Friday, August 6, 2010

North Henson Creek

Alan, Noel and I take the intrepid Highlander up North Henson in the San Juan Mountains today. All day it is partly cloudy and cells of rain are drenching nearby regions, although the rain never falls on us. After about four miles, the road becomes rougher, and we hike, soon finding a beautiful trail that winds along streamside meadows, in the midst of mixed conifers. We are still a good 500-1000 feet below timberline. Uncompahgre Peak peeks over the closer ridgeline.

Noel at North Henson meadow (Photos by Narca)

Berries are ripening, and I gather the tiny wild strawberries, currants and a few raspberries. Chipmunks are also feasting on strawberries.

An unidentified fritillary

Fritillaries are a difficult group, worse than Empidonax flycatchers or Old World warblers (at least they talk!). The one above has defied our efforts to identify it. Unfortunately, we never saw its underside. If anyone can shed light, please comment!

Abundant Mormon Fritillary

Chryxus Arctic

Today a favorite of mine is the Chryxus Arctic––several are perching on the ground on a slightly drier meadow-slope above the creek. They show a lot of orange, especially in flight.

Ruddy Copper, a close cousin of the Grail butterfly, Lustrous Copper

Another exquisite copper, the Purplish

A single Margined White graces the day.

A pair of Hermit Thrushes and families of Green-tailed Towhees and MacGillivray's Warblers highlight today's birds. An American Crow calling at Capitol City seems very out-of-place. (Mary Price had told us that the first crow ever found in Gothic appeared this year.)

Capitol City, for many years a ghost town, was once in contention with Denver to be the site of the capitol of the new state of Colorado. And where, we wonder, would the airport have been sited? At 13,000 feet on American Flats?

Ghost town of Capitol City

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