Montana Outdoors

April 30, 2012

And more April flowers

This is appearing to be an unusual spring for wildflowers. Some seem to be blooming later than normal and some seem to be early. In this and the following post I will show the rest of this year’s April blooms that I’ve encountered.

Stream Violet, Wood Violet

Stream Violet, Wood Violet, Viola glabella

Stream Violet, Wood Violet

Stream Violet, Wood Violet, Viola glabella

Redstem Stork's Bill

Redstem Stork’s Bill, Erodium cicutarium

Redstem Stork's Bill

Redstem Stork’s Bill, Erodium cicutarium

Utah Honeysuckle, Red Twinberry

Utah Honeysuckle, Red Twinberry, Lonicera utahensis

Utah Honeysuckle, Red Twinberry

Utah Honeysuckle, Red Twinberry, Lonicera utahensis

Falsebox, Mountain Boxwood, Oregon Boxwood

Falsebox, Mountain Boxwood, Oregon Boxwood, Pachistima (or Paxistima) myrsinites

Common Dandelion

Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale

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April 28, 2012

April flowers

Our western Montana wildflowers are now well into their spring routine and although I had hoped to show them as they bloom and spotlight each one, alas, I have fallen behind and must try to catch up in the next several posts by showing several at a time. This time of year, each hike uncovers several new blooms. It’s a wonderful time of year!

Arrow-leaved Balsamroot

Arrow-leaved Balsamroot, Balsamorhiza sagittata

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow Grass, Whitlow Grass

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow Grass, Whitlow Grass, Draba Verna

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow Grass, Whitlow Grass

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow Grass, Whitlow Grass, Draba Verna

Desert Parsley, Suksdorf’s desert-parsley, (Lomatium suksdorfii)

Desert Parsley, Suksdorf’s desert-parsley, Lomatium suksdorfii

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet, Erythronium grandiflorum

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet, Erythronium grandiflorum

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet, Erythronium grandiflorum

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet

Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily, Dogtoothed Violet, Erythronium grandiflorum

April 26, 2012

Squirrel? Squirrel!

Filed under: Animals — Tags: , — montucky @ 8:50 pm

Just two days ago tree swallows started showing up for the first time this year and their acrobatic flights are so enjoyable to watch; one of the wonderful treats of summer.

For the past two summers a pair of them have nested in an old bluebird house that is fastened to a small pine tree not far from our house. Having just seen the swallows come in I went out today to clean out that old house for this summer’s tenants and found a big surprise awaiting.

As I removed a panel on the house so the accumulation of twigs and other nesting material that had nearly filled it could be removed, I saw a small head with huge eyes appear at the entrance and soon after a small and very surprised animal (about a foot long) emerged and scampered a few feet up the tree. A squirrel! No, something else: our squirrels don’t look at all like that.. something else. What in the world? My mind quickly reviewed all of the small mammals I know of in Montana. “Squirrel” was as close as I could come.

I noticed that the contents of the house included two babies and so I carefully tucked them and everything else back into the house. The animal by this time had retreated further up the tree.

A quick search on the internet using “Flying squirrel, Montana” (I recalled seeing something similar from South America on a National Geographic film) immediately produced a link to a website called “Montana Field Guide” and a photo of my strange animal, labeled “Northern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus“. I had no idea there was such a thing in these parts! A call to our local wildlife biologist with the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks confirmed it, and I was told that not only are they not rare, but they are quite common and plentiful, however seldom seen because they are nocturnal.

After watching for awhile from a respectful distance, I saw the mother come back down the tree and re-enter the house, unfortunately in poor light conditions and right at the useful limit of my 300mm lens. 

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrels occur from Alaska through most of Canada, southward to the mountains of southern California, southern Rocky Mountains, western South Dakota, Great Lakes Region, and southern Appalachians.

Their diet consists largely of fungi and lichens plus plant and animal material (insects, nuts, buds, seeds, fruit).

April 24, 2012

Now, back to the flowers

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:55 pm

It appears that now the wildflowers in this area are beginning to bloom in earnest. I shall try to catch up!

Western Spring Beauty, Lanceleaf Springbeauty

Western Spring Beauty, Lanceleaf Springbeauty

Western Springbeauty or Lanceleaf Springbeauty, Claytonia lanceolata

April 23, 2012

Easily distracted

Filed under: Nature — Tags: — montucky @ 12:22 am

It is wildflower season, and today my plan was to post a few photos of the species that are beginning to bloom here now. Then this morning my wife said something like “Honey, you should see this…” and that plan was changed because the morning light was just right to illuminate the artwork of a couple of busy arachnids in a lilac bush. Well, the flowers can wait another day, can’t they?

Spider web

Spider web

April 19, 2012

Bluebells

Along the trail to the celebration of the trilliums there was a bonus: bluebells have begun to bloom.

Small Bluebells

Small Bluebells

Small Bluebells, Long-flowered Lungwort, Trumpet Bluebells ~ Mertensia longiflora

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