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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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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The Joys of Nature-ing

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Birders have a bit of a reputation—we’re supposed to be focused on all things feathery. I know I amuse my friends and family when we’re enjoying a BBQ in someone’s backyard, or at the playground with the kiddos, and I point out the local sparrows and finches. I know all the local Red-tailed Hawks, and which poles they occupy at different times of the day, and I’m also quick to point them out as they soar over the road. (This may be one reason my husband prefers to be the driver when we venture out.)

But as much as I enjoy birds—finding them, watching them, identifying them—I also enjoy other kinds of animals, along with plants, rocks, stars, and clouds. It’s all good. One of the joys of birding is that it lures me outside where I can see creation in all its glory.

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