Our 2024 Bird Project

Our 2024 Bird Project

  • Allison Benham
  • 05/14/24

As some of you may remember from last fall, we have a goal to make it through each one of the 30 bird hikes from the book The Best Front Range Bird Hikes.

We have ticked several more bird hikes off the list and have so enjoyed getting more familiar with all the fabulous trails and natural beauty that we are lucky to have all around us here in Colorado.

Some of these hikes have taken us off the beaten path and it has been a really fun project to get out and explore some trails and areas we wouldn't have normally visited.

Ken is also considering buying a used, very large birding camera from a fellow birder. He's been trying it out lately and that has been neat as well- the obsession deepens, friends.

Read on below for info about where we visited so far this year, pics, and more. If you'd like to read about the hikes we did last fall, you can read that previous blog post here.

Lory State Park- Fort Collins

We were struck by how stunningly beautiful this area was. Lory State Park is situated just west of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. In the park, the trails overlook the shimmering water at the reservoir and it is simply a beautiful hike. We got out in the early spring weeks and heard lots and lots of meadowlarks, saw plenty of hawks, and really enjoyed the drive to the park, as well as lunch in Fort Collins afterwards at 415.

This is the display inside the visitor center at Lory State Park. I think this would be a fabulous place to take children as the visitor center has some displays I think kids would love, the trails are not too steep, and you could make a day of it by exploring Horsetooth as well.

South Mesa Trail- Boulder

We had tried to get out to do some birding at the Mesa Trail a couple times and gotten sidelined by weather once and a toddler tantrum another time. When we did finally get out and the universe cooperated with us, we had a gorgeous hike and saw some neat birds too! Here are Ken and I at South Mesa Trail. It's beautiful and convenient. This a great trail that is close in to Boulder for beginner hikers and birders alike. We saw some Spotted Towhee, a kestrel catching grasshoppers, and lots of magpies.

Urban South Platte River- Denver

This was a beautiful walk to do in the winter. It's great for seeing the ducks and waterfowl that migrate here to spend the cold winter months.

This is an urban walk with plentiful sun and a wide, paved path. This part of the river doesn't freeze over so the ducks and waterfowl love it. We saw tons of different kinds of ducks, mergansers, and even an adorable little fox. We took Scarlett with us to this one too an she loved exploring. We started at the Platte River Trailhead Park at 88th and Colorado Ave.

Bluff Lake Nature Center- Denver

This was another hike that completely surprised us. Bluff Lake is an 123 acre wildlife refuge and educational center. It has tons of walking paths, lakes and waterways, and it was absolutely beautiful. We saw tons of flora and fauna and we vowed to go back in the summer. The trees were gorgeous and we thought going back when all the foliage is out be another great trip. Scarlett loved exploring the trails and outdoors.

Here is Scarlett at Bluff Lake.

Clear Creek Trail- Wheatridge to Golden

Clear Creek Trail is a 19 mile point to point trail from Commerce City to Golden. We started in Wheatridge and walked west for an easy out and back. It is beautiful, popular, and a great place to see lots of different kinds of birds as there are flowing river portions as well as lakes along the path. This is a nice one to do during the winter as the walk is paved, there is plenty of sunshine, and you don't have to worry about technical portions that may be snowy or icy during the winter months. I want to take Scarlett back to Clear Creek Trail as there are some neat playground areas along the way I think she would love.

Waterton Canyon-Denver

We went to Waterton Canyon on the day of the solar eclipse. This hike is an out and back on a wide dirt road. Denver Water uses this road to access Strontia Springs Reservoir at the top. It's not too technical and best of all, you might see some bighorn sheep. We didn't see many birds this day but we did see lots and lots of bighorn sheep and folks out on the walk told us they frequently see bears snoozing in the trees on the other side of the river so this is a neat place to go see wildlife that is close in to Denver.

Last but not least, Ken got out recently to St. Vrain State Park in Longmont. This area isn't in the bird hike book, but Ken said this is an absolutely fabulous place to see raptors. He said he, and his other fellow bird-nerds, were able to hang out and watch multiple ospreys and bald eagles fishing from the lakes out there. Apparently, it's a hot spot for local birders.

What are some of your favorite local spots to see wildlife in the area? We'd love to hear from you!

Until next time!

Ken and Allison

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