A Family Of Big Horn Sheep Were Just Adorable Here In Estes Park!

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The Big Horn Sheep usually come down in March to eat after the heavy snows up in the mountains, but we’ve seen them several times so far this season. The snow must be pretty deep up there.

I took this photograph by the side the our road. I thought the three little ones were just adorable! They had come down for some grass to eat…it was much easier finding it under just a few inches of snow than way up there! Cute, aren’t they?

This Bull Elk Can Eat Anything He Wants In Estes Park

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I love it when the elk come into our yard this time of year. They just stay and munch and munch and munch. And this time of year, they can eat anthing they want! 

This guy had just finished eating many of the dead plants in our front yard and was going across the driveway to start on the flowers on the other side. (I don’t cut everything back in the fall so that they can have something to feast on in the winter.) I walked out the front door to get a picture and he obliged by turning around and posing! Gorgeous, isn’t he?

Pretty Red Berries Remind Me Of The Holidays In RMNP

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I took this photograph last summer while I was on the Cub Lake Loop Trail. I thought it was so pretty and the deep red and green reminded me of the holidays. I thought this would be a perfect time to post it on my Blog.

However, I cannot find out what it is. It looks like a boxwood leaf but the berries look totally different in the book that I have. And then I wondered if it was a Kinnikinnick. The leaves look similar and they do get red berries at the end of the season. Can anyone help me out?

Amazing Cloud Over Old Man Mountain In Estes Park!

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A few weeks ago we had 100+ mph winds here in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. They felt like they were going to rip the roof off and cave in the windows. We had never felt anything like it out here before. And they lasted almost an entire day and night!

Phil took this photograph from our living room right before the high winds began. It looks like a funnel cloud to me. Doesn’t it?

You Can See Lots Of Squirrel Midden Under The Pine Trees In Rocky Mountain National Park

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Midden is an old word for garbage dump. Squirrel midden contains the remnants of pine cones and shells left behind as the squirrel seeks out the seeds enclosed in them. Sometimes squirrels use the middens themselves to burrow in and hide more food.

 Sitting on their favorite branch, stump, or wherever, they pull the outside bits of the cone off, letting them fall to the ground below, and eat the seeds inside. The piles of left-over pine cone bits below are often easily found around a fir tree forest floor. They can get pretty big.

Squirrels also hide or store their food for the winter. They do not always remember where they have hidden some of the pine cones. Often you will see holes around the midden where they may or may not have had a successful search. Some of the forgotten ones may grow into pine trees.

Why store food? Squirrels do not hibernate, they remain active through out the winter. The extra caches of food can come in handy when supplies are low during the cold months.

It’s fun to walk along the trail and see “midden” left by the squirrels as they forage for the seeds in the pine cones. If you look closely, you can find many of these heaps of midden along the trails that you had never noticed before.

Four Beautiful Trumpeter Swans Came To Visit Lake Estes!

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It’s always fun to see a new bird down on Lake Estes. These four Trumpeter Swans were just swimming around a couple of weeks ago. They are so beautiful. Back east we had Mute Swans which had black and orange beaks.

Trumpeter Swans, which are the world’s largest species of waterfowl, are frequently found in the Rocky Mountains. They are present year-round in the Yellowstone area, with hundreds gathering there on open water during the winter.

The Trumpeter Swans get their name from their loud, bugling voice. They are a beautiful bird, aren’t they?

A New Christmas Advent Calendar For My Two Little Granddaughters…And Another One On The Way!

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When my kids were little I made them an Advent Calendar to start the holiday season. It was so much fun to make. Each ornament was special to them. My daughter loved kitties so I made a cat for her and my son loved Scooby Doo so of course, we had to have Scooby Doo on the tree too. It was great and the kids loved it! They’d run downstairs in anticipation each morning to put a new ornament on the Advent Calendar. My daughter was the oldest so she put the first ornament on Dec. 1st and then all of the odd numbers and my son had all of the even numbers. It was fun filling each little pocket with the ornaments that I knew they would want to put on the tree.

