Monday, November 28, 2011

Fall or Winter

It's a mild week in Yosemite but most trees are bare and there's morning frost in Yosemite Valley. Tioga Pass is open to cars but Glacier Point Road is closed. A Clark's Nutcracker drifted down from treeline and was heard above the Valley's west end, while aerial plankton of spiders and small insects fills the air in the afternoon sun.
Balloon flies continue to float in quantities in El Portal, where Grindella is still in bloom. Juncoes and mixed winter flocks have displaced the swifts and swallows of summer. Fresh bear tracks were seen in the snow at 7000' on Thanksgiving day.
I was just outside the park with friends yesterday and saw 4 river otters on the Tuolumne River. Park biologist SStock has records of 37 prior sightings of river otters in/near the park. They include observations from throughout Yosemite, including up to 10,000'. Has fish introduction allowed the otters to range higher or stay longer than pre-fish?
This weekend is the Conservancy's woodpeckers field course; we have more kinds of woodpeckers than almost anywhere. Good weather should make a pleasant day for a quest to see as many as we can while learning about this important keystone guild. Our Christmas Bird Count is December 18 and would welcome more participants, whether experienced birders or not. Maybe mild weather will last, though La Nina is expected to be visiting for the winter.