Ever since moving to Idaho, I’ve kept my eyes open for a moose. Seeing a moose in its habitat has been on my long wish list of Idaho experiences. I never expected that one might come looking for me. This morning I looked across the pasture to the trees that border the Lemhi River. What was that big critter? Too big for a cow. Not the right shape for a horse. Too tall for a bear. It turned its large head to stare back toward the house. Yup, a moose. They are not known to frequent this area southeast of Salmon. It stayed motionless for perhaps 20 minutes — enough time for me to grab my trusty ol’ Nikon already equipped with a 300mm lens and teleconverter. I remained at a respectful, nonthreatening distance from my side of the pasture’s fence. It moved on and perhaps will surprise a neighbor. Much obliged, moose.
Jared Barker separates the "target" fish from Lemhi River residents .(© 2018 Cindi Christie/Cyanpixel)
The sight of a bull trout captured in a rotary screw fish trap was cause for excitement as Jared Barker emptied the trap box. It was the largest he said he had seen. Bull trout, chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout are the “target” fish in a study of juvenile fish migrating from the Lemhi River.
Moments later, Barker and partner Mike Hall, both lead technicians for Quantitative Consultants, checked to see if the fish had been previously tagged. If so, it had been caught before and would be in a database of individual fish. Or, it had swallowed a fish that had been tagged.
“It’s like catching fish in a barrel,” Hall joked.
Biologists and technicians identify, tag, weigh and measure the target fish and then release them upstream to be captured again in the large rotary trap, or downstream if already tagged. That helps estimate the number of out-migrating fish. Biologists and technicians identify, tag, weigh and measure the target fish and then release them upstream to be captured again in the large rotary trap, or downstream if already tagged. That helps estimate the number of out-migrating fish.
Native fish that live in the river year-round also are counted, measured and weighed before being set free downstream. Even sculpin, the bottom of the food chain, are important. Once let go, the bull trout stayed near the trap — perhaps in hopes of an easy meal or two.
Quantitative Consultants is under contract from the Bonneville Power Administration to monitor the population of migrating Chinook salmon and steelhead trout to “offset” the number of these fish that die in BPA’s hydropower systems. The project also is in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
While most are passing through, those that are repeat visitors can become familiar faces (or fins) and have been given nicknames. Each tagged fish with Passive Integrated Transponder tag that passes over an antenna throughout the watershed is monitored. fish logged can be tracked at Columbia Basin PIT Tag Information System (PTAGIS), a public database.
They study the “relationship between stream habitat and anadromous salmonid populations in the Columbia River basin,” according to their 2017 annual report to landowners along the Lemhi River and tributaries who have granted access through their private property.
This greenhorn tagged along as cattle were moved from the Doubletree Ranch in Salmon, Idaho, to BLM grazing land in May 2018. The ranch in Lemhi County has been in the Clark and French families for several generations. Riders on horseback and ATV, some accompanied by their working dogs, herded the cows and calves across Highway 28 and up into the mountains. Cattle and watering troughs on the BLM grazing land will be checked daily. Consider this a work in progress. After all, roundup season is ahead.
Each year I challenge myself to create a photo book, which is printed in very limited numbers. Here’s a PDF of this year’s edition, the 11th in the series. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate while waiting for the ebook to appear. Happy New Year!
The weather app reported that it was 28 degrees this morning here in Salmon, Idaho. As the sun cleared the mountains, it was time to quickly grab a camera and photograph the frosty landscape while it lasted.
The Norwegians say that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Having grown up in Minnesota, I am very familiar with being prepared for the change in seasons. We’d take one weekend and swap out our summer wardrobes for clothing more suitable for fall and winter. Then we’d sweat through that final heat wave with shorts and T-shirts out of easy reach until springtime. Warmer weather is forecast.
Paying homage to Doctor Dolittle, I nicknamed these twin fawns Pushmi-Pullyu. Mama was barely a leap and bound away from the pair, which had just nursed. They are regular visitors to the pasture and it has been fun to watch them grow. This photo was made with a 300mm lens and 1.7 converter for the equivalent of 510mm. They are very tiny in the original, uncropped frame.
This tiny bird came to rest on the back deck. It appeared a bit stunned but not with an obvious injury. Maybe it had just left the nest and was making plans for its next adventure. No matter how it came to rest just outside the sliding glass door, I knew that golden retriever Freyja would love to give it a ride in her mouth — especially on the way to her stomach. It didn’t chirp or flutter as I scooped it up and placed it out of harm’s way, but fortunately within range of my camera’s long lens. I am happy to report that it took wing shortly after its modeling session.
Members of the Idaho Birding group on Facebook didn’t agree at first on what kind of bird it is, but orange-crowned warbler(Oreothlypis celata) got most of the votes. I appreciate that they so readily shared their knowledge and pointed me to some identification tools to use in the future. There are some really fantastic bird photographers in these parts. In my old caption-writing days, given the chance of being incorrect and having to answer phone calls or be the subject of letters to the editor, I would just call it a young bird. What I do know for sure is it didn’t become Freyja’s midday snack.
We got a taste of the Old West recently when driving southbound on Highway 28 near Challis, Idaho. The cattle passed within inches of the pickup, mooing and bellowing as they made their way to new grazing land. The cowboy at the rear thanked us for our patience. Seeing this spectacle was our pleasure.