Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Miscellaneous Pictures

The Mountain Chickadees that took up residence in one of our bird houses are long gone, so we took off the door to clean it out and get it ready for a new family.

Inside we found layers of nesting materials - most of it from the "furniture store" I set out for them. The top was covered in soft cotton yarn-like material. There were no signs of feathers, egg bits, food or droppings. They were excellent house keepers. I'm not sure if you're supposed to clean out birdhouses - or leave the nest for the next visitor, but we decided that's why the houses come with doors that open - so we removed all of the nesting material and hung up the "For Rent" sign.

We have several planter boxes around our patio that we plant each year with annuals. I think these are especially pretty this year. We usually have great luck with Pansies - but this year they did not grow well at all.

On one of our hikes in Palmer Park we were excited to see several Western Tanagers. They visit our yard each May for a week to 10 days and after they leave, we don't usually see them again until the next Spring.

The Western Tanagers are Bill's favorite Colorado bird. I think the Painted Bunting is his favorite Florida bird. I like them all and my favorite is usually the last one I saw.

Mr. Squirrel is still protecting the yard - but lately he has not been doing such a great job. We have a very naughty gray kitty who visits early in the morning and lays in the yellow flowers around the birdbath. Twice we've spotted him just as he leaps into the air - catching one of my birds.

Next time I see him I'm going to put a note on his collar: "I'm a very bad kitty. Please keep me home so I don't kill any more of the neighbors pretty yellow birds."

Think that will work? I didn't think so either...

We've seen this female Bullock's Oriole several times - but no sign of a male. I even went out and bought a new feeder - especially for the Orioles - hoping to keep them around. Since it is filled with sugar water, the hummingbirds think it is for them.

The hummingbirds are thick. Each evening they delight us with their acrobatics as they try to keep each other away from the feeders. Since we have 3 feeders with sugar water, there is plenty of seating for everyone - but they still defend what they think is their exclusive territory. The male Broad-tailed Hummingbirds make a buzzing noise with their wings when they fly and some evenings they are so loud we need to turn up the television. Then again, maybe we need to turn it up because we are getting hard of hearing. Old age - the best of times, the worst of times (but certainly better than the alternative!)

My camera is in the shop for repairs and I really miss it when the hummers are everywhere. These pictures were taken before my camera broke.

While Geocaching in the park, we spotted this Downy Woodpecker. They haven't been around the yard much this year, so I always appreciate getting to see one.

This is another bird we don't see too often - a Dark-eyed Junco. This one was flitting around the trail when we hiked at Dome Rock State Park outside of Divide, Colorado.

I've been trying to get a decent picture of a Steller's Jay but this is the best I have so far. We only see them at higher elevations and this one was in Rocky Mountain National Park.

After our drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, we stopped in Grand Lake to see the water birds. At this point, my camera was not working well so the pictures of the rest of the large flock of White Pelicans did not turn out. This one is a youngster. I'm not sure what the shorebirds in front of the Pelican are since my books tell me only the Spotted Sandpiper is found in Colorado - and these look bigger than 8 inches. Maybe my sister Beth will know. Beth?

I forget where I took this picture - maybe at one of the lakes just outside RMNP.

The mammals we see in the mountains are, I am told, marmots - but look at these two pictures. They do not look like the same animal. The first picture was taken in Palmer Park.

This picture was taken in Rocky Mountain National Park and there was an informational sign nearby describing it as a Yellow-bellied Marmot. Another mystery!

The flowers at 11,000 feet are quite different than those at 5 or 6,000 feet. They are much smaller and shorter and often grow beside boulders that protect them from the strong winds.

Look at these growing on the rocks!

Such a beautiful rock garden.

And another...

I don't know which I like more in this picture - the neat fence or the view of the mountains. This is Long's Peak and I took it on the Peak to Peak Highway between Central City and Estes Park.

Okay, that's all the pictures I have until my camera is fixed. This weekend we are heading south to the Huerfano River Valley for 2 days of tent camping on the backside of Mount Blanca - and me without a camera!

Friday, August 6, 2010


Bill and I took a leisurely drive through the high country of Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park where I saw my first moose.

She was huge and very near the road so we got some okay pictures. My camera had broken a few miles back, so these pictures are taken on a fully automatic setting that I rarely use.

The grass and shrubs were up to my waist - but with her long legs she stood way above them.

As we were watching, she was joined by her calf.

The baby was so-o cute!

Just a little further up the road, we found papa moose grazing in a meadow. What a thrill! The wildlife in the park must be used to people watching then as they didn't seem to mind several carloads of people stopping to take pictures. We were not there very long before the park ranger appeared to make sure people kept their distance.

We stopped for a picnic lunch and I saw another first - a Clark's Nutcracker. Actually, I didn't know what it was. I thought maybe it was a male Gray Jay with more striking plumage than the female - but I was corrected by a local birder who was also having lunch in the area. Gray Jays and Clark's Nutcrackers are close cousins - so at least I was in the right family!

When the Clark's Nutcracker flies, his tail has a striking black and white pattern unlike the Gray Jay that is more overall gray. The Clark's Nutcracker is slightly larger at 13 inches compared to the Gray Jay at 12 inches.

Bill and I posed at the Continental Divide just before my camera gave up the ghost.

This is what my next several pictures look like, even after adjusting the brightness to the lowest setting.

I have a few more pictures to share of our trip but I have to make them last at least 3 weeks because my camera is away for repairs. We were lucky that we purchased the extended warranty last year so if it can't be fixed, it will be replaced - or I can put my original purchase price towards a new camera of my choice. I've taken well over 5,000 pictures - probably closer to 10,000 - in the last year so it might just be worn out. I don't like the new version of my Nikon (more zoom, less megapixels with emphasis on video capabilities) so it will be a difficult decision if I need a new camera. Do I bite the bullet, spend even more money and upgrade to a SLR?