Guffey Mesa

The Snake River landscape seems totally different from a week ago. Yesterday we had a long, soaking rain that brought legions of worms to the surface. Temperatures have been a little warmer, and swarms of bugs have appeared. The week before last we saw mostly seagulls on the river, but now there are ducks everywhere, whistling through the air and raising cacophonies on the water.

Hollow Boulder

We scale the mesa to the cries of prairie falcons. We’re in the Snake river birds of prey national conservation area, which helps make this one of a few remaining prime nesting areas for prairie falcons. High above us large raptors are soaring, but they’re too far for me to distinguish between vulture, eagle, or osprey.

Snake River

At the top of the mesa we enter the habitat of the Piute ground squirrel, the favorite prey of prairie falcons. We see lots of holes, but no squirrels. It looks like there was a fire here in recent years, which can affect squirrel populations, and recent warm winters have changed their breeding behavior, but I’m guessing they’re smart enough to stay indoors while all the birds are out hunting. It makes the mesa seem eerily calm after the bird party in the canyon.

Ann and Sandy

Looping back to the bridge, we return to celebration park for a nice picnic with Ann’s parents just as a little rain starts to sprinkle.

6 responses to “Guffey Mesa”

  1. Looks like a fun hike! It’s really cool that you are starting to add in some information about the area. Though, the scientist in me is cringing on your use of linked footnotes here. 🙂 Why did you use all (1)s?

  2. Ha – the 1 link is a behavior picked up from old school hacker mailing lists, where related URLs would distract from the message and probably wouldn’t be real hyperlinks for everyone reading. So you’d number your references [1], [2], and list the URLs at the bottom. So I did the same thing lazily here – both links are the same URL, so both 1, but since I have real hyperlinks I don’t need to list them at the end.

    Basically I just want to keep track of good materials I find about places without making the post painful for others to read. Scientists included! Maybe I’ll just stick with standard linked text – better?

  3. My original comment was “Dang, that hound seems game for the hikes. Neat areas.. looks a lot like eastern Oregon.”

    But then after reading your response (2) I… well, again, better just leave it be.

  4. Perfect – now I know that (2) is the funniest number!

    Sandy has been totally game – now I don’t underestimate the doodle…

  5. On another subject…regarding identifying flying raptors at a distance, it’s not hard to distinguish some by their flight habits, especially a vulture which soars in a dihedral, kind of tipping back and forth…the bald eagles around here have a long narrow wingspan and tend to fly with a steady flap of wings and not so much riding the thermals….ospreys are smaller and you might see them diving-bombing for fish (eagles fish but swoop down and catch them in their talons). The raptors I have a hard time identifying at a distance are the hawks.

  6. It seems like about half the time I successfully ID a hawk out here it’s a Red-tailed hawk. Usually I get a combination of shape, underside color, and a glimpse of the top of the tail to confirm. Otherwise I just need to keep watching it and make note of behaviors. We watched a hawk hunt at the back yard feeder here a while back. I guessed from the coloring that it was a Sharp-shinned hawk, and then read that they are known for stalking feeders.

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