Oct 202011
 

 

 

It’s been a beautiful but busy summer at Hummingbird Knob. When not at home in Vail leading the Vail Nature Center Photography workshops and attending concerts by the Dallas Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic at the Bravo Music Festival, we were at our property in western Colorado, Hummingbird Knob.

Several things made for an especially memorable summer. In June, while down at the gate waiting for a delivery of wood for the pergola I added onto Nana’s Cabin, I saw a Wolverine cross the field about 125 yards away. This is a very big deal. Sightings of wolverines are extremely rare. The first wolverine ever seen in the history of Rocky Mountain National Park was only a few years ago! I have no doubt it was a wolverine.

Then in mid-July, we were visited by three Red-tailed Hawk fledglings. I had been watching their nest, watching the parents bring food to the chicks, hoping to see them flying around after they fledged and left the nest. Returning from Vail one Monday afternoon, I went to where I could see the nest only to find it empty. Then, I was extremely surprised to find one of the baby hawks almost at my feet! Over the course of the next few days we I got to see and photograph each of the three young hawks up close and very personal, even having one join us for cocktails one evening.

Later in the summer, I found a note on our gate from a mountain lion researcher who wanted to track a collared lion he’d been tracking for months. I was able to join him several times as he used his GPS to find the sites where she had stashed and eaten her kill. He is a professional tracker and I learned a lot from him about tracking and about mountain lion behavior. Fascinating stuff!

So, it’s been another wonderful summer at Hummingbird Knob.

 

Rufus in intimidation mode.

 

Rufus is one  of the many Rufous Hummingbirds that return every summer. Three other species make our land their summer home; Broad-Ttailed, Black-Chinned and Caliope Hummingbirds. But Hummingbirds have clearly been mis-named. They really should be called Squabblebirds ’cause that’s all they do, squabble and fight. I like to say that if all I ate was sugar and bugs, I’d be irritable too.

 

Wilbur and Wilma Wren return every year to raise their young in our sun.

 

Loads of deer find safe haven around our land.

 

Nana's Cabin and it's new pergola.

 

Green Gentian grow to over six feet in height.

 

We get some pretty amazing lichen and some wonderful moss rocks.

 

Some squirrels made their nest on my solar shower. When I uncovered it for the summer, three frightened, little youngsters held on for dear life.

One of the babies hiding out beneath the shingles on the shower. I hope their mother was able to collect them and take them to safety.

 

A Fuzzy Wuzzy. That's what they call them around here. I don't know it's real name.

 

Yes, we do have mountain lions. I've never seen one, just tracks every once in a while. Yolanda believes she saw one on the road one evening while she was taking a walk.

 

Casey checking out Chipeta's kill.

Casey, a mountain lion researcher left a note on our gate one day wanting access to track a collared female lion, Chipeta, he’d been tracking since February. Chipeta was collared some fifty miles away, had a cub that was likely killed by a tom, a male lion, (they do those sorts of things). Heading southeast, she crossed I-70, then Highway 6, swam the Colorado River, climbed over 10,000 foot Battlement Mesa and ended up around us. Amazingly, she has a real taste for Porcupines. Here, Casey is checking the marrow of a fawn she got. Later that week, I went out with him again to find a buck that she had taken only to find that she had been driven off her kill by a bear who finished her meal.

 

A several month old fawn near Nana's Cabin.

 

This is the second year Cory and Cordelia have raised a brood here. They're Cordilleran Flycatchers.

 

This is Herbie. He probably fledged that morning.

 

I was amazed at how vulnerable he was. Obviously, he and his siblings could fly from the nest, probably making a crash landing but they didn’t seem to be able to get off the ground for a couple days after that. I found each one at different times and different places over three days. They weren’t hard to find sometimes because they would be crying for the parents and all I had to do was follow their cries.

 

Henrietta was out in the open and oh so vulnerable.

 

The parents were screeching at me all the time I was taking pictures but didn’t do anything to try to drive me away. Henrietta’s got a bit of a wound on her breast, probably from flying into the end of a branch. Of course, I have no idea whether she or the others are male or female. This shot really shows off the new feathers though the feathers on their heads weren’t filled in making them look a bit odd.

