July 31, 2010

Swallows' Choice

Last year the swallows built a nest on our back porch's brick wall:
The chicks hatched and did all right for awhile, but the west facing location and radiated heat did them in.  
This year, since we were late in using the horse trailer, birds seemed to find the underside of the gooseneck to be a prime nesting area.
We had two nests there.  This one (type of bird unknown.  The nestlings were gone before we noticed.):
And this one, the swallows' choice for the season:
Unfortunately, hatchlings were still hanging out in the nest when we hitched up the trailer and went on our first ride. 
I didn't think the little ones would survive, but they hunkered down and did okay.  The nest must be as solid as a rock.  It lasted through travel over some very rocky dirt roads. 
When we returned home from the first day trip, we tried to park in the same location, and the parents quickly found the youngsters.  After the second day outing, we parked in the driveway, a hundred feet away from where they'd started.  Mom and Dad Swallow again found their chicks. 
After our third trip, four fledglings flew out of the nest.
This morning, we saw them sitting on the fenceline, probably waiting for Mom and Dad to return with bugs for breakfast.
All is well in Swallowland.  We'll see if they choose the mobile home option again next year. 
For more cute critters, click here.

July 29, 2010

Hidden Signs and People Sightings

Last weekend, we drove to a trailhead leading to several large parks in the High Uintas.  (Corral Park with Marsh Peak in the background is shown above.)
The parking was a bit gnarly:
The trail was faint and rugged in places: 
And the Forest Service signage was well-hidden by trees, never to be seen unless you knew exactly where you were going to begin with:
But the parks (not city-type improved parks, just big open meadows in the mountains)
were beautiful, once we found them.  Boss surveys Big Park:
And Mischief looks pretty at the entrance to Corral Park:
Elephant head, one of my favorite wildflowers because of its unique shape) bloomed in the marshy areas:
Surprisingly, we saw some other riders!  They had pack horses and must have been out for a few days over July 24th (big Utah Pioneer Day holiday) weekend. 
We spotted their little dog first. The pup tried to jump up on my stirrup. When his owner came along, we found that the dog expected to be lifted up into the saddle for a ride.  Here they are riding away after our encounter near Fish Lake: 
Daisy didn't care about fishing, but she did opt for a swim.

July 28, 2010

Mischief Earns His Lunch

Lake Mountain is close to home and always a pretty walk or ride. 
Above, Mischief and I stand in the aspens with Marsh Peak visible in the distance.
Gull Lake has dried to a small pond by mid-July, with a big grassy meadow around it.We ride on past the lake, through a fence gap, and over toward Pine Ridge.  The views are dramatic:
Daisy finds a spring-fed pond to swim in:
On the way down, horses and dog enjoy a water cooler break:
Near the spring that feeds the water trough is a huge clump of wild rose bushes in bloom:
 Even the parking area is gorgeous:
Steve and Boss practice flying lead changes in the meadow near the trailer:
Mischief demands a Horse Union-required lunch break after hauling his human for
8 miles and 1600 feet of elevation gain and loss:
On the drive home, we spy a hawk in a field:
He spies us, too, and flies away with a rodent catch in his talons.

July 25, 2010

Running With Bulls

Daisy always has her eyes and nose tuned for elk:
Last week, on a ride at about 9000 feet, she lucked into a bachelor herd.  If you click on the photo below, you'll see her in the group to the right: 
Notice that she's not really chasing them, she's running with them, and they don't seem to mind.  Below is an enlargement of the group of elk on the right hand side of the above photo. I have labeled Daisy in red, where she's running in second place.)
She seems to think it's okay to join in the fun, just as she would when running beside our horses.
Look at all the bull antlers!  Nice, don't you agree?
At the top of the hill, the entire group stopped to look back at us:
We also saw a herd of mommas and babies on the same ride, but they didn't stay around long enough for a photo op. 

July 24, 2010

Coyote Ridge

On Coyote Ridge, our horses graze with a view of a vast valley and the Uinta Mountains in the background:
(The large pile of stones on the right is a cairn, marking the trail.  I suspect it was erected by boy scouts - can't imagine anyone else spending that much time on such a project!) 
Meanwhile, humans find a cute ground squirrel:
And enjoy the rest of the 360 degree scenery:
We look down on Currant Creek Reservoir.  Our trailer is parked somewhere in that vicinity:
On the ride to and from the ridge, we see mountain globemallows (mountain hollyhock):
lanceleaved stonecrop:
Indian paintbrush:
and sulphur paintbrush:
(Did you know most paintbrushes are partial parasites on other plants' roots?  This makes them difficult to transplant or grow from seed.)
This is a California Corn Lily, which grows in moist meadows:
Up close, the flowers are unusual and pretty:
but the plant is extremely poisonous and causes birth defects in sheep.  The flowers are also poisonous to insects.
We find the remains of old beaver ponds that have filled in with silt and formed meadows:
This blue dragonfly hovers over a pond:
A shy deer observes us from the forest:
and a hawk surveys his territory from his perch:
A herd of elk start running before we even notice them and vanish before we can whip out a camera.

July 22, 2010

Back in the Saddle

We're riding again!  We've been out 3 times this week. 
The first ride was an easy 6-miler starting from Moon Lake trailhead, going up toward Brown Duck Lake. 
I was thrilled.  Mischief, not so much.  He'd been pretty happy to just hang around the pasture.
He did like eating some fresh, wet sedge on his lunchtime break.
Steve is back to his old tricks, taking photos from Boss's back:
Since I was taking this photo from Mischief's back, it's a little fuzzy, as was the one Steve took of the yellow monkeyflowers.
A woodpecker fussed at us as we passed through the woods:
He may have been protecting a nest.  I think he's a hairy woodpecker because of his long beak.  Here he is in upside down mode:
We took this photo on a hike a week ago.  I'm pretty sure this is a downy woodpecker (smaller with shorter beak):


Blog Widget by LinkWithin