Thursday, March 28, 2013

Impatiently Waiting for Spring

I went for a drive yesterday afternoon - the first drive-about I've done in a long time.  There's too much snow, plain and simple.  The roads are icy, the ditches are level-full of snow and it is still very, very cold here.  No, I can't seem to stop grumbling about this never-ending Winter. spite of the vast snow cover, it IS the time of year when the first migrants start showing up.   As well, I wanted to check on the Souris River.  Water has been released from Rafferty and Boundary all winter.

This is the river south of Shand Power Plant.  The water level is very high - this area was all under-water two Springs ago.

First of all, there are small herds of deer grazing for whatever poor quality grass is left to nibble.  These are White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

And their sentinel.

What is this big ol' woolly-looking bundle trundling along the rim of Boundary reservoir?

Mr. or Mrs. Yellowquill, I believe.  The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) My trusty Kaufman Field Guide to Mammals of North America informs that this is our second-largest rodent and that it's sharp quills are actually modified hairs.

And then there were the tree-top grouse.  To me, there are some birds which just do not suit being at the top of a very tall tree among the more spindly branches.  (Cormorants are undoubtedly the silliest.)  A plump Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) at the top of a poplar looks rather awkward, or something. 


I guess the view is better; the buds probably taste about the same as the lower ones.

When I was driving back out of the little park at Boundary, I saw something sort of moving up ahead on the road.  I slowed...really?  Is that a...???

Yes, a young Richardson's Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii), most affectionately known simply as 'gopher'.  It was only partly alert to its surroundings, probably not entirely awake from hibernation...and I could have picked it up easily enough.  (I didn't).  

I have no idea where it came from, as there were no bare spots of ground showing along the road or ditches for some distance.  Poor little buddy; I hope it found its way back to its home.

This is the Souris River at Woodlawn bridge.  The resident Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)  have been enjoying the open water on the river; some appear to be pairing off.  Also in the picture are three pairs of Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata).  They are Spring arrivals.

Many signs of Spring out there.  Now, if this snow would melt....except that's bound to bring a lot of flooding.  It's going to be one of those years.


  1. Indeed. And we still have piles of snow in southern Minn. Having just read an article in Time about the near possibility of deextincting (I coined that word) extinct species, I was sure that bundle of fur was a wooly Mammoth. :)

    1. Too bad about all the snow down your way as well. Maybe the 'deextincting' of a few Wooly Mammoth might not be so far-fetched now that this new Ice Age seems to have cometh - or not. I'd get a copy-write on that word, if I were you!

  2. Wow, so much snow! Here, too. That poor gopher looks so lost.

    1. Yes, so much snow. I heard things are melting up your way - or at least the water was running down streets over at White Swan Lake according to my cousin yesterday afternoon. It was +6 up there. More like -6 down here. Hope you get all melted soon. I really did want to pick up little Mr. Gopher and take him somewhere warm.

  3. You have more signs of Spring than we do! I have seen a few Canada Geese flying around, but there isn't any open water around us. My grandparents saw a Richardson's Ground Squirrel two weeks ago, but after the blizzard a week ago, it will be a while until Spring arrives!