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Category Archives: wildlife

The ground squirrels were particularly active and cute at the campground. Sky was fascinated by them. She’d watch and then they’d slip into their burrows and then she’d walk over and sniff and look around as if to say, ‘where’d they go?’ And the little mammals seemed to know that Sky would not pursue them. They tolerated her watching them. They let each other know when we were approaching with little warning whistles so the others would be alert.

There are several species of ground squirrels in Washington and I don’t them well enough to make an ID. Maybe someone else does?

We camped at Page Springs campground, located at the south end of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and on the road to Steens Mountain. At night I enjoyed listening to owls – Great Horned and also Western Screech Owls and the singing of coyotes. Ruby-crowned Kinglets positively dripped off of every shrub and tree. There were lots of raptors everyday wherever we went.

The girls and I ventured onto the Refuge a couple of times – more gravel roads. It is very dry as is much of the northwest this year. Hopefully recent rains have improved the situation. I did manage to see a few birds and a very beautiful coyote on the main road. The canid stayed on the road til an oncoming truck forced it to choose another pathway. American White Pelicans moved round and round a pond cooperatively fishing at the Malheur NWR headquarters.

I went birding by the river this morning and enjoyed lots of bird song and glimpses of warblers, vireos, flycatchers and other birds. It was mostly a ‘birding by ear’ session. The birds were generally tiny and up high in the deciduous trees now fully leafed out, and the wind was blowing. It was still fun. Every year I need to re-learn the songs of the migrant birds.

One animal that did not sing was a snowshoe hare. I saw at least six different white-footed rabbits today, already in their summer fur. The first one came bounding down the trail toward me before realizing that I was an obstacle and perhaps he/she ought to stop and consider what kind of obstacle. The hare stopped and started again before turning and bounding away.. I saw others throughout my walk in the woods and near the river. What a fun wildlife observation. No bird photos today.

Last Thursday I travelled down to Wenatchee for the weekend and as I approached Beebe Springs I noticed an animal getting ready to cross the highway. Having had a bad experience near there two years ago with a mule deer, I slowed way down in order to let her cross the road. I was surprised to see it was a bighorn sheep! I have seen them on the cliffs along that route but never on the highway. She was followed by a group of maybe twelve or fourteen with one big ram. After I stopped, giving them plenty of room, they turned and went to the railroad tracks above the road where they watched me and other people who stopped to watch them. It was sort of like a traffic jam in Yellowstone but on a smaller scale. The sheep finally decided that this was not a good place to cross the highway and retreated up the cliff face and disappeared over the top.

 

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