With gorgeous scenery, fascinating geology, and a zoo’s worth of wildlife, a visit to Yellowstone National Park is always a delight. And in spite of the weather (cold, snow, and sleet on the first day of summer?!), last week’s trip was no exception.
Not to stay home on a gorgeous Saturday morning, I joined our Audubon chapter field trip to Castlewood Canyon State Park, located on the Palmer Divide between Colorado Springs and Denver. At elevations between 6,200 and 6,600 feet, the park includes ponderosa forest, dry shrubland, high prairie, and riparian areas. This diversity allows for plenty of birds, a colorful array of wildflowers, plus some pretty impressive scenery. Our loop trail along the canyon rim, down to (and across) Cherry Creek and through the riparian willows, then back up to the parking lot clocked in at 3.2 miles, but you could easily add some side trips. Continue reading “A Visit to Castlewood Canyon S.P.”
My friend Debbie and I just returned from a weekend of intense birding at the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge. It’s at the southern end of the San Luis Valley, situated at 7,800 feet in southern Colorado.
Ducks paddling, egrets darting for fish, cormorants spreading their wings in the sun, pelicans heading for splash down… I couldn’t wait to return to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge last February. It was my third visit to the refuge, which is more than I’d ever expected, being that it’s 2,000 miles from home! Located on Sanibel Island, on the west coast of Florida, it’s the perfect spot for a birder to view most of the Florida regulars, plus a few special visitors. And this time, we had a very special visitor indeed. Or not.
When I consider birding in Florida, Merritt Island NWR immediately comes to mind. While the state is filled with outstanding birding hotspots, this refuge, directly adjacent to Canaveral National Seashore and the Kennedy Space Center, is one of my favorites. The birds are accessible, the wildlife drive offers excellent views for a photographer, and there is plenty of variety.
There’s something about a bunch of birders (or do birders come in a flock?) all fixated on the same rare bird. The smiles, the lifer dances, the high fives and slaps on the back. We may be perfect strangers, but the shared excitement overcomes all barriers.
One of my favorite parts of any road trip is stopping at the national wildlife refuges along the route. In this case, we were heading from Columbia, South Carolina, where we’d visited family, to a vacation with friends on the east coast of Florida. And it just so happens that there is a series of refuges running from Pinckney Island NWR near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to Wolf Island NWR near Darien, Georgia. As we only had time to stop at one of those, we chose Savannah NWR, on the South Carolina – Georgia state line.
I admit it—sometimes I’m spoiled. It’s mid-winter here in Colorado, but we just returned from a road trip to Florida, courtesy of an invitation from some much-appreciated friends. Even on the coldest days, the beach was so much nicer than the snow arriving at home! Continue reading “Florida Offers A Mid-winter Reprieve”
I hadn’t really planned to spend time birding in Minnesota. We were on a road trip around the Great Lakes, and we had finally turned toward home. But my high expectations for Whitefish Point, in northeastern Michigan, had been squelched by high winds, and we decided to cut and run, saving the time to spend someplace more accommodating and birdy. That someplace turned out to be Hamden Slough NWR.
Pete and I have been invited to visit friends in Florida next month. Of course, we accepted the invitation! I’ve arranged time off from work, I’ve made my packing list, and our house sitter is all lined up (with instructions on keeping the feeders filled). Now I’m eagerly counting the days until we leave.
While there are plenty of logistics involved in escaping winter for a couple of weeks, I’m also trying to prepare for birding in a relatively unfamiliar location. Yes, I’ve been to Florida before—twice, in fact—but it’s not my usual birding location, and those aren’t my usual birds.