Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mosquito Bloodbank Donations

Steamboat Springs, CO, is in the broad valley of the Yampa River, one of the few wild rivers left in the state. It took us over four hours to drive here from the Denver airport, with backed up traffic, a rain shower, and of course, the mountains themselves. We drove through the Eisenhower Tunnel, which is 1.693 miles long and at an altitude of 11,013 feet, much higher than Denver or Steamboat Springs.

We first visited the Carpenter Ranch, owned by the Nature Conservancy. Restored from one of the original buildings at this site, a visitor/education center provides both cultural and ecological information about the Valley. The historic barn and house are registered with the Colorado Historical Society. In fact, the director said they currently have four interns from Fern Creek High School in Louisville on the site. The Conservancy's Yampa River Preserve is located just upstream, and we finally found it, but did not find many trails to hike. Barn Swallows are  everywhere!
Any time you see a flash of white in the sky, it will be a Magpie which is about the size of a crow. Of course, there are plenty of crows too, but we haven't seen any ravens yet. Thought we found a Peregrine Falcon along the drive, but it flew off making non-falcon sounds. It may have been a Swainson's Hawk.
 There were lots of Red Tails and even more Kestrels in the grassy flood plains. One hawk got too close, apparently, and the Kestrel dive bombed him and chased him away. Two Sandhill Cranes made enough noise for twenty. The grass and willows are so thick, we never did see the river itself, but we made a generous donation to the Mosquito Blood Bank! Bug spray has no effect on them.
At the ranch house, we were amazed by the number of pine cones on the trees in the front yard where we ate the lunch we packed. Pine Siskins buzzed in the high branches.

The Yampa River Preserve gave us a quick view of the river, but we couldn't walk close to the river, again because of the trees, bushes and grass that surround it. Tomorrow, we'll walk on part of the paved trail along the river right here in town, and I hope to get some good photos of it. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of the wildflower we saw.

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