Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Ernie became a popular attraction along the Greenbelt. For two years, he lived among the cattle.
Last fall, he returned to the foothills, where a hunter allegedly shot him. This set off a fury of letters and controversy in the Idaho Statesman.
Tonight, as I jogged along the Greenbelt, I thought I saw a ghost. A very large bull elk suddenly bolted into cover as I ran.
Has Ernie returned? Has another bull elk taken his place? Was this just a random elk passing through?
Of course, we'll never know for sure. Perhaps more important than the individual elk, though, is the fact that we live in a state where such wildlife sightings are still possible.
Running along the Greenbelt in Idaho's largest city, I've seen river otters and beavers and long-tailed weasels and mule deer. Herds of pronghorn and elk roam the foothills.
Farther afield, there are bighorns and grizzlies, even caribou.
You never know what you might see when you go out for a hike or jog.
It's one of the important reasons why we live here. But as more people call Idaho home, we have to find a way to conserve wildlife habitat, so that future generations can still marvel at bull elk on their jogs.
As for "Ernie"? I won't reveal exactly where I saw him, for reasons that should be obvious. But if you're along the Greenbelt this weekend, look carefully. There's a bull elk out there. --Matt Miller
Monday, June 28, 2010
And then, around this time of year, they disappear.
Where do ground squirrels go?
Thursday, June 24, 2010
During the day, the common nighthawk blends in on the ground or tree branches where it rests. Come evening, these interesting birds put on one of the best aerial displays around.
For some reason, I think they look a bit like boomerangs as they glide over rivers, ponds, city parks and even downtowns.
As they fly, they gobble up mosquitoes, caddis flies and other insects.
Common nighthawks spend the summer in Idaho before migrating to South America for the winter. They are common and adaptable birds, but even they depend on a wide range of protected habitat on a migration stretching over two continents.
At dusk, they're quite easy to spot overhead, and even easier to hear. Their nasal peent carries well. (Listen).
We've all experienced those sounds or songs that transport us back to another time in our lives. For me, every time I hear the call of the nighthawk, I travel back to Penn State, where I worked for several years as a writer and editor at the performing arts center.
It's a muggy Pennsylvania summer evening: I'm tired after a day of deadlines and copy editing. Something stops me as I walk across the now quiet and deserted campus. There: overhead, nighthawks circle around Old Main, catching moths and other insects drawn to the lights.
Those pressing deadlines and publications and edits will wait, and in the last evening light there are only those birds, and their calls. Peent, peent. -- Matt Miller
Photo by Gavin Keefe Schaefer under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Monday, June 21, 2010
This year, USGS biologists, with assistance from the Idaho Department of Fish & Game and Conservancy interns and volunteers, are electro-shocking sections of the creek to conduct their survey. Electro-shocking sends an electric current through the water which stuns any nearby fish. Volunteers net the fish, which are then delivered to live wells.
Fish species are recorded, and each fish is then weighed and measured, before being carefully released back to the stream. Anglers and conservationists are always very interested to know the ratio of rainbow trout to brown trout. There has been some evidence that brown trout, a Eurasian species, have slowly been taking over as the dominant species.
During Monday's electro-shocking, biologists were surprised at the large number of healthy rainbow trout. But it's far too early to guess what the monitoring studies will find.Trout aren't the only focus of this study; biologists also record the presence of dace, sculpin and the other small fish species that often escape notice. USGS biologists are also recording large invertebrates as part of the monitoring survey.
These smaller species are an integral part of the Silver Creek ecosystem--and serve as indicators as far as water quality and the overall health of the creek.
The electro-shocking will continue through July. In early autumn, the Conservancy will receive the results of this year's monitoring. We'll post the information here, so check back for the most current information on Silver Creek's fish.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Ken Miracle photographed the avocet (above) and northern shoveler (below) last weekend.
Monday, June 14, 2010
This spring weather has really given us a run for our money at Silver Creek. The usual pale morning dun (PMD) hatches are happening--- but throughout the day and seemingly at random. I saw an enormous PMD hatch (size 16-18) on upper Silver Creek (upstream of the visitor center) around five o’clock last night.
Other reports have the hatch happening around 10:30 or 11:00 am.
Baetis (size 20-22) appear throughout the day.
The word at the visitor center is that the brown drakes started last night. There was a thick hatch at the Picabo bridge about 10:30 p.m. and there were a few sparse flies near point of rocks.
I met up with the US Geologic Survey today, who just happened to be doing macroinvertebrate surveys at the the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's willows access and they said the creek was loaded with brown drakes.
I suppose that may be considered inside information, but when it comes to the brown drakes—take what you can get. Tonight may be the night!!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
But the hatch is also notoriously hard to predict.
The past two years, I found myself at Silver Creek during the first week of June. Both times, I held high hopes of once again experiencing the brown drake hatch. And both years, I missed it.
As of today, the drakes haven't started yet. Maybe tonight? Or next week? It wouldn't hurt to check. Admittedly, you're likely to spend your evening not fishing, but waiting for brown drake. Still, there are worse ways to spend an evening.
Friday, June 04, 2010
This photo was taken on a property, Boundary Creek, owned by Forest Capital Partners, a private forest management company. Bears and other wildlife use this property to move from the Selkirk to the Cabinet-Yaak mountains.
The Nature Conservancy very excited to announce that this property will be protected--for bears and for the rural community--by a conservation easement. The forest will continue to be logged, with conservation measures in place to ensure the bears are not disturbed when they're in the area.
This property is a spectacular place, a place where the wild things still roam, and where the rural economy is still sustained by the forest. This conservation easement ensures it stays that way.
Learn more about the conservation easement.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
This is opening week at Silver Creek Preserve!
We have had some spring weather which makes fishing challenging because of the wind, rain, overcast skies, and generally poor visibility.
It has been quite cold, but many spring hatches happen with warming temperatures throughout the day. This week we have seen a light pale morning dun hatch around 10:30 a.m. or later (size 14 and 18), when it starts to warm up.
With overcast skies, you can count on baetis, also known as blue-winged olives (size 22 or so) throughout the day. There is a super small tan midge all day long and pheasant tail nymphs are also bringing in fish.
Stories of large rainbows and browns caught on woolly buggers (brown and black) are making their way upstream from the Purdy’s RR Ranch. On the preserve, woolly buggers are also sure to generate some action and are a good back up if it appears there is no hatch activity.
Angler traffic has been steady on the preserve but quiets down around 4 pm. Word is out that brown drakes will be coming in 2-5 days…! But you know how that goes...
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
A large crowd hung around the visitor center, enjoying hot dogs and hamburgers, telling fish stories and learning a bit more about the Silver Creek enhancement plan. After the quiet spring days, it's always nice to have so many friendly faces back on the preserve.
Free natural history walks are offered every Saturday, all summer long, from 9:30-11:00.
The visitor center is open daily from 8:30- 1:30 through October 31. Stop by and say hi!
We always welcome volunteers, for the day or week or hour. Please call 208-788-7910 for the latest opportunities. This year we especially need volunteers in June for fish monitoring.