Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nice Fall

It's been a nice fall here in Colorado.  Well, besides the floods in September.  I was down at Pueblo Reservoir a couple weeks back camping in the nice, warm, fall weather.  There are always curved-bill thrashers in the campground.  I got a couple of nice shots of a pair that kept hanging around looking for scraps.

It's always fun in the fall as the Canada geese began to come in to scan the flocks looking for snow and greater white fronted geese that sometimes get mixed up in the flocks of white cheeks.  Saw this white goose the other day.  Today I went down and got some shots of the goose.  I think it's a snow goose, but can't be sure.  Could be a Ross's.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lakewood Lewis

Lewis's Woodpecker, Green Mountain, Lakewood, Colorado, Oct. 16.2013.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer Wrap-up

Man, I sure haven't taken many pictures this summer.  I've been a few places, but as in the past couple of years, family health crises have really put a dent in my travels.  So, here's a few left-overs from the summer. 

Early in June Connie and I went camping up along the upper Arkansas River.  We were lucky and got our fav spot right next to the river.  We've been lucky the past two years and gotten one of these choice spots.  Here's Connie enjoying libations next to the river.  Such a great spot.  The river noise is so nice.  Some years almost too much.  Just right this year.   And there are rarely any bugs.  No fires this year, due to high fire danger.  You might not the fire ban sticker on the fire ring grate. We had too cook all our meals on the Coleman stove.

One evening we took a walk up the river looking for birds.  Didn't see much, but found this thistle flower just filled with these beetles.  I don't know what they were doing - feeding, mating?  I've seen these beetles in mass before, but on the ground in great numbers.  I don't know what kind of beetle we have here. 

Connie's family has had a time share condo in Vail for years.  It's always like the second or third week in June.  Often it's kind of a wet chilly week, but this year it was really nice.  One day we took a hike up  Booth Creek.  I think that was the name.  It was steep at first as we climbed up out of the Vail valley and up into the Eagle's Nest Wilderness, but it leveled out.  We went as far as a waterfall on the creek - maybe a couple of miles.  Shot this looking back down into the Vail valley.

In July I went camping down around Salida.  One morning driving along I spied this pair of mountain blue birds working on a family in a bird box at Ruby Mountain.  The males are such a beautiful shade of blue in breeding plumage - just like the Colorado sky.   I didn't want to bother them too long, but got a few shots.

Every summer in August, there's the big Rocky Mtn. Airshow at the Jeffco airport about a mile north of our house.  Depending on the winds, the glide paths for takeoff and landings bring the planes right over our neighborhood.  This year, there was a B-29 and a B-24 at the show.  We saw both a couple of times.  I'd never seen a B-29 before.  What a huge plane.  I decided the Sunday of the show, I'd go over to the business park just south of the airport to see if I could see any of the show.  They were supposed to fly the B-29 for the show, but for some reason it didn't fly.  I did get shots of this wing-walker doing her thing.  I've been to some airshows, but I don't think I ever saw a wing-walker perform.  Brave lady.  There were some other WWII planes that flew, but didn't get any decent shots of them.  They didn't venture over my way very far. 

Went up camping along the upper Colorado River couple weeks back.  Lucky again, and got my fav spot under some cottonwoods right next to the river.  There was a mud puddle from recent rains that some yellow butterflies were using as a lick.  If I'm not mistaken, I think that's how butterflies get their moisture - soaking up moisture through their feet.  There must have been 30 or 40 of these butterflies at the lick at one time. 

Waiting for it to cool off so I can go down to Pueblo and do some dutch oven cooking at Lake Pueblo State Park.  I was there in the spring and the lake was pretty low.  I had to drag my boat down a long arroyo to get to the water.  I think the water level is even lower now.  But, I like Pueblo in the fall and winter.  Usually warmer there by a few degrees, and there's always the usual suspects to photograph - mockingbirds, curve-bill thrashers and canyon towhees.  Plus, some good train watching.  Plus, there's electrical hook-ups so I can have constant heat.  Even when it's quite cold out, my little camper stays nice and toasty with my little electric heater going.  Don't have to use the propane  that way.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Horned Critters

I always try to come up with some creative descriptive title, although they're not always totally descriptive or accurate of the particular outing.  Anyway, got away for another night out at Jackson Lake State Park about 50 miles out towards Nebraska.  Been out there like three times the last two months.  Pretty close by, and always very quite and peaceful.  I was going to just go up I25 to St. Vrain SP; I like it up there, some good wildlife, but I hate camping near the roar of an interstate, with a McDonalds sign within sight.  Was a nice mostly sunny calm afternoon out at Jackson.  Wish I'd taken my kayak as it would have been nice paddling.  Kind of left in a hurry, though, and didn't think to strap on the boat.  Was sitting reading when I hear a nice song.  Kind of like a mockingbird, but not quite.  Definitely a mimidae, though.  I tracked it down and found what looks to be a brown thrasher.  Was kind of getting cloudy by then, though, so lighting was less then optimal.  A nice, gentle thunderstorm came through about dark.  The rain on the roof put me to sleep. 

Woke up to a nice calm sunny morning. sun red coming up over the lake.  Again, wished I'd brought the boat, dammit.  Heard a bullocks oriole chattering and tracked it down not far from camp.  Then, a flock of cedar waxwings came through stripping the old russian olive berries.  Bunnies were out in force.  Saw a couple doing their spring mating jumping, but couldn't get a shot of them jumping and twirling.  They were all a bit and rumpled wet from the overnight rain. 

