Monthly Archives: August 2019

August 29, 2019

Back to Rocky Mountain National Park, this time to hike to Sky Pond. On the way up, I saw Dark-eyed Juncos, Mountain Chickadees, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a Virginia’s Warbler–and I heard, but never glimpsed–Red-breasted Nuthatches.

I saw pine squirrels and least chipmunks, including this one:

Least Chipmunk

Which is not to be confused with golden-mantled ground squirrels, such as this one:

Golden-mantled ground squirrel

Beyond Loch Vale, I saw this bull elk lying in a bed of wildflowers:

Bull elk

After packing away my camera, I scrambled up Timberline Falls to Lake Glass, but didn’t pause there because I wanted to continue straight on to Sky Pond. In my haste, I missed the trail, and ended up clambering over a rocky route. I wasn’t the first to take the road less traveled by; cairns marked the way.

The views were dramatic from Sky Pond:

Sky Pond

Although it looks barren, I wasn’t alone:


On the way back down, the view from Glass Lake:

View from Glass Lake

The elk moved down to Loch Vale:

Bull and calf

And this photograph captures how I looked after the six-hour-plus hike, eating pizza at Antonio’s in Estes Park:

Golden-mantled ground squirrel with mushroom

Huge shout-out to Park Ranger Dave O’Brien who changed my flat tire at oh-dawn-thirty this morning. Thanks to him, I still made it to the Glacier Gorge parking lot before it filled up–and was able to hike to Sky Pond.

August 24, 2019

This morning I drove Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road, starting in Estes Park at dawn. At one point, a herd of several dozen elk came up a wide field and leisurely crossed the road. Here are some portraits:

Cow and calf
Young elk
Calves horsing around
Young bull

I hiked the Baker Gulch Trail, a gorgeous, lush trail full of white, yellow, purple. and red wildflowers that lies within the Never Summer Wilderness, On the eight-mile hike, I saw Dark-eyed Juncos, Mountain Chickadees, Steller’s Jays, and juvenile Hermit Thrushes. I also spotted a new woodpecker for me:

American Three-toed Woodpecker

There were chipmunks near the creek by the parking lot. On the trail, I saw a number of pine squirrels. Twice I was startled by their loud alarm call and their madcap scramble up a tree. Another time, a Pine Squirrel ran down the trail toward me, then veered off at the last second, climbed a tree to my eye level, and gave me an inspection. Here’s one with a mouthful.

Pine squirrel

August 22, 2019

To Eldorado Canyon State Park this morning. I hiked the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, then meandered down the Fowler Trail, the Goshawk Ridge Trail, and back to the Fowler Trail. In bird life, I saw Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Steller’s Jays, chickadees (probably Black-capped, but I didn’t get a good look), Dark-eyed Juncos, Lesser Goldfinches, American Goldfinches, a juvenile Chipping Sparrow, and–thrillingly–a male MacGillivray’s Warbler. I was hiking down the switchbacks on Rattlesnake Gulch Trail when I encountered it–and I knew instantly I’d never seen that species before. Gray hood, yellow belly, white eye-arcs. I was moving slowly, quietly, trying to get a good shot (all I got was a few diagnostic shots, not one of which rates posting), when I spotted a hiker coming up from the switchback below. Bird plow! The Mack and a few other small birds sailed off uphill. Another new bird for me was this juvenile Townsend’s Solitaire:

Townsend’s Solitaire (juvenile)

Here are a couple of other winged-creatures that were easier to photograph:

In mammal life, I saw chipmunks, a pine squirrel, and this mule deer:

Mule Deer

August 17, 2019

The different kinds of birds one can see at mid-morning (as opposed to say, early morning) in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:

Black-crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
Western Kingbird

And here’s a Mallard with a mouthful:


August 14, 2019

To Golden Gate Canyon State Park early this morning.

View from Panorama Point

Two other early risers:

Red-tailed Hawk

I hiked up Burro Trail to Windy Peak (elev. 9,138 feet), and came back down on Mountain Lion Trail. I didn’t see either of those particular mammals, but I did see chipmunks, golden-mantled ground squirrels, and a rabbit. In bird life, there were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Mountain Bluebirds (including a juvenile), House Wrens (including a juvenile), Chipping Sparrows, a Western Wood-Pewee, Violet-green Swallows (see below), and Mountain Chickadees (see below):

Mountain Chickadee
Violet-green Swallow

On a particular stretch high up in the pines, yellow and orange mushrooms grew alongside the path. At lower elevations, wildflowers abounded in white, yellow, and violet. I found this moth in a field of violet flowers:

White-lined Sphinx Moth

August 12, 2019

Early this evening I walked along Bear Creek, from Estes Street to Wadsworth, and all the way back down to Kipling Street. I saw several Belted Kingfishers, including this one:

Belted Kingfisher

Mostly I saw them flying away from me, laughing.

This Mallard was much more obliging:


And there was a noisy juvenile Cooper’s Hawk hanging out near the old nest:

Cooper’s Hawk (juvenile)

August 11, 2019

A couple of friends and I hiked eight miles at Staunton State Park this morning. We got an early start, the best time to see wildlife. The pictures below are from the first half of the hike.

We hiked along the Mason Creek trail, a lovely walk. We saw a number of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, many of them buzzing in and above small waterfalls, including this one:

Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird taking a sip

A mule deer fawn crossed the trail just behind us. Here it is bounding away:

Mule deer fawn
Mule deer fawn

In other mammal life, we saw Pine Squirrels and Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels. We also saw several Hairy Woodpeckers (including the one below), Dark-eyed Juncos, Steller’s Jays, Mountain Chickadees, American Robins, Chipping Sparrows, and a Red-tailed Hawk (and heard a few more).

Hairy Woodpecker

We made it to the Catamount Overlook (elev. 9402 feet), which had stunning views of Pike’s Peak and surrounding mountains.

August 10, 2019

Tonight Rick and I walked at the east end of the Bear Creek Greenbelt, where we saw several Belted Kingfishers. We also stumbled across another Cooper’s Hawk family.

Cooper’s Hawk (adult)
Cooper’s Hawk (juvenile)

August 4, 2019

To the Bear Creek Greenbelt early this morning to see the juvenile Cooper’s Hawks.

Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

Other birds out there this morning include Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Gray Catbirds, a Common Yellowthroat, a Yellow Warbler, House Finches, House Wrens, a number of swallows, and these two:

Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay

August 2, 2019

This afternoon after work I saw Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Western Wood-Pewees, Black-capped Chickadees, and House Wrens in our back yard. Here’s one of the hummingbirds:

Broad-tailed Hummingbird