01-18-13 Field Note

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01-18-13 Field Note

January 21, 2013

Jeff Clarke's Field Note recounts a prarie falcon encounter, a red breasted nuthatch, and a subnivean latrine.

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01-18-13 Field Note by Jeff Clarke

Frigid temperatures fused the frazzle ice, which damed and diverted several portions of the Bitterroot.

Deer will shed their antlers within the next month or two.

A red-breasted nuthatch forages for insects in the nooks and crannies of a dead cottonwood. Their short, nasally call, “yenk-yenk,” seems to express happiness.

Subnivean rodent tunnels etch vein-like mosaics beneath freshly fallen snow. Each tunnel has a purpose; this tunnel leads to a latrine. Judging by the lack of tracks around this hole, I assume it is not an exit and was only created for ventilation.

I spooked this prairie falcon from an unknown ground location nearby. It perched on the Clubhouse’s chimney for at least 30 seconds before it took flight.

For the next two minutes, the falcon circled me and the house. I sat there trying to take photos . . . and then it dawned on me . . . maybe I spooked this bird off a fresh meal!

I looked 20 feet away and saw a decapitated partridge and a large pile of feathers. I decided to let the soaring falcon and its meal be alone again.

Over the next few months, on the Clubhouse Floodplain we will construct several buck and rail fences from timber harvested on the ranch. Fences encourage forest expansion and new understory shrub growth by keeping hungry ungulates out.

Bitterroot skies aflame.