The morning dawned cool—about 57° (F) when first I checked—and by the time Jack-my-dog and I had gone our usual distance, I thought, “Perfect conditions for a ridge hike.” So we kept on going. And it was a wonderful stroll.
This route (my favorite) ascends 1,200 feet or so up and along the ridge overlooking Millcreek Canyon to the south, where there’s a busy trailhead coming up the opposite side. This so-called “Pipeline Trail” (following the route of an old redwood pipeline) climbs up aptly named “Rattlesnake Gulch” before ending at a dramatic Lake Bonneville overlook. Our route either takes us up a shady north-side switchback to the overlook, or up shady Coyote Canyon to a trail that runs up and over the ridge to the overlook. Sometimes eagles soar up there.
Today we took the switchback. No particularly outstanding bird sightings—although at nearly the highest point, I got a nice pic of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird—but the hike itself did wonders for Jack and me.
Now I expect we’ll wait several days—then do it again.
Grandeur Peak Area List Beginning at 7:56 a.m., I hiked some 1,200 feet up a mountain.
1. House Finch* 2. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay 4. Spotted Towhee 5. Rock Pigeon* 6. Black-chinned Hummingbird 7. Western Tanager 8. Black-capped Chickadee 9. House Wren 10. Broad-tailed Hummingbird** 11. Mourning Dove 12. Red-breasted Nuthatch (v) 13. Northern Flicker 14. Sparrow (sp)
15. Eurasian Collared Dove
(v) Voice only *Also elsewhere **Voice only elsewhere
You’ll have noted by now that I started keeping track of mammals recently. (And to a lesser degree, reptiles—which seem far less common.) Today there were two species: Mountain Cottontail and Rock Squirrel.
Both were in the area of the old lime quarry. The cottontail—a youngster—paused and posed a while. (A Rock Squirrel seen about the same time scramble into a little cave across the way.)
The elk and mule deer are dramatic in cold weather seasons, but I have a soft spot for the spring and summer cottontails.
Grandeur Peak Area List Beginning at 7:59 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.
During this morning’s hike with dog, as we were up in the junipers near where yesterday’s sharpie appeared, a hummingbird approached us quietly and hovered several feet away. It hung in midair and looked at Jack, then it shifted a bit higher—maybe four feet from my face—and inspected me. Then it lit on a twig about five feet away and posed for photos.
This kind of thing has happened several times along the trails we travel, and always I feel blessed (for both me and Jack).
I felt less blessed later, when trying to ID this young hummer. I had a very near view of the critter, but still the photos I checked online (and comparisons of field marks) didn’t prove especially helpful. I’d assumed it was a Broad-tailed Hummingbird—it was in an area they frequent—but its wings made no sound, and its sides seemed more orange than buff-colored, and its feathers had sort of orangish hue, and I wondered if it were a young Rufous Hummingbird.
I don’t have a lot of experience identifying hummingbirds, and young ones are especially puzzling to me. After nearly an hour struggling to make an ID, I finally settled on broad-tailed. (I’m still not sure.)
Grandeur Peak Area List Beginning at 7:57 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.
1. Rock Pigeon* 2. Lesser Goldfinch* 3. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay** 4. Mourning Dove 5. Red-breasted Nuthatch 6. Black-chinned Hummingbird* 7. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8. Red-tailed Hawk 9. Spotted Towhee 10. Black-capped Chickadee** 11. Broad-tailed Hummingbird 12. House Wren† 13. House Finch* 14. Black-billed Magpie* 15. Barn Swallow
16. Eurasian Collared Dove 17. California Quail 18. Song Sparrow
(v) Voice only *Also elsewhere **Voice only elsewhere †First-of-year bird