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Birds of the Western Slope Nov. 30, 2016

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Photo by Ellie Tunget

Every day is
Thanksgiving

As we sit at the dining room table, I admire the new snow on Grand Mesa, even though I can't see it all because the clouds are very lazy on this November morning. In the pasture across the road, I count five horses . . . there were six last night. Wait . . . watch . . . oh, there it is! The missing horse has decided for take a roll. Legs and tail flail in the air. But now that the paint gets up and shakes, it looks dirtier than it did last night. In fact, it looks more gray than white with brown spots.

I look out to the south and the sun is brilliant but the landscape looks dark and threatening with thick, angry clouds boiling over the Uncompahgre Plateau. I watch in fascination at the play of light and shadow across that land, knowing that it's at least 40 miles away! And now I can't see the plateau at all, only cloud.

In the past on my flower-walks, we found the delightful adobe milkweed on the plateau. On the Grand Mesa there were columbine and sugar bowls (Ranunculus hirtuisssissm). At lower elevation we shared the scarlet gila and service berry (Amelanchier alnifolia) among so many others. And down on the 'dobies the poison aster (Zykorhiza venusta) and the beautiful mariposa lily (Calochortus flexuosus). How I reveled in the title "Plant Lady!"

From the emails last night I've learned that our wintering flock of cranes seems to have arrived at the Escalante Wildlife Area, and our neighbor tells me that the 12 or so cranes that we've been seeing were out in the field, practically at her back door! And I've pursued these magnificent birds: to Monte Vista's Festival, to the Bosque del Apache in New Mexico's crane wintering ground, to the annual cranes celebration along the Platte River in Nebraska, to Wisconsin for the International Crane Foundation, to the Whooping Crane Festival in Texas, and to the newest festival in Steamboat Springs for its September festival.

And now that we're retired, I wonder about my "new life" here in Delta County. Depending upon the day, I'm very happy to be called the "Crane Lady" or the "Flower Lady."

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Surface Creek
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Birds of the Western Slope, Evelyn Horn
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