Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pearl Lake, Golden Gate, and Camp Dick

Birding is sure slowing down. Just haven't seen that much lately. Do have a couple of little adventures to tell about.

Connie, my friend Jon and his wife Yana went camping up at Pearl Lake State Park recently. We all went in Jonnie's RV, although Connie and I slept in a tent. Man, the beetles sure have ransacked that place! I wonder what impact the beetle infestation in Colorado is having on birds? On the way up there kept seeing this pretty pink flower I'm not familiar with. I think it might be Mountain Hollyhock, but I'm not at all sure.

Connie and I got up early one morning to check out this baby bird noise we'd heard down by the marina. Tracked it to this hole in a large aspen. Pretty soon along came this Red-napped Sapsucker. Bird wouldn't go in the hole while we were there, but the babies sure saw the adult bird's shadow cause they went to town. We didn't stay long, but I got a couple of shots of the adult.

Yana is from Russia and made this wonderful regional speciality, "saschlik?" I hope I'm spelling that right. Anyway, it was wonderful! Key is to cook it over a good hot wood fire. It worked!

Also saw this, I think, immature Song Sparrow. Was working thru the slash along the lakeside early in the morning while the mist came off the lake.

Recently went up to Golden Gate State Park to look for a reported nesthole of the Three-toed Woodpecker. Didn't find it. Didn't see a lot of birds! Did see a couple of Brown Creepers working thru the forest. I hadn't seen this bird since my college days in Tenn. Down there they are browner. They really do blend in with bark, though.

Since there weren't a lot of birds I took some shots of butterflies and wildflowers. I think this is some kind of Fritillary. Beautiful butterfly. I'm learning more about butterflies.

The wildflowers were spectacular! I have never seen such a display of Mariposa or Sego Lilies. Millions of them. I just love this flower. There were some with a definite purple sheen. Just beautiful!

Also found this odd orange composite. Never seen it before. Kind of like a small, oragne dandelion.

Was so hot yesterday and today, Ty, the dog I'm sitting - world's BEST dog - and I took off for the mountains to camp over night. Been years since I'd been up along the Peak to Peak highway, so headed up there. Ended up camping at Camp Dick Campground. Nice little place along the Middle St. Vrain. Got a nice private site right along the creek. Ty enjoyed laying down in the creek. He does this when it's hot. What a dog! Wasn't too birdy, but did have these Red-breasted Nuthatches working thru the Conifers. Since I've been shooting some butterflies, I've been trying to idenify them. It's not easy. Here's a shot of some kind of White. A Great Southern White? I don't know. Then, down along the lower reaches of the river just before you come to Lyons, I found this Skipper sitting on a leaf soaking up solar energy. Maybe the solution to our energy woes can be found in how butterflies convert solar energy.

Yep, birding is really slowing down. I hate to see summer end.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hot Sulphur

After a week in sweaty, sweltering Memphis, visiting family, I was in bad need of a cool, mountain river fix. Headed up to my fav spot on the Colorado near Hot Sulphur Springs. On the way down the west side of Berthoud Pass thought I'd come across an accident or something. No, it was a large, brown Black Bear up on a cut just watching the crowd that had stopped to gawk at him. I think he wanted across the road, but wasn't sure about all the gawkers gathered alongside the road.

Made it to my fav spot. Actually my really fav spot under the Cottonwoods was taken, so settled for next best. No shade, but actually closer to the river. River-sound was a primary requirement
this time. Not a lot of bird activity that afternoon, so I focused on flowers. Nice variety of Scarlett Gilia, Penstemon, White Thistle and a small, ground-cover like - I think Figwort family member, the small single blossom flower shot - I've found there for years growing admist some dumped concrete.

Magpies woke me up about dawn. Got up and made some coffee and struck off birding. Shot a pic of my camp across the river as the sun was coming over the mountain. Found a Green-tailed Towhee catching some bugs. I like their rufous caps.

On the way back to camp, I stopped to talk to this lady camped down river of me. She was telling me how she'd gone up to Steamboat to camp and get away from Denver, but had found the campgrounds more like small towns. She'd just driven down the road and found this spot by luck. I noticed something small and brown on her car's fender. At first I thought it was a pet mouse or something. "Do you know there's a bat on your car"? "Oh, my god, how'd that get there?" It was a small brown bat that appeared to have impaled it's wing on her radio attenae. I asked her if she had a fire glove or something. All she had was some rubber gloves. I got out my bandana and just touched the creature. Man, it chomped down on that bandanna and hooked it's wings and feet into it. I used it to lift the creature up and over the antennae. Got it off and set it on some branches. We got to talking about camping and then she asked how the bat was. It was gone. Guess a punctured wing hadn't done it in, gladly.

Got back to camp and noticed some Red-naped Sapsuckers back in some willows where they'd been about dusk the night before. Had been too dark for pics. I shot them with all this sap on their beaks. I'd noticed how'd they'd been hammering away on those willow branches the night before. Now, those limbs were dripping with sap. Guess they'd set-up their breakfast the night before. Very aptly named birds. Very pretty.

Drove over Cottonwood Pass - how many Cottonwood Passes are there? - that cuts over the hills avoiding Grandby. It's almost 9,000 at the summit. Very green and the understory of the Aspen and bettle kill Lodgepole was just covered with Columbine. Just beautiful.

What a relief to be back in nice cool, dry, sunny Colorado after that week in Memphis.