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Posts Tagged ‘Idaho state parks’

“More than anything else, I believe it’s our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny.” – Tony Robbins

 

Killdeer abound here at Lake Walcott, but I usually see them on the shore, where they dart around too quick for me to photograph. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

Slow Down Pepper

With my birding binoculars around my neck, my point-and-shoot digital camera in the pocket of my campground- host vest, and my canine traveling companion, Pepper, tugging impatiently at the end of the leash I’m holding, I headed out this morning for a walk around Lake Walcott State Park.

One of the many bunnies that calmly stay just outside of Pepper’s reach. — Photo by Pat Bean

There will be more walks to come during the day, a necessity when you need to burn energy off a seven-month-old terrier mix — but the morning one is always my favorite.

No walk is the same, and each walk brings me some new delight – and occasionally not, like three days ago when a swarm of gnats found us and followed us the rest of the way home.

Today’s walk, however, was perfect. It began with the overhead flight of a lone white pelican, whose white feather’s sparkled against a backdrop of blue sky. The pelicans mostly stay outside the park, preferring to fish in the Snake River below the Minidoka Dam that holds the lake in place, so today’s air show seemed special.

The mullien is just starting to bloom. — Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper, meanwhile, was more interested in the two bunny rabbits that frequent the lawn by our RV, tauntingly staying just beyond her reach. The robins and the killdeer here at the park tease her the same way, and today was no different. I’ve learned to keep a firm grip on her leash.

This morning is cool and breezy. The lake, however, is mirror smooth, the perfect reflective surface to capture the vibrancy of overhanging trees and the upside-down images of the flock of geese that are hanging out near the boat dock.

A lone nighthawk circles overhead, passing in front of the pale white moon, with only a sliver missing, that is still visible in the morning sky. The sight adds an extra touch of magic to the morning, and I feel my body relaxing into the moment.

Barn swallows swoop along the banks. A great-horned owl hoots in the distance, and mourning doves coo a reply. No human symphony ever sounded better to my ears.

One day a golden dandelion, the next a fluff ball of seeds waiting for a breeze to blow them to their new digs. — Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper is interested in everything, darting here and there. She lunges at a butterfly, chases a fallen leaf, sticks her nose in a ground hole, and plunges through a puddle left behind by the sprinklers. She’s getting better at knowing how far she can run before hitting the end of the leash – and has already learned she can run full-out if she does it in circles.

I tell her to slow down, to enjoy the moment. Her tiny pink tongue lolls, and her eyes dance with excitement.

Slow, I realize, is not in her understanding. But at least she’s enjoying the morning —  as am I.

Bean’s Pat: Chicks With Ticks http://tinyurl.com/6nlun9e Oaken Earth Mother. Blog Pick of the day selected by this wondering wanderer, tree-hugger.

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Fall sketch of red-winged blackbird at Antelope Island State Park in Utah

“Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt, and sometimes, discerned.” James Arthur Baldwin.

One Thing Is Not Like the Other

Female red-winged blackbird — Wikipedia photo

Back in my earlier days of bird watching, I came across a small flock of birds at Green River State Park in Utah that I spent an hour, field guide in hand, trying to identify. They just didn’t quite fit the description of any North American bird, or so I was coming to conclude.

And then a lone male red-winged blackbird flew past – and the light bulb came on. My flock of birds were female red-winged blackbirds. It wasn’t that I hadn’t seen them before, I had just forgotten how unlike their mates they look.

You can find red-winged blackbirds anywhere you live here in North America.

Here at Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho, the males flash their scarlet epaulets boldly, saying look at me, look at me. The females, however, mostly stay hidden in the reeds growing on the lake bank, where they build their nests, in hopes they won’t be seen.

The show-off male — Wikipedia photo

It’s a rare day here at the park that I don’t see both birds, the females because I know where to look, and the males everywhere I look.  This morning one was even checking out the fresh supply of sunflower seeds I had put in my bird feeder.

Life doesn’t get much better.

Bean’s Pat: Lady Romp http://tinyurl.com/cekabj8 A message we all need to remember. Blog pick of the day from this wandering wonderer.

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 “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” – Chinese proverb

Well What Are They?

I haven’t a clue as to what these berries are. Do you? — Photo by Pat Bean

I was sitting at my computer when Pepper jumped up from her cozy spot on my bare feet and started barking frantically.

Somebody, perhaps the tenth person this day, was approaching my RV. I glanced outside to see who it was, then hushed Pepper and told her it was OK.

