Sunday, January 9, 2011
These Prairie Coneflower heads from last summer were poking up from the increasingly deep snow. This winter is going to be hard on the animals that remain in the northern Great Plains for the winter. On top of the deep snow, we had a few days at, or just above, freezing last week, which put a fairly thick crust on the snow. Then it snowed about 8 more inches on top of that. The wind has been trying to clear the ridge tops off, but crusty snow just doesn't blow around very well. The snow started early in the fall and on top of that, it has been colder than average too. Trying to stay warm, move through the deep, crusted snow, and find food takes a lot of energy and despite going into the winter in fairly good condition because of the good forage growth we had this summer, many of these animals are just going to loose more than they gain and die before conditions get better.
The Pronghorns have bunched up and are moving all over the place. Soon hope to have an update on the doe I photographed getting captured and collared last winter. If she is still alive, her collar should be coming off in about six weeks and when it is retrieved we can see where she spent her summer in Canada and the path she navigated to return to her wintering area.
The Bison don't seem to mind the snow at all.
Posted by John Carlson at 2:13 PM