27 August 2009

SW thumbs, day 3

Alternate title: the lift not taken (or) piles and piles of pictures

the lift & the view

As previously mentioned, the ski basin was one of our designated birding areas - and all sources suggested that all we had to do was take the lift to the top of the slope, hike around and see birds. So of course the lift was undergoing maintenance when we were there. Having no lift, we managed to wear ourselves out pretty easily, just having come from a whopping ~400 feet above sea level (and 2 weeks earlier, from 4 feet above sea level).

Here's where we hiked up to, and if you look closely you can see a strange mountain creature.

the finger points to the top of the lift, the mountain creature photographs butterflies

Since I can't leave any windows alone, I had to take another picture of the basin's shiny windows. You should be able to see the window decal a bit more clearly than the last time this window was featured. And since I can't leave streams, rivers, or any reasonably tolerable body of water alone, I had to stick my feet into this trickle of moving ice...

window, stream

Now, I've promised to keep this blog as clean as possible when it comes to grotesque imagery, but that doesn't mean that the occasional flesh wound won't show up. Thankfully, there's no visible flesh wound on these next two thumbnails, but it's startling to find a dead fledgling Hermit Thrush (presumably, at least) when you're seeking "the pink shrub." In Abilene, peeing in the wilderness meant squatting behind a cactus, so the mountain offered much more suitable, er, habitat. Regardless, here's the first dead bird of this post:

dessicated baby Hermith Thrush (?), unknown cause of death

So up from the basin we trekked - starting at a bit over 10,000 feet, we ventured to nearly 12,000 (and managed to keep breathing). Since we stopped every few feet to look at bugs, the ascent took a while. The "insects at elevation" post has a full list of butterflies for the day. Now to make up for that dead bird pictured above, here are a few butterflies:

Arrowhead Blue (Glaucopsyche piasus), Purplish Copper (Lycaena helloides)

Green Commas are so charismatic that I do need to dedicate a good chunk of this post to them. Here is what other Green Commas see when they look at other Green Commas, and the view of what Green Commas see. If that statement wasn't too confusing ;-)

While we're featuring seriously beautiful creatures, here's another Green Comma and my adventure partner. Matt is posing under the "Adventure Land" sign, it would seem... and adventuring with a pair of sticks that would otherwise double as ski poles. If only there was snow.

While in "Adventure Land" we did see this Gray Hairstreak - sadly, the brilliant orange on the proboscis doesn't show up very well in the first photo, but the leading edge of the wing is quite apparent.

Having eventually survived "Adventure Land" and the ski basin itself, Matt and I stopped at the overlook on our way down. Apparently we were admiring 3 states, but there were Western Bluebirds and Olive-sided Flycatchers distracting us. Thankfully, we were oblivious to the view when sneaking glimpses of our shared life Pine Grosbeaks at higher elevations, while Common Ravens and Clark's Nutcrackers occasionally flew overhead (always heading east for some reason). Nonetheless, we did document our time at the overlook.

behold, the look of the overlook

Alas, this post would be incomplete without our last dead bird of the day. Sadly, some of us get "life" birds this way (Kentucky Warbler and Long-eared Owl for me), so here's the roadkill that happens to be Matt's "life" Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus). It's technically the only Dusky Grouse for both of us. Thankfully I did see a slightly more 3D version in 2004, in California - but that is now known as the Sooty Grouse. Both were considered Blue Grouse until 2006, when the species was split.

roadkill Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus), grouse tail

The next post should be packed full of bugs and snakes and dogs and people (oh my?) ...and most of them will be alive!

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