« Great Horned Owl Incubating Eggs | Main | Barack 'Millstone' Obama »

February 15, 2010

Hawk Watch on the Hogback

Above: Mature Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) transitions from perching to flying near Morrison, Colorado.

I was reading Mary Taylor Gray's Guide to Colorado Birds and saw this birding tip about some "Hawk Watch" up on the Dakota Ridge Hogback. So Wendy drove me up there and, I have to say, we saw scads of Red-tailed Hawks. They seemed to be everywhere. Now, granted, we never technically found the Official Hawk Watch headquarters (Update: I think it's here). And we spent most of the time in the truck driving around and shooting from the shoulder, and we didn't take too many photos before we retired to the Morrison Inn for margs.

"Why is no one here?" Wendy asked.

"I dunno. It's a Monday. It's 4:00 p.m. People have jobs, I guess?"

"Hmmm. I guess."

But we saw lots of hawks. No doubt about that.

Update: Although Mary Taylor Gray's directions are ambiguous, at best, I think I've figure out where she's talking about. Keep in mind that there are no less than four parking lots at the intersection of I-70 and Colorado 26. I suspect that she's referring to is the 'Stegosaurus' parking lot on the SE corner of I-26 and I-70. Then she says "...walk up an old road northeast to a signed trail..." Well, this is sort of tricky as well. If you walk NE through the parking lot, you end up following I-70, which is not really what you want to do. What you want to do is get on the dirt road/biking/hiking path which is most easily accessed through the entrance to the parking lot. It climbs up from the entrance to the parking lot essentially.

My best guess is that this is the quasi-official "Hawk Watch" location in question.

Update 2: For those of you playing the home game, there are four parking lots at the intersection of I-70 and Colorado State Highway 26/US 40 (three of these are described as "Hogback Jurassic Park & Ride Sites" ). The lots are:
1) Wooly Mammoth Lot (NW Corner)
2) T-Rex Lot (NE Corner)
3) Stegosaurus Lot (SE Corner)
4) Matthews/Winters Parking Lot

The parking lot that Mary Taylor Gray was referring to is apparently the Stegosaurus Lot on the S.E. corner of the intersection. From this parking lot, you want to go down to the entrance to the parking lot to begin your hike. If you start out at the NE corner of the parking lot, you end up following a little paved path that follows I-70, which is the wrong way.

There's a sign at the trailhead that says "Dinosaur Ridge Raptor Migration Station". So, in any event, once you leave the parking lot, you just follow the little signs with the hawks on them. It's actually fairly well marked. You'll gain approximately 200 feet in elevation fairly quickly, then it levels out somewhat and the trail turns and follows the natural lines of drift south, just west of the ridge's summit.

Just past the powerlines, you'll find the official D.R.R.M.S. bird watching area. They've got a little fence around it with a gate. Tree-huggers just love to fence things in. There's nothing here even to protect at all. Just a clump of stupid rocks. But I'll be d@mned if the stupid tree-huggers didn't go to all the effort of putting up a gate and a fence. (Neither have held up well, in case you were wondering.)

The entire hike takes about 40 minutes if you just walk up there and turn around and walk back. This is assuming the trail is in good shape, which is probably a poor assumption. I went up there today and it was snowy, icy, and muddy. Very dangerous. Plus, there's those jack@sses on mountain bikes that just can't stand to think there's some place on earth they can't ride their bikes, so you'll see these dim-witted jack@sses every so often, riding their stupid bikes across the snow, ice, and mud on the edge of a cliff. Just lunacy. Nothing would make me happier than to see a whole pack of them careen off the mountain to their deaths, but I digress.

Above: Mature Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) transitions from perching to flying near Morrison, Colorado.

Above: Rock formation in Red Rocks Park near Morrison, Colorado.

Above: "Smog City - Attention: Air pollution in this region is hazardous to your health." (If they think the air is bad here, they should check out the air pollution in Tijuana, Mexico City, Lima, and Havana.)

Posted by Rob Kiser on February 15, 2010 at 7:01 PM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)