Shooters Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,574 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's almost certain the snow is over for the season. It seems within a week the mower is behind, the barn swallows have arrived and swarming under the eaves and over the ponds. A skunk showed up for execution. A pack-rat was right behind him. The water lilies are in galloping expansion and blooming mode and the frogs are kicking back waiting on a rain storm to move somewhere else. (I wish they'd stay out of my hot tub!)
This morning, the resident Red Tail with a nest up on the hill swooped into the pasture but behind a tree from me. I forgot about him but the dogs keyed on something a couple hours later. I guess that bullsnake was too much to eat all at once.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,847 Posts
Gorgeous Pics Jack!! Thanks for sharing them with us!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: shawlerbrook

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,556 Posts
How wonderful and great photos. What is your elevation where you are Jack?

10 years ago this week is a bit of an anniversary for me and Idaho! I had recently retired (again) and had just fully recovered from Hurricane Ike and was in the mood for an adventure. I took a 7 week, 8500 mile road trip. I had applied for and been granted an interview with Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene, who was looking for a combined Chemistry/Environmental Science teacher and I met the qualifications except for having a few specific hours needed to teach in Idaho (they would give applicants a couple of years to meet that requirement). I left Texas in the first week of May and camped along the way through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana before my interview in Coeur d'Alene the first week of June.

After my interview, I meandered through Washington, Oregon, and all the way through California to visit my Brother in the Silicon Valley, Yosemite, family and friends near LA and San Diego. Final leg was visiting my oldest daughter in Arizona and then back to Texas. I did camp in the Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle which was beautiful!!

I really fell in love with the Pacific NW and thought Idaho was especially beautiful. After a lot of self reflection and personal inventory, I decided to stay here in Texas. The winter's there was one of the reasons that made the difficult decision a little easier. I still wonder what life would have been like had I decided differently, but can't dwell on that.

I wish I had visited Southern Idaho, and that still might be a possibility as I think we will be doing a family visit in Arches National Park in Utah in the next year or so.

Keep the pictures coming....these are great. Too bad about the Bull Snake, those aren't bad guys to have around.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,574 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My second floor level is 5,280 ft but I'm 4,000 from the top of the mountain and 2,000 above town. To the north is the Snake River Plain with about 10% of the irrigated farm land in the US on both sides of the river. I'm in the ranch land and rock quarries between the green crops of Idaho and Utah salt flats.
The difference between the panhandle and the Snake River Plain is vastly different in topography and weather. I get a couple days of zero and a couple of 100F but RH is usually so low that temperature is secondary. Wind can be a problem, dust is an ever-present problem, but neighbors are distant and few. I can see 143 miles on the clearest days (due to the down-warp of the Snake River) and the people are second to none.
I have natural hot water coming out of the ground and makes a natural oasis in a sage brush desert. I've built ponds and planted trees and shelter belts which has added vast amounts of wildlife, not all of whom are welcome.
Bullsnakes den just above me so I have a lot of snake traffic in spring and fall with enough residents to make it worrisome to me and a matter of panic in some visitors. Just last week, there was a four footer that was resting under my ATV seat. The heat of the engine made him come out between me and the lady riding behind and caused her to leave in a hurry on a rather tricky place on a steep trail. She managed to live through it but it was hard to coax her back on the ATV for the ride home!

None of the snakes can fight off a Redtail. A Bullsnake will give him the longest fight, but even the big ones lose in the end. I watched a six footer fight a female Redtail for 85 minutes but lost.
Sometimes the fight between a Bullsnake and a Rattlesnake will last an hour, but the buzz worm loses and gets et in the end. For that reason, Bullsnakes are protected here. Gray Racers are occasionally seen. Rattlesnakes are limited to about two a year. I carry a small 22 revolver all the time for those occasions.
When I put in the first pond and stocked it with Walmart tropical fish, suddenly there were hundreds of Western Garter snakes that would slurp down a dozen in a few minutes. I put a fifty cent an inch bounty on them and my kid construction workers helped me thin them to a rarity.

