Apr 162009

As I was driving back into Coal Creek Canyon this morning I spied the 70-80 strong herd of Elk over in the open space by Plainview. That was enough for me to detour & go for a walk. If you didn’t get to be/play outside today, let me take you where I went…

Plainview (albeit later in the year)

Plainview (albeit later in the year)

Sunny but not hot and with little wind it was perfect for a stroll. Mountain bluebirds (not as many as earlier in the year, and no Western) and Meadowlark were about, and some other small lark of sorts was making music up in the sky. Basically a just another great day to be alive and outdoors.

The ground was moist, the recently melted snows had granted that. The moles had made the most and pushed up a lot of soil & Elk had planted their hooves firmly in those piles. Small purple flowers were blooming, as were fat/round cactus. One could get a decent dose of wildlife just by stopping & looking down.

Up the other side of the draw the few remaining resting Elk were preparing to join the herd out on the plains. I watched them get up and casually move on. The couple of bull Elk were little more than spikes, and one lopsided with a single antler. A young Elk (and there were many) seemed to be having fun with a group of mule deer, perhaps lauding his ‘large’ size over them. For once he wasn’t the smallest around, and he seemed to enjoy herding them to his whim.

The creek draw was largely devoid of birds for a change. That’ll change soon enough, but right now the chatterers were scads of crickets (clicking their red wings), rushing water, and frogs. One small indent in the ground forms a pond this time of year (weeks ago it was just dry dirt) and the frogs were croaking their mating calls.

A year ago I’d found these frogs hard to creep up on, but had managed, so decided to take on the challenge of stalking them. My goal … to see them mid croak. Daft as it might seems, my tool of choice was my binos … ‘cos these critter are small, hide well, and shut up when disturbed. I spent over half an hour creeping steadily closer and closer to those noise makers, and (sad to say) I failed. They hid in an inches deep pond, invisible despite my focused scrutiny. Amazing; today I’d fail as a heron looking for lunch. I’d hoped to identify these frogs, but today I had to settle for … they are the “loud croaking, good hiding” type of frog.

As I watched the pond I remembered to take occasional looks behind me; one never knows when wildlife will sneak op on a sneaker. I half hoped the deer would tire of being herded and seek shelter down here, but if they did they passed unnoticed.

Still, as I left the puddle, I stumbled upon a small group of travelling Elk coming to re-join the herd. I’d caught their eye just as they caught mine, and although they hadn’t fully made me I only watched them for a while before I moved on. I’d replenished my wildlife batteries for the day. A good trip.