Adventure weekend!

June 8, 2021

I had a weekend full of good hikes and visiting, staying with a friend out in Crested Butte. I’m incredibly grateful for the means and ability to just hop in my car and go on trips like this. I try not to take it for granted.

Colorado is full of spots like this and I just love it:

(If it’s not clear, the text on the sign reads “Cottonwood Pass, Elevation 12,216 Feet, Continental Divide, Atlantic Ocean, San Isabel National Forest, Pacific Ocean, Gunnison National Forest.)

Really beautiful country. Still lots snow up there.

And then I drove home in time to see a tornado touch down maybe 25 miles from my house while I was on the freeway. So that was exciting.

This pic is close to the view I got. Unmistakable. Fascinating and also a little terrifying. It was evening rush hour and I wonder what would have happened if it had crossed the freeway…

Global Big Day 2021

May 12, 2021

Once again, I participated in the Global Big Day birding marathon. I like it because it gets me out and encourages me to challenge myself. (i.e. Get out in the field before 8 am. If I were a better birder I’d be out by 6 am, but I just enjoy that extra half hour of lying in a warm bed too much, it turns out. 8 am it is.)

This year’s results? Pretty good. I got a great lifer: a marsh wren.

42 species total. I can’t seem to break 50. I probably could have if I had made one more stop at a different set of ponds, but the weather was turning horrendous, with a big thunderstorm rolling in, and I just didn’t want to stay out in it to try to land six extra ducks.

Because that was the weird thing: there’s a whole list of duck species I reliably see at the locations where I went, and I saw NONE of them this year. This seems to happen a lot: I get close to 50, but then there’s a handful of common species I just sort of miss. And it’s a different handful every year. Like, one year I missed pigeons. Pigeons, dammit.

If you listed all the species I’ve seen on all my Big Days together, I’d be up to 70 or 80 I think. But no, the little beasties just don’t cooperate.

But that marsh wren was great. So was the colony of bank swallows I discovered when I went just a bit farther down this one trail, and the last bird of the day I logged: a warbling vireo.

And, best of all, it’s spring, and the migrating birds are returning, and this is a really good chance to get out and welcome them back.

spring!

May 3, 2021

It’s t-shirt weather today, and I’m LOVING it. This is doing a lot to improve my mood. Mind you, this is Colorado and we’re due for another bout of chilly rain and weather next week. But contrast is good for the soul, I suppose.

Another thing I love about this time of year is watching bird migration. The ospreys are back, reclaiming their nests and laying eggs. All winter, the local ponds hosted big flocks of mergansers and goldeneyes. As of last week, the mergansers are gone, but western grebes and teals have arrived to replace them. The wrens and warblers and orioles should be back soon, as well.

Next week is the Global Big Day, when birders all over the world go out to ID and count birds. I’m looking forward to it, though I haven’t quite figured out my plan yet. I’m going to stay local, but at the same time try to see some old favorite spots in a new light.

…and now the snow

February 18, 2021

Remember last week when I was complaining that there was no snow?

We got about 6 inches overnight. I spent this morning shoveling. Good exercise! There’s this thing that happens around here — it gets too cold to snow. When the temperature spends days below zero? It doesn’t snow. But a couple days ago it started warming up, getting all the way to the 30’s (Fahrenheit) — I love it, 30 actually feels balmy after most of a week at zero. And it’s like the air thaws out and all the moisture in it just falls out. Fluffy, beautiful, snow…

That said: Texas friends, my heart is with you. Please be careful.

 

brrrrrrr

February 12, 2021

And now the temperature is going to be at single digits or zero for the next three days.

I woudn’t mind it as much if we had a big beautiful snow to go with it.

But it’s gray out.

Just gray.

Blah.

 

goose

December 22, 2020

Here’s a Christmas Goose for you.

Yesterday I went out to Barr Lake State Park for a Solstice walk and birding expedition, because it was a really nice day and I need to soak up all the sun I can this time of year. I had a great walk — and saw more Canada Geese than I think I ever have in one place. They just kept coming, hundreds of them, all hanging out at the edge of the water. So much noise.

A good lesson to learn in birding: always take a second look at that gigantic flock of what seems like one species. Especially waterfowl, because there might be something mixed in with all that brown.

This is a really bad phone picture. Photography is one thing that I just can’t get worked up about practicing to get good at, so you’ll have to put up with my crap images. But I still kind of love this one, because in that sea of drab brown Canada geese — a flash of white. Something odd, something different, a bird species I’d never seen at Barr Lake before. It’s a snow goose. This is only the second time I’ve seen a snow goose.

I’m not sure how this one lone snow goose ended up hanging out with a giant flock of an entirely different species, but there it is. (There were actually two, but they weren’t together, I’m sure there’s a story there.)

Always take that second look. Don’t make assumptions about what you’re looking at.

 

Mesa Verde

October 20, 2020

From a hike I did at Mesa Verde National Park:

Last month, I went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. One of the things I love about these outings is sometimes something magical happens. Like emerging from the woods to the shore of Bierstadt Lake and coming face-to-fact with… moose. One would have been memorable. Two was otherworldly.

battening down the hatches

September 7, 2020

Colorado’s getting hit with a big ol’ round of Jumanji 2020 this week.

A massive wildfire flared up about forty miles northwest of my house yesterday. I have a fine layer of ash and burned pine needles all over my yard today. I need to walk around and see what needs cleaning up.

This summer has felt very long, and it’s about to come to a screeching halt. Tonight, we have a winter storm warning. The forecast is calling for a 50 degree drop in temperature overnight and six inches of snow tomorrow. I definitely need to batten down the hatches.

Speaking of which, last week I was interviewed for this Denver Post article on why Colorado is the setting for so many apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic stories. In the interview I forgot to mention the weather.

So yeah. I’m a little tired this week. Still, I’ve been feeling a lot of gratitude that I have a safe place to stay and friends and family looking out for me. And my work has been a comfort.

Just gotta keep going.

 

runaway weekend

July 6, 2020

In a normal year, this past weekend I would have been at Battlemoor, a regional SCA event held at a beautiful mountain site, in a meadow along a a rushing creek, near the town of Buena Vista (where we discovered Deerhammer whiskey last year, but never mind that).

This year, all SCA events have been cancelled, along with everything else (I see DragonCon just went down. Gah.). But some (trusted, responsible, socially distanced) friends and I threw up our hands and rented a house in the mountains for the weekend. Mostly to get away from the massive amateur fireworks, which as has been pointed out elsewhere, have been ridiculous and upsetting for those of us not participating. And Independence Day felt sad this year, given how epic a failure the collective response to covid has been. It didn’t have to be like this. It really didn’t.

Anyway, four days in the mountains was… great. I didn’t do much but knit and read books and take in the air. (And watch Hamilton, finally, but more on that later.) I didn’t even take any pictures.

I did feed the hummingbirds, and when I went to take down the feeder to bring it home, one angry hummer wasn’t quite finished. So I stood and held the feeder up. And he came in to drink. For a couple of minutes I got to watch him, literally my arm’s length away. Close enough to see his little tongue flicking at the end of his bill.

And that was my weekend.