There's nothing like a desert oasis and its great fun to see nature establish when new opportunity appears. Plant a few trees, create a place for the water to pond and build a house with high eaves and suddenly song birds are everywhere and Cliff and Barn swallows by the hundreds help eat the bugs that the fish in the ponds miss. Moose and elk move through changing ranges, deer and antelope are full time residents and birds of prey are always in sight somewhere. Water is the key and the foundation of it all. Water lilies are the easiest thing to grow and even a black-thumbed machinist can grow pretty ones with a puddle of water and tree spike fertilizer.
 

Attachments

·
The Shadow (Moderator)
Joined
·
8,519 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,574 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The difference is in irrigation as augmentation or as a pure necessity. The Snake River irrigates land that otherwise will grow no crops much like the Colorado River does in AZ and CA. Total irrigated farm lands include Florida orange groves for those that want to spend the money to improve production.
These Russet spuds grown for Mc Donalds are growing in a sage brush desert only because its irrigated.
My information came from a video "Idaho From Above". It's repeated in irrigation pivot advertising in the area.
 

Attachments

·
The Shadow (Moderator)
Joined
·
8,519 Posts
That has nothing to do with NASS data, and we've already danced this dance Hank....
Continuing to repeat mistaken info, doesn't make it correct.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,556 Posts
We have a lot of Red Tail Hawks here, especially in Winter. They even frequent my place a bit when migrating, but once it turns warm they tend to hang out around the farmlands more. My area is more wooded with some open pastures around. Right now I have a pair of Red Shouldered Hawks nesting across the Oxbow that borders the Southern part of my property about 200 yards away. They started building a nest about 30 yards from my chicken coop which had me worried, but either I disturbed them with my mowing, or they got tired of chasing squirrels away from their nest and decided on a tree that was partly in the Oxbow. They have pretty much left my chickens alone, but I have seen them scare them a few times by lighting in a nearby tree.

I have had a Northern Harrier (what I always called a Marsh Hawk) that has been hanging around here since Saturday - maybe longer since I had been in the Hospital the prior 4 days. They are not a problem for full grown chickens either.

My long lens camera is down, but I just got a new phone that has a pretty good optical zoom, so I will try and get some photos for my "Neck of the Woods" thread soon.

Good luck and all the best.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,574 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The raptors are high on my list of natural interest and I'm in a good spot for them. Redtails, Rough Legs, Sharpshins, Kestrels, Harriers, Osprey, both eagles and three owls are either present or close by year round. I don't have chickens but I do have a few Hungarian Partridge that seems to be an organic buffet for all but the Kestrels and Burrowing Owls.
In years past, a pair of Redtails have nested 220 yards from my office window and I set up ay Russian artillery periscope spotting scope in the window and roughly kept track of meals on wings as they arrive. I also so a lot of hawk-style grocery shopping and recognized the 'point before fly' stance they take when lunch is spotted. One year it was packrats by the dozens (I shot 17 that year). Another year it was small rattlesnakes, three in one afternoon.
There was a infestation of voles several years ago. Five Kestrel pairs nested so close they had a fight every time one left the nest. Harriers nest near the pond. The little silver males with the black wing-tips works all day catching food for his three baby mammas.
Usually, the Golden Eagles come over the fawning grounds for antelope but I didn't see them this year. With 10X binocs, I can see one soaring up Trapper Creek about 12 miles west so regular I know there's at least one nest up there.
On cold days when the Robins are shoulder to shoulder on the only thawed ground in many miles, the Peregrines and Prairie falcons come through like jet fighters and pick up the slow ones. Prairie Falcons are the big draw of bird watchers to S. Idaho and I sometimes guide watchers to nesting cliffs or loafing spots.

