Sunday, June 25, 2017

June in Paradise

Its been a month of clouds and sun.  Two slow-moving weather systems came across NW Wyoming bringing much rain and wind to the valleys, and snow in the higher elevations.  The tremendous snowpack has begun to melt, flooding rivers, creeks, and roads.  Part of Gros Ventre road has eroded away and access to other riverside locations has been closed. 
    These 2 photos were typical views for quite awhile.  Where are the mountains ?  When the fog (or clouds) clear away the guests can see the  mountains.

I finally was able to repair the roof racks I use for carrying Dolphin-kayak, and was able to go out on String Lake.  Its a pretty lake, sheltered from wind, and now quite flooded.  I paddled into the forest and into grassy areas that are usually high and dry.
 Below photo shows the west edge of the lake.








When paddling in the forest, many logs need to be avoided.



The creek through this grassy area is all melt-water from a huge snowpack in the high elevations.











Those of you who are birders can look at  ebird  for Teton county to see the checklists I have submitted for this area.  Photo of a Ruffed Grouse who was surprised I found him while he was drumming from a log.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

first few weeks in GTNP

One week ago a snowstorm blew into Wyoming, cold temperatures from the north and moisture from the northwest combined for a chilly week.  Grand Tetons received 3 to 4 inches,  Yellowstone (at a higher elevation) had enough snow to close down most of their roads for Wednesday (17th), and Casper (in central WY) was buried in a foot of snow, enough to close Interstate 80 for quite some time.
     Plants continued moving toward flowering despite the storm.  Dandelions, Yellowbells, and Spring Beauty were the first to bloom.  A week later I found Larkspur, and Buckwheat joining in the Sage prairie's color.  Today I saw Arnica, Lupine, and Phacelia along the trail.  Oregon Grape is an amazing plant;  its leaves survived the winter intact (whether green or red) and yellow flowers have started to open. Above photo is Cinquefoil, edged with frost on a cold morning.
     Birds are returning as well.  Chipping Sparrows are singing, Cassin's Finches and Kinglets arrived before I did.  Yellow Warblers are singing in the marshy places, Yellow-rumpeds are often heard along the trails, and Dusky Flycatchers have found open perches to announce their arrival.  I found a MacGillivray's Warbler in the same place along Jenny Lake trail as in previous years. My surprise photo above.
     Another  "surprised this photo came out so well"   is my Red-naped Sapsucker.  I had walked down to the Registration building to watch sunset, and was hearing a soft  "bird"  noise.  There was not much light remaining for photography.
     A  "large mammal"  event.  I had heard that the well-known Grizzly Bear female called 399 had emerged from her den with 2 little cubs.  Her territory is to the north of Signal Mountain Lodge.  Last night after dinner I drove north looking for bears, and the consequence of them feeding close to the road,  a bear jam.  North of Colter Bay I found the long line of cars parked on both sides of the road, and 2 groups of people on the west edge of the Hwy.  Mama Grizzly and 2 little black cubs were feeding a distance from the road, still in sunlight.  This was Bear 793, I was told, a much younger female.  Pretty exciting !!!


Above is Mama Grizzly and one cub,  photo to the right is the other cub running to catch up.  (used maximum zoom on my camera)



Below a large bull Elk with velvet on  his antlers walks across Teton Park Road leading his harem thru the Sagebrush fields.



Monday, May 15, 2017

a New Motto

"When Life gives you Mountains, put your boots on and start hiking."  That's the way to be.  I will do that soon, once the snow melts off the trails.  The ice has melted off the lakes, and I been out in my kayak twice.
     It has taken us a week to set up the Gift Shop with the help of 2 women from the corporate office who are Head Buyers and  set-up people.  New floor plans have been created, and its all looking very good now.
    Photos from the first week of living in Paradise.



Bison at Elk Flats.










Mountain Bluebird


Sunset sunbeams behind the Tetons










Black bear, my first bear of the season


Yellowbells,  Fritllaria pudica


late afternoon light on snowy peaks

Monday, May 8, 2017

Another Teton summer

Admist the preparations for Mom's memorial service, I was invited to come back to Signal Mt Lodge in Grand Tetons Park.  It was an offer I could not refuse.  I spent 12 days on the road, visiting siblings, friends, and relatives along the way.  NH to MA to CT to NY.  This photo was taken at my friend's rented house in Cooperstown, NY.  A pastel sunset colors the pond behind her house.
     I drove across NY, touched into PA, and into Ohio.  Spring migration for birds had started, and I wanted to see a few eastern migrants before I drove further west.  I tried to stop each morning, weather permitting, to find some local birds. 



