Science Geek Blog

2022 Pika Patrol Part 1

Every year, my husband and I look forward to hiking up to the high country to check on the pika that live there, as part of the Colorado Pika Projects‘ monitoring efforts. We’ve been doing it for five years now, but when pressed by friends as to what it is that we enjoy so much,Continue reading “2022 Pika Patrol Part 1”

Patterns in Nature

I started off thinking this post was going to be about the fact that sunflowers make two different kinds of flowers, which I think is really interesting. When we think of sunflowers, we think of the big showy flowers around a central disk. But the disk is made up of flowers, too! And actually, theContinue reading “Patterns in Nature”

Hummer migration

You know I love hummingbirds. I love to see them and I love to photograph them. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to watch them, at least. I’ve been getting up just before dawn (5:30 MDT) and can see them at a feeder in the garden. Photographing them has been a little tougher — at thatContinue reading “Hummer migration”

Pollinator Week — Butterflies

It’s Pollinator Week! Pollinators are animals that pollinate plants. As my friend TZ at Notes in Nature (https://notes-in-nature.org/2022/06/20/pollinators/) explains, the group includes bats, birds, and bugs of all sort. This includes butterflies. Butterflies are incredible pollinators, visiting flowers of every type, in all sorts of environments. Western Swallowtails are some of the most common butterflyContinue reading “Pollinator Week — Butterflies”

Tegan’s Turn?

As you may remember from before we shut down for the pandemic two years ago, my dogs and I volunteer at a local hospital as Pet Therapy teams. We had to pause through the worst of the Covid onslaught, of course, but we started back up again last spring. The dogs remembered what to doContinue reading “Tegan’s Turn?”

Birds of the Bitter Cold

Temperature records fell throughout the central United States yesterday, as a cold front moved down from Canada. We dropped to -2oF, and we aren’t expected to warm up much before the weekend. We always think of our feathered friends on days like this, so I went out early to clean off the feeders. I hadContinue reading “Birds of the Bitter Cold”

My Bad … It’s a Northern Shrike After All

Last night we got a wonderful photo of a shrike. In my excitement about identifying it, I got the website windows mixed up. Upon further review, this is a Northern Shrike, not a Logger head. https://amylawscigeek.com/2022/01/26/loggerhead-shrike/ So what’s the difference? Well, everything I claimed in my previous post was for a Loggerhead is really forContinue reading “My Bad … It’s a Northern Shrike After All”

Loggerhead — OOOPS — Northern Shrike

Author’s Note — after writing this post last night, I realized that I got the two browser windows confused, and wrongly identified the bird we saw as a Loggerhead, when it was actually a Northern Shrike. I have struck out the wrong name where appropriate. My next post compares the two birds. (https://amylawscigeek.com/2022/01/27/my-bad-its-a-northern-shrike-after-all/) Like soContinue reading “Loggerhead — OOOPS — Northern Shrike”

Owl Serenade

My husband nudged me awake last night at 3:30. “Did you hear that?” My sleep groggy brain struggled to consciousness. “What? A bugler? The fire alarm? Incoming missiles?” “No…there!” And I heard it: “Whoo HOO hoo oo! Whoo HOO hoo oo!” And the response in a different tone, from a slightly different direction: “Whoo HOOContinue reading “Owl Serenade”

Snow, finally?

A much anticipated storm brought snow to the Denver area today. It remains to be seen whether or not it will produce the one half inch required at Denver International Airport to be recorded as our official first snow of the season. But here is the storm track anticipated by the National Weather Service: REALLY???!!!Continue reading “Snow, finally?”

