Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rocky Mountain National Park




   RMNP is only 30 miles from my home but I've only been there a few times in all the years I've lived here. All national parks are not dog friendly, so it feels strange to go for a hike without my dog. Also it's a 20$ fee to enter the park, so I usually opt for places that are free and Hazel dog can come along. But old age does have it's perks. I was able to score a 10$ lifetime pass before the fee went up.

So today I decided to take advantage of my free pass and start exploring RMNP. Hazel got a good long walk, I grabbed my coffee, some breakfast and headed up to the park.

There are many trails to explore, so it was hard to decide where to start. But after asking friends and reading some guide books, I chose the check out Nymph, Dream and Emerald lakes.


This is the view from the parking lot!






These little guys are all over the place and so damn cute!




Nymph lake view...



I heard lots of chatter and finally was able to grab some pics of the mountain chickadee.




There were a few other people on the trail and we'd change hellos as we passed each other. One guy noticed my Yankee cap I was wearing and said " Go Yanks". We had a nice chat about being a New Yorker and a Yankee fan.









I was just past Dream lake when I heard a familiar sound of a woodpecker. There was a pair flitting around getting breakfast. This gal had just ripped off this piece of bark....


The male was close by. At first I thought they were downy woodpeckers but the yellow head threw me. So looked them up when I got home and realized they are three-toed woodpeckers...cool! A life bird for me!



This is the view above Emerald lake.......


So I headed back down the trail and now it was getting crowded with people hiking up the trail. Old people, kids, athletes, and out of shape people hiked by me as I descended the trail. Again, lots of hellos and are we almost there were the conversations I had with folks. But there's always one jerk and I'm pretty sure he was a red sox fan. As he hiked by he said " oh wearing your Yankee cap because they won last night"? I quickly responded "I wear it ALL the time"! That shut him up pretty quick as I only see red sox caps are here when they are winning......

By the time I got back to the parking lot, it was full and there were at least 50 cars waiting as I drove out. Definitely pays to get to the trails early! 
I had a great time and while I did miss having Hazel dog with me, I will head back soon for more exploring!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Checking Out Walden Ponds



  Well, time sure flies when you're having fun! As you may have noticed, it's been awhile since I did a blog. Hazel and I have done some fun hikes such as the BVR loop in Boulder and Button Rock. I have brought my camera along but haven't got any pics worth blogging about. So today I decided to go check out Walden ponds in Boulder and get some fun pics to blog about. Dogs are allowed at Walden ponds but they do have to be on leash. That is not fun for either of us, so Hazel stayed home and got some extra sleep.

It was a chilly 24' when I got to Walden ponds. Brrrrrrrrrrr



There was still a bit of mist on the first pond....


I heard a familiar sound and soon realized it was the widgeons! They spend the summer up north and come down here for the winter. There were at least 50 or so in the pond. This is a male and female enjoying breakfast.



After seeing the widgeons, it got super quiet. Sure I heard a kingfisher, some sparrows and some geese. But no one was close enough to get pics of. I hiked around for about 2 hours enjoying the beautiful,brisk morning.
I decided to go see if the dipper was at 75th which is right up the road from Walden ponds.
As I drove out of Walden, I noticed a large white object. So I pulled over and soon saw it was a young pelican! And as a bonus, it was a sweet reflection pic, my favorite!





Notice the reflection of the snow covered mountains?




Here's the mountains that were reflected with the pelican.



After enjoying the pelican, I stopped at 75th St to look for the dipper but no luck.
So I decided to stop by Pella Crossing on the way home. Pella Crossing was decimated during the 2013 floods and finally opened up last month. It can get crowded there on weekends but it was pretty quiet this morning. So I checked out some of the trails. 
I did see some wood ducks but they weren't in a good place for pics. But the views were spectacular!

This is Mt Meeker and Long's Peak! 


 Well, it was pretty quiet as far as photographing wildlife but still a gorgeous day to be out and enjoying Nature!
Thanks for reading!


Sunday, September 3, 2017

My New Etsy Page



        Here's what I've been doing the last month or so. Setting up an Etsy page for my recycled clocks. The idea came to me about a year ago, so I started experimenting with different ways to design the clocks. Life happened as I bought a condo and moved last winter. It came with a garage- score! But it took awhile to get the garage set up as a workshop. Finally all the stars aligned and I got a few clocks put together and ready to sell! As you can see I used some of my favorite photos to make each clock unique.
     I have plans to also do custom clocks for people using their favorite photo. So stay tuned for that......
And I have plans for new items on my Easy page such as potholders made from t-shirts and of course I will be adding my notecards and photo prints too!

Just go to www.etsy.com and search for mollydog designs to see what I'm selling. As readers of my blog, I will happily discount any of my items for you! Contact me directly at alexaboyes@icloud.com and we can make it happen!

Thanks!




This photo is an old truck I saw up in Gold Hill and then used the prism app to make it look like a painting.



mountain goat youngsters on Mt Evans



Award winning photo of a red fox



Moose at Brained lake



Barn on 75th St in town of Hygiene using the prism app



I call this sunrise owlet



Thanks for checking out my Easy page!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse 2017



     Of course I had to go down to my favorite place for the eclipse! I was very curious to see if the birds behaviors would be affected by the eclipse. Since I'm so familiar with what is "normal" it seemed like the perfect place to go. 

 My normal routine when I go out photographing is to get up early( before sunrise), get Hazel and the kitties taken care of, grab my coffee and head out for the morning....
But today I had to change it up. The eclipse was going to be at peak at 11:47am in the Denver area. So there was no reason to get down there early. So Hazel and I did a nice long walk. Then I had coffee and breakfast before heading down. I knew one issue would be traffic. And it was as it took an additional 1/2 hour to get to my favorite place but I allowed for that.

