HIKING, BIRDING, AND OBSERVING
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you...
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
Sept 4th - This is Kid
Chippy, Punky, Jacob and the gang -- all the ground squirrels -- are all hibernating. Only the new kid on the block (I just call him Kid now) is still around. I'm afraid Kid is not going to be ready for the winter. (I think he's one of Punky's babies from this summer.) He doesn't grasp the concept of "stashing" his food yet. He only takes one nut at a time even if he's offered several. He doesn't know how to pack his cheeks and carry a supply of food to his den. I worry about him. I read about how difficult it is for young ones to survive their first harsh winter. I know... it's survival of the fittest and all that, but when you personally get to know the animals ... it's hard.. to just let what will be .. be.
This guy thought he was incognito watching me feed the birds and chipmunks and Kid. When he finally spotted me spotting him, he took off to a nearby tree just chattering up a storm. These squirrels always seem to have one of those mischievous "done something" grins.
I went down to my pond and creek this morning to see what might be stirring around. How cute is this?! Don't know what type of bird yet. If anyone knows, please email me!
This one was at my pond around noon today. I love those long, spindly legs!
Same bird (as above) before he flew to the log. I'm checking my bird book but not coming up with an exact match.
I don't know what kind.. anyone?
Birds move so fast and blend in with so well with the natural environment. It's tricky getting photos!
If you've followed this BLOG you might remember when I saw a yellow bird and got a blurry blob of yellow. This is a little better than that picture, but not by much! This little yellow guy is different than the other one I tried to photograph. This guy has a darker back and darker wings. The other one was solid yellow. Someday I'm GOING to get a clear shot of one of these yellow guys! This is a very small bird and flits around quickly from willow to willow. I've not seen them in the forest.
Clark was knocking frantically today. I called him to me and he came but then he flew right back to window and knocked in a tantrum sort of way. I'm totally puzzled!
This was my first time to see a chipmunk climbing sage brush and eating it.
This is Kid again. There's something so special about him. If I were to pin a word to my feelings, I'd say he's innocent. He's also very gentle and ... this may sound odd, but he isn't completely self absorbed. (Maybe he just isn't too bright...but it's actually kind of nice.) I've never had a ground squirrel or chipmunk not figure out a way to stuff themselves with whatever nuts or food is given to them. Even Chippy's babies in the first few days would naturally hoard whatever they could. Kid is different. Hmm..
Rain, rain go away....
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton
It's one of those Colorado days that lives up to the saying "...if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes." The sun comes out; the sun disappears. Cloudless blue skies turn gray and thunderstorms roll in and then it all clears up. It's been crazy!
Soooo... since it's raining at the moment and I can't get out with my camera to go birding or cut wood just yet, I decided to browse through some photos from my travels through Asia and came acrosss this picture of a pair of ducks from the 17th C. I was antique shopping in Bangkok looking for chess pieces to assemble for an artistic chess set. I couldn't afford these ($300 or so), but I took a picture of them. If memory serves, they were children's toys...
While I wait for the weather to clear, I just stoked up the wood stove and read one of my favorite quotes that hangs on my log wall:
"The profoundest of all sensualities is the sense of truth and the next deepest sensual experience is the sense of justice."
Between the rain .. Another female Pine Grosbeak ( I think ).
Hmm... haven't figured out what this little one is...
What I love about the camera is that it captures what my own eyes can fail to see when I'm taking the picture. Birds in particular move so fast, sometimes it's hard to see the details. Look at these little orange feet!
“Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the
beauties and mysteries of the earth are never
alone or weary of life.”
photos by Betsy Seeton
I got my birding book out to ID these mustard headed birds. It appears they are female Pine Grosbeaks, but I'm not positive.
These were the first birds I saw in the forest between the pond and the cabin today. They were with or near the red headed guys below. This is so much fun. I've never noticed them before. How strange and wonderful to have my eyes opened up... or my mind or whatever it is that is helping me to begin seeing what was always already there. How did I go so long missing out?
I took my 4 year old granddaughter with me and tried teaching her the first principles of my birding style. First, "quiet walking" and, second, whispering instead of talking and total silence (no talking) whenever possible. These are not natural concepts for a child to grasp! But overall, she did well and we didn't butt heads too many times.
