May 042011

It is definitely a time of change for the critters around me. Lots showing up, although some are late.

The Northern Pygmy Owl is happily calling out to claim it’s territory. I was so lucky to the day I was able to put a sound to this Owl, and be educated that is was a Northern Pygmy Owl. Now I know instantly when I hear it, and I can picture who is calling and why. Sometime I think there might be more than one calling, but maybe it is just moving around. Still, it is a cool and welcome regular companion.

The House Wren showed up again, as have the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

The main notable missing character is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Not only did no scouts show earlier this year, but despite me hearing them down on the flat lands (and hearing reports from others) I’ve yet to see them at my place. Given that I normally see hummers in Coal Creek Canyon in April, and then lots in May, this is a strange start to the season for hummingbirds.

At least the Turkey (from the noisy gobbles of the males, and the furtive sneaking of the females) seem hard at work nesting, and the weather seems to be working in their favor this year. Last year was not a good year for reproduction (the weather timing worked against the turkey’s style) so hopefully this year will make up for it.

Change is definitely in the air, and it is fun to watch the critters going about their business.

Dec 212010

(This post sat in the drafts folder for too long, so I am setting it free. :) )

Original railway across the mouth of Coal Creek Canyon

This year’s closure of highway 72 due to an impact with the bridge by truck have caused more closures than even this year’s train derailment. As such our family trips and commutes between Coal Creek Canyon and Golden/Boulder/Denver have been via Golden Gate State Park and/or Flagstaff (passing Walker Ranch & Gross Reservoir.) These trips have been longer than usual, but glorious in wildlife & scenery.

Coming down through Golden Gate State Park of a morning allows iconically Colorado views of Elk browsing through sun-light streaks and Aspen trees. That atop priceless views out to the snow emphasized mountain peaks of the continental divide. Easier in spring than in the blizzards of winter, and a fantastic drive.

Bighorn Sheep on Highway 6

One return trip we elected to come up Highway 6 (towards Blackhawk, then along Highway 119.) I always enjoy the sights of Bighorn sheep along that route, and maintain it is the local place for Coloradans and tourists to get some fun close-ups of sheep (from the luxury of their car.) This trip was no exception, with 5 males with huge horns right by the roadside. Hugh horns, solid and powerful. Wonderful.

To make another change we took a route via Boulder, Flagstaff mountain and Gross Reservoir. Suddenly a bobcat crosses the road right in front of us. Rather than disappearing into the woods the bobcat chose a group of rocks and bedded down. The cats tail was long, perhaps a foot long, with a white tip.

Interestingly this tail hardly stopped moving, the cat flicked it continually. Note: how the magpie are crying their disapproval at the cat, and a hummer buzzes on by.

Long-tailed Bobcat Video

Here is an unedited clip.

All in all…

All in all, despite quite a lot of disruption to our schedule and increased journey times, there was some real upside to exploring new routes in/out of the canyon.

Apr 302009
Hummer on a Stick

Hummer on a Stick

Reduce hummer stress: place feeders around your property out of sight of each other.

Hummingbird males (at least our broad-tailed hummingbird males) like sticks.

They like a vantage point to oversee their territory, to dominate all in sight. They terrorize any males that come into range (even if merely flying by) and hound any poor females stopping on a feeder to grab a rest and a bite (ok slurp.) These sticks are what they need in order to be mini masters of their domain.

So, don’t create a vantage stick? Don’t support this little megalomaniac? Maybe, but they’ll be little the same little bleeder anyway, just from a nearby branch or a bush.

If you put up the stick and attract them to it, at least you get some say in the matter. You can locate it such that he cannot see another feeder hidden around the corner of the house allowing those nesting females a break.

Literally within minutes of me putting this stick up we had a settler. He gave himself a good stretch and made himself at home.



See more hummer encounters on WildObs: Wildlife from you, for you and around you.