Showing posts with label fall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fall. Show all posts

October 30, 2021

Celebrating October in Cañon City, Colorado

Arkansas River in Cañon City, looking upstream (west).
M. and I were in Cañon City Friday because  . .  . oh right, we had to pick up our mushroom CSA box. Yeah, mushrooms. Fruits-and-vegetables CSA's are like, so 2008.

Arkansas River in Cañon City, looking downstream (east).
After two years of early, bough-breaking snows, everyone is pleased that this year was a proper low-altitude Colorado fall, with deep blue skies and heart-piercing golden cottonwood leaves.

You have to understand that while these views of central Cañon look bucolic, I was practically having my butt brushed by passing cars on the South Reynolds Avenue Bridge while making them.

Because everyone is driving everywhere — and fast.

September 21, 2020

Ghost Birds in the Sky

Nick Vinciguerra collecting dead
Violet-green swallows in Velarde, NM.
(American Birding Assn.)

The unusually strong storm that swept through the southern Rockies and Plains the second week of September pushed " a spectacular array of fall migrants to Albuquerque," as one biologist noted. 

Smoke from West Coast forest fires may also have forced some southbound birds further east as well.

The sad part is that many died — not so much from the smoke as from hunger, one New Mexico researcher, doctoral student Jenna McCullough writes for the American Birding Association website.

Sudden and dramatic unavailability of food caused by a historic and drastic cold snap is, I believe, a more parsimonious explanation than a widespread, smoke induced, mass mortality event. While we do not have data on how fast smoke inhalation would kill birds hundreds of miles away from the fires themselves, what we do have are data from the 258 Violet-green Swallows that Nick and I collected in Velarde this week. . . . .

If a lack of food contributed to the mortality event, birds would have less fat and no protection against hypothermia. Indeed, of the hundreds of birds we assessed, none had fat stores on their bodies. Furthermore, Though we have yet to perform any toxicology analyses or inspect their lungs for signs of smoke inhalation, I think it is safe to say that these birds were starved and succumbed to hypothermia. When USFWS autopsies of other birds are reported in the coming weeks or months, we suspect they will reveal a similar cause of death.

Cold and snow mean no flying insects, which is bad news for swallows and other insectivores.

Here in southern Colorado, I found one Lesser Goldfinch dead in the driveway, uneaten, during that brief cold weather. Considering it was only five seconds' flight from a sunflower seed feeder, it should not have been hungry. But M. and I both were briefly sick that week, which I blamed on the sudden shift from about 94° F to °27 F (34°C to -3° C). Maybe something hit the little goldfinch too.

August 30, 2015

Here is Your September (Maybe)

The latest from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Coolish and possibly wetter in the southern Rockies? I can live with that. 

October 27, 2014

Today's Weather . . .

. . . as interpreted by a fin de siècle artist. We have entered the decadence of autumn as the golden leaves turn brown.

October 07, 2013

It's Tarantula Sex Season

We have been seeing tarantulas crossing the county road lately, ever since the fall equinox. Normally they are almost invisible, but now it's mating season. (Funny, I was just at Cabela's and did not see any bull tarantula calls.)
The warm weather is perfect for the males, who will be out looking for love. After living in burrows for the first five to 12 years of their lives, the males risk all sorts of dangers as they seek to sow their seed.
And you never find older males living in Mom's burrow, because if they do, they are eaten
(Hat tip, Holly Heyser.)

August 18, 2012

Not Autumn but a Change

Walking the dogs last night, I noticed yellow leaves from the narrowleaf cottonwood trees lying on the ground beside the road. A few started turning yellow in mid-August. Drought stress? Usually their peak of golden shimmer comes in October — and I expect that most will hold their lives until then. But still, it's a sign.

Sometime in the last two weeks the black-headed grosbeaks who breed in the oak brush around the house departed without saying good-bye. So did the male rufous hummingbirds, although a few females remain, mixing it up at the sugar-water feeder with the resident broad-tails.

Evening grosbeaks' movements are mysterious. A flock of perhaps two dozen was here early in the summer, May into June, and then they disappeared. Now a few are back.

The big change was the cold front that came in on Tuesday. Now the highs are in the 80s F. (or less) instead of the 90s. And the sunlight has a warmer, yellow quality — due to the smoke from forest fires in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, etc. moving in with the northwest winds.

This is not autumn, but it is some kind of change.

Rain falls occasionally, but not enough. M. and I abandoning some of the outlying flower and vegetable beds. Gather what is there, let the rest dry up. I rolled up one soaker hose this morning, and I need to get out and start gathering seeds. Unlike this guy, I won't need a vacuum cleaner.

The temptation, however, is just to drink coffee on the porch and get an early start on autumnal melancholy — and the only cure for that is travel.

October 07, 2010

This Fall Foliage Photo Has Been Posted in Accordance with Law

Fall colors near Ouray, Colorado.
This photo of fall aspen colors is posted pursuant to the Colorado Photography Act of 1964 (familiarly called the "Ektachrome Act"), which requires that all professional and semi-professional photographers in the state—essentially anyone who has ever sold a photo—shoot at least one full roll of slide film on scenic shots featuring golden aspen groves. 

That most photography is now digital appears to have escaped the legislature, which has not updated the statute's language.

(Journalist/blogger Hal Walter demonstrates his legal compliance as well. Con Daly is not in compliance, thus far.)

October 09, 2008

Grus on the Loose

Three southbound flights of sandhill cranes went over us today, as many as 40 in a group, at medium altitude -- loose V's and W's of birds, pale grey flickers as their wings moved.

I can't help but think that their call must preserve the sound of some dinosaur or other.

The local newspaper's "Peaks of the Past" (reprinted news items from earlier times) offered this item from its equivalent 1908 issue: "A flock of wild geese, about 30 in number, passed over Westcliffe Thursday evening."

If a flock of geese was notable a century ago, were there any cranes at all? Fewer than 1,000 in 1940, says Wikipedia.

Some things have gotten better. Bodio might be seeing these birds soon.

August 28, 2007

Entering the Quiet Weeks

In the last week, both rufous hummingbirds and band-tailed pigeons have disappeared from the area around the house.

To borrow a few lines from the poet Ceisiwr Serith,

Don't let me wake one day and ask where summer has gone.
May I be aware of its going, and be as thrilled with it
as I was with the arrival of spring.

I call these weeks quiet, for when summer birds are leaving and the winter flocks of pine siskins, house finches, and so on have not yet coalesced.

Maybe a dozen broad-tailed hummingbirds remain, an electron shell around the nucleus of the sugar-water feeder. They must be portraying magnesium. Hot little flares of birds.