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Rare Fauna.

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Rare Fauna.

Postby JM21760 » Sun Dec 04, 2005 4:56 pm

I saw the picture of the Belding ground squirrel in the photo forum that congiorno was trying to idenify. It got me to wondering what rare sightings anyone else might have.

About 25 years ago, I saw a beautiful Pine Martin at Eagle Lake, one mile from the Eagle Falls trailhead at Emerald Bay, Tahoe.

About 4 years ago, my wife and I saw a very big Badger in Hope Valley, about 10 miles south of South Tahoe.

I've also seen more than one Bald Eagle around Emerald Bay, and even in town at South Lake Tahoe.



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Postby Hikin Mike » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:47 pm

Not captured in the Sierra, but how about a Two-Headed Elk. :unibrow:
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Postby Snow Nymph » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:45 pm

A desert mouse stole my beer while watching the Pleides:
http://community.webshots.com/photo/499 ... 5309DMWRHZ

Weasel kills a Pika. We heard the victim's yell and watched it struggle for a few seconds before it went limp:
http://community.webshots.com/photo/175 ... 2534YOxalw

Scared baby pika on the summit of Mt Whitney:
http://community.webshots.com/photo/986 ... 0637CvMNWL

Two headed bighorn sheep on the left: http://community.webshots.com/photo/484 ... 0492ijcdhq
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Postby markskor » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:25 pm

Other than the rare and infamous Jack-a-lope, I have seen a Badger at Bernice Lake, a Golden Eagle about 4 feet overhead when we were doing Washington's Column, a Snowy Owl in nest with babies near Vogelsang, River Otters at Benson, Long-Legged Weasels in Evolution Valley, also Beaver, Raccoon, Pika, Vole, and Porcupine. I saw a Flying Squirrel swoop down and get our food bag that we hung just below Water Wheel Falls, and an Opossum hanging in a tree in Pate Valley. I have seen Rattlesnake near Bunnel Cascade, and Gopher Snake at Washburn. I still have a Bobcat skull that I found too, and have seen and smelled skunk in many Sierra places. I have seen Wolverine track in the snow of Tuolumne in winter, and Mountain Lion track in little Yosemite Valley, on the way up to Half Dome. I suppose Deer, Bear, Marmot, and Belding Ground Squirrel do not count; they are everywhere.
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Postby JM21760 » Mon Dec 05, 2005 5:10 pm

The first Golden Trout my friend caught was eaten by what we thought was a vole. He was beside himself. I don't think he ever caught another one after that trip.
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Postby BSquared » Mon Dec 05, 2005 7:55 pm

I think the strangest-looking animals I've seen in the "backcountry" were a pair of white pelicans soaring above Independence Rock in Wyoming. They were truly amazing -- kind of out of place (I thought, until I learned that they summer in Yellowstone, a couple of hundred miles away) and soaring at an incredibly high elevation in unbelievably clear air. I also "chased" a mountain bluebird from perch to perch some where in Tuolumne years ago -- what cool bird those are: like a patch of sky detached and come down to Earth.
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critters

Postby gdurkee » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:38 pm

All:

These are some great wildlife observations. If you're inspired on future hikes, the local agency -- but definitely NPS Yosemite and Sequoia Kings -- would like your sightings. This is true for all critters you see, not just the 'sexy' ones like martens etc. You can carry a card or notebook with you and write down your observations as you go. Information NPS would want is:

1) date of observation
2) species
3) if there are young present and how many
4) location (e.g. Glen Pass, Kings Canyon)
5) location in some sort of coordinate system -- UTM is much preferred. If you're using a GPS, note the Datum you're using -- NAD83 or 27.
6) Vegetation type (a little harder. THere's actually a code for this, but if you just note something like "scree slope"; foxtail/lodgepole forest; stream bank or meadow.
7) Comments. Anything unusual about the behavior? "marten chasing pika" is good. Something short.

Send it in to the park (or forest, but they're not as good about it) c/o the Resources Management office. You can collect a whole summer's worth and send them in at the end.

Markskor: the opposum observation in Pate Valley is a good one. If you remember some of the above details, send them to me and I'll file them. It's not out of their elevation range, but there are no sightings of them around non-inhabited, non-road areas. Same with the Wolverine tracks -- there have been no sightings in Yosemite since 1990. Tracks are difficult, especially in snow, so if you could include your experience and why you thought they were Wolverine?? (somewhere I've got a very good photo of a wolverine track in winter I'll try to find and post).

Snow Nymph: great photos. If you're interested, I edit Sierra Nature Notes and I'd love a short narrative and a couple of the photo sequence of the weasel taking the pika. I've got a section "Naturalist's Notebook" I'd post it at:
http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/Nat ... tebook.htm

Same for everyone else. If you've got a cool observation, even without photos, send it in to me at: SNNEditor AT sierranaturenotes.com.

Thanks,

George
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Postby BSquared » Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:02 pm

George, some of those photos from Nature Notes are really incredible! Thanks for posting the link!
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Postby dave54 » Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:02 pm

Just a fleeting glimpse of a ringtail (pretty sure, but it was dark) while out night hiking. A marten ran across the highway ahead of me one night. Two wolves in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley 1998.

