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This pair of Bald Eagles enjoyed some morning sunshine on one of the snags in front of our house recently. I have been seeing a lot of eagles in the valley recently. I think they are eating spawned out salmon.

The girls and I took a drive up Boulder Creek last week, to see how far we could get before hitting snow. It was farther than I expected and we stopped short of having to stop and went for a walk in the burned forest. We will be hiking in those mountains sooner rather than later.

Dead trees provide homes for many animal species. Birds and small mammals use them for nests and for foraging. Here is a link to articles about the value of dead trees or snags, to wildlife. We have been dismayed when people talk about cutting down all the dead trees. After the fires, wildlife habitat is very much diminished. We have chosen to live in an area we share with wildlife, and we, like many other people, are encroaching on their homes. We feel like we should try to provide as much habitat as possible.

Since the fire we have more than our share of dead trees. You’d think we’d have all the dead tree habitat we could ever want. However dead trees full of branches can be very top heavy and as the roots begin to rot, they are easily toppled in a wind storm. One of our trees was uprooted the day after the fire during a freak wind event. So we want to preserve some of our dead trees in hopes that they will stand for many years providing homes and food for woodpeckers, nuthatches, bluebirds, chickadees, squirrels and other animals. Maybe even a pair of Red-tailed Hawks.

We hired a tree worker to limb and top a few of the trees so that they would be less likely to fall. Some of them were close to the road and perhaps posed a safety hazard. Others were in the draw below our house.

Watching Owen work was fascinating. He climbed up and down trees using ropes and a harness while carrying a full array of tools including a small chainsaw. It was pretty amazing to see him moving nimbly high above the ground cutting branches and felling the tops of the dead pines. It looks like very dangerous and hard work and he made it look like fun. I think he was having fun. We only asked him to do the climbing and cutting. We will do the clean-up work. With the way the snow is falling today, I imagine we won’t get to the clean-up til next spring.

In 2006, the Tripod wildfire raged through Okanogan County. Between late July and snowfall, it burned more than 175,000 acres of forest lands. Unlike the fires currently burning in Colorado and Montana, it did not burn any homes. Six years later, regeneration is producing a new kind of forest with wildlife friendly snags, wildflowers and new growth of willows and aspens. I spent part of Monday afternoon walking through a tiny bit of the old burn listening to birds and small mammals and admiring the flowers.


Burnt snags reflected in a small pond



Roger Lake – some trees survived in the boggy edges of this lake and it continues to be a great place for birds and other wildlife



Snags criss cross on the trail


Bog orchid grows in a wet spot




Spent flowers remind me of the fire


Lupine bud


Lupine from above


Scarlet gilia


Wild rose




Here is an article about the fire. And here is an article about a study on the effects of the fire.



Yesterday we went for a ‘Sunday Drive’. All the dogs piled into the new car and we took some snacks and headed up the Chewuch River. Not too much snow up there so we had some nice easy walks. Two of the dogs are old and one is nearly lame so we all took it easy.

Our first stop was Falls Creek Falls – pretty in all seasons and some especially interesting ice forms this visit.

The Yellow Belly – Ponderosa Pines – are especially pretty in winter

Rosehips brilliant color and citrus taste make them especially attractive to birds. People enjoy them as well.

We saw two beavers on the Chewuch.

The fresh light snow was excellent for tracking animals. Here is a tiny one – maybe a vole?

And a moose. There were two sets – maybe a cow and calf.

And a big black bear. It walked along the road between when we drove up and when we returned. This was the second set of bear tracks we saw yesterday. I wonder when they will begin hibernating?

Lots of elderberries still hanging from the bushes. Do bears eat these?

And more beautiful rosehips

Ice on the Chewuch 

And the lonely snags from the 30 Mile Fire, ten years ago. Wind blowing through them made an eerie wailing sound. No doubt, these woods are haunted.

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