Don’t Miss the Mantis

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I tend to visit botanic gardens by myself. It isn’t that I’m being unsociable—I’d love the company! It’s that I move at a pace that most find excruciatingly slow. I have been known to stop and examine every flower, every shrub, and, in this case, every leaf on every tree. And then, on top of that, I take photos. Hundreds of photos. Photos of the flowers, shrubs, trees, and yes, sometimes even the leaves. I can turn a two-hour garden visit into a 6-hour marathon. It drives most people crazy, hence my lack of companions.

But sometimes, that kind of close inspection pays off.

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You (probably) Don’t Need an Exterminator

Monarch Butterfly_DBG-CO_LAH_9197The neighborhood where I live seems to be a magnet for door-to-door salespeople selling services. One company in particular has been particularly persistent in their marketing attempts—an exterminator.

The first time they rang the doorbell, I politely but firmly told the guy I did not want my yard sprayed. I consider a diverse arthropod population to be a sign of a healthy landscape. I particularly want insects around to feed the birds I feed. Moreover, I had just planted a pollinator garden, designed to attract bees, butterflies, moths, and other fascinating creatures;. The last thing I wanted was to kill my invited guests.

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Good Guys Flies

EmeraldValley-EPC-CO_LAH_0773fSomeone left the screen door open, and suddenly our house is full of annoying, buzzing, flies. They circle the kitchen while I’m cooking, tangle with my hair while I’m sitting at my computer, and zoom past my Kindle when I’m reading in the evening. I have to ask, did we really have to have flies, God?

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Separating the Sheep from the Goats

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A friend and I (along with several hundred others) were enjoying the ambience at Summit Lake, most of the way up 14,265 foot high Mount Evans. We were taking a break from the hairpin turns and sheer drop-offs on our way to the top of the highest paved road in the U.S.A.

Situated at 12,836 feet, Summit Lake is a beautiful place. The water shimmered in the bright sunlight. Alpine wildflowers carpeted the rocky ground, backed by craggy cliffs that barely hid the actual summit. As usual, the parking lot was overflowing, people were queued up to use the restrooms, and there was a total disregard for the signs begging everyone to keep to the trails and stay off the fragile tundra.

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A Rocky Mountain Interlude

We were gone this weekend for our 39th anniversary, so I didn’t get a chance to write a new post about birds and birding, my normal Monday topic. Instead, I want to share some photos from our trip.

We stayed in Kremmling, a very small town nestled between Steamboat Springs to the west and the continental divide to the east. After packing up on Sunday morning, we decided to head home to Colorado Springs via one of our favorite national parks, Rocky Mountain.

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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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Tiger Beetles, Take 2

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We may not live in the deepest, darkest jungle, but that doesn’t stop me from hunting tigers—tiger beetles, that is. Last year, I wrote about my first tiger beetle hunt. Earlier this month we repeated the adventure.

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