Winter Hawking, with Eagles and a Surprise.

Took a walk along Sand Creek the other day, scoping out where I’ll begin leading my first bird walk in quite awhile.  It was clear, cold and beautiful and I saw some lovely birds.

This first beauty – Red-tailed Hawk – but no red tail? Closest match in the Sibley Guide seems to be a Southwestern Juvenile.

IMG_3789The next two photos are of the same bird. Very pale tail – missing many feathers.

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Here is a little beauty – any guesses?

IMG_3823Adult male American Kestrel.

These two are fun! The larger bird is new and I believe the smaller one is the same bird as the one in the first photo. I’m always amazed at the differences in Red-tailed Hawk plumages. Some hanky-panky going on here I think.

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And THEN such a glorious surprise right above my head! I believe this is a 3rd year Bald Eagle. There were actually two of them, both juvenile birds.

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And then someone found ME. Now you see her.

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Now.. you don’t.

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The Revery Alone Will Do – Prairie Musings

Well that was a day! It started out like this:IMG_1217

A few steps later, this:

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My sis Lauren and I spent the day wandering the prairie in eastern Colorado. We found someone’s home, once loved.IMG_1236

Mr. Jack R. Abbit.IMG_1239

Mrs. Jack R. Abbit. Check out those EYES.

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And we found THIS: A stunning Short-eared Owl that flew up from almost under our tires and almost caused Lauren to land in my lap.

LIFE BIRD

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Windmills and Wheat Stubble.

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Heading down Chalk Bluffs

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Found this beauty – a Common Nighthawk, sleeping on a post near a busy, dusty gravel road.

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These beauties – Northern Pintails I think, were in a prairie puddle or playa.

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In the middle of a grass desert. See them?

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Cool old barns here and there with many Stay Away warnings.

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Yellow Mexican Hat Coneflower

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I’d like to know the stories here!

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And these two.  Beautiful Pronghorn.

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Movin’ To The City

 

Yes, you read that right, we are.

After graduating our 11th child from high school, it’s time. Al is ready to have a 20 minute one-way commute vs. a nearly 90 minute one-way commute. We looked at a LOT of houses. In all sorts of neighborhoods, and found this one.  Nice remodeled home on nearly a half acre in a quiet subdivision with lots of trees in SE Aurora.  Just across Cherry Creek State Park from Al’s office. Easy ride for him, pretty spot for me and the dogs. Oh, and it’s NOT a fixer upper. We’ve had enough of those!IMG_0659 IMG_0660 IMG_0661

We’ll be heading down there in September, and hopefully will have our house here on 9E sold by then!

In the meantime, I’m working with my puppy Badger, getting him ready for showing, taking hikes, going swimming and having coffee with friends. Not to mention keeping the house show-ready for prospective buyers.  Still enjoying summer here at Kingfisher Cabin as well!

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Mid-Winter

The snow is finally beginning to clear, we’ve had it on the ground since Christmas I believe. Here is a lovely forest near Sisters, Or. IMG_6261

It has been a pretty good winter so far, we visited Josh and Mary in Oregon for Thanksgiving, had a nice Christmas at home. Seriously contemplated selling and moving south of Denver, closer to Al’s work, but decided against it after looking at houses for over a month and just not finding anything as nice as this any closer to his workplace.IMG_2755

The Evening Grosbeaks visit now and then. The are the most beautiful birds.IMG_6503

Day after day we’ve been showered with unbelievable color. It reminds us how blessed we are. How we are so fortunate to live in this lovely place.

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How every day has it’s own beauty.

Before the ice froze up we had a lake full of Canada and Cackling Geese. I also found one Canada Snow Goose cross.

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After the water froze only the ducks stuck around.

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Then when it got really cold and frozen, they all left. Probably hiding and feeding in sunny spots along the edges of the river and exposed banks.

IMG_2590 Now here we are in mid-winter and the snow is gone, the top of the ice has melted and frozen repeatedly. Some days shining like glass, others a dull, soft blue.

And today, Robins in the yard, everywhere, tossing leaves from under bushes, looking for live food to eat.

Spring can’t be far off.

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What’s going on at Kingfisher Cabin and beyond

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Late January Garden

There is so much to process when you have had your life turned upside down from a weather disaster. But one thing I don’t want to do is live here with one foot down the road. I need to BE here. 
So I am.
Here is my January garden. I managed to get a hoop house put up earlier this month during a warm spell. 4 x 20 feet. I’m getting ready to get in there and plant some spinach, carrots and lettuce.
The green patch you can see on the left is wheat that I planted to give the ducks and geese some forage. We moved the duck house, and sold the ducks and geese.. but I’ll be adding some this spring again.  I’ll probably till the wheat under, unless I decide to see if I can get a little, bitty wheat crop going on.
 My fenced garden plot is 40 x 60 feet, which is huge. I’ll be planting a full garden this year with lots of flowers. 
Seed Savers Exchange has a Garden Planner that is awesome. Let’s see, 
raspberries, potatoes, sunflowers, zinnias, spinach, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, cosmos, strawflowers, head and leaf lettuce, corn, butternut squash, peppers, cilantro, brocolli, basil, oregano, carrots, and who knows what else. 
I can hardly wait.
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Well. I’m Back.

