I went out in the woods yesterday to find tracks of the coyote who kept me up all night by howling outside my window. I found them, but more interesting was this:Chomp

Enter hapless bunny, stage left. He hops along for a bit, then a hawk swoops down and gobbles him up. Notice the wingtip print at right, and lack of further bunny prints.

Hottest Day Ever

A few weeks ago, Seattle racked up its hottest day ever, at 103 degrees F. I was there for the fun. Normally I argue that air conditioning in the Pacific Northwest is for wimps, but we weren’t too thrilled about experiencing the record heat in a hotel without functioning AC. The next day (still hot) I was at a hotel that did have AC (the Crowne Plaza), and found this amazing scene:

Crowne Plaza fire

AC on full blast … and people huddled around a gas fire in the lobby?!

Don’t even get me started on the ice machinein a 100 degree closet, with an electric fan venting its waste heat into the hall, only to be expelled to the great outdoors by the building AC…

Incidentally, while it’s been mercifully cool and wet here in Montana, satellite records indicate that July 19 was possibly the hottest day ever recorded worldwide.

Dancing Sandhills

Too busy to write much lately, but here’s a nice show put on by a pair of cranes in our pasture yesterday:
Dancing Sandhill Cranes

These are very big birds. Last year my wife & kids found one that had been injured by a collision with a power line. We took it to MT Fish & Wildlife’s rehab center. Catching an unhappy bird with a beak as long as your hand and wings longer than your arms is no picnic! Unfortunately he didn’t make it, and we spent the rest of the season hearing the mournful calls of his mate. Still, it was a privilege to see such a magnificent bird up close.

Spring has (Un)Sprung

Spring has arrived here in Montana, though there’s at least two months of snow still to come. Spring critters have arrived, as if on cue. This weekend we saw our first robin, bluebird, sandhill crane, and woolly bear caterpillar. The caterpillar found a little bit too much warmth – he’s fast becoming a fossil in a pool at Mammoth Hot Springs:

Mammoth woolly bear

Typical Montana: in the time it took me to write this, then find & upload the photo, it’s snowed almost a foot and yet another bird (juncos) has arrived.