North Park – Worth The Drive

Illinois River.

Took a day in the high country today. Started out early. There never quite seems to be enough time. Might have to go up and spend a few nights sometime soon.

Drove through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. Pretty quiet except for these White-tailed Prairie Dogs.

 

Took a long walk through the extensive Sage Brush Steppe country hoping to find Greater Sage Grouse and White-tailed Jackrabbit.

All I found was these.

 And these.

 Along Willow Creek, Illinois River and other riparian areas are thick Willow Carrs.

I need some of this willow for projects. But it sure has lovely color in winter.

 This very old sign was in a State Wildlife Area near the old Kinnikinik Store.

Look closely. Only one bullet hole. That’s pretty amazing.

 I can always find Townsend’s Solitaire’s here. Always singing.

 Further down the canyon, along the river I stopped and meandered along side roads where there were big  stands of pines, fir, spruce and junipers.

Found this cutie – Brown Creeper.

And Oh Happy Day!

Golden-crowned Kinglet. Three of them. Look at the back of it’s head. There is a tiny bit of red.

I spent a delightful half an hour with these beauties that never stopped chit-chatting to each other. They were quite curious about me too. This was my first opportunity to photograph these little gems. An absolute treat.

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I Should Go To The Woods

I should go to the woods
And breathe the fresh air
Walk along old dirt roads
Then drop all my cares
I should revel in sunshine
Or kick around leaves
Watch woodpeckers hammer
At cracks in the trees
I should sit down for a while
On a stump or a rock
Forget about time
Ignore all the clocks
Just listen to the silence
To the birds while they sing
To hear what God’s saying
Oh the peace that will bring
I like to watch leaves fall
Hear their crunch underfoot
See a weasel run swiftly
Then dash under a root
Take a deep breath of pine scent
Mixed with rich spruce and fir
Damp earth, rocks and wood
Fills my senses for sure
The quiet it calms me
His presence directs me
Reminds me He’s got it
And I’ll be okay.

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How NOT To Evacuate

I was home with my daughter that Thursday afternoon. Kept her home because of the conditions. My husband was in Denver on his way home. I received a emergency notification that a mandatory evacuation order was in effect. Shortly thereafter, we had officials knocking on our door telling us we should leave, but they couldn’t make us. I told them my husband was on his way home – and we’d make our decision then.

Mistake #1: ASK questions!

The day after

The day after

When my husband came home, we went for several walks, noting the water rising and even breaching the ponds across the street. Our daughter wanted to leave – we weren’t getting a clue.

Mistake #2 Read the signs, stupid!

Flooding

Flooding

We went to bed, but not before packing 3-day bags for us and a bag for our four mini dachshunds. Right before we fell asleep, we were awoke by a fire engine and crew going house to house. Before we could get a light on, they drove by ours.

Mistake #4, We Didn’t Leave Then!

Ready or not. Earlier in the day, being silly.

Ready or not.

About 3:30 a.m. I woke up to water roaring. I got up quickly and went to our south bedroom window. My mouth went instantly dry – there was a rushing, mighty river flowing between our house and our neighbors to the lake behind us. I quickly woke my husband, telling him he had to see this. Even now as I write, a knot is developing in my stomach! We went downstairs and looked around – our house was completely surrounded by water. We were scared, and the water was rising in our den – a ground floor room on the main floor, and rushing about the rest of the house outside.  As I stood, shocked, staring at the water coming up – I clearly heard, ” You need to get out now”.

I went upstairs to tell Al and we woke up our daughter – telling her we made the wrong decision. (she had wanted to leave all along).  We dressed, put on good shoes, grabbed life jackets which we had on the patio for our boating activities. I actually strapped one of the two dogs I needed to carry in mine. We put on our packs, collared and leashed the dogs, Al grabbing one, Maggie one and me two.

The word was if you lose your footing drop the dog if you have to but hang on to the leash.

Looking SE toward our home.

Looking SE toward our home.

As soon as we stepped off of our patio, walking toward our shop, about 150 feet, the water was knee deep. We knew immediately there was no getting our Xterra out of the shop.  The current was moving, but not too fast as there were fences on both sides of us, slowing the current down. Once we reached the shop, the water got deeper and faster. We walked in a line, me, Maggie, Al, with everyone holding on. There was enough ambient light that we didn’t need our flashlights. “baby steps!” Al kept saying as we marched through 30″ deep fast water toward the locust tree near our chicken house, about another 150 feet.  The footing was good and no debris in the water. Once we got to the tree, we were standing in a protected eddy, and caught our breath, and talked the plan – walk along the chicken yard fence to the edge by the road. Easier and we had the fence to grab if we needed it. 35 feet more and we were almost to the road.

