Nature Notes

Vol. XII April, 1934 No. 4

Just Here and There

First of the multitude of wild flowers that makes this park so colorful and interesting to many people during the spring and summer months comes the Coltsfoot (Petasites nivalis). This plant is invariably the first of all the park's wildflowers, but this year due to the exceptionally mild winter, it is far ahead of its uusual schedule. A few specimens of this plant were noted blooming in late February, and now they are quite abundant--particularly along the highway between the Nisqually Entrance and Longmire. While the Coltsfoot is hardly a beautiful flower, it nevertheless attracts considerable attention with the result that we have a small bouquet on display at the musuem--the first flower display of the season--in order that the identity of this plant may be readily ascertained by anyone who desires to do so. To us in the park, its appearance heralds the approach of spring and its countless vary-colored blooms is a welcome member of the park's floral color. You will find it illustrated on the cover of this issue.

Two other plants noted for the first time this year (March 18) was the Skunk Cabbage and one of the Huckleberries. The latter was quite a surprise, as it has never been noted blooming this early in the spring.

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On March 12, "Stub" Bennett, who is well known to anyone that has ever ridden horseback in the Paradise Valley region during the summer, visited the barn at Paradise to inspect the condition of thiings there. Upon the hay lay a coyote--dead. It showed no signs of injury, and apparently it had crawled to this comfortable spot free from the cold winds of this snowy region where it entered upon its last sleep.

douglas squirrel

A casualty among the birds was converted into a mounted specimen on March 14. The victim was a Varied Thrush which unfortunately dove into the window of the gas station at Longmire. The impact killed the bird which was picked up by Ranger Frank Green, who brought it to the museum.

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Mountain Goat, generally readily visible on the rocky crags of Tumtum Mountain facing the Nisqually Highway, were not noted so often this past season. No doubt the mild weather that characterized our past winter has made it possible for them to range in the higher elevations.

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General Foreman Frank Akehurst called our attention to a thing of interest along Kautz Creek this month. The high water of last fall and winter (which did not make an exception of this creek) washed out a portion of one bank of this stream. By this action several trunks that had been entirely embedded in the glacial till at this point were exposed to view. The trees were several feet in diameter and probably represented the remnants of a forest that grew there many years ago before the variable habits of the stream caused it to change its course, inundate the trees and pile soil, rock and other debris about their trunks to a depth of ten to fifteen feet. Apparently the river again changed its course, the trees died and the upper portion fell away, soil again formed upon the rocky creek bed and a new forest rehabilitated the spot. The vagaries of this stream in the past remained a closed book until last winter when it again went on a rampage, cut away into its banks and exposed evidence of the forest that once grew there. The trunks were excavated down to the roots, but remained erect--tombstones of a former forest.

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Bears are out! The first tracks of the year were noted at Round Pass by Asst. Chief Ranger Macy on March 10. Apparently the mild winter did not shorten their period of hibernation, for they have came forth earlier in previous years, when considerable more snow was to be found on the ground than was the case this year.

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