Apr 172009

Lake George is a wonderful little lake: built as an ice producer for the miner at Cripple Creek, newly refurbished after muskrat undermined it’s dam, currently undergoing random dredging attempts, below 11 mile canyon and next to the South Platte River (when it is but a stream.) It is also next to the cabin we go to.

Lake George (albeit now full)

Lake George (albeit now full)

This weekend it saw frost/rain/snow but also sun/blue skies. Each walk around it was a different and invigorating experience. Spring is building on the lake.

There were more water fowl (mainly coot & ducks) than it normally sees; a vast array of species. Luckily I had a sister-in-law wildlife biologist (central flyway) to help me identify the species ‘cos I was lost amongst the masses. Gadwell, Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Canvas back, Merganser, Bufflehead the list goes on. It was great to see them out enjoying the lake and feasting on it’s weed before they moved north. A mass of life.

On the cold mornings (after a spring snow) there was a thin layer of ice on the lake, and frost on the ground & cat tails. Red-winged blackbirds were settling in, with males singing to the world. A Belted Kingfisher stalked along the Platte, it’s call clear and distinct. On the muddy banks (even down at the water’s edge) mountain & western bluebirds took advantage of the damp ground to find food. Nice to see all these guys back for the season.

A couple of muskrats showed themselves to us in the river. Swimming away oblivious to the fact that they’d been the primary cause for a $1M & multi-year dam repair job (they’d just  been doing their thing & burrowing.) These guys remind me of the (somewhat cuter) water voles of the UK, just bigger/more gangly. Encounters with them make me smile.

The Tarryall Mountains red, and further enhanced with sunrise light, surrounded a low patch of cloud (technically fog I guess) from the remaining evaporating snow. The view from lakeside over the water and to this sight in the west was breath taking. Slowly the fog moved up and dissipated.

Turkey vultures (firsts for the season) demonstrated their amazing gliding skills, effortlessly skimming high and then low (almost brushing the ground) as they search for carrion. Ugly with the red faces yet beautiful in flight. Again, a welcome return for the season.

No bald eagle this weekend, but before we left we had one quick search for “a large white bird” my wife noticed flying over/down to the lake. Our inquisitiveness was rewarded by the gift of (separately) a white American Pelican and an Osprey both fishing the lake (although the Pelican took the more sedate approach.)

Spring is growing fast & strong at Lake George, CO.