Montana Outdoors

February 28, 2012

Yellow is showing up now on Buttercup ridge.

Filed under: Wildflowers, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 8:52 pm

After so many days and even weeks of cloudy gray skies, there was a little sun today. Our thermometer recorded a low reading of 13°F last night though and even with the sun it didn’t become a warm day. Still, the appearance of the sun warranted another visit to Buttercup ridge, and that resulted in a look at the first wildflower blossoms of 2012! Apparently even temperatures in the teens don’t discourage the hardy little Sagebrush Buttercups: four were in full bloom.

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

In a shady place on a cliff just down off the ridge top, Nature had arranged a different kind of display too, an icy one, as a reminder that winter hasn’t yet totally surrendered to spring:

Icicles

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February 26, 2012

Well, we don’t have any flowers yet, but we have lichen!

While enjoying and photographing some cliff icicles, my day was brightened up by  many accents of color on the rocks courtesy of the lichens.

Superficial map lichen (light color), Lemon lichen

These two seem to get along well together; Lemon Lichen (Candelaria councilor), a foliose lichen surrounded by Superficial map lichen (Rhizocarpon superficial), a crust lichen.

Powdered Orange Lichen

Powdered Orange Lichen, (Xanthoria fallax), a leaf lichen

February 18, 2012

Winter pond

Filed under: Winter — montucky @ 9:05 pm

Winter pond

February 16, 2012

The icicles of Buffalo Bill Canyon

Filed under: ice art, Winter — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 10:15 pm

Buffalo Bill Canyon icicles

Although this may look something like a series of fountains, it is really a display of naturally formed ice on the side of a cliff about three hundred feet above the bottom of a small canyon. They are formed by water from small seeps through the rock, aided to some extent by snow-melt, which drip and trickle down, freezing over months of cold nights into icicles. I would estimate that the taller ones are six to ten feet tall.

February 14, 2012

Waiting for a sunny day

Today was cloudy and cool, not snowing, not raining, not really cold, and not sunny, but I decided to visit Buttercup Ridge, a tiny ridge top where this area’s very first buttercups bloom each spring. And this one is ready, just waiting for the next sunny day:

Sagebrush Buttercup, Ranunculus glaberrimus

I had visited there on February 4th, and then it had looked like this:

Sagebrush Buttercup, Ranunculus glaberrimus

In addition to the Buttercups, in a small clear place amidst the snow that still blankets most of the ridge, I found that Nature has created a tiny arrangement of lichens and winter moss just for the pleasure of anyone who would take the time and make the effort to visit Her special little ridge.

Pixie cup Lichen, (Cladonia pyxidata) and ferns

February 12, 2012

Late night visitor

Filed under: Butterflies — Tags: , — montucky @ 1:21 pm

Last night as I sat at the computer I noticed a slight motion just to my left. A tiny moth (measuring about a quarter of an inch from wingtip to wingtip) had landed on the desk beside me. It had a rather pleasing silverish look to its wings, which also seemed to have an unusual configuration. It stayed around long enough for a photo. I had never noticed anything with that kind of wing before. Today, it took me over an hour to identify it: (my skills at identifying insects are sadly under par). After looking at 235 pages of insect photos, on the very last page, the very last photo, was a picture of Alucita montana, a Six-plume moth.

Alucita montana, Six-plume moth

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