Monday, May 30, 2016

Evergreen Lakes

There are six small lakes on the hatchery grounds that together are called the Evergreen Lakes. Originally formed by glacial action, they were diked up and used as the original trout breeding ponds.
Evergreen Lake #3
In 1995 the Hatchery discovered whirling disease (deadly to trout) in the lakes and shifted production to concrete raceways where disease organisms were more easily controlled. 
Evergreen Lake #1
While no longer utilized for fish production, the Evergreen Lakes are the centerpiece of the public recreation area at the Hatchery. There is an excellent one-mile nature trail that winds around the lakes, as well as additional longer trails accessing the Mount Massive Wilderness Area. There are also picnic tables, grills, play areas, and a large group pavilion that is used for picnics, weddings, etc.
Mount Massive
There are several areas around the lakes that give wonderful views of snow-covered Mount Massive and Mount Elbert. The Hatchery was placed in this location because of the abundant fresh water draining off of these mountains.
Feeder Stream
There are several streams that drain into the Evergreen Lakes, and right now they are running hard with snow melt. The surrounding mountains are still getting snow, so hopefully the streams will continue to run strong through the summer.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Follow By E-Mail !!

One of our followers asked if we would add an e-mail notification to our blog. I told her I'd look into it and almost immediately her computer-savy spouse sent me the "how-to" instructions. Thanks Randy!!

So you'll find a new gadget in the upper right-hand corner that allows you to get e-mail notifications when we post a new blog. Requesting this notification is totally optional but some might find it more convenient than checking again and again.

Since I hate to post a blog without pictures, here is a picture of Mount Elbert taken just this morning:

Mount Elbert

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Trying To Stay Warm

We’ve been at our “summer” home for 2 days and it’s snowed on and off the whole time.
Out our window - Friday afternoon
I haven’t shown any of my afghans in a while so I thought this would be a good time to get a few out.

So far I’ve crocheted 10 afghans since leaving Texas.  At the request of Linus, where I donate my afghans, these are smaller than I usually crochet.  I can usually whip one up in about a week.

Most of these are “scrap” afghans.  I’m trying to use up all the small balls of yarn I’ve been accumulating.  Sometimes it’s quite a challenge to put colors together!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Leadville National Fish Hatchery

We have arrived at our summer home, Leadville National Fish Hatchery. Established in 1889, Leadville NFH is the second oldest federal fish hatchery in the United States. It occupies over 3000 acres at an elevation of 10,000 feet. The cold, clean water supply provides ideal conditions for trout production.
The main hatchery building was constructed in 1890 and is still in use today. If you are wondering what that white pile is to the right of the porch, it is snow!  Yes, there is still snow on the ground here in many places, and the forecast calls for additional light snow through the week.
This is the view to the east from our trailer. It is the Mosquito Range of the Rockies and as you can see there is still plenty of snow.  To our immediate west, but obscured by trees is the taller Sawatch Range. Just 8 miles away is Mount Elbert, which at 14,400 feet tall is the tallest peak in Colorado.

We're just getting settled in and haven't starting any real volunteering yet, so stay tuned for more from frosty Leadville, Colorado.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Getting Close

We've made it into Colorado and will spending a couple of nights in Alamosa before heading up to Leadville. We spent the summers of 2012 and 2013 at the Alamosa and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges and it was one of our favorite assignments.

Here is the view out the back window of our trailer!! They've had a good wet winter and still have some snow-pack up in the mountains.
Sangre de Cristo Mountains
We've had a chance to visit with the Refuge Manager who oversaw our work and we'll meet up with her again before we leave. On Thursday we'll head up to Leadville and settle in for the summer. 


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Large Hummingbirds and an Owl

We have visited a couple more special birding sites the past two days. Both are known for being great places to see hummingbirds. Southeast Arizona hosts more species of hummingbirds than any other area in the United States, and two of them are quite large compared to the others.

Magnificent and Black-chinned Hummingbirds
This picture shows a Magnificent Hummingbird on a feeder next to a Black-chinned Hummingbird. Back home in Texas, most hummingbirds are either Black-chinned or the closely related Ruby-throated. You can see how much larger the Magnificent Hummingbird is.

All male hummingbirds have iridescent feathers on their throat. This shiny area is called the gorget. A male Magnificent Hummingbird sports not only a bright green gorget, but also iridescent violet feathers on their crown.
Magnificent Hummingbird
If the light isn't right their feathers may not glow. However if the light is at the right angle they look, well... Magnificent!!
Magnificent Hummingbird
The other "big" hummingbird in the area is the well-named Blue-throated Hummingbird.
Blue-throated Hummingbird
They are just as large as the Magnificent Hummingbird, but not quite as flashy.

We also got an opportunity to see the rare Spotted Owl. In the Pacific Northwest the Spotted Owl is an endangered species that has caused a lot of issues with the logging industry. The birds in Arizona are considered a separate "Mexican" population. 
Spotted Owl
We understand that this is the male. The female is nearby tending a nest.

These are just a few of the "specialty" birds that we've seen in Arizona the past couple of days. Stay tuned for more!


Friday, May 20, 2016

San Pedro River

After unplanned extra days in Ruidoso, NM dealing with a dental emergency, we are on the road again and in Sierra Vista, Arizona. For North American birders, Southeastern Arizona a favorite place to find rare birds. Many birds of Mexico follow rivers and mountains up into the US only in this area.

