.

.
Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Checking trails

The final busloads of students for this school year descended on the refuge this morning.  We had about 120 antsy fourth graders from Moorhead, MN, on their second to last day of school.  Can you imagine the energy?  Luckily, I was manning the eagle scope all morning so had some breaks between busloads.  The eagles put on quite a show for all of them, and the kids were really pumped up as they made their way back to their next stations.  I overheard one of the teachers telling her kids to be sure to tell their principal what a great time they had with the eagles today.  For one of the groups, a red-tailed hawk mistakenly got too close to the eagle nest, and we got to watch both adult eagles dive down out of the sky and send that hawk into maneuvers to avoid being blasted to bits!  I never had such an exciting end to my school years in Chicago.

It’s too bad the volunteer leading the eagle tour didn’t realize what a teachable moment this was.  He was too worried about keeping the bus on schedule.  My feelings were, who cares if this bus is five minutes late?  Really exciting stuff was happening!  Sorry to say, they missed the one parent returning to the nest to check on the youngster after the scuffle in the air.  I shouted to him to let them return, but I think he chose not to hear me.

Anyway, after the kids left, Bridgett and I ate our lunches that we had brought with us and headed out to check some of the back trails for downed trees.

IMG_0142

Our first trail was the road to the Chippewa water structure.  Because of this water structure, Chippewa Lake is formed along the course of the Otter Tail River.  As we approached the water regulating structure, a raccoon was ‘fishing’ along the edge.  I couldn’t get my camera up quick enough for a picture of it, but I think Bridgett got a great ‘the end’ shot as it scurried away from us.  Maybe she’ll post it on her blog tonight.

IMG_7505

I did get a picture of a pair of barn swallows that were nearby.  I was surprised that they sat still for a few seconds for a photo.  They’re usually so busy on the wing.

Next up was the Johnson Lake Trail, and we had one tree down across the lane, but it was light enough for us to drag out of the way.

_MG_0143

At the turn around at the Johnson Lake water access, we parked and walked down to the lake shore.  I don’t think anyone but staff launch a canoe here for loon counts and such.  It’s pretty remote.  As Bridgett made her way down the track, I spotted something in the middle.

IMG_0145 IMG_0148

There were a couple of the tiniest yellow lady’s slippers that I had ever seen.  Those little ‘slippers’ were only about an inch long, and fairly hidden by the green growth around them.  The ones I’ve seen before were much larger and in bunches.  These were just little scattered individual blossoms.

_MG_0153

This will give you some idea of the trails we were driving.  Not exactly highways through the woods!  Most of the trees that had fallen were small enough for us to haul to the side.  This pic is to show Bridgett’s John that we were not just on a joy ride, we were ‘working’.  It sure was nice to have someone to help with the hauling.  Winking smile

_MG_0154

As we started down the Booth Lake Trail, we only got .6 miles along before we were stymied.  Before we tried to tackle that tree, I noticed a blooming columbine just brilliantly highlighted by a sunbeam.  The tree could wait while I took this photo.  I just had to live in the moment. I think of all the wildflowers in the country, the columbine is my all time favorite. 

It turned out that the medium sized aspen that was crossing the trail was downed by a busy beaver.  It was way too heavy for the two of us to move so I’ve reported it as needing someone with a chain saw to cut it up.  It’s amazing to me how the beaver had gnawed off all the delectable branches and just left the long bare trunk across the road.  At first glance it looked like someone had sawed off all the branches, but looking closer it was obvious that it had been done by one of Mother Nature’s carpenters.

I had to put the truck into four wheel drive in order to turn around from that impasse, but we got it done.  I’ll check out the rest of this trail after that log is removed.  We didn’t see any bears or wolves, but it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

23 comments:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful day all around. What a great eagle experience for everyone. I can only imagine it. Your pictures of the lady slippers are wonderful. We saw some pink ones but no yellow here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I was a kid, we never got to go on any class trips to see birds and study nature. The closest was a trip to a zoo once. My school thought that trips to the circus and Shakespeare plays were much more important.

    I'm sure you lit up those kids lives with those eagles.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't seen lady slippers in years. Loved the picture. I do have columbine in my garden though. We had the opportunity to enjoy eagles on our stay in Birch Bay last week. Just love to watch them

    ReplyDelete
  4. I guess you'll be gearing up next to run a chainsaw.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would have loved to see the dust-up between the eagles and the hawk, and I'm sure the kids would have liked to linger until the show was over.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an awesome day! Wish I could have seen the eagles and hawk...
    The columbine is a beauty...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, what a rough day at work! Isn't it great to help out an organization and still have so much fun? I would love to have seen the eagle/hawk encounter, how cool. Becki

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would have been very excited to see the eagles going after that intruder! About the ladies slipper...I love the little spots inside, and the curly petals. I always get such joy out of searching out the wildflowers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sounds like a really good day to me! Don't think I've ever seen a lady slipper.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great day- glad you had another good group of kids.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wonderful day. Great experiences and pictures. My only complaint is that you didn't link to Bridget's blog. I'd love to add her blog to my reading list. I won't be doing any environmental education here, except for working with the Environmental Project International who will be helping to set insect traps and collect sage grouse scat to help determine what is in the habitat the grouse choose to use for nesting.

    ReplyDelete
  12. People that are not educators do not understand that you need to seize the moment.

    I like how you prioritize...photos first; tree removal second. lol

    ReplyDelete
  13. I would SO love to go on any tour of nature with you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Columbines are a favorite of mine, too. I had planted some in my garden in Illinois.

    ReplyDelete
  15. We're behind you a week or so weather-wise here in Maine. No lady slippers yet.... yours are gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  16. would have loved to see the eagle drama as well. . .yaaa for you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think it is just soooo neat that you and Bridget are zipping around together...I know she will soak up all the great knowledge you can give her on Mother Nature..You must have been one great teacher, Judy..and that bus driver was a dufus!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I haven't seen a lady's slipper in it's got to be decades.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Good to hear that the Yellow Slippers are blooming. There are several different varieties of the yellow...two bloom now and the other ones bloom about June 18....give or take a few days dependent on the weather.. you can see more of the little ones along the roadside driving south in the last curve toward Tamarac Lake.. I have been wanting to get there but no luck with that lately maybe next week. :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Some people just don't get it when presented with a once in a lifetime experience. They just have to push on regardless of the memories that could be made. What a cool experience to view the Eagles protecting their family.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a great eagle experience, great lady slipper photo.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sounds like a Judy Bell kind of day. Loved the wild columbine My favorite is wild astilbe in Alaska

    ReplyDelete
  23. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

    ReplyDelete