Saturday, August 06, 2011

Time off - time to head back into the woods!

After a big field season studying Northern Goshawks in the woods, it was time for a little down time - in the woods! Karyn and I traveled to central Idaho to celebrate our anniversary. Seventeen years ago we were married on a mountain bike trail near Stanley, Idaho. Each year we spend a week in the area relaxing, playing and celebrating the festive event. This year we once again had a great time. Here is a photo tour of some of what we saw. As you can derive, we had gorgeous weather! (click any photo to enlarge)

Mount McGown on northern tip of Sawtooth Mountains.
One of many elk herds we saw - most with healthy calves.

The Stanley area is a great area for nesting Sandhill Cranes. We would see approximately 20 pairs, many with colts, some with two.

Sandhill Cranes.
Sandhill Cranes, Elk, Canada Geese.
Osprey launching an attack.

One day we took the boat across Redfish Lake to hike into the central Sawtooths. We had hoped to go to Saddleback Lakes, but the water was very high and we could not find a safe crossing. We headed to Alpine Lake instead (in Redfish drainage, there are two other Alpine Lakes in the Sawtooths!). While there I noticed tracks heading straight up the snow field behind the lake. Could they be wolverine tracks?

Alpine Lake, Redfish drainage, Sawtooth Mountains
Path of potential wolverine tracks outlined in red.

The pronghorn are doing well. More than half of the herd are calves. There must have been a lot of twins in this group this year.

Pronghorn on Decker Flat.

Stanley has quite a few beaver colonies. We like to explore these for birds and other wildlife. The dam has been destroyed in our favorite area and hasn't been repaired for two years. The beavers must be gone. The result is that the bird numbers are also down in that area. This year we found a few new areas to explore.

Western Wood-Pewee.
Common Merganser Juveniles.
Juvenile Bald Eagles.
Juvenile Bald Eagles.
Northern Goshawk food! - Red Tree Squirrel.
Baby Killdeer.

On the final day of our trip we moved our campsite out to Bear Valley to look for wolves and to float Bear Valley Creek in the morning. We were surrounded by elk all night, but did not hear a single howl. It's a crime against wildlife that we have removed this predator from this fabulous ecosystem. From our van we could see a dozen Sandhill cranes, three elk herds, deer, a family of Northern Harriers, Osprey, etc. It's a beautiful location. In the morning we launched our inflatable kayak for the journey down the river. It takes about two hours and is spectacular.

Cliff Swallows!
Bear Valley Creek.
Bear Valley Creek.
Self anniversary portrait!

1 comment:

Jesse of Voe said...

Awesome pictures. I really hope that was a wolverine.