Tag Archives: ground squirrel

July 19, 2015 Wasilla, Alaska

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

A Gorgeous Day at Hatcher Pass

Yesterday I left Anchorage and travelled a short way north to Wasilla and set up in the Walmart parking lot. I am truly experiencing a real wilderness adventure the past week or so, boondocking first in Cabella’s parking lot and now at Walmart, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to find a decent private campground in my Alaska travels. All have you packed in like sardines and seem very much overpriced for what they offer.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Three Rocks

Three Rocks

With nice weather predicted for today I was out and about before 7 AM and drove out the Wasilla-Fishhook Road heading for the Hatcher Pass. The Little Susitna River parallels the road as you gain elevation on the way up to the pass, so I had to stop for a few river shots.

Little Susitna River

Little Susitna River

Little Susitna River

Little Susitna River

The easily climbed paved road up to the State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass provides several great vantage points for photos as well as a couple of primitive campgrounds that would handle mid-sized rigs.

Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park

Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park

There are a few restored buildings at the State Park and some old mining facilities that have definitely suffered from years of abandonment.

Old Mine Works

Old Mine Works

Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays

Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays

There also was this Alaskan Marmot warming himself up in the early morning sun.

Alaska Marmot

Alaska Marmot

He appeared pretty used to human presence but kept a close eye on this photographer as I was capturing his image.

Hatcher Pass Road

Hatcher Pass Road

Hatcher Pass

Just before you reach the State Park, there is a gravel road that takes off to the left and heads up to Hatcher Pass itself. This is a little narrow and steep in a couple spots, and although it probably could be done in the motorhome, i wouldn’t recommend doing so.

Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass

The road climbs for a half mile or so to a small parking area at the very top where you can walk out a footpath for some pretty dramatic views of the valley below where the road then takes you eventually to Willow.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Some of the high meadows up here have this weird mounded texture. These mounds are about a yard wide and rise up about a foot or so in the center and are covered in moss.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

I have no idea how or why these exist, and can’t say as I have ever encountered anything like them before.

Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass

At times today, I literally did have my head in the clouds.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top

Hatcher Pass View From the Top

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

As you can see, you are well above treeline up here and the air is crisp and clean, the distant view just simply spectacular.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

The narrow gravel road, in relatively good shape, leads you down from the pass and to the town of Willow, about thirty miles away.

Mine Tailings

Mine Tailings

Along the road there are a few active mining operations as well as some abandoned ventures.

Sounding the Alarm

Sounding the Alarm

All along this road, especially at the higher elevations, were these ground squirrels, some of whom were a little wary of me …

The Lookout

The Lookout

…and some that probably had discovered that some people will throw them some little treats if they look cute and approach your vehicle.

Ground Squirrel Portrait

Ground Squirrel Portrait

This guy was one of the latter.

All along this road, I was constantly scanning the meadows and mountain slopes looking for wildlife. I was sure I would have to see some sheep or bears somewhere along the way, but I never saw anything, even though I stopped every mile or so and glasssed all the slopes. Perhaps the weekend warriors scared evrything off? It just looks like there would have to be wildlife up here.

Descending to Treeline

Descending to Treeline

The road eventually descends back below treeline, where you start to encounter fireweed once again.

Road to Willow

Road to Willow

Roadside Fireweed

Roadside Fireweed

This was close to a ninety mile round trip and it took me about six hours to make it around with all the stops for photographs. The Willow side of the mountains appears to be a very popular spot for the local ATV crowd.  THere were several pulloffs for camping along that section of the road and on this Sunday afternoon, almost all of them were occupied by campers with ATV’s. The State Park land doesn’t allow ATV’s.

If you are ever in the Wasilla area and have some decent weather, this is a must do trip.

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January 31, 2015 Ogilby Road BLM, California

Lesser goldfinch

Lesser goldfinch

Hummingbirds and the Rest of the Cast

White-crownded sparrow

White-crownded sparrow

After putting out a platform feeder next to the nectar feeders, and placing a bowl of water on it in addition to some seeds and nuts, I was a little surprised to see a fair number of birds appear.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

House finch

House finch

Lesser goldfinch

Lesser goldfinch

And in addition to them, out of the ground from beneath the feeder came what must be the resident family of ground squirrels.

