Nature Notes

Vol. X September, 1932 No. 9

Just Here and There

The small snake and frog "zoo" located in the Paradise Valley Community Building has attracted considerable attention on the park of park visitors. This sort of thing happens to be a note of natural history that is interesting, but one that is generally overlooked or misunderstood by the average person - hence the interest. One of the recent acquisitions to this miniature "zoo" is the Pacific Rubber Snake or Rubber Boa that was sent to the Ranger-Naturalists at Paradise by District Ranger Herm Barnett, located at Ohanopecosh. This interesting and quite harmless snake is common about the hot springs in that vicinity.

While hiking along the trail from Longmire to Sunrise - the route taken was long the north and west sides of the park - we discovered several Douglas Squirrels in the act of harvesting the cones of the Lovely Fir (Abies amabalis). The camera was brought into play, but before we could make a photographic record of these frisky animals, they, apparently incensed at having their harvesting operations interrupted, began cutting the large cones from the topmost branches with such gusto that we were forced to beat a hasty retreat to escape these really heavy missels that came thudding to earth. The proverbial antics of monkeys aloft in coconut trees of the tropics have nothing on those of the Douglas Squirrels of our dense forests. Their missels may not be as formidable, but they are very effective just the same. Quite often these large, compact cones weight a pound or more each, and the possibility of one of these dropping on the top of the head from a height of 150 feet offers food for thought.

On several occasions during early July, a large black bear and two playful cubs was seen about Paradise Lodge and the Community Building. As usual with bears, the object of these visits was food. Zealous that here children might not come to grief through human contact, the mother bear would first see the youngsters safely perched in a nearby tree before going about her immediate business of seeking a handout at the door of the Lodge kitchen. The cubs would be seen to ascend to the first sizeable limb, and later the observer from below might see two furry objects nearly concealed by projecting foliage. Her purpose accomplished, the she bear would return to the tree and give the signal -- whereup both cubs would return to the ground, head uppermost, and playfully scamper away with their parent.

(Ranger-Naturalist Walter Chappell)

The Northwestern Flicker (Colaptes safer saturatior) does not search for food in standing timber to the same extent as do his relatives, the woodpecker and sapsucker. Instead, he is largely a ground-inhabiting bird, due to his habit of feeding on ants, beetles, and other terrestial insects. An individual that had recently been killed in some manner was picked up near Ricksecker Point by Superintendent Tomlinson recently, and the contents of his stomach examined. The crop was filled with about 200 larvae and pupae of the black ant -- small, white, segmented capsules about an eighth of an inch long. The gizzard contained similar food, but also present were bits of sand and wood fibre evidently of use to the bird in grinding up the food. Ants were widely distributed in Mount Rainier National Park, from the deep woods to timberline, and their habit of living in the soft, decaying wood, or on easily accessible rock faces must make them an easy prey for the foraging flicker. (Ranger-Naturalist V. Scheffer)

Sitka Spruce, which was heretofore thought to be lacking in the forests of the park - or at least very scarce within its boundaries - has been found on the West Side on several occasions this summer. A park visitor making the hike over the West Side brought a twig of the foliage of the Sitka Spruce to the Museum for identification. It had been found on the Puyallup watershed just within the park boundary. Sitka Spruce were also noted by the writer in several places in the Mowich watershed on the West Side Trail, and the species has also been recorded on the Beaver Dam Trail near the public camp ground at Longmire. Engleman Spruce, heretofore considered native only to the northern section of the park, also has been found in scattered localities in the Indian Henry and Van Trump region this summer.


Mount Rainier

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