An Enjoyable day of Photography and Hiking (not only that it was my Birthday)

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.  – Rachel Carson

Marilyn was out of town so in the morning I spent a bit of time watching and photographing a pair of House Wrens.  They are very common birds, but their behavior was really interesting.  The male prepares several preliminary sites with nests that are not completed. He sings, attracts a mate and then she goes around and checks out the nesting sites, chooses one and later finishes the nest with a softer lining.  Several days ago they were at one nesting box on my property, the next day a different one, and then back to the first nesting box.

What was really interesting was that one of them (I think the male) would bring sticks to the box to make the nest.  When it arrived at the hole in the nest box the stick was much too long to get in the hole.  To get the stick in the hole it would either turn its head sideways so that one end of the stick would pass into the hole or it would juggle the stick in its bill so that it was no longer holding the stick in the middle, but rather further down on one end which was now shorter. It could then pass the shorter end through the hole and into the box.

For some reason I found the whole (hole!!!) experience fascinating.  Each stick presented a new challenge and it was interesting to see how this most common of birds handled each new problem.

I nicknamed the female Sophia La Wren and the male Christopher Wren.
And then in the afternoon Duffy and I did our Tom and Atticus thing.
Duffy Running 9416W1WM
Duffy Feeling Frisky and Running
We hiked up on snow to Andrews Lake (elevation 10,744ft) and a bit beyond.
Duffy at Andrews Lake 9407W1WM
We had the mountains all to ourselves and didn’t see another person during the entire hike.

Are you ready to go home, my friend?” With that he turned from the river where he had been staring off into the distance, and he entered the shadowy path through the forest. He was headed for home and the bed by the open window. That’s where he always slept and where the night noises came and went until the light of a new day crept over the eastern mountains and slowly spread across the sky leaving the shadows one finds in the beginning, and not at the end. – Tom Ryan

Duffy Hike to Andrews Lake 9402W1WM

Elk in the ‘hood

The local community must understand itself finally as a community of interest – a common dependence on a common life and a common ground.  And because a community is, by definition, placed, its success cannot be divided from the success of its place, its natural setting and surroundings: it soils, forests, grasslands, plants and animals, water, light, and air.  The two economies, the natural and the human, support each other; each is the other’s hope of a durable and livable life.  – Wendell Berry

Every night, before going to bed, I always get up, turn off the heat and check the outside to see what the weather is doing and what animals might be hanging around.

Upon looking out the South windows, I noticed a series of tracks cutting across the meadow below the house.  It was then that I saw the rumps of six elk gathered under a pinyon pine to the Southeast.  They were there for only about 10 minutes before moving off.

We’ve seen much larger herds of elk from the house a number of times, but they are always “across the way” in the Bodo Wildlife Area, but this was the first time we’ve seen them here at the house – and the first recorded on the trail cam.

The trail cam photo shows that it is still set for Daylight Savings Time.  (My negligence).  The vertical streaks are caused by snow falling.

elk-0356w

 The color photo was taken at ISO 10,000 through a  window and was lit by two floodlights to the South.

Elk, Cervus canadensis, La Plata County Colorado, USA, North America
Elk, Cervus canadensis, La Plata County Colorado, USA, North America

“Over days, years and generations, animals roam. They look for food, mates and new territories to inhabit. They roam seasonally as food sources change. They move to survive local disasters. They move to survive the winter and to find locations with enough food to fatten up for breeding and raising young. They roam over several generations, repopulating decimated habitat or settling new areas. Living things move out of necessity. In many cases they must migrate or they will perish. Migration and motion are the nature of nature; native species cannot survive over time in the islands of habitat we have allotted them. In the world of nature, it is essential that things flow.” – Susan Eirich

Happy New Year!!!

Our Active Ungulate Neighbors

Active ungulate interaction outside our windows on a Winter’s morn.  (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Audrey and the Invisible – a very short story

I just came across this in an old file folder.   Hand-written many years ago – probably sometime when I was in my 20s or 30s.

Climbing Gear

Somewhere out and about halfway past the security bolt, amidst the swirling storm, Audrey snuffed it out.  Brand new EBs and all. She lost it. She popped her pieces under a ragged roof and zippered the overhang.

 As I look back now, I can remember the kaleidoscope of thoughts that rushed through me then:  “Anchor’s good.  It should hold. But she’s way above it and it won’t make any difference.  Ever the risk-taker.  My belay is useless.”

 Cold snows and ancient spirits flew at me from different corners of the rock – opposite and distant.  I can remember shivering uncontrollably.  I couldn’t believe what had happened.

