Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mountains to the Prairies

June 2nd

The Poudre River is such a wonderful part of the landscape in this area of Hwy 14, all the way to Fort Collins.  Cache la Poudre means "hide the powder"! I know weird but it's all connected to an incident of 1820 when French Trappers were caught by a snowstorm and forced to bury part of their gunpowder along the river banks..strange right! 

In one area the canyon walls come in close and it is really an awesome drive...probably about 10 miles with the walls close in, this section is called Poudre Canyon Road. 

The roar of the water is amazing as it gallops toward the South Platte.   This river has its origins in the Northern parts of Rocky Mtn' National Park! If you recall when I was there last year I pointed it out down in the valley below.  So you can google it up if want to know more!  One thing I will say there are some fantastic campgrounds along  this route and I chose to stop at Kelly Flats. I got a great spot right by the river. If  you follow that link to our campground location you will see as you move along the highway many campgrounds and trust me they were all practically full.  So get in early or you won't get a spot. 

Site #8...We got in early the sun was still strong, so I put up my canopy...helped to create some shade...and once the sun set it cooled down to where I needed to be in my sleeping bag with my quilt on top of that too. 

I wanted to have a nap with the cool breeze coming through the van, the sound of the Poudre tumbling by, but that never happened...too many camp chores to do with the dogs there is very little time just to sit and do nothing, One is getting tangled up on their tether, one wants water,. while one is barking at the voices coming from the closest camp...it's a 3 dog circus!

 I put my chair in the shade and did a little journal writing and had a cool drink, while I watched the river roll by....I filled my all purpose bucket with cold river water and sunk my bottle of Black Tea in it to chill... my reward for the day. Later I dunked my head in that same bucket of water and shampooed my hair! It was COLD.  I can heat the water right on my stove in the bucket if I want but I enjoyed the shock!!

Not long after sitting down I had a Lazuli Bunting land on a branch right by the water... too slow I didn't get outta my chair in time to get a photo..then this Cordilleran Flycatcher came by with some nesting material in his/her mouth

It was a very peaceful campsite, sort of tucked away from the main campground the last one before the tent walk in sites, and the sign said no RV 's or Trailers beyond this point, so no generators! Yippee.  It was perfect for me $11 with my seniors pass,  I thought of staying an extra day but I was eager to keep moving...so after breakfast and a long dog walk we broke camp and skedaddled. 

Not long after we left found this side road, I spotted some flowers, a little tributary flowed here more of a creek, and above in the tall trees I heard this Warbling Vireo.  

There was another bird something large and yellow but I missed it, never got my entire eyes on it...Back on Hwy 14 we passed one of those areas where rafting is do-able...

I will never forget the time my sis and I went rafting in the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs...sooo  thrilling.  Before you can count to 10 I was close to Fort Collins and my next planned stop...then WHAM look at the sign. 

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area...South to hwy 287 to Hwy 1 N,  then 15 N Rawhide Flats rd....Dogs not allowed and in the hand out at the Kiosk, it says Dogs not allowed even IN THE CAR! So dang-it.   But the approach road was quite long like 7 miles or so.  I came up here hoping for Chestnut Collared Longspurs.  And they were there but not one showed himself, all heard only I played my phone app call and song,  and they answered so I know they were they but I don't count heard only for the first sighting...but lets see what did show up along the fence line!

Blue Grosbeak 

More Pronghorn Antelope

And there's an established Buffalo herd...

Aspen Daisy thrives on the prairie...

Vesper Sparrow
(white eye ring, streaked head & chest, white throat, rufous shoulder patches)

Lark Bunting

And tons of the buzzy grasshopper sparrows...

This morning dove had a great view from her barbed wire perch. 

Some type of Vetch?

The road is a bit dusty and bumpy. 

Lots of Horned and Meadowlark  

Once we got to the Entry Booth I told the nice lady I had to turn around and she felt sorry for me, but not enough to let me sneak in with my pack of canines ...so we headed back down the bumpy road and eventually back south the way we had come and turned East on CR 100 to the community of Nunn, then south on Hwy 85 to Pierce and picked up Hwy 14 East again to the town of Briggsdale, and North on 77, to: 

Where we found a campsite for the evening, in the Pawnee National Grasslands.   We arrived sort of late in the day so it was dog walks, dinner, and then off to sleep...got up bright and early and did the same dog walks, breakfast and had coffee by the rising sun..

Everyone began to stir. Annie sure wanted to chase this guy...we had a little disagreement about it.  

Morning Dew...

After we packed up we headed right up to the Auto Tour route of the Grassland. 

Up Next!

