Fatman’s 2020 Favorites: Wildlife

It has been an adventurous year for me and one of the best parts is seeing all the wildlife on my hikes. I almost filled out an entire Colorado bingo card full of wildlife this year. Here are some of my favorites.

Moose

Wow. What a majestic and enormous animal. I was lucky enough to see Moose 3 different times at Brainard Lake. It was my goal to see some moose all year so it was very exciting. After seeing some now, I am very glad that I did not run into one in the back country at any point.

I had seen pictures but nothing really compares to just how big these animals really are. The rumor is that they are pretty angry in general and I tend to believe that.

For reference this is a mother and calf. The baby moose was about the size of a normal sized horse!

This is the closest I really ever want to get but they really are remarkable animals.

Goat and Long Horned Sheep

So this might have been my favorite picture of the year.

A large mountain goat.

I was about 10 feet from this mountain goat. I had just climbed up a hill at McCullough Gulch and saw it standing there. Then it started walking towards me hoping for some snacks. I decided to move down the hill.

The long horned sheep are more common. I have seen them every time that I have been to Waterton canyon. I am fascinated by how quick they can make it up a sheer cliff face. Such agility.

Deer

Deer have started to become like a hiking partner. What at first was a rare sighting has now become almost standard.

It always seems to happen the same way. We startle each other then we stare at each other while standing still. Eventually we get bored and walk slowly away.

My favorite encounter was one of the earliest ones. I wasn’t really close this time, just heading back to the car. I saw this family of deer wading through the river and was just in awe. It was such a nice calm innocent moment and kind of motivated me to keep going with this journey.

Birds

I have learned a few things about birds. First, they will sit perfectly still for about 23 hours and then fly away as soon as I try to take a picture. Second, they are all over the place.

My favorite bird is one of the last ones that I saw this year. I saw my first bald eagle at Barr Lake and it was a very cool experience. My phone camera didn’t get a great shot of this fella sitting about 50 yards away but to the eye it was a magnificent sight.

Bald Eagle sitting in a tree at Barr Lake.

The next favorite on my list had a bit of a mystical quality. I had been walking though a burn scar at Pine Valley Ranch for about an hour. It was a cold and misty day and then all of a sudden this bright blue bird landed on a stub near me.

I sat and just stared at it for a few minutes. The bright colors seemed so out of place in the black and brown burn scar. In the contrast was true beauty in my eye.

A blue bird resting on a burnt out tree stump

Finally there are the birds that just don’t really care. I saw the biggest crow I have ever seen on my Mt. Sniktau hike and around Mohawk Lakes this Canadian Jay just followed me around seeing if I had any snacks. They were going to do their thing no matter what I did so I had to respect that.

Marmots

Marmots quickly became my favorite of all of the animals on the trail. They are these pudgy little things that are like a cross between a beaver and a chipmunk. I found them near the high altitude lakes in the 12000 foot range.

They are nicknamed “Whistle Pigs” because they make this whistling noise when danger is around and they go off running. Now for being a little pudge they are pretty quick and elusive. So much so that I never actually got a good shot of them. Luckily the amazing people over at Biggeekdad have made this wonderful video.

Not Mentioned: Squirrels

They are just the worst.

Well that is the list of my favorite wildlife that I was lucky enough to see on the trails in 2020. The only animals I didn’t see that I was kind of looking forward to were elk and bears. I would be ok not seeing anymore snakes and I really don’t want to see any mountain lions.

Make sure you check back all week for more of my favorite lists. You can also find them on my Thoughts page. If you would have any suggestions on hikes you think I should try or any comments, feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. You can also follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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