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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Spring hallucinations

We've had some warm, sunny, and spring-like weather over the past two days. It's tricking my mind into believing that my favorite season is here. We awoke to yips and howls of coyotes that sounded like they were gathered just outside our window. That usually happens in the spring - and it set me into a springtime mindset. For example, does it look to you like the aspen twigs in the photo are getting its buds? My mind kept imagining buds on them - so much that I had to snap some photos. Obviously, I was having springtime hallucinations.

Similarly, I glimpsed a Stellar's Jay and my mind made it into a Mountain Bluebird. In March of each year, the male mountain bluebirds start coming up to the high meadows on warm days to stake out the best territories. During my mountain bike ride, it was so warm that I was looking for the bluebirds.

Later, as I rode my mountain bike up a snowy and icy 4wd road, I had a vivid flashback to seeing a bright yel
low, red, and black male Western Tanager in the pine trees by the road. Below, I have a photo of a part of a beautiful batik of male tanager made for me by a good friend. Late last summer, I realized that I hadn't yet seen any tanagers that season, and on that very day, I spotted one in the trees pictured below. Alas, since it's actually mid-January today, the Ponderosa Pine branches were devoid of western tanagers as I pedaled through the snow up the 4wd road.

Due to the warm inviting weather, I didn't find any solitude on the trails. Everyone was out and wanted to chat while soaking up the sun. It was a relaxed
and happy bike ride - very little hard riding - but lots of enjoying the day. In the great news category, R's limp seemed better so he joined me and K for the first 20 minutes of our mountain bike ride. You can see the two of them below, anxious for me to get on the bike but nonetheless barely holding a 'down-stay' while I did my final preparations.

We ended our day with a sunset hike but it was not relaxing. The two younger dogs were absolutely amped over scents wafting down the slopes in the cooling air. I figured out from tracks in the snow that a small group of elk had moved through 'our' meadow and then saw them grazing in a lower meadow. Whenever we were downwind of the elk or their tracks, the youngsters began to charge toward the scent. We did about a million recalls, all of them successful, as I called the dogs back from their explorations. Finally, I put our teenager, R, on a leash so that I could relax a little. I have 100% confidence in K and S around elk but I still have a small shadow of a doubt about whether R might take up the chase. With him on leash, I strolled along and enjoyed the rosy sunset light.


  1. We used to have a neighbor we dubbed "Bill, The Bird Man." He knew every bird we have -- when it arrives, when it leaves, everything. It's not just birds, though. He also tracked migration patterns of all our wild animals. Anytime, we have a question we ask him ... even though he moved to Taos a few years ago.

    He's the one who taught me to get a hummingbird to sit on my finger. Very cool!

    For me, the real spring trigger is hearing the first meadow lark.

  2. Roxanne,

    I need to know the secret to getting a hummingbird to land on my finger! Can you share it?

  3. It's a lot like desensitizing a dog to something scary. You hang around the feeder a lot so that the birds get used to being right there while they eat. Then, you put your hand or finger right next to the feeder's hole and wait, while holding really still.

    The hard part (for me) was that I had success on my first-ever try, so I thought it was easy.

    After that, it took much longer to score again.

    But, basically, they sit on you while they feed. It's very sweet. They are SO tiny, but you can still feel their microscopic feet holding on.

    I've had better luck with females than I have with males.


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