02-26-14 Field Note

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02-26-14 Field Note

February 28, 2014

Jeff Clarke shares a Field Note that showcases the landscape and fauna after a snowstorm.

Snowy Note

Another multi-day winter storm blanked the ranch with 12” to 20” of snow.

The 2 1/2’ rodent exclosures were buried so deep that a field mouse could jump right over them.

When the storm ceased, I decided to ski up to Woodchuck Meadow to see what critters, if any, were on the move.

The deep and drifted snow made it tough for deer to travel and forage. I saw bedded deer, reluctant to flee.

The deer that were up and foraging didn’t want to move much either. Typically, a deer will meander from bush to bush to feed. These deer stood in one spot and consumed as much bitterbrush as possible.

This horse herd was also reluctant to move. Trails that the horses did make were followed by deer and coyotes.

The storm didn’t bother this flock of chickadees. I watched them walk across the snow with ease. The added snow made access to knapweed seedheads even easier.

Snow covered 7 foot tall bitterbrush bushes.

As the snow baked in the sunlight, it grew heavy and fell from wispy branches.

Though covered by snow, Woodchuck Creek continues to flow.

continues to flow. When I reached the pinnacle of my 5.5 mile journey, I removed my skis to take a break. When I stepped off into the snow, I sank up to my waist!

The confluence of Last Draw and Woodchuck Draw

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