Eight Inches of Water in a Week

Eight inches of water in a week. That’s what we got up on Green Mountain, west of Denver. That’s about half of what we normally get in a YEAR. On the other hand, it is also about half of what we got during the Week of Water a year and a half ago.Granite flowing into water

The good news is that, although it was close, there was no significant flooding. We’ll still have to keep an eye on afternoon thunderstorms for a couple of weeks, as any dumps of rain onto the water-logged soils could still cause problems, but overall we were lucky.

The rain made for some great photographs. I saw a cool boulder on my weekly hike up Apex Canyon. In the rock’s ancient past,  it had been heated and warped so that now it looked like it was flowing into Apex Creek. The wetness on the rock surface from the rain helped with the illusion.

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On the same hike, I came across a canyon wren trilling in the American plum shrubs along the trail. Normally, Canyon Wrens are very shy, being heard but not seen. I was really lucky — his guy practically posed for me.  If you look closely in the first picture, you can see his tongue as it trills his song.

Lazuli Bunting 5

I know that the rain drove birds to my feeders. I never get Lazuli Buntings, except when it rains. This bedraggled boy was filling up on seed when I got my coffee this morning, and stayed till around noon.

Storm hummingbird-12

Finally, we had hummingbirds coming by. I don’t usually put out hummingbird feeders so early, because they never stop at them until mid-summer, but I figured the wet cold weather might give them a reason to make an exception. Hummingbirds go into a kind of nightly hibernation to conserve energy. If they don’t eat enough during the day, they can starve to death overnight. On a cold night like this one promises to be, they can use all the extra energy that they can get. I put hummingbird water out, and within an hour, we had hummers filling up.

Hummingbirds are one of my favorite topics to write on: https://wordpress.com/post/35886144/707/https://wordpress.com/post/35886144/355/ and https://wordpress.com/post/35886144/34/ .

Get Out!

Looking back to make sure that winter didn’t reach out and take hold of us one last time, I almost missed that spring has arrived.

And what a spring it promises to be! Last September’s torrential rains dumped up to twenty inches of rain in some areas along the Colorado Front Range. Before the rains caused flooding that killed four people, cut off towns, and destroyed homes, it sank deep into the soil, saturating it ten feet deep.

 

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Sand lily, a common early bloomer in the foothills.

Although we had drying winds this winter, we also had cool to cold temperatures and small, evenly spaced snowstorms that kept the soil from drying out and replenished what did evaporate. The soil is still wet deep down. The rains from September are still with us, and this time they’re going to work for us.

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Golden banner grows from foothills to alpine. If you go up in altitude a little every week, you can watch this plant bloom throughout the summer.

Saturated soil and ongoing rainstorms mean that Colorado’s as wet as we’ve been in decades. And water in Colorado means wildflowers. The plants have had all winter to absorb the moisture, plumping up before the sun calls them forth.

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Tiny flowers on wax current shrubs. Wax currents are common in the mountains and foothills.

So get out and see the wildflowers. Often small, but extra abundant this year, they’ll never be as gorgeous as they are this spring.

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Pasque flower are another plant that is found from foothills through alpine. At lower elevations they bloom around Easter. Higher up, they bloom later.