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Friday, July 16, 2010

Wonders of nature

This morning, K and I sat on the deck watching the flycatcher parents deliver at least 2 flies per minute to their growing nestlings. The early morning air was already comfortably warm, a precursor to a hot day for the mountains where temperatures broke 80 degrees, leaving us cold-adapted mountain dwellers feeling hot and lazy.

After my morning coffee, K and I bolted out into a sun-drenched day with birds and rodents rustling through the wildly flourishing shrubs, grass, and wildflowers. Our overturned bear-proof garbage can suggested that an ursine visited last night but my nearby wildlife cameras didn't capture his image. I might point a camera at the garbage can soon. The bears seem to be persistently working on how to open it (without success yet) but have given up on the birdfeeders.

K and I headed straight up high to survey the mountains. K insisted on doing her favorite trick. I think that it's her favorite because her brother R can't do it yet!
Then, K made a funny face that I can't help but include in this post. Don't tell her that I put it here!
After a very brief stop in the hot sun, we headed for a deep pine forest, traversing through bountiful bear territory filled with myriad species of berry bushes. Yesterday, K told me, using her clear-cut body language, that a bear had walked the trail. Today, I noticed brilliant red currants on some bushes. I think that the bears will be back!
Now, if only I could figure out a good place on this trail for a wildlife camera, I'd install one. The trickiest part of my hobby is figuring out where to point the camera. If you choose any random spot in the forest, chances are that NO animals will ever pass across it for months and months (as I learned firsthand with my early efforts). So, I've been learning to read the signs left behind by wildlife to figure out the routes that they use regularly. Then, on those routes, I try to find the spots where the animals linger to eat or mark territory so I have a good chance of getting their photos. The problem is that if the animals walk too fast past my camera, it misses them due to the "trigger time" delay. I'm still no expert at camera placement - my current "berry camera" that I hope will photograph bears foraging on a berry-laden slope has only captured photos of me!

All around us, baby birds are taking their maiden flights. We saw a mother grouse, and I told K to stay next to me. I couldn't figure out why the grouse wasn't flying away until I saw the young ones, about the size of robins, waddling toward her and then barely taking off to land on low pine boughs. I didn't stay to take a photo - K and I discreetly exited to avoid stressing them.
Later in my ride, after I'd dropped off K at home, I passed a hole in an aspen tree that has harbored a Flicker nest since early June. I saw the parents entering and exiting the hole for weeks. Then, about 10 days ago, a nestling tried to peek at me but wasn't quite tall enough. All I saw was a beak sticking straight up in the air.
Finally, today, one of the Flicker youngsters flew for the first time, right before my eyes. First, he surveyed the world from the hole that is the only tiny slice of Earth that he's ever seen.
Then, I watched the baby take the leap of faith, heard the whir of wings, watched him fly and make an awkward landing in the soft deep grass a few yards away from me. I took one photo and fled to avoid messing up a very dicey moment in a young bird's life.

Imagine what courage it takes to leap from high in the air having never flown before in your life. I know from watching the flycatchers under our deck in past years that they sit on the edge of the nest tray, peering over the edge, for hours before they work up the courage to try to fly. The truly amazing part is that, so far, they've all discovered that they can fly after taking the leap. The wonders of nature never cease to astound me.


  1. The forest looks so serene, and yet so full of life. I can't ever remember seeing such succulent berries and huge wild flowers on your blog!

    I, for one, hope you find the perfect spot for your camera, because I can't wait to see you form another one of your signature wildlife documentaries, like you did with the lion and the bears.

  2. Your thought process vis a vis camera placement is so interesting! And I'm amazed that it's 80 degrees there - too hot for mountain life! But the wildlife, as always is incredible - imagining a baby bird getting up the courage to take off on its maiden voyage is a mindblower! Wow! Love that last flower pic!
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie and Ma

  3. I concur the bears will be back for those currants!

    Watching the bird families grow and take leave is so cool - I was thrilled to get some young cardinal pics when they visited the patio the other week - they didn't visit the communal pool - just picked around for snacks - Dad even came to watch them -I need to get them on Khyra's blog at some point -

    Thanks for sharing these awesome shots!

    Yes, Merdie's 'do is GReat for her - especially since she lives near some woods - this makes tick spotting lots easier!

  4. What a cute funy face..BOL..hope you had fun in the mounains and bird watching. You get to see all kinds of cool stuff.
    Benny & Lily

  5. Hi KB, We had a wonderful hike today with A, B, & J - they are becoming Nature lovers. You found a Mariposa Lily. Was there more than one? When I photographed mine, there was only the one. You are sighting many birds now. Lucky you! I'm telling K you posted a photo of her eight her tongue out! Happy weekend.

  6. Great pics, but oh we do love that funny face on K.

  7. Oh, poor K! Your secret is safe with us, sweetie!

    I've always thought the same thing about those baby birds leaving the nest. Every year we watch them on the edge of the nest under our kitchen awning as they sit there for hours before flying off to the nearby maple tree. It's amazing to me how fast it happens, too!

    I didn't know you'd done SARS work before, but I'm not surprised! My husband would love to do that one day, but I'm sure it's a long time away! It seems like politics has to cloud everything these days.

  8. Happy weekend KB, K & R!
    Hehe K you are a silly girl, fingers crossed you don't see the cute piccy that your mum has shown us all!

    Keep safe
    Koda & Kate

  9. Your pictures are so great I'm tempted to stop using the camera in the mobile phone and start using a real camera. There again they still wouldn't come out looking quarter as good as these ! Love the pictures of grouse - don't think they're the same as European ones - look bigger than ours in the photo.

  10. We feel your pain. WE have reached 80 5 times so far this year. Argh! We don't get sympathy from people with 90 degree temps, but it is hot if you aren't used to it.


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