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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Pretty Bird Picture to Share

A recent hike in McCormick Park brought me the chance to take this duck ID is shakey, but I believe it's a Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). I had another post in mind today, but did not bring the proper photo disk...Oh well, another day.

Big News! Saturday is the day I give my presentaion of my dog tracking project to the Tracking Intensive class! I believe it's a good one, and that my research is sound...and I'm scared to death of standing up in front of the class...Yet another thing I'm doing for the first time since the Residential Program.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cougar Tracks With a View

On Sunday, May 3rd, the Tracking Intensive class crossed Snoqualmie Pass to the drier, warmer eastside of the Cascade range. The top photo is Mt. Stuart on the left and part of the Stuart Range as seen from the rest stop at the top of Indian John Hill. It's one of the most beautiful sights on that stretch of I-90.
The third photo is looking back down Tanum Canyon from the trail where we were tracking elk, mule deer, black bear, and cougar! Given that I suffer from fear of heights and a bit of vertigo, I was proud of myself for staying with the group on that sometimes narrow and always steep bit of trail that hugged the mountain.
The fact is that we were seeing such incredible animal sign and tracks that I often forgot to be scared...Our second day with Sue Morse was just as fun and educational as the first had been. I learned so much that my head still spins with new information.
The 2nd photo is the track of a large male cougar - and yes, there was enough information in the track to be certain of the gender. It's exciting to be gathered around a track like that and know that the animal hunts the very road you're standing on...and while we didn't see any really fresh cougar (or bear) sign, it was obvious that they hang out there often.
The only wildlife sightings we had were 2 elk crossing the paved road below, a pair of mule deer sneaking away from the parking area, and as we were loading into the vehicles to leave, another mule deer running along the crest of the hill. That one was moving away from a moutain biker. I got a quick photo, but it's not very good. The deer was moving pretty fast, and was a long way uphill. Still, that's more than a group our size usually sees...I wonder what saw us?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Story in a Mud Puddle

The shallow puddle was about 10 feet long. Our instructors found the opposum, black bear and elk tracks earlier in the week. Another class had been at the site on Friday. We found the cougar track early on was new.
Our Tracking Intensive class is winding down -only one more weekend session to go. The guest instructor was Sue Morse of Keeping Track in Vermont. Her specialty is predators, and we spent a day near Carnation learning about black bear (Ursus americanus). The cougar track was a bonus! I'll have more about the cats later.
It's amazing what you can learn by following a naturalist like Sue through the woods on a sunny day. Along with bear fact, she threw out nuggets of information about our local Aplodontia (Aplodontia rufa), elk (Cervus canadensis) and blacktail deer (Odocoileus hemionus) as well.

My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"