Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Summer at Rocky Mountain National Park

 We have been to Rocky Mountain National Park 3 times so far this summer. Our favorite spot is the Alpine Tundra. This area is absolutely amazing! Here are some photos from our last visit. They were all taken in the Alpine Tundra, except for the picture of the elk. It was taken on Trail Ridge road on our way down.

map of the Rocky Mtn. National Park

Marmot (we also saw Pika)

Love these Mushroom Rocks!

The Life-Cycle of A Gulf Fritillary (another forgotten post)

I can't believe I never posted these pictures! This is from the summer of 2009. We had so much fun observing the life cycle of these butterflies. We also saw the many predators that were happy to have so many caterpillars and butterflies in the yard.

Mating Gulf Fritillary Butterflies
Butterfly egg on host plant

Host plant for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly: Passion Flower Vine

This spider set up shop right by the host plant and enjoyed finding baby caterpillars to eat.
This is a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar that has reached full size and is ready to enter the chrysalis phase.

Chrysalis adorning our fence.

Hatching butterflies!
Transformation Complete!

Sipping Nectar from our garden Zinnias

Butterfly Predator: Preying Mantis

Where did October go? (another forgotten post!)

October has flown by! This year we have been involved in a local Soccer league, and it has turned out to be so much fun.
The boys have loved it and so have we. It has led to numerous games in the backyard with Mark and I proving that we are not as young as we think we are.

Our littlest one is now almost 10 months old. He is all over the place and if he can get his hands on a crayon he is thrilled.

How They Have Grown! (old post that I forgot to publish)

Lunar Eclipse (another old post that I forgot to publish!)

When I found out that the eclipse was going to be in the middle of the night, I asked myself if I really wanted to tell the boys. I knew that if I did chances were that I would be setting my alarm for a ridiculous hour and dragging myself out of bed for at least an hour. Yet how could I let it pass? Needless to say I set the alarm. We had a perfectly clear sky and it was a strangely beautiful eclipse.

I thought this picture of the boys captured their sleepiness and the cold. They were so cold, but very happy to have been able to see it. We also took a chance and called their grandmother to see if she had stayed up to watch it and sure enough she was watching.

Rainbow Trout- Outdoor Hour Challenge- July

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park in Spring (2013 Nature goals)

This post is a little late, but better late than never! One of our nature goals for 2013 is to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park every season. Here are some pictures from our late Spring visit. The boys enjoyed getting their Junior Ranger badges on this trip. They learned about the 4 ecosystems in the park. The riparian (wetland) ecosystem, montane ecosystem, subalpine ecosystem, and alpine tundra ecosystem. Last week we visited the park again. The primary difference that I saw was in the alpine tundra. Summer pictures coming soon!

Alpine Tundra

Alpine Tundra
Alpine Tundra- It was extremely windy up here. So much so that we had to yell to hear each other.

The boys are in the subalpine ecosystem, but they are looking down on the montane and riparian ecosystems.

Riparian ecosystem
Montane ecosystem
Montane ecosystem---We loved the velvet antlers!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers- Outdoor Hour Challenge June 2013

This months Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter was Wildflowers and Weeds. Living in a new place makes our nature study feel new. We are accustomed to seeing "old friends" when we go out to look at wildflowers and most everything we see is totally unfamiliar! We did find one "old friend" on our wildflower outings- the Indian paintbrush. Purple was the most predominant flower color. We found all the colors, on the Wildflower Color Hunt bookmark from the June newsletter, except light pink. Here is a look at what we found.

 Rocky Mountain Phlox Phlox multiflora
 Yellow Pea Thermopsis rhombifolia
 Vase Flower Clematis hirsutissima
 Subalpine Larkspur Delphinium barbeyi
Indian Paintbrush
Arrowleaf balsamroot Balsamorhiza sagittata

Dusky Beardtongue Penstemon whippleanus 
 Prickly Rose Rosa acicularis
Lupines and Arrowleaf Balsamroot

These were all found very near our home. We still have some work to do on identifying a few flowers. Along with looking at our local flowers, we did take a drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park and saw some very low lying flowers at the Alpine Tundra visitor center. I thought that we got a picture, but have been disappointed that I have not been able to find it. The wind was blowing so hard up there and the temperature was rather chilly, so it is possible that I didn't get a photo. Next time I will be sure to take a picture to share these amazing wildflowers that are able to survive in such a climate.