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Old 06-17-2020, 04:42 PM   #10241
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This morning I took a quick walk around my neighborhood haunts. Since it's a golf course, a lot of the paths pick up or dump you off right in some golfer's action. I tend to skitter around during the summer, ducking into the woods that are between the fairways in some places. While doing my best to wade through grass that is now 2'-3' tall and watch for snakes at the same time, I had a quiet moment with this guy. About 5 minutes later, I took my eyes off where I was going to bend down and pick up a golf ball, when a spotted fawn and I gave each other a heart attack. I was about 2' from it, and it jumped up and sprinted off. Did you know fawns make a sound like a baby sheep? You do now.

I spent all day thinking this must've been the mother, but I see now I am probably mistaken.

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Old 06-21-2020, 07:15 PM   #10242
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Yesterday I started out at the local museum for our monthly bird walk. Again, I was impressed we pulled in two dozen folks, and everyone wearing masks.

It was snowing cottonwood seeds






And the first thing we found was a Darth Maul spider in the parking lot. I HATE spiders. I typically don't kill them, unless they are in the house and in my way. I take pictures of them, but almost can't stand to look at them.



One of the hardest things about being the shepherd at these things is you don't get a lot of time to actual see and photograph the birds you are pointing out to half a dozen people. Like teaching motorcycle classes, it's not as much fun as just going out and doing it on your own.

So after Mike and I headed south to Buffalo then up highway 16 toward Ten Sleep. We turned around at the bottom and came back east using old highway 16, a dirt road that runs along the canyon.

Spot the hawk?



The canyon was packed. I've never seen it so busy, and 80% of the vehicles parked and in camp spots are from out of state. I guess our low virus rate is maybe a draw. Also, Ten Sleep Canyon used to be a sleeper spot for climbers, but in the last couple of years it's gained notice and popularity, to the point where we have some issues.

https://www.climbing.com/news/the-te...rsy-explained/



Mike and I hiked up to this a few years ago. There's no trail, and it's a pretty steep grade. It's a lovely simple waterfall that is maybe 40'.



The Sego Lilies are blooming all over.



This one has attracted a beatle. No word on if it is John, Paul, George or Ringo.



Ten Sleep Canyon looking west into the southern parts of the Bighorn Basin



It's a pretty dry and warm area, but the Arrowleaf Balsamroot loves it.



As do the Green-tailed Towhee



and the Lazuli Bunting



Melissa Blue



Mike would like to know if you can ID this? Because he did.





These are one of my favorites. No idea what they are. I ID birds with OCD like accuracy. I try to mostly ID butterflies. Other bugs, turtles, frogs, lizards, and flowers, I do if I can, but have to draw the line somewhere.





Checkerspot





After the canyon, we headed toward Ten Sleep Lake but diverted prior to it, heading out on some Forest System Roads. Maybe 75% of these we can do in the RAV. We keep an ORV map on us though, because they criss cross all over the mountains. Sometimes roads aren't on the map, or the map shows roads that no longer exists.

There is a lake up there...



I don't know what caused the demise of the snails, but it was a massacree



Ah well...





Mmmm pine cones taste gooood





Why do they call it an Arrowleaf? Oh...



About here we encountered a fellow in a pick up with a dog and a horse trailer that looked almost stuck at a creek. Stopped to ask if he was stuck. No, he was using a hose to pull water out of the creek and into the trailer.



We drove on a bit, and stopped for another view west. He met us coming back down, and said the road actually would take us to Hyattville, but it was pretty rough going on. Also, he had a cabin a bit farther down (no running water). What a life.

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Old 06-21-2020, 07:37 PM   #10243
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Today we headed back up into the Bighorns, this time going just west of us about 10 miles to Red Grade Road, a county/forest service road that goes through to highway 14. It's closed half the year to all but snowmobiles.

The Lupine is really amazing here. It covers whole hillsides.



I have wanted to try this trail for years, but I haven't gotten determined enough to take my boots off and ford the river yet. It's COLD. Even in late summer, it runs pretty fast and deep.



The Bighorns do run north and south, but they have a good spread of east to west peaks as well. This always feels like the north side, and it's typically cooler.



We trundled up this FSR, only to find private property at the end. The only info I can find about it is it was originally where wood from railroad ties was harvested, and the ownership predates it actually being a national forest. The land owners were/are some of the original railroad families. There is a book about it, but I can't find anything on the internet that tells more more about it.



One of the bird songs that makes my heart sing along, the Hermit Thrush. Hard to spot, joyful and sorrowful to hear.



Near Dome Lake



Yellow-rumped Warbler



Dragonflies were out, so were the skeeters in the mountain meadows.



If it flies and sits long enough, I can't resist taking a photo.




The forest floor is a lush carpet of greenery.