Decided to drive some back roads going home.  Saw flocks of lark bunting.  I'd never caught a male in breeding plumage before.  They were quite numerous, and I stopped the Ranger a couple of times to try and get a good shot, but they were always just a bit ahead of me.  Cars are one thing, but a person getting out - that's it, we're gone.  They've been on the decline for some years now, and with all the drilling activity out on the NE plains, I'd suspect that trend is continuing.  Lots and lots of drill rigs working out there.  For being the Colorado state bird, they sure are illusive.  Saw quite a few antelopes out loping along.  Seemed to be pretty fat considering how dry it's been the last couple years.  Also saw lots of horned larks out along the road.  One posed in a crossroads for me.  As did what appears to be a Swainson's hawk sitting up on the wires.  Couldn't see it's tail so not sure on the ID. 

It's pretty out on the high plains.  I've always like it out there.  Can see for miles. This time of year, driving along with the window down, it's a constant cacophony of meadow lark song.  I remember as a kid on our first western vacation driving along out on the plains at night.  You could see the streaks of light of passenger trains racing across the flats.  Also the sweeps of their Mars lights as they came up over the horizon miles away.  Don't see those anymore. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gobs of Grebes

Well, maybe not gobs of grebes, but our little lake, Lake Arbor, had a large number of western grebes on it the past few days.  They mostly stay well out in the middle of the lake with a large raft of common mergansers.  Difficult to get pictures.  This morning on our walk, however, I noticed a lone eared grebe diving near the shore.  Went back home and got my gear and got a couple of decent shots. 

Couple weeks back I was messing around with a different tele-converter on my 300mm and shot this red-breasted nuthatch at the feeder.  It was a regular visitor at the feeder all winter.  Also a regular visitor all winter at the bird batch but not the feeder, was a Townsend's solitare.  It was there every morning and every afternoon getting a drink.  Very handsome little bird.  I wondered where it was finding a supply of juniper berries all winter.  Maybe making use of another food source.  

Once again, family health disasters are messing with spring photography forays, so I haven't been out a lot.  I did manage to get away for one night out to Jackson Lake State Park a week ago, about sixty miles out on the plains towards Nebraska.  Just wanted to get away for a night, do some birding, and cook a meal in my dutch ovens.  Made some yummy bread, and some from-scratch beans and brats that was really tasty. Beautiful weather, but not very birdy.  Bald eagle flew over.  I did hear cranes over towards the wetlands in the afternoon, but never did see them.  Heard turkey's, too.  And the owls hooted me to sleep.  Couldn't find them come dawn.  Huge flock of robins working thru in the morning.  On the way home I stopped by Banner Lakes wildlife area.  Lots of ducks, that didn't want to be photographed.  I heard frogs chirping in the shallows.  Got this shot of one of them.  I'm no frog expert, so I don't know what kind it is.  Good looking frog, though.  There were quite a few, but this is the only one

willing to pose for a photo. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waxwing Walk

There's a crab apple tree down around the corner along my walking route to Lake Arbor.  It's been loaded with old dried apples since last fall.  I keep watching it, thinking it might attract some waxwings, as I've heard reports of them locally in the past couple weeks.  Finally the other morning, I saw some birds flying around the tree as I approached.  Yep, cedar waxwings.  I ran back to the house and crabbed my photo gear.  Got a few shots of the birds feeding on the dried apples.  First really decent shots I have of waxwings.

Got a waxwing story.  When I was growing up in Memphis, the neighbor had a holly tree that was often loaded with berries.  On more than one occasion, a flock of waxwings would come in the winter or spring and gorge on the berries.  Once, I noticed some of the birds falling out of the tree.  I went over there and the ground was littered with birds!  They looked dead, but when I gently picked one up and held it in my hand, I could see it's eyes were open and I could see it breathing.  I put it back down and just went back home and watched.  Pretty soon a couple of the birds were up wobbling around like a drunk.  I went about my business, but looked back later and they were all gone.  I learned later that they were indeed drunk.  They eat so many berries that they have to store them in their esophagus, as waxwings apparently don't have crops like other birds.  The berries ferment in the bird's throat and they do indeed become intoxicated.  I didn't see the birds here acting drunk, but they sure were packing away those apples.  I don't know how they hold so many.  They just about cleaned that tree off in a couple days, however.  They are such beautiful, sleek birds, I think they're one of my favorites. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January Color

It's been a dry dry winter here.  Very little snow down here on the plains, but a fairly frigid snap for a month or so around the holidays.  Glad it's warmed back up, but we sure need moisture. 

Couple weeks back, right after New Years, I had the urge to go camping and try out my new aluminum dutch ovens.  Got a nice big one for Christmas and bought another little one to go along with it.  Went down to Pueblo where it's always a couple degrees warmer and camped out and made bread and beef stew.  About the time my bread was ready the ranger came along to check my permit.  Said I was pretty hardy as I was the only camper in the park that afternoon.  I told him I was anxious to try out my new dutch ovens.  I invited him over to take a look as I took the bread off the heat.  He was impressed and I shared with him a piece of hot buttered bread.  He thought that was amazing.  I was impressed myself.  Very yummy as was the beef stew.  Dam, that Bill can cook!

Anyway, the next morning the resident curved-bill thrashers and canyon towhees showed up.  Got a nice picture of one of the thrashers all puffed up against the cold morning.  It was cold that morning.  17, I think it was. 

Went out along Clear Creek the other day.  Really nice day.  Saw some colorful ducks in the creek and in the bit of open water in the pond at the Wheat Ridge greenbelt park.  My favorite are the red-breasted mergansers.  I just love that ragged crest of theirs.