Saturday, July 25, 2009


By popular demand:

This was another find at Devil's Creek. Shortly after starting down the canyon, we passed an overhanging rock and I thought, "I wonder if there is anything under there?" This is the answer to that question.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Not a Dragonfly?

While wandering around Devil Creek I noticed this large (probably around two inches long) insect. While watching it I figured it was a type of dragonfly since it kind of had that look. You can also see that it had captured another insect and was eating it (something that dragonflies do).

However, once I got home and was trying to figure out what kind of dragonfly it might be, I noticed that its wings were folded behind its back. It is my understanding that all dragonflies rest with their wings out to the side.

Does anybody have an idea as to what kind of insect this might be?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Devil Creek

After visiting Alaska, we went down to Idaho for a short family reunion. It was quite an ecosystem change, though we managed to have a decent amount of rain while we were there too.

My dad took my brother and I to one of his old stomping grounds. He hadn't been there in 40 years though and a lot of the places he used to go don't exactly have well maintained roads. If you imagine sagebrush to the horizon and two shallow ruts through it (in parallel so you knew they probably weren't just cow trails) you wouldn't be far off. And that was when we were on even that much of a road. We did (just) make it though.

It was fun getting to see more of that country, and definitely not a place that an outsider like me would have been likely to find on my own. I enjoy exploring different landscapes: Seeing new plants and animals; imagining different stories on the land.

Up the creek a ways there were some shallow caves in a side draw. We wondered if it might have been a spot that had been used historically by Native Americans. I didn't see a lot of evidence of that, though there were some small obsidian fragments in a couple of places below the draw that made me wonder.

In the first cave I looked at I noticed a bunch of woodrat tracks and scat in the dirt. I also noticed that there were some dry sticks and vegetation sticking out from a ledge at the top of the cave. When I stuck my head up there a woodrat popped out! It didn't give me much time to get a look - it just jumped down and scurried back into a whole deeper in the cave. I think that was the first time I've ever seen one alive.

On the way out of the draw we saw this lizard - I believe a western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis). It was fun to slowly move up towards it taking closer and closer pictures until I had it more than full frame in the camera.

As we started back we noticed a smallish rain cloud on the horizon moving somewhat in our direction. By the time we got back to the truck it had begun to rain fairly heavily and the rain clouds at spread out about as far as we could see as we were driving out. It was fortunate we had 4wd because the ruts in the road quickly became little creeks and the soil turned to slick mud.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tiny Rugged Mountains

The choice of locations for the survey I was helping out with was based on geology. There wasn't time/money to survey the whole wilderness area so places with different rock types were chosen. This location was chosen for its carbonate (limestone/marble sorts of rock).

The rock there seems to wear away relatively easily. There were vertical channels worn into the face of the rock, presumably warn down over the years by water runoff. There were also deep narrow crevices here and there which made walking on the snow above it interesting - wondering if there might be a crevasse beneath your feet.

Much of the rock was quite smooth, but there were also many places where little jagged peaks would form, looking much like miniature mountain ranges. These were fun to see, but could be a little painful when climbing up the slope. I'm not sure why these mountains formed when the rock around them was so smooth. One theory I have is that there are mineral imperfections and the mountains are formed when a harder rock underlies the carbonate.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


While visiting Alaska the past couple of weeks I had the good fortune to help a friend out with some survey work in the wilderness area on Chichagof. We saw quite a few cool things and the weather was even pretty nice a few hours out of the days we were there.

Probably my favorite experience of the trip was seeing this fawn. I don't recall having ever seen a fawn in the wild like this - still spotted and everything. We were just walking along through the woods when Kitty stumbled and exclaimed "Oh!" Apparently not having seen the fawn until she had almost literally stumbled upon it. It was quite well camouflaged and still. It laid there until just after I took this picture from a couple feet away. Then it wobbily got up and galloped off. Hopefully not so far that it got separated from its mother. I think that they use at least some vocal communication to find each other.

I think the fawns in Washington must have been born quite a bit earlier than this one, but the season was quite a bit later in this location. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground in places at around 1000 foot elevation and much of the vegetation was still maturing.