 Kennedy, King and Khrushchev were still alive, when we first met years ago.   We finally hooked up and spent our time in the mountains.  We loved to read books and cook food and go climbing together.  And coming home late at night we’d walk down the old path toward the cabin, chocks rhythmically chiming, and watch silently, like monks, our Vibrams in the dust.  “Does anyone know the Truth about anything?” we’d ask ourselves.  We never owned a television set.

 There was a large pine tree that was over 200 years-old outside the kitchen window.  “I wonder if it remembers the passenger pigeons,” she had whispered early one morning.

 

Sunburst

 

Note for those readers who don’t know what EBs are: 

EB stands for Edouard Bourdonneau , the french master boot maker , who , together with Pierre Allain , manufactured the first climbing shoe in 1947 .
During the fifties , he created the brand EB which became the “gold standards” of climbing rock shoes in the sixties and seventies .
The brand died in 1986 after the arrival of the spanish made”Firé ” and its sticky rubber which rendered the “old” EB obsolete .
But , in 1992 , with a new owner , EB started again to manufacture climbing shoes ( although very different from its ancestors…)up to this day …

   by Xavier Legendre, Sports Climber, Marseille – quoted from the internet

 

Sunday Morning

I spent Sunday morning with some new friends searching for American Dippers along the rushing snow-melted torrents of the upper Animas above Silverton.  We were doing research for the American Dipper Project locating nests and bird activity to help document healthy sections of the beleaguered river.  It was a good place to be following the news of the tragedy in Orlando.

American Dipper 2573W1WM
American Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus, Animas River, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

John Muir wrote of the American Dipper that they “seem so completely part and parcel of the streams they inhabit, they scarce suggest any other origin than the streams themselves; and one might almost be pardoned in fancying they come direct from the living waters, like flowers from the ground.”

American Dipper 2566W1WM
American Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus, Animas River, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

I have no answers for days like this when evil seems to overshadow kindness and innocent lives are violently killed by hatred and ignorance. I have no answers, but it seemed a good place to be Sunday morning in the mountains among friends and raging rivers and the diminutive dippers.

Dipper 2373W1WM
American Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus, Animas River, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

Wendell Berry once wrote,

“I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of …water.  And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

American Dipper 8115W8WM

 

 

Strikingly Colorful Avian Neighbors Have been Very Active This Past Week

Black-headed Grosbeak and Western Tanager7978bW1WM
Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, Male, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeder, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

This Spring there have been a number of strikingly colorful visitors to the suet feeders hanging outside the kitchen window.

Female Black-headed Grosbeak and 3 Male Western Tanagers 7852W1WM
Male Western Tanagers, Piranga ludoviciana, Female, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeders, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

The regulars include over a dozen Western Tanagers,

Western Tanager 8018W1WM
Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

several pairs of Black-headed Grosbeaks

Black-headed Grosbeak 7914W1WM
Male, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeder, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

and one first-year Bullock’s Oriole.

Bullock's Oriole7810W1WM
Bullock’s oriole, Icterus bullockii, First Year Male, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

When the Tanagers are grouped around the feeders they remind me of a flock of exotic parrots from some tropical forest.

Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeak 7958W1WM
Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, Male, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeders, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

All photos were taken through a closed double-pane window.

Six Western Tanagers 8001W1WM
Six Western Tanagesr, Piranga ludoviciana, at Suet Feeders, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

New Trees Planted at the White-headed Langur Protection Organization

April 22nd is Earth Day.  Some folks like to plant a tree for Earth Day.  Recently, two trees were planted in the White-headed Langur Protection Organization in Guangxi Province, China.

Robert Winslow tree bW8

One with my name on it (in recognition of a financial contribution that I made) and the other planted in the memory of my mother, Florence Winslow.  You can read all about this project that was established by my friend Dr. Katherine Feng in my April, 2015 blog posts.

Robert Winslow tree aW8

According to Wikipedia, White-headed Langurs are a critically endangered species and are among the rarest primates in the World.  They are possibly the rarest primate in Asia with a population estimated at less than 70 individuals.

Langurs in Red Cotton TreeW8

 

The trees that were planted were Red Cotton Trees which are famous in Guangxi Province. They are beautiful trees with large red flowers that appear before the leaves. The Langurs like to eat the petals of the flowers in the Spring and the leaves in the Summer.

Florence Winslow Tree b W8

 

It is interesting to note that my mother’s tree was planted during the Qingming Holiday. Qingming translates into the Tomb Sweeping Day and is a day that the people visit their ancestor’s/parents tomb to honor them and to clean their graves.  I believe that my mother would be very pleased and honored to have a tree planted during this holiday period.  She would also be very pleased to know that the flowers and leaves of her tree will help nourish a critically endangered species.

Florence Winslow Tree a W8

My wife, Marilyn Leftwich and my sisters Phyllis Winslow and Barbara Griffith have also helped to contribute money toward the planting of these trees.

 

 

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