Montana Outdoors

May 25, 2008

It’s not always bad to have “the blues”.

Filed under: Butterflies, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: — montucky @ 7:59 pm

There were a couple of rainy hours available just before dinner today and I decided to spend them searching for a favorite wildflower, the Tolmie Star Tulip. It is still a little early in the season for them, but at the lower end of Munson Creek I was able to find three in bloom (photos in the next post). Just as I returned to the trailhead the rain stopped, a few rays of sun appeared and with them a visit from this little guy who has his own version of “the blues”.

Boisduval’s Blue  (Plebejus icarioides)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Butterflies and Moths of North America

May 24, 2008

Another new love

It was standing in the rain on a steep bank between the river and the meadow, in a place in which I wouldn’t have been except for a date I had with a big trout (fish don’t mind the rain, you know), and it was love at first sight!

With wildflowers, if you aren’t in exactly the right place at exactly the right time you will never know they exist, and that must have been the way it was for many years because I have never run across this beautiful little flower before. To attempt to do it justice I have included a number of photos showing the many different moods it seems to be able to create.

Broad-beard beardtongue, Broadbeard beardtongue, Whorled penstemon,
Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family), Penstemon angustifolius.

Broadbeard beardtongue

Broadbeard beardtongue

Broadbeard beardtongue

Broadbeard beardtongue

Broadbeard beardtongue

Broadbeard beardtongue

Penstemon angustifolius at USDA Plants

May 23, 2008

Is it spring yet?

Yesterday in a light rain that started early and continued all day, these bloomed for the first time at the Clark Fork valley level (elevation 2,500 feet):

Sticky Geranium, Geranium viscosissimum

Sticky Geranium

Sticky Geranium

Sticky Geranium

but about 5 miles away it still looked like this (elevation 5,600 feet). About a half mile from here I got my first look at a big bear this year. Too bad he didn’t stay around for a photo shoot!

Near Big Hole lookout trailhead

(Sticky Geranium at USDA Plants)

(Sticky Geranium at

May 22, 2008

Two days (part 1)

It’s incredible what a little warm weather does to the blossoming progress of wildflowers. Here are some that I’ve seen in the last two days near here.

Big sagebrush Artemesia tridentata flowers. This is a critical plant for sustaining deer and elk during the winter months. It is even more nourishing than alfalfa! I read recently that a wildfire killed most of these plants in one area of Wyoming and there was a 60% mortality rate in that area for mule deer over the winter.

   Big sagebrush blossoms Artemisia tridentata

Hawthorn Crataegus. These thorny trees are prolific in this part of Montana and produce berries that I don’t find good tasting but I think the birds do. The wood from its stems is extremely hard and durable: it’s a little gnarly but I make my hiking staffs from it.

 Hawthorn (Crataegus)

Serviceberry Amelanchier produces one of my favorite berries for mid to late summer. They have a very light taste and so are not useful for pies of jellies, but are delicious and nutritious. I find them best if you take a whole handful at once: that way they will flood your mouth with flavor!


Large-flowered false dandelion Agoseris glauca

 Large flowered False dandelion  Agoseris glauca

Large-flowered false dandelion Agoseris glauca

Large flowered false dandelion

Douglas wild hyacinth Brodiaea douglasii (couldn’t resist one more photo of this)

 Douglas Wild hyacinth  Brodiaea douglasii

Goatsbeard Tragopogon dubius. When I was a boy we referred to this as “milkweed”, which it isn’t, but when picked, the stems do exude a milky substance. When the blossom matures it forms a seed canopy similar to that of the dandelions only much larger.

 Goatsbeard Tragopogon dubius

Chokecherry Prunus virginiana. I always look forward to both the beautiful blossoms and later to the ripe fruit for jelly and syrup. These are very prolific and are a major food source for bears as they fatten up for winter.

 Chokecherry Prunus virginiana

Wayside gromwell Lithospermum ruderale

 Wayside gromwell Lithospermum ruderale

May 21, 2008


It has only been a few years since I first saw one of these, but now spring just wouldn’t be the same for me without them.

The Calypso orchid or Fairyslipper (Calypso bulbosa).

Calypso orchid or Fairyslipper (Calypso bulbosa)

Calypso orchid or Fairyslipper (Calypso bulbosa)

To be able to grow at all, Calypso orchids need a particular mycorrhizal fungus in the soil to provide sugars and minerals necessary for them to sprout and therefore they can only be found where this fungus is available. To me this is an excellent illustration of the interdependence between life forms and an example of the necessity of maintaining sufficient habitat for natural biodiversity.


May 20, 2008

A butterfly day

Filed under: Butterflies, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: — montucky @ 10:18 pm

It started this morning when I did my best to catch up with a pretty little butterfly with orange tips on its white wings who was visiting one of my wife’s flower gardens. No luck there, but this small green-eyed one (Cabbage white) made a visit and that was some consolation.

Green-eyed butterfly

Green-eyed butterfly

After getting some yard work completed I rewarded myself this afternoon with a short hike up a Forest Service road not far from here to photograph some wildflowers and encountered this unusual little fellow. I have no idea at all what species it is and I have never seen one like it before.

Unknown butterfly

Five flower photos later and the day came around full cycle with the arrival of one of the little white and orange guys (Stella orangetip) who, this time, was more interested in examining a flower than he was in foiling my attempts to photograph him.


As usual I am amazed at the beauty and diversity of nature and even more amazed at the members of my own species who, without any knowledge at all of what these little creatures are and what part they play in maintaining the natural balance of this planet, are willing to risk disturbing that balance and destroy the habitat that supports them.

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