Phenology Update for Late April

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I’m not quite sure what birds arrived yesterday, (I’m still learning the ones that make the sagebrush steppe their summer home), but this morning when taking Rhad out,the air was filled with their sweet singing. Over the past couple of weeks, it’s been a gradual shift, but this morning, with the dawn chorus in full gear, it feels like Spring is here.

On the 16th, we had a good 10″ of heavy wet snow that disappeared almost within a day. That’s the moisture we’ve needed. Since then, we’ve had bits of snow and rain. Winters often average out, and while we still may have fire issues this summer, at least the snow pack in the high country is a bit better.

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The snow melts and soaks in to give the grass a good jump start. Yellow dots can now show in the green with the first dandelions coming out down low in the valley and slowly working their way up. And the small yellow violas are out as well. I even found some white loco weed with a good set of blooms already out in a sheltered location near the house.

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The deer are still hanging around, but they wander much more now with the green grass emerging in earnest, moving slowly across the hillsides each morning and afternoon. The boys are starting to show their new set of antlers. A report from at least a week ago came in to say the elk in Sunlight had been blazing a trail through the snow along the path that takes them over to the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone.

Also got a report that the osprey are back on the nest at Half Moon Bay near Buffalo Bill Reservoir.We had seen some bird there, strongly suspecting it was an Osprey, but without binoculars and a stop, we weren’t fully certain. The Pelicans are seen many days, but not all, so it’s hard to say if they are migrants or the summer residents, but usually three to five are there when we see them.

The Western Bluebirds calling our yard home for the summer were seen mating about a week ago, not long after we stopped seeing nest material being brought in.

And on the human phenology, we’ve noticed a sharp uptick in the traffic – and motorhomes are more common on the roads. The travelers and summer residents are returning. The East Gate to Yellowstone opens up on Friday, and it’s good to see at least a few people seem to be starting their vacations here in Cody. Smart folks – a week in Cody is about right to see much of what’s here.

We’re looking forward to trying out the restaurants again this year along the North Fork. Last year The Trail Shop had a good cook and we visited it a few times, and we had neighbors reporting that Shoshone Lodge also had good food. I’ll be sure to report what we find this year.

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