Monday, July 18, 2011

BEAR encounter!

The other day Bill and I went to the Upper Huerfano Valley, San Isabel National Forest for a picnic lunch with his daughter Laura, husband Tim, oldest son Kyle and Kyle's girlfriend Raeanne. This would have been our weekend to go camping, but with the severe fire restrictions, we decided that camping without a campfire would just not be the same.

As we were leaving - driving out the long, extremely bumpy dirt road away from the trail head and the camping sites, Tim stopped and ran back to our car and pointed out a huge bear in the woods. Bill wouldn't let me get out of the car, so Tim took my camera and tried to get a picture. With all the branches and underbrush, the camera did not focus and the pictures did not turn out. I was bummed. The bear was very close to where we camp - which is a little scary.

Driving down the road towards Gardner, we saw two more bears. This time they were in a clearing so I could get some decent pictures from the safety of the car.

The first one was cinnamon colored - not quite as big as the other one we'd seen - but big enough! (Note the ear tag.)

His companion was a large all brown bear.

Even though neither bear was black in color, they were both Black Bears.

By the time they wandered off and I finished taking pictures, several other cars had stopped behind us to take pictures too.

Another sight along the road - a large family of deer including this antlered male and adorable spotted fawn.

It was a great day!

Bill took me along for the maiden voyage of one of his new planes - a seaplane that he had just completed. He takes off from a lake located east of town at a Boy Scout campground. I was supposed to be taking pictures of the planes - but every once in a while something else captured my attention.

This picture of Song Sparrow shows its identifying characteristic - a central spot on his chest.

There were lots of Tree Swallows flying around - but it's a treat when one lands and lets me get a decent picture.

There are two main types of Bluebirds here in Colorado: Western Bluebirds with the rusty red chests and the more common Mountain Bluebirds.

There was a nest under the roof of the out-building and this youngster was trying out his wings.

On the way home we saw lots of Antelope including this large male and his lady friends.

Back home in our yard we have had an odd visitor. This is a common female House Finch - only she is almost all white. My initial thought is that she was an albino - but her eyes are not pink. I sent this picture to a local birder and he replied that she is leucistic - an abnormally pale bird with very faint markings.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: "Albinism is a genetic mutation that prevents the production of melanin in the body. Leucism is a genetic mutation that prevents melanin from being deposited normally on feathers." Both are quite rare. She has returned daily, but according to the experts, she may not be able to find a mate who will accept her and her odd coloring makes her an easier target for predators.

We haven't had many hummingbirds this year - yet. This one must be a new fledgling as she still has some baby fuzz.

More baby birds: Robins.

They come to shower in our pond almost every day. I don't blame them one bit as it has been exceptionally hot here - but every time I go to complain about our 90 degrees - I see that everywhere else has as hot or hotter temperatures and the added bonus of humidity. Our humidity still measures in the single digits most days.

This is the chimney on our neighbor's roof and we can see it from our patio. It makes a nice little house for a family of raccoons. We sat outside and amused ourselves watching them stretch and wiggle around until finally at dusk... of them headed out and immediately came into our yard to get a drink at our birdbath. The others waited patiently for him to return.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sewing Up A Storm

Last time I got together with my daughters, we went to a quilt shop and they each selected material. Laura wanted a beach bag and Pam wanted a quilt.

This is Laura's bag. I had enough material left that I also made her a beach throw. It's the first project that I've attempted that is completely mine - from design to quilting. It's big enough for two people to sit on or one to throw over a chaise lounge. I finished it in time to give it to her on my recent trip back to visit.

After finishing Laura's project, I made market bags - LOTS of market bags. I took 6 with me and gave them to family. Each one has at least one huge pocket and reinforced handles. I cut up plastic cutting mats (Dollar Tree - 2 for $1) to put in the bottom.

This is the start of Pam's quilt. She loves orange - so this should be perfect for her when it is done! The pattern is a French Braid with separator bands. I'm doing 5 braid runs so it will be big enough for her queen-sized bed.

Our feeders keep busy with lots of House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches - and an occasional Black-capped Chickadee.

Our flowers are beautiful.

...and so was this visitor.

Bill and I headed up into the mountains to escape the heat here in Colorado Springs. Salida was hosting the annual kayak festival on the Arkansas River.

Just watching them cooled us off!

These children were all lined up waiting for the music to begin.

We came home over Wilkerson Pass with one of the most beautiful views in Colorado. Yes, that's snow in the mountains.

Palmer Park is one of our favorite places to hike - and as we walk, the sounds of the Towhees are everywhere. This one was singing like there's no tomorrow!

The view of Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and downtown Colorado Springs from up in the park.

...and another view looking through the cactus.