I love silk. Those caterpillars really figured it out. “Butterflies, smutterflies, our larvae deserves silk sleeping bags.” It’s the most amazing material. During the damp cold days of my Chinese winter, I survived in my silk padded jacket. Back in the day, when Dame Fortune was bringing in money, I bought a silk filled comforter to sleep under. Wrap yourself in silk and you’re, uh, covered with magical, temperature regulating filaments. We think of it as a luxury fabric — and it is — but it’s so much more. It’s the best insulator nature provides. Its filaments are hollow so they hold warmth AND cool. It’s also hypo-allergenic.

I didn’t need it last evening, though, when the dogs and I couldn’t stand it (being in the house, nursing the sore hip) any more and had to get out. One of the things about my hip is that it feels better when I’m walking. It’s — well, only an X-ray will tell me anything, so I’ll leave it there. When I had Covid I couldn’t and didn’t do much, so maybe it was just all those hours sitting on the sofa staring into space that did this…

As I was driving out to the Refuge under a very beautiful evening sky, Mohammed’s Radio played a song I never ever ever expected to hear in my car. Huh? It’s a confusing song in a way because the video is mostly the San Luis Valley (a bit of Monument Valley, but who’s THAT persnickety?) but I’m not sure that’s what he’s singing about. San Luis Obispo in CA seems more likely but whatever. The video is beautiful. “San Luis” by Gregory Allen Isakov

The dogs were so happy and so was I. I wore a non-bug attracting colored shirt (pale pea-soup green) as an experiment (it worked). As soon as I stepped out of the car I was swarmed by mosquitoes but whatev’. They don’t worry me. Deer Flies worry me. I reached back in the car and grabbed my bug repelling hat. Soon after we got going a Mayfly (welcome traveler) hitched a ride. I was approached by one deer fly (that I saw; no eyes in the back of my head) but I brushed her off. It was an unusually bugless July walk in the swamp.


The rain we’ve had this summer has left the Refuge a lush green. The fragrance of yellow clover filled the air. The clouds remaining from an earlier brief rain broke the sunlight into beautiful shadows across the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Teddy was so excited; Bear was calmly beside herself (and beside me) and I was happy to be out.

Very happy Teddy

The big news in my world at the moment (besides the 100 year anniversary of the Ski Hi Stampede — Ski pronounced sky) — is that a rare bird, or rare for here — the Yellow Rail has been sighted at the Refuge. The jury of wildlife biologists is unsure what’s going on to bring it here as this is not on their usual migration pattern and this is not their usual migration season. Their theories are that we’re getting an early winter AND/OR the birds are reclaiming their “ancestral homeland.” They are small, well-camouflaged wetland birds. I don’t even find them in my Birds of Colorado. You can see photos of this shy little bird here.

Last time we were out, I noticed barricades on the road enforcing the one way direction. “Huh?” I thought until I learned about the bird. One of my favorite movies for pure entertainment is The Big Year in which Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson are all competing for who sees the most birds in a year. Birders are not like the other kids, and as we left the Refuge I was able to capture a live image of birders looking for the Holy Grail I mean Yellow Rail.

Signs everywhere warning the birders from places they should not go. 😒 BUT this spot is OK. The barricades are there to keep them out of the water… 🤪

I like birds. I love watching them and feel a little thrill when I see one I haven’t seen before. I even go home and look it up and I mark it in my Birds of Colorado Book (why?) but I’m no Birder. I was wondering how the wildlife biologists view this. There were 8 or 10 cars in that little pull out, some out-of-state license plates. If that little bird is attempting to reclaim its ancestral homeland, is this going to encourage it? I don’t know. If these people need physical barricades to compel them to follow the signs that say “one way” road, who are they? My questions aren’t judgments. The phenomenon of birders descending on an ecosystem with binoculars, scopes, and cameras like this? I see something like it in the Crane Tourists during the crane festival, but I figure a human doesn’t stand a chance against a dinosaur Sandhill Crane.

That was the paradox I confronted when I worked for a nature park in San Diego. I was there at the beginning of its designation as a park and our conundrum — mine as Volunteer Coordinator and the rangers — was how to attract people to the park (to maintain its park status and get grant money) and how to keep people from coming to the park (Nature). Since the early 90s, Mission Trails Regional Park has become a popular destination, so popular that they’ve had to close mountain biking trails several times due to weather, wear and tear and to repair the trails after they’ve been mistreated by bikers who think biking in the mud and breaking trails is fun. It IS fun, but, dude…

11 thoughts on “Railing

  1. I have never seen a Yellow Rail. It’s quite beautiful. According to the map it does breed in my neck of the woods! One to keep an eye out for. Teddy looks so very happy. Ophelia sends her greetings to Bear and Teddy.

  2. Yesterday, I got a call from our local Wildlife Rescue Center to go rescue an injured cormorant. By the time I got there, the eagles had killed and eaten most of it, so it was all for naught. But it was good to investigate the small river beach near the mouth of the Columbia. Didn’t rescue the bird, but it was time well-spent.

      • We call it Social Security Beach because of the retired guys who fish there. You can also launch a boat there and go crabbing. It’s tucked just inside the south jetty where the river hits the sea. It’s one of the most dangerous river bars on the planet.

        • Wow… I was fascinated in my trips to Oregon back in the day by the places where the rivers like the Rogue flow into the ocean. The two such places in San Diego are not like that — first the rivers are typically pretty small. The Tijuana River makes a beautiful estuary. The San Diego River runs through a man made channel to prevent flooding.

  3. Glad you got out and made yourself and the dogs happy! We’ve had lots of severe thunder storms the last 24 hours – lots of debris and some bigger branches down in the neighborhood… So cool to have a avian resurgence?? at the refuge. I hope the yellow rail is not a loner and came with friends and family!!!

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