With gorgeous scenery, fascinating geology, and a zoo’s worth of wildlife, a visit to Yellowstone National Park is always a delight. And in spite of the weather (cold, snow, and sleet on the first day of summer?!), last week’s trip was no exception.
We humans like to think we’re pretty smart, and for good reason. Look at the amazing ideas people have had, leading to the most incredible inventions. I was reading some articles about the latest technologies, and I admit to being duly impressed.
Science and engineering have found ways to keep barnacles from attaching to the hulls of ships. A new adhesive is strong but safe enough for a newborn baby’s delicate skin. Cars and other forms of transportation are getting better gas mileage than ever before.
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.
Where 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.
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…
Are you feeling stressed? Anxious, sad, or helpless? Are you suffering from high blood pressure, an elevated pulse, or tensed muscles? Most of us have today off. This is the perfect time to go play outside!
A number of studies in the past few years have proven something most of us have intuitively known all along—nature is good for us. It’s why we go to the park, take a nature walk, or climb a mountain. We may get physically tired, but the overall effect is rejuvenating. (more…)
You enjoy the birds in your backyard. Birding field trips crowd your calendar. But have you ever participated in a birding festival? Getting together with other enthusiastic birders for an entire weekend is a terrific way to learn more about birds, add species to your life list, and have a thoroughly enjoyable experience. You’ll want to come back year after year!
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.
What do you do when you run out of birds to see? With around 10,000 different species, that may seem like a silly question. Who could ever see them all? Most of us will never have the prospect of traveling to every part of the globe looking for birds. (more…)