Navajo State Park is a haven for migratory and resident birds with its large lake and on the Central Flyway. Birds are singing everywhere.
The next two Saturdays, June 16 and 23, at 9 a.m., Navajo celebrates its winged residents with several special programs that highlight who they are and what makes them special to us.
In celebration, Navajo State Park is hosting two special bird naturist hikes. Local birding expert William Morris hosts the first special Nature Hike at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 16, at the Sambrito Wetlands Trail at Navajo State Park. At 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 23, Becky Gillette, Southwest regional director of Audubon Colorado, will lead a Nature Hike at the Piedra Watchable Wildlife Area.
Morris will start the bird walk with a brief overview for those new to birding. Morris will discuss some of the types of birds found at Sambrito Wetlands and Navajo State Park. These include the Western Meadowlark, Bank Swallows and cranes. A nest of bald eagles is located a short distance from the trailhead. The Sambrito holds a rich history going back thousands of years with ancient sites of people who lived a nomadic lifestyle, including hunting the local bird life.
Morris has worked 11 years for CPW in the hatchery section and is currently the assistant manager at the Durango Fish Hatchery. Morris is currently the field trip coordinator and program director for the Durango Bird Club.? During the two-hour hike, he will help bird enthusiasts identify birds both by sound and by sight.
??The Sambrito Wetlands Trail is two-thirds of a mile long with a broad range of ecosystems ranging from wetlands to sage brush. Sambrito Wetlands is located on the western edge of Navajo Lake. To reach the Sambrito Trailhead, leave the main entrance and turn left on Colo. 151 and travel almost five miles. Just as you are about to enter the town of Allison, turn left onto County Road 988. Go to the end of the road and park in the lot provided.
On June 23, enjoy a Nature Birding Hike with Gillette. Gain new birding skills and learn about the most commonly seen birds of Navajo State Park as Gillette focuses on their nesting and feeding habits, their family dynamics and other interesting and fun facts. Although geared toward the beginning birder, adults and children alike will surely enjoy the hikes, while gaining insight into the feathered creatures around us.
Gillette will meet hikers at 9a.m. at the Piedra River Trail. The Piedra River Trail is one of the newest at Navajo, which is about three-fourths of a mile long. The Nature Hike will start at the Watchable Wildlife Pavilion off Colo. 151 and heads east across the Piedra River towards Arboles Point. This hike will travel through woodland, desert scrub, and marsh that holds the scattered remnants of the old railroad past.
Gillette is director of the Weminuche Audubon Society. Established in 2007, the Weminuche Audubon Society promotes the conservation and appreciation of birds, wildlife and their habitat in the Pagosa Springs region. The chapter sponsors educational programs at their monthly meetings and field trips, participates in local habitat restoration projects, and is developing long-term, positive collaborations with local organizations and agencies.
Participants should bring water and a day pack, binoculars if you have them, and a camera; wear clothing and footwear suitable for an easy to moderate hike on dirt trails. Extra binoculars and a sighting scope will be available for use. Hikes will be held weather permitting.
Anyone interested in birding in the Navajo Lake area is welcome to attend.
All events in the park are free with a Colorado State Parks pass — either a $7 day pass or a seasonal pass.
Call 883-2208 for more information, or log on to the park’s website at www.parks.state.co.us/Parks/Navajo.