Monday, July 30, 2012

Rocky Mountain Birthday High

Saturday was Bill's daughter's birthday. We celebrated with a train ride and country western concert tribute to John Denver. Our day started at o'dark-thirty when we met up with daughters Laura & Terri and spouses Tim and Brent for the ride south to Walsenburg  for breakfast at Georges before heading west to LaVeta. The Rio Grande Scenic Train took us for the hour plus ride to Fir, midway between LaVeta and Alamosa.

The LaVeta train arrived at Fir first and we waited for the second train from Alamosa. The setting could not have been more beautiful. The day was sunny and temperatures stayed in the 70's.

This is the intimate concert venue.

Roy Rivers was the featured performer. He looks and sounds like John Denver. According to his website, he has written over 180 songs including a duo he did with Dolly Pardon that was a #1 hit. But his real claim to fame is his tribute to John Denver.

Families played in the meadows between songs.

The snack bar had a couple of hummingbird feeders with lots of guests. The entire venue was green with all of the electricity coming from solar panels and a wind generator.

Bill enjoyed the day with his girls and their husbands.

Here's our birthday girl, Laura.

I don't think Bill likes me to take his picture. After the concert we hopped back on the train and back to LaVeta. On the way we saw deer, elk and a huge bear. We enjoyed dinner at the LaVeta Inn before calling it a day and heading back to the Springs.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dueling Blogs

I had a great visit with my sister Beth in Rochester, New York. She kept me busy every second! We attended a three-day Ricky Tims Super Quilting Seminar at the Rochester Institute of Technology - which was just amazing, visited some quilt shops, parks and spent a day at the studio of one of her friends, Marcia ( out techniques learned at the seminar and visited until we were so tired, we fell into bed. She even let me "shop" her fabric stash and I came home with an extra suitcase full of projects and some of her beautiful marbled and hand dyed fabrics! But she is quicker than I am and has several blog entries with lots of pictures from my visit. Since they are the same or similar to mine, I won't re-post. You'll have to check out her blog at

Well, maybe I'll re-post this one of me and Ricky Tims from the quilting seminar.

Ricky Tims and Libby Lehman signing autographs.

Libby, Ricky and Alex Anderson giving out door prizes - some of Ricky's hand dyed material.

At Letchworth State Park I snapped this image of what I think is an Eastern Phoebe with a spider in his mouth.

The quilt shops we visited were out in the country - farm country. It was a beautiful ride. Across from our first stop I took this picture of a gaggle of domestic geese keeping cool under a shade tree.

Purple Martins at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

The wildflowers were beautiful. Don't miss my sister's picture of the Marsh Mellows!

Sea Gulls and three Caspian Terns. The terns were life birds for Beth.

One of my sister's favorite places - the Irondequoit Bay Outlet. In the winter she sees all kinds of ducks - but on this trip we saw Mallards, Gadwalls and the beautiful - but invasive - Mute Swans.

I can't thank my sister enough for such a wonderful week!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Not-so-lazy Sunday in Colorado

The heat and smoke finally abated enough that we returned to Palmer Park to hike and check on a couple of our geocaches. It was a beautiful morning and we walked for a couple of hours before breakfast. We spotted 4 deer - two bucks just ahead of us on the trail and two does that ran by and startled me enough that I didn't even try to grab my camera. The bucks didn't seem to mind us watching them and even came closer as we stood near by.

Check out his ears!

Later in the day we headed east of town so Bill could watch some of his friends fly their glider planes. I tagged along so I could do a little birding.

I could hear the Meadowlarks singing.

I have trouble identifying hawks. I think this is a Swainson's Hawk, but I'm not positive. I went back and forth between the Ferruginous and the Swainson's and decided on the latter. If you know your hawks, please correct me!

Spotted Towhee
Western Kingbirds are fairly common east of town. Occasionally I see one along the trails in town, but we've never had one in the yard. Pretty birds.

Western Kingbird
Tomorrow I hop on a plane for Rochester, NY to visit my sister and attend a Ricky Tims quilting seminar. Beth volunteered us to take pictures so my camera is packed. I'm really looking forward to it!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Birding in the Upper Huerfano River Valley
And THREE Life Birds!

Yesterday we decided to get away from the lingering smoke and ash and head south to one of our favorite places - the Huerfano River Valley. We packed a picnic lunch and met up with daughter Laura and her hubby Tim at o'dark thirty for the drive south on I-25 to Walsenburg. After an always delicious breakfast at George's, we turned west, past Gardner and the Singing River Ranch (that recently sold for 6-million dollars!) into the high elevation (above 10,000 feet) San Isabel National Forest. The road is long and bumpy - but the views are sensational. 