Every day is a new Adventure.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Arapaho - CO State Forest - Poudre

Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge is a large place.  There is an auto tour and with the dogs onboard that is my best choice...it's about 6 miles and the terrain is mostly dry scrub and then there are lots of ponds.  Nearby is the Illinois River.  We drove Area 4 first.  and at the end was this cool barn...

Found this large nest inside but nothing was in it...

Must be from last year or earlier this spring...

This refuge is part of the North Park a region with 4 areas set aside mostly for hunting...

White tailed Prairie Dogs are an endangered or threatened species here...

How cute they are and how beneficial to the soil of our Prairies...

I saw a lot of waterfowl here but honestly the wind kept my photo taking to a minimum and the ones I got are pretty shaky, hand held in a strong wind means movement...but here is what I got.  Lots of American Wigeon in the ponds

Thought I had an Eurasian but it ended up being a fading plumage Green Winged Teal who was flirting with a Wigeon!   Had this Northern Pintail with his amazing tail up and showing off...

and here is the front end...

There was more than one of these guys below....but they hide out pretty good. 

The Savannah Sparrow watched the world go by from the reeds...and farther in the back Wilson's Phalarope busy doing their little circles in the water dance, about 8 in total.

I like these blackbirds flying all over this Western Gull he has a surprised look on his face..lol

Drifting along with the tumbling tumble weed...
Happy Trails!

Hi Lady!

On the way out of the area saw this Redtail in a windmill...

there's no place like home eh?

Then it was time to head on down the road, still on Hwy 14 going east...I highly recommend this Scenic Drive, 

If I had it to do over again I'd spend my whole 14 days rambling right along this Highway...it was cool , and the birds were out and active,  but since I'm headed home I have to go  East so next along our path is the
  Colorado State Forest, and the Routt National Forest  for our  camp for the night.  I had high hopes of Rosy Finch (all 3 have been recorded here more Brown Capped than Gray Crowned or Black) but I think I was about 2 weeks late getting here.  Figure they were nesting and done with their big groups feeding on the ground. 

Here's our spot for the night...and in the morning we had Frost! Boy it was cold overnight... but it warmed up pretty quick, 

While I made hot coffee a Wilson's Warbler flew in  and soon was joined by 2 more...their curiosity got the best of them and out they came to see us. 

And yet another Empid...ugh been very tough trying to ID all of them especially when they're so high up! 

Western Wood Pewee...he was puffed up

After Breakfast we drove to the Moose Visitor's Center 

and out back they have feeders this is where the Rosy Finch were reported about 2 weeks earlier, on this day we had plenty of Pine Siskin, Cassin's and Purple Finch and along with American Goldfinch. 

Pine Siskin

And Broad Tailed Hummers...

I took a short hike on this Ranger Lakes Trail,  it starts right out back 

I didn't go far since Floss was barking her head off in the van I could hear her the entire time, hard to concentrate with all that going on...I found a Steller's Jay, Black Capped Chickadee, and more Yellow Warblers. and as best I could tell this looks to be a Hammond's Flycatcher. 

Cornell Labs says; "Look for a large step between secondary and primaries" 

I downloaded the Free Audubon Field App onto my phone it could come in handy when comparing songs and calls.  This one never made a sound...of course my phone was in the van... I normally just blunder along and think of things such as that later. SO if it's not a Hammond's I'm sure ebird will let me know.   

So I decided to just drive up to Ranger Lakes...it is the next stop in the CO State Forest.

There's several High Alpine snow fed lakes there, all stunningly beautiful.  

One had a pair of Common Merganser ...the male flew away but the female stuck around to be featured on my blog!

It was a short hike so I went back to the van and got the girls and they got a walk too..Casey was sleeping...like a baby with one of the fans circulating the cool air, I really would have enjoyed a nap myself, but instead I had another 1/2 mile hike with the girls. 

You can see the Crag's across one of the lakes, this is a very popular hike I didn't go up there because I had just taken a 2 hikes, and I got a good look at the Crag's from the road.  There is a campground up there too. 

Up over Cameron Pass we moved on...

The locals said they had a mild winter so not as much snow as they wanted that provides most of the moisture they get..a little farther down is the Joe Wright Reservoir and it was still icy and plenty of snow around...maybe it normally get 3 times this I don't know!

Tiny Alpine flowers

The next Awesome sight along 14 east is the Cache La Poudre River
One of Colorado's many Wild and Scenic Rivers.  The road follows the river for approximately 75 miles. 

It is a rough and tumble river for sure...I did see some rafts out in certain areas...I stopped to see the sluice style Poudre Falls..

Will pick up with more sights in my next post. 

Every day is a new Adventure.