Friday, August 10, 2012

Join the Great Backyard Bee Count-Sat, Aug 11

Bees are very important because they are major pollinators of many of both the pretty flowers we enjoy but many foods we eat. And there is a problem with bees that has been called 'colony collapse disorder' with beekeepers reporting a loss of 30-90% of their hives! I plant flowers like the sunflower above to bring and nourish bees, both the non-native honey bees and native bees, in my yard. They have rewarded by efforts by very successfully pollinating my tomato and pepper plants providing a bountiful harvest.

The Great Backyard Bee Count is a chance for everyone to help by counting bees in their own yard this Saturday, August 11. This will provide important information from us 'citizen scientists' about where and how many bees there are, information that is lacking.

 What do you need to take part in the bee count
    • Just 15 minutes this Saturday, August 11
    • "You can participate by growing some bee friendly plants in your yard and then taking 15 minutes out of your day to count the bees that visit them. "
    • You do NOT need to be a 'bee expert'-they have guides to help you identify what you see including 'How to tell a Bee'.
    • (there are other insects that look like bees that are also found on pollinating flowers)
And do add some pollinator plants to your yard, try at least one native or near-native plant (like the pretty blanketflower above).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Black bear taking a cool dip in the river


This is the second bear I have run into (the first was close to really running into, only 25 feet away-need to get those pics up soon) in the past 2 weeks. But this one was not anywhere near town or residences, just out in nature where bears should be and apparently wanting to take a dip in the Arkansas River to cool off on another 90+ hot day.

At first I thought it was trying to swim across, but it just put it's body (and a big body at that) into a deep pool, and pushed against the current in place, sometimes dipping it's chin into the water. I am, btw, about 150 feet away on the other side of the river at my car (my camera and lens combo plus cropping lets me take photos that look much closer than I would want to be).

When the bear got out it walked into some thick vegetation and appeared to roll around on the ground (couldn't quite see that but that's what it looked like as tall vegetation fell over). It is refreshing to see a bear being a bear. SeEtta

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Acorn Woodpeckers in Pueblo Mtn Park--breeding


The Acorn Woodpecker pair that was found in Pueblo Mtn Park that I blogged about here on June 20, 2012 have continued to be seen regularly. A recent post stated that the birds had been seen entering an apparent nest hole. I drove there yesterday to see if I could get some photo documentation. I am delighted to say that I got documentation of the birds carrying food into the nest hole and what is likely fecal sacs out of it--per Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas II should be evidence of 'confirmed' breeding.

In the top photo the female has a large flying insect in her bill, looks like a large fly, that she takes into the apparent nest hole in the tree. Please note that I was a good 150 feet from the nest tree (and though I stayed in my car to reduce disturbance, the birds did appear to be aware of my presence and would turn towards me they heard the mechanical sounds of my taking a photo)--I have a camera set-up that is approx 900mm in equivalence and then I crop the photos for even close views. As much as they may be used to having people around I think it is responsible to photograph and view the birds at their nest hole from at least a hundred feet. SeEtta

Acorn Woodpecker, male also bringing food


I got better photos of the female entering the nest hole with food while better ones of the male as it exited the nest hole as seen here. I did observe and photograph the male bringing what looked like an insect into the nest hole but the photo quality wasn't great. Here it is exiting with what is likely a fecal sac and flying off with it. SeEtta

As I noted above, please note that I was a good 150 feet from the nest tree (and though I stayed in my car to reduce disturbance, the birds did appear to be aware of my presence and would turn towards me they heard the mechanical sounds of my taking a photo)--I have a camera set-up that is approx 900mm in equivalence and then I crop the photos for even close views. As much as they may be used to having people around I think it is responsible to photograph and view the birds at their nest hole from at least a hundred feet.

Acorn Woodpecker, the female

I watched this Acorn Woodpecker flycatching over a small pond at Pueblo Mtn Park yesterday. I drove down there because I could do a lot of birding from my car, which I have to do because I am recovering from a nasty bout of acute bronchitis. Acorn, Red-headed and Lewis's Woodpeckers sally out after flying insects. SeEtta

'Beauty and the Beak' video: eagle gets new beak

This is a heart warming video about the great work done to save a Bald Eagle whose beak had been partially shot off by the director of Birds of Prey Northwest and some unique volunteers. "More than three years after a poacher shot off her upper beak, a bald eagle named Beauty can finally live up to her name - with the help of volunteers. A team attached an artificial beak to the 15-pound eagle in mid-May, improving her appearance and, more importantly, helping her grasp food." SeEtta (not sure what I did but didn't have the video loaded properly before, should work now)