Today is my day to ignore all distractions, turn off the sounds of acoustic guitars and fiddles in the background, close the shades and focus on my work in my Cody, Wyoming office.
No, although I will be rooting wholeheartedly for my University of Wyoming Cowboys, I am not trying to get everything done early so I can pay sole attention to the NCAA basketball tournament.
Instead, I want to knock off early enough to get out of the office and head to my other office – my outdoor “office” in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.
While the Northeast has been hit hard this winter with record-breaking snow (I sincerely feel for you, Boston), northwestern Wyoming has seen an early spring with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures. I have already put many miles on my hiking boots as the trails are clearing at a nice rate. With the snowmelt I anticipate a strong rafting season in our area’s rivers.
Springtime to me, however, is when I love to go wildlife watching.
Here is what I expect to see in the next few months here in Yellowstone Country:
- Grizzly and black bears. Just because bears hibernate for the winter does not mean they just show up March 21. For the past month or so people have seen bears or signs of bears as some have emerged from their dens. Right now bears are finding winterkill, wildlife in a weakened state and fish in our rivers and streams.
- Bison calves. Bison are found throughout the area, but I know that I will always find them by heading into Yellowstone. I will wait a little longer for that trip as they clear the roads and the babies are born beginning in April. Since this is horse country, we are not surprised when the calves are on their feet immediately and can keep up with their mothers as soon as two hours after birth.
- Elk calves. I love to head up the Wapiti Valley to look for elk. “Wapiti” is even an American Indian name for the species (it means “white tail.”). If I am really, really lucky I will see elk cows protecting their calves by distracting predators who will not notice newborn hidden by their mothers.
- Wolves. Probably another trip to the park is on order, especially to Lamar Valley as wolf watching is populated by a passionate group of people there who share their scopes, knowledge and experience. The wolf puppies are born in a den between March and May, so I have some time before I get serious.
- Pronghorn. Often improperly called antelope (that’s actually an African species), pronghorn are typically delivered in sets of twins. They are all over Wyoming and easy to spot. Young pronghorn walk within 30 minutes and can outrun a human within just a couple of days of being born.
There will be plenty of birds to watch as well, and we will discuss that pastime soon.
In the meantime, I am lovin’ life – and wildlife – in Cody, Wyo.