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.
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.
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.
Wherever we live, we birders have a favorite birding spot (or two)—the place we’re sure to see that less common species, or that is exceptionally scenic. Maybe the trail is just right—some ups and downs, but nothing overly strenuous, and the perfect length to fill a morning, but not leave us exhausted at the end of a too-long day. It’s the place that we imagine when we think about going birding next weekend. Aiken Canyon has it all—interesting birds, beautiful scenery, and a well-maintained trail.
The Nature Conservatory owns this site, chosen because it’s “one of the last high-quality examples of the southern Front Range foothills ecosystem.”
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.