Wild Wednesday …Osprey Update


osprey

One of the remaining osprey keeps watch from a nearby oak tree.

The surviving ospreys have seemed to rally this week after the helicopter incident I blogged about last week, Wild Wednesday … A Death In The Family. For most of the week only one young osprey was in the nest. It occasionally left, but would return later. It sat in the nest calling for food.

osprey

The young osprey waits.

After a few days, I saw the second young bird return. Then both called.

osprey, fishing, fish hawk

The other young osprey awkwardly comes in for a landing.

osprey

Waiting patiently for breakfast.

Eventually, I saw the parent osprey. She came in with a fish for the young birds, but didn’t give it to them. She flew to the edge of the tower and started calling the fledglings. When the youngster moved toward her, she lifted off and flew up river. She was training her young fish hawks.

osprey, fishing

She brings in a fish for teasing her youngsters into following her. Her behavior has inspired my confidence in their future success.

After examining the photos I took of the dead osprey, I’m pretty sure it was the male bird that was struck by the helicopter blade. Now, mother osprey soldiers on. No news yet on the Fish and Wildlife warden’s investigation.

Forestry Friday … “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”


Trinity County, wildfire, smokeIt’s August in California, with our typical forecast for this time of year, “sunny with 100% chance of SMOKE!” Large forest fires are burning up and down the state. The smoke is inescapable.

smoke, smoky, air quality

I was in the Northern Sierra near Stirling City earlier in the week. Smoky there too.

Air quality is often terrible this time of year due to the wildfires. Lighting, drought, denser forests and changing fire fighting tactics have created conditions that foster massive wildfires. Resistance to harvesting timber on our federal forests has made it difficult to thin the National Forests. Thinning forests to reduce fuels isn’t being accomplished at the level that is needed. That in turn has caused the Forest Service to adopt a “manage the fire” approach to fire fighting. These fires burn at such higher intensity that the fire crews are forced to back way off in order to keep safe. Direct attack is nearly impossible. This makes the fires grow even bigger.

drought, wildfire, Trinity Lake

Drought is making our immediate problem much worse. Trinity Lake is somewhere back there.

Thinning these forests over large tracts of land would solve several problems. It reduces the amount of fuel that feeds these huge fires. It lowers the burn intensity of the fires making them easier to fight. Fewer trees on the landscape increases the ground and surface water by reducing demand on the water table. God knows we need more water in California. Trees have less competitive stress, which reduces tree mortality from drought and insect attack. With fewer weakened trees dying there is less dry, heavy fuel created in the form of snags and downed logs.

snag, forestry, wildfire

That snag is a lightening rod just waiting for a bolt.

In many ways were are loving these forests to death. The forests are set up to burn because we don’t want to manage them. Too many people don’t want any trees cut down. The conventional wisdom that “leaving the forest untouched” creates a healthy ecosystem is wrong. Would you not weed your garden? We are the stewards of these forests and it’s our responsibility to care for them. Otherwise, we are creating a forest of dead trees.

Looking toward the Trinity Alps.

Looking toward the Trinity Alps.

This is how the view is on a clear day.

This is how the view is on a clear day.

Bliss says after a smoky day in the woods there’s nothing like a dip in a cool mountain stream.

golden retriever, Bliss

A pool made for a puppy!

Bliss says, "much better."

Bliss says, “much better.”

Wild Wednesday … A Death in the Family


osprey, nesting, helicopter

This osprey put it all on the line defending its young, and paid for it.

Sorry, no wildflowers this week, only a sad story.  If you’ve followed my blog for a while you may have seen some of my posts about the ospreys that nest and raise their young on a large electrical tower at our mill site. The tower, perched near the Sacramento River, overlooks prime fishing habitat. These birds are practically mascots for our operation. Almost without fail ospreys raise two offspring in the tower nest every year and have done so for decades.

osprey, bird strike, osprey nest

The osprey family 2015, just a week before the tragic incident.

However, a week ago last Monday, while in our office we heard the sound of a low-flying helicopter. This isn’t unusual except for the helicopter wasn’t just flying over. It was lingering. I strained to look out my window to see the helicopter, but it was just out of sight on the north side of the office. My window faces west. Then I saw an osprey buffeted by the rotor wash being blown off to the southwest. Next, a large bird wing fluttering to the ground outside my window. That got me out of my office and headed for the north end of the building. When I made it outside, the helicopter was gone. One of our foresters, our lead research scientist and her assistant met me. Our scientist was extremely agitated and told us the helicopter had struck one of the ospreys. As we walked out into the parking lot, the mill superintendent walked out from the opposite side and yelled to us. Then he reached under one of the pickups and pulled out the body of the dead osprey. He informed us that a number of the mill workers had seen the incident and were just about in tears. Fortunately, our research scientist got the aircraft identification numbers.

The osprey was cut to pieces defending it's nest.

The osprey was cut to pieces defending its nest.

She recounted to us how the ospreys became agitated because the helicopter hovered so close to the nest. All four birds were at the nest, both parents and two offspring. The parents took off and were responding defensively. One of the birds began diving on the helicopter trying to drive it away from the nest. On its fourth pass at the helicopter, it was struck by the blades, severing both wings and plummeting to the ground.

talons, osprey

California Fish and Wildlife was contacted and a warden responded. He collected the remains and took statements. We are awaiting the results of the investigation.

I’ve been watching all week, hoping to see the three remaining birds at the nest. So far I’ve only seen two return, but most of the time there’s just one. Both of the offspring can fly and they come and go to the nest. Our biggest concern is that the young are unable to fish on their own. Hopefully, the remaining parent will be able to keep the youngsters fed and that this helicopter incident doesn’t result in three dead ospreys. I’ll keep you posted.

If you want to see the previously osprey post just click on the osprey tag below and they’ll come up.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner


foresterartist:

If you’ve never eaten black bear, let me tell you, it’s delicious!

Originally posted on Sneaking Bliss:

We were both hunting turkeys this Spring. There is something to be said about harvesting an animal that is perfectly capable of harvesting you. Two carnivores hunting in the woods. There’s something to be said about harvesting an animal that is perfectly capable of harvesting you. We encountered this beautiful beast while hunting Spring turkeys. With Autumn comes a different season.

Orange Glazed Bear

bear meat cut into thin strips
soy sauce
fresh ginger
fresh garlic
ground mustard
flour of your choice for dredging (wheat, cornstarch, rice, etc.)
avocado oil
coconut oil
orange zest
barbecue sauce (homemade or one you like)
sesame seed
green onion

Marinade thin bear strips in a splash of soy sauce, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, with a pinch of ground mustard. Marinade over night or vacuum marinade for 30 minutes. The longer the better.

Place enough flour to coat the meat in a repurposed produce bag. Drain and save marinade juice from meat. Place meat in bag of flour, toss to coat.

Heat a splash almond oil with a dollop of coconut…

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