My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Off to a Whirling Start at Red Rock Lake

May 15-27

I arrived at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge a day late, thanks to my third car problem - this a flat tire.  I ended up being able to get enough air into it to get me only six miles down the road to a Discount Tire Store.  I had to replace the tire.  I checked my new ETA and realized I would be coming in after dark.  I had checked on the quality of the dirt road and office manager, Jackie, who drives a four wheel drive truck, said there were a few wet spots but she thought I could get through.  I didn't want to test that hypothesis in the dark, so spent a night in a motel at Idaho Falls.  I got up the next morning, got breakfast, and then bought two bags of groceries to hold me for the first few days and then figured out how to stow them in the all ready fully loaded Fit.

This is the view near the last gas station before the refuge - I always stop to top off my gas here

My first view of pronghorn antelope - this was part of a herd of about thirty

I'm HOME - that is the bunkhouse behind me and there is another trailer between me and it.

I spent the next two days, working part time,  and unloading and shoehorning my stuff into my trailer. I rushed to survey the bluebirds and collect data on what field repairs I needed to do.  Some boxes were on the ground and missing lids or otherwise damaged.  One had been ripped apart by a bear. These I hauled back to the maintenance shop for repair.

A male mountain bluebird keeping watch over his box 

I found several boxes with eggs and a few boxes with females incubating them - this color is a little too green to represent the actual color

I've been dodging showers while out in the field.  They make for good pictures - this of a storm coming over Upper Lake

This is the view out my trailer door - the sky is endlessly different - this was a sunrise with the clouds still laying on the ground

I got my list of summer jobs.  They include bluebird survey, taking care of putting out and taking in gypsy moth traps, working on  the invasive warrior team, keeping four campsite bathrooms clean, helping to keep the office clean and doing a little office work, visiting with visitors, and a new, short term job of hauling water to a herd of horses we are using in a study on an invasive grass.  That lets me drive our little fire truck. And I found an e-mail inviting me to give my Power Point Program on native bees twice.

My new ride - the last half mile is across a field full of ditches to climb through

A few of the about twenty-five horses I'm hauling water for

Since then, I have completed one bluebird survey, and vacuumed the office a few times - it's been rainy and muddy and everybody tracks mud and pebbles in. And Jim, another volunteer did most of the work to make repair pieces for the bluebird boxes. I then did the remounting of them and the field repairs.  I am down to the last two boxes to remount in the field.  I gave up yesterday after my drill ran out of energy twice. That is on today's list of things to do.

Reading on the Upper Lake gauge - Boss Bill loves that I give him a photo report

And this is the view of Upper Lake as I walk to read the gauge which is behind the bushes on the right

It took me until yesterday (Saturday) to get out and explore parts of the refuge I don't regularly work on.  I hoped I would be able to get to Widgeon Pond and Coulter Ponds. This requires traveling on a road that sometimes can only be traveled by off road vehicles or four wheel drive trucks.  I hoped it had dried out enough to let my little fit to find a path through it.  I ALMOST made it. About a half mile from the turn to Widgeon, I found the road muddy clear across and with a deep hole in the middle. I was afraid to try to get around the hole, because I couldn't tell how soft the rest of the road was. I ended up backing up, and turning around, and parking.  Then I walked in a ways and enjoyed the views and the birds. I had to cut my trip short in order to go back to the visitor center and open it for an Audubon tour. I spent another part of the late afternoon on the bluebirds, putting up boxes on our western trail.

I found a herd of female elk about 6:00 AM  just outside Lakeview village

This same field is flooded and had a huge flock of Franklin's gulls feeding on it, along with lots of mallaerds

I went to visit the bison rock. I has a polished corner where bison used to scratch off their winter coats

Wild flowers are popping out all over - was caught by the composition of these shooting stars

The tree swallows are here and are checking out all the boxes - even peeking in at incubating bluebirds

A little male Swainson's hawk - they have started returning the last few days

Follow the lightest lines that don't have a high middle ground - didn't think to take a picture of my waterloo spot

I continued my trip on foot to get this view from the dam on Widgeon Pond

And this one

This cabbage family butterfly flopped over and laid its right wing on the ground to maximize the
amount of sunshine on its wings

The lesser scaup are the most numerous duck breeding here
I was worried when I could only find one trumpeter swan, than relieved when I found the pair that nest on Widgeon Pond

Elk Creek Road is being repaired and by next year, even I can reliably drive it - this one of three bridges replaced last year

I didn't have time or energy to hike another few miles to and from Culver Pond so I was excited to see the Culver pair of eagles sitting just past Red Rock Creek Bridge

Some of the elk herd was still in the field just outside Lakeside Village

The blog was my priority today.  Now I can get ready for the rest of the day, eat breakfast, and go  finish my bluebird box installations. I also plan to survey at least the western set of boxes. I also have to vacuum and wash out the interior of my Jeep as two of the summer techs and I are driving three hours each way to spend two days learning how to safely and efficiently manage several invasive weeds which we will be waring against most of the summer.

I've been working way more than my recorded hours and still need to set up my spreadsheet so I have a permanent record of my hours. But I hope to start weekend adventures off refuge soon.

Thanks in advance for your comments. I appreciate hearing from you.

Happy Memorial Day. If you served, Thank you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Hike on the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park Trail

This is one of the hikes recommended by the Escalante InterAgency Visitor Center Rangers. It costs $8.00 to enter the park. But the views and the beautiful petrified trees are worth it.

I wanted a short hike, after I had hiked and walked eight miles the day before. This hike is only about a mile or so out of Escalante. And I love petrified wood.

Come along.

View from the parking lot

This was the view from a few switchbacks up the path

The path went past this amazing balancing rock

The path always had lots to see along it and from it

There were amazing views across the country side from different high places

A colorful piece of petrified tree

These were the only blooming cactus I saw. 

Someone had lined up a lot of pieces of petrified wood here 

Another view across the countryside

Another jewel

And another - each piece had different colors and some seemed to have their bark on while others did not

Another glorious view

There were several interesting rock formations along the trail

A very pastel piece

A trio of different colored logs

A closeup of all the different colors - and lichens

The next hillside

Another rock formation

Several places had logs that had probably washed together before petrifying

A blooming shrub

Petrified and non-petrified wood

Another pile of logs

Love these colors

This log showed its core

This dead cedar was also exhibiting its beauty

Rocks and petrified wood

Another view

Oh those pastels

More colors - each due to different minerals

This was advertised as the largest log in the park and was also remarkable for the diversity of colors

A closeup showing some of the colors 

Afternoon view across Wide Hollow Reservoir