Midwinter Reflections

If January is any indication of how 2016 is going to go, it’s going to fly by. El Nino has kicked into full swing, and we’ve been hit by a revolving door of storm cycles. The warmer, wetter patterns have created some heavier, denser snow than our usual Teton blower pow. Over the last 72 hours alone, Grand Targhee has gotten 26 inches! The skiing has been amazing – even if I’m still working on learning how to move through the deep stuff.

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Chris in the POW

The valley has had it’s share of winter weather too. A series of inversions have created cold, foggy conditions down low and warmer blue skies above. We even had a freezing fog in the valley for a couple of days; in the morning ice crystals had deposited on every twig, branch, and pine needle in the valley.

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Frozen twigs

Last week I noticed two new neighbors of mine: a bald eagle and a red-tailed hawk. Usually we don’t wee these birds in the winter, so naturally I checked my field guide to see where they should be. Bald eagles’ range extends to our area year round and – based on the slightly pink circle around this one’s face – it looks like it’s making a living off of winter carcasses. The hawk had a different story. Red-tailed hawks should migrate south for the winter, so I was confused. After getting some pictures, I was able to see that this bird still had a yellow eye – meaning it is a juvenile. (Buteos like red-taileds have a dark brown eye when fully mature.) Maybe it missed the memo when all the other hawks migrated? Either way, we’re having a decently warm winter season (no lows in the negatives) so it should be able to survive.

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Eagle Eye
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Red-tailed Hawk

With January coming to a close, we have about 3 more months of winter left. Hopefully the last half will be as amazing as the first!

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