Sunrise Out My Front Door

Sunrise Out My Front Door
Sunrise Out My Front Door

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Visit to an Alligator Farm


April 21, 2019



I made my second  foray to Bacca National Wildlife Refuge, the third refuge in the San Luis Valley Refuge Complex to to put out my bee traps and to replenish all the first aid kits there. I had met a bee enthusiast on my first visit and he had promised to show me promising spots in the greenspace of the little town of Crestone and on the Rio Grande Forest Camp site. 

I put also put out bee traps on a couple of places on the refuge but no bees appeared in any of them. I decided I would leave early Sunday morning and visit the alligator farm between Bacca and Alamosa.  Saturday had turned cold, windy, and cloudy, but Sunday was a beautiful day with sunny, warm weather.  

I thought it might still be too cold for alligators to be out, but the place has a hot well so the water comes up warm enough to keep them happy.  

I arrived about nine and found that this place, although started as a tilapia farm in 1977, it has morphed into reptile rescue, a bird sanctuary, education and display. As I walked into the door to the first exhibit room, I had to stand aside to let a tortoise come outside. I had to step over boards that were fencing off other tortoises inside. I was amazed at all the large lizards and snakes they had in their inside exhibits. They also had baby alligators and other alligator relatives. 

They started seeing a few alligators to eat fish that died, then became a rescue place for alligators, snakes and lizards taken from homes by the state or relinquished to them when they got too big and dangerous to be household pets. 

I found the exhibits interesting and saw some species I hadn’t seen before. Outside, it felt cool, but looked southern with all the alligators. They have large pens with many alligators in them and smaller pens with one alligator in it, because the big males will fight, if they are kept together.  They even had one alligator that had stared in Dr. Dolittle and other movies before he got too large to safely handle and was retired here. 

I came in off season.  In the summer, I think they have alligator wrestling shows. 



View from the parking lot 

One of the many species of lizards

Nile monitor

Another lizard

The only rescued birds I found were these emus

Happily sunning gators

Red-eared sliders were also enjoying the sun

This was the prettiest turtle I saw - didn't see its name

This was one of two albino alligators

A pile of gators

This pen had a carved heron

This is the tortoise I had to move out of the doorway for

I thought this was a beautiful snake

In my personal life, I have been very busy helping the refuges get ready for their safety inspection. I located, documented, and inspected all the fire extinguishers at three refuges and either certified them for another year or pulled them to go out for their six year or twelve year tests.  Now I have to replace a few more fire extinguishers, and store the rest, either to be serviced next year to to be kept as extras in case we have to replace any of ours. I also inventoried the safety cabinets - we have them in all the offices and vehicles - and replaced out of date medicines. 

Now I’m starting to collect bees and spray for weeds. I have my own off road vehicle and spray fifty gallons at a time.  

After spending three days stuck in my house due to snow and rain - my car couldn't make it out and, if I used the work truck, I would have made it even worse - I spent 12 hours having fun.  Now I'm using wi-fi belonging to another staffer- he lets me - to put this old fun up.  

Hope you got to celebrate Mother's Day with your mother. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Visit with Home Lake Birds

April14, 2019

I got to go to Bacca National Wildlife Refuge to test their fire extinguishers and thought I'd hunt bees and do some hikes in the area. But the weekend weather was supposed to be cold, windy, rainy and possibly snowy, so I came back home Friday afternoon. Then the weekend turned out to be mostly sunny and I was getting stir crazy.  I heard that Home Lake in my nearest town of Monte Vista, was a birding hotspot so decided to go check it out.

I had passed by it during the Crane Festival on several of the bus tours, but saw nothing there. I was surprised to find the lake full of birds ranging from pelicans to avocets.  I should have gone much earlier to get better pictures, but the birds were still mostly active, with only a few ruddy ducks already taking their morning nap.


There were at least a half dozen greater yellowlegs


Ducks are mostly in pairs, as they get ready to breed

I was excited to see my favorite duck, the American widgeon, hanging out in the raft of coots. 

There were at least twenty gadwall

I love the muted the colors of  gadwall

There were only a hand full of ruddy ducks 



American widgeon and American coot

The northern shovelers pair demonstrates why I have to say lawdy gawdy before I can say their name

A view across the lake to the San Juan Mountains

Cinnamon teal are the most common of teal here

A few of about fifty white pelicans

I went across the street and through an open gate and continued to look for birds.  About fifteen minutes later, a guy backed his truck up to where I was and jumped out to tell me that I wasn't supposed to be there.  I apologized and said the gate was open and I followed the directions to be careful of the curve.  He said I could stay and offered me new places to go. So I continued birding at the water treatment plant.

Canada geese have paired up 

This distant picture was of the only blue-winged teal I found 

On the personal front, I've been busy trying to find all the fire extinguishers on three refuges, test them, get records of them into a spread sheet. Now I'm finished until we get the required tests on those extinguishers that are due for their six or twelve year tests. I've also been working on getting expired medical supplies cleaned out and replaced from all our first aid kits in our vehicles and offices.

And I'm starting to get treatment for my neck so I have hopes of getting back to being able to enjoy photography, hiking, and biking some day.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Visit to Zapata Falls

March 17, 2017

From my arrival, I've had been really busy, helping first with judging a regional science fair, then with preparations for and working during the Crane Festival.  I looked forward to a few days off and started thinking about where I'd go.

I decided on a visit to Zapata Falls, one of the hidden gems of Colorado that is on the way to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

It was a beautiful early spring day, albeit with lots of remaining snow on the ground. I enjoyed the hour's drive and especially enjoyed the slow climb up the side of Blanca mountain with more and more of the San Luis Valley coming into sight and long views across to the San Dunes. The road had been plowed, but it is extremely rocky and can only be driven very slowly. It took about twenty minutes to reach the parking lot.  I gathered up my camera and hiking sticks and put on heavy coat for the first time in several years - I had left my other jackets in my work van- and started out.  The trail continues a little up hill, but is still easy and only eight tenths of a mile long. I stopped to take
pictures a few times before I saw the clef in the rocks that allows for the waterfall.


Blanca Mountain from just east of Alamosa

View from the dirt road to Zapata Falls

Looking out towards the sand dunes

Another view of the dunes and Sangre de Christo Mountains

I could not stop taking landscapes

The clouds and snow enhanced the views

Soon I was walking into the clef in the cliff into a shadowy world with ice piled against rock walls and the sound of moving water resonating from under the ice.  I continued carefully along the partially cleared path, walking into the crevice in the rocks.


Getting close

The snow was piled against the cliffs

Closeup of the rocks

Inside the falls had frozen to a glorious statue

These kids were trying to climb the rocks in spite of warnings not to do so

A closer view of the frozen falls showing the different textures

This looks like an abstract of two lovers to m

 I took the rest of the pictures on the way back, as the light got a little better.


The trail out of the crevice

A view down the trail to the outside of the crevice

This ice had moving water singing under it, with the ice adding resonance

Another trail view

Sangre de Christi mountains from the trail

Another long and hazy view

I can't get enough of the play of clouds and snow on the mountains


A closer view 

A view as I came back down the road

The view from near the bottom of the mountain

A pristine peak

I arrived back home to see the reason for naming these mountains the Sangre de Cristi, or Blood of Christ. The rising and setting sun can turn them blood red. I get this view many evenings.




On a personal front, I've been learning as much as possible about the flowering plants of the valley while helping to get ready for a safety inspection. I also am just back from visiting my daughter and then meeting with Virginia Scott, the bee expert who is helping me with materials and protocols to maximize bee collection in the valley.