Nature Notes

Vol. II June-July 1984 No. 4


The wildlife observations have really been rolling in. It looks like it will be a good year, thanks to a lot of interested employees. Thirty different species of animals have been reported. The most numerous were goats at 94 animals, then elk with 87, and bear with 38 sightings reported. Other animals seen included: Harlequin ducks, blue grouse, great blue heron, golden eagle, red-tailed hawk, mountain blue bird, spotted owl, ptarmigan, mallard duck, Canada goose, red breasted sapsucker, pileated woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, starling, gulls, marmot, porqupine, deer, coyote, bobcat, beaver, bat, pika, red fox, and mountain beaver.

A ferret was found dead on the road at Kautz Creek. We hope that this was a single individual that escaped from a visitor's car, and not part of a breeding population. Harlequin ducks, featured in the last Nature Note, evidently nested near Longmire this year. An adult and young have been reported several times. They appear as black or dark grey ducks with one prominent white spot and a couple of vague white areas on the head. They are the only ducks that frequent swift water. Some of the spotted owl observations were the result of our summer survey. However, others were the result of some alert people who had been exposed to our survey and knew what the bird looked and sounded like. We received two reports of ptarmigan. These high-elevation grouse are some of the few animals that turn white in winter. It is quite a treat to see them because they are relatively scarce and not often observed.

Hawks and eagles are rarelly reported, although they are fairly common residents. Eagles are not plentiful, but can be seen if you know where to look. Try Stevens Canyon, Sunrise Ridge, or Crystal Mountain. Red-tailed Hawks are common, but there are others here as well. Goshawks are occasionally seen in the forests. Coopers hawks and sharpshinned hawks also frequent the forests, but are seldom seen. You may not expect marsh hawks in the park, but they are seen fairly frequently -- Grand Park is a good place to look. Falcons are seen occasionally. The sparrow hawk is very common. Prairie falcons are seen from time to time, and it is possible that a migrating peregrine might be seen in the fall.

We are still very interested in observations of mountain goats, since a ground observation team will not be sent out this summer. In addition to recording the number and location, please note if the goat is an adult, yearling or kid. Goat hair samples are needed to be analyzed for arsenic and perhaps other heavy metals. If you find some, please note the location and date of collection and send it to Cat Hawkins at Tahoma Woods. We will be able to make an aerial count or two and will report the results in a future issue of Nature Notes.

Even though the elk have been searched and researched, we are still interested in sightings of them. There are tagged animals roaming the hills in the eastern half of the park, and we are especially interested in identifying them. Now, elk are beginning to be seen with some regularity in the western half of the park, especially along the west boundary. Since our aerial censuses do not cover this area, any information that can be acquired there is very important. We have received reports of a bull elk at Klapatche Park, three elk just past Round Pass, a cow elk at the junction of Fish Creek and Dry Creek, and a cow elk walking along the Nisqually River at Cougar Rock. Two elk were seen on the ridge between the North Mowich and South Mowich Rivers.

Keep those observation cards coming -- it's GREAT!

Stan Schlegel


The park's bird checklist has been consolidated from two 8-1/2 x 11 inch pages to a handy two-fold form that will conveniently slip into your field guide. This service was provided courtesy of the Pacific Northwest National Parks & Forests Association. Ask for a copy at the visitor centers or at the Chief Park Naturalist's office.

Bill Dengler

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