Sleeping Bees

While I was out rummaging in the garden several mornings ago, I made a surprising discovery: I found a bee asleep in one of my hollyhock blossoms. You’ll have to take my word for it, I suppose. But you can kinda tell by the way she is deep inside the flower, and yet not gatheringContinue reading “Sleeping Bees”

Baby Bunny Gets Nailed

Yesterday evening, I heard a hawk screaming in our front yard. When I went out to see what was going on, I saw it “mantling” over something it had caught. When I looked closer, I realized it was a baby cottontail rabbit. We have been overrun by cottontails this year. I’ve heard that it isContinue reading “Baby Bunny Gets Nailed”

Less air = bluer skies

We all live in a thick layer of air called the atmosphere. On average it is about fifty miles thick. But as you go up, the atmosphere gets noticeably thinner. At the top of Mount Evans (14,130 feet or 4306.8 meters), there is 1/3 less air than at sea level. That means less air betweenContinue reading “Less air = bluer skies”

A Flicker and Two Hawks

My husband and I walk the dogs every morning, three quarters of a mile up the hill, then loop around and come back. It’s kept the covid pounds off, mostly. It also provides the occasional benefit of letting us seeing some wildlife. As we started up the hill earlier this week, I saw a funnyContinue reading “A Flicker and Two Hawks”

Cold Ducks

In the last three months, we’ve had 8″ of moisture. That’s an incredible amount of water for a region that normally sees 14-16″ for the entire year. It has been a cold, wet, gloomy spring. This morning, the dogs went berserk at something in the backyard. When we looked out, we saw a male andContinue reading “Cold Ducks”

Snowmageddon

The Front Range got our long anticipated (some might say dreaded) monster snowstorm over the weekend. Totals for snowfall were in the 22-27″ range where I live on the west side of Denver. While we were all digging out, our furry friends were having problems of their own. Don’tcha just hate it when you getContinue reading “Snowmageddon”

Female Red-tailed Hawk

We’ve had a huge red-tailed hawk hanging around the neighborhood this week. I assume it is a female, because female raptors are bigger than males. And she was big. And I knew she was a red-tailed hawk (Red-Tailed Hawk), even without seeing her tail, because 1) she was big, 2) she had a stocky bodyContinue reading “Female Red-tailed Hawk”

Birds Before the Storm

This has been such a weird year. Earlier this week, we saw a female broad-tailed hummingbird feeding on the last of a neighbor’s Rose-of-Sharon flowers. Then we had three more forest fires start in the mountains to the west. It’s October! It is time to cool off. But this morning we woke to cold temperaturesContinue reading “Birds Before the Storm”

I Voted!

I voted yesterday. It was safe, easy, secure. And oh so important to our democracy. I voted yesterday. If you haven’t yet, you should vote today.

Pika Patrol, Part II

In late August, my husband and I went up into the mountains of the Front Range to monitor pika as volunteers for the Front Range Pika Project in conjunction with the Denver Zoo. At that time, we were shocked at how dry the high country was. Last week, we went on Pika Patrol for aContinue reading “Pika Patrol, Part II”

Snow in September

Colorado went from 93o on Monday September 7 to 32o Tuesday September 8, 2020 — a change of sixty-one degrees in 24 hours. Prior to that, On September 6, Denver reached 101o making it our latest 100o day. That gave us a 48 hour change of 68o. This weather whiplash was a result of theContinue reading “Snow in September”

2020 Pika Patrol

Over the weekend, my husband and I went up to the mountains for the first time this summer. We’ve been trying to isolate ourselves, and the mountain trails have been busy with people trying to get out of their houses while being safe. We headed up to do our annual Pika Patrol for the DenverContinue reading “2020 Pika Patrol”

Forest Fire Smoke

My husband and I love to sleep with the windows open in the summer time. We enjoy the night sounds, and the cool breeze coming in. Not last night. Last night, we had to close the windows due to really irritating smoke, either from somebody’s barbecue, or a forest fire. This morning, I went outContinue reading “Forest Fire Smoke”

Butterflies

Usually, butterflies are hard to photograph. They are wary creatures, and when you turn the big eye of your camera at them, they take off, flying erratically away. But this week, I’ve been lucky to get some photos of butterflies I’ve never shot before — in some cases, I’ve never heard of before. Case inContinue reading “Butterflies”