Phenology Report 20 Dec 2014

Today we wait for the next snowstorm to move in here on the North Fork of the Shoshone – east of Yellowstone. We can see it’s already snowing in the park, which is a good thing. The east gate opens up on the 22nd for the winter season with Gary Fales Outfitting being the one to contact for information on heading into the park this winter from the Cody side.

We had a good warm spell that melted much of the snow here and left us with some beautiful wind-free winter days. Snow moved in on the 14th and left us a “hard-working 1/2″ (as a neighbor called the 5-6” or so we ended up with when less than an inch was predicted). The day after the storm was cold, but also wind-free, and pulled me outside to take some photos. The frost clung to nearly everything, and the fog would cut off views except for single spires at times.

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We watched a Northern Goshawk just barely miss a rabbit lunch just a few feet from our front deck. We had seen a hawk around the area in the distance, but never when we had the binoculars handy to see what type of hawk it might be – all we could really see was the lighter colored underbelly.

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Also this past week, we started to hear a duet being sung where only a solo Great Horned Owl had been heard before. Courting season for them appears to have begun.

On another fabulous winter day this week, we went with a friend out to hike around in the forest – and saw deer, a couple of Bighorn Sheep that heard us chatting and headed over the far ridge. Also saw at least one set of elk tracks mixed in with the deer tracks. It felt so good to get outside and away from unpacking boxes. The rut is winding down, but patches of blood were found from an apparent tussle between two of them that didn’t leave much of a trail. It always amazes me how quickly they can clot up.

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We got a report that Sunshine Reservoir over by Meeteetse had a brave ice fisherman testing it – the ice was reported to only be 2-3″ thick at this point.  The water levels at Buffalo Bill Reservoir are up a bit – just at the overflow level of the dust abatement dike where we’ve seen fishermen and bald eagles over the past week or so. Also have seen golden eagles in that same area when driving to town to do some Christmas errands. On the warm, calm days, we even saw a couple of boats out on the water there.

Photographer, Sandi Sisti has found a bull moose or two up farther toward Yellowstone, and as usual has captured some great shots.

Here in Wapiti, some neighbors have spotted wolves, likely from the Absaroka Pack in the past week or so. We’ve kept our eyes out for them, but haven’t seen or heard them. Also, we heard via hunters that the elk normally seen between Meeteetse and Cody are being kept up on Carter Mountain by the wolves in that area.

The snowstorm moving in today is supposed to stay for the rest of the week and give us a strong shot of having a white Christmas. Have a great week!

 

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