|Abandoned piece of farm equipment from the homestead days. I imagine there are critters that make their home here now|
Last Tuesday, I just drove around the flanking road of the Cartier Slough as a fact finding mission, I then went home and researched the place and discovered there were about a mile worth of trails through the Wildlife Management Area. I also discovered there is another larger Wildlife Mitigation Area called Deer Park just sought of the Cartier Slough. Guess I'll be going there next.
Yesterday (Wednesday) my boys were both playing with friends and the Hot Chick was playing with her quilting friends which left me as a lone man at home. That wasn't working for me, and since we had a break in the monsoon, I decided to go back out to the Cartier Slough and hike it a bit.
The Cartier Slough used to be a homestead, and the trails through it are the remnants of the old wagon roads. I parked next to the first parking area and climbed the wooden steps over the barbed wire fence and entered the Cartier Slough Wildlife Management Area.
At the abandoned piece of farm equipment, I headed to the right on the spur trail and walked toward the water. When I had gone about a hundred yards, I saw a willet, and then another and another. They began squawking noisily and flying around frantically. One was sitting on a fence post immediately in front of me and kept opening it's wings and squawking, trying to intimidate me. I had obviously found their nesting area. Then the birds started dive bombing me. Definitely the nesting area. I stopped where I was, didn't go any closer to where nests might be, stayed long enough to snap a few photos and then slowly made my retreat. I will say that when they dive bombed me it felt an awful lot like being in a Hitchcock movie. It was a little scary and a lot exhilarating all at the same time.
As this was playing out, a large hawk flew by with nesting materials in it's talons, completely unconcerned by the old man bugging the willets.
|Trying to intimidate me|
|Then they started dive bombing me|
|It was hard to get a clear shot|
|This guy was unconcerned|
As I beat my return out of the willet area, I saw some bleached bones the porcupines had not found yet. Probably a deer.
|The old wagon road|
As I passed along the old wagon road, I noticed there were spur trails all along heading from the steppe to the water. I imagined the wildlife was going to be closest to the water so I headed that way and walked parallel to the road but closer to the slough. Several times I pushed through a break in the willows and went right to the waters edge. I saw a wildflower I have never seen before and have not yet identified. I also saw four beavers swimming. One of them was courteous enough for me to get close enough to take a few pictures.
|Best beaver picture|
|Same location, opposite direction|
|In between storms|
I headed along the path and was headed to a marshy area where I felt sure to be rewarded with some great blue herons, all the while not noticing the sky was beginning to darken. I was about a mile from my truck at this moment. I happened upon a wild iris and was excited to finally get a photograph of one. I had seen wild iris at a Father and Sons Campout many years ago, before I started photographing wildflowers, and had wanted to get a picture of one ever since. I finally had my shot, or so I thought. As I was photographing the iris, I had my first indication that the weather had changed. I was so intent on getting to the end of the trail I hadn't looked up, only at trail level. I was also watching closely for moose. I didn't want to surprise one of those all alone on the trail.
The wind had picked up, making it impossible to get a clear shot of the iris, and the rain started again. I turned around at the iris, not making it all the way to the marsh where I hoped to get a picture of a great blue heron. As I hiked out, the weather became less friendly all the time and I tucked the camera into my shirt and beat a path to the truck. The sky was spectacular. I'll be back at the Cartier Slough. Really enjoyed my time there.
|Sunset through the steppe|
|The sky was spectacular|
|Golden hour lighting through a rainstorm|