Sunday, January 29, 2012

1/29/12 Elk Viewing, First Wildflower for 2012

This morning after surveying the elk herd locations, on a hunch I walked a part of Lost Valley hiking trail looking for wildflowers. Our weather is now abnormal, I worry that is it permanent, and the daffodils are up and not blooming, but everything seems to be ahead of schedule. This poor flower bloomed in the recent warm weather and was drooped over in the morning frost. This is VERY early. I do have a witness too. I believe the plant is a toothwort, it is pretty tiny.

Don't forget frost blossoms in the early mornings. They are a great photographic subject and will fine tune your exposure control.

I will be doing a special entry on wildflowers this week.

The elk were following the recent patterns pretty well. There is one herd in zone 1 that is rotating between the woods, vacant Ponca fields, and the woods to the west of 43 behind the Ponca Bible Camp (private land). The second herd is down by the 43/21 intersection and they were close to the road this morning, actually on both sides of the road.

Frost Blossom Lost Valley 1/29/12
Remember bull elk keep their antlers until about April 1. The two herds have been viewable now in about the same locations for about two weeks. They are bothering no farmer since they avoid cattle. The herd down by 43/21 is grazing in fields that were planted as a food plot to attract elk. Certainly there is no complaint there.

This is just outstanding weather to hike. I recommend taking a hike in Lost Valley. The falls are running hard and the forest floor is now coming to life. There is something to be said for the beautiful cutting light that animates forest trails during leaf off.  As my attention gradually turns to wildflowers, I like to hike there often to see the entire wildflower cycle from the first sprouts through the climax of the season.

If I were homeschooling a child or just teaching kids about nature, the unfolding from now through the spring offers many lessons not only about plant species, but the dynamics of micro environments in the valley. It is also a great time to teach geology.

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