I was leading and there was quite a wave coming off the water as it ripped over the road and down the small grade. I stood there for a few seconds as it was intimidating. Then we walked directly west through the wave, up the small grade to the middle of the road. The water was then below our knees and we began to walk north on our road S. CR 9E, about another 300 feet and the water got shallower and slower as we slopped along.

We were out, we were safe. We put our leashed dogs down. (none of whom moved an inch while we trudged through the water) Then our 16 year old daughter, Maggie, read us the riot act. We hugged her, kissed her and deeply apologized for not evacuating the night before. She had every reason to be angry and scared. She wasn’t rude, but she was right.

Mistake # 4- infinity, need I list more?

S. CR9E Saturday

I then made a phone call to a friend who lived nearby and offered a place to stay, before we tackled walking up SCR 9E/Sculptor Dr. through the deep mud of a road being redone. At the top our friend was waiting and we gave him our packs and said we’d walk the half mile in the rain to their house. We were soaked and covered in mud, and needed to de-stress some, too.

I realize there are a lot more serious stories than ours, people lost their homes and lives. I don’t think many people expected the kind of water that we saw. Inconceivable is my word. And I do know what it means.

We are very fortunate to have gotten out safely, and I can guarantee that in the future, we won’t take it lightly when an evac notice comes in. I hate learning lessons the hard way.

We had a lot of damage to our shop and contents, none to contents in the home, but we have to replace 40% of our flooring in the den, kitchen and little in the living room. Plus the wall repair and cleaning bill. Our outside fence/yard/driveway damage is extensive and will take time to repair. Whatever we are going to do, it will be redone with water in mind.

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Blue Jay Poem

Bald-headed Blue Jays screech their displeasure,
That I, my own self, should watch them at leisure.
How dare I they say, sit under the suet,
When they, simply want, to land, and then chew it.

C. Kogler

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Young Hawks Are Hungry

The other day this lovely immature Cooper’s Hawk visited my yard. He or she was not the least bit disturbed by our presence. What have you seen lately?

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

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Who Doesn’t Love A Summer Bath?

 

 

Here is a firey-orange Bullock’s (Northern) Oriole male who recently took a bath in my yard pond.

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Birds have a hard time resisting running, splashing water.

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He’s flapping and splashing.

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Ducking and dunking head and wings.

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Time to dry off and preen!

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Toads Have Names Too

Woodhouse’s Toads are pretty cool critters. I have several living in my yard. I’m a birder, but decided I ought to know what kind of toads I had in my yard so I looked them up.

Woodhouse's Toad

They are pretty interesting and will make little burrows in the grass and hang out all day. I think she thinks I can’t see her.

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They have a distinctive stripe down their backs, and very cute feet. They tuck their little paws in like kitties when they rest.

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Woodhouse’s Toad – Have you seen one?

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All In An American Robin’s Day

Robin's Nest

Perfect American Robin’s eggs.

I found this nest on my property recently. Three perfect eggs.  I didn’t check it very often as the mother bird did not like it. But what fun to have this in my yard. Here are the babies a day or two before they left the nest.

Babies

Babies

Here is the newly fledged baby with a parent. They will beg to be fed nearly non-stop until the parent either gets tired of it or feels it’s time for them to fend for themselves.

Parent bird with newly fledged baby.

Parent bird with newly fledged baby.

Growing up! Babies tend to weigh more than their parents. Robin’s are in the Thrush family, and their babies are beautifully speckled until they molt into their adult plumage. What kind of birds are nesting in your yard?

Young bird learning the ropes.
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Turtles Are Terrific

Painted Turtle

Painted Turtle

Colorado has it’s share of cool turtles. This summer has been a fun one in that we’ve seen several of them. Above is the bottom of the Painted Turtle, which is one of our natives. So beautiful! He was a bit frightened but here is the front view.

Painted Turtle

Painted Turtle

Here is another beauty we rescued from a road crossing: Ornate Box Turtle – have you ever seen one of these? They prefer drier land.

Ornate Box Turtle

Ornate Box Turtle

 

Ornate Box Turtle

Ornate Box Turtle

This creature below is a Snapping Turtle that we spotted on a sand hill near our house.  Probably a female looking to lay eggs. She was a big gal!

 

Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle

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Yellow-headed Blackbirds

During a recent snowstorm, these beauties showed up in my yard – Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds

They like warmer weather, so this storm was quite an inconvenience.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds

They fed heavily on sunflower seed and even backed down the bigger Common Grackle that have also recently arrived.

Backing Down a common GrackleYellow-headed Blackbirds can typically be found in large stands of cattails and their calls sound like some kind of mechanical failure noise.  Check out the lakes near High Plains Environmental Center to see if you can find some!

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