Tick, Tick, Tick...
From amazing wildlife to 300+ days of sunshine each year to stunning fall colors, the Colorado outdoors offers some pretty amazing stuff. But we also have to keep on our toes around here. Though sometimes I’m lying down outside and turns out that’s risky business.
Later, hunkered down in my camper as the storm was brewing to the west, I spotted a little creeper on my pant leg, which—living in Colorado—I’m all too familiar with. The pesky Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. Through the course of the weekend, I found 8 more in my camper, on my clothes and on me. Sigh.
But whatever about all of that. Because...cool snake photo op!!!
Bad Hair Day
I love taking drives out north between Fort Collins and the Wyoming border. It’s peaceful farm and ranch land with foothills to the west. And at the north end is some fabulous open space I like to hike in that offers some amazing vistas when I get up on top.
But the drive itself offers a great opportunity to see a variety of animals and birds, including raptors. Maybe not as majestic as Golden Eagles, Turkey Vultures are still amazing. I mean, these guys mean business. I’ve seen as many as a dozen flying together, circling high over what I assume is their next meal down below. And when they’re perched on a branch or a fence post, they have a look that says, “Just so
you know, I’m a bad ass.”
Well, truth be told, I stopped going to the hair salon a couple of months ago and have been cutting my own hair. And the result is mediocre at best. So Turkey Vulture and I? We are strange, new kindred spirits. Of the Bad Hair Day variety.
It is what it is.
Nature at its Best
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my favorite parks around (along with State Forest State Park). Through the years, I've done lots of hiking, camping, fishing, cross-country skiing and photographing there—with and without my kids (who are now in college). I was set to camp in my popup camper in Moraine Park over the weekend, and then by mid-week, the weather was looking nasty. So... I take the easy way out, dump the camping reservation, and instead snag a condo with fireplace overlooking Fall River for the weekend. Heck yeah.
Then all of the sudden, a calf starts screaming in a terrified and panicked way. I see that one of the small calves has lost its footing while trying to cross the river and is flailing and floating down river, struggling to keep its head above water. Within seconds, some 8 or 10 nearby cows run toward the screaming calf. Several jump in the river while the others run along the banks. Four cows manage to reach the calf in the water, quickly surround it, and nose it up to the bank. The calf is disoriented and pretty wobbly, but it succeeds in making its way back up in the grass.
I'm not going to try to put into words what it was like to witness such an extraordinary thing. But suffice it to say, it got to my core. I have two children. I'd go to any lengths to protect them and of course, rescue them if they were ever in danger. And I'd do the same for anyone else's kids. Anywhere. Anytime.
The weekend continued to be a fabulous one in the park. And with the heavy rains, thunder, lightning, hail and snow that ensued, I had a wonderful time in front of the fireplace in my condo, too. Popup camper, I'll catch you next time.
Well, Monday morning I'm starting to take down camp, and I spot 3 bull moose about 150 yards up the hill. Naturally, I grab my Nikon and head on up. Priorities.
I stand at the edge of some trees, along with a woman and her grade-school daughter, watching and photographing these guys as they inch down the hill toward us while grazing. I joke to the mom that we probably ought to have an exit strategy just in case they get impatient with us. And... the next thing we know, one of the bulls charges us. We bolt and fortunately, he stops short of trampling us. He just needed to show us who's boss. Cracked us up. You know, after the adrenaline stopped shooting out of our ears.
I spent the morning in and around Rocky Mountain National Park on the usual wildlife photography adventure. And all told, I probably saw close to 200 elk. So it was a fun and clickie morning!
But here's the thing. I never saw a cow, not even one. No kidding, every single elk I saw was a bull. Hither and yon, bulls, bulls and more bulls.
What the heck? Who took the cows? Where's the girl power?!
Then again, the boys were kind of rowdy today, so I get it. Enjoy your quiet time, gals.
Too Close for Comfort
I brought in the New Year with a jaunt up to Estes Park with my 22-year-old daughter and teenage niece. We stayed at the Stanley Hotel and planned to cruise Rocky Mountain National Park for the usual wildlife viewing and photography. But due to a big snowstorm, the park was closed. Hmmph. Still, we had a fun time. It's impossible to get bored up there, right?
I'm pretty excited about finally getting 4 trail cams out on the property last month. It's something I've been wanting to do for years. So I head out early this morning to do my regular duty of swapping out the full SD cards with empty ones, starting with the farthest camera from the house, which is about a 10-minute walk down into the back country.
It's late October, and it never occurred to me to wear my snake gaiters for the hike. I usually only wear them in the summertime up here. It was an unbelievably close call, and I'm back there without my GPS tracker (which has an SOS button), and without cell service. Had I been bitten and screamed at the top of my lungs for help, no one would hear me, given my remote location.
So I thank the spirits of Lone Eagle (our beloved property), do the rounds on the trail cams, and though a bit weary from the close encounter, I go ahead and check my SD cards when I get back to the house.
You know, I tend to play outside when I'm up here. But I've used up enough lives for one day and I'm instead going to stay in and hunker down to a good book and a steep cup of Joe. Smart.
I love Colorado. And I love our property even more. Also, folks? It's a jungle out there.
A Life-threatening Bird ID
I'm pretty new to birding. Not that I haven't always loved our fine feathered friends, but I actually started keeping a log earlier this year and trying to add to it when I can. I've identified a whopping 37 so far. I'm pretty sure it's some kind of record.
So I'm sitting on my back patio on Saturday, enjoying a nice summer evening. And camera in hand (surprise!), I'm watching my flower pots for hummingbirds or whatever might swing by for a visit.
So I tap on the "Sound" button for each species to see if I recognize their call. First one? Nope. Second one? Not. Third one? Negative. Then I click on the sound for the fourth one and all of the sudden one of those birds on the fence tears away from its partner and charges full speed at my head. I duck just in time to avoid the attack and the poor thing slams into the sliding glass door behind me.
I'm very happy to report that the bird was a bit stunned but was perfectly okay in less than a minute. I'm also calling this a positive bird ID: the Say's Phoebe. Don't mess with these guys. They'll take your head off.