Beautiful Images of Nature in the Fall in Western Montana
This week, Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal noticed some flocks of American Crows in the Lolo area of western Montana. You'll notice a photo of a raven above, often mistaken for a crow. Both are black, but ravens are larger and often travel in pairs, while crows flock together. Bob saw about 40 crows in the air, which is part of their migration behavior. They start gathering together in August and are on their way south.
The cold weather has started the Western Larch's fall change. It is a conifer tree that is deciduous - in other words, it loses its needle during the winter. Right now, you can see the bright yellow patches of larch on the mountainsides. The tree can get up to 150 feet tall.
Another bird affected by the fall weather is the Ruffed Grouse, which is into "drumming" behavior now. The young grouse are leaving the family and picking their territory by drumming sounds on a log. Bob says the experts have found that once the bird has picked its territory, it will spend the rest of their life within 300 yards of the spot. By the way, hunting season for this bird is now open until January 1st. So, if you're out and about in the wild, wear bright colors and make some noise as you hike.
Last call for dragonflies this season. Bob saw a Striped Meadowhawk in Maclay Flat by Missoula this last week. It's about an inch and a half in size and you'll have to have a sunny day to see one. Look around irrigation ditches, even if they're dry now.
For Halloween, the orange-colored Larch Waxy Cap fungi can be found in pine forests and it's about 4 inches tall. There are 41 species in the Pacific Northwest. The reddish orange cap has a raised dark center. Stay warm, and listen to the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal Wednesday mornings about 7:45 a.m. on 1240 KLYQ AM radio or at www.klyq.com.