Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Squirrels, squirrels, squirrels

The Columbian ground squirrels are very active lately, trying to put on more weight before they go into hibernation in a few weeks.

Safe to come out?

Whatchoo lookin at!

The sentinel.

 Always on the lookout for minks, hawks, badgers and coyotes.

It was offended because I called out "Squirrel!"

I bought some off-brand cheddar-flavored potato chips, and they tasted like they had that fake cheese powder from a box of macaroni and cheese sprinkled on them (nasty!).  So I dumped them outside.

Got any ranch dip?

Nom, nom nom.

This one climbed on my deck and tried to open the screen door.  I ran outside and threw at it the closest thing at hand, which happened to be one of my river sandals.  The squirrel kept its head up until the sandal got close to it, but it disappeared underground before the sandal hit near the hole and went bouncing across the yard.  Damn rodents.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Hiking the cross country ski trails

Now that summer is finally here, Mari and I hiked the Chief Joseph cross-country trails we skied last winter.  When we were there in January, we knew, at least conceptually, there were six feet of snow on the ground, but that didn't really mean anything until we saw it without all that snow.




These trees seemed much shorter when the bottom six feet were invisible.

The distant peaks show up much better with snow caps on them.

The Continental Divide Trail.

Looking the other way, but in the same area.

Mari skiing a hill.

Mari hiking the same hill.

Me trying to look like I know how to ski.

Me trying to look like summer didn't just get here.

The Forest Service's back country cabin.

It was a snowy winter.

Clear parking.

Just pull up to the wall of snow.




Thursday, July 14, 2011

Predator and prey

Minks are fierce predators, often hunting muskrats that are much larger than they are.  This opportunistic mink went after a columbian ground squirrel.

(Some of these pics are a little graphic.)

The mink bit the squirrel on the back of the neck and then held on through a long struggle.  The squirrel shrieked the entire time.

Another squirrel rushed in to try to help, but was quickly frightened away.






Subdued?

The mink began running and carrying the squirrel, which was almost as big as it was, toward the river.

Then the squirrel started struggling again. 


Subdued.



Moving quickly.

Gone.  They disappeared along a steep part of the river bank, perhaps into a streamside den.  The squirrel shrieked a few more times and then was silenced.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The calm after the storm

A bit breezy today.  We don't usually get much wind here in the Upper East Fork valley, so this is the first live tree I've lost.


After the storm, a glorious sunset.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lady's Slipper Orchids

Mari and I found these orchids while we were camping in the Lolo National Forest south of the Bob.  It was the first time I'd seen orchids growing in the wild.