I arrived around 10am and it was HOT! Luckily there were lots of shady spots to get out of the hot Colorado sun!

I spotted a family of gadwalls. Here's a cute female......



And there were about 7 snowy egrets around! They put on quite the show!











A great blue heron flew by......




Oh yea! Best reflection shot that I've ever gotten!





Most of snowy shots were taken during the eclipse. I really thought that at 92% of totality, it would have gotten darker but no such luck! The light got a bit funky and I tried to capture it was photos of one of the ponds at different times but all the pics looked the same. Bummer... but what was noticeable was the temperature drop. I'd guess around 5-7 degrees which was very welcome!

There were quite a few people around the ponds enjoying the eclipse. I met a nice young gal and an older woman. The older gal had some eclipse glasses and happily shared them with us. So it was fun to exchange comments and oohs and aaahs as the eclipse happened.

As the sun came back and the temps heated back up, I decided to do one last lap to check on all by bird friends. I never saw the swainsons or the coopers hawks but I did find these young wood ducks. Boy have they grown since I saw them a few months ago.
They were very busy stretching and flapping their wings. I don't think they can fly yet but I bet they're close!





This is a young male wood duck......



And here's a young female wood duck. Even at this early age, it's possible to see what sex they are.....



And finally this gadwall was very hungry as she was chowing down...




Besides the temperature drops, the shadows got funky! Here's my hand. It should be crisp but it's blurry because of the eclipse!


And this is the shadow of the leaves from a tree..funky!!!!



Well, it was fun but I did not notice any change in the wildlife as the eclipse happened. And I do understand now why people wanted to be where it would be 100%. Maybe the one in 2024 will be my chance to see it at 100% totality!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hot Fun On A Summer Day



There was no question of where to go photographing today! I had to head down to my favorite place to check on the mergansers, the avocets, the cooper's hawks and the 
swainson's hawks too.

So with coffee and some breakfast packed up, I was in the car at 5am and driving down to Lakewood.

I was hoping the cooper's hawks were out of the nest but still close by. Yup! I saw all three youngsters. Two were in the dead tree and one was perched high in one of the spruce trees.






A western kingbird flew into the same tree and the young cooper was pretty excited.....


Yes, these hawks eat small birds but not today.......



I went looking for the avocets but there was no sign of them. Damn, my guess is the chicks didn't make it and the parents moved on......

I did see this cute spotted sandpiper......



And here's a cormorant family....



I continued on and watched this great blue heron do some fishing. Not sure what he/she caught but I'm sure it was yummy!



Yes! Last time I was here, I only saw one female wood duck. Today I spotted two females and a few ducklings!


Here's a couple of the wood duck kids.



Here's a male mallard in eclipse plumage. After breeding season the males molt and lose the ability to fly for a few weeks. You can see the green is starting to come back.....



After enjoying the wood ducks, I went looking for the swainson's. And there was Mrs. Swainson enjoying the beautiful morning.......


I heard a familiar sound of the western kingbird! There seems to be a bumper crop of these guys this year!


There also seems to be quite a few young kingfishers this year. I saw them everywhere but especially at the back pond. 






I spent quite a long time attempting to get pics of them hitting the water to grab a fish. This was the best I got, so more practice is needed.......





I doubled back to check on the wood ducks and this downy wood pecker showed up....



Here's the youngsters.....



 
And here are the two momma wood ducks.........




I decided to walk back to check on the cooper's hawks. On the way I spotted this young kestrel.....



Wow! I noticed something I had never noticed before. Eye color! This first pic is not good quality but check out the red eye color.

And this youngster has light green eye color. So I did some research and learned that they go through a few eye colors on the way to being an adult. Red is the normal color for the adult, so the youngster with the light red eye is reaching maturity a bit sooner than the other cooper.....cool!


Next I headed over to the main gazebo and the barn swallow nests were everywhere! I attempted to get some pics but no luck. Then I remembered I had a flash on my camera and got this!



I headed back to see the wood ducks by walking along the south end of the big pond. There were so many young barn swallows.......







There are at least five types of swallows around here but all I saw was the barn swallows.
Finally a lone tree swallow was spotted hanging with the barn swallows......



So I got back to the wood duck area and met up with Neal and Rich. Both are avid birders and fun to chat with.
Neal mentioned he saw a black crown night heron just down the trail, so I went looking for him.
Oh! He was on the other side of the water way but I was able to get a few pics of him enjoying some lovely frog!




The turtles made an appearance....


Here's a frog that wasn't breakfast.......





So I had looked for the hooded merganser youngsters on the back pond but had no luck. But when I chatted with the guys, Rich said he had just seen them. So I hustled back there and there they were! Wow! They are just about full size already! There were five youngsters last time I was here and now there are four. Pretty good as there is a high attrition rate among ducklings......



While watching the ducks, I heard some commotion and saw one of the swainson's hawks was getting bombarded by some kingbirds.....









 Finally after lots of preening, they snuggled together and took a nap.......





  

Whew! It was getting hot and I realized I'd been photographing for four hours...sweet! Time flies when you're having fun!

So I headed back towards the car. But along the way, a chickadee posed for me.....


And thanks to Neal for pointing out this mourning dove nest. I would have never spotted him. The male sits on the nest during the day and the female does the night shift.....cool!



Of course I had to check on the cooper's one last time. Along the way I spotted another young kestrel.....


The young cooper's were not close by but I did spot one of the parents. I think it was dad....


Well, it was such an amazing morning! It was well worth getting up super early for such a fun day! Thanks for reading!