28 March 2009

Still Winter in Butte America

We've been teased by a little warm weather, but so far I'm more inclined to Nordic ski than trout fish. Not to say that I wouldn't like to start flyfishing--after all, it's nearly 01 April, and even for us most diehard fans of winter it's running a bit long this year.

Still, there I wake to greet each day for whatever it has to offer. Be it a gorgeous pre-dawn sky (as seen from the front porch):

The view south past Timber Butte to the Highland Mountains (also from the porch):

Sunrise at the parking lot for The Moulton ski trails:

A major hatch of snow fleas (Hypogastura nivicola), like pepper sprinkled on ice cream:

I did some reading on these tiny celebrants of warm & sunny but-still-winter days, and found they are not a "flea" at all, but a springtail--"soil-dwelling arthopods that eat decaying vegetation and fungi:"

Roly The Dog is pleased to come across fox tracks, plunging her nose into the snow for the deeply exhilirating scent. We came across some other tracks, however, that seemed to concern her. At first, I thought they were tracks of that lion that we smelled several weeks ago on a moonlight ski. But no, these tracks showed toenails. A wolf had crossed west-to-east on the upper trails near Nipper Junction:

This is the first wolf sign I have seen aroung The Moulton. Pardner Smith "cried wolf" about a sighting near his house along Moulton Road a year or two ago, but he's also the guy who claimed he saw a wolf while we were antelope hunting. Pardner's "wolf" was a coyote that passed by less than 100-yards from me, so I tend to doubt his wolf-identification skills. I should write a book titled Pardner Stories, but that's for another time.


The Moulton: Montana's finest classic cross country ski trails, just five miles north of Butte.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. But honestly, I wouldn't be gettign a little crazy if it were still winter here. Still, it's gorgeous. That's wild about the snow fleas.

fishing guy said...

ER: What a neat look at the fleas, I have never seen them. Maybe I'm not looking close enough.

troutbirder said...

Really like the view from your porch. My view is mainly the neighbors herd of domestic goats. Better than what's on TV most nights though.

EcoRover said...

Citizen of the World, I might be calling on you for some therapy if winter doesn't break soon.

Fishing Guy, snow fleas are circumboreal (at least) in distribution. They were present on warm, late-winter days of February/March on the Allegheny Plateau (Bradford area) of Pennsylvania.

Thanks, Troutbirder. Goats are cool, if they get loose and climb on your car. We have a neighbor that boards horses, which seemed kind of charming at first, but then the flies came.