Our trip through Colorado and New Mexico began at Picture Canyon in the Comanche National Grasslands in southeastern Colorado.
To get to Picture Canyon, we had to drive about 10 miles through the grasslands down bumpy, dirt roads. Quite the feat considering our mode of transportation - the Honda Civic. Before this point, the landscape was totally flat. Then, small rocky hills arose, the land eventually giving way to the canyon itself.
Walking up and down this road in the morning yielded some great species, including Bullock's Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, Say's Phoebe, and Canyon Towhee.
What an interesting, beautiful landscape. Black-throated Sparrows, Canyon Wrens, Rock Wrens, Canyon Towhees, Say's Phoebes, American Kestrels and Common Ravens abound here.
Abandoned swallow (presumably Cliff) nests. I'm assuming they were abandoned because of the complete lack of actual swallows in the area.
A close-up of a swallow nest. It's made of dried mud if you couldn't tell. I'm reminded of a day trip we took to Lake Waco Wetlands, outside of Waco, TX, where we observed a flock of 20-30 Cliff Swallows carrying mouthfuls of mud from the bank to a nearby overpass. It's quite the spectacle!
I just love those rock formations.
A close-up of the sandstone that makes up most of the area around Picture Canyon. It's real pretty.
Bottfly and Punmaster observing the Native American art. Here, at this particular piece of overhanging rock, we discovered why Rock Doves are called "Rock Doves." They were everywhere.
A lot of people have what I find to be a very strange obsession with their own legacy and wanting to be remembered long after they're gone from this world. So much so, that they carve their initials right next to, or over art like this in the canyon (and many other places). It's incredibly disrespectful, and it just makes me furious.
I wonder what was used to make paintings like this?
I wish the idiots guilty of vandalism had read this sign.
On the morning of our departure from Picture Canyon and the Comanche National Grasslands we were lucky enough to get a few decent photos of some of the birds we saw.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker. We saw these quite a bit while working in Texas, but it was nice to finally snap a picture of one.
If you've ever tried to photograph a flycatcher while it's hunting, then you can understand the frustration I experienced while trying to photograph this Say's Phoebe. If you haven't tried digiscoping one without a proper camera mount, then you certainly won't understand.
Burrowing Owls at burrow. On our drive into Picture Canyon, we couldn't help but notice the multitudes of prairie dog towns. Our birding senses were tingling, and we ingeniously deduced that there must be Burrowing Owls around. Lo and behold, there they were!
Such a great start to our great Western excursion! On our drive out we were graced with a flock of Lark Buntings, a Golden Eagle, a shitload of Western Kingbirds, and a herd of Pronghorn Antelope!
Leaving Picture Canyon and the grasslands was a little sad, but we could barely contain our excitement at visiting Rocky Mountains National Park, the next stage of our journey. See it here.