One year ago, on May 16, I said, “Hello world”, clicked the “publish” button and Mangos, Chili and Z entered the world. I was nervous, I was excited and I remember checking in about every 15 minutes to see if anyone out there had read imy initial post.
Finally, my good friend Carol Grape noticed it gasping for its first breath, slapped it on the back with a view and a comment, and that’s all it took to get the madness moving on fast forward.
I’ve had more fun with this blog. Thanks to all of you for following me, all the comments and all the inspiration from your great blogs. With 150 posts under my belt, I most certainly look forward to year two!
Post #1 content involved a spring bird watching trip to Northeast Colorado and coincidence has it that we headed out to the Pawnee Grasslands on the same date this year.
What a grand area the Pawnee National Grasslands are. Covering almost 200,000 acres in Weld County in N.E. Colorado and extending to the Wyoming border, this vast sea of natural grasslands is a destination of bird watchers all over the world due to its unique habitat.
When you’re out in the middle of this desolate grassland prairie, all you can hear is wind whistling through the grass, an occasional call of a raptor overhead and a chorus of sparrows, buntings and longspurs who have arrived to use the grass, rabbit brush, sage and an occasional smattering of trees as their spring nesting grounds. Throw in a bark from a distant prairie dog and metal squeaking from a turning windmill and you truly feel a kindred spirit with the pioneers who first arrived on these plains some 200 years ago.
One might not take particular notice of the teeming wildlife in this shortgrass prairie when traveling East to West as most vacationers have their sites set on the Rockie Mountains looming in the distance. On a closer look you’ll find the area literally crawling with wildlife.
Filled with history involving buffalo, indians, settlers, cattlemen and farmers, in the 1930’s strong winds stripped the grass then sucked the moisture out of the ground carrying its topsoil aloft, sweeping it across the country and blotting out the sun in cities in the east. We call it the Dust Bowl. After the winds were gone all that was left was a damaged ecology, towns and pioneer spirits. Beginning in 1934 Federal relief efforts were initiated and in 1960 these lands became the Pawnee National Grassland. Slowly with patience and careful management the land is healing. A mat of natural grasses once again protects the soil and wildlife and settlers have returned.
This area, so rich in history even inspired James Michener’s Novel “Centennial”.
Here’s a few photos I took.
Birding treat of the day was when an American Bittern plopped down right in front of us. Usually a very elusive and secretive bird, they are rarely seen and only sometimes heard.
A better shot of the prairie pot hole habitat. See it there in the middle? You can’t believe how still it is. It moves so slow you can barely tell it’s moving. I thought my arms would sieze up trying to hold the camera as still to not to alarm it’s activity. Plus, trying not to breath. A tense and exciting moment.
Now take a look at this shot. As the bird moves towards the reeds he raises his head to imitate the tall stalks of the plant and to camouflage himself into the landscape. Pretty soon he’ll be almost impossible to see. Pretty cool…huh?
But first, let’s talk about giveaway. Using a random generator one reader will receive a copy of Denver Junior League’s Creme de Colorado Cookbook. This cookbook contains a selection of recipes that reflect Colorado’s lifestyle and rich history. It includes nearly 700 recipes which are enhanced with color images by the renowned Colorado naturalist photographer, John Fielder. Mr. Fielder captures the essence of Colorado with his lens and the results invite you to feel a part of our region.
But wait, there’s anothe bird hiding in that third bird photo. To enter, simply leave a comment with a guess of what it is. You don’t have to be right, just guess. Contest ends at midnight Saturday, May 22, Mountain Standard Time.
Birdwatching on the Pawnee,
It’s an Annual Spring Event