Monday, November 10, 2008

Wild Animals in the Field!

I love a good meme! Especially an interesting one that morphs a bit so one can come back and pick out some new pictures. Wild animals in the field are so infinitely interesting especially when we see something new. I have previously blogged the bear I saw last month, and the bighorn sheep I stumbled across at Capitol Reef National Park a few years ago. And of course, the cows that are taking over the planet. I appreciated C.V.'s contribution at Cryology and Co. regarding cows and the creation of the world.

Today's choices include a weasel I saw on the trail to the summit of Lassen Peak in northern California last year. It looked like a ground squirrel popping in and out of the rocks, but I realized it was probably looking for squirrels. I had never seen one of these before, so I kinda forgot about climbing Lassen (been there, done that; oh, for shame!), and sat down and waited. After about 30 minutes I got the shot I was hoping for. I wasn't that close, but I have a 12x zoom to work with. (Correction 12-11-09: it's actually an American Pine Marten; I don't know these furry animals as well as I should)

The second photo is a gopher snake I ran across during an eastern Sierra Nevada field trip in 2006. Reptiles seem so alien, especially seen up close. I can relate to thinking like a weasel, but reptilian brains are beyond me.

It recalled one of my other snake time I was driving a road on the outskirts of town and saw a juvenile snake in the roadway in eminent danger of being run over. I decided to do the nice thing and pick it up and put it in the nearby field. I looked at it very carefully (I live in rattler country, after all). No vee-shaped head; check. No rattles on the tail; check. Can't be a rattler, so I pick it up.

Its tail started rattling, and the head was magically vee-shaped, and it was trying to bite me!

I threw the snake into the field as fast as I could and went home and went on the internet. I knew gopher snakes often rattle their tails, and that they have a vicious disposition when picked up, but it was news to me that they can actually flatten their skulls to look like a rattlesnake!

It would have been an embarrassing story to tell in the emergency room...

The third is an owl I saw deep in the forest at Muir Woods National Monument, north of San Francisco. It was hard to photograph in the dark shadows, and I wasted a lot of digital space trying to get it. I really wondered if I had finally seen the elusive Spotted Owl. As it turns out, it was probably a Barred Owl, which is a somewhat invasive species that takes over from Spotted Owls in second-growth forests. Just the same it was a beautiful bird.

1 comment:

A Life Long Scholar said...

Oh! That weasel is so cute! Thank you for being patient enough to wait for the photo opportunity. The owl is also lovely, but not as cute as the weasel.