Friday, September 8, 2017

8 September 2017 - Baby everythings

This year has been filled with babies, they are so darned cute and very hard to ignore. On birding trips Viv and I were always wanting to pull over for the newborns. Our guru finally laid down the law and said "No stopping, oohing or ahhing over calves, kids or lambs." He agreed we could fawn over other (in his opinion) more interesting babies. Pretty funny. Not that it stopped us, mind you, we just tried to be fast or sneaky about the looking. Nevertheless, there were still many babies to be found. 

Pronghorn antelope

Kids playing King of the Hill


Calves (good thing they don't come out with horns!)

While it is fun to see the babies, it is always a treat to watch them play.

These colts are part of the wild horse herd near Ouray.


This counts--baby butterfly? Stretching, but sort of. 

Black-necked stilts. Ever wondered where the expression "under her wing" came from? 

Great Horned Owl

This fledgling Great Horned Owl was walking on a roof not far from the nest. Look at the size of his feet!

Great Blue Herons

California Quail



Eared Grebes

Western Grebe

This baby is almost too big to be riding anymore. 

Clark's Grebe

Magpies. These newly-fledged babies are still begging for food.

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallows

Western Kingbird

Osprey. Adult on right. 

This was a selection of some of my favorites this year. I love seeing the little ones. And once you've found a nest, you can go back again and watch how quickly they grow. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

29 August 2017 - Roadside stuff

Some of us are easily amused. That's a good thing!  Lately I have found myself quite amused by interesting things found along the back roads. Yes, I definitely fall into the I Brake for Everything category. If it were a bumper sticker, you'd see it on my car, but more to serve as a warning than a commentary. So here are some of the fun things that have stopped me in my tracks recently. 

Goats. Everyone knows how much they love to climb. A good goat owner often has hanging bridges and climbing rocks to make their goats happy. If not, well, they find their own climbing walls. 

These goats must escape fairly regularly, you can see they are both wearing collars and tags. But this is the sort of thing that will have me hitting the brakes. I'd just like to know how the heck they got up there.

Out in the west desert, one of the ranches has this sculpture by the side of the road. Unexpected, but wonderful. 

In the spring, the top layer of fresh water on the Great Salt Lake freezes then makes fun formations in rows as it gets blown to the shoreline.

In the fall, parts of the lake turn pink with the algae growth. 

If you add in a couple other kinds of algae you get great patterns. 

I love things in series, so these fence posts had me pulling over in a hurry. The rocks on top transformed it from utilitarian to something quite special. 

I was walking on the edge of a reservoir looking for shore birds and I thought I heard a woman call out "Armando, come get the pig." Pig? Really, did I hear right? Sure enough. 

Cute little pink pig with a pink harness and leash. Definitely one of the last things I would expect to see with a family on a camping trip.

I am a big fan of metal bridges and trestles. Add a reflection and it's magic. 

In August and September the brine fly hatch on the Great Salt Lake brings tens of thousands of birds to the lake to fatten up on flies before continuing their southward migration. During the hatch, orb weaver spiders are everywhere. Not only are they eating the brine flies, but are in turn being eaten by birds. This one looks ready to take out my birding buddies. 

People are funny, and I am happy to share in their amusements. 

Driving the back roads gives you opportunity to appreciate that away from the cities, ranching and farming is still alive and well. I enjoy watching the herders on horseback moving cows and sheep from summer to winter pastures, even if it stops traffic for a while.

Another trip while driving up a canyon, I had to stop and watch two men in an ATV try to catch an escaped sheep. It refused to be herded so they ended up wrestling it into the back of an ATV and hog-tying it so it could not escape again as they took it back to the herd. Just another thing you don't see on the road very often. 

Life is full of interesting and fun moments. I'm always happy to brake for them. 


Sunday, August 27, 2017

27 August 2017 - Butterflies and other six-legged creatures

This summer continues adding on to my fascination with birds, bees, butterflies and pretty much everything out there in the world. The difference is that instead of just admiring them, I am now learning what they are. Yes, there will probably be a quiz.  Here are some of the beauties I've seen recently. 

Arizona Sister

Red Admiral

 Tiger Swallowtail

Pale Swallowtail

Weidermeyer's Admiral


Long-tailed Skipper

Pearly Crescent

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Gulf Fritillary

Painted Lady

Orange Tip

There are quite a few more that I have yet to identify.  

The caterpillars can be just as pretty as the butterflies, such as this one that ends up being a Spotted Tussock Moth. The larval stage is prettier than the moth. 

There were some new-to-me insects this year, in addition to many favorites like praying mantis, which tend to show up in the yard every August. 

One of these is the Bee Assassin. 

And this Long-horned Beetle. It is always good to have a friend who is willing to hold something so you can get a photo!

I also have an on-going love affair with dragonflies. This year has had a bumper crop of dragonflies, which probably means there were even more gnats, flies, mosquitoes and the like for them to eat. 

While I knew that dragonflies are considered one of the deadliest hunters, can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour, and are able to catch 95% of their prey, I didn't realize they ate each other as well. 

I just got a dragonfly field guide. Males and females are different colors. They don't make it easy. There are over 348 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the Western U.S.  Got my work cut out for me. 

Paper wasps. I have a lovely nest of paper wasps right by one of my outside switches. We have been doing a really good job of letting each other be. I leave them alone, they leave me alone. If I get a little too close, they will bristle--go absolutely still and put their wings up. I am smart enough to get the message and back off. But it has been fun watching the cells get built, egged up, sealed in, etc. 

Yesterday I went out to turn the switch off and the nest was gone. No sign of it anywhere. I called my brother to share the oddity and he asked if a skunk had been through lately. Turns out skunks love bees, and could have ripped the nest off and had a lovely midnight snack of wasp larva.  Yes, there was a faint odor of skunk. Today the remaining wasps are all over the post. Angry! 

There is so much to see! Get out there and look--it's my number one rule. Circumspice!