Speaking of which, did you know a bull moose eats 70 pounds a day?



Despite being giant and slow, they are hard to photograph due to the constant mowing movement of their heads, as they graze along.





Today was a 4Runner kind of day...even still, we made it just over a mile in on this six mile road before we gave up and turned around.



Unlike Colorado with its hiking trails, Wyoming leans more toward ORV use, with a lot of 4 wheelers, side by sides and dirt bikes. Still, we try.



It rained, and the forest smelled amazing. I wish I could transport that fresh rain in a pine forest to you.







Now getting up and down Red Grade Road is part of the excitement. You can do it in a car, but not many do. Mostly pickups, SUVs and the aforementioned modes of transport. It covers 2000 feet in elevation change. It's made one of the most dangerous roads list.

https://www.dangerousroads.org/north...rade-road.html

It's quite stunning coming around and seeing all of eastern Wyoming out there.



But there are no guard rails. This is through the old burn area. That little rock berm at the bottom is all that is between you and a long, long, long way down.



Or as we like to say, "Wyoming, the Darwin State."
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Old 06-22-2020, 08:14 AM   #10244
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Great pictures Tina!

We had a rainbow yesterday.
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Old 06-22-2020, 05:10 PM   #10245
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Old 06-22-2020, 05:49 PM   #10246
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Is this a hiking trail or an ORV? That's the first I've seen pavers leading in like that.

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Old 06-22-2020, 06:00 PM   #10247
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ORV, but hiking also if you can get to it. According to the forest service's site, which has very little info, both plus horseback riding and mountain biking.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/bigh...a/?recid=31060

Someone on an ATV or side by side had gone through not long before we got there, still tracks on the dry sand on this end of the pavers.
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Old 06-22-2020, 06:10 PM   #10248
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Cool, and thanks for the link. If the riding is even half as good as the picture looks that's a little slice of heaven.
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Old 06-22-2020, 06:54 PM   #10249
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I can't even begin to express how true that perception is. It is hundreds of miles of ORV roads. Next time I get off my butt I'll take a couple of photos of the ORV maps I keep in the cars so you can see what Imma talkin' about.
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Old 06-23-2020, 05:04 AM   #10250
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Yes please!
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Old 06-23-2020, 12:02 PM   #10251
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Tina, I'll hazard a guess that that playground rocketship ride has extracted more teeth than the local dentist

On another note, ol Peachy Face came back, and he brought a friend. It flies in and out too quick for me to snap off a photo, but we have a yellow parakeet added to the feeder guest list.
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Old 06-23-2020, 04:26 PM   #10252
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Old 06-23-2020, 06:51 PM   #10253
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Farmall?

Wait, header probably wouldn't be pointed that direction, I give.

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Old 06-23-2020, 07:26 PM   #10254
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Mike says a Ford Y-block V8, he thinks. Best guess a 292. Somewhere between 1955 and 1967.

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Old 06-28-2020, 07:37 PM   #10255
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So when we set off into the mountains, this is our number soup we use to navigate, the ORV map of the Bighorns.

This is the first page. Over on the right middle, there is a little arrow that says "To Big Horn" and that's often were we come from, though not Saturday. We took the red line which is HWY 14 to get to the other side, where we met diverted and went back into the squiggles.

All of those little lines are forest service roads, maybe 50% of them passable by a regular vehicle, another 30% by something with high clearance and 4WD, and the rest only by motorcycles, side by sides and four wheelers.

This is the route roughly from Dayton/Sheridan/Bighorn over to Shell/Graybull/Lovell on the west.




But wait, there's more!

We came down along this one, which is highway 16 between Buffalo and Ten Sleep, the southern part of the first map above.



One road we were on, Cold Springs, out of Medicine Lodge over to Paint Rock Canyon and up, we must've passed 40 side by sides coming down, if not more. It was nuts.

Our back road on this day was this one...



It's the red dotted line...



Despite the usual "Wyoming, The Darwin State" notice, the road was in pretty good shape compared to others we've been on (the aforementioned Cold Springs Rd was like going up 400 feet in elevation via cobblestones).



I posted a few pics of this vicinity a couple of months ago.



Our first stop was the Dinosaur Track site, 3rd time's a charm right? Yes! Because someone who had just spent 30 minutes trying to find the tracks showed us right where they were!



This time instead of going back to 14 though, we continued on south.



This is looking west, toward the Absarokas (I think)



We are rocking this social distancing thing!





Found this beautiful plant flowering at the edge of the road. It's a wild Begonia.

https://www.dreamstime.com/veiny-doc...image152028875



There were lots of Brewer's Sparrows. This one has a mouthful to take back to a nest.



And Sage Thrashers



And a Greater Sage-grouse!



And with all of those sage obligates to go with the sage, a Rock Wren or two to go with the rocks.

