Thursday, June 28, 2012

Top 10 Wildlife in Danger from Colorado fires

It is really hard to imagine how fortunate one can be when they travel.  I was in Colorado for 12 days and returned on June 9th, the day the lightning struck and started the devastating fires that are now burning out of control.  I was lucky to be able to visit some very beautiful spots in our country.

National Parks, National Monument and National Forests, Colorado has them all.

The magpie was the first critter I was able to get a photograph of.  He was on the campus of the United States Air Force Academy.  Someone said "oh that's just a magpie".    I have never seen a magpie.  I thought he was beautiful.

This Great Horned Owl was spotted by a local in Estes Park on our way to Colorado National Monument, in a parking lot of all places.  He was by far the coolest bird I ever saw. Don't let those squinted eyes fool you, he was awake and fully aware of his surroundings.  He would slowly turn from the right to the left.  He was tucked into the ledge and there was no way any human could get to him. The color of his feathers blended in with the rocks so perfectly it was hard to find him.

 This Lizard at Mesa Verde National Park also was in camouflage blending perfectly into the soil.  If he had not slithered my way, I would have never jumped and screamed to acknowledge I saw him.  He just smiled.  He and a buddy were playing a game of hide and seek and then they would chase each other.  I wasn't the attraction at all.
 Chipmunks at  Colorado National Monument are just about the friendliest creatures I came across.  Not only do they readily pose for pictures, they will come right up to you and nibble on your fingers looking for food. Marmot hang out in Rocky Mountain National Park also.

 In Rocky Mountain National Park Wapti, the white tailed elk were spotted.  Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations which establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.  Our tour director went into a very long descriptive explanation about rutting.  I can never use the word rut again without the visualization. This guy looks so innocent.  (photo by Ray Rolls of Chula Vista, California, a fellow tourist in Colorado).

 Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center has the bears and that is a good thing.  I met a woman at one of the hotels we stayed in and she feeds bears in her backyard and knows you are not supposed to.  She showed me pictures on her IPhone.  The bear was hanging on the railing of her back porch eating peanut butter.  Shakin my head, how many times in your life have you seen the sign, please don't feed the bears?  I'm guessing she never got the memo. (photo by Ray Rolls of Chula Vista, California, a fellow tourist in Colorado).

This donkey was located at a ranch near Grand Junction where we boarded rafts for a wild ride down the Colorado River. Rafters identify the rapids by number, our ripples were a minus 1. I however survived to tell the tale.  The donkey was cool. He also was in a relationship, I didn't need Facebook to know that.  There was this lady donkey hanging near by, eyes focused on hi at all times.  I wasn't sure if she was disgusted with him or it was just plumb hot that day.  He mosied over my way and she was close behind.   We were just chatting.

Also along the Colorado River during that near fatal trip we saw a Blue Heron.  How could a minus 1 ripple ride be so dangerous you ask?  Lunch was served prior to the one hour ride down the river.  We had pulled pork, beans and potato salad.  The meal was every cowboys dream and no bathrooms on board. Cheeks hung on to the side of the moving watercraft.  One false move and we could have all gone down. I believe the heron knew what was going on.  Storm clouds were a brewin but we manage to make it to dry land safely.

  A feral horse at Mesa Verde National Park. Feral is a common word used to describe a lot of animals in Colorado because they still run wild and free.  I think this one was playing possum.  He did not make a move and tried his very best to blend it with his environment.  There is not a lot of that happening in my neck of the woods but we have had a fox recently.
They are many beautiful birds and I could make a guess at the name of this bird and have a 1% chance of getting it right.  He was near the visitor center at Mesa Verde National Park and if I can just give you two words to describe him or her it would be beautiful and patient.  This big allowed me to take several photos as I approached closer and closer.  Eventually, he had enough but he let me get this great photo.

Turkey Vulture spotted while traveling along the Royal Gorge Railway.  I know this from the red head on him. This was a cue given to us by our tour director.

It was hard to believe a ladybug at such high elevations, but there she was.

 Animal Tracks Garden of the Gods
 Bison (Buffalo) at Garden of the Gods.  I did see a group off in a distance they were farm raised and I also had my first bison burger. in Silverton.  It is suppose to be very lean meat and good for you.  It tasted like a regular burger to me.

 Great Horned Ram statue at Garden of the Gods.  I was told by this kid in a bookstore in Durango that I would see a lot of Great Honed Sheep at the Garden of the Gods.  I only saw this statue.


  1. nice pics and were glad you're safe...

  2. Thank you. We were very fortunate to see a beautiful part of our country. My sympathies go to those who have lost their homes and those whose homes are still in danger. We saw a little sign of smoke in the Ft. Collins area well before this all erupted. It is very dry in that area of the country there was not much snow this year and they experience crazy weather patterns.