Oct 282009
Coal Creek Canyon Elk

Coal Creek Canyon Elk

I’ve been working too much recently, a confluence of events but the results (hopefully worthwhile) will be announced shortly. Still, one result … a tired/unfocused brain (way too prone to wildwalking in Twitter-land) and an antsy body. With a big snow storm (foot or more) expected to hitting the next day or so, I needed to get out and #playoutdoors. The goal of “go see the Elk” came to mind, a wildlife goal, time to go wildobs’ing…

I grabbed my binoculars, camera (not taken her out enough) and iphone and set off to the bottom of the Canyon. There is a winter warning for an approaching snow storm, and I know the Elk like to move down into the flatlands (down from the rugged foothills) when storms approach. I wanted to find them.

As I approached the the place I hike I stumbled upon a mule deer foraging openly on bushes, then a red-tailed hawk sitting high on a tree above. (I’ll post photos of both later.) I wandered out into the hidden valley and found it such a wonderfully warm/calm fall day I really couldn’t help but to sit and just enjoy. Gosh, yes … fall is my favorite season in Colorado.

Black-capped chickadee (they always look so sharp and dapper) and magpies kept me company, although one small wasp didn’t seem to want me there. Hmm, quite a few wasps and other bugs about on this warm day … I wonder if (and then how) they’ll survive this coming snow.

No Elk to be seen in the hidden valley (I didn’t expect them there, too ‘claustrophobic’ for daytime) nor on the plains (I did there.) After a few minutes sitting a movement caught my eye up the hill. A herd 50 or more strong was coming over the railroad tracks, slowly making their way to the plains. I’d gotten ahead of myself (or at least the Elk) and was there before them. So, I returned to where I’d started (the closest point to them) and savored the scene.

I stopped to photograph a fluffy caterpillar [have an id for m? please comment] (how late in the year is s/he?) and that moment delayed me just enough to reach a fence line just in time to enjoy a northern harrier doing it’s ‘circuits and bumps’ over the field. Gosh, I was getting far more than I’d hoped for, a simple yet wonderful wildobs’ing trip.

It might not have been the most energetic or adventurous trip out, but it sure recharged my wildlife batteries. Yum!