Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Horned Critters

I always try to come up with some creative descriptive title, although they're not always totally descriptive or accurate of the particular outing.  Anyway, got away for another night out at Jackson Lake State Park about 50 miles out towards Nebraska.  Been out there like three times the last two months.  Pretty close by, and always very quite and peaceful.  I was going to just go up I25 to St. Vrain SP; I like it up there, some good wildlife, but I hate camping near the roar of an interstate, with a McDonalds sign within sight.  Was a nice mostly sunny calm afternoon out at Jackson.  Wish I'd taken my kayak as it would have been nice paddling.  Kind of left in a hurry, though, and didn't think to strap on the boat.  Was sitting reading when I hear a nice song.  Kind of like a mockingbird, but not quite.  Definitely a mimidae, though.  I tracked it down and found what looks to be a brown thrasher.  Was kind of getting cloudy by then, though, so lighting was less then optimal.  A nice, gentle thunderstorm came through about dark.  The rain on the roof put me to sleep. 

Woke up to a nice calm sunny morning. sun red coming up over the lake.  Again, wished I'd brought the boat, dammit.  Heard a bullocks oriole chattering and tracked it down not far from camp.  Then, a flock of cedar waxwings came through stripping the old russian olive berries.  Bunnies were out in force.  Saw a couple doing their spring mating jumping, but couldn't get a shot of them jumping and twirling.  They were all a bit and rumpled wet from the overnight rain. 

Decided to drive some back roads going home.  Saw flocks of lark bunting.  I'd never caught a male in breeding plumage before.  They were quite numerous, and I stopped the Ranger a couple of times to try and get a good shot, but they were always just a bit ahead of me.  Cars are one thing, but a person getting out - that's it, we're gone.  They've been on the decline for some years now, and with all the drilling activity out on the NE plains, I'd suspect that trend is continuing.  Lots and lots of drill rigs working out there.  For being the Colorado state bird, they sure are illusive.  Saw quite a few antelopes out loping along.  Seemed to be pretty fat considering how dry it's been the last couple years.  Also saw lots of horned larks out along the road.  One posed in a crossroads for me.  As did what appears to be a Swainson's hawk sitting up on the wires.  Couldn't see it's tail so not sure on the ID. 

It's pretty out on the high plains.  I've always like it out there.  Can see for miles. This time of year, driving along with the window down, it's a constant cacophony of meadow lark song.  I remember as a kid on our first western vacation driving along out on the plains at night.  You could see the streaks of light of passenger trains racing across the flats.  Also the sweeps of their Mars lights as they came up over the horizon miles away.  Don't see those anymore.