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Monday, September 14, 2015

That Touch of Mink

Bodie State Park at the end of the road
Sage Grouse I photographed in 2012

Saturday morning started near Bodie State Park. A few years back I got some incredible shots of Sage Grouse - considering who was behind the camera - along the 13 mile road in to the park.No such luck this time, for one thing because it is hunting season and all the orange vested hunters packing shotguns seem to make the grouse a tad shy.

We loitered along the rough pebbled road into the park, paying scant attention to the scenery as we stared in hope of spotting interesting birds. Don saw one Sage Grouse high up on a ridge, unseen by too-slow-to-look-up, moi.
Green-tailed Towhee on the road to Bodie
Can't evade me forever you rosy little treasure...

Afterwards we gave another look-see and the Virginia Lakes Resort and enjoyed a nice breakfast at its restaurant. After exploring the area and again, not seeing any Gray-crowned Rosy Finches *bite the fist in exasperation*

Following breakfast we visited the County Park. Don has scope & will travel, so he hiked it down to the lake. I stayed uphill, visiting - possibly pestering - some folks visiting from the Netherlands.

Black-billed Magpie, strutting around. At home there are only Yellow-billed Magpies, just as vane actually.

Still, Black-bills are a treat as I don't necessarily see the species every year.

After a trot around Lucy Lake for Don, we headed south of Mono Lake ending up near the town of Bishop in the afternoon. Don wanted to try for Nighthawks, Owls and other denizens of the strange back country. We took a drive through Volcano Tableland a BLM property with weird pock-marked volcanic and igneous rocks.                            

Quite a few profiles were everywhere you look
Don taking some close-ups of the hole strewn rocks
At twilight a couple of Great Horned Owls were out and about, seeking their prey for the evening. And over by the quarry, against all expectations, a Nighthawk floated by overhead, winging its way toward Mexico. Having 'scored' the owls and the Nighthawk, we congratulated ourselves and     thought that was it for the evening.But when I looked up from the steering wheel I saw a dark little weasel scamper, rather like a hunchback, across the road.  I shrieked and we stared at it. There was a brief pause as the creature haulted for a bit then dove off the road and into a riverlet that ran under the asphalt road. Of course it happened so quickly I had no time to dig out my camera and anyway it was dark.

Not my Photo as I got none, but this is in the
ballpark of what we saw scamper past

"Baby otter? Naw... too small"

"Long-tailed Weasel," I concluded, incorrectly.

No, too dark', said Don. Then inspiration hit, "It's a MINK!"

And of course, he was right. A Mink, in as dry as lizard farts, Inyo County! Who'd a thunk it?

That  was as amazing a sight as I've seen in a while. MINK!  I've seen them before but they're always exciting                                                                                     

Sunday was the last day at Mono. To get home, the fun way, you drive over Tioga Pass through Yosemite. Along the way there was much birding, though we didn't really see much birdie-wise but the scenery was grandiose.

Most of my Yosemite shots were 'drive by' views

We had lunch at a picnic table, alongside a small creek at the 'old entrance' of Yosemite.

After lunch there was a short hike up the trail, on the old Yosemite entrance way. It is considered a
wilderness area.

Don headed up the old road, which once hosted Model-Ts and the like

Fruit of the Western Dogwood
Some poly-pore fungi reclaiming a fallen tree
After the short hike, I took the wheel and we headed back to Fair Oaks. Along the way we passed through Angel's Camp where I found out later in the day, my friend Jeannie was hard at work for the California Department of Forestry. While we were touring the countryside, much of it was being consumed by flames. I hope the winter rains come this year, we really need them.

1 comment:

  1. Poetic, what a great way to do retirement.
    Lovely photos, just lovely.
    Thanks for the trip.