Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sierra Gold

by Jim and Shirley White

There IS "gold in them thare hills". Sometimes at the foot of a rainbow or sometimes in the marshes and waterways of Sierra Valley. The forcast of "thunder storms in the Sierra" or "rain north of highway I80, often sends use running for Sierra Valley, in Sierra County, California. 

We are wildlife photographers and do not pass up a good secnic landscape shot either. Cattle and hay ranches make up most of this Alpine beauty. Migratory birds from Alaska to Argentina travel back in forth thru this fertle landscape. My almost every trip joke is " maybe we will run into a herd of Wolverines this time". We have only see 2 for real in our lifetime and it was not in Sierra County. But it could be!! Check out these critters. Antelope in Sierra Valley! 
What we really like to see is Sandhill Cranes in Sierra Valley. During this dought year much of the marshes in Sierra Valley are gone. But the good size pond and marsh along Marble Hot Springs road had maybe 30 feet of shallow muddy water last Satuday. This is what we saw:
Sandhills, Egrets and White Faced Ibis. Also nearby was a doe deer lying in the heavy grass out of the wind. A Cottentail scooted accros the road and hawks dove on some pesky blackbirds nearby.
The wind blew sweet, the air a slight chill, and all was well in our "Wild Places" in Sierra Valley.                                                                                      

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Raptors and Other Wildlife

on the river of course!!

Everyone knows it is dry! Even at 5500 ft.on the east side of the Sierra near Truckee. So how do us wildlife watchers and photographers find wildlife when it is so hot and dry? What we do and did today was find some tumbling water, a small waterfall or an area with some white tumbling water with some perches and shade nearby. This hawk hunts a nearby meadow for rodents early morning and late evening, but during the day almost all birds and some other wildlife go for the water. An old concrete dam nearby with this driftwood log will produce time after time. While at this spot we saw Mergansers, Dippers and Mountain Quail nearby. We sit on our 3 legged stools, drink our coffie and wait. Dont\'t talk much and sit still. They will fly, swim and run right up to you.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Tigers are Loose

and all the other Sierra wildflowers
By Jim and Shirley White

Wandering our seceret Sierra wild places yesterday, enjoying our Sierra wildflower, the flower that really starts the summer are the Tiger Lilies. Yes we love the others too. The Colimbine, the Cow Parsnip, Qween Ann's Lace, the Sierra Primrose and all the others. But it is the "Tiger" that rules the mountains in July. What more need be said. The pictures tell it all.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Nature-izing along the Culbertson road

The Culbertson road that runs from the Drum forbay to Bear Valley, Nevada Co. is one of our favorite early July roads to Nature-ize and do our wildlife-flower photography. This 4th of July weekend was one of the best ever. It is best the start the trip along the road by 8 AM and plan on finishing by 11 AM because the hill-side the road follows has a north aspect and the light is great in the mornings but poor in the evenings. There are at least three springs along the road and butterflys, hummingbirds, bumble bees and birds just love them. You can also find a "Fawn Lily" or two..
Alpine lilies and Tiger lilies are there too, but you must travel down some of the side roads to find them. You cross the Bear River into Bear Valley and highway 20 and back to I80. We see why the Emigrants of old were happy when they got this far along the trail.  Enjoy!!

