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.


Carpool Etiquette

fcnc-birding-trip_e-elpasococo_20100116_lah_6797The president of our local Audubon chapter, Risë Foster-Bruder, wrote a little article on carpool etiquette for our chapter newsletter. That started both of us thinking about all the aggravations that are associated with carpooling, as well as some helpful hints. I added them to what Risë wrote. The result this post.

Most birding clubs center around field trips. And, being the conservation-minded folks that we are, we  meet somewhere to carpool. Why drive four vehicles when you can crowd into one? Besides, having too many cars frightens the birds. (more…)

CFO for Mother’s Day!

White Pelicans_LakeMeredith-CO_LAH_6144Some moms receive roses for Mother’s Day. Others are given chocolates, dinners out, or photos of their adoring children. While I did enjoy dinner in a restaurant on Mother’s Day, I wasn’t dining with my family. Rather, I spent the day—actually five days over a long weekend—attending the annual Colorado Field Ornithologists (CFO) convention, held this year in Lamar (almost to Kansas and Oklahoma), Colorado.

My family knows what makes me smile.


Birding Ramah SWA

RamahSWA-CO_LAH_7988I wanted to squeeze in at least one more field trip before the first snows, so I joined up with other members of our local Audubon chapter and headed out to Ramah State Wildlife Area. Located in Colorado’s eastern El Paso County, Ramah is surrounded by miles of shortgrass prairie. The views include cows, rolling hills, and Excel Energy’s new windmill farm. There’s a shallow valley that has been dammed to trap rain runoff in wet years.


Going Ode-ing

Amphiagrion abbreviatum_Western Red Damsel_ChicoBasinRanch-CO_LAH_3930-001The sun was beating down as we pushed through waist high weeds—reeds, grasses, and wild licorice with its Velcro stickers. I gulped another mouthful of warm water from my nearly empty bottle and swatted at a pesky deer fly as it flew off with a chunk of my arm.

Why would I choose such an inhospitable place to go for a walk? In a word—Odes. Odes is short for Odonata, the biological order containing dragonflies and damselflies.


Saturation Birding

2015-06-07 14.06.33I just spent five days in one of the prettiest parts of Colorado. Even better, those days were spent looking for birds. Over 200 birders gathered in the charming town of Salida to talk about birds, learn more about birds, and best of all, see birds! Yes, it was the annual Colorado Field Ornithologists’ convention.

Imagine five days of total avian immersion: a banquet with an entertaining guest speaker, tempting vendors, scientific papers, an evening game of Jea-birdy (I’ll take “Avian Newcomers” for $200 please), and the primary reason everyone came—birding, birding, and more birding!



Cuckoo WaspIt’s 4:30, still dark, and the alarm clock rouses me from a deep sleep. Wha…?? Oh, right, I’m going birding. There’s lots of talk about the “early bird” for a good reason. Birds get up early. Even as I’m fumbling around trying to find some jeans and a t-shirt, I can hear a robin singing outside my bedroom window.

Last week, I went on a field trip that didn’t start until 9 am. Nine! No setting the alarm clock. No downing cup after cup of caffeine (and then realizing all the bushes are much too small to hide behind). I could have a leisurely breakfast and drive off in the daylight—and we still saw plenty of wildlife. How did we manage to see so much so late in the day? Easy. We were bugwatching.