Saturday, October 1, 2011

White-headed Woodpecker & Black Bears on North Dome Trail, Yosemite Nat. Park

Val's photo of a White-headed Woodpecker on the North Dome Trail, Yosemite National Park, CA; 6/21/2009.
Two years ago while hiking on the North Dome Trail in Yosemite National Park, I kept seeing an interesting woodpecker with a white head along the trail, but by the time I could get a focus on it, it was gone. After that hike, wherever we went hiking in the park, I kept an eye open hoping to get another chance to see this woodpecker. But didn't see another one for the week we spent in Yosemite. Since we were tent camping (with no electricity), we couldn't always have access to see our photos, so some evenings we went to a local lodge to plug in our laptops and check out our photos.  A couple of days later while Val and I were looking at our pictures, I noticed she had a couple of photos of the White-headed Woodpecker (Above and Below).
Another of Val's photo of the White-headed Woodpecker.
White-headed Woodpeckers are not very common, but when they are observed, they are usually seen in mature coniferous woods. They are found mostly in the Northwest and California. They have a black body with a ... guess what ... a white head and a white patch on their wings. Val took a photos of the female, as the male looks the same except with a red crown.
Val on the North Dome Trail, Yosemite National Park, CA; 6/21/2009.
The North Dome Trail was a great trail with super scenery and vistas (Above). On our return back to the trail head there was a couple from Norway that was a good hundred yards ahead of us. About midway back I noticed that we were gaining on the couple, even though we ahdn't picked up our pace. I figured they stopped for a snack or to take photos and that slowed them up. Pretty soon I noticed that, not only were we gaining on them very quickly, but  they were actually coming back towards us. When they reached us, they told us there was a mother bear and her cubs on the trail, and were afraid to walk past it. I suggested that we all walk past together. The general rule of thumb is that bears will not attack a party of three or more, and since there were four of us, that was pretty good odds. As we approached, the bear was feeding next to a fallen log (Below) not more than a few feet off the trail, and its two cubs had climbed up the sides of two separate tree trunks behind her, probably from orders of their mother for safety. As we walked past the bear, she didn't even give us a look - just kept feeding. I assume that as long as her babies were behind her, they were protected and she felt they were safe from us. It would have been a different story if we happened to get in between her and her cubs - that's when mother bears get aggressive - if they feel their cubs are in danger. As we walked past, I tried to get a few photos without actually stopping because I didn't want the mother to feel threatened.

A mother black bear on the North Dome Trail in Yosemite Nat. Park; 6/21/2009.
Even though the bear above is brown, it is still considered a black bear, not a grizzly (which are cosidered the brown bear). Many black bears, especially those in California are lighter and more on the brown side than black. It's cub however was more on the black side (Below) and would probably turn lighter as it matured.
One of her cubs clinging to the side of a tree trunk. I didn't get a photo of the the other club, as I felt it wasn't in our best interest to loiter around the area.
Nothing makes for a good hike than great scenery and the added plus of wildlife. The bear and her cubs weren't the only bears we encountered on this hike. I took another interesting photo of a bear (Below).

It looks kind of like a bear head, doesn't it? North Dome Trail, Yosemite Nat. Park; 6/21/2009.
Actually it wasn't a real bear. It was a tree that had a growth on it's trunk that seemed to be in the shape of a bear's face (Above). I love nature!

1 comment:

~Val said...

I forgot about that weird tree growth. I'm glad to see that you like bears...or, Bears, especially on a football Sunday. :-D xo