Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bears, Big Cats, and Yellow Rails

(Lassen Peak, view from one of our sites)
The Willow Flycatchers aren't doing so hot and this pisses me off. There have been 4 nest failures out of 16 in the past week. Freaking depressing. This is probably not the place for me to say what I really want and should say, so I'll focus on good stuff.

I did see three sets of fledglings right next to eachother the other day at one of the Warner Valley sites. Zac and I found 25 birds in a couple hours in a small area and it's a source of relief for me to know that they are at least doing well up there. (part of the reason is that there is no grazing and they don't have people up in their face all the time..they get to nest in peace.)
(this is a giant floating grass raft...horrifying to walk on, but the yellow rails dig it)
One of the sites we needed to go to was Willow Lake (where the now infamous Yellow Rail has been hanging out). I heard said bird calling on my way to the WIFL habitat and marked the utm. When I was watching a female wifl, I heard the rail calling. It was 500 meters from where I heard the 'first' one. Ohhh...two of 'em! Two Yellow Rails! How freaking awesome! So that made me happy. (side note: two birders also reported 2 Yellow Rails the day after we were there, so that's cool).
Willow Lake did however claim my GPS unit. Oh well, that thing was only working about 20 percent of the time anyway. Now the birds can navigate their way around the lake really well...
(fresh bear scratches on an Aspen at Tallac)
What else has been happening..BEAR! (the fifth one this season). I fell in a beaver trench and must have spooked it. He was only about 30-40 feet from me but deep in the willows. I think he just heard me, didn't actually see me. But I saw him and then I booked on out of there - which is hard to do in a wet meadow with beaver holes and yellow jackets swarming you, hmmm. So that was pretty cool.

I always see bear scat and bear tracks into the willows but haven't actually seen them IN the willows, so that a new one.
Speaking of large I was heading into a thick willow clump recently at about 5 30 in the morning, I promptly stopped in my tracks because of this:
Yeah, some real nice fresh cougar prints heading right where I was going. I figured maybe I wouldn't wander in that way. Probably a good call.
Coyotes too! Yesterday as I was walking down the hill to one of the sites, I heard what sounded like a bunch of coyotes but ended up being only one. He was a good lookin' fellow. But he kept howling and barking for more than an hour about 150 meters from the wifl territory I was in which made it a little hard to the already extremely quite birds. He was pretty cool though. I hadn't seen a coyote since the beginning of the season, so I was glad to see him hanging around.
(Blackwood sunrise)
Other good sightings include marmots, beavers, a fair amount of bald eagles, lots of osprey, and all sorts of baby birds. Spotted Sandpiper babies are way too cute for their own good and they're all over the place now. Love 'em. Lots of Red-breasted Sapsuckers and Flicker fledglings too, among many many others.


alicia said...

Breathtaking photos. Can't believe those bear marks. Yikes.

Clytie said...

Stunning photos! I can't believe this is your office!!!

Although with those bear marks and cougar prints ... maybe a cubicle isn't so bad after all!

Dan said...

I love your pictures and read your posts, and I really wish you did share a rant every now and then, and tell us what you really do think!

You're in the perfect position that most of us aren't to comment on any problems and draw attention to them before it's too late. LOL no pressure :o)

Janie said...

Interesting post about your adventures, and beautiful photos. Sad that the willow flycatchers aren't doing well, even in relatively remote areas.

Larry said...

What a gorgeous place is Willow Lake! It has been over a year since I last visited the lake to see the Sandhill Cranes there.

You are definitely blessed to have places like this as your office Jill! I have heard of the Yellow Rails there but have not been able to get over to hear them myself.

It sounds like you and Zack had a marvelous time in the wilderness, surrounded by nature. The photos are awesome! Cougar and bear, oh my!

anw said...

"Nest in peace." That's a nice phrase.

sebi_2569 said...

nice blog;and nice photo; bravo

MyMaracas said...

What a joy your life must be, to do this for a living. Love it - though I don't envy you the bears.

Johnny Nutcase said...

Thanks guys! I do really love my job -most of the time. I'm having some series issues with the way things are happening at this current project though. Dan- I will likely address my concerns..give me a little while to calm down about 'em though :)

Rambling Woods said...

You really get to see a lot of interesting sites...I prefer to watch you watch them and then post to the blog..safer for me that way.. Michelle

elvira pajarola said...

These Nature spots I DO LOVE INDEED....! hmmmmmmm; an appointement with a lovely bear ...?...Let's put on the siperfast shoes...........!!!

ciao ciao elvira