North Park (State Forest State Park)

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Original soundtrack by Angus MacRae.

SFSP (or North Park as it seems to be more commonly called) was a favorite spot of my wife when we lived in Colorado. It's a great Moose viewing area. This visit, however, we had to head out to the Arapaho Wildlife Refuge to capture the four bulls featured in this piece.

State Forest State Park– A Colorado State Park located in Jackson and Larimer counties east of Walden, Colorado. The 70,838-acre (286.67 km2) park was established in 1970 in the Medicine Bow Range of the Rocky Mountains. Facilities include a visitors center, over 200 campsites, cabins, picnic sites, boat ramps and 94 miles (151 km) of hiking trails. About 52,000 acres (210 km2) of the park are forested in lodgepole pine, douglas fir, colorado blue spruce, aspen and other species. Wildlife in the park includes moose, bighorn sheep, black bear, mule deer and elk.

Arapahoe Wildlife Refuge–The dry climate of the area (at an elevation of approximately 8800 feet) requires the diversion of water from the Illinois River through a complex system of ditches to irrigate wetland meadows and fill water fowl brood ponds. Periodic burning, irrigation and various grazing systems are management tools are used on the refuge meadows to maintain vegetative vigor for nesting purposes. Manipulation of water levels in the shallow ponds is intended to assure adequate aquatic vegetation for food and escape cover. The ponds also produce many insects and other invertebrates (protein) needed by most female waterfowl for successful egg laying. These insects also serve as an essential food item for the growth of ducklings and goslings during the summer months.

The first waterfowl arrive at the refuge in the spring when the ice vanishes in April. The peak migration occurs in late May when 5,000 or more ducks may be present. Canada geese have been reestablished in North Park and begin nesting on the refuge during April. Duck nesting usually starts in early June and peaks in late June. The refuge produces about 9,000 ducklings and 150 to 200 goslings each year. The Fish and Wildlife Service expects that when refuge lands are fully acquired and developed, waterfowl production should increase significantly.

Primary upland nesting species include the mallard, pintail, gadwall, and American wigeon. A number of diving ducks, including the lesser scaup and redhead, nest on the larger ponds and adjacent wet meadows. Most species may be observed during the entire summer season. Fall migration reaches its height in late September or early October when up to 8,000 waterfowl may be on the refuge.

Moose–(North America) or Eurasian elk (Europe) (Alces alces) is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic ("twig-like") configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Moose used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities greatly reduced it over the years. Moose have been re-introduced to some of their former habitats. Their diet consist of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are wolves, bears, and humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly fast if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for the right to mate with a particular female.

Antelope–The Pronghorn of North America, though sometimes known colloquially as Pronghorn Antelope, is not a member of the family Bovidae, but the family Antilocapridae and not a true antelope. No antelope species are native to the Americas. True antelope have horns which are unbranched and never shed, while Pronghorns have branching horns, and shed annually.

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