YELLOWSTONE NATURE NOTES
On the ski trip recently completed by Ranger Coleman and me, water supply was a serious problem at many of the snowshoe cabins. The abnormally cold weather during January had sealed all streams with a heavy layer of ice. Then the February snows had covered them with a generous coat of snow.
Dish water, of course, was a mere matter of dipping up a pan of snow and melting it, but such water is unpalatable for drinking purposes even in tea or coffee. At Thorofare both the artificial canal leading from the station door and the stream from which it is drawn were frozen solid. The only alternative was to cut ice from the creek and melt that.
At Fern Lake after digging through some fifty-five inches of snow, and hacking through over two feet of ice, we finally reached a trickle of water.
Birds seen on this trip were: numerous Ravens, (Corvus corax sinuatus); Canada Jays (Perisoreus canadensis canadensis); Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana); Magpies (Pica pica hudsonia); Rocky Mountain Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator montana); Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobates villosus septentrionalis); Dippers (Cinclus mexicanus unicolor); and Mountain Chickadees (Penthestes gambeli gambeli).
A Red-Shafted Flicker (Colaptes cafer collaris) was observed on February 16 near Beaver Dam Creek. It is debatable whether this was the first arrival of the season or a winter resident.
In a warm pool along Pelican Creek were observed thirty Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos), five Canada Geese (Branta canadensis canadensis), and four Buffle-head Ducks (Charitonetta albeola).
On Broad Creek five Canada Geese, three Mallards, and three Golden-eye (Glaucionetta. . .whether clangula or islandica not determined as these birds were females and too far away for positive identification as to sub-species) were seen.
Small flocks of White-winged Cross Bills (Loxia leucoptera) were observed at Pelican Springs cabin.
On the return trip to Lake, long stretches of the Yellowstone River through Hayden Valley were again open, and on this ice-freed water the following birds were observed: thirty Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator); one hundred Canada Geese; hundreds of Mallards, Golden-eyes; Buffle-heads; and several flocks of Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis nivalis).
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