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Outdoors

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • March’s crazy weather brings spring birdsong to foothills

    I started this article four days ago. It was the vernal equinox, and the day was balmy and sunny. Since then, we have had new snow. It is cold, and winter has returned with just enough snow to make everything white and sparkly in the morning sunlight.

  • Subspecies of dark-eyed junco are complex but easily discernible

    For some time now, I have thought I should write a column on the juncos that we are seeing at our feeders, but something or another seemed to come up every week, and I put it off. No matter what juncos we have had all winter, there will be new ones coming in as many of them migrate in the early spring to more northern breeding grounds.
    Juncos are commonly known as “snow birds” in many areas because they arrive just before the first snow and leave in the early spring. They spend the winter or snow season with us and move northward to nest.

  • Spring’s warmer weather brings scent of skunks

    Spring is certainly a confusing season in this area. March and April are supposedly spring months, but here in the foothills, it is a time of indecision.