Breakfast with the Dutch Flat Mayors

As usual on the 4th of July weekend, we head for the old gold mining town of Dutch Flat in Placer County.and the annual 4th of July breakfast at the Odd Fellows Hall.This year we were fortunate to breakfast with the two Honorary Mayors and their ladies.
I tried to make points early on and mentioned that I was a personal friend of Jim Gould, who died recently and who's Great,Great Grandfather had owned the nearby gold diggings and the Dutch Flat Gold Mining and Ditch Co.That did not seem to ring a bell so I mentioned my old friend Jim Stewart who also owned the nearby Gold Run hydro mine along I-80 and ran it for 50+ years. Blank stares registered nothing so I mentioned that we were photographers with the Bay Area Porno Magazine and were trying to find a cover photo of a good stud for our up-coming August issue and wondered if I could take their pictures. The heavy-set mayor glanced down, I guess to see if his zipper was closed and then said " I guess so". His lady had stopped eating and was looking at me with eyes as big as saucers.I took the pictures and showed them the results. They thought the pictures were great and wondered when the pictures would be published. I said we usually post a copy on the wall of the Gold Run Rest Area's restroom and it should be up by the end of the month. The ladies were now laughing so hard I saw tears roll down their cheeks so we thought it was time to leave. The Mayors asked where we were going and I said we were going to "Nature-ize" and photograph wildlife and flowers along to Drum Forbay-Bear Valley's Culbertson road. I overheard one Mayor ask his lady if I said Forbay or for-play. I think that story is next.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Osprey Adventures

One of the three Osprey chicks stood up, leaned forward and strained, and out like a fire hose from his rear was a jet stream of white liquid. Thank God they are being fed and are all alive. Daddy Osprey was seeing to that. Earlier we saw him fly low over the nest a drop what looked like a Golden Mantel Ground Squirrel. This last feeding was a fish from the nearby lake.It is a full time job for the male to keep well fed his mate and their three chicks.
We are at 5600 ft. in Placer County and the temps today at the nest site are 81 degrees. When the female is not feeding the chicks she stands with her back to the sun, wings slightly  extended, shading the chicks. The male does not stay long. It appears like lots of his prey are not out in this heat.He has got to go hunt again. It is called hunting for my family and it is really very hard work.
It is only July 2nd and a long way to go before the chicks are fledged.We need some cooling rain.But right now we would settle for just some big nice clouds. Stay tuned..  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chasing the Cranes

by Jim and Shirley White
My friend in Truckee, Tom, says the Sand Hill Cranes are back in Sierra Valley. Although it is still snowing lightly on Donner Summit, off we go. The last of the storm is just passing Castle Peak as we scoot over Donner.
It is the last day of business for our favorite breakfast place, the Sierraville Kitchen.

A motley crew of loggers, ranchers and other locals are having breakfast for the last time. It is a happy and a sad time for most. We say our goodbys and we are off to find the Cranes!
What we really want is a nesting Sand Hill Crane. We have never been able to get close enough in the past. The wily cranes always slip away before we can get near enough. But "Sharp Eyed Shirley" spots one right away. It is nesting right along the road!!! We cannot believe our eyes. The crane watches our every move. We shoot and move along. There are (maybe ) other birds to see. 
In all we see 10 cranes, only the bird along the road close enough to shoot. But other life is kind.

A Lesser Yellowlegs poses and and looks friendly. A Rough-leg hawk soars over and lets us shoot, and all in all, another nice day in the Sierra.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ananda Gardens,in Nevada County. A Shangri- La? Remote, beautiful, not imaginary place where life approaches perfection? Maybe not. But it is a little bit of "heaven" in Northern California. Early yesterday, no one but Shirley and I were there, 10,000 tulips and other flowers, on the north side of a very steep Nevada county mountain-side. What a way to forget your troubles.
It was just after a little snow-storm and all the flowers were refreshed and pure.The sun was warm. We could see a thousand feet below,the Middle Fork of the Yuba river. A wild river with very large Brown Trout I sampled many years ago. We saw a Golden Eagle soaring high in the canyon to the north. A Stellar Jay called an alarm as a Grey Squirrel jumped from limb to limb on a route he seemed to know.
  The laughter of a small child above us on the hill, as others arrived to share our joy. Time to trudge back up the steep hill to our car,
and then lunch at the Village deli. Real lemon juice in a can? What kind of place is this really? Come visit! It is open to the public for a few more days, The residents are warm and friendly. Come share their joy.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The N..Fk of the American River just above the Ponderosa way bridge in Placer Co. is one of the great sights you will see from this more or less primitive river crossing. This spring we crossed from the Foresthill Divide road to Wiemar  and enjoyed the steep decent with sheer drop-offs on the way down to the bridge.
Approaching the river from the south you will see the first Indian Pinks as you approach the bridge followed by Lupine,Redbuds,and whites and pinks of your choice After crossing the river the world turns yellow as Poppies by the millions cover every square inch of the hillsides.
 The tributary creeks are dry, with fewer butterflies, but the wildflowers are better than ever.
You could even take the 2 mile hike downstream to Codfish Falls, if you think there might just be some falling water when you get there. Well worth spending a couple of hours early or late in the day.


