Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Montana Trip

Sarah and I just returned from a five-day trip to Montana we took to attend my brother's wedding reception. We had not visited the state together for several years, so I was eager to show her some of my favorite places in my hometown of Butte and my college town of Missoula. Here are some highlights:

Mountains and mines northeast of Butte

My grandmother planted this blue spruce when I was born. Every time I visit Butte, I check on her old house to see how tall the tree has grown.

After leaving Butte, we drove to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in the Bitterroot Valley. As usual, Canada Geese were nesting in old Osprey nests.

I scooped up a green drake mayfly newly emerged from the Bitterroot River.

A day later, we toured the National Bison Range and the Mission Valley.

We saw adult bulls and cows...

and teenaged buffalo, but no recently born calves, which we had hoped for.

We did see antelope (on the ridgetop) and plenty of birds, however, so the trip was a big success.

I can't wait for the next trip to Montana when I can show Sarah some of the locations and animals we missed this week.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Goings on in the Yard

Here in the Village, the weather has transitioned from the typically winter pattern of mostly rainy days to a spring-like mix of sun, wind, and rain each day. The change in seasons means that it is time to get serious about nesting and gardening.

Last week I found another Western Scrub Jay pair constructing a nest, this one in a pyrocanthus shrub in our own backyard. The female is now incubating. This woody plant is armed with sharp, brittle thorns that break under the skin and irritate for days, so the nest site should be a safe one.

The crows visible from our house are now incubating as well. On one nest, I can actually see the female with my bare eyes from our dining room. While indoors, we can also hear her calling out to others while sitting on her nest.

During the last two weeks, we transplanted three strawberry plants and two blueberry shrubs in hopes of several years' worth of cobblers. We also sent orders for vegetable seeds and native plants which we anticipate will increase the diversity of food in our kitchen and birds in our yard.