Monday, December 14, 2009

Desert Bighorn Sheep

There are three species of mountain sheep in North America: the bighorn sheep, the dall sheep and stone's sheep. There are three subspecies of bighorn sheep: the Rocky Mountain bighorn, the Sierra Nevada bighorn and the desert bighorn. Years ago, while in the Tarn below the Mt. San Gorgonio Summit in the San Bernardino Mountains, Sam and I had a close encounter with two desert bighorn sheep ewes. They came running across the tarn near us, stopped and stared briefly,

then ran across the tarn

up onto Bighorn Peak, then stopped and stared back at us. It was so fun I went back to the Tarn multiple times to look for the bighorn sheep.
I saw them on multiple occasions. Below, two bighorn rams ran across Bighorn Peak above the far side of the Tarn.
The bighorn sheep, below, were photographed from the hill above the Tarn on the way down. Six in a small group.
The ram and ewe below, right before disappearing over the top of Bighorn Peak. The peak was aptly named. Unfortunately, I've not seen any bighorn sheep the last three times I've been into the Tarn. I've heard that mountain lions may be depleting the population.
Years ago, on the Chuckwalla Bench in the Chuckwalla Mountains, we discovered evidence of bighorn sheep, including droppings and a barrel cactus that had been munched on by bighorns.
Last November, camped with the scouts at Corn Springs in the Chuckwalla Mountains, we saw five bighorn sheep very near our camp. I did not have my camera, but Terry Davis took these photos. Craig Wright and I got very near this herd. If I'd had my camera, I could have had some amazing pictures. The ram was a beautiful speciman.
I've seen several desert bighorn sheep in Southern Utah, including one running across the road in front of our car right outside Arches National Park, and one on the shoulder of the road in the lower Virgin River Gorge right before merging into the valley containing Mesquite, Nevada.

On July 4, 2011, I hiked to the top of Mt. Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains on a training hike for a Sierra trip. While standing on the summit another hiker noticed some bighorn sheep on the ridge toward West Baldy.  I walked over to see if I could get closer and got a close-up encounter with a ewe
(about 30 yards away). 
She walked over the ridge and down some scree, so I walked a little further and found a group of about 6 bighorns, ewes and babies. 
This was my 16th hike to the summit of Mt. Baldy and the first time I've seen bighorn sheep there. 

On June 29, 2013, on another hike up Mt. Baldy, I saw a single bighorn ram which I followed for about 15 minutes. The following pictures are of that ram. 
A little blurry, but the only shot where he is head-on. 
Chewing grass.

No comments:

Post a Comment