Thursday, September 30, 2010

South Park September

Took a little late summer, two night camping and fishing trip down to Eleven Mile Reservoir in South Park. Then drove over Trout Creek Pass the second night along the Arkansas. Didn't see a whole lot, and what I got was from a fair distance so not real great. Really nice sunny day, and rarely calm day at the Mile. No fish though. I paddled and paddled and fished and fished, but nothing. What a fisherman. Did see this big heard of Buffalo on the drive in. They were a bit aromatic. While out in the boat late in the afternoon I noticed this small herd of Antelope near my camp. Paddled back in, grabbed the camera and got as close as possible before I spooked them. Also saw a Bald Eagle sitting up in one the rare trees near the water. He spooked before I got within range, however. There were tons of Horned Larks out on the flats. I think this one might be a juvenile from this summers crop.

Like I said, the day was warm, but at 9,000 feet it got down to 29 the next morning at the reservoir. I woke up about 3AM with cold feet, so turned on the heat for a bit and put on another blanket. Bucket of water out on the picnic table had a good inch of ice on it when I got up. Still, there were a few Indian Paintbrush and Asters blooming.

It cost a minimum of $22 to camp in a Colorado State Park these days. That adds up, and since I wasn't catching any fish I decided to drive over the hill to the Arkansas. Looked for the Lewis's Woodpecker in the park in Buena Vista, but didn't see it. Got one of my fav spots right along the river north of town. Absolutely great spot, but not very birdy this time around . And, man there were a lot of folks out for late September, mid-week! The drive down on 285 was like I-25 here in town! And, lots of folks camping. I guess folks were taking advantage of the really warm sunny days and the fall color, although a lot of the Aspens had already lost all their leaves.

Much warmer night along the Arkansas, but kind of windy. Camper rocked most the night. Nice when I got up next morning, though a bit cooler. Dry front had come thru. Drove up a county road off Trout Creek Pass on the drive home. Found this little birdy pocket along a seep. Got this Wilson's Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, and I think a Townsend's Solitiare. Also saw a few straggling Mountain Blue Birds and heard a Western Tanager up on the hill, but never saw it.

Might head down to Bosque del Apache later in October. Just have to see.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Odds and Summer Ends

Yep, summer is over. I think I must have been some kind of bird, butterfly, or migrating animal in a former life. There always comes a day, usually in mid-August, when the shadows, temperature and maybe wind, just say to me, summer is over. Better move along. I don't necessarily like the experience as I don't winter well. Spring and summer are my seasons. Anyway, here's a few odds and ends from the end of the summer of 2010.

And, by the way, until I started this bird photography thing, I guess I never really noticed how early in the summer birds start to migrate. Out at one of my fav birding spots, East White Ranch Open Space, just north of Golden, the place is filled with birds in May and June. By late July you notice a marked decrease, and by mid August about the only thing there are a few year round residents. And spring migration is so different from fall migration. In the spring it's waves of birds, but in the fall it's more like a trickle.

Before I get to the photos, folks ask me what kind of gear I shoot on. Most of the time I'm on my beater Nikon D200 with battery grip, and either my Sigma 300mm f2.8 with a 1.4 teleconverter, or my Sigma 500mm f4.5. Infrequently, I'll handhold the 300, but most the time have the rig is on my heavy-duty Benro tripod and Jobu gimbal head. The camera body and lenses weigh about 11 to 13 pounds, depending on the lens, and the tripod and head about the same. I recently picked-up a used Nikon P6000 point and shoot to stuff in my pocket for incidentals. Does a great job with macro shots.

Explored Mary's Pond over on Sheridan and 104th the other day. Didn't see a single bird, but did see this large dragonfly. I'd been trying to get a good dragonfly shot for sometime, and this one cooperated nicely. Amazing insects.

Visited Kountze Lake over behind Lakewood City Hall the other morning. Again, very few birds, but did see this Black-crowned Night Heron. I spooked him near the north end of the lake, but watched him fly over by the decks. Found him up under some bushes. About the only other bird activity were some mother Wood Ducks and Mallards with juvies.

Connie has a Butterfly Bush in her backyard. Man, that thing does attract butterfliea. One Sunday afternoon lately there was a beautiful Two-tailed Swallowtail and a Monarch on the bush at the same time. And, up in the fir tree, a very still Mourning Dove. There's a pair that nests in her yard every summer.

Up the street from her house at Lake Arbor I caught this nice Great Blue Heron the other afternoon. Wonder when they'll head south?

Went up to the Colorado and William Fork Reservoir a couple weeks back. Not very birdy, and very stormy. Spent a lot of time in the camper reading, but did find a few things. First day was sunny, though, and I marveled at the end of summer wildflower display. The hills were just yellow with Rabbit Brush, and there was this nice display of Butter and Eggs and Lupine.

And on the way home, I stopped at my fav drive-in in Hot Sulphur Springs for a corn dog. She makes them fresh. God, they're good! This Chipmunk family was very busy nearby gathering seed heads for the winter. They'd fill up their pouches, run into their burrows, and come back for more. Summer ends.