Spring was happening in Ohio.  Flowering Dogwood trees were abundant.  Below photo of Violets, and Spring Beauty, taken between the morning rainstorm and the afternoon rainstorm.  Strong winds created a headwind into Indiana. and continued to blow against me as I headed north into Wisconsin.
     I spent 2 nights visiting my relatives and we enjoyed a lovely walk along Pheasant Creek.
Bird reports for this area were very good, however, we saw mostly resident species.
     I continued west across Iowa, and spent a night with pleasant company.  A stronger wind and rainstorm blew across the plains that afternoon as I left Iowa and entered Nebraska. 
    

Below is a photo of Wisconsin River, where I stopped for a short morning walk.  Trees were beginning to "pop" their buds and grow new Spring leaves.


Such a place I would like to paddle my kayak.


To be out of the wind and rainstorm, I stopped at the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center in Nebraska City.  It is a wonderful museum.  These 2 photos show a replica of the boat they paddled upstream on the Missouri River, as they began their exploration in May 1804.
    Photos show a few raindrops on the camera lens.

I stayed overnight in eastern Nebraska.  Several inches of snow fell in central Nebraska that night.  A sudden Spring blizzard covered the fields and trees that had started new growth of leaves.
    



and on into Wyoming.  Many Pioneers crossed the open plains of Wyoming heading for one of several destinations.










Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring is finally here

     February and March brought several big snowstorms. I certainly had my exercise shoveling snow !  We enjoyed birds at the feeders, altho some mornings there seemed to be few birds. 
     4 species of woodpeckers have visited the suet offerings. A few Chickadees, House Finches, Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Cardinals, and the Carolina Wrens. A Pileated Woodpecker female came to eat suet everyday for a few weeks  She may be nesting in the area.
      This week has been truly Spring-like.  The Belted Kingfisher has returned, a Great Blue Heron was fishing at the edge of the river,  and I found American Tree Sparrows at the end of the road.  American Goldfinch males are bright yellow, and this morning a Chipping Sparrow came to the feeders.  Hooray for Spring !     Photo below is a Red-bellied Woodpecker.
     This Spring has had a somber note as well.  In mid-March Mom passed away.  It was a bit unexpected as she had been at her baseline in the nursing home. We have organized a Celebration of Life event to be held next week.  She will be missed by her family and community.



    

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fun photos

Flowers were spectacular.  I may not learn the names of these flowers, but I took their photos anyway.




Both of these were found at Yanacocha Reserve, a high-altitude cloud forest at 10,500 ft elevation on Pichincha Volcano west of Quito.  
















I found this lovely cluster of tubular flowers at a stop in the Tandayapa Valley.







These yellow flowers may be orchids.  Photo taken at Guango Lodge in Provincia de Napo.







These flowers looked like red slippers.  taken at Poco de Choco Nature Reserve.










Another maybe an orchid. This one seen at Amagusa Preserve.  We saw wonderful hummingbirds and tanagers at this location.









a view from Yanacocha Reserve looking across the volcanic mountains. This is truly an incredible place.  We saw some amazing birds here,  Swordbill  (a hummingbird whose bill is longer than the bird),  Golden breasted Puffleg, Sapphire vented Puffleg, Tyrian Metaltail, and more. 






I snapped this photo at a quick bird stop along the road to Antisana and the Paramo. Horse is saddled and ready to go, with no rider in sight.

Friday, March 3, 2017

What to eat ?

Food we had in Ecuador was pretty good.  This was wonderful seafood dish with rice, salad, and a fried something (often plantains).
    The dish in the upper left of this photo has Fava beans (nicely seasoned) and Queso cheese, with an ear of corn (very large kernels).
     Upper right dish shows a  "platos tipicos"  which means  Typical plate of food.  It was usually rice, salad or vegetable, beef or chicken and often a bit of fried plantain or yucca.



This barbequed chicken on a skewer was quite tasty, served on a bed of french fries.  Notice the bit of sausage on the end.  The small food stall in Puembo had one choice on the menu.








This was a lovely lunch after a couple days of trail snacks and sandwiches.  Grilled Tilapa with vegetables and fried Yucca.  The restaurant is in a special place overlooking Rio Blanco.  Bird feeders and open bananas attract many birds to the patio for easy viewing.



View from a trail leading from the restaurant.



All photos on this posting taken by Susan Hochgraf.  I did not remember to take photos of the beautiful food we had.