We’re spending a few days on the Olympic Peninsula, and Kristi and I decided to spend the morning at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park while her mom watched the kids back in Port Angeles. We got up early, and enjoyed a great many mammal sightings (and a few birds).
This mamma bear and a tiny cub were foraging on a nearby hillside. We watched from the car for a few minutes. They were chowing down on some low-growing plants and flowers. Kristi tentatively identified their favorite snack here as Martindale’s lomatium (can anyone confirm this?).
They were too cute. Mid-July is the season of mammas and babies at Hurricane Ridge. We saw pairs of mamma and baby bears, deer, grouse, ravens, and juncos.
This Olympic Marmot surveyed his domain from the entrance to his burrow. We saw some severed marmot feet on the trail, so some carnivores are using these guys as a food source.
Deer were abundant and very tame. We saw several dozen without even trying. It’s obvious that the big predators (like wolves) that used to cull some of these deer are missing from the park.
Olympic Chipmunks were always scurrying around, looking for handouts.
My target bird species for the morning was Sooty Grouse, one of the larger grouse species in North America. This bird used to be part of the Blue Grouse, which was split a few years ago into Sooty (western Washington) and Dusky (eastern Washington) Grouse. We saw a mamma grouse and two fluffy chicks around milepost 5, and another set of mamma and chicks around milepost 12 on the main road. Despite some good viewing through binoculars, the low light made photos difficult. All in all, it was a good day.
Later on this week I’m leaving for southern California and southeastern Arizona. More then!