Thursday, October 15, 2009

Road Trip!

Western Bluebird, From wikipedia
Today, I had the serendipitous good fortune to get out of my office and out of Garberville. I had a service call to New Harris. I always look forward to a trip out the Harris ridge anytime that the sun is shining. Actually, I enjoy a trip out the Harris Ridge anytime at all. I always seem to see something interesting.

Today as I drove out the ridge I watched the cattle along the road. They looked a little on the poor and hungry side. The grass this time of the year has few nutrients. It's dried out, and most of the seed has dropped long ago. The rain washes the sugars out of it, and there is not much food value left. Eating the grass only keeps the cattle busy with something to do until the fresh green grass of winter comes back. I looked for green grass, and sure enough, this short rain storm that we had the first part of this week has already sprouted the seed. I didn't notice any of the cattle trying to get to it, I guess that it is still too short. But, I felt good about the promise of good food for the poor cows that will soon be mamas.

I noticed the spot where the grass fire was this Fall, It has young grass sprouts all through it. The fresh smell after the rain was intermingled the damp smoky smell that is in the air after a grass fire. Two of my favorite odors. The yin and yang, the fresh and the dank

I was pleasantly surprised to see numerous Western Bluebirds. They would fly up into the bare oak snag trees, and then back to the ground. As I drove along I saw many Blue Birds make the trip to the ground and back. I don't have a clue what they were doing, but I assume the were finding things to eat. I was glad to see so many. I worry about them, because other birds rob or kick then out of their nests. I've heard that they have been driven out of some places. I would miss them greatly if they were gone. They are the sweetest of the sweet birds.

I saw a few Redhead Woodpeckers. The woodpeckers seem to rather use power poles for nests nowadays, rather than their traditional Fir snag. They are one of the showiest birds that we have here on the coast. They are brightly colored, and they are as pugnacious as the are beautiful. We used to feed the birds off our deck railing until we got tired of the coons 'possums and squirrels fighting all night and day and night for their UN-fair share. The Woodpeckers always cleared out the other birds as soon as they appeared. No other bird wanted to challenge them, not even the Blue Jays who are normally the rulers of the roost.

I drove through the wooded grove at the top of the ridge. Just before starting down the other side, I saw a couple of half grown pigs rooting under the oak trees. They were in good shape. They must be finding plenty of feed. I was ashamed of myself for thinking how tasty they might be.

One my way back, I watched a small buck with about four inch long spike horns trying to charm and herd two small yearling does. I stopped my truck and watched him for a while. There is nothing more sad than young unrequited love. I felt a little bad about laughing at him, but he was so comically full of himself that I just had to laugh.

As I watched the deer, I was thinking how well Mother Nature has been rewarding me lately. I've seen a few unusual sightings this week. About ten o-clock Saturday I saw a Ringtail Cat run across the road just south of the Machine shop in Redway. You would have to know what you were looking at to recognize one, they are very nocturnal. I have no idea what it was doing out in daylight, but it was running like it was panicked.

As I crested the ridge again, there was one large Raven perched on the top of a rock on the top of the hill. I expected him to fly away as I approached, but he just sat there with his feathers ruffled staring at the sunset. I was reminded that the raven is my Totem bird, and the derivation of my name. “Bran” in Branscomb stands for “Raven”. I wondered if he was enjoying the day and the setting sun as much as I was.

Some days just go better than others!


kymk said...

Ernie, in our family we call a day like you had, a Three Bobcat day. We call it that in honor of the magical 12 hour period in which, in three different spots, we saw three different bobcats--one incredibly large handsome one stared at us with a sneer for several minutes. We've never forgotten it. I've gone years without seeing even one bobcat--three in one day seemed beyond auspicious to being the reason for existing altogether.

You took me with on your Three Bobcat day and I'm smiling as I turn off the computer.


Anonymous said...

I wish more things like this were read by more people in the Eureka/ Arcata.
(I live in Trinidad)
This one blog was full of information and great descriptions reminding one how beautiful this part of the world is.

Nice job.

Dave said...

As usual, a good read Ernie.

I like Kymk's comparison of a Three Bobcat day to your day.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I always seem to take a little longer than most people to watch the animals. Like Kym, I notice the difference in their characteristics and personalities. I know exactly what she means about a “three Bobcat day”. One of my greatest pleasures is to just watch the critters go about their lives. I find great humor and seriousness in their antics.

Ekovox said...

I saw a giant ground sloth the other day out in the woods. Are they native to the area? Or, could I have seen something else? It looked like it had a zipper up it's back, but I could be wrong.

Ernie Branscomb said...

If you saw a Giant Ground Sloth down here, it has to be that dratted Bigfoot down here sneaking around in our "Gourmet Beautique Gardens". He thinks that he is fooling the growers, but the zipper is the dead givaway. He can only fit in the GIANT Sloth outfit. Bigfoot is not too smart, so they let him steal the male plants. He smokes them, and he is just as happy as if he had the real stuff.

Thanks for the tip though, I'll spread the word that he is back... again

Ben said...

One of my most memorable days was spent on that ridge watching hundreds of Bluebirds in the oaks. I had never seen such a thing and felt really fortunate.
I was up there today and didn't even look. The Yolla Bollys were beautiful to the east and we had a great drive, but didn't see the Bluebirds. Dang!

Dave Kirby said...

I am lucky enough to live on the east edge of the Bear Butte ranch. The other day I watched a Pileated Woodpecker do it's thing on a Fir snag. They are impressive birds. Not to mention the original model for Woody Woodpecker. It wont be long before the Bandtail Pigeons will be flying in at twilight to roost in the big Madrones. Living in a Redwood forest the bird population is fairly limited. Juncos, Rufous Sided Tohwees, Varied Thrush, Hummingbirds and the noisy Jays are most common. I noticed on the way to town the Toyon (Christmas Berries) are starting to fruit. With this early rain should be a good show this year.