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

Birds of Prey Driving Tour

February 5th, 2011 · No Comments

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Boulder County’s “Birds of Prey Driving Tour” met at Lagerman Reservoir this morning as planned. But instead of going around the reservoir, we went all around the northern part of Boulder County as far north as Rabbit Mountain.

We did see raptors. Of course, they included Red-Tailed Hawks and Kestrels, but also Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, and Northern Harriers.

Of course, the weather was dreary and started to snow by the time we got to Rabbit Mountain. And none of the raptors were close enough for good photographs. But my expectations weren’t photography. I went there to learn, and learn I did.

About a dozen of us went in five cars. I drove and took one of the five volunteer leaders, Keith. And royally picked his brains.

Nevertheless, I did take my cameras. On my new Canon 7D I mounted my best telephoto lens, the 300mm prime. On my older Canon 50D I mounted my 100-400mm zoom lens. While the zoom has greater reach, such lenses are inherently less sharp.

Since most of the raptors were so far away, I used the 50D for 90 percent of the 125 pictures I took this morning. Only one of photos I took today pleased me, and I took it of a different kind of wild life and with my 7D:

Wild Cyclists

Wild Cyclists

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I got the biggest kick watching this Red-Tailed Hawk soar in place on the wind for at least five minutes over us while I took about 100 shots as we parked on the side of the road between Foothills Reservoir and McCaslin Lake. Here’s one:

Red-Tailed Hawk Soars High

Red-Tailed Hawk Soars High

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The only other shot I will show you is of another flight just a few minutes later as we drove down 63rd Street between St. Vrain Road and Nelson Road:

Bald Eagles Flies Low

Bald Eagles Flies Low

Click on the picture above to enlarge

One of the local attractions is “The Gentle Giant of Boulder County,” as the placard announces. This big tree grows next to the Davis and Downing Ditch that was constructed in 1866, and the tree has probably been there that long. “America’s largest plains cottonwood (Populus deltoids) has earned a place in the National Registry of Big Trees. Reached a grand height of 105 feet, this old giant continues to provide refuge for wildlife and shade for its admirers….At a circumference of 36 feet, it would take six to eight people with outstretched arms to hug this mammoth. Above the trunk, crooked limbs stretch 93 feet from one side to another.”

Another, but less well known, attraction is a silo west of North 59th Street between Hygiene Road and St. Vrain Road. Somebody painted three huge sunflowers on the silo. That’s one of the places that I will go back to when the sun comes out again.

I will certainly go back to hunt raptors with my cameras, either with another tour or on my own, probably both. This part of the county is full of raptors and was a new experience for me.

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