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, which is just a couple of miles south of Walden. There and in the surrounding area I saw the waterfowl that I went to see as well as raptors and hummingbirds.

Between the refuge and the town we saw a lake of amazing beauty. A part of the Walden Reservoir or just next to it, this lake is covered with a water flower, perhaps a water lilly, that neither of us had ever seen before.

Sharon and Flowers

Sharon and Flowers

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Closeup

Closeup

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A Coot amid Color

A Coot amid Color

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An Adult Male Ruddy Duck

An Adult Male Ruddy Duck

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Ducks All in a Row

Ducks All in a Row

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A Row of White Pelicans

A Row of White Pelicans

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A Pair of Snowy Egrets

A Pair of Snowy Egrets

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An American Avocet

An American Avocet

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Not far from the wildlife refuge we also saw many raptors, including this osprey

An Osprey at Long Draw

An Osprey at Long Draw

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A Swainson's Hawk

A Swainson's Hawk

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But the bird photo I captured that pleased me the most was this lucky shot of a hummingbird.

A Tiny Rufous Hummingbird in Flight

A Tiny Rufous Hummingbird in Flight

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Except for this hummingbird, all the bird photography was easy compared with finding moose. After searching for moose in vain along the Laramie River, we were so lucky to find five moose along Long Draw on Monday afternoon.

Long Draw with Willows in the Foreground

Long Draw with Willows in the Foreground

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Our second day in North Park showed us how lucky we had been. Sharon and I left the hotel at 5 a.m. Tuesday to search for moose in the areas where they supposedly hang out. We started with Teal and Hidden Lakes, where we saw none. Then, we went to the Hebron Waterfowl Area, where we not only saw no moose but where Sharon developed a upset stomach. We then returned to the hotel so she could recuperate in her room for most of the rest of the day. Meanwhile I explored the area along the Illinois River. This area, full of the favorite moose food, willows, seemed so promising that late Tuesday afternoon, when Sharon was up to it, we went there together. Again, however, we failed to see a single moose.

While Tuesday brought sun all day, we had arrived Monday afternoon in the North Park area accompanied by heavy rain. We got a little wet photographing a large bull moose and its smaller, younger companion. I wrapped my camera in my waterproof headgear. But the moose were wet indeed.

A Big, Wet Bull Moose

A Big, Wet Bull Moose

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If This is an Average Bull Moose, it Weighs 1,100 Pounds

If This is an Average Bull Moose, it Weighs 1,100 Pounds

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After finding the bull moose, we went a little further down Long Draw where we found a family of a female moose and her two calves. Still quite small, the calves are probably about two months old, but an average female moose weighs about 700 pounds.

We spent a lot of time watching this family on Monday. And when we returned to Long Draw in dry weather early Wednesday afternoon we found the same threesome again. This time we were able to spend a lot of time outside of my SUV photographing them at close range.

Mama Moose Checks Me Out

Mama Moose Checks Me Out

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Mama Moose and One of Her Cubs

Mama Moose and One of Her Cubs

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To get these photos I had to pull out all the stops. I used all seven of my SLR’s lenses and had to set the camera’s ISO down to 3,200 for the shots of the bull moose in the rain. The shot of the hummingbird required using flash, and several shots needed Noise Ninja’s noise reduction. I am so glad that I have quality camera equipment!

But my final shot didn’t require anything special. Since Sharon and I were out and about at sunset on Tuesday, we were able to capture this fabulous view.

Sunset on North Park

Sunset on North Park

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Posted in: Hiking, Photography

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Betty Bartlett // Aug 14, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Great pictures!!!

  • 2 Betty Bartlett // Aug 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    ps.
    You have inspired me to take my camera along on my walks eventho I live in Sacramento CA.
    I can think of some nice spots to drive to and see what I can find. I also like to take pictures of flowers and people. I might start a blog also to share them as you have.
    Thanks,
    Betty

  • 3 David Mendosa // Aug 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Dear Betty,

    Wonderful! That is something I hoped to accomplish with my blog.

    David

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