A few mammals between Portland, Oregon and LA
I spent a few days with my kids last weekend driving from Portland to LA. It wasn’t just a mammal watching trip so I didn’t see a huge amount but did manage to see a couple of lifers, and a few other nice things en route.
I spent a night at Oregon Caves National Monument after a tip from squirrel guru John Koprowski as I was looking for Siskiyou Chipmunks. Some of the information I’d read suggested they were most likely at around 7000ft, but they were easy to find by the visitor centre at Oregon Caves National Monument (at around 4000ft) and also at near sea level at Jedediah Smith Sate Redwoods Park, just over the border in California: indeed the Redwood Highway (Hwy 199) that joins the two parks goes through prime Siskiyou Chipmunk habitat from Cave Junction to Crescent City and you would probably see them at the roadside in the early morning.
Identification is fairly easy as the only other species that overlaps is the more colourful Yellow-Pine Chipmunk, which I found in the forest along the trail back from the cave.
The caves themselves are home to 8 species of bats in the winter, but bats are not often seen in summer. I didn’t see any during the cave tour, though the ranger said there had been a couple of Townsend’s Big-eared Bats fluttering around earlier in the day.
A 30 minute spotlight after dinner was unproductive but Bushy-tailed Woodrats are common it seems (there had been one in the staff dormitory kitchen the night before). Other mammals included a Black-tailed Deer, a couple of American Deer Mice (caught in the forest outside the park), and a Douglas Squirrel.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park (and the nearby Albion Field Station): are good places to see the endemic Yellow-Cheeked Chipmunk. I saw Deer Mice and a Gray Fox too at the Field Station.
Muir Woods: I stopped in here at Sunday lunchtime looking for Sonoma Chipmunks. The places was heaving with thousands of people. I couldn’t hear myself think, let alone a chipmunk squeak and I couldn’t see any. They are abundant there though, judging by all the warnings not to feed them, but the cold weather and swarms of people were enough to put even them off.
Monterey: I took a half day trip again in late July 2013 with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, and saw a Blue Whale, along with 100+ Rissos, and a few Pacific White-sided and Common Dolphins, plus Humpbacks just off the harbour, and the usual Seals, Sealions and Sea Otters in town.
In Carmel I caught a couple of Western Harvest Mice and a Deer Mouse and saw a Brush Rabbit.
Mammals along Route 1 south to LA included Northern Elephant Seals, White-sided Dolphins and California Ground Squirrels. Just check out any of the view points.