Monday, March 9, 2015

The Sierra Without Snow

by Jim and Shirley White

For more than 20 years during the latter part of March, some of my friends and I would ride the summit ski lift at Alpine Meadows.Ski Resort and ski west into the wilds of the Granite Chief Wilderness area.We would ski down the backside of Alpine,cross Five Lakes Creek, ski up and pass Elephant's Head on our left, cross over Mt. Mildred, and then ski down Chipmunk Ridge to the French Meadow Reservoir  where we would be picked up by a friend. It was a three day trip most of the time. One time because of a big storm it took us five days.  The snow would be from five to thirty feet deep. Never was the lack of snow a problem. The last time I looked at the calendar it was March, so where is the snow this year?

We drove into Hell Hole Reservoir yesterday to see for our selves. As we approached Hell Hole we met Jason, the Placer Water Agency winter tech who spends the winter, usually snowed in at Hell Hole. When I asked how the winter had gone, he remarked " what winter?". There was maybe 3-4 inches of snow on the road where we met and Jason said the snow lasted about 200 yards down the road and that was it! No winter, no snow. The road between Hell Hole and Chipmunk Ridge did have maybe 4 in. of snow, but of all things, there were deer tracks heading up hill, climbing to their summer range. You can see Mt. Mildred which is 8398 feet elevation in this picture with only a patch of snow to be seen.
Here is Lt. Ken Nilsson Calif. Fish and Game  checking the refuge boundry on our trip back in the 1970's, with six feet of snow beneath his skis.How the world is changing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015





For a mountain pass like Donner Pass, I don't think we could call this event a snow storm.
Maybe a few snow flurries. Back in the 1950's and "60's few would remember this event as a snow storm. The above picture where we were skiing along the crest from the Benson hut to Mt. Lincoln a storm would produce cornices like you can see in this picture, with the potential of avalanches to follow. That is what we liked about the 1950's. Three to five feet of new snow during the first few days of the storm, with more to come later in the week. There was a feeling of excitement and adventure back country skiing in those "real" snow storms. We had to learn how to find safe routes, camp using natural shelters, learn that storms were the reason the mountains were so great. Once you got into shape each year it was easy and fun. Somehow the Sierra is not so great this year, I guess because of the lack of good snow storms. I took the Donner Lake pictures just after this last event.
I remembered how cold and hard the ice was on Donner Lake when we skied across the lake in late February one year during the '50s.Of course if you look real close there is still some beauty to be seen. But us "old timers" can't feel that excitement or feelings of adventure we felt during the storms of old.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Bump In Our Road

by Jim and Shirley White

Christmas and New Years are gone. And so are three people important in our lives. It is all part of living I guess. We haven't felt like writing or shooting photos for ourselves. We tried the other day and Shirley was rewarded with this great shot of the Snowy Egret. Maybe the best picture she has ever taken? The picture does make us want to travel down our road some more.Maybe there is more joy ahead?

The Sacramento Valley is still loaded with northern birds. We have never seen so many Rough-legged hawks from the far north. This one with a kill near Colusa.
The crazy drivers in the fog drove us out of the valley and into the North Fork of the American River canyon near Colfax.

 The fog was gone by late evening. These Swans were regal, waiting for the night and peace from the days struggle. Some snow on the mountain would be a joy indeed.