My daughter started having her own family a few years ago and kept looking for an Advent Calendar but just couldn’t find one that she liked. For a present for the girls this year, I decided to surprise them with an Advent Calendar complete with the things they love…a butterfly, a crown, ballet slippers, a dog, a book, flower, Santa, a snowman, a soccer ball, etc. It is so cute and was so much fun to make. It took me most of the summer!

When I started making it my daughter had just gotten pregnant so I added a train, a block and a few more less “feminine” ornaments. Well, she’s due in January with another little girl so it’s “Three girls for us!  Mom.” The girls who are 3 3/4 years  and 21 months just love it! They wake up each morning and run downstairs to put a new ornament on their own Advent Calendar. “Grammie, I put the ballet slippers on today!” What fun and such a treasure they can keep forever and remember the excitement when they were so young!

Wishing  a Happy Holiday to you all!

Handicapped Accessible Campsite At Sprague Lake In Rocky Mountain National Park

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Being a Special Education Teacher for 30+ years I have always had an affinity for those who are handicapped. They pull at my soul and yank at my heart and I just love them.

When I first moved to Estes Park a few years ago I wrote a seminar for handicapped kids through the Rocky Mountain Nature Association. It was wheelchair accessible near the Lake Estes Trail and focused on nature and all of the things that we find in nature…wildflowers, wildlife, birds, plants, trees, etc.

I never knew that there was a Handicapped Accessible Campsite in RMNP until someone told me about it last summer. I took a walk around Sprague Lake and saw the signs for the campsite. It is off of the trail so that it is very private. There are spots for tents and picnic tables that are wheelchair accessible. There are bear-proof boxes to store their food, a grill and even a privy on site! What a perfect campsite.

What a great opportunity for kids or adults with any handicap to share in the experience of camping outdoors…and at such a beautiful location at Sprague Lake in RMNP.

There’s A Storm Brewing Over Longs Peak In RMNP

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We could see the black clouds moving in over Longs Peak. If you looked one way, the skies were blue and beautiful and if you turned around you could see the huge storm brewing over Longs Peak. It was pretty spectacular!

We had taken a drive up to Bear Lake to see what the snow conditions were like for snowshoeing. It was a beautiful morning to walk around Bear Lake. You could tell they had about 2-3 feet of snow because the benches around the lake and Nature Trail posts were almost buried.

It was  just a beautiful day to be in Rocky mountain National Park…the views were just incredible!

Northern Pigmy Owl In A Bush On The Side Of the Road In Estes Park

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One of my friends, Gayl, had a “new knee” put in last summer and hasn’t been able to take her little dog for much of a walk lately. Well, I love to walk so Abby and I have become fast friends!

Yesterday on one of our walks I saw a little bird in a bush right off the sidewalk  where Wonderview and Elkhorn Avenues intersect. The closer I got, I realized that it was a small owl. I quickly called Phil and he came right down. He’s always loved to photograph birds and he thought it was a Pygmy-Owl. Gayl is an artist and loves to paint and sketch owls so Phil went back to get her. She would just love this opportunity to see an owl so close. What a treat!

The little owl just sat there and posed for us for about 15 minutes. When we got home, Gayl got out her newer book on Small Owls and we saw that indeed it was a Northern Pigmy-Owl. They are appropriately named because they are the smallest owl, only about 7″ long and weighing 3.5 oz. It is interesting that it frequently catches prey that outweighs it.

The Pygmy-Owl is able to guard itself from predators because it has “false eyes” on the back of its head that stare blankly at you. These eyes scare larger birds away because they are less likely to attack a bird that is looking in their direction. Thus the Pygmy-Owl “guards” its own back.

The Pygmy-Owls typically nest in abandoned woodpecker nests and natural tree hallows. They usually feed between dusk and dawn, eating small rodents, large insects, small birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park outdoor adventure and outdoor photography blog. Explore the RMNP Blog and the Estes Park Blog to discover ALL the amazing, hidden beauty that nature has to offer.