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

Back to Betasso

March 29th, 2012 · No Comments

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Since we have a great variety of hiking trails around my Boulder home, I usually wait a while before going back to the same place. Yet I returned to Betasso Preserve on Wednesday, just four days after hiking the 3.3 mile Canyon Loop trail.

I had my reasons. I primarily returned to Betasso because I had found my first bluebirds of the season there on Saturday and wanted my hiking companion, Sharon, to be able to see them too. I also thought that we might hike the 3.1 mile Benjamin Loop trail, a new extension of the Canyon Loop trail.

We succeeded on both counts, although it took a while. We got to the trailhead at 7 a.m. sharp, but didn’t find any bluebirds until the afternoon. And not until 3 p.m. did we get back to the car.

Hiking about 7 miles, counting our off-trail excursions, took time. But we also took plenty of time to sit and wait. When you wait quietly for birds and animals to come to you, they will often reward your patience.

Even before we found bluebirds on Wednesday, we saw a little mammal that I have been looking for in vain ever since coming to Colorado. Abert’s squirrels, which have long tufts or tassels of fur on its ears, live only in the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico and parts of the Colorado Plateau where ponderosa pines grow. These little creatures need these big trees for cover, nesting, and food.

Sharon’s excellent eyes spotted an Abert’s squirrel about an hour after the start of our hike. This one sure make good use of a ponderosa pine tree for cover.

An Abert's Squirrels Tries to Hide in a Ponderosa Pine

An Abert's Squirrel Tries to Hide in a Ponderosa Pine

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Since I had never seen an Abert’s squirrel before, I was especially surprised to see another one just three hours later. This time I saw the squirrel first because I was hiking in the lead and captured this image before it was able to find the closest ponderosa pine.

An Abert's Squirrel Seeks Shelter

An Abert's Squirrel Seeks Shelter

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We had perfect hiking weather with temperatures rising during the day to the 70s, under mostly clear skies, and with no wind. Since neither of us had any obligations, we were free to take as long a hike as we liked. Neither of us had ever hiked the Benjamin Loop trail, which opened last May subsequent to the Boulder County Parks and Open Space purchase of 391 acres from Thomas and Karen Benjamin in 2007. I am still trying to hike as many Boulder County trails as I can, and adding the lovely Benjamin Loop trail gets me up to more than 90 percent.

The flowers know that we are having an early spring. Hereabouts the first are Pasque flowers. Its name refers to Passover.

One Pasque Flower in Bloom

One Pasque Flower in Bloom

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Three Pasque Flowers Ready to Bloom

Three Pasque Flowers Ready to Bloom

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We saw another flower in bloom. I didn’t know it, but Sharon told me that it is in the spurge family.

Spurge in Bloom

Spurge in Bloom

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Finally, we found the birds that we hoped to see. We especially wanted to see the most colorful bluebird, the male Mountain Bluebird. We found several, including this one.

A Male Mountain Bluebird Rests on a Mullein Stalk

A Male Mountain Bluebird Rests on a Mullein Stalk

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While a female Mountain Bluebird isn’t as blue, it too is a beautiful bird. I was able to capture this one at the very end of our eight-hour hike.

A Female Mountain Bluebird on the Kiosk at the Trailhead

A Female Mountain Bluebird on the Kiosk at the Trailhead

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We worked hard to capture these images. Photography around Tantra Lake, which is right in front of my apartment, is much easier. As I was writing this photo essay my friend Michael came by to tell me that turtles were sunning themselves in the lake and that a heron was on the shore looking for fish.

Two Western Painted Turtles in Tantra Lake

Two Western Painted Turtles in Tantra Lake

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A Great Blue Heron Pays a Visit

A Great Blue Heron Pays a Visit

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If you are patient, sometimes nature will come your way.

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