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

Around Northeast Boulder

March 10th, 2014 · 1 Comment

My hiking buddy and I don’t usually hike around Boulder on the weekends because we like to avoid the crowds. But Sunday was irresistible for everyone in northern Colorado including us because of a spell of unusually fine winter weather. Just after three inches of snow and with more snow expected soon, Sunday afternoon was a warm 74° and sunny.

Starting at Sawhill Ponds, a city open space east of the city, Sharon and I visited four prime birding spots. We struck paydirt everywhere.

A Ring-necked Duck Spreads its Wings

A Ring-necked Duck Spreads its Wings

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Moving on to Boulder Creek we looked for the local American dipper (water ouzel) and found it just as it flew off. But then Sharon pointed up and I followed her gauze.

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Sandstone Ranch

February 26th, 2014 · 2 Comments

We were only trying to approach ​closer to ​ a big raptor​ that Sharon had spotted high in a big tree hundreds of feet to the east. The raptor was well beyond the boundary of the City of Longmont’s Sandstone Ranch ​Park, but we found an open gate.

Through the gate we followed a service road for a few feet, but then it petered out. Lacking a road or even a trail, we walked for about half a mile down a dry stream bed and approached close enough to see that the raptor we had been chasing was an eagle.

​It was a juvenile bald eagle taking a long rest, and I got off this shot​ before it finally flew off:

​We Chased This Raptor, a Juvenile Bald Eagle

We Chased This Raptor, a Juvenile Bald Eagle

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Finding the raptor was what we had set out to do. In fact, we had been hoping to see one even before we left our homes in Boulder. And finding this young one led to much more, its family.

High and clear in the sunny sky one adult bald eagle and four juveniles circled directly over us for many minutes. I got off hundreds of shots of them, but even with my 400mm super-telephoto lens they were closer to being specks than birds. Finally the adult came down to take a good look at us, giving us in turn a good look at it.

The Adult Bald Eagle Soars

The Adult Bald Eagle Soars

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The resurgence of bald eagles is nature’s biggest comeback. Driving to the edge of extinction within my lifetime due to hunting, habitat loss, and DDT contamination, they are now a symbol of survival as well as being the American national bird. May our country have such good fortune.

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My Sweetheart and Me

February 26th, 2014 · 3 Comments

When my sweetheart visited me a few days ago in the middle of a cold Colorado winter, we went out for a birding walk at one of the few lakes or streams not covered with ice. Sue and I had met as each of us was returning to the lower 48 in August from Alaska on the M/V Kennicott, and this was her first visit here.

Fortuitously, Sue was here at the same time that my friend Marveen was visiting Colorado. Marveen’s invitation for me to visit her and her husband in Alaska had made it possible for Sue and me to meet. And Marveen took this shot of this loving couple.

My Sweetheart and Me

My Sweetheart and Me

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Under the circumstances I might be forgiven if I had skipped the bird photography. But we found many colorful birds on Clear Creek in Prospect Park. My favorite was this little teal.

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Wood Ducks

February 10th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Wood ducks are the most colorful waterbirds native to North America. And one of the great things about cold weather here in Boulder is that they come here in winter.

But when the weather turns as cold as it’s been here lately, their options are limited. They need open water, because they are ducks, and need trees nearby because woods are their habitat. In Boulder I know of only two suitable places for them, Boulder Creek, which runs through downtown Boulder, and Tantra Lake, which is right in front of my apartment. A few miles away in Wheat Ridge is another preferred habit along Clear Creek, another waterway that is big enough and fast flowing enough that stays free of ice in places.
This winter one male wood duck has been hanging out with a large group of mallards in Boulder Creek. This lone male has been waiting months for a female to find him here.

He May be Saying, “This Water is COLD!”

He May be Saying, “This Water is COLD!”

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One of the special things about wood ducks is how they can stretch their necks. A few days ago I went back to Boulder Creek to look for this guy, and he was looking into the water for something to eat or drink.

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Josh’s Pond

January 25th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Lots of waterbirds migrate here in northeastern Colorado. When they can.

But this winter most of the water here is frozen. Josh’s Pond, a Broomfield Open Space just over the Boulder County line, is the rare exception, so the birds flock there.

