Mount Rainier NP.

Spoiler: I never found any ptarmigans nor any grouse.

That being said, I had an awesome day up at the park!  I left hours before sunrise and arrived at the park as the moon was setting behind the mountains...

I stopped to watch a Gray Jay eat something dead in the road...

I started my hike on the Skyline Trail at 7:45 a.m.  Besides juncos, the first creatures I found were two pairs of deer...

Marmots are all over the area too.  Hoary marmots.  Maybe even whorey marmots too.  Who knows. 

Little chipmunks and ground squirrels were common as well.

Alright have I painted you an adequate picture of the world of adorableness that is Mount Rainier?  No?  How bout now:

Hopping around one of the big snow patches was a small flock of American Pipits. 

I blame this fella for Jim.  Who is Jim?  Well, Jim is an older hiker fellow who just had to know what I was photographing.  After that Jim was everywhere.  I thought I had shaken him a few times, but then he would appear again.  Here is Jim at Panorama Point:

Don't get me wrong, Jim was a very nice older man.  But he was a chatty Cathy.  I am not.  But since I never saw a grouse on this trip I will share Jim's grouse story with you.  One evening years ago, after hiking quite far he was setting up camp for the night.  A grouse walked up quite close to him and he says he took many good photos of it.  Then he took his tent pole and with one fell swoop decapitated the bird and ate it for dinner.  Oh, Jim.

Anyway, the views from Panorama Point were of course awesome.

Mount Adams on the left, Mount Hood on the far right

A flock of birds came through and I wanted them to be rosy-finches so badly.  They appear to be something else... thoughts?

Maybe the lighting is throwing things off?  I really can't figure them out.  Here's a zoomed in shot of the birds in the top left of the above shot:

There were a couple of Mountain Bluebirds nearby but these guys appear to be something else.

From Panorama Point I headed up the High Skyline Trail, because the regular Skyline Trail looked like this (with Jim, of course):

Now, let me present an overdose of amazing scenery...

I made my way from the High Skyline Trail back down to the Skyline Trail, and then took the turn-off for the Golden Gate Trail.  On my way down a man pointed out some cars stopped along the road way in the distance.  Said there was probably a bear or an elk.  Made sense, so once I returned to my car (around noon), I drove down to see what was going on.  Indeed a black bear was stuffing himself silly with berries!

Yep, it was a fantastic trip!  I will be back for those dang ptarmigans, don't you worry.  Good times!!


  1. They are Horned Larks.

    Awesome stuff, a place I would love to check out. The first marmot shot is a winner. Too back Jim didnt choke!

  2. Beautiful landscapes. Love the bear .

  3. So many great scenic shots and love all the mammals. Nice to see you out making new friends too ;)

  4. So many beautiful shots! Is it cold up there yet? I see the person in the picture is wearing shorts and tshirt. Is he wearing that in the snow?

    1. I think it was about 35 degrees when I got there but definitely warmed up to maybe 70 by the time I left.

  5. Wow, sounds like a great hiking and birding trip to Mt Rainier. It is a gorgeous park, I think Jim would give me the feeling of being followed, very creepy. The Marmots are cute and I love the Pipit. The bear would have made my day, I love seeing bears. Great post and awesome photos.

  6. Nice Hoary Marmot shots!

    Jim makes me a bit nervous. Surely you didn't tell him about your blog?

    1. No, I didn't mention my blog while I was giving him my phone number and address.

  7. It looks amazing! I LOVE that first shot - so beautiful. And, a bear! Wow. You know, we spent 6 days in Yellowstone and the Tetons and never saw a bear. Lucky you!

  8. OMG lol at the Marmot wise crack...I cant believe all the wonderful wildlife you saw...the Bear was the icing on that snowy cake! Im taking a quick break from Family to read YOUR blog cause I didnt want to miss all the amazing shots you get!

  9. Ah, thanks for letting me visit Glacier NP vicariously through your post. Looks awesome!

  10. Oh, Lord. And where, pray tell, was Jim when he killed that grouse? In a national park, perchance? PLEASE tell.

    Asked the woman who was a park ranger in MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, and tho' not a law enforcement ranger, is 73 inches tall and has plenty of friends with guns. Did he happen to mention that? Or, whether it's legal to hunt them (if he was NOT in a national park) at that time of year and in that way?


    I was LUCKY enough to encounter a grouse in Yosemite that was so close and so slow and mild, I could have killed it with a rock. And, did I? Uh, no. And I mean, NO. I WAS IN A NATIONAL PARK and rather than PUNISH that behavior by killing the trusting creature, I let it be. *sigh*

    I've taken those very (lovely) hikes, and I really enjoyed the virtual tour, but honestly, I'm so distracted by what Jim did (and my training) I'm totally focused on the killing-the-bird issue. =) xo

    1. Sorry the Jim story was so disturbing! I do know he was not in a NP, but rather some mountains nearby (I forget the name). He mentioned he normally carries a .22 of some kind during grouse season but he didn't have it on that trip. That's all I know...

  11. Visiting from Indiana, I just went to Mt. Ranier on the 28th and got a Sooty Grouse near the paradise NC. We were actually looking for Nutcrackers but found none. Great photos.

  12. I just double checked your un IDed flock of birds in the Sibley. The first zoomed in picture shows a hood and dark tail around lighter under covert feathers and translucent wings. Wing shape is throwing me off a little but it could be the angle of the photo. I think you found a flock of Gray-crowned rosy-finches!


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