Tuesday, August 16, 2005

camping at Lee Canyon

The same night that Josh and I took our hike in Lee Canyon we decided to go impromtu camping. Older brother and sister who are still at home were both out of town so it seemed like a good opportunity. Dad and Josh went up the mountain that night to reserve a spot (it fills up over the weekend). They came back down and then Dad went back up for the night coming back down in the morning on Saturday to collect Josh and Mom and the rest of the camping gear. Alot of coming and going huh!

On the way to pick up a few needed grocery items that morning, Dad discovered a screw in one of the tires. Detour to tire place (on a Saturday morning aghhhh) and after ending up having to buy 2 new front tires we were finally on our way, albeit much later than we had anticipated. Josh was getting a full dose of Mom's lectures of being open enough to Plan B sometimes. (Shoot lately we have had LOTS of Plan B's with even a few Plan C's lol).

Anyhow we made it up the mountain, the campsite was wonderful and began setup of tent etc. Ate lunch and no sooner were we done than the skies opened up with a storm and I do mean STORM. We were, after all, at around 8000 feet elevation. Lightning was VERY close and the rain and hail, yes I said hail, came down in torrents. Josh and I tried to stay calm in the tent playing cards but finally gave up that charade. Dad (who is an experienced hiker and backpacker) even admitted later he got very close to making us all get in the van. Storm finally played itself out and the sun came shining once again. The air was a little crisper but gorgeous.

Mom, forgetting her lectures to Son, started moaning and complaing because boy were things WET!! Dad showed AMAZING patience with her and just proceeded to lay things out to dry. Mom and Son went on a hike to stomp out some frustration, I mean bird! We saw white breasted nuthatch, a male yellow rumped warbler, stellars jays, black headed grosbeak and an amazing sighting of a pine siskin on a flower pecking out seeds!! On our return we ate dinner
and then it was Dad and Son's turn for a bird hike while Mom relaxed with her Jan Karon book, These High Green Hills. The men saw northern flicker (which gave them excellent views to see details), mountain chickadee, and white breasted nuthatch.

The night was filled with a fire (that only got going after Mom entreated Dad to just throw the whole dang bundle that we had on it!), VERY cool temps, smores and a visit from oldest daughter (who doesn't live at home) who stayed the night with us.

Next morning after breakfast oldest daughter left to thaw out, Dad and Son went on a birding hike on Bristlecone Pine Trail, and Mom settled back down with her Jan Karon book. Back on the walkie talkies she was again given a sighting by sighting description of what they saw which included hermit thrush, brown creeper, clark's nutcracker, stellars jay, townsends solitaire, SEVEN hairy woodpeckers, lots of pine siskins, black headed grosbeak, mountain chickadee, mountain and western bluebird, chipping sparrow, dark eyed junco, pygmy nuthatch, and white breasted nuthatch.

As Dad and Son birded and Mom read, the skies began to darken. Mom, not wanting to take chances, began to tear down camp and by the time the men returned had pretty much everything done. Good thing too because no sooner did we get the car packed up and started down the mountain that once again the skies opened up!

Well it is after all monsoon season in the desert :))

Friday, August 05, 2005

Lee Canyon Mt Charleston

What a beautiful day and what an absolutely gorgeous place.

Josh and I left early, by 8 am, which got us up to the meadow before the morning's dew had even evaporated. There was no one else around other than work crews we passed on the way up. We decided to bird the meadow first and came upon numerous chipping sparrows flitting back and forth among the trees. As we wandered around we came upon horse hoof tracks which reminded us of the time we saw the three wild horses in this very meadow. We heard and saw more than a few broad tailed hummingbirds as they dove all over the place. Coming upon a cluster of trees in one section we were lucky enough to spot a green-tailed towhee, a life bird for Josh. We watched the antics of a pygmy nuthatch pecking at the branches and hanging upside down. And we were given the remarkable gift of being just 3 feet from a dark eyed junco (along with numerous other friends of his) gray headed sub species. We stood absolutely still and watched in wonder as this bird pecked and walked on the ground until moving slightly we scared him up into the nearest tree accidently. This place to me has to be heaven on earth!

We moved on up the canyon to the top and parked at the ski area parking lot. We then began a slow amble along Bristlecone Pine Trail. Before going far we spotted a female yellow-rumped warbler, a black-headed grosbeak, a female cassin's finch, a female western blue bird, and a western wood peewee. Josh asked to just sit in the area we were observing and what a wise decision that was as we sat silently watching and taking in the beauty of this place suddenly we spotted a hawk fly out from a distant tree and circle. That hawk then flew within 6 feet of where we were sitting. Amazing!! Josh knew right away as he watched that it was a sharp-shinned hawk. Beautiful!!

Ambling along a little while after this we saw a male mountain bluebird, a male cassin's finch and two female western tanagers. We were given yet another gift as we were able to watch one of the females, who was about 10 feet from us, eating berries from a bush. THESE are the things I love about birding.

Even the drive back home gave a sighting of a red-tailed hawk!

All and all a wonderful day of birding :)))