A river otter on Butte Lake in LVNP. At 6500 feet it should be a bit high for them and the NPS was surprised I saw one on that lake. None of their people saw one there that summer (2004). Lower in elevations they are common, but normally not found that high locally.

While building fence we found a newborn fawn hunkered down in the grass right along our intended fenceline -- definitely less than a day old. Looked around for mom but did not see her. Left the fawn alone and went up the line about a half mile to finish working. The next day we saw a deer and fawn in the same area. Same fawn? Don't know but we liked to think so.

Watched a red fox snag a jackrabbit. Actually I flushed the jackrabbit out of the brush and it ran down the trail ahead of me around a bend. Then I heard a blood-curling squeal. As I rounded the bend I saw the rabbit in the jaws of the fox as he disappeared in the brush. I felt bad about it for a while. :(

Out for a run on a dirt road near my home one day. While returning on the same route I saw a fresh bear track on top of one of my twenty(?) minute old footprints. On a solo hike near LVNP I saw fresh bear scat -- how fresh? It was still steaming in the morning cold! I quickened my pace.

Eagles and osprey fishing are common.

I think the coolest I recall is while out in the Buffalo Hills of NW Nevada. I crested a hill and saw a small herd of wild horses in a flat below me. Two stallions were fighting while the mares were watching nearby. Of all the times NOT to have a camera...


Another time I encountered a young couple actively engaged in (how do I say this tactfully?) horizontal embrace sans clothing. Just off the side of the trail on a blanket. They didn't seem to notice as I quickly walked by firmly looking straight ahead. But I don't think that is the type of wildlife you meant. :D
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Postby Snow Nymph » Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:15 pm

1) date of observation - July 24, 2004
2) species - weasel and pika
3) if there are young present and how many - none
4) location: trail to Vogelsang Camp, Yosemite... we stopped by the creek for lunch
5) location in some sort of coordinate system: all I have is
http://community.webshots.com/photo/167 ... 3475jiwFNW
6) Vegetation type: stream bank, behind where I was sitting. I had to turn around to get the photo:
http://community.webshots.com/photo/167 ... 3889OATVCl
7) Comments. Anything unusual about the behavior?
We heard a high pitch scream, looked back, and saw a small weasel with a fat pika in its mouth, almost bigger than the weasel. The pika was squirming, and the weasel shook it back and forth til the pika quit moving. Then it looked at us, and ran away with the pika in its mouth. I only had time to take two photos, but you could see how vicious this weasel was by the look on its face.
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Postby JM21760 » Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:51 pm

We have wild horses just to the east of Carson City. Just how wild are they when they're eating grass in a landscaped island in front of Smiths? (Smiths is a large grocery store in Dayton.)
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Postby markskor » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:31 pm

George,
(I tried to mail to you directly, but it would not go - too long an address or something. )

You asked for any data on the sightings.

To preface this brief synopsis of sightings/what occurred, I should mention that I do possess Bachelors in Zoology from UCLA (1976), followed by obtaining my Masters in Parasitology (1979) from the same school.

Regarding the Opossum:

We were on another backpacking trip, starting from Tuolumne. The plan was to follow the river trail, past Waterwheel Falls, down to Hetch Hetchy, intending to come out via the trail and switchbacks leading up below Harding Lake/White Wolf. I believe this was in June 1993 or 94. Anyway, the Tuolumne River was still swollen and in some places, you had to leave the river drainage and go off x-country - just as you entered Pate Valley - down in the flats. We were on the North side of the river - approximately 4000 ft elevation. I remember the high river, almost falling in, and trying to keep from getting wet. I proceeded to reach up into some growth - I remember it was some sort of 2-inch yellow wood branches - (Alder branches?). Anyway, when I reached up, trying to regain my balance, I happened to touch this furry thing. Surprised, looking up, there it was. It was frozen - scared - but had a white pointed snout and a hairless tail - and it was an ugly thing. It was definitely an opossum. (Cool huh?)



Regarding the Wolverine:

Back in 89 or 90, a group of us from Mammoth Lakes, decided to go on a 7-day adventure, a X-country ski trip up Tioga Road; it was in the springtime. One other guy, on a snowmobile with sled, hauled up most of our food and equipment - dropping it off -then returning, while the other four of us skied up the road - Highway 120. All I can remember was that it was sometime in spring - April I think, lots of snow - corn!

Anyway, we had an uneventful trip up and found our equipment stash just around the bend by the first lake (Ellery or Tioga?). We stayed there the first night, and made it to the Tuolumne Hut the second night - intending to carve up the bowls for a few days - then go down via Yosemite Creek drainage.

The morning after we hit the Tuolumne Hut, I slept in a bit, while one of my friends went off and skied/explored. This fellow, also a UCLA Zoology graduate, came back with the information on the sighting of the Wolverine. I also skied over - later - to where he saw it, and indeed the tracks matched perfectly those found in the Peterson Guide we carried. He saw the Wolverine; I just confirmed the tracks. It was near the backside of Lembert Dome.



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