Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preparing for a Rocky Mountain Winter

On our first day at Rocky Mountain National Park, we headed to a ranger walk where the park ranger explained how animals in the Rockies deal with winter.

4 strategies: Migrate, Hibernate, Tolerate, or Terminate.

(I think I do a combination of tolerate and hibernate - with the occasional short, temporary migration to escape!)

Weasels turn white in the winter, but keep a blakc tip on their tails. Predators, like owls, tend to attack the black tip of the tail - allowing the weasel to have a better chance of escape.

Pikas harvest and dry plants, even creating a blend of plants to retard growth of mildew and mold. When they go below ground for the winter (which had already happened in late September), they have about a half a bale of hay worth of dried plants to eat during the winter.

The ranger also took questions, so I learned a lot about elk, the pine bark beetle infestation, and a few things about trees.

Ponderosa pines are one of my favorite western trees.

When they are young, their bark is deeply fissured and rough.

As they age, their bark becomes smoother. (I kept wondering if aging Ponderosa pines long for the rough bark of their youth.....or perhaps they admire and revel in they enjoy the smooth bark of age.)

Aspen follow a pattern more similar to humans. Young aspen have smooth bark.

As aspen age, their bark becomes rougher and more scarred and textured. (I'm ignoring that elk for now....more on elk another time!)

After the walk with the park ranger, we settled into our condo. Look at the view out the window!!

Some Mexican food might have been involved too!

I didn't notice at the time, but that Mexican restaurant wall looks a lot like my Tuscan sunroom walls.

I saw my first magpie for the trip. In New Hampshire, crows are the roadside scavengers.

In Colorado, we saw ravens and magpies filling that niche. This particular bird was in the visitors center parking lot, landing on parked cars and eating insects off the grills on the front of the cars.

So far our trip is looking like it will be great!


charlotte said...

Thank you for a very interresting post, I loved to read about tree skins and survival strategies!

Delighted Hands said...

I think I am getting like the aspen-a bit craggy! lol Loved the comparison. The pictures are great; nice chronicle.

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it.