While Laura and Tim hiked back towards Blanca Peak and Mt. Lindsey to do some fishing and gold-panning in the Huerfano River, Bill and I took our time on the trail and looked for birds. We were not disappointed!

Wilson's Warbler (female)
We found a spot with lots of little yellow birds flying around and spent a couple of hours getting pictures and trying to identify them.

Wilson's Warbler (female)
 Our first new Life Bird was the Wilson's Warbler. It's diet is insects - and only insects.

Wilson's Warbler (male)
 The male Wilson's Warbler has a black cap on his head and at first look, we thought it was an American Goldfinch - but the goldfinch cap is over the forehead and they have black wings.

Wilson's Warbler (male)
 Beautiful little birds!

Audubon's Warbler (male)
 The Audubon's Warbler is a subspecies of the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Audubon's Warbler (female)
Lincoln's Sparrow
The Sparrow with the Mohawk! When I was on Sanibel with my sister, Beth, there was a Lincoln's Sparrow  near the beach - but I missed it. My sister didn't and got a great picture. I was jealous. On this trip, we saw several sparrows flitting around, but it wasn't until I got home and checked my pictures that I was able to make final identification. The Lincoln's Sparrow was our third Life Bird of the day!

Dark-eyed Junco
 We saw a couple of other favorite birds - a Dark-eyed Junco, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a spectacular Western Tanager.

Western Tanager (male)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
 The red spot on the head of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is hard to see and nearly impossible to photograph. Without it, the bird is plain.

After a couple of hours, the rain started coming over the peak so we headed back to the car and were soon joined by Laura & Tim. We headed down the road and picnicked in  a rustic campground by the river. This fawn was by the road.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bullock's Oriole and a Dragonfly

We had a visit from a beautiful female Bullock's Oriole. I just wish she had brought her dashing date!

Bullock's Oriole (female)
 She let me take lots of pictures - from every angle.

Bullock's Oriole (female)

Bullock's Oriole (female)
 It's been exceptionally hot here so our pond has been popular.

Bullock's Oriole (female)

Bill pointed out this dragonfly and I took this picture through our kitchen window. He was one of the largest I've ever seen (the dragonfly - not Bill) - but I don't have a clue what kind it is - I'll leave that up to my sister and Megan.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yellowstone Leftovers

Some of the wildlife in Yellowstone was very comfortable around people - maybe too comfortable.

I was changing the disk in my camera when I heard Bill (who had gone ahead down a trail) make a noise to get my attention. I looked up and this beautiful coyote was not 5 feet away. He paid absolutely no attention to me as he was on the hunt for a small ground squirrel. I've seen coyote before but never this close and never looking this healthy with such a nice full coat of fur.

And this is my Grizzly Bear! We were out driving after dinner and stopped to see what a crowd was looking at. One of the rangers had a scope set up. All I saw was a black spot - and I would never have seen that had it not been for the ranger.

The ranger told us that this is "Scarface" the oldest Grizzly in the park. It's not much of a picture - but it's proof that I actually saw him!

Momma Elk with her baby keeping cool beside the river.

There were hundreds of RV's traveling through the park - and I swear they were all rentals - like in the movie National Lampoon's Vacation. I looked for Chevy Chase but he must have been in the camper.

The Lake Yellowstone Hotel is quite a structure - but I loved the bus even more! We saw it several times driving visitors around to see the sights.

The best part of Yellowstone are the geothermal features - and there are lots of them! Yellowstone is actually a massive caldera of a supervolcano. There is a great explanation of the Yellowstone Geology on Wikipedia.

Boiling Water...

Beautiful colors...

Bubbling mud...

Fabulous vistas...

and more boiling water. The side excursions to see these sights are well worth it - plus you get some exercise. Ample signage explains everything you are seeing - but, for a better understanding, I would recommend doing some homework before you go.

I can't help but think that sights like this - beautiful as they are -are begging for a wildfire.

We left the park by the NE entrance/exit, into Montana for a minute and a half and through some beautiful parts of Wyoming via the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.

I don't know who this fat, white-hair old lady is - or why my wonderful hubby Bill is posing with her at the summit!

A Mountain Bluebird greeted us at the top. It was a great trip and I'm anxious to return!