I've been on an unintentional sabbatical for quite some time due to illnesses (list - flu, cold, food poisoning, and seemingly two more colds, the last with a sore throat), but spring is in the air here in Wyoming. The Wind River Canyon is where I live and is greening up nicely....finally! The snow can only be seen in the highest of the mountain peaks. And I'm doing quite well, but I am going to need more than a bit of exercise.
Springtime in the Wind River Canyon is well known for being more than a bit volatile. But the very best sign that it's the first week of April is mostly an unknown natural phenomenon; even around here. Every single year during the first week of April the Turkey Vultures show up! Every....Single....Year....like they have a calendar or something. The vultures are here for cleanup duty; to clean up after winter-kill, and afterbirth; Mother Nature's mess is their food source. It's disgusting to be sure, but someone has to provide cleanup duty; as long as it's not me!!
On April 9th it was 72 degrees and sunny; a beautiful day in the canyon. That night we got cold rain that lasted all night and changed to icy snow that lasted all day. We ended up with a lot of nasty, hard snow with a thick layer of glass beneath; fun stuff. But all this cold-snow-melting leads to a sudden greening up of the Wind River Canyon. It happens so suddenly that it seems like magic, but the canyon is well known for being a magical place where things just happen.
For instance----I know when the Yellow-bellied Marmots give birth in the springtime. The old males come up for air! The noise and stink down deep where they spend the winter must be bloody awful, so up they come to the greening canyon; they are after all vegetarians. The adorable baby marmots come up to the real world the first week of May; so I haven't seen them yet. Here's a favorite video of a baby marmot that was born last year and now lives under my shed; we named him Elroy. Another sure sign of spring in the Wind River Canyon is the highly anticipated arrival of the House Wrens. I have a wren house near my bedroom window and they are building their nest as I write this blog. The song of the male is outstanding in every way, and changes over time with the mating cycle. The female will line her nest with the softest of nature's things, and the male will sing songs to her....and us. Just one of the many wonderful things about spring in the canyon. Below is a favorite photograph of a female wren getting her nest ready for her eggs. Elroy is trimming my grass right now as I write this sentence. I can see him from the old desk where I work and write. "His boy, Elroy!" funny
There is a small spot in my yard, not far from the kitchen, where wild asparagus comes up every spring. We don't eat the small patch, we let it go to seed. This spring we have more than three dozen of the fast growing vegetables, that will eventually produce tiny yellow flowers on a five foot plant that looks like a Christmas tree! Below is a photograph taken on April 13th of my wild asparagus....that I don't eat. Vultures are fascinating creatures that can smell their food even farther away than that fat guy waddling into the golden arches. I read an article where the aeronautics professor wrote that if all conditions were met....Turkey Vultures could sail the thermals in the canyon----forever! They are that perfectly designed for catching-the-wind.
I'd always wanted to get a great photograph of the vulture's amazing wingspan (over 6 and a half feet!!) but their senses are many times that of ours, and it's usually difficult to approach them without being seen. But lately they (12 of them) warm themselves up for the day's flying very near our cabin. The other morning conditions were absolutely perfect, and I finally got the image I've been after for a long, long time. That is an over six and a half foot wingspan! But they are still ugly.........photo below. Thank you for reading, and hopefully enjoying this Wind River Canyon Blog. All content is produced by Michael John Balog and all rights are reserved. For many more wildlife photographs imaged in the Wind River Canyon safely visit my website HogbatsPhotography.com