found bones

The other day, hiking near Round Mountain in Castle Valley (we call it Round Mound), I spotted this spine + ribs just off the path–probably from a deer, probably killed by coyotes.

It has to have been there for awhile, picked clean and bleached white.

pronghorn

I see small groups of these when I drive to Grand Junction once a week. They are fast, and very wary of cars.

It’s been hard to get a picture of them, but today I captured a few. Really happy with how this turned out:

sunset storms

Something about the geography of our valley makes the summertime pop-up storms avoid us, for the most part. Arches, to the west, and the La Sal Mountains to the east seem to get 80% of the action.

While we could use the water, I can’t complain about the view…

eclipse

Beth and I drove out to the Trail of Time, a path with informational sign-posts in a fossil-rich area (part of the Morrison Formation), just inside the Colorado border.

Among the desert scrub and near an ongoing, active escavation, we watched the eclipse.

Out here, the eclipse approached about 87% totality at 11:40 a.m.

Afterward, we had a great lunch in Fruita, and went wading in the Colorado River.

It was a good day!

scorpion

Nope

My morning routine is pretty solid:
– let dogs out
– drink coffee asap
– have no interactions with arachnids

Found this scorpion in the sink, very startling.

I don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with this so early, so I trapped it under a mason jar, and then put the dish tub a top it so I wouldn’t have to look at it so the cats wouldn’t go after it.

Later in the day Beth helped transfer it outside, where we let it go free.

rufous

Every year in April, hummingbirds arrive in Castle Valley. At first it’s only one species, the black-chinned hummingbird.

Around late July, another species arrives: the Rufous hummingbird. Quick research suggest why: the black-chinned hummingbird travels from northern US/southern Canada to winter in Mexico, while the Rufous hummingbird starts its journey much further north, around Alaska. As it makes its way to Mexico it stops for a bit in Castle Valley.

Yesterday following a rain storm, I went outside to try and snap a few pictures of the Rufous hummingbird–as I have taken several of the black-chinned.

My iPhone camera did all right, but many of the shots (of the unmoving, perched bird) were blurry. Some day I’ll get a better a camera.

Here’s the best shot, full-sized image:

hummingbirds

In the little garden just outside my office, I have a few bird feeders set up. Mostly little sparrows and, more recently, lazuli bunting. I love watching them fly about, chattering and arguing about who is entitled to which perch.

Beneath the feeders, even more little birds hop about and eaten the fallen seeds on the ground. There are also little ground squirrels and big fat tree squirrels picking through the blanket of seed husks for something dropped–not just discarded.

Frequently, we see cottontail rabbits passing through or digging into the red topsoil and stretching out in the cooler dirt beneath

My favorite, though, are the hummingbirds.

They arrive in mid-to-late April and stay through early fall.

This year I was ready for them, and had several feeders set up as soon as I saw the first one. In the last two weeks or so, the little birds have really increased in number. It rained today, and the temperature didn’t climb above mid-40s, but the hummingbirds were out in force.

At one point, I saw 6-8 of them drinking from the feeder at the same time, while still others buzzed around them.

Mostly, they spend their time defending the feeder (very territorial, these birds) or trying to slip in and get a drink.

I walked out this evening and stood very still right next to the hummingbird feeder. I’d say I was about a foot or less away. Before too long they came back to the feeder and were as active as ever. I recorded a video as I stood. Quite an experience having them hover near, checking me out, or buzzing my head as they flew past.

Here’s the video:


 

Bonus, here’s Castleton Tower, Priest and Nuns, and Adobe Mesa lit up during sunset:

Firefighting

I’m back in Flagler Beach, FL to visit my mother (who was recently in the hospital–she’s doing great now).

On Thursday, I went for a drive near the intracoastal waterway in the golf cart with Dad. We heard a helicopter, but didn’t see one for a bit. We pulled over and walked near the water. Here’s what we saw:

A helicopter near the river in Florida

A helicopter hovering near the water. We watched as it dipped the bucket in and flew over to the fire to drop. I’ve never seen anything like it. Amazing.

Here’s a video of the scooping and dropping:

Hello World, 2017

2017

The first sunrise of 2017 in Castle Valley comes quietly, draped in clouds and with snow still on the ground from Christmas’s winter storm.

Hello, little new year. I hope you will be kind to us…

morning storms

There’s a particular glow the valley gets when there’s a rainbow. It’s hard to describe, but I can always tell there’ll be a rainbow when I look outside while the light looks a certain way.

It’s like half the valley is lit by spotlights, and those bright objects are set against a dark sky. Very dramatic.

This morning, after being battered by wind all night, I woke up to see a strong line of storms coming our way. I started working at my computer before the sun rose, but at some point after sunrise, I looked up and saw that glow.

 

Here’s what I found stretching over the valley:

morning-rainbow

Amazing.

You can kind of see the glow I’m talking about but, like the rainbow, it’s much clearer in person.

This is the first rainbow I’ve really seen in the morning, and it was so… intense. Hard to capture, but my phone has a pretty decent camera.  Here are some more pics from this morning:

sunrise

the weird light/shadow of this morning

intense-rainbow

picture that comes closest to showing the brilliance of color

lasal-sunrise

the sunrise, the storm, the La Sal Mountains

rainbowhouse

our house + rainbow(s)

eerie-light

Castleton + a storm

double-rainbow

double rainbow, ya’ll