Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jan 31, 2010 Dunning Ranch

Note: The Dunning Ranch (near Roseburg, Oregon) is a large chunk of public land set aside for horseback riding, hunting, bird watching, etc. ….. The road is gated but access on foot or horseback is welcome. Most of the ranch is a mix of large open areas and oak groves. We were off road for three hours – a major milestone for Dale. After ten years of severely limited mobility his two new hips are giving us back a long missed world. It has been over ten years since we’ve been able to wander for so long. One of the things I missed most has been studying tracks with him.

Jan 31, 2010: Still lots of Lewis woodpeckers out here at the Dunning Ranch. Green grass, green mosses, lush lichens. Occasionally a soft breeze stirs long strands of lichens on the oaks. Dale and I are here with camera and sketchbook enjoying winter sunshine, damp air, and the rustle of the creek.

Dale stops to show me an alligator lizard also capturing the sun’s warmth. The ten inch long lizard is frozen in place, on the dark tire lane on this seldom used road. Pale yellow eyes keep a wary watch on us. Sometime in the past, half his tail broke off(a defensive measure) and is now nearly regrown. The new half is a little shinier and richer in color.

Some of the road has long skinny puddles. A coyote has trotted in and out of the puddles, leaving fresh tracks left since we first passed. I bet he is watching us. The tire lane puddles yield more surprises for us. The shallow water is full of very small black water beetles, and small backswimmers. We never expected them to be out in January.... and finally mysterious tracks in the silt bottom of a shallow puddle. The total width of the animal is about three inches. Our best guess is shrew mole or pocket gopher.


  1. I forgot to mention that your blog is a great place for these field notes and those painting that are more illustrated journaling.
    This is just great and I love all your information.

  2. I agree with Teri C. I love seeing your field notes and I'm so happy that you're both able to go out exploring together again!

  3. How wonderful for you and Dale to share tracks again! I can't wait to walk with you and Dale in Yellowstone this spring!!

  4. What a delightful twist of iorny to have met you two today at the park. This chance encouter left me excited for the next! I look forward to learning from your adventures and seeing more of your talents in the future. The Dunning ranch is now on a must see list of places to see. Come visit our group anytime!
    Betsy Dunning Norris
    Fellow photographer and bird lover