The bears, probably due to the excessive snowfall that we have experienced during the past winter, have been late in making their appearance as the usual places this spring. The first sign of bear was reported about one month later than last year and even yet they have not become common around Longmire. However on the morning of the fourteenth of April the drive that encircles the rear of most of the homes here was strewn with garbage cans and their contents - evidence that bruin has lost none of his knack for getting into mischief over the winter.
For the past few years a general downward migration of mammals common to the Hudsonian Zone has been noted. Cony, marmot and ground squirrel are gradually becoming more common at the lower elevations. During the last week in March we noted, along with several Douglas Squirrels that we have been feeding all winter with scraps from the table, a wan and bedraggled ground squirrel. He was one of the group that had migrated to the lower altitudes and probably had come out to inspect the early spring situation. But we doubt if he found it very encouraging at that time. A good deal of snow still lay upon the ground, all the buildings were still foundering in the wintry sea of white.
Nutcrackers have also become rather common about Longmire since last year. These large grey and black birds are a common sight in the Hudsonian Zone - particularly about Paradise - but they are rarely seen at this elevation.
The sure sign of spring in Mount Rainier National Park is the song of the Varied Thrush. A clear, melodious whistle which rings out over the hills from the bird's perch somewhere in the sombre coniferous forests. With the earth still locked in a wintry grip, with several feet of snow still lying on the ground, with everything awaiting the moment when new life shall again enliven the woods and alpine meadows this song is indeed a welcome one.
By the time this reaches you it is very likely that the Coltsfoot and Skunk Cabbage will be pushing their way through the ground in this park. These plants are the first to bloom in this area - not overly attractive yet they are the first promise of the abundant and varied flora that is found here until the early fall snows obscure everything from view again.
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