Through the Cascades

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Loon

July 10

We left Burlington yesterday morning and drove through the North Cascades.  It was the toughest drive the motor home has had to do.  The mountains are huge and there was endless climbing, following by endless going down.  The temperature rose significantly as we reached the east side of the mountains and it is dry.  When the heat hit us, I was skeptical that I was going to enjoy this week.  We drove through a lot of area that was devastated by wildfires in the not too distant past.

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Chickadee

We arrived at a very small campground on a small lake.  It turned out to be a very lovely spot.  We sat in the shade in the afternoon and it was not so hot.  In fact, it was very pleasant.  We enjoyed visiting with our neighbors, especially the 87 year old woman who lives next door.  She’s delightful.  Since she has lived in the area since she was 12, she has lots of information to share.

Dart is not as happy with the place as me.  There are many orchards in the area and some of them have cannons that go off to scare the birds.  Dart has had enough of the noise with all the 4th of July fireworks, now he has to put up with this!

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Northern Flicker

I rode the kayak slowly around the edge of the lake yesterday evening and saw lots of birds.  The water is very clear.  Regis went snorkeling while I was kayaking.

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Northern Flicker

There are lots and lots of swallows.  As the sun was going down,  they began to roost in the trees.  A lot of them were closing their eyes.

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Sleepy swallows.
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Swallows

 

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This Red-Winged Blackbird is having a bad hair day.

I got up before the sun this morning and got some pictures.  It was beautiful and quiet except for all the bird sounds.  Although it was a little chilly, it was a warm chilly if that makes sense.  I think it might be because the air is so dry that it is very pleasant.

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First light in Omak, Washington.
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First light in Omak, Washington. That is my kayak at the base of the tree.

 

Meadowlarks and Other Critters

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Meadowlark in Badlands National Park.

I love Meadowlarks.  I love how they sing and how so much volume can come out of a small bird.  They are everywhere out here.  Regis got a video to share so you can hear the song.

I’ve been stalking the wildlife and playing the paparazzi with them.  The Red-Winged Blackbirds fill our campground with their voices.

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Female Red-Winged Blackbird.
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Male Red-Winged Blackbird
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Male Red-Winged Blackbird.

One of our goals today was to see if we could locate any baby sheep.  We found them.  There were 5 baby sheep with one female high up on top of the ridge.  That was probably the safest place for them.  The female appeared to be in charge of the nursery this morning.

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Female Bighorn Sheep and 5 young in Badlands National Park.

They are probably trying to keep those little ones safe from the coyotes, like these below.

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Coyotes in Badlands National Park.

We saw lots of bison and they are very scraggly.  They are shedding their winter coats and they are covered with lots of dried mud.

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Bison in Badlands National Park. It looks a little rough with the shedding and the mud from the recent rains.

We read that we should keep an eye out for Burrowing Owls in the Prairie Dog colonies.  We found some!

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Burrowing Owls in Badlands National Park. Notice the head of the second owl popping up out of the burrow beneath the standing owl.
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Prairie Dog gathering grasses in Badlands National Park.

We noticed that a lot of prairie dogs we have seen look like they have some kind of disease.  I was doing some research online and can’t find any recent articles, but there was an article from 2009 documenting Silvatic plague in the prairie dogs in the Badlands in the Sage Creek Wilderness area.  Park personnel told us to be sure to keep the dog away from the prairie dog colonies because the prairie dogs carry Bubonic plague. The same bacterium in Silvatic plague is responsible for Bubonic plague in humans.  If you follow Park Service guidance, you are not in danger of getting infected.  Keeping pets away from the colonies is important.   The closest Dart got to the colonies was sitting in the car while we drove by or stopped to take pictures from the car.