Ground squirrel

Ground squirrel

Ground squirrel

Ground squirrel

The hummingbirds continue to squabble over possession of the nectar feeders.

Conflict

Conflict

I am just unable to capture any of the hundreds of combat scenes I witness here every day, the action is just too fast to be able to follow with the camera, and pre-focussing on a spot where I think the action will take place always has one of the combatants way out of focus. It would be like hitting the lottery to actually get both birds in the exact same plane of focus and catch the action. Nevertheless, it is very interesting to watch, especially when they take their battles straight up … and up, and up, sometimes probably 100 feet overhead.

Costa's hummingbird

Costa’s hummingbird

This is a shot of a male Costa’s perched on a branch of a bush a couple feet from the feeders, and, as always, on alert watching for intruders.

Costa's hummingbird

Costa’s hummingbird

Ditto for this guy.

Costa's hummingbird

Costa’s hummingbird

The shot above was taken just around sunset with the red ( where it should be blue violet ) throat of this Costa’s caused by the light source being reflected light from the red nectar feeder he was approaching.

Costa's hummingbird

Costa’s hummingbird

Anna's hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbird

Anna's hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbird

Anna's hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbird

Anna's hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbird

AnnasPerchedBranch10

All different kinds of lighting conditions today and I even played around with some artificial backgrounds, such as a grey blanket clipped to the bushes in the image directly above. With the Super Bowl tomorrow and then appointments Monday and Tuesday for motorhome maintenance, this will probably be it for hummingbirds at Ogilby Road. Now that I am warmed up, I really hope I will be able to find more hummingbird species as I head east and up in elevation next week.

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Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

August 10,2013 Glacier National Park

Going to the Sun Road Bighorn Sheep and more

Now that’s more like it!

Entered Glacier NationalPark east entrance just before 7 AM in hopes of avoiding yesterday’s crowds. Had the road all but to myself on the way up, Logan Pass parking lot had only 20 or 30 cars in it and just a small number of people milling about, quite a bit different from yesterday afternoon. That’s it, from now on, before 7AM or after 7 PM only ( just have to remember to get out by 9 PM or the road closes to the east entrance, construction ).

Weather turned out nice also and with the lack of people, the wildlife was out and about.

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses

Sentry asleep at his post

Sentry asleep at his post

 

 

Got some cute shots of the numerous ground squirrels around the Visitor Center.

 

 

Dueling ground squirrels

Dueling ground squirrels

Had hoped to get dramatic shots of head butting dueling bighorn sheep, but sometimes in life you have to just settle, so how about some dueling ground squirrels?

Logan Pass marmot

Logan Pass marmot

 

 

 

A hoary marmot also was out gathering breakfast greens.

 

 

 

 

Mountain goat and wildflowers

Mountain goat and wildflowers

Since this mountain goat was looking rather haggard, and that is being kind, I decided to go for the wildflower shot instead of a closeup.

And Then I ran into a little bachelor group of four bighorn sheep on the way back down Going to the Sun Road.

Caught with my mouth full

Caught with my mouth full

 

Another Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

Another Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting back to yesterday’s rant, the bighorns are obviously used to people and cars, for they browsed for quite a while by the side of the road and the edge of the parking lot, providing great photo opportunities for myself and several other early risers, and then, the first jackass on a Harley shows up and blasts them off down the slope. Five or six people snapping photos, no problem, a dozen cars stop and go, still ok, one jerk on an illegal noise machine and off they go.

The rangers can stop people for speeding, as they should, and set up check points for DUI, which they should, so how about getting these illegal, eardrum shattering, wildlife spooking, inconsiderate, immature jerks off the park roads so everyone else can have a little better experience.

Got back to camp by 10 AM and worked on the journal and processed photos all the rest of the day and into late at night. Didn’t bother to go back out in the afternoon since a series of rain squalls mixed with hail kept sweeping through all afternoon and into the evening.

Logan Pass wildflower

Logan Pass wildflower

Caught with my mouth full

Caught with my mouth full

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

 

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep posing for portrait

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep posing for portrait

 

Bighorn munching

Bighorn munching

 

Bighorn heading down to a stream

Bighorn heading down to a stream

 

A pair of bighorn rams

A pair of bighorn rams