Thursday, November 26, 2015

Catching Up

Been a long while since I last posted anything to my blog, but here I am catching up.  Have quite a potpourri from a number of excursions here in Colorado and one shot of a red-headed woodpecker from a recent trip back to Memphis and Hernando.  I accompanied my niece's husband for a Sat. morning trip to the farmer's market in the little town square for milk and then a stop by the Ladybug Bakery for some yummy pastries.  Across the street far up in, I think, a sweet gum tree was a red-headed woodpecker.  It's a distant shot at maximum zoom so not really sharp, but my first picture of that bird.

red-headed woodpecker

barn swallow

violet green swallow

juvy swallow?
western grebe

muskrat hauling strawberry


red-tailed hawk?
broad-tailed hummingbird

canyon towhee
lark sparrow

prairie falcon
red-napped sapsucker

rock squirrel

hairy bee?
mountain bluebird

From my daily walk down to Lake Arbor with our dog, Rocky, a number of shots from last summer and this fall.  In the winter we always get lots of western grebes.  Easy to recognize with their long white necks and black caps.  The swallows, especially the barn swallows were successful in raising broods this summer.  They often nest in the eves of the gazebo next to the lake and come in with feathers to refresh the older nests.  The violet green, rough-winged, bank, and tree swallows also nest around the lake and there's a couple of shots of those included.  There are a number of muskrats that call the lake and feeder creek home.  Earlier last summer there was one swimming along next to the shore carrying a strawberry in it's mouth, apparently cast off from a near-by picnic.  The field above the lake is a favorite hunting ground for kestrels and red-tailed hawks.  There's a shot of each of those.

I go camping to Lake Pueblo quite often, especially in the fall, winter, and spring.  Too crowded and hot in the summer.  Last spring I got this nice shot of a lark sparrow hoping around on the ground near my camp.  In the spring and fall I often set out my humming bird feeder on the camper.  I rigged a hanger so it's right next to my window.  I can hear them buzzing around it once they've discovered the feeder.  Got a couple of shots of them working the feeder.  One of the year round residents at Lake Pueblo is the canyon towhee.  They are very curious birds and often go looking for goodies in the camper and up underneath the truck.  Here's one sitting on the tire keeping an eye on Rocky.  There used to be tons of prairie dogs in the park, but they have removed most of them.  They have also encouraged raptors by putting up some poles for them to hunt from.  Couple trips back there was a prairie falcon making use of one of the poles.  Never saw him make a score, though.  Another of the regular residents in the park are rock squirrels.  They are rather large, gray squirrels with white freckles.  Handsome critters.  They live in burrows in the ground, but you often see them sitting up in the cedar trees using them for lookout posts.  Flocks of mountain bluebirds winter in the park.  You can almost always be sure to spot some.  Here's one sitting in the dead top of a cedar.  The bluebirds are one of the reasons I like to go to Pueblo in winter.  Their bright blue color and cheerful chirps raise my spirits.

From a trip to Hot Sulphur Springs along the Colorado River last summer, here's a red-napped sapsucker you often see working a route among the willows along the river.

And one last shot that I forget the location of - an unusual kind of bee.  Not sure what these are, but I have seen them a number of times.  A large, hairy, yellowish bee.  Thought it might be a tachnid fly, but now I'm no so sure.

It's Thanksgiving and looks like some serious winter is setting in.  Might not get for awhile.  I like going to Pueblo in the winter, but my minimum high temp for a visit is 55, so it could be awhile.  Plus, dark comes mighty earlier in the short days of winter.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blue Skies, Bluebirds

As my old friend, Helen, in Memphis says, Bill's been out sleeping in his tin box again.  Yep, the weather finally moderated after a month of real winter, so Rocky and I headed down to Pueblo.  Weather was beautiful - hardly a cloud in the sky for two days and temps in the 60s.  A few patches of snow behind the cedars, but pretty dry already.  There were tons of mountain bluebirds in the campground.  They were busy catching something.  Got a number of good shots.  Bluebirds are so beautiful.  Other birds seen were the usual suspects: northern mockingbird, curve-billed thrasher, and canyon towhee.  The thrashers were starting to sing a little bit.  Very pleasant songster took up in a cedar bush right next to camp.  The scaled quail were on the move, but had a difficult time getting close to them this time.  They can really run, and not bad at flying for short distances.  Odd little creatures.  I've gotten better shots before, but it's always fun to watch them.  There are always lots of great horned owls hooting down at Lake Pueblo.  One started up early the first evening, and I managed to get a long-distance shot with the SX-50 before it took off.  They serenaded us all night.  A couple of the bluebird and thrasher shots are with the old D200 and 300mm+1.4teleconverter.  Don't know if you can tell the difference but they are quite a bit sharper than the SX-50 images.  The SX-50 sure has more reach and certainly much smaller and lighter, but the bigger gear still makes superior images.  