I never scold her for barking because I like having her as my alarm system, even if her barks are sounded frequently, which they are. People, noting the campground host sign in front of my Lake Walcott RV site, stop by often.

But I do know that this is a milkweed. I learned its name last year in my searches to identify Lake Walcott plants. It’s a special favorite of butterflies. — Photo by Pat Bean.

I’m pretty good at answering most questions about the park, including its history and what facilities and activities are available. This, after all, is my third year as a volunteer here.

Sometimes the campers ask me to identify a bird they just saw. This is my favorite question because I can almost always answer it. With the exception of the sharp-tailed grouse, every bird species found here at the park is on my life birding list.

This guy, however, had a plant question.

“Are these huckleberries?” He was holding up a twig with berries from a bush that I had spotted earlier in the day – and photographed because I wanted to know what kind of berries they were myself.

Sadly I hadn’t been successful in identifying them, and had to tell him I didn’t know. I do so hate disappointing campers. Perhaps one of my readers is as avid a plant enthusiast as I am about birds and can tell me. See picture above.

Bean’s Pat: Serenity Spell http://tinyurl.com/87qcugr A young great blue heron’s meal. Great photos. Blog pick of the day by this wondering wanderer.

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 “Every person is the creation of himself, the image of his own thinking and believing. As individuals think and believe, so they are.” –Claude M Bristol

A Little Bird Said Otherwise

After cropping, sharpening and enhancing the photo of a yellow-headed blackbird I took at Lake Walcott State, this turned out not to be too bad a shot. Most of my bird photos don’t come out half as good. — Photo by Pat Bean

When I was young, slender, wrinkle and sag free, I thought I was ugly. Today, I look at pictures from my past and realize, while perhaps not beautiful, I was pretty damn good-looking. And I have a few minutes of regret that I didn’t appreciate it way back when.

Today, I’m overweight, with a flabby soft belly and crow lines – I prefer to call them laugh lines – all over my face. And I’ve come to love my body because it has given me years of good service and is still going.

Lately, I’ve been thinking I’m a horrible artist. Nothing turns out like I imagine it in my head. What got me thinking about this was my inability to take decent bird photos. Of course that’s my choice. I’m a writer, not a photographer.

No. 1, don’t want to invest in the equipment necessary to capture birds in their rare moments from a distance. And No. 2, I don’t want to spend a lot of time looking at the world from behind a lens, which is what photographers have to do, and hopefully love to do as much as I love to write.

While not heavily detailed, I decided I also liked my artistic interpretaion of the yellow-headed blackbird. Perhaps I will use more of my bird art to go with my blog in the future. — Illustration by Pat Bean.

So why not, I’ve been asking myself for a couple of years, illustrate my bird blogs with some of my art work. Because you’re not good enough, my brain tells me. Art is one of my hobbies, and I’ve never wanted it to be more.

But this morning, when I was actually looking for a sketch I knew I had done of a killdeer imitating a broken wing to lead danger away from their nests (which I couldn’t find), because that’s what the killdeer here at Lake Walcott have been doing ever since I arrived here, I re-evaluated my bird art.

While I’m certainly never going to give professional artists cause for concern, my quick sketches and watercolors weren’t all that bad. It was like taking a second look at photos of myself from the advantage of being an old broad. And I liked what I saw.

Bean’s Pat: http://www.geezersisters.com/ About West Texas, where evidently there are no possums. Great web site. Blog pick of the day from this wandering wonderer.

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 “I made a circle with a smile for a mouth on yellow paper, because it was sunny and bright.” Harvey Ball

Bullock’s Oriole and American Goldfinch

Bullock’s oriole. This one was all puffed up on a cold morning. — Photo by Pat Bean

There are two birds I have seen almost every day since I arrived in Southern Idaho, a Bullock’s oriole and an American goldfinch.

The oriole hangs out in an untrimmed area of the manicured park located to the rear of my RV site. Its landscape is dotted with Russian olive trees, sagebrush, a few small cottonwood trees and tall grasses.

In the cool of the evening, when I sit outside with my binoculars in hand, I almost always see an oriole, or two or three, flit about in the foliage, lighting up whichever branch or twig they land on like a Christmas ornament. I often point it out to campers who stop by. Oohs and ahs are the usual reactions.

American goldfinch: Hanging out on a willow tree next to the lake. — Photo by Pat Ban

Competing with the oriole for the golden-yellow award is the American goldfinch. Last year they hung out at the finch feeder bag I put out near my RV, but since I haven’t put that out this year, I usually see them flitting among the shoreline trees near the park’s Upper Lakeview campground.

