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Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

To the rescue, again!

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood when I woke up this morning, and fellow volunteer Bridgett Hatch and I had a date to check some more of the back road trails for downed trees.  We only had the morning, as Bridgett had to work the VC this afternoon. 

The other day I had a chat with Janice, the volunteer coordinator, to see if she was comfortable with me doing my hours each week at my discretion.  Mowing and some of the other things I do are really weather dependent, and even though on paper I’m scheduled to work six hours a day Wednesday through Saturday, she was Okay with me flexing those days so I could take advantage of weather related opportunities.  Since the forecast is for rain tomorrow, I chose to do the trail checking this morning, and mowing this afternoon.  VC work is kind of etched in stone, so I work around that.

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Anyway, that’s how we ended up enjoying and ‘working’ on my day off.  Tea Cracker Trail only had one downed tree, and we were able to haul that off of the trail.  Next was to cover the River Road Trail.  All of these trails are closed to the public at the present time.

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River Road follows alongside the Otter Tail River.  I always stop at this side bridge to enjoy the peacefulness and sounds of the rushing river.  We don’t want to work too hard, don’t cha know, so we spent some time watching all the barn swallows coursing through the skies and a good sized fish (maybe a trout?) swimming around beneath us.  The water is just absolutely crystal clear.  Then I heard a tinkling sound like a small bell.  What??

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When I looked up from the water, Donna Dustin and her Springer Spaniel, Annie, were making they’re way towards us out of the woods.  I had encountered these two on the same River Road almost exactly one year ago, and I had related the story to Bridgett just moments before. 

I wrote about Donna and Annie last year, but if you don’t recall I’ll tell you again.  Donna is a local lady that helps with the woodcock studies being done on the refuge.  Woodcocks are in decline, and they help gather data and band woodcocks to hopefully increase their numbers once again.  Annie wears a bell and a radio collar, and is trained to find woodcock nests.  She goes off into the woods, and when her bell stops tinkling, Donna knows she is on point and has found a nest.  Donna then bushwhacks her way to find Annie, and tries to catch the young birds with her net and band them.  Last year, was a banner year for woodcock here, and she banded 97 birds.  This year, she has only banded 21 birds so far.  She feels it is due to the very cold spring where the initial nests were frozen out.  Annie is getting up in years, so Donna is getting a new pup to train in very soon.  I think Annie will be a great teacher.  What a hoot to meet them both again in the middle of nowhere!

Well, that was pretty exciting for me, but the morning wasn’t over yet.  As we made our way back to the rigs on Bruce Blvd, I spotted something in the middle of the road and pulled the truck over.

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Up ahead was a ruffed grouse.  Do you see those eight things that look like dark rocks?  Well, they are newly hatched youngsters!  That mama grouse was standing stock still while her babies rested on the warm rocks of the gravel road.

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She was on alert, but didn’t move one little inch as I got out of the truck.  That’s when I noticed a van speeding down the road from behind.  Aw nuts!  What to do?  I got a little closer to the birds, but they didn’t move.  So, I stood in the middle of the road and waved my hands around trying to get the van to slow down.  It finally did.  Then two more vehicles approached from the other direction.  More hand waving.  Every one stopped, thank goodness.

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I moved closer and closer hoping mama would take her chicks off of the road.  I was talking to her like she was a person.  “Come on, mama, take your little ones off of the road.”  Finally, she ran back (she didn’t fly) into the woods leaving all the chicks behind, but calling out to them constantly.

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I got closer and closer, and some of them ran towards their mama, but others stubbornly stayed put.  Isn’t this one just too cute?  They were so tiny, I could have held all eight of them in my cupped hands.  So, Bridgett and I leaned way over and started herding them with our hands to get them to go find their mama.  I’m sure it was quite a sight!  Little old lady stops traffic by waddling across the road…

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Two wildlife rescues (remember the turtle?) in less than 48 hours.  I was beginning to feel like Mighty Mouse!  ♫ “Here I Come to Save the Day!”♪ ♫  Open-mouthed smile  Ha Ha!  

I have to say once again, that nothing beats my experiences volunteering on our National Wildlife Refuges.  I am one lucky person…

IMG_7608                                                                                 THE END!! 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

41 comments:

  1. What a wonderful experience with the wee ones! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. How sweet are those babies!!!! It is a good thing that you came along
    when you did...hate to think of what could have happened...just love those
    babies...

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  3. Glad your path with Donna and Annie crossed again! I can just see you and Bridgett herding the grouse babies out of the road. i would suspect they may have been run over if ya'll hadn't been there at that moment in time.

