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Wildflowers_GuanellaPass-CO_LAH_4845

Nature is an excellent gardener. Take a walk through any pristine boonies and you’ll be amazed at the beauty of what grows untended. I’d never consider combining flowers in shades of fuchsia, orange, yellow, and blue, but when nature does it, we stand in awe. Ferns tucked alongside waterfalls, acres of wildflowers, pink Oxalis carpeting the ground under towering redwoods—it’s all stunning.

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Good-bye Gray Jay

Gray Jay-1One aspect of nature I appreciate is its constancy. No matter who gets elected, a rose is still a rose. Whether I’m happy or sad, a moose remains a moose. The world can fall apart, but a jay is still a jay. Or not.

That’s right. This year, the American Ornithological Society (AOS, formerly the AOU) has voted to rename the Gray Jay. From now on (or should I say “once again”?), this personable gray-and-white bird will be known as a Canada Jay.

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July Quiz: Uncropped Photo

If you were stymied on Monday, now can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in July. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

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Where Did All the Flowers Go?

Aquilegia_Colorado Columbine_Emerald Valley-EPCo-CO_LAH_5416rWhere did the wildflowers go? It was the end of June, and we were making our annual pilgrimage along  the trail through Emerald Valley, on the slopes of Pikes Peak. This time we weren’t just looking for birds, but for blooms and bugs as well—in fact, the birds were the least of our priorities. There were bugs, especially as the day warmed, and we saw some excellent birds, but where were the flowers?

Emerald Valley usually has a wide assortment of wildflower species, including many of my favorites—Colorado Columbine, Shooting Stars, various Penstemons, and three species of orchid. This year, columbines were in short supply, the only Shooting Stars were creekside in the moist soil, and I didn’t see a single clematis blossom.

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July Bird Quiz

Can you identify this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in July. I will post the uncropped photo on Saturday, giving you one more chance to identify this bird. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

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Garden Photography: K.I.S.S.

Malus 'Branzam' Brandywine_Crabapple_DBG_LAH_5147

It’s helpful to understand your equipment, to know how to set up your camera so your subject will be in focus and properly exposed. Knowing how everything works will allow you to avoid mistakes and the frustration that accompanies them. If you’re especially enamored of technical things, you’ll probably enjoy trying out all your camera’s menu choices, dials, and buttons, learning what it’s capable of. But just as most of us don’t pull out our phone simply to play with the settings, understanding the technical aspect of photography isn’t our final goal. Rather, it’s the means to an end. We want to create quality photographs.

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Playing with Nature

Chestnut-backed Chickadee_SnohomishCo-WA_LAH_4637

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. Last night our daughter sent us the following text about two of our granddaughters, currently aged 4 and 6:

G: Look W–! A chickadee! (Gasp!) Two!
W: Yeah! Aww, they flew in the tree. (Runs to another window.)
W: I found them!
G: A chickadee! Two chickadees!
and so on…

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