Yesterday I did not really get out much except to go play a little frisbee in the afternoon. Today was a pretty nice day, and I decided to try to get up Bear Mountain. My plan was to ask the neighbors to give me and my bike a ride to Blue Lake Campground. I figured if I biked out there I would run out of motivation before I even got started. It turned out they had other obligations, but offered me their pickup. It was nice that they did. As it was, I got home around dark and I was pretty tired. I can’t imagine how tired my legs would have been if I had biked home.
Weather: Sunny with winds blowing from offshore during the day. Clouds formed over the mountain peaks, but were up and down.
Birds: There was a Mourning Dove at the bottom of Blue Lake Road.
Birds were fairly scarce on Bear Mountain. I heard Winter Wrens and probably Golden-crowned Kinglets in the forest on the way up. At the tree line on the way down I saw what I am pretty sure was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Above the treeline, I saw some ptarmigan scat, but no ptarmigan (I was hopeful).
There were a few Ravens cawing loudly up very high on the mountain. They were flying around some also. A few times they flew by and landed not too far from me. One time a Raven landed on the side of a cliff and seemed to be listening the calls echo. It then flew back a short distance to a small pinacle and cawed. I could hear a very clear echo and can only assume the bird did as well.
The highlight off the day was a flock of 20-30 Gray-crowned Rosy-finches. Although I did not know it at the time, the first indication I had of their presence was a couple of hours before I actually saw them. I heard some birds calling on the slopes to the northwest and below me (or so I thought, in hindsight, I’m not sure they were actually below me), but quite some distance away. I never was able to see them, so I continued on. Later, right around the time I was turning around to go back, they came swooping in along the ridge in a loose flock. There are enough rocky outcrops and such, that I could not see them all at once. They were actively foraging and acting aggressively toward each other. The ones I was able to get photographs of may have been juveniles (based on the bill color). A few of the birds seemed a little curious about me, but most of them just flew on by as they continued their foraging and fighting while they travelled along the slopes of the ridge. One thing that was interesting to me about their flight was how often they took off more or less straight down. It gave the impression that they were very used to life on steep slopes.
Flora: The flora of Bear Mountain was interesting. Of particular note were the several species I saw only above about 3500 feet or so. My timing was not the best for seeing plants in bloom, but I did find a few. I’ll write up a separate entry to talk about the things I saw up there, including several new-to-me plants. It’s also possible I saw some plants not previously documented on Baranof Island, though I’m not sure about that.
Other Notes: I saw old bear scats (from earlier in the summer, I’m sure) and there is a pretty obviously bear worn trail that goes on for some distance above the treeline.
I found some Mountain Goat tracks and hair. I also saw three goats relaxing on a snowfield well below me east of the north peak.
In one of the fairly high elevation small ponds, I noticed a water beetle. I did not stop to investigate closer.
The route I took was very similar to a trip I made back in late June/early July 1995. There was far more snow at that time of the year, so it was interesting to see it when so much more rock was exposed.