Foggy morning walks special in western Colorado

Three anglers stride along the dock on a fog-shrouded morning at Confluence Lake in Delta. Such fogs, often called “valley fogs,” are caused when water vapor leaves the warm lake and hits the cold air above.

Maybe they were confused about the time, or simply waiting for the fog to clear, but a flock of Sandhill cranes spent much of Thanksgiving morning grounded in a field near Delta. A sizeable flock of cranes now winters in the Delta area.

It was on the ninth of November [...] He was walking home about eleven o’clock from Lord Henry’s, where he had been dining, and was wrapped in heavy furs, as the night was cold and foggy.

Thanksgiving morning brought memories of Oscar Wilde’s controversial novel, “The Picture of Dorian Grey,” whose lines about cold and fog and the way it envelops the world were true to form for anyone out and about around Delta in the early hours.

Not that there were many people out and about, whether wrapped in heavy furs or the latest in breathable-fabric technology.

There was a cluster of trucks, apparently those of waterfowl hunters trying to score a holiday goose, parked along the Escalante State Wildlife Area and a trio of anglers strode the fishing dock at Confluence Lake, but other than that and a handful of dog walkers, the morning was quiet.

The damp cold might stifle activity, but it heightens the senses, especially the sense of hearing.

From the wildlife viewing point above the wildlife area, the hunters’ calls were loud and clear, although the hunters themselves were somewhere “down there,” snug in blinds along the Gunnison River, hoping the natural camouflage would bring success their way.

Parked along a recently harvested cornfield near Delta, an expectant observer could barely discern the outlines of several hundred or more Sandhill cranes slowly stirring in the shrouded light.

Their trumpeted calls, however, came loud and clear, and it was only through the chatter and racket that you might have realized there were far more cranes in that field than easily could be seen.

As the light gradually increased, the birds’ activity increased and sound of ruffled wings was heard along with the abrupt “let’s go” call of departing cranes.

Nearby birds, already veiled from clear sight, departed with a few long strides and melted rapidly into the cloud, dragging their calls behind them.

Once away from the river, a visitor was surprised by the brightness of the day and although a mid-afternoon meal was waiting, there was time to stop and watch a couple of large mule deer bucks wander in and out of the “cedars” on Cedar Mesa.

By mid-day the air along the river had warmed sufficiently to dissipate the fog, but by then, cranes had departed, some going out to feed locally while many others were headed south in large “Vs” toward their wintering grounds in New Mexico and the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge along the Rio Grande.

Thanksgiving carries many meanings, but having western Colorado to roam around on a foggy morning in late November reminds us how easy it is to find something about which to be thankful.

Email Dave Buchanan at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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