What's Where When
It's never too late to start observing nature and keeping records. Phones, cameras, and social media make it easy to share. Collective observations by all of us (citizen science) can be a powerful tool for understanding the landscape. Citizen science and phenology are gaining attention. An ACES goal is to facilitate our community's observations and reporting of nature. Direct engagement with the natural world connects us to our environment, providing intellectual, spiritual, and physical sustenance. Additionally, these observations may allow scientists to better understand the changes occurring in our ecosystems due to climate change. As the Director of Naturalist Programs at ACES, I am excited to share my findings. What have you seen? From May 10-12 a few observations were made on the Rio Grande Trail near Aspen, on the Hunter/Smuggler loop, and at the Maroon Bells.
A great example of the different colors black bears may have. One individual may display different coloration at different stages in its life. This bear and her cub (yearling) were turning over rocks looking for insects, larvae, and grubs; flipping rocks down the hillside as they traversed the slope. This time of year they also seek out young, nutritious shoots of emerging plants. This behavior contradicts the myth of the "bloodthirsty" bear emerging from hibernation. They are actually most hungry in the fall when they eat up to 25,000 calories a day of acorns and other fatty foods.
Calypso orchids are making an early showing. Look for them on shady, north-facing road cuts just below 9,000 feet in elevation. Red columbine are beginning to bloom. I saw some just over the Benedict Bridge where it meets the Verena Mallory trail.
To see more of my photos of these days in May, please visit this set on ACES' Flickr page.