Thursday, August 6, 2015

Birds and Bugs and Beasts

While we were in Colorado, we had a few encounters with wildlife and birds, some of which I was able to capture with my camera. Of course, all of these pictures make me wish I had a telephoto lens (but that would just be one more big, heavy, unwieldy thing to lug around, right?)
We saw lots of mule deer of course. They wandered quite freely and unafraid in the national park campgrounds.
This bird hung around with us for quite a ways on our hike in the Sand Dunes. I didn't have my binocs with me, and I had managed to convince myself that it was a lazuli bunting. Fortunately, I had my camera, and was able to get close enough for a decent shot, and looking at the picture on my computer weeks later, I realized it was most likely a scrub jay, and not a bunting at all. But still a beautiful shade of blue. 

My sister and I saw what looked at first like red bees on some flowers in Mesa Verde. Looking at the photos later, though, I thought they looked more fly-like than bee-like and found that they're a type of tachinid fly (genus Adejeania).

We saw lots of lizards in Mesa Verde, which was exciting for the kids who had never seen lizards in the wild before (there are no species of lizard in Maine and for some reason you never see them in the parts of Colorado we usually go to--probably too much lawn). Most of these were small and brown and fast--so fast you usually didn't see them until they darted in and then out of view again, but this beauty just basked on a rock and let us take pictures of it. Z asked a ranger about it later and she told him it was a collared lizard.
Lizards in Black Canyon were a lot lazier than the ones in Mesa Verde, and we saw several lounging in the sun.

We also spied a couple of brown-and-white snakes. They weren't rattlers, but, for the first time ever, we had to tell the kids to not pick up any snakes they saw or turn over any rocks--just in case.

As we hiked along the canyon trail, I got an amazing view of a western tanager, which sat and let me watch it through the binoculars for a long while. This was a highlight of the trip--I had only just seen my first scarlet tanager this spring. Later we saw another one and then a third (or perhaps the same one) appeared right in our campsite. C had the presence of mind to hand me my camera as I went creeping after it. Such a gorgeous bird!
After the tanager took off, I prowled after a few more birds...this ruby crowned kinglet, which is one of my favorite birds to see here in Maine, too (they are just so darned cute!).
And this bird, which was driving me crazy. Z and I had gotten a very close look at a pair just like this one in a nest right in our campsite. I had assumed they were a mama and a papa, but when Z checked the nest later, there was no sign of eggs or babies. Much book and internet searching--and looking back at my bird-watching notes from Mesa Verde where I'd seen an adult--led to find that they were juvenile green-tailed towhees. The two Z and I saw must have

While we were at my parents' place, I had a lot of fun watching the antics of the hummingbirds fighting over the nectar hanging from the balcony railing.

Both broad-taileds (which look just like our ruby-throats) and rufous (which are the most gorgeous coppery-orange) visited the feeders.

The males of both species would dive-bomb other males who came in to feed.

But they left the females alone.

I just read about how male humingbirds are lazy fathers...but at least they're chivalrous. 
When we were in Rocky Mountain National Park, we sort of inadvertently ended up hiking one of the most-used trails in the park. As a result, all of the wildlife were quite adjusted to human presence. Even this trout appeared to be begging for a handout.

Right after I took pictures of this golden-mantled ground squirrel, it climbed up E's pant leg. 

This marmot, too, was overly familiar. Z reported that it tried to climb on him and bit his finger. I didn't witness the event (and would have discouraged it!), but it made overtures to everyone who tried to picnic on this particular rock.

Among several species of jays we saw (blue, Stellars, gray, scrub), was the Clark's nutcracker, colloquially known as the "camp robber." This one sat on this tree and squawked its displeasure.
I didn't see a whole lot of either butterflies or dragonflies while we were there, and I don't know much about western species, but this one did stop by for a short visit as I crossed a bridge on one of our hikes.

We also saw a pair of moose (mama and baby) browsing in Rocky Mtn. (when my mom asked if I wanted her to pull over so we could watch them with the other windshield tourists, I said, "Nah, we're from Maine." Not that we see moose here all that often, but often enough not to gawp from the roadside), and a lot of exciting species of birds (some of them new to me).


  1. Gosh you saw a lot of amazing creatures on your trip. How fun!

  2. Ahem... Mule deer I believe dear.

  3. Ahem... Mule deer I believe dear.

  4. Ahem... Mule deer I believe dear.

  5. Wow, I think you did great... All those birds. I'm just in awh of how much of the natural world (animal and plant) you were able to bring back with you. What an adventure you've had. I've just recently started going out with a telephoto lens and I only do when my hubby is around to wrangle the kiddos cause it IS heavy, but really, so worth it.


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