The weather forecast indicated about 20% chance of rain in the mountains yesterday. Around here, that means it’s not likely to rain. It was sunny and reasonably warm at home when the girls and I left for the 6500′ Freezeout Trailhead and the hike to Tiffany Mountain. The temperature was 46 degrees Fahrenheit and it was sunny when we started walking. Good weather for an uphill hike to the 8242′ summit.
In the burned forest (this is part of the Tripod burn from ten years ago) I heard and saw numerous birds, including lots of young ones with adults searching for food to feed the nestlings.
When we walked away from the trees, the sky was solidly overcast but still no sign of rain. Nearing the top, I started to feel occasional pelts of small hail. At the top, it was obvious that the weather was going to take a turn for the worse. We shared my peanut butter sandwich and I put on my extra layers (two coats, gloves and a wool hat) and tucked my camera away. Normally we would linger on the mountain top and look around for more birds and flowers and maybe ladybugs but not this time. It was hailing pretty solidly by then. And as we walked downhill it was soon raining. We didn’t notice the birds or flowers much on the way down. Still, it never got too cold and it wasn’t windy and I had the right extra gear with me. Overall it was a nice day.
Roger Lake is a real gem
Lots of downed lots on the lower part of the trail but they didn’t slow Sky any.
A very young grouse – either a Dusky Grouse or a Spruce Grouse, depending on who I ask.
This game camera is aimed right at the trail. Are they counting hikers and dogs or looking for something else?
Mountain Bluebird nest hole
Male Mountain Bluebird feeding young
Male Mountain Bluebird at the nest hole
Female Mountain Bluebird feeding young
I think this is a Savannah Sparrow
Reliable water following rainy summer days
Luna was wet before it even started raining
Horned Larks nest on the side of Tiffany
Near the top looking back at the trail
I was hoping it would go towards the Okanogan and not towards me
See the storm on the other side of the ridge past Tiffany Lake?
June 25 and what have I done this month? One hike. Two sets of visitors. Designed the cover for Ken’s soon-to-be-released CD. Walked my dogs. Two weddings that you can see here and here. Time flew by and now it’s nearly July.
We had one week of hot weather and then it returned to often windy and cloudy and even some good June rains. The grasses on our hill are taller than the dogs. Lupine continues to bloom along with the beautiful mariposa lilies that I cannot quit photographing. Bluebirds and swallows have fledged. A raven family spent a couple of weeks terrorizing the nesting birds. I do admire ravens but really I wish they did not eat eggs and other baby birds. Smokejumpers from the airport across the valley trained in the hot weather and in the windy weather.
dew drops on spider web
The vernal pond is still there
Lupine and a dusting of new snow on the mountains across the way
Dusky Grouse displaying to me and the dogs
New growth on sage
Lupine and yarrow
tall grasses and yarrow
Lush grasses and dead trees
I’ve been visiting Lost Lake for nearly twenty years now. From the first time, I remember the loons. It was news to me that there were Common Loons in Washington. And then I realized that they were nesting here too!
Lost Lake is a small lake so it only hosts one nesting pair. There are a few other lakes in eastern Okanogan County and also in Ferry County that support a small population of nesting loons. Loons face many obstacles to raising their babies. Both parents take turns on the nest so the eggs (often there are two) are never left exposed. Predators that could take them include Bald Eagles, Common Ravens and otters. After they hatch and the young birds are on the water, the parents are constantly wary of attacks from the air and the water. An eagle can easily take a young loon from the water’s surface.
Loons aren’t the only birds at Lost Lake but they might be the most charismatic. Lots of people fish there in non-motorized boats so the birds are accustomed to boats and will approach fairly close. They are especially interested in the anglers. I find that if I sit quietly in my kayak, the birds will come close and offer great looks. Not that close though. These photos were mostly made with a 600 mm lens. The forest bird photos were made with a much shorter lens.
Spotted Sandpipers are a real joy to watch. They trot along logs and sticks on the water, bobbing their tails up and down and issuing their calls when they fly to the next lot. There are lots of swallows around the lake, taking advantage of many of the cavities in the trees for nesting sites.
Unkown Empidonax flycatcher. Any thoughts on its ID would be appreciated. It did not call or sing as I observed it.
A pair of Ring-necked Ducks
Williamson’s Sapsucker male
This Bald Eagle kept a close eye on the loon nest
Loon on the nest
I went birding with a friend last week, visiting an area not far from here but new to both of us. We had a pretty good birding day, seeing more than seventy species! One of the first birds we observed was a Lewis’s Woodpecker – first one of the season for us. They are really beautiful birds with striking reddish bellies and iridescent greenish black backs. Before the day was over we had seen three of them. I guess they all arrived at once.
At one stop, I was caught up with the patterns in the water while Juliet was searching down a bird with an unusual song she could not identify. We looked at a new burn area from last year and tried to find morels with no luck.
Willow and moving water
Ruins of a cabin
Here is a list of the birds we saw:
Great Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
SW Trip part 7
I had hopes of seeing California Condors at the Grand Canyon but it turns out that they stay down in the canyon til the weather is consistently warm. It’s a good thing I saw one last year at Big Sur.
The most common bird we saw was Common Raven. Lots of them. They begged in the parking lots. They were somewhat menacing. I wonder if they ever scare small children.
Western Scrub Jay
Raven soaring over the canyon
Common Raven looking threatening
Western Bluebird – such a beautiful little bird