Thursday, June 21, 2012

Elk, cranes, curlews, owls and more!

This summer we'll be featuring posts from James Freeman, our summer intern at The Nature Conservancy's Flat Ranch Preserve, near Yellowstone National Park: 

Photos by Chris Little: (Top)  Stephens Creek on the far reaches of Flat Ranch Preserve ; (Bottom)  Luna, the unofficial Flat Ranch mutt

Hello again everyone,
With a great first week under my belt, I feel like a modern-day Gilman Sawtelle (fact: a peak near the Flat Ranch is named after Sawtelle, an early settler of Island Park.). This week has been full of projects that have kept the whole team busy in preparation for turning out the cattle on June 16. Even Luna, our Flat Ranch dog, is realizing the importance of the day as she now spends less time barking at me or sniffing my leg and more time eating grass in the field to remind us of the oncoming cattle.
One of the larger projects of the week was to build new braces for the northernmost portion of property. Tobe, Chris and I spent a majority of the day digging, sawing, and lifting heavy wooden poles to create a H-brace that will eventually support a whole new fence line. Chris seemed to know every detail there is to know about fence building – probably something he picked up from his childhood in the metropolis of Washington, DC. Even though the current fence lies in decay beside it, the new brace is a visual testament to the great things the Ranch will be doing this summer.
Other projects included building a new entrance gate that will hopefully catch peoples’ attention as they typically zoom by the Ranch at 70 miles per hour or drive aimlessly in the grass while attempting to find the dirt driveway. Ruth and Tobe were the masterminds behind this; if you happen to visit I encourage you to burst in the door and immediately compliment the added appeal of the gate – it’ll make their day.
We’ve also had our fair share of animal visitors this week. A trio of elk has returned for the third day to munch on the grass by the river, a great indication of the Ranch’s importance to resident and migration wildlife. Sandhill cranes and long-billed curlews are also staples on the ranch as they nest during the spring. However, I will share with you - the tempestuous curlew quickly alerts you when you are riding too close to their nest and chicks, as I found out... I was even lucky enough to have a stare down with a cow moose while fishing the Outlet. Even better news, we’ve seen two owls on the property, later identified as short-eared owls- a rare sight no matter where you are.
Thanks for checking in; more to come soon.

No comments: