I've been ridiculously busy the last few weeks, with no end in sight for the next few weeks, so decided that the only way to stop working was to actually leave town for the day.
Fortunately it's mid-March, and that means sandhill crane season in the San Luis Valley. It was Crane Festival weekend in Monte Vista, so the DM and I piled selves, binnies and scope into the car and headed south.
The Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is just about an hour and a half drive from home, and the weather was perfect: 50 F, clear skies, and no wind.
We saw: Lots of cranes (of course), bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, kestrels, a northern harrier, many species of waterfowl (including pintails, a fave), blackbirds and bluebirds and assorted larks and sparrows. Pronghorn. Prairie dogs. We also saw a few friends we hadn't seen in a long time AND were surprised when our Salida neighbors honked and waved as they drove past us in Monte Vista.
We also indulged in decadent ice cream things from the DQ on the corner.
On the way home we stopped at the painting and pottery studio of Meerfeld/Mitchell in Saguache and visited with friend Marty for a little bit. In all a great day.
Tomorrow I have on the table an 18x24 illustration of the sagebrush steppe that will ultimately be a poster. 32? 33? species of plants and animals in one scene. Always a challenge! The pinecone lino waits patiently for breathing space and completion.
Can you see them all out there?
I don't have a digiscoping rig, so the best I can do is stick my little point-and-shoot camera on the eyepiece of my spotting scope. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I lucked out today.
Yes, those are mountains filling the background, not sky.