Some folks have asked why I don't label the bird pics so they know what the birds are.  I did do that for awhile, but it's an extra step, I think it detracts from the images, and besides, I want you folks to look up the ones that aren't obvious. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pueblo Preponderance

Yep, Rocky and I went to Pueblo again.  Been every month so far this year.  We like it down there.  Usually sunny and warm.  Certainly was this time.  Got up to 74 one afternoon and unlimited sun.  Just gorgeous.  Not a whole lot of birds or wildlife, however.  Big flock of mountain bluebirds in the campground, and the usual curved-bill thrasher.  Took a pic of an oriole nest.  Can't tell if this one is made exclusively of old fishing line, but many if not most are anymore.  However, at least around Lake Pueblo there are lots of old yucca plants that have decayed to leave big heaps of yucca fibers that orioles could use for nest making.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January Thaw

Finally, we got a nice January thaw.  The holiday season was pretty cold and snowy.  After that, I had ants in my pants to get out and go camping.  Plus, we got a new dog right before Christmas, Rocky, a smallish lab mix.  Just as cute as can be and really sweet, nice and pretty well behaved already.  He's not quite a year old.  Couldn't wait to take him camping.  Been wanting a camping dog for so long.  We found him through the Safe Harbor Lab Rescue.  Went to see him and just fell in love with him immediately.  Brought him home that day. He's quickly becoming a member of the family.

Anyway, two weeks ago we finally got a couple of nice days with temps in the 50's and 60's.  Rocky and I took off for Lake Pueblo State Park.  Had a great time.  Rocky adapted nicely.  He's a very easy going dog.  He took right to the camper and hopped right up into the bed I made for him.

As usual, a mockingbird was soon exploring our camp.  He was oblivious to Rocky who was most interested.  Sat up on the top of some cedars that made a nice windbreak for our campsite, and made raids down onto the picnic table.  Pueblo is about the northern most range of mocking birds along the front range of Colorado.  Don't know what there range is on the west slope.  Rocky seems very interested in birds.  He is fascinated with the geese, ducks, and crows and ravens down at the lake.  He likes to watch them fly overhead.  I think we'll get along just fine.

We took lots of walks down to the water and came upon this flock of wintering mountain bluebirds in some cottonwoods.  Got a couple of shots with the SX50.

Our second day in camp, Rocky finally settled down in the afternoon sun.  After a day and a half of constantly being on guard and at the limit of his tether, he settled down at my feet to take a snooze.  I carefully got up and went over and snapped a couple of shots of him.

There's been a bald eagle down at our lake for the last couple of days.  Seen it at the ice edge of the open holes eating on a couple of dead geese and duck carcasses.  This morning on our Sat. walk around the lake, there it was sitting in the top of a large cottonwood up by the playground.  I hadn't taken my camera as it was gray and overcast, but went back down after we got home and got a couple of shots of it.  Had attracted quite a crowd of folks watching and taking pics.  Just sat up there oblivious to the folks below.  I got a couple of shots, even though the lighting was very flat.  A day later, the eagle was out sitting on the ice fairly close to shore in bright sun.

Drove out to Barr Lake the other day.  Lots of birds out in some open pools, but too far out for any photos.  There were a couple of pintails in close and got a shot.

Finally, a shot of Rocky working on dismantling his Mr. Bill toy.  Rocky is very good at destruction of dog toys. We have to immediately take out any squeakers or noise makers as he can get those out and attempt to digest them in the first ten minutes.  I can't believe some of the stuff they put in dog toys.

Rocky and I might head out to Jackson Lake next week.  First of the week is supposed to sunny and warm.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year

Sure been a while since I posted anything here.  Had a really nice warm fall up till about a week before Christmas.  Well, I guess that's getting to be winter time, and it sure turned into winter all of a sudden.  Been cold and snowy for a couple weeks now.  A chinook blew in this morning and made for a dramatic swing in temps - five below at 2AM, and 52 by 1PM.  Went out and shot a few pics with my new Canon SX50. I'd been curious to find out what kind of wildlife photos I could get with one of the new superzoom bridge cameras, so just after Thanksgiving for some much needed retail therapy, I bought the Canon.  All the pics in this post were taken with it.  It's pretty amazing.  1200mm with a small light body compared to 11 pounds or more with the 500 or 420mm.  Not quite the quality as with the big glass and DSLR body, but pretty amazing.  Found this pair of hooded mergansers along Clear Creek and these two canvasbacks in Prospect Lake. The mergansers have relatively thin small bills compared to the long sleek bills of the canvasbacks.  Nature is so amazing.   Flat lighting today, though.  Pesky wave clouds have plagued photo efforts for weeks.  Seems like we have a lot more mountain wave clouds than we used to.

I've been carrying the new camera with me on my daily walks down to the lake.  Heard these eastern bluejays calling the other day along the way and got this shot of one.  First shot of an eastern blue jay in a long time.  They have been expanding their range here in Colorado in recent times.  When I first moved here in the early 70's there weren't any.  Now they are fairly common.  There is this red-tailed hawk that has taken up residence in the field down by the lake.  There almost every day.  Difficult to get close enough for a good photo most the time.  That is unless he's sitting on a light post over the street, which of course is when I don't have the camera with me.

Went camping down at Lake Pueblo State Park the first week of December, just before winter really set in.  This flock of bushtits kept hanging around.  Nervous little, gray fluffs.  They were feasting on the seeds of the rabbit brush.  First time photo of this bird.  I've seen shrikes down at Pueblo on several occasions, but this one was really busy around my camp.  It was managing to catch something from his post on the electric service box.  Not sure if it's a northern or loggerhead.

Of course there are always curved-bill thrashers down at Pueblo.  They and the canyon towhees always manage to clean up any crumbs.  They sure have some mean looking eyes don't they?  It was Christmas time and one of the few things I like about the season are lights.  So, I put some battery powered ones on the Running River Inn, but I don't think anybody but me saw them.  Hardly saw a soul while I was down there this last time.

Anxious to get out and go camping with my new dog, Rocky.  Just waiting for a good little thaw and we'll be gone for introductory trip for Rocky.  I think he'll love camping.