• Goldfinches shy away from feeders, foraging for themselves

    Many years ago, I saw my first lesser goldfinch in a yard in Idledale. When I first saw this little yellow-and-black bird, it was acting like a new warbler. That’s what I thought it was.

    I could not find any warbler that looked like it, and then noticed its thick finch-like beak. This sent me to the yellow finches, and there it was among the many goldfinches that occur here: the lesser black-backed goldfinch.

  • Rafting companies enjoying banner year in Clear Creek

    Rafting season in Clear Creek County is on track this summer to be one of the best ever, company owners and industry officials say.

    Higher-than-average snowpack that kept water levels high into late July helped many rafting companies have a strong end-of-season, according to rafting industry officials. Some companies plan to operate for a few more weeks in Clear Creek County, while most have ended their seasons. Official numbers are expected from the Colorado River Outfitters Association in January.

  • ATV use may be permitted on stretch of North Empire Road

    It may soon be legal to drive all-terrain vehicles on a 3-mile segment of county road near Empire, based on recent discussion by the county commissioners of a possible new rule there.

    The commissioners on Aug. 11 approved on first reading an ordinance to allow off-highway-vehicle use, most commonly all-terrain vehicles, on North Empire Road, which is a county road.

    No ATVs currently are allowed on county roads. North Empire Road runs between Empire, where such use is allowed, and U.S. Forest Service land, where it's also permitted.

  • Some poisons to watch out for

    The first bit of fall color to appear in the Bear Creek Valley is the lovely orange-red of poison ivy, Toxicodendron rydbergii. Its unique color often appears to be in small clumps along the canyon walls, announcing the end of summer and the beginning of fall. One can hardly call the color red, for it is almost orange, an unusual color in the changing fall panorama.

  • House finches, other species sighted at area feeders

    Mid-August and instead of the lazy days of hot summer, it has been relatively warm days and good-sleeping cool nights. Sitting out in front of Elk Run Assisted Living, I watched two house finches bring their young to the feeder as well as seeing one adult American robin trying to find a place damp enough to provide one angleworm to feed his one youngster.

    Although nearly full size, the immature robin still sported enough speckles on his breast to identify him and to show his age as a young member of the thrush family.

  • Wildflowers abundant in late summer

    One of the most common roadside flowers of the late summer and early autumn is the yellow sweet-clover, Melilotus officinale. The common roadside plant, oddly enough, is not a native.

    According to the books that I have, the white sweet clover is a native, but the yellow was introduced from Europe because it was known to be both a good honey and forage plant. It is also known as honey clover and yellow melilot.

  • Residents concerned about sport shooting on public lands

    Old Squaw Pass Roadresident David Grasso is worried enough about sport shooting on public land near his home that he's thinking about moving away.

    "I don't want to sit at my kitchen table and get hit by a bullet," Grasso told a reporter. "It's kinda dangerous here. I've lived here 40 years, and I've had it."

  • Four more hummingbirds occasionally visit the area

    Last week I wrote about the two most common hummingbirds seen locally, the broad-tailed and the rufous.

    Broad-tailed hummingbirds usually arrive in April and nest here. Rufous hummingbirds, which have gone north along the Pacific coast in early spring, have nested as far north as southern Alaska and return south along the mountains where there are still wildflowers.

  • ‘It’s not always an easy thing moving moose around’

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife personnel tranquilized a moose that was on the loose in Idaho Springs and moved him to South Park on July 7 after the animal became hostile with officers.

    Spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said the bull moose wandered into town, and officers tried unsuccessfully to scare it off.

  • 13-mile segment of greenway trail will enter design phase

    Design work can start on a 13-mile segment of a greenway trail in Clear Creek County, now that public officials have signed a $1.1 million contract with the Denver-based Greenway Foundation.

    After months of work on the project, Clear Creek County commissioners approved the contract with the nonprofit group on July 7.