Sunday, April 16, 2006

Birding in Pawnee National Grassland

After securing my first digital SLR I took this past Friday off from work to go test out my shiny D70. So here I combine two of my passions to test out my new toy: birding and photography. All the following photographs were taken with a fairly old Nikon 300 F4 AF with a 1.4 teleconverter at fairly high ISOs (if you care about those sort of details, heh).

It was an amazingly productive day from a birding standpoint. Spring has definitely sprung. I decided to concentrate my efforts in the Pawnee National Grassland in Northeastern Colorado. The Pawnee is some of the best remaining Central Shortgrass Prairie left in the state. Here's some photos that document a few ephemeral moments in my tangential life.

You can almost hear this proud Western Meadow Lark singing to greet spring just by looking at this picture:

One of the more ubiquitous residents in the Pawnee is the Horned Lark:

Out in Murphy's Pasture I caught a fairly rare glimpse at a Long-billed Curlew:

One characteristic feature of many shortgrass prairies are the bird-attracting pools of water that appear in spring. Here shallow depressions filled with water delight American Avocet right before sunset:

Of course being in the Central Shortgrass Prairie means seeing a few of these ecosystem engineers, black-tailed prairie dog:

Countless creatures take advantage of the habitat around dog towns. One of my absolute favorites has to be Burrowing Owl:

Here's a close-up shot I took a couple of years ago with my digiscoping setup:

Owls are not the only creatures around prairie dog towns:

Of course all this protein attracts predators, such as this Swainson's Hawk:

Wun wabbit, wun wike hell!

If you want to see larger sizes of these photos, you can see them on my Flickr Space.

1 comment:

tiffinix said...

I am in love with that meadow lark! Smooch! How flipping cute! Gorgeous pictures - so glad you are blogging them! Looking forward to more. xo