Thursday, 15 August 2013

California - Yosemite 30 to 31 July 2013 (part 4)

Day Ten - Yosemite

 View through the valley

We knew there were lots of interesting birds, but just like the elusive larger mammals, you have to be really lucky (or unlucky in some circumstances) to connect with the animals and birds in such a vast area. We decided to head forGlacier Point for stunning views of mountains and the valleys below.

View from Glacier Point

 Mountain meadow

Lodgepole Chipmunk

A very obliging American Robin

The mountin meadows allowed an opportunity to see some birds coming to drink, but often from too far away for really good views. There were some chances to photograph insects.

Hydaspe Fritillaries

West Coast Lady

But by the end of the day we had not seen Cougar or Black Bear but particular favourites were Western Tanager, Pine Grosbeck, Red-naped Sapsucker and Calliope Hummingbird.

Day Eleven - Yosemite

Another day in Yosemite, this time working the river and lower areas.

Yosemite river

Calfornian Gorund Squirrel

We were still looking out for one of up to 500 bears in the park. We observed all the instructions about not leaving food or empty cans or wrappers in the car and made careful use of the bear proof trash cans. But still there were no bears to be seen.

Bearproof trash cans

We found evidence of bears (I'll spare you the droppings shot) including where they had been foraging but still no elusive glimpse.

Bear shredded tree trunk

Wide animal tracks in meadow behind the garage


But we had to be content to see flowers and insects.

Yellow Cone Flower.

Monarch butterfly

We began to make our way to the exit, stopping frequently at so many points of interest, and pulled in at Siesta Lake.

Siesta Lake

 Here we enjoyed the tranquil peace, and watched a pair of Cassin's Finch, until the quiet was broken by the arrival of some other visitors who stayed for 10 minutes then left.

 Cassin's Finch

It was then that we smelt smoke and , knowing that the fire risk warning was at extremely severe, went to investigate. We found a patch of smouldering substrate (soil comprising largely decomposing pine needles) around an unextinguished cigarette end. The earth was very hot so we improvised and used empty water bottles to bring water from the lake to douse the hot stop. The park authorities were duly advised as fire can travel underground in such circumstances and it may not have been completely extinguished, but it seems that we got it out as there appeared to be no problems when we drove passed a couple of days later. However there is currently a controlled blaze in the park, the result of a lightening strike on 21st May. Fire is part of the natural renewal cycle in the park, and burning often happens after a tree gets struck by lightening (often when the conditions are much less dry) - but such events caused by human carelessness are a real tragedy.

  This almost became the seat of a forest blaze.

There are areas in the park that bear the scars of passed fires. The shots below were taken in the Foresta area where there was a major blaze in 1991 and a less serious one in 2009. It takes a long time for trees, plants and animal populations to recover.

 Site of the Foresta fire

Black-tailed Deer at Foresta 

We left for Lee Vining and arrived in time to order some fabulous barbeque at Bodie Mikes as the sun went down over Mono Lake.