Monday, June 25, 2018

Wildlife in my Neighborhood


I only live in a suburb about 30 minutes away from Denver, Colorado, about 23 miles away, but we are in a secluded valley nestled between hogbacks and foothills and close to all kinds of wildlife! I thought you'd like to see some of the photos I've taken along with some that my neighbors have shared on our community social media forum.


Deer are the most common animals that we see--sometimes quite a few in a herd!


The deer are fairly used to people and graze and roam around our neighborhoods at all times of the year. We don't feed them--feeding wildlife is against the law in Colorado and is not good for them. Deer have a complex digestive system that is not adapted to large amounts of grain, bird seed, bread, or many types of hay. Feeding is often unhealthy for deer. Addiction to artificial feeds often results in deer that are in poor condition. Concentrating deer by feeding can also increase stress and hasten the spread of diseases.


In spring, we look forward to the deer fawns being born. The mother doe will hide them, often near houses. Except for periods when she feeds them, she will leave them alone for a good portion of the day. Fawns are born without a scent, and by staying away from the fawn the mother is keeping them safe. Within a week or two they will be strong enough to follow her, and she will move them to different locations for their safety. Most mature deer give birth to twins and some to triplets!



A doe gave birth to twins in my next door neighbor's backyard a few weeks ago, and we took the photos above from our kitchen window. Mother deer was very alert to any sound or movement so we had to whisper and tiptoe around our kitchen for a few days.  It was fun to watch how the doe cared for her fawn so we didn't mind.


One day we came home to find one of the twins sleeping in our backyard, and the next day the family had moved on.  I hope the little guys make it to maturity!


Elk are a less common sight as more and more development takes place in surrounding areas, but every now and then one will be seen nearby. As you can see in the collage above our houses are surrounded by much open space and trails.....


....and often on the trails are snakes! Rattlesnakes like to hunt for small mice and voles along the trails, so we always have to be on the lookout for snakes. However, I've lived in our community for five years and have never seen a rattlesnake, so I hope my luck holds up. I have seen a few nonpoisonous snakes--but s=also stayed far away from them!



Perhaps one of the most exciting sights seen in our community this spring were mountain lions! Early one morning a mother mountain lion and her three rather large kittens roamed through a neighbor's backyard and were captured on her security camera. If the video is not visible you can see it on my Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook, at this linkThe local news picked up the video to show on its social media sites, and it caused quite a stir. We know that mountains lions live in the foothills, but they usually hunt at night and are pretty reclusive. Happily, they seemed to have settled down in a new area and there have been no further daytime sightings.


Another animal that caused quite a stir,  and had many sightings, were bobcats! They seemed to be everywhere for a few weeks this spring but now are a rare sight again.


Last summer we saw many red fox and fox kits in our neighborhood.  After watching them it is easy to see how they get a reputation for being smart and swift, and "talkative"! 


A neighbor found a weasel searching for food in her backyard. They are not a common sight and we were all thrilled to see her photos.


Raccoons also scavenge hunt in our neighborhood, but they are good at hiding. A neighbor found one hiding in her in her outdoor planter and another in a tree outside her home. It is hard to have a birdfeeder in our area because raccoons and squirrels will empty those birdfeeders in record time!


Another animal attracted by birdfeeders are black bears. A bear can smell food five miles away!  Sadly, if a bear gets used to going into neighborhoods for food they have to be relocated far away. They will have their ear-tagged by the Colorado Department of Wildlife, and if they are again seen among people, they are euthanized. It is just too dangerous for a bear to hunt in a populated area. In the Fall, when the bears have to eat 22,000 calories a day to bulk up for hibernation, we have to be careful to take birdfeeders down and keep our garbage inside our closed garage, so as not to attract the bears. 

Moose are rarely seen in our area, but a neighbor did spy one near some open space one morning. The moose population has been growing again in Colorado, but most are in the high country and near water sources. They love to eat willow tree leaves!

Of course, we see many different kinds of birds--bald eagles, golden eagles, hawks, owls, and more common birds like magpies. crows, robins, hummingbirds, etc, etc., and many other animals such as coyotes,  rabbits, squirrels, prairie dogs, etc.



We seem to have a happy balance in our community of wildlife coexisting with human life. Most of the time we don't see the more dangerous animals, but it certainly is interesting when we do! We just have to be aware that we need to keep our eyes on young children, small dogs, and cats, and most often during early morning hours and at dusk when most of the wildlife is active.  What kind of wildlife is common where you live? Nature is a precious gift!

"Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."  - Albert Einstein

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Amaze Me MondayMosaic MondayAll SeasonsBlue Monday,  Through My Lens MondayInspiration Monday, Blogging GrandmothersYou Are the Star Blog HopGood Random FunNature NotesGrand SocialPhoto Tunes, Happiness Is HomemadeTuesday TreasuresPictorial TuesdayOur World TuesdayRuby TuesdayTuesdays With A TwistParty in Your PJ'sWordless WednesdayOh My Heartsie Girl's Wonderful WednesdayOutdoor Wednesday, Whimsical WednesdayWednesday Around the WorldWonderful WednesdayPicture Perfect Party Wednesday LinkyShare Your Cup, Little Things Thursday Travel Photo Thursday, Thankful ThursdayThursday Favorite ThingsFriendship FridaysFriday Photo JournalSkywatch FridaySweet InspirationWeekend Travel Inspiration Pink SaturdayOver the MoonHappiness Is Homemade

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Ancient Ogham Writing in Colorado


What is Ogham (sometimes also spelled as Ogam) Writing? It is an ancient British and Irish alphabet from the fourth to the sixth century, consisting of twenty characters formed by parallel strokes on either side of or across a continuous line. Could it be possible that ancient Celts traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, carried by strong ocean currents into the Gulf of Mexico, where they then sailed up rivers, one of which terminated in Colorado?   If you put the search words "Ogham in Colorado" you will find some fascinating stories and research about the possibilities that Ogham writings have been found in different areas of Colorado, as well as in Oklahoma, Wyoming and even in the east in West Virginia. There are many examples of stones carved with Ogham writing in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, but I was surprised to learn that Ogham writings were found almost in my backyard in an area along the Front Range of Colorado!


This past weekend my community's historical society, which my husband and I are both members, left early one morning to take a hike led by another member who is an archeologist, to view the area where the Ogham writings were discovered decades ago. Our area of the front range has always been a favorite place for humans. There has been evidence of humans living here since 10,000 BC, but the thought of ancient Celtic people, or Druids, passing through and possibly settling here was an intriguing idea.

Our hike was over rolling grassland, alongside a creek, and towards a rocky crested hogback.  As we descended in elevation the creek got stronger and the vegetation became thicker with trees and scrub oak.


We even saw wild roses growing along the creek banks...

...and even though our spring has been very dry, there were still wildflowers to be seen.


Along the hike, we stopped at key points where the archeologist gave us information about what we were about to see and its significance.


He pointed out how rock outcropping and caves were valuable to the ancient peoples as a form of shelter and warmth, and accessibility to water and game was always a reason people settled in an area.


He pointed out that the rocky protuberance that can be seen in the distance along the side of the hogback the photos above, is often a sign that indicates Ogham writing will be found. It was a common element in many North American Ogham sites.


You can see how the creek has cut a deep path through the grass and rock as it has flowed from the mountains over millennia.


We finally reached the area where the Ogham writings were located.


We listened to the tale of their discovery, and documentation, as well as an effort by preservationists and our community to protect them from vandalism by backfilling the cave with dirt and covering them up with dirt.  A photograph of what the site looked like then was passed around as well as a photo of the Ogham writings.


The cave once looked like this, with a significant shelter space. The man in the middle is pointing to the location of the Ogham.


Now the cave is completely filled with dirt and the Ogham writings are covered.


This is the photograph of how the Ogham marks looked inside the cave.

If indeed these are Ogham markings then the thought of ancient druids having settled here temporarily in their explorations was exciting. What did they write and why?  Some Ogham writings have been translated to the writings "People of the Sun," and they light up with the sun of the summer solstice, much like the chamber in Newgrange, Ireland.


We pondered, observed and discussed our observations before hiking back to our cars.  As members of our historical society, we wanted to know the location of this site so we could pass on the information to future members.



The YouTube video above explains in interesting visuals the Ogham story in America. Click here to see it on the YouTube site if the video above does not run. 

There is much controversy around whether the markings are truly Ogham or just spear sharpening marks made by Native Americans. What do you think?  I'd like to believe that the spirit of mankind has always had exploration at its core and that our world may have been traveled and migrated for great distances from the beginning of human life. Mountains were always there to be climbed, oceans crossed, rivers sailed, caves explored, and new horizons always beckoned. Perhaps even in ancient times, it has been a small world!

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I'm linking this post to the following blog events:

Amaze Me MondayMosaic MondayAll SeasonsBlue Monday,  Through My Lens MondayInspiration Monday, Blogging GrandmothersYou Are the Star Blog HopGood Random FunNature NotesGrand SocialPhoto Tunes, Happiness Is HomemadeTuesday TreasuresPictorial TuesdayOur World TuesdayRuby TuesdayTuesdays With A TwistParty in Your PJ'sWordless WednesdayOh My Heartsie Girl's Wonderful WednesdayOutdoor Wednesday, Whimsical WednesdayWednesday Around the WorldWonderful WednesdayPicture Perfect Party Wednesday LinkyLittle Things Thursday Travel Photo Thursday, Thankful ThursdayThursday Favorite ThingsFriendship FridaysFriday Photo JournalSkywatch FridaySweet InspirationWeekend Travel Inspiration Pink SaturdayOver the MoonHappiness Is Homemade


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