Yellowstone Reports

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Late Winter - Early Spring?
by Dan Hartman

Feb. 24, 2017

     Around the middle of the month we were hit with a February thaw.  Temperatures climbed from below zero to the high thirties.  Heavy wet snow fell accompanied by terrific winds.  The roads turned to ice.  The wet snow on top of the snow already sitting on our roof made us nervous.  I raked half the snow off and the next day the rest slid with a cabin shaking roar!  Instantly the shoveled path to our front door was gone for the rest of the winter.  We could no longer see out our back windows.  Every driveway in the valley became impassable.  Visions of the 2011 winter came to mind.  The snow stake in our back yard read three and a half feet on the level.

     The warmth seemed to bring wildlife changes also.  We gained two new martens bringing our total to seven.  We also had foxes swarming our front yard every evening.  Black rosey finches arrived on the 16th, breaking last years early record by ten days.

     I went our for an early season boreal owl run.  It felt good to re-aquaint myself with old friends, Orion, Venus and the Big Dipper, but the night was silent.  I admit I was surprised.  My owl survey doesn't officially start until March 1st but the warm temperatures should have started them singing.  The reason could be snow depth.  It could have started a vertical migration to shallower snow where hunting is easier.

     Speaking of owls, it's going to be an interesting year.  The past two springs followed wet summers and mild winters.  But this spring will follow a dry summer (remember the fires?) and a kicking winter.  If the owls nest at all, I would expect clutches to return to pre 2015 numbers.  Reason being; less rodents which are their prey species.


View slide show

Our Sign After Clean Up

Our Roof After It Slid

Our Back Window

Four Foot Chunk Of Snow Off Our Roof

Black Rosey Finch