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

Rocky Mountain Raptor Program

October 6th, 2014 · No Comments

While Sharon and I went to Fort Collins to get out in nature, as I wrote in my previous post, after we hiked the Environmental Learning Center’s Wilcox Trail, we finished near the public facility of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program. ​This is the northern Colorado program for ​the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured birds of prey.

While its main raptor rehabilitation center isn’t open to the public, its Environmental Learning Center​ at ​2400 Ziegler R​oad in​ Fort Collins​ is open ​and free to the public ​during daylight hours​. At this center are the birds who need our continuing care. We were able to get close to the birds there who serve as “educational ambassadors.” While I have seen birds of all of these species in the wild, seeing them just a few feet away was educational for me too.

The raptor that we see the most often in Colorado is the Red-tailed Hawk. Through illness this one has lost its fear of humans, not a healthy thing for it.

​This Hawk Got As Close to Me As It Could

This Hawk Got As Close to Me As It Could

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​The Golden Eagle is one of the least common raptors.

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Cache la Poudre Corridor

October 5th, 2014 · No Comments

The best route from Boulder to the Pawnee National Grassland passes through Fort Collins at about the midway point. So Sharon and I stopped there last week en route to a three day trip onto the high plains of northeastern Colorado.

We picked the Cache la Poudre River Corridor Natural Areas as the first places to explore. Just 6 miles east of downtown Fort Collins, where about 150,000 people live, these natural areas attract wildlife to the many ponds and the river. The Cache la Poudre, which means “hide the powder” in French, flows through Fort Collins into the South Platte River out onto the prairie. Its name refers to an incident in the 1820s when French trappers, caught by a snowstorm, were forced to bury some of their gunpowder along the banks of the river.

We started at the Running Deer Natural Area, but in spite of its attractive name, quickly decided to move on to areas with more trees. Prospect Ponds had the trees and the birds.

A Prospect Pond Reflects an American White Pelican

A Prospect Pond Reflects an American White Pelican

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Walden and Sawhill Ponds

October 4th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Just west of Boulder County’s Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat is a privately owned pond. This photo of the pond and the trees beyond will serve as the establishing shot for the visit that Sharon and I paid to Walden and Sawhill Ponds early this morning.

A Touch of Fall Color Near Walden Ponds This Morning

A Touch of Fall Color Near Walden Ponds This Morning

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Sharon and I started our morning hike at what the county calls Cottonwood Marsh, which is actually a lake. Just as we got there, a coyote was scouting the far bank while four Killdeer patrolled the shore.[Read more →]

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Meyers Homestead Trail

October 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

Sharon and I took full advantage of a sunny and warm day right after the first snowfall of the season to hike the Meyers Homestead Trail. It is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just 10 miles from my apartment, but the only convenient way to get to the trail is to go up Flagstaff Road, which is closed from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for repairs to the road from the flood a year ago. So we went on Saturday.

The trail starts at 7,400 feet and follows Meyers Gulch much of the way to its end 2.6 miles later at 8,100 feet. The gulch takes its name from Andrew R. Meyers, who homesteaded here in 1890 and made his living by logging some of its trees.

​The Ruins of a Historic Sawmill Are Near the Start of the Trail

The Ruins of a Historic Sawmill Are Near the Start of the Trail

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​Since I’ve hiked this trail several times since August 2006, I didn’t expect many birds. So I took only my 18-200mm lens on my Canon 7D and my 60mm macro lens on my Canon 50D. My Canon 100-400mm lens is too heavy for me to carry this far.

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Sandstone Ranch

October 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

The city of Longmont’s Sandstone Ranch Park is just beyond the Boulder county line in Weld County 20 miles northwest of my apartment in south Boulder. Sharon and I had heard that warblers had arrived there so we did too.

We found them in these trees.

We found them in these trees.

Where the Warblers Were

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Many warblers are colorful birds. But for two reasons they are hardly my favorites. They are hard to identify and hard to photograph as they dart around quickly and hidden by the foliage. But as we waited patiently, this little one made one foray to the outer edge of the tree where I was able to get my camera focused on her in time.

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Bear Canyon

October 1st, 2014 · No Comments

The Bear Canyon Trail is one of several trails surrounding the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The trailhead is less than three miles from my apartment in south Boulder, but I ​hadn’t hiked it ​before​ Dave Sutherland, a Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks naturalist,​ ​introduced me to it ​two years ago ​in​ the s​pring.

​Since that time, I’ve hiked this lovely trail alongside Bear Creek many times. But this is late summer, and it’s not birdy now between the spring and fall migrations.

