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Monday, May 11, 2009

On to Lake Tahoe and a BIG Surprise

After a completely successful trip to hotter-than-hades Del Pueblo Canyon, it was off to Lake Tahoe, in hope of finding alpine birds. On the way up we visited Ice House Road, where we saw, but I got no decent photos of, a Singing Lazuli Bunting and not much more bird-wise. I did shoot some nice flowers which always sit still for me.


Indian Pinks

Next we bee-lined up to Tahoe. The first thing of note was that it is still barely Spring up there. There was a fair amount of snow on the ground. We stopped at Emerald Bay, always breathtaking, even on the 77th visit.

The Always Lovely, Emerald Bay

Not much in the way of birds there, but there was a bizarre flower, of sorts.

Snow Plant

We hoped for a Bald Eagle or two but saw none of the big buggers there. I caught a glimpse of a bookin' Clark's Nutcracker but that was about it. For no good reason here's a bit of a creek by Emerald Bay.

Don checks out the scenery for winged types

We got our campsite at Fallen Leaf Lake, where we stayed last summer then went out roaming. I was, as usual, a stick in the mud. Don hiked over to a spot we had luck with last time, but it was late in the day so there wasn't anything there. We did see something interesting though... more on what, later. The next morning we drove up to Squaw Valley where I managed a quick shot of some Cassin's Finches - but only managed so-so shots.

Cassin's Finch - the rather drab female

We hit another alpine meadow we had luck at last time, and while Don hiked off to find something new, something new flew in to stare at ME for a bit - a beautiful, male Evening Grosbeak. I was livid when I saw the awful photos I got of the bird, and I have no idea why. The photos look like there was grease, or something on my long lens.

Crap Photo of an Evening Grosbeak - *sigh*

Now here's why some people go mental; a crummy photo of a sparse grosbeak I've only seen twice before in my life. BUT, when I used the same equipment for a shot of a bird I see every time -forgive the vulgarity - I wipe me bum, now that shot came out sharp and clear.

Hairy Woodpecker - Great Shot, why, oh why?

See? I have no idea what went wrong with my Grosbeak shot. Couldn't you just SPIT?

But still, it was a lovely drive - I don't often get up to the snow as much as I have this past year. Hopefully I'll continue being so daring. One winter white vista overlooked a snowy, iced over lake. I didn't even have on a jacket - so I guess it is spring.

Ice on the Lake - ICE!

Our last Hurrah for the weekend, we decided to dart over the State line, in search of Black-billed Magpies. Remember, the birds in my yard are the yellow-billed species - I only see Black-billed species when I go out-of-state. So Don and I forged on. Just as we were barreling past downtown Reno, there was flash as a lovely Black-billed Magpie flitted over the freeway in front of us.


We did a 180 and headed right back into California.

NOTE: you don't want to expose yourself to Nevada any more than you have to.

We hit some semi-desert on our way out, but other than a dime-a-dozen Savannah Sparrow there were no birds to speak of, but there were some awesome wildflowers. This Alpine Waterleaf was there, in the desert-like sand, with it's flowers all huddling in an apparently frightened mass at the base of its leaves in the shade.

Alpine Waterleaf - don't the flowers look frightened?

And there were some HUMONGOUS fat flowers that looked like a cabbage/fig hybrid, crossed with a rose. I was baffled by the things, but Don said they peonys and he was right.

Western Peony

Ah HA! Bored with this rather mundane scenario? We'll switch back to Saturday night....

As I stated earlier, we stayed overnight at the Fallen Leaf Lake campground. A bit before twilight we settled ourselves by the HUMONGOUS meadow there, waiting for a Lesser Nighthawk or two to fly by, but none of the annoying birds chose to do so - bugger.

Anyway, after a bit, there was a man and a woman crossing the meadow from the east, with their two dogs, one being a yappy, frisky pug. Lovely, yes? OK. From the west of the meadow I looked over and saw this...

In the twilight, a brown Black Bear

A HUMONGOUS Black Bear! Excited, I jumped out the car and ran up to the rustic meadow fence with my long-lens camera. I was totally jazzed, after all, any second now, the frisky doggies were going to meet up with the lumbering bear. Oh Joy! I could just imagine the wonderful shots of a bear ripping the head off a cute little pug dog - I mean, can you imagine the shots I'd have gotten?

But alas - damn it if my stupid, annoying sense of morality didn't kick in. DAMN IT!

So I called out to the people who put their dogs back on the leash and hurried out of the meadow. Meanwhile, the big old bear darted off into the woods at the sound of the big bad scary human's voice (that would be 'moi').

Harumph! You know? Between the Evening Grosbeak photo eff-up and missing a chance to take the BEST bear eating dogs photos EVER, it was very nearly a crappy weekend.

Blow-up of the brown Black Bear

[Management: And if you believe Ms. Miller had a sorry time of it, you are as gullable as she is.]


  1. Awe that would ov been awesome, black bear eating a dog. to bad

  2. okay Claire bear enough driving when are you going to see Spock, Scottie and Kirk at an Imax or course?

  3. Well, so far I've been to see it twice - LOVE IT, but then that's almost a given. Sac O' Tomatoes doesn't have the movie at the IMAX theater yet - we're the last ones to get everything. I mean, Dogflea, MS gets stuff like that before we do.

    It's great to see 'the old gang' from Star Trek revitalized/reanimated and chasing each other around the captain's chair shouting, 'I'm gonna catch you!', 'No you won't!'