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Outdoors

  • Earthworm population takes a beating with recent rains

    The damp, downright wet weather continues. All weekend, it has been wet and miserable. As I write, more rain is falling. Another gray day makes me wonder what happened to the sunshine that brought my late husband Bill and me to Colorado.

    Both of us, having grown up in western New York, were tired of damp gray days that were brought to us by Lake Erie. On our first trip west, we attended a birders’ convention in Colorado and were impressed by a full week of sunshine. We vowed we would return, and we did 49 years ago next April.

  • Several wildflowers continue to bloom this month

    Most of our late summer flowers are yellow, and many of them belong to the composite family. In the common vernacular of many botanists, the flowers are referred to as DYCs. DYC stands for damn yellow composites, which refers to the fact that they are a big family; most of them are yellow and difficult to identify.

  • It’s the right time of year for milkweed to bloom

    Although the greatest number of wildflowers bloom in spring or early summer, there are some that do not grow as quickly, so they don’t bloom until late summer or early fall. One of these is the common milkweed.

  • Jeffco Open Space seeks clear goals for next five years

    Jeffco Open Space wants its new master plan to do more than just collect dust.

    The plan, which gets an overhaul every five years, will include a set of benchmarks to help the Open Space Division see if it’s meeting stated goals. Previous master plans have lacked goals and objectives that could be measured, said Jeffco Parks and Open Space Director Tom Hoby.

  • Elk are seen and herd at this time of year

    I heard some elk bugling last week when the moon was full. This wasn’t a real challenge call by the “king of the valley” but just a few youngsters — probably yearlings — trying out their calls, not understanding what they were doing but stirred by the moonlight and the distant calls of other elk far, far away.

  • August brings blooming gentians

    It has been so cold the past week that it was difficult not to think about autumn. However, the weather forecasters have all agreed that this week will be better. We will return to summer temperatures, and then we will all be complaining about the heat.

  • Swallows among last to leave before winter’s chill

    There were two swallows flying around the yard last evening. It was just before dark, and I was pleased to see them for the usual residents of one of my bird boxes, a pair of violet-green swallows, did not return this year, and I have sorely missed them.

  • Well-mannered waxwings are delightful to watch
  • Townsend’s solitaires are strange members of thrush family

    I always associate the Townsend’s solitaire, Myadestes townsendi, with working in the garden. For many years, a pair of these little gray birds nested just across the road on my neighbor’s property. The male chose the utility line, which ran along the road, as one of his territorial perches.

  • Large turkey vultures may hide in plain sight

    It is difficult to believe that you can live in a community where a big bird with a 5 ½- to 6-foot wingspan is considered to be relatively abundant in summer without ever seeing one. Yet, that is exactly what happened recently to a friend who told me he had seen one perched on a fence post near his home. He had never seen one before but knew what it was immediately.