Sunday, July 29, 2012

Played A Round

One day while we were out geocaching we came across a Disc Golf Course.  We walked the course and thought it might be fun to try it out.
So, we went to the local sporting goods store and bought some discs.  We practiced throwing in the field behind our RV then the next day we headed back to the golf course. 

It’s not all that easy getting those disc to go where you want them to!
It’s a great way to spend some time out in the cool, Colorado, outdoors!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Put Me Down!!

We have just started a project to determine how land use practices affect small mammals.

Forty traps have been set on each of three different parcels. The parcels include one area where the grasses were cut for hay last year, another where cattle were grazed, and a third where no activity took place.  These land uses result in different amounts of fresh and decadent (decaying) cover.  

The picture above is of the area that was cut for hay last year.  There is moderate fresh growth, and almost no thatch layer.
This area was grazed last year, and irrigated this summer.  There is a lot of fresh green growth in this plot, with grasses that are knee high on me (thigh high on Teri!!).
This third area was left alone last year.  There is moderate fresh grass in this plot, and large amounts of dead thatch on the ground.

We bait the traps with peanut butter and set them in the evening. In addition to the bait there is a big wad of cotton in each trap so that the rodents can stay warm overnight.  It is getting down in the 40's here at night, and those metal traps can get cold!

Teri baiting and setting a trap
 The traps are left closed during the day, to prevent catching and baking anybody during the warm, incredibly sunny days. 

Each morning we check each trap for rodents. When we find a closed trap we peek inside to see if we have a capture.

Happy little Deer Mouse.  Plenty to eat and a place to sleep!
We then empty the trap into a clear plastic bag to determine what species is caught. 
Deer Mouse

Meadow Vole

We record the species and mark its belly with non-toxic black shoe polish. This is so we can determine if we are catching the same animal over and over.

The tricky part is getting the little rascals out of the bag to be marked.  So far I am zero for two on Deer Mice!  They are quick and jump right out of the bag.  I've re-caught both of them on the ground. The Voles are more mellow!

Marking a mouse with shoe polish
See the black tummy?
Then we set them free.

In the first two evenings we have caught 3 Deer Mice and one Meadow Vole. We will continue the trapping for a couple of weeks.


Monday, July 23, 2012

New Toy

For as long as I’ve known Mark he has commented that he would like a radio-controlled airplane.  I don’t know why he never bought one before now!
He bought a ‘starter plane’ that was not too expensive and can take a crash (or two, or three, or ...).
We’ve got several hundred acres behind our RV that are perfect for flying over.  For some reason the birds seem to be very interested in the plane!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Out our Window

We were told that the hummingbirds would show up here after July 4th, so we put out a couple of feeders.  Sure enough, we've had both Rufous and Broad-tailed hummingbirds.  One Rufous male is quite a bully, and chases off the Broad-tails every chance he gets.  So I only have pictures of the bully!!

First you look right...

Then you look left...

Then you get a little drink!!
I'll keep trying to get pictures of our other visitors.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Geocaching - It’s Not For Sissy’s!

Geocaching is:
We’ve been spending quite a few mornings looking for cache’s in the area.  It’s a lot of fun!
We’re getting better at finding them.  Even the ‘micro’ cache’s!

 Some of them are not easy to get to!  We get quite a workout:

A lot of the cache’s are in areas that have an interesting history:

Looking for a cache has taken us into areas we might not have gone to otherwise:

Some of the cache’s have funny themes:
You never know what treasures you might find:
Some are quite a challenge to find:

Remember: Cache in, trash out.  We always take a trash bag with us and haul out any trash we find:

So the answer to the quiz is E: ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Out With The Old, In With The New

There is a really nice 3 mile auto loop around the Monte Vista Refuge.  There is also a short hiking trail on the loop that meanders through some wetlands.  We drive around the loop pretty often and see lots of birds. 
 Black-crowned Night-Heron
 Blue-winged Teal
Eared Grebe 
Northern Harrier
 Sage Thrasher
Vesper Sparrow
The Refuge was able to get new interpretive signs for the auto loop and we were given the task of replacing the old signs with the new signs.
Our first task was removing the old signs and cleaning the metal frames.  Our ATV training came in handy!

I painted all the new signs with an anti-graffiti coating. 

We then painted the metal frames.  Mark had to drill drain holes on a couple of the frames.
Finally, we installed the new signs (13 in all).
Here is a comparison between the old and new sign.
Old sign

New sign
The new signs are very colorful! They look really nice!

We are going to use the old signs around the Alamosa auto loop.  We will start installing them today.