Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Endless Winter - Sublime Grandeur

Endless Winter

The month of May is almost over and the Endless Winter continues to lay siege to Evergreen, Colorado. Day after day a merciless system of unyielding snow keeps falling heavy, wet and cold.

All that moisture combined with warm air creates a ghostly fog that circulates mysteriously through the white woodland. Even the most familiar places seem like strange land because the diminished visibility concocts an eerie atmosphere.

The unforgiving stream of storms has wreaked havoc on the plants, animals and people that inhabit this region. The limber pine trees rooted into the mountainsides are erected to withstand this kind of assault but the nesting birds are understandably distressed.

We’re all accustomed to enduring the long winters that dig in at this altitude and these delayed storms are not unheard of. In all my time living here, the latest date on which I’ve witnessed a substantial amount of snow is June 24th.

What appears like a disaster now will be a godsend tomorrow as the luxuriant grasses will host a profusion of wildflowers and the saturated earth will negate the threat of fire. I guess when viewed from that perspective, we should just sit back and enjoy the sublime grandeur that accompanies slow-moving storms like these.

The Endless Winter continues

Unforgiving storms

A strange land

A long winter

Late storms are not unheard of

A merciless system

Erected to withstand an assault

A substantial amount of snow

An eerie atmosphere

A ghostly fog

A white woodland

Sublime grandeur

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Song Sparrow - A Distinguished Neighbor

Song Sparrow

In the soggy marshland surrounding Evergreen Lake he sings his heart out. His sweet music includes twenty different tunes and at least 1,000 improvised variations so it’s no wonder they call him the song sparrow.

Full of complex rhythm and emotion, his colorful vocalizations are used to attract females and defend territory. His unique, prolonged melody distinguishes him as a neighbor rather than a stranger.

This common sparrow is an adaptable bird whose behavior and appearance is extremely variable and unpredictable. He is found throughout North America but individuals from different regions look completely different from each other.

In our neck of the woods, the song sparrow is described by brown, heavily streaked plumage, a mottled back and a white throat. His face is gray with a dark eye line and a white jaw line while his reddish crown has a neat gray stripe.

The female builds a nest that’s usually concealed somewhere near the ground but he does help collect the building material. An exposed nest is susceptible to being parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds as their eggs are nearly identical to the sparrows'.

Before being hammered by heavy snow, the sparrow heads down the hill in order to spend the winter at a more hospitable elevation. Another early migrant, he comes back in the spring feasting on insects, seeds and fruit and singing his symphonic song.

A common sparrow

Distinguished as a neighbor

An adaptable bird

Extremely variable and unpredictable

He collects building material

Colorful vocalizations

Streaked plumage and a reddish crown

An early migrant

He sings a symphonic song

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Barn Swallow - A Herald of Spring

Barn Swallow

According to legend, the barn swallow got its forked tail because it stole fire from the gods to bring to humans. An angry deity hurled a fireball at the swallow, burning away it’s middle tail feathers.

It has distinguished itself as the most familiar swallow in North America and the most widespread swallow in the world. It’s a welcome neighbor as it eats insects and often builds its mud nest under the eaves of man-made structures.

The barn swallow is identified by that deeply forked tail, a vermillion throat and forehead, blue upper parts and ochre underparts. It prefers to live near a river, lake or marsh where it can find its favorite food - bugs.

A supreme aviator, the barn swallow displays a spectacular array of acrobatics in order to eat, drink and bathe while still on the wing. It’s truly a free bird whose daring flight is both delightful and unpredictable.

The barn swallow is a devoted parent who fiercely defends its young with relentless dive bombing. Its other defense strategy involves a surprisingly symbiotic relationship with an intimidating raptor - the osprey.

Sometimes a barn swallow will intentionally make its home just below an osprey’s nest. The swallow makes alarm calls that alerts the osprey to intruders and in return the osprey protects the swallows from all predatory threats.

The barn swallow winters all the way down in Central and South America but the long distance migrant is usually one of our first arrivals. It’s a proven herald of spring, a sign of summer’s approach and a symbol of the resurgence of life.

He stole fire and brought it to humans

The world's most widespread swallow

Blue upperparts

A supreme aviator

One of our first arrivals

A devoted parent

A symbol of life

A truly free bird

A herald of spring

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Blue Spring - Wild Weather

Blue Spring

Coming into the month of May and our Blue Spring is distinguished by frosted pine, cool shadows and cobalt skies. Winter is gradually releasing its firm grip and after last week’s big storm maybe the Mad Season will finally let go.

The snow keeps pouring but it falls against mild temperatures, transforming flakes into cold water that tries to seep into the already saturated ground. Oh, it piles up during the dark night but by morning it begins to evaporate at the speed of light.

Walking up through the forest can be a calamity because of the wet, muddy trail and being drenched by a shower of snowmelt spraying down from the tall trees. Wandering back out of the wilderness you’ll find yourself, like the current state of the landscape, dirty and disheveled.

This time of year is marked by dust, wind and wild weather but don’t worry because it’s just a transitional period. Soon, the new leaves, lush grass and colorful wildflowers will make everything in the mountains look fresh and clean again.

Frosted pine, cool shadows and cobalt skies

A big storm

Melting at the speed of light

The mountains will look fresh and clean

The trees spray snowmelt

Winter has not released its grip

Wild weather

It's a transitional period