Thursday, September 20, 2012

Moose on the loose

Yesterday afternoon I went to Camas National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding and to check on the three bull moose bachlors that have been there for a year.  Low and behold the largest bull had found two girlfriends and was protective of the two.  The cows wandered on their own and the bull was determined that no males, including me, would mess things up for him.
As one of the cows came near me, the bull did a stalk on me.
He decided to charge, but there was deep water between us and he would stop there.
He would bellow at the cows, but they would look up at him and then continue eating.
He got a little angry at us all and took it out on some willows.  Probably just sharpening the tines for me.
He had to chase after one of the wandering cows and then looked back and me, warning me to keep my distance.
The other cow moved across the road from me and he decided he was tired of me being too close.  So he pawed and ground, urinated in it and I headed for the truck. 
I did not get any pictures of him chasing the truck down the road, but he chased the truck for about 20 yards before heading back to round up his two partners.
The last I saw of them was as they headed into the high bullrushes -  right toward the other two bull moose.  I'm afraid he will have a fight on his hands.
What a great time in the wilds of Idaho and I will be there looking for them again and soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sage grouse season

Saturday, September 15, was the opening day of sage grouse season here in Idaho.  After 75 minutes of traveling across some very ruff primative roads, I got to a cattle watering station in the middle of the high desert north of St. Anthony.  There were no birds at the tank when I got there and was a little worried about their numbers during the summer heat and drought.
I listened to the coyotes howling and bugling bull elk between short snoozes.  About 6:30, I was awakened by a strange sound and saw wave after wave of sage grouse walking to the water tank.  I did not realize that the tank was bone dry and the only moisure for the birds was damp dirt that had been dug out by the birds.  These pockets of wet dirt probably started out as tracks from cattle when the tank overflowed.  I flushed the birds several times only to have them come back for more moisture.
Here a family group works the damp dirt holes.
The young of the year were still learning to fly and was reluctent to take off, but had been taught how to get the moisure out of the dirt.  They would get a mouthful of dirt, hold it a minute or two and then spit out what remained.

Another source of moisture for the birds was eating the green grass with frost on it.

The birds were so concerned about getting water, that they paid no attention to me in the truck.  This sage grouse walked under my truck to get to the moist earth pockets.

One time I flushed the birds and filled a couple of holes with water from my water bottles.  The birds returned in about five minutes and these two young cocks fought over the water.

There were over 100 birds that came to this water tank to try to find water.  I traveled to another tank in the desert that was full with some overflowing.  As I was driving up about 50 birds flushed as I got close. These were more concerned about safety than thirst. 
I spent the morning in the Wilds of Idaho and saw coyotes, migrating Mountain Bluebirds, elk, Mule deer and moose.  What a great way to spend some time learning and studying the wildness of Idaho.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mystery Bird

This morning I had several flocks of warblers show up after the rain last night.  Along with them was a blue bird I have been seeing once or twice each week since early July.  Here it is:

An expert birder of our area believes it is a cross between a Lazuli and an Indigo Bunting. 

The fall migration is underway and my trees have been filled with birds after the rain on Friday and Saturday nights.

Just another great wildness day in Idaho.