Friday, June 21, 2024

Colorado Interlude, Day 3: Lions and Tigers and Bears!

Our Colorado trip involved frequent wildlife sightings. Most days we saw at least one fox trotting through the yard, while groups of mule deer regularly came and went, sampling the trees and plants. In the evenings, black bear would wander past the house. (We quickly learned that dusk was not a good time for an outdoor stroll.)

Day 3 started with an exciting exhibition of squirrel acrobatics... well as the usual birdwatching. Here we have a tanager on the right, and a mystery bird on the left:


Later that day, my nephew drove us east to see some less-common wildlife.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, is a non-profit, 1300-acre natural habitat for large animals that have been rescued from captivity. Newly-rescued animals arriving at the sanctuary are first rehabilitated in specially-constructed compounds designed for their specific breed. Once the rescued animals become confident in their newfound freedom, and can comfortably interact with others of their kind, they are released into the larger habitats of the sanctuary.

Visitors to the sanctuary can view the animals from a tall walkway that extends a mile and a half through the various habitats.

Since our visit was made in the daytime, many of the animals we saw were sleeping. This bear (look at those plush ears!) seemed to be dozing happily:

We were surprised and thrilled when it lifted its head:

We saw many sleeping lions:

This gorgeous serval, however, was awake and alert:

Wolves sprawled about in the wolf habitat, dreaming of rabbits (I presume):

And tigers slept the morning away:

In one of the outermost fields, a camel gazed thoughtfully into the distance:

In a habitat near the end of the walkway, this king of beasts was enjoying a respite from the cares of animal state:

On our way back, we saw bobcats relaxing on their custom perch:

Then one of them jumped down and began to pad along the edge of the habitat:

A coyote watched over its domain:

The last photo I took was of this lordly white tiger:

It was an exhilarating and sobering experience to see these animals - once captive, often sadly-mistreated - now living safely and freely with others of their kind.


Back at the house, a different kind of cat was waiting for us:

And there were more birds at the feeders. I think this one is a black-headed grosbeak:

A western bluebird, western tanager, and finch congregated at the other end of the deck:

Thus ended another delightful day in Colorado.

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Monday, June 17, 2024

Colorado Interlude, Day 2: Evening

Hello, readers! Wisconsin, like much of the Midwest, is currently in the grip of a heatwave, with days of 90º+ temps and thunderstorms in our forecast. The air outside is warm and soupy, which is wonderful for tomatoes and growing things, but less so for cyclists. I could take a bike ride, of course, but it's much more pleasant to sit indoors under a ceiling fan and edit photos from last month's trip to Colorado.


On Day 2, we drive south to meet our friends Snowcatcher and the Lizard for an evening walk at Roxborough State Park, a geologic wonderland of fascinating rock formations.

The first one I see on getting out of the car includes a perfect bird's head:

These red rocks are part of the amazing Fountain Formation:

The trail winds between spires of tilted sandstone:

Not all the rocks are jagged; some have been worn smooth by time and weather:

Hello, Snowcatcher!

Of course there are pauses for wildflower photos (Snowcatcher loves them as much as I do). This is skullcap:

The park's Visitor Center boasts a striking backdrop:

I snap a photo of this fellow, identified by Snowcatcher as a towhee:

Another view of the stunning Fountain Formation:

As we finish our walk, rain begins to fall, but nothing can dampen our joy at being together again for the first time since 2016.

Photo courtesy of Snowcatcher
A lovely walk, filled with laughter and great memories. Thank you, Snowcatcher and Lizard!

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Friday, June 7, 2024

Colorado Interlude, Day 2: Morning

Our second morning in Colorado dawns as beautifully as the first. Once again I set out before breakfast for a walk on the trail near my nephew's house, where there are more wildflowers to be seen.

Clumps of white locoweed light up the verge:

I'm excited to spy a puccoon; I had no idea these grew here:

The leaves of the next plant remind me of yucca, but the blossoms make it a mystery. I haven't been able to identify them yet:

Higher up, lovely blue penstemon edge the trail:

In the woods a Boulder raspberry blooms:

Feathery pasqueflower fruit shimmers in the morning sun:

More of the gorgeous mystery penstemon spotted on my previous walk:

Near the top, an interesting rock lies next to the trail - lichen-dotted red sandstone morphing to pale blue-green on its surface:

Just over the peak, I spy a mule deer climbing a nearby slope:

The trail here is full of fascinating texture:

One of the views from the peak:

Nearby bloom these tiny pink flowers with the charming name of filaree:

Pine trees blossom overhead:

At their feet flower Rocky Mountain groundsel:

Now it's time to head back down the trail...

...and across the mountain meadows...

...towards home and breakfast.


After breakfast I spend some enjoyable time on the deck, photographing the always-entertaining birds.

A downy woodpecker marches purposefully along the railing:

This broad-tailed hummingbird buzzes past my head, in a hurry to fuel up on syrup:

A goldfinch shares a feeder with what I think may be female grosbeaks:

This one is definitely a female grosbeak:

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Later that day we take an evening walk amidst very different scenery, but I'll save those photos for my next post.

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Monday, June 3, 2024

Colorado Interlude, Day 1: Mountains and Wildflowers and Birds

Mr. M and I recently returned from a trip to Colorado, our first real vacation since 2016. We spent five lovely days with my nephew and his wife, who live in the mountains near Boulder. What a paradise for cycling and hiking and photography! Though we didn't take our bikes, we enjoyed seeing cyclists zipping past the house all day, every day.

The first morning after we arrived, I set off down the road on foot to check out the nearest trail. I wish my street at home looked like this:

The trail climbs up steeply from the road, then levels off somewhat. Just look at that glorious sky:

Before long, I spy the first of many wildflowers to come. This is blue flax:

A little farther on, something that looks like fleabane:

After that, the flowers come thick and fast. Salsify:

And a mysterious fuzzy something about to burst into bloom (I never do find out what it is):

Mouse-ear chickweed:

Some kind of cinquefoil:

Another mystery blossom I haven't been able to identify:

I think this one may be some kind of vetch:

Then a cheery yellow umbellifer. I think it's called mountain parsley:

The trail climbs steadily upwards, weaving in and out of the trees. Soon I begin to see bluebells:

And clumps of this delicately lovely sand-lily (also called star-lily):

I don't know what the next little flower is called, but I can see that it belongs to the pea family:

Under the trees grow tiny yellow violets:

Not yet blooming is this prickly pear cactus:

Then come these gorgeous blossoms (later research suggests they're a variety of penstemon, but I haven't been able to figure out which one):

As the trail goes higher, the views keep getting better:

After nearly a mile of climbing, I reach the peak, and go a short way down the other side, where cheery yellow flowers shine under a blue-and-white sky:

I've been gone more than an hour already, so decide to turn back. Flowers, grasses, and cactus dot the edge of the trail on the way down:

I spy another mystery plant ready to burst into bloom:

And some silvery foliage I haven't been able to identify:

This one I do recognize; it's pasqueflower:

These may be Western wallflower:

Then it's down, down, down the hill, back towards the trailhead and the distant road:

Along the road are several fruit trees in bloom, including apple, plum, and these stunning pink blossoms on what I think is a peach tree:

Then I'm back at the house and ready for breakfast.


My niece-in-law keeps several birdfeeders, which attract an amazing variety of birds, especially during migration season. Some of the birds we see later that day include pine siskin:

Magpie, Steller's jay, and woodpecker (downy or hairy, I'm not sure which):


And, my favorite, these lovely little tanagers:

There will be more wildflowers and birds in my next Colorado post!

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