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Surprises at Hallam Lake

After almost nine months at ACES (has it really been that long?), I'm beginning to feel like I know Hallam Lake well. However, the best thing about Hallam Lake is that there is always something new to find. Last week, after a lot of snow over the weekend, Robin and I were walking around the lake, shoveling out the platforms and bridges. Coming around the corner past the big blue spruce, I saw something exciting ahead of me.


The Mink and the Fish

Mink

About 7:45 Sunday morning before heading to the West Buttermilk beach, I spotted the flash of a brown weaselly animal out of the laundry room window. I yelled for Jamie to quickly look out the bathroom to see what it was. She said it was carrying something and that it was headed back toward the hanging log bird feeder that has had a pine marten in it in past years. I caught up with it as it was going along by the kitchen window and around to the front of the house. Mink!


Winter Birds: Robins and Grosbeaks

Grosbeaks

While some animals hibernate all winter, and some migrate to warmer places, others are active and thriving. We have recently seen pine grosbeaks flying around the mountain ash trees at Hallam Lake! This large and rare member of the finch family is eating the fruit off the ash trees and serviceberries right along the short driveway into ACES. Thankfully Lindsay Fortier captured these birds with her camera before they flew away.


Passing Through

Deer

Sometimes it is really easy to forget that we work at a nature preserve. Six elk grazing in the deep snow on the far end of Hallam Lake can remind you that there are plenty of animals passing through. My coworker Lindsay Gurley spotted these Elk from about 250 yards away with her keen vision. After work I went home to grab my camera and headed right back to Hallam Lake in the fading light. I headed along the Roaring Fork River and tried my best to silently walk through three feet of snow.


Puzzling Prickly Prints

Atop Aspen Mountain I was waiting for guests to join me on a tour. One o’clock passed and no one arrived except a fellow Naturalist, Robin. Instead of taking Robin on a tour that she also leads, we decided to just walk the trail and enjoy the day.  As we walked away from the hustle and bustle of the ski hill we started through the forest. It had just snowed the day before, so the snow was gleaming and untouched. As we walked up a nice hill tracks crossed our paths, I hadn’t seen anything like them before.


You Never Know...

Saturday, January 22nd seemed like a typical Snowmass day, snow was falling and I was prepared for two nice treks through the woods. About 3/4 of the way through my first tour, my group kept hearing the call of Ruby Crowned Kinglets. We stopped to try to locate the birds in the dense spruce trees surrounding us, but they eluded our attempts at spotting them. Just when we were about to give up hope and move on, a birder extraordinaire sighted an owl perfectly camouflaged against the aged bark of an Englemann Spruce.


A Mountain Lion Reality

There is nothing like waking up early and driving 12 miles out of Aspen on a windy road. Actually, there is nothing like waking up early on a snowy Sunday in January and driving up this road before any other vehicle in four inches of new snow. Driving no more than 15mph I was able to make out some tracks on the snow covered road in front of me. Immediately reminded of the book I am currently reading, The Tiger by John Valliant, I stopped my car to investigate.


Best Job Ever?

Many people assume that I (well, we) have the best job ever. And that is definitely true, almost all of the time. Today, however, it was time to clean the eagle cage. For those of you who haven't been to Hallam Lake, our resident eagle spends most of her days outside, on a grassy mound. At night she moves to a large enclosure, with a smaller wooden box inside of it that is open on one side. She spends much of her time inside of this protected space, and so it gets quite filthy. She definitely does not follow the rule of not pooping where you eat!


My first blog ever

Posted in Bulletin Board

So, I must make an admission. This is my first blog...ever. I have given birth to a blog. Hopefully I can raise this blog into a competent, mature, productive member of the online blog community. To kick things off I want to share something special with you, something so incredible you will be required to jump and scream with glee. Wanna know what its about, ey? How about this: Bugs!

Somewhat anti-climatic. I know. Well, I'll let you make the call after you read the story.