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Features

  • 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.

  • Many people complain to me that they find winter birding dull because there are no pretty birds around.
    True, the winter residents at most feeders, pine siskins, chickadees, nuthatches, hairy and down woodpeckers, house sparrows, house finches, and the various forms of the dark-eyed junco are mostly gray, brown, and black-and-white birds. Not very exciting or colorful, but they are still interesting.

  • Editor’s Note: Sylvia’s column will reappear next week. This column is reprinted from Dec. 10, 2008.

    Christmas is not far away, and as we do our shopping and baking, our thoughts turn to Christmas decorations.
    In England and in our Eastern states, mistletoe is an important part of Christmas. The mistletoe common throughout the South grows mainly on oaks.
    It forms huge clumps or balls, and the whole plant generally is cut from the tree. The sprigs with the white berries are usually sold for Christmas decorating.

  • I well remember the first wild turkey I ever saw. I was birding in Alleghany State Park with a friend, Kay McCann, and she said, “Let’s walk down this trail to the river. About a week ago, someone saw a wild turkey near here.” We went down the trail and sure enough, on the far bank of the river were two wild turkeys getting a drink. We froze in our tracks, and the big birds continued to drink.

  • On Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 1 and 2, Loie Evans identified an immature surf scoter on Evergreen Lake. No matter how good a birder you are or how sure you are of your identification, it is always a good idea to have at least one other person see and identify a rare bird.

  • When I was out on the patio to catch some of the fine fall sunshine the other day, I was sworn at with a loud, vociferous, emphatic blast of squirrel language. The western red squirrel, which has been challenging me all summer, had in just a few cold days claimed the patio as his territory with firm determination and loud raucous cussing at everyone else who thought to claim it for a few hours.

  • Editor’s note: As our country fights its way out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the Clear Creek Courant is remembering those who fought for their very survival through the days following Black Tuesday into the winds of the Dust Bowl and onto the beaches of the Second World War.

    What Ann Binkley remembers about the Great Depression is the hallmark of today’s lingering recession. “There were basically no jobs,” unless you were working for the railroad, Binkley said.

  • The first snow has fallen. Unfortunately, it came three weeks early this year. However, the fall color is still brilliant in some places, and we still have nice weather next week, according to the weatherman.
    I feel that it is early, since the first wet, soggy snow usually arrives on Halloween as if it were a mean trick, leaving all the new kids freezing in their thin costumes. You can always tell the newcomers from anyone who has lived here a few years because they learn to buy Halloween costumes large enough to go over their winter parkas.