Thursday, September 26, 2013

Drive to the Quarry: Dinosaur Road Trip With Grace Part 3

PREVIOUSLY, ON BATTLESTAR GALACTICA:

-Grace Albers and I are taking a trip down to Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado.
-We checked out some cool petroglyphs and then camped the night.
-And now....
Grace was up before I was, and got some cool pictures near the Green River that went right by our campsite!
A sprinkler going off on the farmlands across the river!
A golden-mantled ground squirrel back at the campsite!  These things sure can get pesky, especially if there's food around!
After a quick breakfast, we were off to the quarry!  Here are some of the gorgeous scenery shots on the way!  Pyg definitely enjoyed our view of the Green River!
The Green River in the bottom of the shot!
And then....we saw it!  As we were driving, Grace suddenly told me to stop and back up (as there was no one on the road.  I was being safe, mother, don't worry).  Her instincts were right: it was a golden eagle!  Here are a ton of great shots she took!
Pretty awesome pictures, right!  Well, we continued on to the quarry and were met with an enormous Stegosaurus statue out front!  Here is a picture of Grace next to it!
And here's a Pyg pic!
We went inside of the visitors center.  While we waited for the shuttle to arrive to take us up to the quarry, we looked at some of the things that were inside of the visitor center!  First off, we have some fossil lizard footprints from the Chinle Formation, a Late Triassic formation of North America, whose rocks are around 225 million years old!
Next we have part of the jaw of the large Morrison Formation predator Allosaurus!
Now THIS I thought was really cool, and we will talk more about it in later Dinosaur National Monument posts, but pretty much the two pictures below are before and after pictures.  The first picture is what the intersection of the Green and Yampa Rivers looks like today.  The second is a drawing of what the area WOULD look like if a dam had been built downstream in 1950!  Fortunately, the dam plans were averted!  We will talk more about this dam thingy later!
Pyg touches a large hunk of rock that is about 1.2 BILLION years old!
"What do they keep in there, King Kong?"  Nice Jurassic Park reference, Zack.
After a bit of waiting, the shuttle arrived!  Pyg eagerly awaits our departure!
As we were boarding the tram, I noticed a pair of birds of prey soaring above our heads!  Originally, I thought that they were two of the same birds, and it wasn't until after I put the pictures onto my computer that I realized that these were two very different birds, indeed!  However, I had little to no idea what these birds were, so I contacted Anne Price, the Curator of Raptors at the Raptor Education Foundation, who often brings some fantastic birds to the Best Western Denver Southwest!  To see some fantastic pictures of these experiences and to learn more about them, click HERE and HERE!
Anyways, after talking with Anne, she said that the above picture, as well as the two below, are all of an immature red-tailed hawk, "with a very distinct “dash-and-comma” markings on the wings."
Anne got pretty excited about this last picture, though!  Here is what she said in the email:

"I am 99% certain it is an adult goshawk!!  Very rare to see this bird soaring, and totally in an unusual area; this bird is getting ready  to migrate, or has already started to. Of the 3 accipiters in the US (which are known for having short wings and long tails), the goshawk has the longest wings proportionally to the body and tail. You can very much see that in evidence in your photo. The distinct stripes on the tail are a giveaway too."

Pretty exciting stuff, I'm glad we got the chance to see one!
Finally, as the tram started moving, we noticed some ripple marks frozen in the rock face above us, a reminder that most of the surrounding area was under a shallow inland sea!
Next time: The Quarry!

2 comments:

  1. Great raptor sightings! You should consider logging observations in eBird if you don't do so already.

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