You know what they say, "One gal's irrigation source is another gal's birding paradise." Right? Anyway. Fruitgrower's Reservoir, or Hart's Basin, is probably my favorite place to bird on the western slope of Colorado. If you're my mom or some other long-time subscriber, you know that I have posted about Hart's Basin before: Hart's Basin (Part One) and Hart's Basin (Part Dos). As I mentioned, Fruitgrower's Reservoir is a hot spot for the Sandhill Crane migration. In fact so many cranes stop into this area that the nearby town of Eckert has a yearly celebration called Eckert Crane Days. What else is Eckert known for? Orchards. Many many fruit orchards.
And this is the reservoir. It is a long skinny body of water with many surrounding wetlands and pasture.
As for the birding part of the trip, it was one of the best times I've had. I took my Granny, another lover of birds and photography, and we made our way around the reservoir looking for cranes. We were slightly early, so we only saw the first arrivals but we did see a few.
Sandhill Cranes, standing tall, can reach a height of about 4 feet (or 120 cm). At this height they only weigh about 8 pounds. These cranes, at their cleanest, are light grey all over their bodies. The brown tinge you see--which deepens as spring turns into summer--is a mud stain.
The photo below will throw you for a loop. Check out my bird chimera! The head of a Great Blue Heron and the body of a Sandhill Crane. What are the odds?!
Actually, this Great Blue Heron was kind of stealing the show for a while with his majestic poses. Or maybe it's just that I really love herons.
The most common water bird at the reservoir on this day was, without a doubt, the Canada Goose.
In many of these photos you can see heat waves in the background. It was actually quite warm and sunny. I appreciated this very much coming from wintry Newfoundland.
To finish off the water birds, we must take a look at these American Coots. Again, looks like a duck but is not a duck. This guy has enormous lobed feet rather than the classic duck feet that you're picturing in your head. Also, a very short tail.
Much like the Western Meadowlark (don't worry, we'll get to him), the American Kestrel is a bird that I associate with home. I see them every time I visit and I think they are perhaps, the most underrated falcon of all time. Look at this beautiful male.
And if ever there comes a trip when I return home to Colorado and fail to see a Western Meadowlark, I shall be quite disappointed.
A quick note before I post: WordPress experienced some sort of glitch and has removed photos from many of my old posts, ugh. I hope to have everything fixed soon (hopefully in the next week). Thanks!
The Management ;)