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

Birds of the North Park Area

September 26th, 2011 · No Comments

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My friend Sharon and I returned to the North Park area of north central Colorado for three days last week. While we took my SUV because it has higher clearance than her car, she did all the driving. She was happy to drive and I wasn’t, because my right knee still cramps up when I drive. As a result of Sharon’s driving, this was the most relaxed vacation I ever had. “I feel that I’m just along for the ride!” I told her.

Sharon also spotted most of the birds, even the little sparrows. She loves these beautiful little birds as much as I do. But she doesn’t love it when I ask her to identify them, since that’s so hard. Minor differences separate the 36 American species of sparrows, 27 of which live at least part of the year in Colorado. So please consider my sparrow identifications as tentative.

Three Savannah Sparrows at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge

Three Savannah Sparrows at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge

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Closer to Another Savannah Sparrow on the Refuge

Closer to Another Savannah Sparrow on the Refuge

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A Chipping Sparrow

A Chipping Sparrow

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I tend to assume that all little birds I see here are sparrows. Finches are about the same size, but a different family.

A Female Cassin's Finch at the Moose Visitor Center

A Female Cassin's Finch at the Moose Visitor Center

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Bluebirds are a little bigger and perhaps even prettier.

A Mountain Bluebird

A Mountain Bluebird

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We saw a whole band of Steller’s Jays at the Moose Visitor Center.

A Steller's Jay Flies By

A Steller's Jay Flies By

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The Walden Reservoir and nearby ponds are some of the best places for spotting birds in North Park. We saw the next three species there.

A Greater Yellowlegs Flies

A Greater Yellowlegs Flies

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I See Mallards Every Day — But Not Usually in Such Warm Light Just Minutes before Sunset

A Killdeer on the Walden Reservoir Shore

A Killdeer on the Walden Reservoir Shore

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But Sharon most wanted to see a much bigger bird, the Greater Sage-Grouse. We found two coveys of them as we drove along the back roads of the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

Looking into the Sun at a Greater Sage-Grouse

Looking into the Sun at a Greater Sage-Grouse

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Eight Greater Sage-Grouse Stroll Down the Track

Eight Greater Sage-Grouse Stroll Down the Track

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Five Greater Sage-Grouse Take Off

Five Greater Sage-Grouse Take Off

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The birds of prey excited me the most.

An Immature Golden Eagle Soars

An Immature Golden Eagle Soars

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The biggest thrill was to watch a Peregrine Falcon in the wild for the first time in my life. When it dives for prey in what we call a stoop, it’s the fastest animal in the world, reaching speeds of 175 mph or more. We watched it sitting on this post at the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge for half an hour. Then at 9:24 a.m. it saw breakfast.

The Fastest

The Fastest

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We had to drive back to Walden for our breakfast. And even with my SUV we couldn’t move nearly as fast as this magnificent bird.

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