Notice the blood on the Falcon's elbow. She'd just chased a wild pigeon through a crack in my front door and ricocheted off the door. (Loud wreck!) I shot the pigeon later. The Falcon sat around for about twenty minutes and stretched her wings and hopped around some then took off. They fly with a very distinctive pattern: the wings seem to extend out flat and only the tips 'flap' rapidly. They fly fast just over the sage brush and snag sparrows and larks as they flush. Peregrines are the same size, speed and general shape but their wing beats are more fluid.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,894 Posts
Here too. Temp pushing 90s lately but rain scarce-seems to be mal distributed except for the desert in Utah and AZ.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,574 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It was 38 here this morning and frost warnings for tomorrow. We're dry and just went through the first of the Red Flag warnings. Supposed to be back in the 90s by Saturday.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tnhunter

·
Registered
Joined
·
66 Posts
I love the west and open spaces where there still remains some harmony among the diversity of landscape, critters, and even humans minus the congestion, at least. I worked at a Helium plant in western Kansas for 11 years or so. We had bull snakes at that plant property of 40 acres or so, and no rattlesnakes. At a large pipe storage (2" schedule 80 oilfield) about 2 miles away you had to watch your step, a kick at the larger diameter stuff caused enhanced acoustic buzzings! Great to hear about your world, I can't imagine living without those places and the voice of coyotes. I hunted coyotes with a passion for most of my life, but have relented in my old age. For the most part they were controlling rodent populations and cleaning up carasses. When I pass on it would suit me for my carcass to be left out on the prairie for them to take care of, if I had a choice for reincarnation it would be as a raptor, I dote on prairie falcons, and the soarers, golden eagles and red tails.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
818 Posts
I live in Baton Rouge , Louisiana ...every year a pair of hawk like birds comes to town , builds a nest in the same big oak tree and raises little ones ...after awhile every one of them leaves untill the next year . Then they return and do it all over again .They have a very unique call and even being hard of hearing I can hear their call . My wife , the bird person keeps telling me they aren't Hawks ...she says they are Kites ...Mississippi Kites to be exact .... but kite sounds like something you fly on a string ...
I like them and wish they would stay all year but I enjoy watching them while they're here .
They raise their little ones and teach them how to fly . One year one almost grown one fell out the tree , my neighbor put him back in the tree .. he made it back to the nest and they finished raising him .
Birds of prey are COOL !
Gary
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,574 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Mississippi Kites are cool birds and will get used to humans pretty easy. Just think, they're as far north as they'll ever be in your yard. When they leave there they go through Veracruz, Mexico (where their census is taken) and on to S. America as far as N. Argentina. Swallow-tailed kites were a rarity on the Gulf Coast but neat to see.

For anyone interested in raptors, The Brian Wheeler book "Raptors of Western North America is truly outstanding and detailed with the best pictures of birds I've ever seen anywhere. the M. Kite has 17 pages with 30 full color photos of every plumage variation, soaring positions, etc. It covers from the Mississippi river westward.
 

·
The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
Joined
·
23,915 Posts
The Harris Hawk is the primary one in my area. The occasional sharp shinned and goshawk. kesterials show up in early spring. The Harris Hawk is the only raptor known to hunt in pairs and share the kill. They work in relays chasing the prey.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,556 Posts
One of my favorite raptors here. Crested Cara Cara. I managed our City Landfill for a number of years before Federal Regulations became too strict and we were forced to close it (this was a good thing). 40 CFR Subtitle D regulations were a huge improvement to protect groundwater and promote methane collection and close hundreds of substandard landfills in Texas. Not that my landfill was substandard. There was one area along one corner that had a great quality clay that we harvested to use as lining material and created a fresh water oasis amidst all the Salt Water marshes nearby. It was about 15 acres and was a bird watchers paradise. I saw my first pair of these guys in Galveston County in around 92-93 which was further North along the coast than their usual range at that time. I have since seen them as far North as the Texas Hill County.

I've been a birder for a long time and I have not counted my total for a number of years, but my last "Life List" count was over 350 species. I've collected most "West of the Rockies" species except for all the hummingbirds and some of the LBB's (Little Brown Birds). I have a house in the Florida Panhandle and seem like I'm always working on it instead of watching birds like I should be. :D

We have Kestrals (one of my favorites), Harris, Sharp Shinned, Coopers, Osprey and more Owls than you can shake a stick at. Another reason I want to get my long lens camera back up and running.

caracara1.jpg caracara2.jpg

Cara Cara's are almost always seen in pairs here. On my trip 10 years ago that took me through Yellowstone, there is a tall rocky spire between the upper and lower falls that has had a recorded Osprey nest every year since the 1870's. That was cool to see. I was there in late May, and the Osprey pair had started their nest while we were there.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top