Looking for Spring

by | Feb 10, 2017 | Phenology

The chinook winds are (still) blowing this morning as I write and the streets in town that were full of water yesterday are drying out. The winds have melted the 8″ or so we got from the last storm and are working on the snow left from December. Friends mentioned they’ve measured 55″ at their house so far this winter.

While that’s not much for other places I’ve lived, for here in Cody, it’s crazy. But I am grateful for it as I love white winters. The snow adds light that I always crave during the longer days and helps keep me in winter work mode of writing and working on photos and putting them together in various ways.

While this winter is hard on lots of folks around here (keeping roads and driveways open is a job and a half with the winds), the moisture is going to make for a wet spring – and lots of wildflowers. It should be amazing.

I’ve been looking at the Snowtel sites and some areas are at 200% + average. It seems north of Yellowstone hasn’t gotten quite as much, but we still have March to go which often ends up as the snowiest.

We should start to see spring signs showing up soon. I’ve yet to see my first pair of ravens dancing on the wind, but have seen the singles group of around 30 playing on the wind currents around here.

And, the mule deer bucks have started to shed their antlers. Mostly young ones right now are losing theirs, but those that have them are like boys with sticks – gotta use ’em if you have them. On nice days they’ll eat for a bit then push and shove each other for a bit, then go back to eating.

I’ve also noticed on the north side of the house, the iris planted there have pushed up leaves an inch or so – soaking in that winter sun to build up energy for blooms.

And the bears can start emerging from their dens in February. But I imagine with the harsher winter we’ve had, it might be a bit later this year for the first sighting. Two years ago today the first official sighting of a grizzly bear came in through a news release from Yellowstone – one was seen on a bison carcass in the central portion of the park.

And in 2014, on Feb 11th, the first black bear was seen in YNP. If it’s warm, it’s not unusual for them to come out, and they can go back in if it gets bad again. And as hard as it is on the other animals out there right now, there should be plenty of winter kill to help them fatten up when they do emerge.

But for me right now, I’m watching the skies for pairs of ravens swooping and dancing their courtship on the wind.

 

Have you thought of starting a nature journal of seasonal changes?

This is a great time to start one.

 

Be Outside • Take Notes

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