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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.

Postby yosemitechris » Fri Dec 09, 2005 8:59 pm

This is an excerpt from our JMT website: an observation made by my son, Will, at http://www.jmt2k.com/Pages/Day_23.htm

"A thump came from somewhere in the trees. My first thought was that a pine cone had fallen. Or a stone. No wait, I knew that noise. It was a hoof. Horses were coming. Big deal. But there have been times when what I thought was a horse turned out to be a deer, so I stood up to look.

Some kind of activity through the trees. I couldn't make it out. A flash of brown hide. Tan, actually. It was a deer. And then I saw something else. A dog! I immediately understood what was going on. Or thought I did. Someone's dog had gotten excited and was chasing a deer through the brush and trees. A flash of indignation sparked through me and then died. It wasn't a dog. It was a coyote. The two of them disappeared out of sight behind the fat rock I was leaning against. As carefully as I could, so as not to spill even more coconut milk powder, I got up for a better view. The two participants were headed my way. I knew now what was going on. A coyote was chasing a deer. This was a hunt, and it was about to come barreling through my little, overused campsite.

I saw the coyote first. It was a ragged thing, though good-sized. Hair coming in irregular tufts. Black at the roots, then mottled elsewhere. It was limping, I saw now, which suggested--no, not limping. It's left front paw was entirely missing! This was a three-legged coyote. How could it have this deer on the run? At that moment, on the other side of the rock, the deer showed up. Instead of being terrified, you know, rolling its eyes and frothing at the lips and stuff, it gave me a look that was closer to, "Excuse me, have you seen--? Oh there he is!" and he took off. AFTER the coyote. This deer was chasing the coyote.

I couldn't believe it at first, but the deer, who was trailing the coyote by a good fifteen meters, put on an incredible burst of speed and disappeared after his quarry. The two of them vanished down the JMT in a cloud of dust. I stood there stupidly for a beat. Would they reappear? I stood there some more. Was I going to hear a coyote scream? Of course not, reasoned, and sat back down."

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Postby hikerduane » Sat Dec 10, 2005 10:19 pm

I think I saw a wolverine on one bp trip. I only caught a quick glimpse and discribed it to one of our local Game Wardens and he thought it sounded like one. In the Caribou Wilderness I saw a Fisher or something along that line in the trees, I was surprised how close I was to it. While I was fishing in a lake close to the TH in the John Muir Wilderness, a king fisher was helping himself. Cool watching it.
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Postby JM21760 » Sun Dec 11, 2005 12:32 pm

Just recalled this. Along the Big Wood River in Idaho, above Sun Valley, a family of Mink. Mom and 4 or 5 kits, all jet black. About 1976. You remember, when dinosaurs still roamed the hills.

And, while I'm thinking about it, has anyone got the Poop scared out of them by a Grouse? You know, the ones that explode into flight from under your feet? The perfectly camoflauged ones? I'll never get used to that. :eek:

And, Dave54, have you ever heard the Night Hawks at Butte Lake, LVNP? Man, what a racket, all night. About 1990, on a trip there.

When I was living at Tahoe we had a certain bird that would blast before sunrise. I believe it was a Warbling Vireo. Only one I had ever seen. And never want to hear again!
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Postby gdurkee » Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:54 pm


These are all great. Markskor: I did get your note and forwarded it to Les Chow, wildlife biologist in Yosemite. That's definitely a confirmed sighitng for both Wolverine and Opposum. The former has only 30 sightings in 100 years; the latter 6 (which, since they're not native, is a good thing).

Yosemite Chris, if you're OK with it, I'll post yours on Nature Notes. Good action sequence. About 10 years ago at Whitney Meadow, I was watching a doe and fawn down a bank near the stream. A coyote appeared at the top and contoured down but staying away from both and apparently just heading in another direction. The fawn took off in the opposite direction and the doe charged the coyote, who took off even faster. Healthy coyote too.

I'll add my own: I was hiking at dusk in the Greater Rae Lakes area heading for a stream that might have Mt. Lyell Salamanders. As I was heading up the slope in the semi-dark, I hear a clattering in the rocks above me. There's nine Bighorn Rams who were just bedding down for the night. As I'm sitting watching them, I hear a chirp and a pika pops up just as a weasel is maneuvering through the rocks to get to him (he misses). The sheep and I watch each other for 30 minutes. I try to edge around them (they're bedded maybe 100 feet from where the salamanders are), but they scurry off in the dark. Sorry 'bout that. Then I find 3 salamanders clinging to the mossy wall below a waterfall. Oh, and as if I wasn't having enough fun, the full moon is coming up over the Crest... .

Pretty cool. Someday I'll see the elusive Wolverine (I've spent hours scanning open alpine country for them. Very, very rare).

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Postby Buck Forester » Mon Dec 12, 2005 1:33 pm

The rarest fauna I've experienced is Sasquatch, many years ago, late at night while sleeping in a remote area in the Tahoe National Forest a few miles from White Rock Lake. It was by far the freakiest moment of my life. I kid you not.
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Postby hikerduane » Mon Dec 12, 2005 8:35 pm

Buck, I see you have been to White Rock also. I go by it on my way to Paradise sometimes. Amazing how many find that lake so far back in there, on unmarked roads.

The wolverine I saw was in the Yosemite area also, so I may not have been seeing things.
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Postby copeg » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:42 pm

Buck Forester wrote:The rarest fauna I've experienced is Sasquatch, many years ago, late at night while sleeping in a remote area in the Tahoe National Forest a few miles from White Rock Lake. It was by far the freakiest moment of my life. I kid you not.

Buck...I gotta ask...care to elaborate on this?
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Postby sierra cyd » Tue Dec 13, 2005 11:02 am

This is great. I'm glad to hear that someone has seen the elusive Sasquatch.

I dont' know much about them, but a Pine Marten hanging out at 14,000 feet, far above treeline, that is news to me! WOW. Maybe he stowed away in someone's pack by accident!!

(Snow Nymphs photo)- http://community.webshots.com/photo/986 ... 0637CvMNWL


Pikas are my favorite. I love it when one suddenly appears in front of you in a barron talus field and he's got a bouquet of small, bright flowers in his mouth. He stops and looks, then is on his way. I've never had a chance to catch a photo though, they're too quick.
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Postby SSSdave » Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:12 pm

In 34 years in the Sierra backcountry have seen pine marten just twice and have a decent 35mm image of the one I saw up at Clarice Lake. The other was in the same zone near Agnew Meadows. Saw and took a picture of a bighorn below Elery Lake. Have seen lots of long tailed weasels. And of course all the more common mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
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Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:25 pm

I was wondering how the Pine Marten got up there too. It was really small (looks bigger in picture) and frightened (shaky), and no sign of mama anywhere. I was afraid it

Pika's are cute!

Pika with grass: http://community.webshots.com/photo/516 ... 5589fKbCZR
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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