Early Spring Birding

American Robin_FCNC-CO_LAH_2127Do you love Easter egg hunts? How about Pokemon Go? Or perhaps you’re into geocaching. If any of these sounds like fun, then you might look into birding. It’s all these rolled into one, with time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, the thrill of discovery, and a bit of nerdy science thrown in for good measure. You never know what you’re going to find.

This past weekend, a friend and I revisited our local county park and nature center. We’ve both been there dozens of times, and pretty much know what to expect. I’d enjoy the morning just for the chance to take a walk in the riparian corridor along Fountain Creek, but it’s the added hope of discovery that makes every visit interesting. And now that migration has started, my anticipation is higher than ever.

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Photo Birding

The view out my window on a recent morning was solid white. I was looking at four inches of what the weather folks called “it may or may not snow, and surely there won’t be much accumulation.” Schools were on a delay, temperatures hovered in the mid-teens, and visibility was nil. Yup, I wouldn’t be birding that day. (I don’t mind getting snowed on—it’s navigating the snowy roads that poses the difficulty.)

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More Birding…

One of my goals for this year is to spend more time outside, birding and taking pictures of birds. So with that in mind, I headed to the county park and nature center south of town. I’ve been birding there many times. When I was just starting out, I frequently encountered species new to me. Now, after more than 15 years, I’m just happy to see birds—any birds—and hopefully get a decent photo or two. I figure I can always improve on what I’ve already taken.

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Enigmatic Empids

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It was a fruitful trip out to Chico Basin Ranch, east of Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and one of the best birding spots in the country. With fall migration in full swing, we ticked off well over 50 birds, including a Common Nighthawk, which I tend to miss as they match the branch they’re sitting on, and both Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos—good birds for Colorado. There’s nothing like birding with a very experienced guide, and John Drummond definitely qualifies. I learn so much when he leads a trip.

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Manitou Lake Revisited

Manitou Lake Sunrise

Some days just seem perfect. The sky was intense blue, without a single cloud in sight. Temperatures? The mid-70s. Crowds? For the first hour or two, we had the entire place to ourselves. A light breeze stirred a few leaves, birds chirped in the willows, and squirrels chattered from the pine branches overhead. I was so glad we’d chosen to spend the morning at Manitou Lake.

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Mt. Evans, Revisited

Yellow-bellied Marmots_MtEvans-CO_LAH_5999

Here in Colorado, when it’s hot out on the plains, we head to the mountains. And there’s no better mountain to head to than Mt. Evans. No hiking required, unless you want to reach the 14,265 foot peak, and even that is only a quarter mile up a series of switchbacks from the summit parking lot. And while the view from the top is worth the effort, most of the really good stuff is on the way there. It’s a good metaphor for life.

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Back to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

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Home to birds, mammals, reptiles, and very nice people—Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has it all. Last winter I made my second visit there, five years after the first. It may have been snowing at home in Colorado, but southern Florida was supposed to be warm—wasn’t it? The day before had been lovely, but this morning dawned damp and gray, with tendrils of fog creeping over the wetlands. I arrived at 7, just as the admissions office opened, knowing I had to be done to meet Pete for lunch. Well, a late lunch, at least! I wanted to make the most of my time as I walked the 2.25 mile boardwalk.

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