 

Howie joined us for margaritas one evening. He just sat on the rock completely at ease for about fifteen minutes before waddling off into the bushes.

Here’s a short two minute video I shot on my iPhone of Howie joining us for cocktails. Click on the link below.

Baby Hawk

 

Late summer and the chipmunks stuff themselves with acorns, squirreling them away for winter.

 

Our valley is a rainbow generator. You can just discern the double rainbow above this one.

 

The center of the Milky Way. We're far away from any lights so the sky on a moonless night is spectacular.

 

 

Copyright 2011 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging

www.dreamcatcherimaging.com

 

 

Mar 082011
 

Hummingbird Knob

This year, Yolanda and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary purchasing our cabin and land in Western Colorado, Hummingbird Knob. We constantly remark that this is the best thing we’ve ever done in our lives. Of all the many properties Yolanda has owned over the years, none, has effected her life so dramatically and none is more valuable in non-monetary terms.

During these ten years, we’ve taken the land from being a remote piece of never used wilderness with a shell of a cabin visited solely by mice, flies and the flickers who poked holes in the walls chasing them, to a lovely, remote, cozy little cabin in the woods.

We have lived there for as much as seven months continuously; spring through fall. In winter, we visit for about 4-5 days each month. It’s a bit too difficult, though not impossible, to live there full time during the winter months. It would require lots of firewood especially on those nights like last week when it got down to 17 below zero Fahrenheit.

Every season has its unique beauty. I have never known it to be anything but beautiful. One friend, who visited in early spring, experienced a storm complete with dramatic, daytime displays of thunder and lightning. He said that no matter the weather, it’s always beautiful. And that’s the truth.

It is beautiful, whether it be the profusion of wildflowers and intense greens of spring with the creek raging in flood; the warm, occasionally hot, languid days of summer that bring the ripening of the choke cherries and, our favorite, the-much better than blueberries-serviceberries; the brilliant color of fall with its shortening, indian summer days and golden Aspen, scarlet Gambel Oaks, orange Hawthorne and bright yellow Cottonwoods; or the intensely quiet, pristine landscape of snow-covered trees and frozen creek following a winter storm.

In a phrase: We are blessed.

The Knob, being visited by one of the many elk wintering on our land. Five elk initially were on the knob before I took this. As I approached on snowshoes, this single sentry remained, barking her warning. They sound exactly like dogs.

Our neighbor runs cattle in the fall on the hayfields above our land and drives them down to lower pastures when the snow gets to deep.

We have the privilege of accessing our neighbors 600 acres. The 360 degree view, isolation and utter serenity in winter is, to say the least, marvelousl.

Ermina and her family are year-round residents, turning tan in summer. She's an Ermine.

I've been building a portfolio of snow and ice formations I find on our creek:

Porky hangs out in the oaks, napping safely in the branches to conserve energy during the winter. When I took this, after noisily bushwacking on snowshoes through the thicket, his attitude was one of, "Aw come on. Can't you just let me nap in peace?"

On the middle bench: Gambel Oaks, Serviceberry bushes and a Blue Spruce, typical of much of our land.

Well over one hundred aspens populate our small aspen grove.

A view from our deck: Blue Spruce during a gentle, winter storm.

Three young spruce on the creek bench.

Wild turkeys are frequent visitors in the spring, summer and fall, but rare in winter.

I found Rocky trying to get at my bird feeders one gorgeous, January day.

Looking down from the deck to the creek bench.

My Playhouse, uh, I mean, my office.

My Playhouse, uh, I mean my office.

Nana's Cabin, our guest cabin on the upper bench. We built it as a memorial to Yolanda's mother and contains some furniture, books, knic-knacks and pictures that belonged to her.

The interior of Nana's Cabin. With it's small loft, containing a queen mattress and futon, it sleeps four.

Our solar shower gets little use in the winter for obvious reasons.

A view from the deck after a fresh snowfall.

Copyright 2010 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging

www.dreamcatcherimaging.com