Saturday, October 31, 2009

Northern Harrier at Camas National Wildlife Refuge

This afternoon I drove out to Camas National Wildlife Refuge to get some pictures and materials for a newspaper article.  It was exciting, but with low clouds and patchy fog, the pictures were not as sharp as they should be.  I saw porcupines, white-tailed deer, hawks, blackbirds, and many waterfowl. 
Here a flock of Trumpeter swan take off from one of the ponds.

But the most exciting was calling in the Northern Harriers.  There were 14 of them working the marshes so I hid in the bull rushes and started calling with a preditor call.  Several harriers looked for the squeeking mouse and this one actually tried attacking me.
Here she comes in hell bent for election.

She finally pulls up because she cannot see the rodent.

She continues to look as I continue to snap pictures of her as she glances at me.


She keeps circling as she looks for the rodent as I continue to call and shoot pictures.

Just another wild day in Idaho.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SkyWatch Friday - Early morning Fog

After a snow/rain storm most of the night, the sun tried burning off the thick fog as it rose over the Teton River west of Rexburg.

See more beautiful pictures of the sky on SkyWatch Friday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Black capped Chickadees

Yesterday after church I heard the familiar call of Black-capped chickadees calling in my back yard bushes.  I immediately prepared the sunflower and niger seed feeders and here they came.  I will enjoy the chickadees, goldfinch, house finch and pine siskin all winter long.  The cold days will be bright by the colorful birds in my back yard.

Black-capped Chickadee

American Goldfinch in its winter plumage.

House finch

Pine siskin flying into the niger seed sack.

With snow predicted tonight, I will make sure the feeders are full for tomorrow.  I want the birds to stay to keep my days bright with their colors and battles.  These are not the only ones that will visit my back yard, but they will be here every day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Snow geese migration

Last night as I went outside to get a load of firewood for the stove, thousands of snow geese were flying south.  It was dark so I could not see them, but there were thousands as they were continous for over 10 minutes.  The fall migration does not stop in our area, but the spring migration does it is a sight to behold.  Here are some pictures of last spring's migration.

Here a flock is landing at Camas National Wildlife Refuge during a brilliant sunset.

Here are the three main types that migrate through.  Left is a Ross's Goose, middle is a Blue phase Snow Goose and the right one is a Snow Goose.

Just more wildness in Idaho.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SkyWatch - Henrys Fork of the Snake River

SkyWatch FridayHere is the sunrise over the Henrys Fork of the Snake River near Macks Inn.  A beautiful, but very cold morning.  Only 10 degrees above zero.

Check out more beautiful pictures of the sky at SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cedar Waxwings

Recently the Cedar Waxwings have been getting in large groups and invading area towns.  The other day we had about 30 feeding on left-over chokecherry berries in my back yard.   Here is an article I recently wrote for a newspaper where it was printed.

Many wild animals have learned to adapt to urban environments. Coyotes live in Los Angeles sewers, kestrels and peregrine falcons nest on apartment ledges and ravens raid garbage cans throughout America’s cities.

Why not one of the most beautiful birds – the Cedar waxwing?

In the cities of southeastern Idaho put together several large fir trees with some berry producing bushes nearby and chances are the waxwings have staked out their homestead.

Hard to see and locate in the thick needles and leaves of mature trees, their soft call in the mid morning and early evening are hard to miss. Careful observation will locate these soft voiced, soft feathered beauties.

Their song is not melodic, but a distinctive buzzy, high-pitched trill. Once you learn to recognize this sound, you will hear it usually before you see the birds.

This year pairs of waxwings have nested in Rexburg and surrounding towns picking off ants and bees attracted to sap producing conifers. Cedar waxwings are late nesters, often waiting until berries as well as insects are available for the young.

Young waxwings are fed insects before they become berry eaters. Adults can be seen picking bees and other insects off leaves and pine needles and feeding them to their young.

They love to invade raspberry patches as well as currant and gooseberry bushes.

