Wildflower Wonders in Colorado

I just spent about a week with my family and another family in Winter Park and Estes Park. The wildflowers were everywhere, especially in Winter Park! However, the highlight of the trip was definitely the three close-up views of birds that I got! The first was not quite as spectacular as the other two but it was still awesome. I saw a Clark’s Nutcracker within 10 feet of me sitting in a tree. This species has gotten used to human presence in Rocky Mountain National Park and will come right up to you looking for peanuts and other food just like the chipmunks and ground squirrels. The second close encounter I had with a bird was with an American Pipit. I have never seen this species up close; I  have observed them from 75-300 feet away but never close enough to really understand the bird. This trip though, one landed on a rock 15 feet away from me at the highest point of the trip: 11,796 ft above sea level right outside the Alpine Visitor Center in the park. The final and most spectacular up close experience with a bird was with a Broad-tailed Hummingbird that landed on a branch 2 feet above my head to feed its babies!! I was standing under a branch and leaning on a rock on the 3.4 mile hike I took with my dad to Gem Lake and I heard a thumping noise above my head. It practically scared me half-to-death but when I realized it was a hummingbird I stood still as a statue. I thought it would fly away immediately when I flinched but instead it decided to perch right above my head!!!I tried to get a picture but I did it too slowly and it got away. It was only until after the hummingbird was long gone that I noticed it was feeding its chicks!!! Overall I did not get any lifers except for one butterfly lifer: the Weidemeyer’s Admiral. I still had a blast but I am sad that I did not see Brown-capped Rosy-Finches or Melissa Arctics (both have a range restricted mainly to Colorado in the US) on either trip I tried for them! Anyways here are the species totals for all groups of organisms:
Birds (25 species, 0 lifers):
Mallard
Double-crested Cormorant
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Rock Pigeon
White-throated Swift
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Cordilleran Flycatcher
Stellar’s Jay
Clark’s Nutcracker
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Mountain Chickadee
Pygmy Nuthatch
American Robin
American Pipit
Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed)
Common Grackle
House Sparrow

Lepidoptera (5 species, 2 lifers):
Cabbage White
Painted Lady
Western Tiger Swallowtail
*Weidemeyer’s Admiral
*Coronis Fritillary
Butterfly Spp.
Moth Spp.

Wildflowers (16 species, 8 lifers):
*Fireweed
*Mayweed
Alpine Buttercups
Field Bindweed
American Bistort
Scarlet Indian Paintbrush
Common Harebell
Black-eyed Susan
*Western Pearly Everlasting
*Spearleaf Stonecrop
*Western Wallflower
Wild Geranium
*Rydberg’s Penstemon
*Tufted Fleabane
Gaillardia
*Yellow Painbrush
Petunia Spp.
Coneflower Spp.

Mammals (6 species, 0 lifers):
Elk
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Least Chipmunk
Red Squirrel
American Pika
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Trees (3 species, 0 lifers):
Ponderosa Pine
Quaking Aspen
Rocky Mountain Maple

Mushrooms (1 species, 1 lifer):
*Red-belted Polypore

Lichens (2 species, 0 lifers):
Candleflame Lichen

Elk
Elk
Scarlet Indian Paintbrush
A Valley
American Pika
American Pipit
Yellow-bellied Marmot
A view of the Rockies
American Robin
Wild Geranium
Possibly Alcohol Inky
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed)
Least Chipmunk
Red-belted Polypore
Yellow Paintbrush
Coronis Fritillary
Clark’s Nutcracker
A young Moose
A cow Moose
Fireweed
Mayweed
Black-eyed Susan
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