As the days shorten, wildlife is actively preparing for the shift to winter. Throughout this season of transition, visit mixed habitats to find wildlife foraging along their winter migration paths. Moose, Deer, and Elk all rely on plants, so you’ll find them gobbling up what they can in order to gain weight and survive the lean food supply months of winter.
Finding “Me Time”
In October, I had the opportunity to spend a week in the mountains and enjoy some much needed “Me Time”. I highly recommend a few days without your phone and computer to replenish your spirit. As you allow yourself to quiet in nature, you’ll begin to observe more. A large Mule Deer herd of does and fawns visited us daily. The young fawns looked wide-eyed with perked ears as if wondering whether to be afraid or not. I would breath and send peace and love. They remained and didn’t appear threatened by our presence. A Moose family came to lick salt, forage, and rest in the shade of a Lodgepole Pine. A Wolf called out during the night. A fellow hiker saw a Bear. Mountain Bluebirds flitted about, on their journey south, generating bursts of blue among the gray Sagebrush. A Short-eared Owl filled the night with its call. The Milky Way filled the night sky with burst with stars and the tendril of infinite light. Nature was all around. Ahh…to be one with it all! And remember, “Me Time” benefits you along with all those around you.
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly
During a sunny day this month, a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly and I shared a ray of sun. We both enjoyed the warmth. Both Milbert Tortoiseshell and Mourning Cloak butterflies overwinter in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The adult butterfly overwinters to emerge in Spring to mate. This period of dormancy is called diapause and it is a suspended period of development. Photoperiod or length of daylight spur the butterflies to seek refuge to survive the extremes of winter. Both are within the Brush-footed Butterfly family and all six species overwinter as adults. Look for the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell near moist locations and they are common in most of North America.
Daylight savings time begins. The month ends with wintry weather. Rain/snow mix in the valley and snow in the high country. During this season of change, it is nice to have a good book near to enjoy the wetter days and your hiking shoes nearby when the sun shines!
What’s in the Woods (Field Notes)
10/5-10/14 — Granite Creek: herd of Mule Deer, Moose family (bull, cow and calf), Bald Eagle, Black Bear, Short-eared Owl, American Dipper, Mountain Bluebirds, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly
10/18 — Ski Lake: two Moose, Red Tail Hawk
10/23 — Rain/snow mix
10/26 — Wilson, WY: Cow Elk near Snake River on Highway 22
10/27 — Wilson, WY: Bull Elk bugling
Upper elevations are white and the first ski turns of the season have been spotted at Grand Targhee Resort. Hiking is still nice in the valley. Try LSR preserve, Bearpaw/Trapper Lake near Leigh Lake, or Bradley and Taggert Lakes. Trails will most likely be muddy due to the current freeze/thaw cycle. Some valley roads closed November 1 and overnight street parking is now banned in the Town of Jackson for the winter. Choose your activity based on the weather and don’t bypass the opportunity to relax on that cold rainy day.