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Outdoors

  • Walking into springtime at Reynolds Park

    Winding along the road to Reynolds Park in Conifer, bright green leaves popping out of aspen branches are a welcome sight after a long, cold winter that didn't want to quit. After arriving at Reynolds and heading onto Oxen Draw Trail, you notice that the woodland park is alive with springtime activity. Birds perched in high trees call to each other, and delicate wildflowers are blossoming brightly on the forest floor.

    Spring has returned!

  • It’s difficult to discern the two subspecies of ibis

    Two weeks ago, we had a small group of 15 glossy ibis at the lake, and I promised to write about them this week. The glossy ibis is usually divided into two subspecies: the glossy ibis in the East and the white-faced glossy ibis in the West.

    However, the problem lies in the fact that the birds are identical except for the white feathers at the base of the bill in the white-faced glossy ibis. Sometimes this is present in western birds but only in small amounts, and sometimes not at all. Therefore, it is difficult to positively name the western birds.

  • Rare plant, falcon nest discovered at Staunton State Park

    During a recent study of plant and animal life at Staunton State Park, the rare budding monkey flower was found on the Black Mountain parcel, along with a peregrine falcon nest.

    Raquel Wertsbaugh, coordinator of the Colorado Natural Areas Program, talked about the discoveries during a presentation at the Jeffco Open Space Advisory Committee meeting May 1.

    Areas of exposed Precambrian granite also have been identified on Black Mountain, Wertsbaugh said. Rock climbing on the mountain could imperil the rare plants and the falcon nest, she remarked.

  • Dawn chorus at Evergreen Lake brings new bird sightings

    Time flies. Already it is Friday, May 9, as I write, and spring, which has come and gone several times this past week, is now promising another 15 to 16 inches of snow on Sunday. Every day, the grass grows greener outside my window.

    I am at the moment at the Life Care Center of Evergreen, since I slipped at home and hurt my back. My hope is that a few days of physical therapy will set things right so that I can go home. I really need someone to live in with me. So far, I haven’t found anyone, so it may be awhile.

  • Peaks to Plains Trail project breaks ground

    Eight golden shovels scraped into rocky Clear Creek County soil April 23 to signify the start of the long-gestating Peaks to Plains Trail project.

    Officials from Clear Creek and Jefferson counties, as well as state representatives, met for the groundbreaking ceremony on the side of U.S. 6 at Tunnel 5 on Clear Creek's Oxbow parcel.

  • Of eagles, recycling and watersheds

    Decked out in headgear resembling a World War I flying ace, a large bald eagle commanded attention at the Mountain Area Earth Day Fair at Evergreen Lake Park on Saturday.

    “She’s good in the hood,” said handler Dawn Carrie of HawkQuest while holding the majestic bird on her wrist.

    The eagle was wearing the leather hood because it is blind in one eye, Carrie said. Without the eye covering, the eagle constantly turns its head to try to see things, she explained.

  • Answers complex about why fewer birds come here

    Many readers of this column have asked me recently if something has happened to the birds that reduced their numbers because they have had fewer birds at their feeders than usual.

    I scratched my head to know how to answer their questions because this is a very involved question that takes more space than I can use every week, and few people are concerned enough to get that involved.

  • Meadows come alive with wildflower colors

    June is such an amazing month. Everything is making record growth and suddenly seems so full.

    The valleys that were bare all winter are now full of green willow leaves. Aspen are in full leaf; suddenly everything appears over-stuffed. It is a pleasure to see the spring green, which makes everything come alive.

  • Summer birds making their way back to the foothills

    Once more, while spring hesitated in the doorway, winter pushed her aside and came back in.

    Cold and snowy would best describe most of last week’s weather, but it could have been much worse. Since the temperature hovered around freezing, at least some of the snow fell as rain. Today, the sun is back and between the snow drifts, brown squiggly earth makes fancy patterns on the mountains.

  • Friends, indeed: Nonprofit helps fund programs at Staunton State Park

    The nonprofit group Friends of Staunton State Park has been working with Colorado’s newest state park since before it opened last year, and now the group is starting to receive some recognition.

    Friends of Staunton recently was named Best Nonprofit of the Year by the Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce.

    “It was a pleasant surprise,” said Wayne Parkinson, board president of Friends of Staunton. “Talk about a fantastic way to start 2014.”