Waxwings get their name from small, red, wax-like appendages on the secondary feathers on their wings. A beautiful yellow band runs along the end of the tail and mask-like face sets off their striking tan plumage. In the eastern part of the United States, these birds have started feeding on an ornamental honeysuckle berry that turns the yellow band orange.

These birds are year around resident of Idaho where they feed on many different berries, flowers, and insects, with cedar and juniper fruit dominating their menu during the winter. During the winter of 2008-09, cedar waxwings were seen in large flocks along the Henrys Fork of the Snake River every month of the year. Wintering flocks invade the Russian Olive bushes at Market Lake and Mud Lake.

They are probably the most specialized fruit-eating bird in America. Because they often feed on fermented fruit, they become vulnerable to intoxication and death from eating rotting berries.

Fall is an excellent time to view these birds as they take full advantage of fruit trees and berry bushes loaded with fruit.

Waxwings are a social bird, sometimes congregating in groups of 100 or more. These groups will travel from place to place looking for a crop of fruit or berries and will feed until the berries are gone. While nesting, waxwings will pair up away from large groups only to become pare of a large social group after the young can fly long distances.

Residents of Rexburg, St. Anthony and Ashton do not have to travel further than their backyard to view these elegant birds. Crab apple trees and other fruit bearing trees bring these beautiful birds right to your window.

But cars parked under such trees get the “leftovers” created by these berry eating machines.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fishing Henrys Lake

Yesterday I fished Henrys Lake - for probably the last time this year - because it is starting to freeze.  I broke ice as I was leaving the dock so it was time to pull my boat out.  With 20 degree temperatures, my line would freeze in the guides, but the fish were coopertive and I had a great time for the three hours I was there.  I did not take my camera on the boat as it was too frosty and wet, but I got some wonderful pictures.

This one is of fog rising from the Henrys Fork of the Snake River as it comes from Harriman State Park just before the sun came up.

At Macks Inn, the sun still had not come up, but the lighting was much different because of the surrounding trees.

As I hit Henrys Lake Flat, the sun colored Sawtelle Mountain with a golden glow.

After talking to a few friends and getting the boat trailer attached to the truck, I got a picture of Mount Jefferson bathed in new snow from the northeast side.

As I was pulling my boat, a family of Buffleheads and some coots came to wish me good luck for the winter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SkyWatch Friday - Sunrise

The weather has turned from winter all the way back to Indian Summer.  We are having beautiful days starting off with stunning sunrises like this one over Big Bend Ridge.

The sun is just starting to peek through the scattered clouds highlighting some and casting shadows of others with some rays spiking through.  Another start of a wild day in Idaho.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Changing Princesses

Living close to two four-year old grand-daughters and two two-year old grandsons and tending them on a regular basis, I have wrecked more cars and changed more princess's dresses than any grown man should have to.

I have been the Prince, the baby, the mean guy, the good guy and the battering ram for all the cars - but have enjoyed every minute of it.  Just more wild days in Idaho.  What a joy.  I feel sorry for grandfathers who miss out in the lives of their grandchildren.  We had all four of them today - and it was a wild day.

Remember Whensday #3

My Uncle Nephi Schiers (notice the name difference), my dad's brother, never married and lived as a bachlor in a log cabin in Teton Valley.  He farmed and mined gold in the summer and hunted, trapped and fished in the winter.  I do not remember him, but he was a favorite of my older siblings.  He also served in the Army during World War II.  Here is pictures of his fur catch including mink, weasels, and pine marten (sable).  The second picture is of his elk and three bear he shot one fall.

Here is his Army picture.  He lived about a quarter of a mile from my parents and was included in all the family activities.  His died while crossing the Salmon River on his horse heading back to his gold mine.  My dad and my mother's brother, Chet, floated the Salmon River in a rubber raft to pick up his body.

Share your history on "Remember Whensday."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roughin' It

The hunt was successful for the week we had in the mountains of Island Park.  We watched and stalked over 30 mule deer.  Here are two I got a picture of.

But most of the deer seen were hidden in the thick brush like this one hidded in the scrub aspen.