Still, the weather was perfect for a hike. When I got to the trailhead about 6:30 a.m. the temperature was already in the 70s, the air was still, and hardly a cloud was in the sky.

The Bear Canyon Trail runs up the canyon just below my favorite building in Boulder, the Mesa Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which sits atop Table Mesa at 5,950 feet. It’s one of very few buildings here in the Front Range above 5,750 feet because in 1959 Boulder approved the “Blue Line” amendment to our city charter restricting city water service to altitudes below that level to protect our mountains from development.

This building is exactly two miles due west of my apartment, from where I can see it 560 feet above where I live. Designed in the 1960s by I.M. Pei to look “as if it were carved out of the mountain​,​”​ ​it brought great acclaim to the ​Chinese-born American architect​, who is​ often called the master of modern architecture. ​

Pei, who is now 97 years old, says that his inspiration for the building came partly from ​”​the places I had seen with my mother when I was a little boy​, ​the mountaintop Buddhist retreats. There in the Colorado mountains, I tried to listen to the silence again​, ​just as my mother had taught me. The investigation of the place became a kind of religious experience for me.” Wanting the building to exist in harmony with its natural surroundings, Pei also drew inspiration from the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in southeast Colorado. ​

​Boulder's Best Building Sits High Above Bear Canyon​

Boulder's Best Building Sits High Above Bear Canyon

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At another draw about a half mile further up the trail I looked up in hopes of seeing some of the deer that I had often seen there. And there they were.

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North Teller Lake

September 30th, 2014 · 2 Comments

North Teller Lake was birdy and sunny when I went there in the morning. It is less than 10 miles northeast of my apartment in Boulder, and I had the trail entirely to myself. What more could I want?

I would have appreciated seeing some rare birds. I did see and photograph several of the most common species in Colorado. Some people turn up their noses at the birds they see every day, but to me what matters most is how attractive the photograph is.

In the past few years I have hiked several times to North Teller Lake when they still called it Teller Lake Number 5. But this time I walked all around the lake to the east side, which offers the best light in the morning. Here is what some photographers call an “establishing shot,” the setting.

North Teller Lake Reflects the Front Range

North Teller Lake Reflects the Front Range

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Growing in marshy land at the edge of the lake, the flower pictured below caught my attention. It’s so beautiful that I expected to find it in all my flower identification books. It was not only missing but none of my friends could quickly identify it. Finally, my friend Rich Wolf and our mutual friend Dave Sutherland identified it for me. [Read more →]

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Adams County Regional Park

September 29th, 2014 · No Comments

Sharon and I visit Adams County Regional Park every couple of years and each time have found it a good place to go birding. On the prairie 28 miles east of my apartment in Boulder, the park attracts migrating and resident birds with its lakes and ponds along the South Platte River.

Like the good birders we try to be, Sharon and I got to the park at sunrise. But the sun hadn’t yet hit the pond where we found an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron at 7:30. I shot it anyway.

An Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron in Early Morning

An Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron in Early Morning

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An hour and one-half later Sharon and I returned to the pond, and this time we found two juveniles, undoubtedly the offspring of the adult Night-Heron.

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Broad-tailed Hummmingbirds

September 28th, 2014 · No Comments

Hummingbirds have been the hardest birds for me to photograph in flight. Even at a feeder, they move so fast that I need luck to get good shots. In nature they are even more of a challenge for a photographer.

But after a flock of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds discovered blue sage growing in Sanitas Valley, everything changed. My friend and fellow nature photographer, Rich Wolf, discovered the hummers there and told me about them.

He suggested that I “might want to get your glass [my lens] out to the bottom of the Sanitas Valley Trail (right off of West Mapleton). The Salvia azurea [blue sage] are attracting a flock of hummingbirds.”

I took his suggestion as soon as I could. In fact, I was so anxious that I got there about 6:45 a.m., far too early. Although sunrise was at 6:27, the sun didn’t hit the flowers where the hummingbirds were feeding until 7:32. I took the opportunity to hike up the trail a bit, which was a good thing, because I hadn’t been there for years.

Hummingbirds Love Blue Sage

Hummingbirds Love Blue Sage

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Barr Lake

September 27th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Sharon and I took advantage of a sunny and warm morning to visit ​Barr Lake State Park​. It’s out on the prairie 35 miles east of Boulder.

An 8.8 mile trail circles the large lake. We hiked several miles of the trail on the east side of the lake north and south of the nature center.

​Three Great Blue Herons Patrol the Lake's Edge

Three Great Blue Herons Patrol the Lake's Edge

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