Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 19, 2010

This time, a ram

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:41 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Radio-collared Sheep #410, our quarry for the day. Pushed the zoom to 40x and look what I got!

#410, a six-year-old ram, was eluding us. There were beeps coming across the receiver on Tuesday as we spent the day criss-crossing the mesa tops looking for signals on Bill’s radio-collared bighorn sheep, but he couldn’t pin this one down. It gave confusing location clues, and if it were across the canyon we had no choice but to drive many miles on rocky ledgy roads AROUND the head of the canyon to try to get to the other side and pinpoint it. Then it would fall silent. No sheep sightings on Tuesday; we’d look again Wednesday.

Tracking bighorns isn’t easy, and it is time-intensive. They are excellent at hiding out, tucking under ledges where the line-of-sight signal won’t be picked up, meandering into another drainage. Ultimately, they’ll all get found, sometimes later rather than sooner.

We started Wednesday gazing through binoculars at a pictograph panel that Bill had found only because one of his sheep had bedded down right below it. While waiting for the collars to turn on (only eight hours per day of signal, to save battery power) we drove to another that my Prius would never be able to access — both of these from centuries or millennia B.C.  Rock art moves my soul; I sense a connection with whomever painted or pecked it. It is found everywhere down here.

The monsoons are excellent this year. Green is everywhere!

As we went from canyon rim to canyon rim, holding up the antenna and receiver and hoping to hear beeps, Bill spied a new arch in a remote section of BLM land. It was hardly taller than me, and maybe ten feet wide; we took pics and left it Unnamed.

Storm clouds were thickening to the south and west. Lightning is not your friend on any mesa, but least of all when carrying a lightning rod, so we hurried to find this ram. Bill finally homed in on it in a side drainage off of Spring Canyon, just as the electrical storm began in earnest. Back to the truck we hastened; at least we knew where he was. Wind, dust, and rain swirled all around us for the next hour.

The ultimate "Where's Waldo" is spotting a sheep in this habitat

As the remaining gruff rumbles of thunder moved off to the northeast, we took up positions on the cliff top with our binocs. It was now time to locate the needle in the haystack. Check this photograph of the boulder field. Now imagine it is your job to find a perfectly-camouflaged animal, sitting statue-like, not wanting to be sighted. Bill can do it — sometimes from just a horn poking out from behind a rock. I sure can’t. You can guess who sighted ram #410.

Good day, a good day. Ancient artwork, monsoon, subsequent waterfalls, a ram… and wilderness. A very good day.

I made it easy for you. I centered the ram. 10x zoom.

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11 Comments »

  1. Crikey! THAT is camouflage.

    Comment by leroque — August 19, 2010 @ 11:16 am | Reply

    • Even with bright white muzzles and rear ends, they are terrifically camouflaged.

      Comment by kath56ryn — August 19, 2010 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

  2. A bad day of ram hunting, still beats a great day in the office…….

    Comment by john — August 19, 2010 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

    • You can say that again!

      Comment by kath56ryn — August 19, 2010 @ 10:48 pm | Reply

  3. Can you actually even see the sheep in that where’s waldo picture? I’ve spent like 20 minutes trying to pick it out.

    Comment by Isaac Sloan — August 19, 2010 @ 5:19 pm | Reply

    • Even though I KNOW he is on that right-hand talus slope somewhere toward the top, I still can’t find him. Sorry about your wasted 20 minutes!

      Comment by kath56ryn — August 19, 2010 @ 10:19 pm | Reply

  4. Kathryn, What’s with the albatross around the big guy’s neck? I know it’s used to track him, but, in this technological age, does it have to be that big? Maybe it doesn’t hurt him, but what about what the other sheep think? Maybe he is tough to find because he is hiding due to embarrassment. There is such a thing as too much bling. Think about it. Love our blogs! What a life!

    Comment by Allen Gislason — August 20, 2010 @ 7:55 am | Reply

    • Oh! This collar happens to be a larger GPS one that records his exact location 4x/day for 2 yrs. When the collar drops off next Feb., it will be retrieved and the data analyzed. I asked the biologist if the ram was shunned, or ewes preferred rams with nothing on their necks. He had tried to do a study on that but didn’t have a large enough sample. You know… he WAS all alone… poor thing… [Note: rams at this time of year are typically seen alone.]

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — August 20, 2010 @ 8:02 am | Reply

  5. Oops. I mean I “love YOUR blogs”. I don’t even have a blog. Well, I mighty have had one once, but I think I misplaced it. Anyway, keep up the blogging.

    Comment by Allen Gislason — August 20, 2010 @ 7:58 am | Reply

  6. Oops. I mean I “love YOUR blogs”. I don’t even have a blog. Well, I might have had one once, but I think I misplaced it. Anyway, keep up the blogging.

    Comment by Allen Gislason — August 20, 2010 @ 7:59 am | Reply

  7. I’m just going to keep writing until I can spell all the words the way I meant them to be. 🙂

    Comment by Allen Gislason — August 20, 2010 @ 8:00 am | Reply


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