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.
The bobcat is the mascot of Ohio University, my alma mater. Perhaps seeking a kindred spirit, one has been visiting the yard here in California. I doubt it has ever seen Ohio, much less heard of it. With these hot and dry summer days, the yard has had a lot more birds, raccoons, opossums and now a bobcat. These photos were made through windows. Big kitty didn’t seem to mind the attention.
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!
It’s migration season for many four-footed and winged critters. Birds are looking for new homes in warmer climates, just passing through Salmon, Idaho, for a meal. Several bird guides say this is a black-capped chickadee. Other animals follow the food. Neighbors have been setting out feed for the deer that stick around their yards. They are likely to be permanent residents, especially the fawns that were born there earlier this year. They know they have a good thing here.
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.
Yeah, yeah, winter is coming. A week of summer is remaining and the first snow has fallen here in Lemhi County, Idaho. Within a week’s time we’ve gone from shorts and T-shirts to jackets and boots, and A/C to heater. Windshield scrapers will be replacing the fidget spinners that have been marked down several times in search of an impulse buy at the checkout counter of the hardware store. Let’s slow things down a bit. The leaves have yet to turn color. Winter, please be patient.
“Paint Your Wagon” is one of our favorite movies. I can hardly wait until the gold prospectors, all hunkered down in the storm, start singing with beautiful harmonies:
The rain is Tess,
The fire’s Joe
And they call the wind Maria
What do we call the smoke? It’s left out of the brilliant song by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe. We can’t call it Karl, which is reserved for San Francisco’s famous fog. Hurricanes and tropical storms get their own names. More than half of the country is affected by thick smoke from western fires that are burning hundreds of thousands of acres. And we’re the lucky ones. We’re didn’t have to evacuate our homes as the flames raced through the forested mountains of Montana, Idaho, Oregon, British Columbia and the rest of the West. We just have to deal with smoky air and fine ash covering everything, as if the forests are redistributing themselves.
If you have any influence, please send Tess. Lots and lots of Tess.
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.