Friday Phenology 4 May 2012

This week didn’t see me outside a whole lot as I had many deadlines to meet (or shift) that meant I was sitting here at the computer for a larger chunk of time than normal, but even busy, I managed to make a few observations. Some days I only headed out for 5 minutes or so, but that’s enough time to find something happening.

The nights are slowly getting warmer and we often can have the window open at least part of the night – and the other night I put my head close to the screen and listened carefully – and heard them. Frogs. Western Chorus Frogs. They’re in some ponds over one ridge from us, but their sounds echo all the way up to the bedroom window on these first warm nights. I’m always amazed at how much volume they can produce out of their tiny bodies. Those and the crickets singing are some of the sweetest night sounds of the spring.

Mike headed to some work up by Leadville for a couple of days and also heard these loud frogs up there. Also, the guys out that way said they’ve been seeing Moose in the upper Eagle valley on a fairly regular basis.  We have a few moose that have showed up this far south before – a couple of years back, a neighbor of ours saw the three that stopped traffic on Highway 24 just outside of Divide. I would be nice to have them show up around here more often – a nice compliment to the ecosystem here, I would think.

The White Breasted Nuthatches are still at work with the babies. However, I did see one of them yesterday evening sweeping something along the side of the birdhouse – but it finished before I could get the binoculars out to take a closer look. I read somewhere that they ‘sweep’ their home’s entry with nasty smelling beetles to keep predators at bay. I wondered if that was what it was doing. They still often beat me to the moths under the shop light in the mornings – or we’re out there at the same time. They show almost zero fear of me at this point and often come within inches of me as I quickly work to document who landed there overnight…and I suppose who will be their breakfast as soon as I leave. I do look on the bark of the tree next to the shop light for bugs where they start their breakfast foraging and haven’t yet seen anything, but they invariably come up with a few tidbits that my eyes missed. I’ll keep looking, though, as that’s the only way to train myself to see better.

Robins are out hopping along the ground many mornings, pausing to listen, then snagging whatever they do find on the ground to eat. I suspect they’re nesting again somewhere in the small valley or draw down on the shop side of our property, but I have yet to find a nest.

The carpenter ants are out and about and found often on the new aspen leaves which most of the aspens are now wearing – I’m amazed at how many insects can be found here in the spring.

The chipmunks are THICK as are the rabbits. One morning this week I counted 9 rabbits hopping about – well, it may have been the same one nine times, but seeing them that often means we’ve got to have predators find this cache sometime soon.

The deer move through every few days – it’s a group of 7 or 8 does and the largest, the ‘matriarch,’ is definitely looking pregnant as are a couple of others. We are looking at various places to move the trail cam to be more likely to catch them as we still are only getting domestic house cats who prowl the area for chipmunks and ground squirrels.

Last night something was on the deck sniffing at the trash can we’ve used for birdseed over the winter. I forgot to bring it in overnight last night and Taylor woke me up around 1 AM to let me know she was hearing something. By the time we got downstairs, whatever it was had left, but the dogs spent a good minute or so sniffing the deck and trash can. It was likely the raccoon as the lid was still on. I guess it’s time to wash that one out and move it to the shop and shift to something else for the feed that I still put out 1/2 C or so at a time. A few Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskens, the nuthatches (of all varieties) and the Clark’s Nutcracker usually come in the morning and eat most of it and finish it off throughout the day.

It’s bear season, and a neighbor of ours reported that a bear opened his garage door and got into their trash stored there. So, they’ll need to lock the garage door from now on as that one jackpot will remain in the bear’s memory for a long time.  We’re back on ‘bear time’ for the trash here – we have a dumpster, but won’t put anything that smells in until a couple of hours before the trash truck is due.

Kinninkinnik Flowers


As for the flowers, the first of the pasque flowers that have so far survived the deer are going to seed, looking very much like Dr. Seuss’ tuftula trees. The cacti are all in full bloom  as are the Kinnikinnik flowers, but the candy tuft is fading. I spotted my first ‘Pussy Toes’ in bloom this morning and have seen quite a few wild strawberry blossoms around this week – saw the first ones last Sunday or Monday.

That’s the nature news from this neck of the Colorado woods – what’s happening where you are? Not sure, head out and see!

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  • Margie
    May 04, 2012., 13:44 •

    Love to read and see your photos...we miss your kinnikinnick altho I think there is a different kind up north. YNP is open today and lots of new 'wildlife' heading west in their out of state cars.

  • Nancy
    May 05, 2012., 02:25 •

    I know what you mean about the raccoons getting into the birdseed -- we had one destroy all of our feeders one year.