What to Do


     Recently there was quite a discussion on a birder's list about introduced vegetation species. There was a consensus that it would be better if such species were not planted in the first place but much less agreement about what should be done now. Except for the very aggressive types of growth, many feel some species, though introduced to begin with, are now so entrenched and depended on by wildlife they should be left, albeit controlled. Others do not.
    That of course, is a very brief summary of many varied and, I thought, very thoughtful and intelligent comments on a complex subject. One thing does stand out, however. Bias! Not unreasoning prejudice, but a natural tendency to see things as it pertains to our own interests. And that brings to my mind several thoughts. The foremost of these is that matters of much greater concern have even less agreement and more bias involved in them. The overall health of planet earth is such a matter. I don't think anyone is unaware there are problems. Yet, there are no real, meaningful answers coming forth as to what, if anything, needs to be done to insure the livabilty of the earth for future generations. It's as if those with the power to do anything are so blinded by their own bias, or perhaps just plain self-interest, they can't see the situation. But what about those without much individual power? They can and do support organizations that attempt to cause some changes, some through political means others by more direct means. In the first instance I think of the Sierra Club, in the other conservancy and land trusts. But most if not all of these have their own bias, and even without would be able to impact only a limited part of the problems affecting the earth.
    I could at this point draw some conclusions and present them for consideration. I won't. What I will do is encourage anyone reading this to think deeply about what I've said and then answer for themselves these three questions: Will the problems go away or somehow resolve themselves if nothing is done? If not, is there any person, group or organization, any entity at all, unbiased and with the will and the power to sort it out? Or should we all become Ostriches?
Washington Ground Squirrels

Washington Ground Squirrels


     A female Washington Ground Squirrel and one of her five young. A pretty strong rate of reproduction and yet this animal is a candidate for the endangered species list. Though once abundant through out the dry sagelands of the northwest it is now found in only a few scattered areas there. From the viewpoint of many who have to deal with them in their fields and such, fewer is better. To others they are sign of something bigger than their own existance and should be saved even at great cost.
    As I've said before, I wouldn't want to live with dinosaurs. But can we really just run rampant over any species that gets in our way without doing irreparable harm to ourselves as well?
Eastern Fox Squirrel

Eastern Fox Squirrel


     In my youth I was aware of two tree squirrels, the Eastern Gray and the Pine Squirrels. Later I became aware of the Western Gray and the Red Squirrels. The Pine Squirrel was abundant in southern Washington where I spent my early teens and the Eastern Gray was all over Ohio where I lived for a few years prior to that. The Western Gray and the Red Squirrels are native to Washington but the Western Gray was already becoming hard to find even then and the Red Squirrel lived a little farther east. So I didn't really come to know of them until just a few years ago.
    But I thought I had it covered until recently I took a picture of one of these in a park in eastern Washington. Come to find out that it is also, like the Eastern Gray an immigrant to the northwest. It's called an Eastern Fox Squirrel. Now I don't know if they had the proper paperwork or If they just stowed away on a passing truck. I'm pretty sure, though, we aren't going to send them and all their descendants back. So when I see them, I'll just watch their antics and enjoy them like I do all the other critters, whenever and wherever I find them.
Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot


     This female Yellow-bellied Marmot obviously owns this rockpile. As I casually strolled around it pointing this long, 6'' round object at her, she just layed there and watched me. When finally I did get too close she got up and actually came down the rocks toward me. Near the bottom she stood up on her hind feet and looked at me much like a grizzly bear might do and then slipped into a hole that I think may have been her den. From her appearance I would guess she had young within that were still nursing.
    When a wild thing has young it's amazing how much more into their space they will allow someone. Apparently, only if they feel really threatened will they take off and leave the young behind. If the threat lingers, they may abandon the young permantly. Because of this it's very important to move slowly and back off at the first sign of any stress.
Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk


     Bird on a stick! A phrase well known to photographers. It is much more desirable to have some natural habitat, such as a tree or brush or even a rock as a perch. But I've been trying for three years to just get a clear sharp photo of one of these and the only place I have ever seen one sitting is on a telephone pole. I'm beginning to believe that is its 'natural' environment.
Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk


     Here's another one. I had a shot of this bird in flight on a previous page but to go along with the 'bird on a stick' theme, we'll give it double exposure. As for the 'stick', another power/telephone pole, it's the only thing there higher than the sagebrush.
    Each winter I take at least one trip east of the Cascade range looking mostly for raptors. This year I was a little closer to spring and saw fewer birds but they seemed a little bit less skittish than before. Might be they are a little better fed and consequently more sluggish or, maybe they are just getting used to those strange creatures watching them with that big detachable eye.
Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk


     My third entry in this category is this Ferruginous hawk on a fencepost. The really neat thing about this picture is that I have a picture. This is the only time I have gotten to see this species and to have the picture and be sure is really great. After pulling the camera and tripod out of the camper and setting it up in the ditch, I only got four quick clicks of the shutter before he was gone. This was the only usable shot.
    What usually happens, or at least it seems to me, is the bird flys just before you are able to take a picture and you spend the next several years looking for another opportunity. Also, if the look you got wasn't a real good one, you start to wonder and even doubt if what you saw was what you thought you saw at all.
    So, on a stick it may be but it is a Ferruginous hawk and here is the proof it was what I thought I was.
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