The day has come, and I'm off to Colorado at last. I could have illustrated this first tour update with a distant post-take-off shot of Queen Mary Reservoir (long time no visit), but somehow thought that a view of the south-west tip of Greenland from 36,000 feet had the edge. I imagine that this is a lot like how the Rockies will look, only without the water and icebergs. The other shot is the frozen wastes of Hudson Bay, close to an area I visited back in June 1997.
On touchdown in Denver after nine hours in the air, I had to fill in the Department of Homeland Security's visa waiver and give the usual assurances that I haven't been a terrorist or involved in genocide (has anyone ever ticked that 'Yes' box?), been a pimp or abducted children. Having reclaimed my luggage, cleared customs and found the hotel shuttle bus, there was just enough time for a wander in the middle of nowhere before sundown.
The airport hotel is on an unattractive development stuck out on the prairie near the airport. Having already seen prairie dogs scuttling about as we neared the site, I decided to give the more weedy areas in the vicinity a grilling, and saw more than I bargained for. At 18 species the overall list was short, but quality species included Swainson's Hawk, a pair of Great Horned Owls (bottom) in a scrubby gully, four Short-eared Owls at dusk and a nice Grey-headed Junco (below).