Nature Notes banner


Vol. XV May-June, 1938 Nos. 5-6

F. R. Oberhansley, Junior Naturalist

The glaciated granite domes rising from Hellroaring Creek westward offer some interesting problems. There appears to be a peculiar structure in the granite which gives it cleavage along definite planes somewhat coincident to the surface. Here great slabs of granite about three feet in thickness have sheared from the main mass along even planes and moved down slope under the force of gravity. These huge slabs of granite are separated from each other by even, vertical fractures varying from a fraction of an inch to several yards and the under surface on which they rest is comparable to the surface of the thick slabs themselves before they became detached from the main mass.

dead elk
Sketched from a photograph by F. R. Oberhansley

While looking over this unique outcrop on April 26, 1938, I came upon a large, dead bull elk. Apparently while walking across this snow covered rock surface he had broken through with his right front foot which became wedged in one of the cracks mentioned above. Had he pulled up hill, release would have been easy as the crack widened up hill, but instead his efforts were confined to down hill pull, resulting in getting the feet so tightly wedged that escape was impossible. His head was supported on one great antler and the imprisoned log had been stretched to the point of dislocation. It is not possible to learn how many days he suffered before death came to his relief.


F. R. Oberhansley, Junior Naturalist

Two incidents of more than passing interest and significance in connection with Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) observations at Geode Lake are worthy of recording.

On May 28 both birds were sleeping on the beach directly below our natural blind of Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga taxifolia). Neither bird seemed to be particularly alert. After watching the sleeping birds for several minutes they suddenly became alert, raising their great necks into a rigid upright position and looking toward our hillside vantage point. Our first thought, that they had in some way sensed our presence, was soon dispelled as a large coal black bear (Euarctos americanus cinnamomum) entered the scene covered by our field glasses. Here was a wilderness scene that was worth any naturalist's day. Neither the bear nor the swans suspicioned our presence. The bear scarcely looked at the birds as he nosed his way across the beach; and after satisfying themselves that it was only a bear, both swans settled back to sleep while the bear was not more than twenty feet away.

Under almost identical conditions on the morning of June 5, nearly the same performance was repeated. This time, however, I had remained quietly in the blind for over an hour watching the swans when my attention suddenly became fixed upon a coyote mousing along the lake margin. He passed the swans in almost the identical manner as the bear had done. More intent upon catching mice than birds, the attitude of the birds was also practically the same as in the previous case.

<<< Previous
> Cover <
Next >>>