Colorado: Lamar & Colorado Springs

Well now it’s officially become an annual thing with my 3rd Winter photography adventure with my Dad taking place and Colorado being the destination once again. We landed in Denver and got in the car for the same 3 hour drive out to Lamar. This area has proven to be a popular Winter raptor hotspot the last 2 years so if it’s not broke don’t fix it I guess. Off the bat it continued just as we had left off last time and we drove the local roads looking for raptors. Had the usual suspects like Rough-legged Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, multiple Red-tailed Hawks in various plumage, and a crazy light colored Great Horned Owl. This variation of this owl looked more like versions typically found in more northern arctic regions. Had to again visit my favorite lone cotton tree to capture a different version of this composition that has become a favorite of mine. Of course we had to check out our magical Great Horned Owl location that was so special to each the previous 2 years, but found it to be vacant this time around. Not sure if something happened with the owls or it was just different because we were out there a month later than before.

On the second full day of back roading it through Lamar we came across an incredible once in a lifetime experience with a tiny little killer. The Loggerhead Shrike has been called a “hawk trapped inside the body of a finch”, in that although it lacks size this small bird is a train assassin. They’ve been known to feed on bugs, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, other birds, and sometimes impale their prey on barbed wire fences or anything else they can hang them up on. Driving down the road we saw a smaller bird look like it was struggling to fly with something else attached to it. After landing to the right of our car on the side of the road we stopped to see what it was, and on landing noticed that it had been a Loggerhead Shrike with a tiny mouse as it’s prey. The bird even hung up the mouse perfectly on a section of barbed wire and then sat proudly next to it. This shot was one of those that you have to be in the right place at the right time in order to capture and I’m grateful we had that opportunity. Sun up to sundown we made the most of our short time in the greater Lamar area and made it another stretch to remember there.

For our last day out in Colorado we made out way to Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods for sunrise. The red rocks are vivid enough before dawn, but as soon as that very first golden sunlight hits them they just explode with color. It was my first time here at this park and an incredible view to kick off the final day of our trip. We then headed over to another nearby park where there were over 10 Long-eared Owls roosting in a grove of trees. It was crazy how tucked away they were but still amazing to see that many of them together. I was able to capture one cool shot where the owl’s eyes and bottom half of face are sticking out between the branches. We’ve been lucky to have 3 amazing trips out to this beautiful area now in a row and I’m forever grateful to enjoy it all with my Dad.