Phenology Report: Mid March 2015
Spring is coming early here – and the low snowpack is a concern to many. Already the Ishawooa horse’s head on South Fork is clearly showing. The horse’s reins hanging down will eventually melt enough to ‘break.’ This is used as an indication of when the highest runoff is over and the mountain passes are clear enough to travel. Compare this year (above) on March 21 to last year (below) on June 15:
In fact, even a drive up to Pahaska, near the East Gate of Yellowstone had hardly any snow. For those of you who know the area, we didn’t even see any snow or ice on the banks of the river until we were almost to Kitty Creek.
But today as I type this, we’ve had bit of snow and it’s still snowing up higher – and more is in the forecast. I’m always happy to see snow or rain out here – thankful for the moisture.
As for the birds returning, the Bluebirds are back – and in our little pocket of houses, each has at least one bluebird nesting box and the birds are battle out where they will live for the next few months. We have a pair that has been busy protecting their claim on the bird box behind our house. The Mountain Bluebirds returned on March 10 to most of the greater Yellowstone area. That was also the day a report came in of Sandhill Cranes over on South Fork outside of Cody. Since then we’ve seen them as well.
On a drive around the area, we spotted three bison on North Fork – all plodding their way west toward the park.
And we saw numerous bands of Bighorn Sheep in the lower part of the North Fork – most were ewes, but a few rams were in the mix as well.
The mule deer bucks in the area have mostly lost their antlers – I did notice one large buck rubbing his head in the sagebrush as his new set of antlers is starting to come in. Must be similar to cutting teeth.
All along the North Fork, the aspen had their catkins nearly fully out. The Cottonwoods are getting ready to follow with the buds on all the trees quite swollen. We did stop by Newton Spring Picnic Area and noticed the Gooseberry bushes are already sending out leaves. Looking down at the base of the bunch grass in the area, there’s more and more green showing. Dandelions have their first leaves out, but no blossoms yet.
In town, the lilac bushes are starting to send out their leaves and I spot crocuses and daffodils blooming in a few yards.
So spring is well on its way here in the Cody area, but I’m glad to see winter hanging on for a bit to give us a bit more snowpack.
And make time to get outside yourself and enjoy watching spring arrive in your area!