Trip Report, Part 7: Wildlife

When I scrapped my plans to head to Sequoia-Kings Canyon and to the redwoods, I skedaddled from my friends’ house in Bishop to get as far as I could that day en route to Prairie Creek. I made it 445 miles to Weaverville.

With the exception of the area around Reno, it was a beautiful drive. It felt strange to head up the east side of the Sierras and past Lassen National Park without stopping to explore.

I was driving through Lassen National Forest when I spotted animals off to the right. Even at high speed, I could tell they weren’t deer, but I wasn’t sure what they were. Always ready to pull over for another nature moment, I stopped the car on the shoulder. Pronghorn antelope!

This was a rare sight for me. I watched them for a while with my binoculars, then got out of the car as quietly as I could to take photos. They were pretty far away–and got farther once I showed up and I felt a little bad about spooking them–so this is the best shot I could get.

I’ve long been an admirer of band-tailed pigeons–wild forest birds, not the urban kind–but they tend to be shy and I’ve never been able to get a photo. At Prairie Creek, I lucked out because the elderberries were ripe and attracting the pigeons all around my campsite. They are enormous birds. It was funny to watch a pigeon crash-land on a slender branch. That whole part of the tree would bend way down while the bulky bird flapped noisily until s/he was in a stable enough position to eat the berries.

I had hoped to see the resident Roosevelt elk at Prairie Creek, and lucked out on my last morning. I was headed to an area they are often seen in the early mornings on my drive back home, and there they were just hanging out beside the road in front of some unused cabins. This was the primo grassy area and several bulls shared the area, eying each other warily among the cows during the rutting season. Periodically this dominant bull would chase off one of the other males

And last, no account of a trip to the redwoods would be complete without including the ubiquitous banana slug.

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