I spent a total of six long days over the past two weeks surveying a 500-acre tract of land for ground squirrels. It was beastly hot, dry, snakey, and wonderful. I'm glad it's over, but I really enjoyed it.
There is so much solitude in open sagebrush country.
This area is on the bluffs overlooking the Columbia River, with views of huge wind farms. The first thing I saw as I drove up to the site was this pronghorn antelope. He followed me around for the better part of two days, keeping just within sight and making sure I wasn't doing anything untoward.
The wildflowers are mostly done up there now, and everything was very dry, but the sagebrush mariposa lilies (Calochortus macrocarpus) were in full bloom.
The purple sage (Salvia dorrii) was past peak bloom, but still very pretty. When this plant is covered in flowers, it's an amazing sight.
And these little daisies were everywhere. I think (but am not sure) that this is threadleaf fleabane (Erigeron filifolius). Very cheerful.
So much openness.
I was completely enthralled with the wind-waves in the dry grass.
Oh, and I mentioned the snake factor? I walked two sets of transects on this 500 acres, every 50 meters in one direction, then every 50 meters in the perpendicular direction to make a grid. This added up to almost 60 miles in six days, and I saw a total of 32 rattlesnakes. Talk about heebie-jeebies.
I have snake-proof boots now, and they are my new best friends.
Also, they are SUPER-SWANK!
(Please note that I did not wear shorts in the field. That was just for photographic purposes, to show off the stylin' boots.)