Month: August 2013

Albino Redwood

I was driving on HWY 36 when I remembered another albino redwood that I should take a picture of. This one is in Humboldt Grove.

As tempting as it is, dont pick the leaves! They do not dry or press as white leaves. They will look just like dead redwood leaves.

As tempting as it is, dont pick the leaves! They do not dry or press as white leaves. They will look just like dead redwood leaves.

This is what a typical albino redwood looks like. The one I posted about last week is the only one I have ever heard of or seen that is living in the canopy. Most are going to be found near the base of a tree where they can easily root into the roots of the energy producing “host” tree. Remember, if you come across albino redwood tree, leave them alone! Look with your eyes, not hands.


Bear Cubs… Are Cute!

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I caught this tiny cub out of the corner of my eye and had to get closer to get a picture. Cubs almost always climb up a tree when they feel threatened and that was the first thing it did when it noticed me approaching. Never saw mama, but all the people I know who work with bears claim that black bear mothers will hide from humans, even if they stand between them and their cubs. The so-called aggressive black bear is a popular myth, although it holds true in places like Yosemite. A wild black bear will generally take all measures to avoid you.

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Ghost Redwood

I actually found this tree on accident, when I just happened to notice it from a distance. This is in Founders Grove, and my only hint is that its within a few hundred feet north of the parking lot. Supper cool, and certainly the only one I have ever seen living up in the canopy. Here is the wiki about albino redwoods:

An ‘albino’ redwood is a redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) which is unable to produce chlorophyll, and so has white needles instead of the normal green. In order to survive it must join its roots to the roots of a normal redwood, usually the parent tree from whose base it has sprouted, from which it obtains nutrition as a parasite. Only about sixty examples are known. These can be found in both Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, with eight trees in the first. The exact locations however, are not publicized to protect the rare trees. They reach a maximum height of about 20 m (66 ft).

Other conifers lack the ability to graft their roots, and so ‘albino’ mutants of other species do not survive to become sizable trees.

This one appears to be an exceptional specimen as it is living 100 feet up in the air, apparently nestled into a witches broom. I wonder how many of these exist…

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Spotted Owls

The Spotted Owl. These birds are seldom seen. When you find them it is easy to see why. In fact with the exception of the barn owl, all the forest owls have superb camouflage. I bet I walk under owls all the time unbeknownst.

The spotted is pretty big too, about 16-20″ inches tall, so imagine how many of the small – and more common – owls you must pass underneath when your in the woods.

If you know how to find them however, its not that difficult. Well, as least when they are there…

At first the male was checking us out, then he flew back up into a tree and passed out. The female on the other hand, watched us diligently and eventually took interest in our mice ‘prey’ we were offering up.

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Often times when you find a pair, the male will take prey to the female on the nest. This time she took the mice and ate them straight way. Nesting was obviously over and these two are now just chilling, probably trying to catch up on some sleep. NSOs typically nest every year, some times successfully, sometime not. I found no nest or evidence of fledglings, so we will be forced to wait until next year to try to find their actual nest site.

Thanks for the mouse!

Thanks for the mouse!

Diving the Mad River – Part 3

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I had posted a picture from the top last year:

I was very excited to see this area on the river. On the north side, as i expected there was isolated old growth Douglas-fir with a mix of various hardwoods. The south side of the canyon had more live oak and was much more weathered and fractured. Rock falls are all along the canyon and I can only image what it must be like down here in the winter when the river is bombarding the canyon walls with non stop basketball sized rocks.

Eventually we made it out of the wonderful canyon, but were dismayed by the lack of fish. Infact I didn’t see a single adult. Collectively one was sighted between the upstream barrier and the canyon. 2013 has been a low water year and the temperature of the river was less than ideal. We could only hope that the fish were tucked up lower down river in mouths of tributaries where the water temp was cooler.

Then we came across another natural barrier, one that was not there in 2008. Excited at the prospect of finding the adult fish we all made haste to climb down to the next pool. And sure enough, we counted over 40 adult summer steel head in that pool alone. Unfortunately, my camera didn’t take any of the underwater pictures I thought I took (I think the water pressure prevented the touch screen from working within my vacuum sealed protector) , so I have no action shots. But needless to say we were pleased with the steelhead numbers.

The rest of the day we saw adults in all the larger pools. Interestingly, the last 1.5 miles of the trip where by far the hardest. The boulder fields below the “canyon” are exhausting to scramble down. Much of it is too dangerous to swim so you are forced to constantly be bouldering over the unpredictable terrain. Not that Im not complaining, it was great fun, but I was thoroughly exhausted by the time we got out of the water….which was about 7:30 PM.

By the time we finally got back to our trucks at the put in, it was close to 9:30 PM. Here was one last shot as I pulled out of the river canyon and began making my long drive home.

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Diving the Mad River – Part 2

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The Mad has a spot between Maple Creek and Pilot Creek where the river drops drops substantial elevation over a relatively short stretch. The river is also impinged by enormous deep seated landslides for miles; which means most the banks are “active” and constantly changing. At one point there are two landslides that meet and push the river into an impossible mess of dirt and rock. It seemed like a 40-50 ft drop. But its not a waterfall… Its like a boulder field, with the water flowing through beneath it. There are several small flows of water cascading down it, but the majority of the flow just emerges at the base of the slide. This is a natural migration barrier that prevents salmon from getting any further up river and restricts steelhead migrations to only winter runs and probably only in ideal conditions, once every ten years or so.

At some point downstream of the barrier the river moves out of the earthflow terrain and into competent geology. Suddenly the bends on the river become huge rock faces and outcrops. In the nest and final installment Ill be sowing off the Mad River Canyon and the boulder fields that follow it.

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Diving the Mad River – Part 1

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Recently I had the pleasure of tagging along with a summer steelhead survey on one of the most rugged portions of the Mad River. There is a natural migration barrier on the Mad about a mile below Deer Creek where only in ideal conditions can winter steelhead get up river. So for this first stretch we didnt expect to see any adult fish, though small resident trout were numerous as we swam down river.

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