Monday, May 24, 2010

All Quiet

I'll be out of touch this week (supply your own punchline), while Mari and I are in Yellowstone.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some Birds of the East Fork

Calliope hummingbird, the smallest bird in North America.

Townsend's solitaire

American dipper, North America's only truly aquatic songbird.  It catches its food under water in swift mountain streams.

A more dramatic view of the dipper.

Red-tailed hawk.  These raptors should be content because there are a lot of ground squirrels out now.

White-crowned sparrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

I don't know anything about this person, but I'm strongly considering voting against her for putting a campaign sign in front of this view.  You expect to get beat over the head with politics on the Internet and TV, but not out here in the remote end of the Bitterroot Valley, away from any highway.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bitterroot Bears

This is the first good look I've gotten at bears in the Bitterroot. I saw these black bears on a hike along the Forest Service road up the ridge behind my cabin.  Grizzlies generally only occur east of here, in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and north of here, in and around the Bob and Glacier National Park.  But any mama bear with cubs is dangerous.  These were pretty far from me, on the other side of a deep draw, so there was no danger.

A little better perspective on the distance. 

Right after the first two passed from view, this little one came hurrying along after.

Before this, the only time I'd seen a bear in the Bitterroot was while driving home on the East Fork Road last fall at around midnight.  When my headlights reached the bear, it launched straight up a steep hillside, so all I saw was a vertical black blur.  It's extremely impressive how quickly a bear can go straight uphill.  That song "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" ain't kidding.  And that was in late fall, when the bear would've been at its maximum weight getting ready to go into hibernation.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quick Trip Through Yellowstone

Coming back from Bozeman, I made a short detour to pass through Yellowstone.  It was a gray, rainy and snowy day, but there are no bad days in Yellowstone.  Because I was only there a few hours in the middle of the day, it wasn't an ideal wildlife sighting trip.  I didn't see any bears, wolves or moose, but I saw all the usual suspects: bison, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and a coyote.  Mari and I are going back in about two weeks for a four-day trip.  I'll get some better pics then.

The Roosevelt Arch: "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

A gray, but beautiful day.


A sandhill crane nesting at Floating Island Lake

Another sandhill crane grazing nearby.

Elk grazing along the Madison River.

Trumpeter swan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mule Deer

What Yosemite Sam might call a big-eared galoot.  They are called mule deer because of their large, mule-like ears.

Can you hear me now?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Beaver Ponds

On a recent hike, I found lots of evidence of beaver activity, but of course, no actual beavers, which are largely nocturnal.  When the days get a little longer, and eventually warmer, I'll stake out one of the beaver ponds in the evening and try to get a picture of a real, live beaver. 

Guest Blogger: LDB!

LDB reports that she has taken up birding while visiting her sister in Arizona.

"I decided to take up your bird watching hobby. It all started this morning when I was standing at the kitchen sink at my sister's house washing up from last night. From the corner of my eye I saw an unfamiliar cat on the patio. I turned my head to see with my whole eyeball (as opposed to only the corner). It wasn't a cat, it was a chicken--a black and white speckled chicken. We assume it belongs to my sister's backdoor neighbor, who raises chickens and other stuff. He's a crunchy, organic dude. I asked my sister if I should go ask him if he was missing any poultry, but she said he wouldn't be home and suggested that I just try and throw it over the fence. I don't know how it got in, but I spent about 30 minutes trying to catch it. Chickens are too fast. My sister tried to film this, but too bad her camera was not working.

And the chicken-cat was only the first installment of my daily birding. Next, there was a cute little hummingbird. They are so cute and tiny and also fast (but I wasn't trying to catch this one to throw it back into the neighbor's yard).

Next came the taupe colored chickadee with a peachy-orangey colored head. Lovely bird. Don't know the name, so I am going to call it the Peach Headed Chickadee.

Finally, the bird I could not see. My sister has a resident woodpecker who pecks at a metal pole in her fireplace. I am calling it the Jacked-Up Beak Pecker.

This is a really fun hobby, Cliff. Thanks for suggesting it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Like a guest that won't leave

It was a snowy morning on Tuesday.

By mid-afternoon, the temperature warmed up to a balmy 34°, and most of the snow melted. 

Then the lawn maintenance crew showed up.

This little guy is working on his spikes.