March 8, 2011

I have mixed emotions. There is a lot of snow on the ground. Temperatures looks to be mostly below freezing for the next week. I should have at least two weeks of snowshoeing opportunities, and maybe more, prior to the spring thaw. I have really enjoyed my snowshoe hikes this winter. I have learned that it helps to have an outdoor activity or two that changes your mindset so that you actually look forward to snowfall. My favorite outdoor activity in the winter is snowshoeing. In fact, I like it so much, that I'm not sure that I want the snow to melt. However, when it does, I will be be hiking at the farm --- but without the snowshoes and the poles and the winter clothes.


As April nears, I am also starting to think about setting my blind out near the sharptail grouse lek on my dad's farm. However, to make that happen before the spring thaw, I would need to open "iced up" doors on a machine shed, get the blind, put it on a sled, move it 100 yards and load it up on a pickup. Then, I would have to drive the pickup to a pasture about three miles from the Missouri River, and finally pull the blind on a sled for about 200 yards and set it up. I have done this in the past, and if we have a late spring, I could see this scenario happening again.


Last week, I showshoed by the lek --- which is really just a hilltop. The sharptail grouse --- at least the males --- are already on site as evidenced by the tracks in the snow. I will be curious to see if the numbers are the same as in past years, around 50 males. The native birds typically have no problem living through the winter, and so I expect to see them back. I know that they are out on the prairie as I have flushed out several groups this winter while snowshoeing.


And when I am in the blind on a cold morning sometime this spring, I will look forward to hearing the sounds of the sharptail grouse on the lek, seeing the geese flying north and watching the night sky turn to dawn and finally sunrise.  


I am also looking forward to resuming outdoor photography. The sun is again active, and any day we could see a northern lights display. The last time I photographed the northern lights, December 2006, seems like an eternity ago. I know that when I see them again, I am going to really appreciate it since they are not an every day occurrence. Let the "chase" begin.


I am also looking forward to starting the routine of wildflower photography from April through early September. Yeah, I said routine, but I don't mean it that way as it never gets old. The deep snowfall will provide ample moisture this spring, and should result in good wildflower numbers early in the season.


I will post some photos when I take my next snowshoe hike.


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