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  4. My goodness, you certainly crammed in a lot of wonderful experiences today! Love the babies - they are so cute.

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  5. Boy you really are one lucky person. What a day. I remember Annie and just love that story and this one is great too. I don't know about "mighty mouse" but MV might be a good title. You definitely do save the day for these critters. I thought you said the roads were closed. How could someone come speeding down? And what's with speeding on a NWR anyway. Do MV's give out tickets?

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  6. We're gonna' have to get you a portable STOP sign to aid in those road rescues. ;c)

    Whod' a thunk, you're a WCG (Wildlife Crossing Guard)...

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  7. Wow. Thanks for everything that you do for our feathered friends. You are amazing.

    BTW, by chance today I met the director of the Klamath Falls Oregon Birding Association. I gave her the link to your blog. Hope she stops by for a visit.

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  8. What a great post. Darling birds. So far my baby bluebirds look like intestines or very tiny red monkeys with bad hair. And I missed your post on Donna and Annie so was glad you met them again. A friend is asking me about the rebel. What len(s) to you use?

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  9. I always loved the adult ruffled grouse, and this is the first time I've ever seen even a photo of chicks. What darling little things they are. I'm so glad you were there to halt the traffic.

    I've always had fairly good success with training my dogs Smoky and Lady, but springer spaniels nearly drove me nuts. They are lovely dogs but I wouldn't even think of ever getting one again. (Maybe it was me and not the dog! Smoky trained me right!)

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  10. What a wonderful day - meeting up with Donna and Annie and then rescuing the babies. Sure glad you were there at the right time.

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  11. Awww, those chicks are adorable! You definitely are a hero. Glad you were at the right place at the right time.

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  12. Now you can add "flagger" to your ongoing list of national wildlife refuge qualifications and experiences!

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  13. From Jo and I quote, "oh my gosh, they are so cute!"

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  14. Adorable!! Good job!! What a life Donna and Annie enjoy - and you also!!

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  15. What a splendid day! Those grouse chicks are as cute as they can be.

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  16. So cute- good job on the rescue. I think it is amazing that a dog can be trained to find a specific nest.

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  17. Two wonderful stories in the same blog. Thank you, Judy. And job well done in protecting the baby ruffled grouse. Love the story of your meeting up with Donna Duston, another person to be admired for what she does.

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  18. Who the hell is Jayoti Soni and why is he trying to sell golfing gloves on your blog. Some nerve. I am offended.

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  19. Good job Judy! What cute little babies.

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  20. What a perfect day. The babies were just darling. I'll bet momma was relieved to have her precious babies herded back to her.

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  21. Too Cute! Hope she manages to raise all 8 chicks. I have to ask... How did Tea Cracker Trail get its name?

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  22. And we are lucky too to see the pictures and read your stories...thank you Judy for saving the day for those sweet little birds! Absolutely adorable!

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  23. Great going, Judy! I wish I'd been there!

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  24. What a coincidence - meeting Donna and Annie again like that. And those chicks! What fun to find them with their mom. She's a beautiful bird, and her chicks are precious. Yes, lucky you! :)

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  25. You had a very exciting morning. Meeting and old friend and the Grouse momma and her newly hatched babies. Sure glad you were there to stop the traffic or it might not have ended so well. They sure are cute.

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  26. You are a real lifesaver, Judy. Great pics of those little chicks!

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  27. Those chicks are the cutest things ever! Good to see she had a great hatch! :)

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  28. You do get to see the neatest little creatures.

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  29. this rescue was just priceless! Made my day. . .

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  30. You are my hero, you very lucky lady! What a special day and what a special post. Loved these little guys. Wish I could've been there.....

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  31. Oh how cute! That would have been a real treat to play the heroine to those little one.

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  32. Aaaw ... great header photo of the chicks. A good deed you did ;-)

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  33. Wonderful story. We may not be able to fix the world in big ways, but helping these little guys is important too.

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  34. Mama grouse and her babies are so cute and what a timely rescue. Great pictures of the family...
    Jan

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  35. Judy to the rescue. Has a nice ring to it. Kind of like a song from the sixties. Great story and pics.

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  36. What a story! Love the baby grouse--I got to see little grouse one time, sure upset the mom when I inadvertently got too close--went to the house to get the camera but they were gone when I got back. You are indeed one lucky lady!

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  37. You are my hero! Thank you for looking out for the new family. What great pictures of the babies. Thank you Judy for looking out for the wildlife.

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  38. Glad you were more interested in the chicks well being than mom:)

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  39. I almost died from the cuteness. Stop torturing me like that!

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  40. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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