Sunday, August 26, 2012
This week in the neighborhood
I couldn’t believe what I had seen – how could this raptor take one of those quick, small darters of the sky? Amazing!
A few days later, a friend came to the house and told me he had just seen a hawk grab one swallow out of a large whirling mass of swallows, at the same place. Perhaps we’ve got a swallow-snatching expert in the neighborhood.
We’ve had a nest of Swainson’s hawks that are hanging out along the same patch of river and meadow, and it has been wonderful to watch this brood as they hunt. The number of Swainson’s hawks present here is dwindling now, as they begin migrations. Here's a few more juveniles from our neighborhood:
The sheep are doing well in their new pasture near the Midland Ranch, with no wolf or bear problems. The herd is close enough to the ranch headquarters that there can be up to eight guardian dogs with my herd at any one time, in addition to the burros, so I have one of the most well-guarded herds in the country. The Midland is my business partner Pete’s ranch, and he has dozens of guardian dogs working to protect the various herds, so old dogs, young dogs, retirees, and nursing females sometimes come out to spend time with my herd since it is nearby. Fine by me – I’ll feed any guardian dog that tends to my flock.
Jim enjoys accompanying me to check the flock. Part of the pasture is a natural slough where he’s been harvesting meadow mushrooms (Agaricus campestris). Several times in the last few weeks we’ve split a steak for dinner, with a side of sliced mushrooms cooked in butter. Yum. Jim’s also been trying to teach Hud the herding dog to find mushrooms, but Roo the burro is far more interested.
Today as we returned from checking the sheep, we saw a large bull moose grazing along the New Fork River. We stopped in to watch and visit the beast as he grazed the riparian area on the other side of the river. He’s one of the bulls that wintered in the sheep pasture last year, so it feels like he’s somewhat of an old friend. Jim and I spent an hour sitting on the ground across the river from this Shiras moose, and he rewarded us by moving into the river toward us to stand in the cool water on a warm afternoon.
I had never seen nor heard a moose slowly lapping water before. It was pretty darned entertaining, and I laughed when I saw this image of his curled tongue:
We left him to his grazing, thanking him for accommodating our quiet visit. Jim snapped a new "glamour" shot for me before we left. Oh yeah, the boys on my block are badasses!