Spring Watch update for early April 2019
In the past week and a half, a lot has changed. Spring has arrived and with it, the moisture that brings life out here in the west. Snow is melting fast, and temperatures have just touched the 60s. There’s another storm on the way to remind us it’s still spring – when winter hasn’t yet given way to summer. The winter winds, while not as bitingly cold, are whipping things up and carving some of the high clouds into sculptured lenticulars.
The aspen catkins in town are growing longer each warm day and holding back when the cold moves in. The turkey vultures showed up on April 3 – right in the expected window for them. The number of mountain bluebirds has increased dramatically in the area, and, unsurprisingly, American Kestrels are also back. An osprey was seen on a nest out by Beck Lake as were the ring-billed gulls. On Buffalo Bill Reservoir, two American pelicans hunkered down as the winds kept most animals down in the area.
And the battle against the starlings is over. Filing the nest box with wood shavings only ended up with shredded wood shavings on the ground below (that has been snatched up by other birds for nest material). We simply decided to take the box down. In its place, we set up another bluebird box. This one has a 2-3″ extension tube over the opening, so hopefully, the raccoons won’t be able to raid this one. “Evidence” has been found in the garden that they are out and about, but they haven’t yet raided the bird feeders.
We also have three or four blue jays visiting regularly. It still feels a bit odd seeing them as I think of blue jays as eastern birds. But according to ebird, they are in western Wyoming. I believe this is the second year for them to winter here.
Out in the Wapiti area, mule deer have gathered, and while I’ve not made it yet to Pahaska near the east gate, I imagine the wildlife is all there, starting to follow the melting snow line back into the park. The elk that stay year-round in Wapiti were all hunkered down in the wind. Not many antlers left to see, and their coats are looking a bit rough as they shed the winter layer.