It’s common, however, for me to spot these two birds just about anywhere in the park. I never tire of seeing them.

Bean’s Pat:: Daily Diversion http://onetrackmuse.com/ One big, odd pig. What’s up in your neighborhood. Blog pick of the day from this wondering wanderer.

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 “For me, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive.” – David Herbert Lawrence

This stalking black-crowned night heron is patiently waiting for its mouse dinner to pop up out of its hole. — Photo by Pat Bean

Black-Crowned Night Heron

A pair of black-crowned night heron have taken up residence in a landscape of reeds, Russian olives and cattails that line the bank of Lake Walcott between the park’s campground and boat dock.

The path between the two is one of those I take on my daily walks with my canine traveling companion, Pepper. Most days, mid-to-late-afternoons, I come up on one of the herons patiently waiting in the lawn area near a rock wall for dinner to appear.

This black-crowned night heron’s dinner is more common. — Wikipedia photo

The gourmet item on this heron’s menu is one of the small mice that make their home among holes in the rocks. The stalking heron is usually so still that Pepper seldom notices it, and so intent on dinner that I get a chance to marvel at its glowing red eye, which stands out vividly from its white and black feathers. .

Most days, unless Pepper sees it and barks and strains on the leash to go chase it, we don’t even disturb it as we pass by,

Although I’ve never seen but one on the manicured lawn, I know there are two because one day I spooked the second one as I passed by the cattails, and watched  as it flew deeper into the reed cover.

A fish dinner, or even a snake one, is a more normal diet for these herons. But their flexibility in food choices is probably one of the reasons these tree-nesting birds can be found on five continents, and why there is no current concern about their numbers.

Bean’s Pat: Dodging Commas http://tinyurl.com/7hfuamp Words for writers. This wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

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“Life is too short to sleep on low-thread-count sheets.” – Leah Stussy

Travels With Maggie

I suspected raccoons, of which there are too many here at Lake Walcott, of causing the wee-hour disturbance, but she sheriff's deputy said it was a two-legged night wanderer. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A knock on the door in the wee hours of the morning is never good. But if you’re a campground host at a small Idaho park, as I have been all this summer, at least the first thought that runs through your mind is not “Who died?” ‘

Last night’s 1 a.m. knock on my RV, which wasn’t actually necessary because the headlights pulling into my site already had me hopping down from my over-the-cab bed to check out what was going on, was a sheriff’s deputy informing me that he had gotten a 911 call about some man wandering through the campground. The campers in tent site 27, he said, had made the call.

“Perhaps it was raccoons,” I voiced. “They get into everything at night.”

“Nope. I found the man. He’s parked down by the boat docks, drunk as a skunk and loopy as well. Gave me some story about UFOs,” the officer said. “I ran his license plates and he didn’t have any warrants out on him, so I just left him to sleep it off in his truck. But I thought someone should know.”

I thanked him for the information, and he told me to call 911 immediately if the man gave any more trouble.

I went back to bed, but of course not back to sleep. This was the third time this season that I had been awakened because of my campground host duties.

The first one involved me getting dressed and going down to the tent area to tell some idiot he couldn’t run his generator in the middle of the night to power floodlights around his tent.

“Ah. The generator’s going to run out of gas pretty quick,” he said in a “you gonna make me kind of way.”.

Lake Walcott sunrises are worth rising early to see even if sleep was stingy during the night. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Now,” I said in my sternest mommy voice to the large red-faced guy with the paunchy stomach.

“OK,” he said, this time rather meekly, and wandered over to turn the noisy contraption off.

I love that mommy voice.

The second time I was awakened in the middle of the night here at Lake Walcott, it was a young couple with an infant who had been on the road until after midnight. They had forgotten the combination to the cabin they had reserved. Fortunately I knew it, and was soon back in my comfy bed, but of course not back to sleep

Of the many bits of trivia that floated through my head keeping my brain from shutting down last night was the time I had been the one to pound on a campground host’s door at 4 a.m. I was supposed to meet up with a group to hike to a place where we could see rare red-cockaded woodpeckers emerge from their nests at dawn – and had lost the combination to the gate lock.

I sure hope the bleary-eyed guy who gave it to me had an easier time getting back to sleep than I was having, I thought as I listened to Maggie’s snuffling snores beside me, and the yowling of coyotes off in the distance somewhere. Too bad he couldn’t know I was getting paid back for waking him.

Yup! What goes around comes around. It’s the only thing that makes life somewhat fair.

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