I did too this week. On three sunny afternoons I watched and waited for more than six glorious hours taking more than 1,000 shots of these beautiful birds. Here are my favorites.

Three Male Ring-Neck Ducks Swim on a Sunny Afternoon

Three Male Ring-Neck Ducks Swim on a Sunny Afternoon

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A Female Merganser Seems to Have a Bad Hair Day

A Female Merganser Seems to Have a Bad Hair Day

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A Muskrat Swims to Shore in the Last Light of Day

A Muskrat Swims to Shore in the Last Light of Day

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Photography requires patience and persistence. If just three photos in more than six hours seems like a small return for the effort, please consider this quotation from one of the greatest photographers who ever lived. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop,” Ansel Adams said. Of course, he had somewhat higher standards.

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Carolyn Holmberg Preserve

January 24th, 2014 · No Comments

The Carolyn Holmberg Preserve is a Boulder County Open Space where even in winter I usually find raptors, often hawks and sometimes eagles. I found a bald eagle on my visit there this week.

A Bald Eagle Scans the Preserve for Prey

A Bald Eagle Scans the Preserve for Prey

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Peru’s Lachay Hills

December 7th, 2013 · 2 Comments

My tour of the upper reaches of the Amazon River in Peru began and ended in Lima, the country’s capital. But as soon as we could leave Lima for a further Peruvian adventure we did.

While two of our group — the two doctors from Puerto Rico — flew home as soon as we arrived back in Lima, the other six of us (plus the tour leader, the guide, and the driver) chose to take an optional excursion to the Reserva Nacional de Lachay in the Lachay Hills, a two-hour drive north of Lima.

We travelled along the South Pacific Ocean all the way. But unlike the stereotype of the South Pacific, the weather was cool and foggy. Well, this was winter in the Southern Hemisphere, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But what a difference from the weather on the Amazon at the other side of the Andes!

Our destination was a unique mist-fed ecosystem covered with clouds almost all of the year. We were there in the humid season, and the mist was heavy on the land all day.

Until we turned off the paved highway into the reserve, the going was good. Immediately, however, we came across a roadblock. Apparently, no one else had visited the reserve for a while.

Kevin, Edison, and the Driver Clear the Road (I Helped in my Own Way by Recording the Event)

Kevin, Edison, and the Driver Clear the Road (I Helped in my Own Way by Recording the Event)

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Our Group Seems to Spot Something

Our Group Seems to Spot Something

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Market Day on the Amazon

December 6th, 2013 · 2 Comments

The city of Nauta has just 16,000 residents, but it was busy on market day when we happened to visit. I used the opportunity to take many photos of the scene.

Many Three-Wheel Motorcycle Taxis Met Us When We Left the Ship at Nauta

Many Three-Wheel Motorcycle Taxis Met Us When We Left the Ship at Nauta

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Much of the Market is Covered

Much of the Market is Covered

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Some People of the Amazon

December 5th, 2013 · No Comments

When we visited the village called Prado — Spanish for meadow — one of the women of the Nauta tribe who live there offered us a sample of their tasty breakfast, an armored catfish. I often eat fish for breakfast, so I greatly appreciated her gift.

The Armored Catfish was Delicious!

The Armored Catfish was Delicious!

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We visited another village for lunch. We ate at at a place apparently called Tiffany’s Restaurant, where Tiffany herself served us the local delicacies: catfish cooked in a large leaf, tender roasted agouti, and a few other specialties that aren’t on my diet, including tapioca and two varieties of plantain and three varieties of tropical juice. The open air restaurant, such as it was, has a prime view of the river, but the ship’s passengers were the only customers.

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A Meadow by the Amazon

December 3rd, 2013 · 3 Comments

During the last few days that we were able to experience the Amazon, we eased our way back to civilization. The first and last village we visited is called Prado, the Spanish word for meadow. The villagers told us that 85 people in 15 families live there around the meadow at the edge of the river. We started out by birding but also experienced the village scene.

My favorite shot was a dusky-headed parakeet at an edge of the meadow.

A Dusky-headed Parakeet Peeks from its Home in the Palm

A Dusky-headed Parakeet Peeks from its Home in the Palm

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In a tree beside the river a flock of parrots enjoyed the fruit and squabbled.

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