It was a long four months. Digging out, cleaning up, repairing from the flood. But by the grace of God and helpful family and friends we did it. 
This view is looking south from my bedroom door that leads to the roof. You can see the new fence that was replaced after the flood. Where the snow and dirt is I need to replant grass. 
 Swinging to my right/ west and you can see where my landscaped large berm was. Since the flood we had it all graded out to a slope from the road on the right to the lake on the left. We’ve planted 17 new evergreens, and I’ll need to add native grasses this spring. There used to be a 6-foot fence between us and the neighbors. We opted to not replace it.
Further right/west looking toward the road you can see a bunch more of the new trees. All the dirt you can see was driveway that we had graded and will plant in native grasses and some flowers. Our entryway driveway now ends just to the right of the last tree.
Swinging back to the left, looking east, (still standing upstairs, looking out my bedroom door) you can see the fence is all back up. This part of the yard received little damage except the part to the right of my small pond. But the fence from the gate to out of the pic was all torn out. You can see 3 new evergreens on the left. 
This view is from the front west facing window. This area took a hard hit and had to be completely re-graded. Lots of mud and wet here. All the fence to the left, out of the pic was completely taken out. All is fixed. This is the main yard the dogs are in so there is lots of mud. I reseeded a bunch last fall. Hopefully it will come in well this spring. 
We are finally done with all our repairs and feel like we can move on and have some fun.. which brings me to..
My January Garden. More to come.
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Further Up! Further In! Poudre Canyon and North Park.

Illinois River. 
Took a day in the high country today. Started out early. There never quite seems to be enough time. Might have to go up and spend a few nights sometime soon.
Drove through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. Pretty quiet except for these White-tailed Prairie Dogs.
Took a long walk through the extensive Sage Brush Steppe country hoping to find Greater Sage Grouse and White-tailed Jackrabbit. 
All I found was these.
 And these.
 Along Willow Creek, Illinois River and other riparian areas are thick Willow Carrs. 
I need some of this willow for projects. But it sure has lovely color in winter.
 This very old sign was in a State Wildlife Area near the old Kinnikinik Store.
Look closely. Only one bullet hole. That’s pretty amazing.
 I can always find Townsend’s Solitaire’s here. Always singing.
 Further down the canyon, along the river I stopped and meandered along side roads where there were big  stands of pines, fir, spruce and junipers.
Found this cutie – Brown Creeper.
And Oh Happy Day!
Golden-crowned Kinglet. Three of them. Look at the back of it’s head. There is a tiny bit of red.  
I spent a delightful half an hour with these beauties that never stopped chit-chatting to each other. They were quite curious about me too. This was my first opportunity to photograph these little gems. An absolute treat.
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I Should Go To The Woods

I should go to the woods
And breathe the fresh air
Walk along old dirt roads
Then drop all my cares
I should revel in sunshine
Or kick around leaves
Watch woodpeckers hammer
At cracks in the trees
I should sit down for a while
On a stump or a rock
Forget about time
Ignore all the clocks
Just listen to the silence
To the birds while they sing
To hear what God’s saying
Oh the peace that will bring
I like to watch leaves fall
Hear their crunch underfoot
See a weasel run swiftly
Then dash under a root
Take a deep breath of pine scent
Mixed with rich spruce and fir
Damp earth, rocks and wood
Fills my senses for sure
The quiet it calms me
His presence directs me
Reminds me He’s got it
And I’ll be okay.

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Working Towards Recovery #1

I am still amazed at how much damage the tremendous force of water can do. 
Here is the front yard garden, berm, and native grassland before the flood.
During the flood – waters are low and receding.
The same area after the flood. The fence and four cords of wood were behind the stacked flat rock.
The berm, washed out and covered with driveway gravel.
How it looks today after about 8 hours of bobcat work. I’ve re-planted 3 trees that we removed on the right edge.
 Here is my backyard pond before the flood.
After the flood. No fish were left in the pond, but the 3 wild frogs were still there.
After Anna, Mom and Lauren helped me clean it out. Only one of the 3 large decorative stumps I had were still around. The little Bosnian Pine is left from the berm.
I am so thankful for the help we’ve gotten in putting things back together.
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