Rock Wrens are repeater birds. They will sing a phrase usually about three times, then change to another, and another. Not quite with the amount of variety with the Mockingbird, but it helps ID them by sound.



Coming down, and it is hot.



There may be a road that gets you almost to this. Next time, next time.



Our other motto could be "Wyoming, We Have Interesting Rocks"



We got down to Medicine Lodge, and it wasn't too bad at first...

Hey, a Gray Catbird showing its not often seen red "vent."




but we hiked up to the top of the little canyon, literally just a short walk up, and holy devil's pants, it was hot. Every since Mike's stroke and my brain thing (IIH resulting in a shunt) neither of us take heat well. We literally came down and went crashing into the stream trying to cool down.

Hey buddy, can you share the creek!? American Dipper



Heck with this, back in the 4Runner!



This was heading up Cold Spring Road



Back to the Darwin state thing...this is Paint Rock Canyon. Well, there is a sign that says the trail head is 8 miles up the road, but it's not. Another sign half a mile beyond that one with a trailhead sign, and another six miles up the road, a sign that seems to indicate to turn right down a two track, but that has a sign that doesn't say anything about the canyon and goes in the wrong direction.

Mike and I hiked into this a couple of years ago earlier in spring, on a cooler day. There really is no trail. You just sort of find your way down to the canyon, and if you are lucky, back up. Even though it splits off in several places. It's low here, but gets really deep miles up the canyon.

But again, the rocks are neat. That's a whole countertop right there waiting for some stronger more industrious person. Did I mention it was f'n hot? Like 98 degrees and the rocks were baking hot.



We stopped in Ten Sleep for dinner, doing take out burgers from a damn good place there, the Sleepy Coyote. Mike said the AC was out, he went in to get it. The town was packed. I think everyone in every other state has decided to come vacation here anyway. Lots of out of state tags, almost no masks. Burgers are good though.

The Dante (more hot, hot, hot)



Mine



Not done yet. I had three more stops plugged in and it's after 6:00. As I kept telling Mike, look harder, if we find what I'm after, we go home sooner...

First stop was Salt Lick Trail in Ten Sleep Canyon. I heard my target bird is HERE. But where? It's over 3 miles, and the first part of it is a series of steep switch backs. Now, it's down to 86 and out of the sun, but bloody hell, we made it about .25 mile up and I was done.

Yucaa was pretty though...



As was the cactus...



We made it back down to the parking lot, and as it so often happens, I thought I heard the bird, and I did! The light wasn't great, but I found my Virginia's Warbler! There were two males singing. This one was moving brush to brush fast.



Yay! No more stops!



Oh wait! Bonus moose!



There is a photo bomb here, can you find them?

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Old 06-28-2020, 07:53 PM   #10256
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Today I went out solo to the IBA I've mentioned before, over 40k acres east of Buffalo. I took a wrong turn. I NEVER do that, but to my credit, it was pouring rain, and I just pointed myself toward clearer sky.



A very wet Greater Sage-grouse



Ain't no sunshine...



What I found was the burn area from a lightning strike that happened a couple of weeks ago. It burned 11,600 acres.





A far off young Golden Eagle



And this ding dong, a Gray Partridge. There were two adults.



And at least eight young, as they ran back and forth and back and forth across the road, trying to answer the age old question, "what makes us game birds?"



Northern Harrier - these hawks hunt by flying low over the ground usually, so it was neat to see her rise up with the mountains behind her.



This little Vesper Sparrow is showing his trademark red shoulders, and he was singing away, and he seems quite fat and happy despite missing a foot!



At the end of they day with the help of two bars and google maps I managed to get back to where I wanted to be, behind the storms, and found my breeding population of Chestnut-collared Longspurs that I was hoping to see.



Oh wait! Out of order! I almost forgot Friday.

Friday I went up to PK lane, that zigzag road up toward the foothills. I wanted to find Common Poorwill, so I went at dusk and hiked up about two miles, then back two miles in the almost dark.



The person who owns the land on one side is a big bird nut. And a zillionaire.



This guy
http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/Re...asp?lresID=538
https://www.uwyo.edu/uw/news/2011/01...ry-center.html

He's unplugged and just settled in to ranch life here.

About this time I hear Wile's breathern howling to the south. And I start thinking, dang, I should've brought a headlamp. Or a flashlight. Or a gun.



Ah hell, I've been out walking in the dark since I was old enough to sneak out. That's 13 for those who are counting.



Goodnight, Moon.

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Old 06-28-2020, 09:04 PM   #10257
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It really is stunning in your piece of the world, thanks for sharing!
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:26 AM   #10258
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Glad you enjoy it!
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:10 AM   #10259
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Careful...You're going to convince us all to move there.
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Old 06-29-2020, 06:42 PM   #10260
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Very nice Tina!
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