On our first morning we drove over to the San Pedro River National Conservation Area. The San Pedro River is a tree-lined oasis in the middle of dry desert, and attracts many birds and animals.

At the Visitor Center we watched the hummingbird feeders for a few minutes. The Gila Woodpeckers were taking a real interest in the feeders, even though they are most definitely not hummingbirds!
Gila Woodpecker - Not a Hummingbird!!
We took a trail down to the river, and followed the river for about a mile before returning. On the way down we spotted this Curve-billed Thrasher singing from the top of a blooming yucca.
Curve-billed Thrasher
It seemed like Vermilion Flycatchers were everywhere. We never thought we'd get to the point that we'd say "Oh, just another Vermilion Flycatcher", but we did!
Vermilion Flycatcher
The other red birds in the trees were Summer Tanagers.
Summer Tanager
As we walked along we heard a loud rustling in the grass and spotted a large lizard running up a tree. We watched this Clark's Spiny Lizard for several minutes as he did "push-ups" and inflated his throat sack to impress a nearby female. We never saw her but he knew she was there!
Clark's Spiny Lizard
This big fellow was about 6" long, which is pretty good sized for a lizard. It looked very blue from some angles, but not so much from others.
Clark's Spiny Lizard
In several areas we heard birds singing like mockingbirds. But we soon discovered that we were hearing Yellow-breasted Chats.
Yellow-breasted Chat
Our best bird of the day was found back at the Visitor Center. We'd have never seen it if the volunteer on duty hadn't told us where to look. How well camouflaged is this Western Screech-Owl?
Western Screech-Owl
Next we'll head into the nearby canyons in search of hummingbirds. So stay tuned...


Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Since we have Bullock's Orioles trying to use our hummingbird feeders, we decided to buy some oranges and add them to the mix. We know from South Texas that orioles love oranges!

We came home today to find that we'd attracted a new bird, much to the dismay of the resident Oriole.
Black-headed Grosbeak fighting Bullock's Oriole
A male Black-headed Grosbeak had found the orange and wasn't really interested in sharing. After a bit of jousting our Oriole decided that he'd had quite enough. 
And the winner is...
The Grosbeak savored his victory.
Black-headed Grosbeak
After the Grosbeak departed, the Oriole decided to give it another try.
Is it clear??
He'd been having trouble hanging on to the feeder, but we see that he's adopted a cool new stance!
We may need to buy more oranges!


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Now That's a Big Hummingbird!!

Since we're here in Capitan, New Mexico for a while we decided to put out a hummingbird feeder. So far we've seen a few Black-chinned and Broad-tailed hummingbirds as well as some pesky House Finches that want some sugar water.
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Today I glanced out to see a beautiful male Bullock's Oriole in a small shrub beside our trailer.
Bullock's Oriole male
I scrambled for the camera and was happy to see that he was staying put. The next stop for this guy was our hummingbird feeder.
Bullock's Oriole on Hummingbird Feeder
An oriole is much heavier than a hummingbird and he was really leaning the feeder over. He tried one feeder hole and then another, but I think that the nectar was just a bit too low.

After a couple of more tries he flew off. We immediately refilled the feeder all of the way up to the top, and shortly this female came in for a drink.
Bullock's Oriole female

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

It looks like we're going to be in the Ruidoso area longer than planned. I have a tooth that has decided to abscess, so I'm getting a little "emergency" dental work done here. So far, so good, but we'll be here for another week or so.

We decided to drive the hour down to Roswell to visit Bitter Lake NWR and perhaps see an alien or two. Struck out on the little green men, but we did enjoy the auto tour route at the refuge.
Blue Grosbeak
The very first bird we spotted was this beautiful Blue Grosbeak. We were not expecting this splash of color out in the dry desert!

The Cassin's Sparrows were singing loudly, marking their territory and hoping to attract a mate.
Cassin's Sparrow
Once we reached the water, we started seeing many more birds. The Black-necked Stilts with their bubble gum pink legs were strutting around and making their own noisy calls.
Black-necked Stilt
Long-billed Dowitchers were "down-stitching" away hoping to find a delicious morsel in the mud.
Long-billed Dowitcher
Speaking of long bills, the American Avocets were in breeding colors and these two seemed to be fencing with each other.
American Avocets
Not to be outdone in the bill department, the Northern Shovelers were also enjoying this desert oasis.
Northern Shoveler
We enjoyed our visit to Bitter Lake NWR and Roswell, even if we didn't get to see any UFO's or aliens. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Snow Birds

Not the RV'ers that move south in the winter, but the birds that you see out your window when stuck inside! If you saw our blog yesterday you know that we had a good bit of snow here. Total ended up being about 4" of the white stuff.

Most of our day was spent inside watching movies and taking pictures of the birds outside the RV. All of these pictures were taken through windows so they're not as sharp as I'd like.

Best bird of the day was a Virginia's Warbler. I have never gotten a picture of one before, so that was a treat.
Virginia's Warbler
More colorful were the many Mountain Bluebirds here at the park.
Mountain Bluebird
We threw out some bird seed, and managed to attract a few sparrows and finches before the park chickens showed up to eat the rest.
White-crowned Sparrow
The House Finches here are nice and bright.
House FInch
I wish that this Green-tailed Towhee had come closer, but I only saw it once at a distance.
Green-tailed Towhee
The robins and kinglets were more cooperative.
American Robin
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
The snow is already melting and tomorrow's forecast calls for warmer weather, so this looks like our only day of snow here in New Mexico.