Male Pine Grosbeak?
If I'm right, and these are Pine Grosbeaks, they're from the Finch family...
click on image for cool facts
According to Cornell University it is the largest and rarest of the "winter finches."
This little guy wanted to hang upside down! Hmmm....
Don't know what this one is.... Anyone? I know it's not a clear photo. I'm working on improving...
by Betsy Seeton
One last shot of the female Pine Grosbeak...
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“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
We hear a lot about the importance of "living in the moment" and "being present" and we tend to nod and readily agree to the merits of the concepts, yet I'm guessing most of us don't really know what it means or quite how to experience either one. I've been giving it a huge try this summer. My motivation has partly been as a remedy for stress. I've been thinking I was having some success. And maybe I was. But on my long drive from the city to the mountains today, a trip that I make semi frequently due to work, I realized that I'm usually focused on getting from A to B and not on experiencing the pure journey of it all. (Excuse how cliche sounding it is to say 'journey'.) My point is that I'm not very present at all. Today's trip was much different.
Mule Deer - Click image for cool facts
I drove the same route and yet it was new in many ways. I was driving more slowly, feeling less stressed and was lapping up the scenery much more. I noticed the clouds, the lighting, the changing colors, and the dips and curves of the road. I took in the beauty the way someone would who had never seen it before. I noticed gorgeous black birds with huge wing spans having fun with flight. It reminded me of one of my favorite books from when I was a teenager -- Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (The "cool facts" page isn't working at the moment...sorry.)
Between meetings today, ('m back at my cabin tonight) I dropped into a book store and bought my first ever birding book. It's opening a brand new world to me. But I'm not talking about just the birds, it was everything today. I was noticing everything... more. It was quite incredible.
I thought about how much life we actually let pass us by when we're going to and from all the places we go because we're so intent on arriving or leaving or anything but being. Hmmm... interesting, don't you think?
Gray Headed Junco
I was out on my first birding expedition this morning. I followed about a half dozen of these birds throughout the forest. They were mostly walking or hopping and kept a good distance away from me.
Gray Headed Junco
I'm new to birding -- brand new. I'm not even sure what I'm doing is actually birding. I walk with a camera and try to capture every type of bird I see. I also look for any signs of animals and hope to capture whatever lives in my neck of the woods.
I don't know what breed these birds are. I googled them, but still didn't come up with a name. Then my friend, Jake, emailed me after seeing this post to let me know these are called Gray Headed Junco. I used my telephoto lens for some shots and then went back to my regular lens. It was hard to get close enough to get a really clear shot.
Another Gray Headed Junco
Check out how camouflaged this Junco is!! From Chippers Wood Bird Observatory they write, "The Gray-headed race of the Dark-eyed Junco is one of the least known birds of the coniferous forests of the southern Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin Ranges (Terres, 1995)."
Please tell me what breed this is...
These birds traveled together in twos or small packs grazing quickly off the forest floor. They were always in motion. They flew only when they felt I was getting too close. Other than that they hopped along and sometimes seem to float along.
I know this is just a blurry picture with a yellow blob, but it was an all yellow bird, smaller than a robin -- maybe about the same size as the birds above. It flew fast from willows to trees and I couldn't get a good shot of it before I lost sight of it. Any ideas what kind it was? I've never noticed a bird like that around here before. It was totally eye catching. Again, my friend is guessing Wilson's Warbler...
Click on image for cool facts
I have a lot to learn about birds. My friend Jake (thank you!) let me know this is a Loggerhead Shrike. It's a predatory bird.... Click on image for cool facts.
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I visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand & later found out it is under investigation for tiger trafficking and animal abuse. Read full story. In 2015 it was raided. More than 100 tigers and protected bird species in Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province were impounded by authorities following complaints that the temple was alleged to engage in illegal wildlife trading.
"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious,
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller
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Read about life in the woods with Chippy & the crew...
What greater atrocity is there on this planet than to sell a human life and brutally force him or her into a life in the sex trade or endless labor?
And how dare we abuse, kill and traffic animals in the name of profit... in the name of anything for any reason!