Sunday, July 9, 2017

Barr Lake

Distance: 9 mile loop
Elevation gain: none, flat
Dogs: Not allowed
Critters: Birds, birds birds!
Bathroom at Trailhead: Yes

Distant view of birds out on Barr Lake
Barr Lake is a State Park filled with waterfowl. I went there to try out my new 500mm Canon lens. The lake was too low to get very close to the birds but the scenery made up for it. All the marsh plants were high and dry and a fall-ish rusty color. The weather was also sublime, particularly knowing that the following day it was supposed to snow!

A group of Cackling Geese (Branta hutchinsii) swim past some of their sleeping cousins [Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)]. Until recently, the Cackling Goose was thought to be a sub-species of the Canada Goose. They have shorter necks, are smaller in general, and have a dark breast.

A half of a mile from the shoreline was a small cluster of birds. These include Pelicans and Cormorants.
American Coot (Fulica americana) was a common site at the lake.
I was surprised at how built up the area is around the lake. There is one large shopping mall nearby and the ubiquitous Starbucks a few miles away for those who need their fix. It was not long ago that Barr Lake was practically "in Kansas" it was so far out on the plains. Humans are encroaching here as well.

My prized shot, a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) roosting in a tall Cottonwood tree. We had stood under this tree for half an hour taking pictures, walked on and met some birders who asked if we had seen the owl. We raced back and there he was. I "hoo hoo'ed" at him and he open his eye ever so slightly. From the ground and with the naked eye he looked like just part of the tree. See how his banded feathers make him blend in with the tree bark?

Bald Eagle from a mile a way. Compared with my photos of Bald Eagles from the Bird Islands Nova Scotia, this shot is particularly dull. You can walk right up to this snag however.

Female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

The park contains a nice nature center, which puts on educational programs. There was the typical stuffed birds and animal skins. I wrapped the fox skin around my neck and struck a naughty, aristocratic pose. Fortunately, only the ghosts of the birds lining the walls were there to poo poo my shameful behavior. The nature center also has a solarium with a nice couch overlooking an extensive bird feeder. Numerous Sparrows and Blue Jays could be seen hopping about feeding area.

Views of the Lake

The trail around the lake is a broad dirt road intermixed with side trails and board walks. While long, it is any easy walk. Since we were all loaded down with camera gear we only managed to travel 1.5 miles to a gazebo that juts out into the water. From there we saw the resident Bald Eagle on its perch a mile away. Some large deer with huge antlers could be seen cowering under the shrubbery near the eagle's nest. The closest birds were only 0.3 miles from the nature center however near a nice shaded sitting area.

Boardwalk from the Gazebo. At one point this was all over water.

Some areas of the lake are totally overgrown now

I have no idea if the water level in Barr Lake is seasonal or if drought has kept it low. For now it is better enjoyed as a broad panorama vice a photographers mecca.


Linda said...

Beautiful shot of the owl casting you a sleepy look!

We could do with some of your colder temperatures. 16 degrees C here today - unnatural.

Donna Nuce said...

What!! No picture of you in the fox skin wrap!!! Seriously - gorgeous pictures Sylvia. I need to make a trip to Barr Lake. Close to where my daughter and her hubby live. Have a great day!