Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Training @ClearCreek

During July Joan and I took several hikes at Clear Creek Metro Park to train for our next trip to the Canadian Rockies. There wasn't much we could do to prepare for the high altitudes, but we could tramp up and down the ravines and hills of the park to toughen up our legs, lungs, arms, and feet as much as possible. This post will show some of the interesting life-forms we observed along the way.

Birds can be difficult to capture on the camera, being flitty and uncooperative, but I did get some decent images. One of the best is of this female hooded warbler, who hopped around but stayed close to scold us almost continuously. She clearly had a nest nearby.
One of my favorites is the male scarlet tanager. They are common, in the sense of an abundant population, but they're often hard to spot, hanging out high in the canopy. They sound like a robin with a sore throat, as Joan puts it.
Here is juvenile scarlet tanager, still fluffy rather than sleek.
Phoebes had built a nest high in the shelter house at the Barnebey Day Use Area. They had a large brood, as you can see, which had fledged by mid-July.

It's been an extremely wet June and July. We had 23 days with rain out of 30 in June, including 19 straight. July hasn't been any better so far. Not surprisingly the park has a wild exuberance of mushrooms and other fungi. In fact, by July 12th we saw fungi on fungi -- mushrooms coated in mold and other fungal threads.

Here's a really BIG white mushroom.
Nearer the other side of the size spectrum, there's this colony of small tans.
One tree was so mossy from our extended cool, wet summer that it had true mushrooms growing out of it rather than shelf fungi.
Completely different in appearance, this violet coral fungus stopped us in our tracks.
Toads love the super-wet conditions as well. On July 12th we saw ten thumbnail-size or smaller toads on various sections of trail.
They are small and well camouflaged. If they were on the trail we herded them off to the side so they wouldn't be stepped on.
Another creature that we saw was an inch-or-less critter that looked like a very young walking stick, caught on a spider line. Joan rescued it.
One of the meadows by the creek was hosting canada lilies.
Habitat: moist meadows and wood margins. Yup.
My final snapshot is of a moth, perhaps LeConte's Haploa. It's not well camouflaged on these leaves.
In the three days since our last walk we've had rains of 4.1" (only 2¾ at the airport), 0.2", and 0.6", so I'm sure the woods are still wet.

Update 7/18/2015
We returned to Clear Creek on July 16th, after more rain and wind every day since the July 12th hike. The trails were muddier in spots, the streams ran fuller, and there were several "downers" across the trail. Fortunately they were all easy gone around or through.