MTPR

Field Notes

Sunday 12:55 PM, Tuesdays and Fridays at 4:54 PM

For keen observers, a walk to the grocery store or a hike up a mountain can inspire questions. Where do magpies nest?  Why doesn’t a spider stick to its own web? How do water striders keep from sinking?  Every week since 1992, Field Notes has inquired about Montana's  natural history. Produced by the Montana Natural History Center, Field Notes are written by naturalists, students and listeners about the puzzle-tree bark, eagle talons, woolly aphids and giant puffballs of western, central and southwestern Montana.

Interested in writing a Field Note? Contact Allison De Jong, Field Notes editor, at adejong [at] montananaturalist.org or (406) 327-0405.

Squash.
iStock

August had just begun when a friend delivered my first hand-me-down squash of the summer: a round, green variegated giant that had reached the size of a jack-o-lantern seemingly overnight, just the way squash like to do.

Later in the kitchen, I eyed down the squash and started my perennial should-I-grill-it-or-make-zucchini-bread debate. I suspect some version of this dilemma could be ages old.

Ancient Giants: The Mysterious Beauty Of An Aspen Grove

Sep 9, 2018
Aspen grove
(PD)

The hot summer sun beats down on my back as I climb the trail to the ridge. Looking for a place to wait for my hiking companion, I find a grove of quaking aspen. Their distinctive white bark is beautiful and their leaves rustle at the hint of a breeze.

In August, 2010, my family and I watched from our backyard an unbelievable phenomenon: a single species of dragonfly, individually numbering in the thousands, flew steadily westward across our property on the edge of town for ten magical days. Occasionally they would perch briefly – each one facing west – on the neighbor’s wire fence before continuing on.

The Scotty Brown Fire, seen on August 11, 2015.
Inciweb

July of 2015 was the warmest month on record in the history of our planet, 2015 is on trend to be our warmest recorded year, and in much of the American west that warmth has been coupled with moderate to extreme drought conditions. With emissions of greenhouse gases showing no sign of decreasing, these records will probably not last long. For Montana, it means that our overall climate is likely to get warmer and drier. As that happens, wildfires are likely to grow in both frequency and scale.

'Field Notes:' All About Skippers

Aug 13, 2018
Golden-banded skipper.
Andrew Cannizzaro (CC-BY-2)

Out on a run on a spring day only a stone’s throw from the Flathead River on the watery outskirts of the town of Hungry Horse, I have stopped for a moment and listen to the river. With its rustling it seems to applaud my efforts. And as I go back and forth between stretching and sauntering, my glance roves over the landscape. A sudden fluttering at my feet catches my eye. Alerted to something, now not my legs but my curious eyes give chase and follow a meandering path through the air. Is it a leaf caught in the breeze? For a moment the leafiness lingers rocking back and forth, and I know it’s not a leaf, but a butterfly. Or is it?

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