Thursday, May 30, 2013

Water Tour and some Ducks

We went on a "Water Tour" of the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday.  The refuge is trying to return water flows to their historic pathways, and is evaluating what existing dikes and structures may need to be modified.

We started at the main diversion on the Rio Grande River, and then looked at several canals and laterals used to move water through the refuge.  This is another bad drought year so the Rio Grande is running low and they won't have enough water to flood everything they would like.  But it was interesting to see the plans and how water is handled here.

We did get to see many of the wetland areas that ducks use for breeding, and we saw some nice birds as well.

Eagle-eyed Teri spotted this one hiding in the grass:
American Bittern
The Ruddy Duck males are showing off their spectacular blue bills, while the females retain their camouflage.
Ruddy Duck - male
Ruddy Duck - female
Cinnamon Teal are among the most common ducks on the refuge.
Cinnamon Teal - male
We also saw plenty of Gadwall, Mallard and a few Redheads.
Gadwall - male
Mallard - male
Redhead - male & female

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Free Food out of the Ditch

When Teri and I were here last year, we noticed a lot of asparagus growing in the roadside ditches and along the fence lines. Unfortunately we noticed it too late, after it was all fern and no stalk.

This year we reminded each other that we needed to keep an eye out for the emerging spears. About two weeks ago we noticed some new spears and found enough along our little fence line for a couple of meals.

Today we noticed a couple out on the road with large bags of asparagus, and decided that we needed to  cut some for tonights meal.

The easiest way to find the asparagus is to look for the dried out ferns from last years plants.  At each plant you can find a few new spears.
Emerging spears among some taller ferns.
Cutting a few spears.
Asparagus is a perennial plant, so we know not to cut too many spears from each crown.  We make certain to leave plenty of ferns to make food for next year's crop.
Once the spears open into ferns they are not good to eat.
These will be good!!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fresh Snow on the Mountains

We're still getting freezing temperatures at night!  The days are nice, sunny, and cool.
This picture was taken yesterday morning.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

For All Our Texas Friends and Family

We have heard that the temperatures in Texas have already hit the high 90’s. 

We drove over Wolf Creek Pass and into Pagosa Springs this weekend to celebrate Mark’s birthday.  There is still a lot of snow on the mountains. 
Continental Divide


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Am I Blue?? or Pink??

We drove out through the foothills of the San Juan Mountains to see what we could find. We saw two types of Bluebirds, Mountain and Western.
Mountain Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird

Western Bluebird
Western Bluebird with a delicious worm
We found this Green-tailed Towhee feeding near the Western Bluebird.
Green-tailed Towhee
While driving alongside some cliffs, we saw this Great Horned Owl tucked up in a sheltered spot.

Great Horned Owl
And we got outstanding looks at a pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers near the Alamosa River. 
Lewis's Woodpecker
It is still getting near freezing each night so migrants are just beginning to show up.  Stay tuned for more!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Crazy Flickers

We enjoy watching birds a great deal, and woodpeckers are some of our favorites.  However, we have a local Northern Flicker who is driving us crazy!

He seems to think that his reflection in our windows is a rival, and so he lands on a window every few minutes and pecks on the glass.  Imagine hearing a loud THUMP every 2-5 minutes, followed by pecking and scratching.  It has gotten old, fast...

The source of our troubles:
Northern Flicker
We've tried drawing the blinds but it isn't making much difference.  We may hang some survey tape or other visual distraction on the windows until this Flicker gets the hint.  Anyone else ever deal with this??

Northern Flicker

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Little Bit Rattled

We were out exploring Forest Service roads on Saturday and stopped the truck to look for a geocache.  Just before we got out I heard a "hiss" that I recognized as a rattlesnake rattle.  It took a few seconds for me to locate the snake, and it turned out to be just a couple of feet left of the front bumper.

Western Rattlesnake
 This is a Western Rattlesnake, also know as a Prairie Rattlesnake.  In this area they are a pale greenish color. If you were following our blog last year you might recall that we had one of these on our front door mat.  We decided to move on and leave this guy alone.

If you want to get "up close and personal" turn up the sound and give this short video clip a look.

We are looking down a bit more these days!


Friday, May 10, 2013

8 New Holes In The RV

As you know, our RV looks West onto the beautiful San Juan Mountains.  We are at 7,500 feet and it can get quite sunny. 

When we ordered our RV we ordered a screen for the very large back window.  We’ve never regretted that decision.  We have stayed a couple of places where a screen for the side window would be very useful and here in the San Luis Valley is one of those places.  Our newly ordered screen arrived and Mark went to work attaching it. 

It’s a little scary drilling holes into the RV but the result is a good looking screen that will be very useful.  
It will be nice to be able to keep the inside shades open in the afternoon so we can see the mountains.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Different Sort of Thunderstorm

We had a thunderstorm here today.  But instead of rain we got a mixture of sleet and snow! This area is so dry that any sort of precipitation is welcome, so we were glad to see the storm.  The forecast shows a chance of rain/snow/sleet for the rest of the week.  We'll see...

Our front steps.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Home for the Summer

We arrived at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Colorado yesterday and got ourselves set up.  It was easy because we're in exactly the same place as last summer.

We are parked behind an old frame farmhouse on a parcel that is now owned by the refuge.  The farmhouse is not livable, but all of  the utilities are here for a single RV.  We love this site because we're only 100 yards from the offices of the refuge, but we're on the other side of the road all by ourselves! You can see the roof and chimneys of the house behind our trailer.

Like most farmhouses in this area the previous owners planted trees for shade.  There are about 20 great big Cottonwood trees that provide shade and places for birds to nest.  The trees give us great shade until about 1:00 in the afternoon, but after that we get plenty of sun.

Our western view is of the San Juan Mountains, which still have a bit of snow on them.  All-in-all a pretty nice place to spend a few months!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

What a difference a day makes!

When we pulled into Lathrop State Park two days ago, it was a beautiful, sunny day.   Lathrop is Colorado’s first state park.  It’s 1,594 acres in Southern Colorado. 

We knew that snow was predicted so yesterday morning I headed into Walsenburg for some grocery shopping. 

It was a little misty all morning and later in the afternoon we started getting more and more snowflakes with a little sleet and rain.  I had picked up Mark’s favorite snack, ice cream, and my favorite snack, Goldfish crackers and we spent the afternoon all comfy in our RV, reading and snacking!

I had taken pictures of our site when we got here and went out this morning for some snow pictures.
 Our site

 Beautiful Mountains.
 The mountains aren't visible anymore.
 Out our back window

 Something walked across our welcome mat.
Probably a Magpie.
 One Seed Juniper

We probably won't be sitting out today!
It’s still snowing this morning.  Certainly not a blizzard, just slowly floating down.
We're leaving for our final destination tomorrow.  Hope everyone that is moving to their summer volunteer 'jobs' has safe travels.