I take no credit here. A friend just sent me this photo of a rock at Sonoma Coast State Beach (38 25.757'N 123 6.935'W ). According to State Parks archeologist, these rocks were used by the extinct Wooly Mammoth to rub against. Very cool.
Photo (c) Bill Simerly
In addition to nice rainbow at McClure Meadow, Kings Canyon National Park, note invading lodgepole pine at edge of mature forest. This is a common phenomenon in the Sierra. Surges -- or pulses -- of lodgepole have been invading meadows the last 100 years, possibly due to warming temperatures. McClure Meadow will be reduced in size by about 20% in the next 10 years or so.
May not be ovalifolium... . Commonly seen at alpine levels (above 10,000 feet) . This one on top of Glen Pass, Kings Canyon NP. They hug the rocks to get as much warmth as possible at alpine elevations.
Tree frog, hippity hopping across the meadow
Mt. yellow legged frog (Rana muscosa) dead from Chytrid fungus, Hitchcock Lake ponds, west of Mt. Whitney, Sequoia National Park, CA.
In the entire Whitney Creek drainage, there were only two breeding ponds of the yellow legged frog left in 2002 when Chytrid fungus broke out among juvenile frogs, wiping the entire population out. By 2008, there were no frogs left in the entire drainage.
Skypilot, Polemonium eximium. Probably the most fragrant flower in the Sierra. Very short blooming period (early July) in Sierra above 11,800 feet -- seen on many Sierra passes. This one just below Glen Pass, Kings Canyon National Park, CA.
Just below Glen Pass, Kings Canyon National Park. Very showy composite almost always above 11,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains.
Latin name: Hulsea algida A. Gray
Pronunciation: HUL-see-a AL-ji-da
Common name: Alpine gold hulsea
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower)
Habitat: Subalpine to alpine fell-fields and talus slopes,
9000'-13,500', White-Inyo Mountains
Blooming period: July to August
Wildfire in grove of Foxtail Pine, near Bullfrog Lake, Kings Canyon National Park, CA. Continuous ground fuel was sparse -- mostly dirt and gravel. Fire spread by crowning and sparks to next clump of fuel below live trees. Probably started by camper burning toilet paper.
Sierra Lily (Lilium kelleyanum), Bubbs Creek, Kings Canyon National Park at about 9,200 feet. These have a great fragrance -- we watched it slowly open as the sun hit the area on a cold morning.
Adult Townsend's Hare (aka White Tailed Jackrabbit) at Charlotte Lake, Kings Canyon National Park. Resident for the whole summer of 2008. Also saw a juvenile several times. They live in the area year 'round.
California mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus californicus), buck, near Bullfrog Lake, Kings Canyon National Park. Several bucks hang out in the higher meadows (above 11,000 feet).
Adult and 3 chicks (not visible) near Bullfrog Lake, Kings Canyon National Park, CA, USA. One of the chicks later seen with a broken foot. I've seen Grouse in the same location for the last 20 years or so.
Mountain Yellow legged frogs and tadpoles in lower of two small pond at 11,200 feet, Bubbs Creek, Kings Canyon National Park, CA
Female black bear and cub, just below the road at Halstead Meadow, happily munching amongst the ferns.
Happy raven looking for tidbits near Round Meadow, Sequoia National Park, CA, USA. Ravens are susceptible to West Nile, but the population in Sequoia Kings seems to be doing well with no obvious mortality.
Just emerging from the very wet Halstead Meadow in Sequoia Kings National Park, CA, USA. Meadow is being restored after serious erosion left over from cattle grazing in the early 1900s. Very cool project to look at if you're driving on the Generals Highway.
Found this snake about to drag off a dead trout stranded by a dried out stream. Came back to same spot 3 days later and found the fish skeleton under a rock overhang in the stream bed.
McClure Meadow, Kings Canyon National Park, CA. Undoubtedly a domestic homing pigeon (had a band on one leg). Hung around for about 3 days, then disappeared. Possibly lunch for the Goshawk or Harrier or maybe a coyote. But maybe s/he found her way home, at last. Never seen one this high (9,600 feet).
20080426: I originally id'd this generally as a pigeon. Kueda said Rock Dove and I'll go with that.
Group of nine rams seen near trail near Rae Lakes, Kings Canyon National Park, CA. Exact location obscured. They are not uncommonly seen by visitors in the fall in this area.
Note Golden Mantle Ground Squirrel in foreground as well as sheep scat on rock.
Found under a wet rock within 2,000 meters of location shown on map. Purposely obscured to hide population. They're not believed to be endangered, but there's no point in taking chances... .
Adult and 6 chicks -- note how well they blend in. Almost stepped on one of the chicks. Adult female exploded out of the grass in standard "scare and distract" ploy. Of course, wily camper that I am, I immediately looked for the chicks.
AKA: Marsh Hawk. Seen throughout the summer hunting the meadows of Evolution Valley. Flying very low (10 feet or so) over meadows. Stopping occasionally on tree branches until local critters forgot it was there, then resume hunting. Never saw it make a successful kill.
Juvenile Saw-whet came by campfire on tree branch, and later on ground at about 1900 hrs. Was found dead by fire pit the next morning. No sign of trauma or singed feathers. Speculating it was malnourished or, possibly, West Nile Virus?? It seemed to want the warmth of the fire (??).
One of the lowest elevation pikas I'd heard or seen in quite sometime (about 8,000 feet). Likely as a result of global warming, their range has gone up about 1,000 feet + in the last 100 years. As recently as the 80s and 90s I would routinely hear pikas in the lower part of the canyon here.
Nesting in pond with 6 young. By mid-September, there was no sign of adult or any young. There was most likely predation from resident goshawk and possibly coyote, but 2 ducklings may have survived and moved by early fall. This was the 2nd year Mallard had nested in this pond.
2 adults seen throughout summer of 2007. Likely nesting on south side of river.
1 in talus field above Evolution Lake, Kings Canyon National Park, CA, USA. Not uncommon to hear or see 4 individuals while hiking trail on north shore of Lake.
At least 4, perhaps as many as 6 individuals seen within about 100 meters of this location over the course of several months. This is down from an average of at least 10 individuals in the 1980s and mid-1990s.