• Many things may be learned when engineering a duck-race benefit, especially in May, and especially on Clear Creek.
    Brett and Kristin Hochmuth have orchestrated the duck race, which benefits their nonprofit Get Outside and Learn Something — or GOALS — for four years, and they have learned tons about making the event run smoothly.

  • May has had its usual fling of one last snowstorm. Fortunately, this year it was just about four inches, not the four feet it brought us a few years ago. Now that it has succeeded in ruining Mother’s Day for a good many people, it seems to be clearing up and the coming week’s forecast looks like we will be having not just spring, but summer weather.
    I didn’t get out on a birding trip this week, but I had proof of an interesting sighting brought to me.

  • The 48-star flag is worn and stained, and is missing a few stars.
    But a retired couple from Fort Collins were to determined to help Old Glory complete a return journey to Idaho Springs that started 95 years ago when the United States entered World War I.

  • Local veterans will get a little extra assistance, thanks to a coalition formed recently with their interests in mind.
    A nine-person group called the Veterans Services Coalition consisting of volunteers and local officials will help veterans get better access to services and job opportunities. Additionally, the advocacy group plans to organize volunteers to participate in  events and other county-wide veteran-related

  • It is wonderful to see spring greening the hills once more. I drove south to Colorado Springs and Pueblo with friends last week and was once more impressed by the changing landscape south of Colorado Springs.
    North of Colorado Springs, the rolling hills of the prairie are green, and trees were beginning to leaf out. South of the Springs, you quickly enter desert country. In a few places, we saw cacti that looked like they might soon produce new growth and flowers, but in most places, the land was so overgrazed that the entire landscape appeared to be sand colored.

  • Lynne and I went out birding again for a few hours on Thursday, April 12. It was another fine spring day. The willows were leafing out along Bear Creek. Apples, pears and flowering crab were in full bloom. In Red Rocks Park, the native American plum was also in full bloom, its heavy, overly sweet fragrance in the air everywhere. Pasque flowers and yellow violets were also in bloom.

  • Waking early this morning, I looked out my window to see what kind of day it was going to be. It was a beautiful spring morning and hadn’t dropped below freezing all night.
    The sky was cloudless, and the sun was just peeking over Stanley Mountain’s shoulder. The small amount of snow that had fallen the day before was gone. It had started melting even as it fell, and the warm night had completed the meltdown.

  • Part two of a two-part series.
    Self-assessment is important because when drinking at home, in a bar or at a social event, few of us get monitored. Maybe you will do what I did and redefine what “moderate drinking” is for you.

  • This is part one of a two-part series.

  • The weather has been surprisingly spring-like this past week. However, driving by the lake, I noticed very little change. It remains frozen shore to shore. The first sign of ice breakup is usually the appearance of a larger and larger amount of open water at the inlet.

  • Soon the ice will break up on Evergreen Lake, and migrating ducks will begin to appear. Usually blue-winged teal are the first to arrive. It is interesting to keep track of the large variety of ducks that can be seen on this little lake.
    Ducks are usually divided into two main groups.
    The so-called tip-up ducks or puddle ducks are those that tip their tail up into the air, and their necks and heads down into the water to feed in relatively shallow water. There are 16 species of puddle ducks in four genera.

  • Friday, Feb. 17, was an amazing day. A friend called to say she wanted to go out on the plains to search for the snowy owl that many have seen just east of Barr Lake and asked if I would like to go with her. She didn’t want to go alone and was willing to put up with me, my oxygen, etc., so I went and had a great day.

  • Late winter brings strange weather into this area. This year, January brought much warmer weather than usual, giving everyone spring fever.
    February thus far has turned out to be colder than average and has brought back-to-back snowstorms with scarcely a break in between.
    The only thing that you can be positive about is that it will change. Whatever it is like at the moment, it probably won’t be the same 10 minutes from now or tomorrow.

  • The greater roadrunner, which has been seen for the past few months at Dinosaur Ridge, has been an interesting visitor.
    Although they are regular residents in the southeast corner of Colorado, they seldom go north of that. They are essentially desert birds and are found all across the desert Southwest. That little corner of our state is the only place where they apparently have traditionally felt at home.

  • We were blessed with spring-like weather during much of January, while the high country has had plenty of snow for the ski resorts. Who could ask for any better weather for all of us? Now I can’t help but wonder if we will have to pay for this fine weather with too much snow in February and March.

  • There has been a golden-crowned sparrow appearing at the feeder behind Red Rocks Park Trading Post most all winter. The golden-crowned sparrow is a Pacific bird found only in the western part of North America from the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains westward to the Pacific and some of the islands offshore.

  • It is often the case in rural communities that youth leave their small towns to get an education and then never come back. Fortunately for us, this is not the case for two nurses, born and raised in Clear Creek County, who have recently joined the Clear Creek Public and Environmental Health Department.
    The nurses, Crystal Brandt and Tami Bradley, will cover the duties of Jean Barta, retired public health nurse, and Maggie LaRose, RN, who recently moved with her family to Australia as part of a teacher-exchange program.

  • Snow again, and it’s probably going to do so off and on all day. I am inside, looking out the window as I’m having breakfast, and the birds are outside, having breakfast, too. It snowed most of the night, but I don’t believe we had as much as the weatherman predicted. It is hard to tell because there were still several inches left from the last snow, so we have at least 14 inches on the ground, and in places where it drifts, it is more than 2 feet.

  • A pleasant surprise this past week was a letter to the Canyon Courier with photos enclosed of some American goldfinches at a feeder. The photos were taken by Bud and Sandy Madigan at their home feeder in the Upper Bear Creek area. The photos helped me identify the birds.

  • Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, where are you? It is a real delight to live in an area where our slopes are decorated with Christmas trees all year. Locally, the evergreens that cover our hillsides are mainly ponderosa pine.
    These trees are beautiful at most any season, but I am especially fond of them in spring when new growth tips their branches and in winter when they are flocked with snow or frost.