Even though the elk season was not open yet, we saw over 40 head of elk.  Here a bull elk clears one of the section fences that divide the BLM and Targhee National Forest grazing allotments.  Several times we almost got run over by elk trying to get away from us.

We also saw small animals and song birds like this chipmunk and White-crowned sparrow.

We still have some hunting to do.  Some whitetailed deer tags and elk tags will insure more wild days for us is Idaho.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Promised pictures

Here are the pictures I promised I would post.  The first one is of the Centennial Range after the recent snows.

The next one is of Mt. Jefferson with the portrait of Pres. Jefferson laying down under a new blanket of snow.

The next is of Blue Creek Canyon at the Sand Creek ponds in its fall colors. 

The hunt was successful and enjoyed by all.  Just another wild adventure in Idaho.  But a good bath and shave along with a real bed feels good.  More to come later.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Centennial Mountains

On the border between the Big Sky valleys of southwestern Montana and the Island Park area of Idaho, lies a beautiful mountian range called the Centennials.  Here the Sunday snowstorm just begins to build up.  Now they are almost totally covered with from two to three feet of snow.  I will post pictures of the Centennials after I get back from my final two days of "roughing" it.

This is the view of Mount Jefferson from the southwest side.  It is a popular place for hiking in the summer.  This mountain range hosts the Continental Divide Trail that mostly follows the summit of these mountains.

Before it snows in the valleys around these mountain, the air has to saturate with moisture.  Then after the storm passes, the valleys are usually fog filled with the higher peaks rising above the mist.
Just another wild day in Idaho.

Snow, Snow, Snow

Back out of the mountains for a day.  Roughing it was cold, windy, wet and snowy.  Monday we woke up to eight inches of snow with more falling horizonally but we still had fun. 

My camera did not leave the truck, so all the animals we saw escaped without their picture taken.  By Tuesday some of the snow had melted, making for some beautiful contrasting pictures.

The leaves are still on some of the aspen, the brush is thick and the animals are still high.  On Tuesday fog rolled in and we traveled out in the desert where we saw three wolves that were about a half mile away feeding on a dead calf they had killed the night before.  Talked to the rancher and he said they had killed 15 or 20 calves this year.  With the snow he was moving his cattle out of the mountains. 

After a day at home, we will be back in the mountains tomorrow and Saturday for two more days in the Wilds of Idaho.  More snow is predicted on Friday and Saturday - more cold and wet feet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

If Walls Could Talk

I spent last night and today hiking and exploring the edge of the Big Desert where it meets the Targhee National Forest.  Any excuse to get out in the wilds is good enough for me.  Other than the animals and birds I saw, two old cabins dominated my thoughts.  If only their walls could talk and tell me about their history with their occupants.
The first one is just the walls of a small cabin on Crystal Butte about a half mile from the timber.  It is overgrown with sage brush, but I did find a pile of broken glass bottles and rusty tin cans nearby.  There was also an old crushed wash tub there also.

After "roughing" it out in my unheated camp trailer with tempatures below 20 degrees, listening to the elk bugle and the coyotes howling, I traveled to the Davis Lakes area where I found this old cattle linesman's cabin.  It was in much better shape, but still in bad shape.

The front portion on the cabin, almost half of it, was a coverd porch to store enough fire wood for the occupants.  Inside the old burned out wood stove is filled with thistles and mushrooms, a storage area for pack rats.

While the hand squared logs inside are chinked with mud and saplings cut in fourths with nails and spikes used as hangers.
The front of the cabin looks over Davis Lake #3 in a sagebrush flat with fingers of pine trees on each side of it.

As the sun was setting with another storm rolling in, I wondered just how many untold and forgotten stories these cabins could tell me if only they could talk.

With a week off from school, I plan on roughing it three or four days hunting and more exploring in the wilds of Idaho

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Mount Moran Sunrise

This week as a cold front rolled in, Mount Moran created picturest shadows from the rising sun.

Check other beautiful sky watch pictures at Sky Watch Friday.