Masthead: Kaweah Range

Continued from:
Volunteer's Luck

Pete Clum

The next morning I again passed through Junction Meadow on my way to a nearby lake for the day. Enjoying the cold morning air and bright sun which had just cleared the peaks, I was brought to a full adrenaline alert by a loud and very close telltale buzz. I looked down and within inches of my right foot was a sizeable rattlesnake whose sunbath I obviously had disturbed. It is absolutely amazing how far a person can jump from a standing start. Like me, the snake was just enjoying the first warmth of the early morning sun. A ranger later told me he knew of only 2 snake bites in 30 years within Sequoia Kings Parks.

Blue Grouse hen.
Photo: © Benjamin R. Miller

Upon returning from the creek crossing, I suddenly heard a hissing type noise and looked in its direction just in time to see a female grouse spring in the air. She flew directly at my head. I raised my hiking sticks several times as she continued to fly at my head. As I hastily left the area, she walked after me for seventy-five feet or so, apparently to make sure I was leaving the area.

Although I didn't see it, I assume there was a nest nearby. Later in the Spring, the Blue Grouse can often be seen pecking around small open areas – their chicks never more than a few feet away. When surprised, she'll still explode out of the grass enough to startle – and distract – a possible predator, but will no longer attack an intruder.

The next day, I met up with one of the backcountry rangers to hike to some lakes. Just as we reached the upper lake (10,000 feet) we observed a bald eagle taking off from a tree.

That was all 5 years ago and I've been coming back each year since just to recapture such perfect days again.

Further Reading
Bear Photos and behavior description of bears by photographers Benjamin and Cheryl Miller, including a deer carcass bears had fed on.
California Fish and Game: Blue Grouse

 



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Hydromantes platycephalus


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Masthead Photo from:
Kaweahs From Trailcrest, Kings Canyon National Park
© 2009, Howard Weamer