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Outdoors

  • Harebells are plentiful with August heat, rain

    Summer continues with monsoon winds, thundershowers and heat. What interests me the most is the increase in relative humidity. When we came to Colorado in 1965, the relative humidity averaged around 7 percent a day. Today it was 49 percent, and every day it is much higher than it was 50 years ago.

  • Gentians, bugling elk signal the end of summer

    The full rich days of August bring the flowering of fringed gentians, the departure of some summer birds and gambling teenage elk enjoying their first taste of independence. The incredibly beautiful fringed gentians are the dominant wildflower in South Park in August.

  • Wildflower or weed: Enjoy the beautiful colors

    It is a fine summer evening. I am sitting on the patio, trying to write this article and cool off after another hot day and a rain shower. The cooler air is refreshing, and I can see many wildflowers in bloom in the yard. I really miss being able to get out for walks in the woods but can’t tote my oxygen tank, and the woodland way is too uneven, tilted and rough, for me to traverse safely. So, I try to be content with what I can see from the patio and car port.

  • Usual summer birds flock to feeders with their young

    The next few weeks of late July and early August are not the most exciting time in the bird world. Although a few early fall migrants will drift through, there is no big movement of birds.

    I still have red crossbills coming to the feeder with young, so I have had a good chance to study all their various plumage. They are truly beautiful birds that vary in color, especially the adult males that range from yellow to orange to light red to dark red.

  • Summer rains bring colorful wildflowers to the foothills

    Late June and early July are probably the most beautiful time of year in the mountains. Rain has finally come in enough quantity to restore life to the foothills and everything is lush green.

    It is so green that you might think you are in Ireland. The grasses are green, the trees are green, kinnikinnick is green, our whole immediate world is green with blue sky overhead, and around every twist of a road or trail you are greeted by a splash of color from wildflowers.

  • Great blue herons are not uncommon in foothills

    A reader of this column sent me a message via the Canyon Courier this past week, saying she had seen a great blue heron along North Turkey Creek and was wondering if that was unusual. Yes, it is a bit unusual this early in the season.

  • July brings wildflowers above tree line

    June has been a wonderful month, so green, so fresh after the cold winter, it seemed almost magical. Now, July lies ahead with warmer weather, dusty roads and skyrockets in bloom for the Fourth of July.

  • Bird migration studies provide fascinating information

    I have been re-reading the new book, “Songbird Journeys” by Miyoko Chu. Since I read it the first time and mostly late at night, I didn’t retain some of its wonderful information.

    So I am finding it most informative the second time around. Many of you have written or called me with questions about bird migration, so I had planned to write such an article for some time.

  • Ponderosa pines brighten the spring mountain scenery

    It is not unusual in the mountains to have winter finally give way to summer with hardly a day of spring in between. The mountains are never more beautiful than they are in June.
    It seems like everything turns green overnight from grassy meadows to new aspen leaves; even the new growth on pines, spruces and Douglas fir are green. The ponderosa pines that have appeared almost black all winter are washed clean by the spring rains and new growth is starting at every branch tip. They suddenly appear to be alive and they are in bloom.

  • Hummingbirds make an appearance at area feeders

    In last week’s column, I promised to write about hummingbirds this week. To old-timers, I apologize for one more article about hummingbirds, but I receive more phone calls about hummingbirds than any other bird and most of these callers say, “I know you have written about hummingbirds before, but I didn’t save the article, so I need you to write about them again.” The most frequent request is the formula for making syrup to feed hummingbirds.