Frost warning after Father’s Day – must be Idaho - East Idaho News
Living the Wild Life

Frost warning after Father’s Day – must be Idaho

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The weatherpersons promised freezing temperatures for two nights this week in the Upper Snake River Valley – must be our Father’s Day freeze. It seems to happen the middle of June every year. I got a call from Island Park, “We are getting snow right now, and we have three inches of snow already on our deck!”

It was time for me to head up to the “highlands” to get a picture of Sawtelle Mountain covered with a new blanket of snow; and to see how the wildlife was faring. At Last Chance I got caught in a blizzard — even the visitors from south of Idaho had slowed to about 35 miles per hour, which was a miracle. By the time I got to Henrys Lake, the snow had quit and traffic was back speeding down the road. It was still snowing at Two Top, but Sawtelle appeared cold and frozen.

I decided to check out a couple of fox dens. The foxes were still hidden in their dens, but I saw a movement near one of them. A doe mule deer and I got into a staring match, when I saw some movement in the brush below her. Finally, I was able to see two big ears, then another two were added as her newborn fawns worked their way through the bush. I watched as the two of them nuzzled each other before disappearing into the wet foliage. The doe never did allow me to get a good picture of her. Even though they were wet, they never seemed to complain.

Two fawns | Courtesy Bill Schiess
Two fawn mule deer nuzzle each other in the rain near Henrys Lake. | Courtesy Bill Schiess

I stopped at a business to get me a snack, and the weather was the main topic for discussion. There was a lot of complaining about the wind, rain, snow, and cold, but I found a happy woman that told me that the complaining will really get loud when the heat hits this weekend and the mosquitos hatch out. “Seems like some folks are never happy, but those biting insects will be!”

Pelicans | Courtesy Bill Schiess
A flock of pelicans fishing on the Henrys Fork near Big Springs. | Courtesy Bill Schiess

The Henrys Fork of the Snake River was a busy place for birds. I stopped to watch a flock of white pelicans swimming in unison as they scooped up minnows and small fish as they herded the fish upstream. There was also a flock of seven male mallards feeding on the river veggies. I guess they were partying as their significant others were either sitting on a nest somewhere or keeping the kids warm during the wintery day.

Male mallard ducks in Island Park. | Courtesy Bill Schiess
Four of seven Mallard drakes partying while the females tend the little ones. | Courtesy Bill Schiess

One of the places that I love to visit each time I go to Island Park is Silver Lake at Harriman State Park. The snow had missed it, so there were groups of people — mostly kids — hiking the roads and enjoying a little sunshine, but I love watching the birds on the lake.

There were two flocks of non-breeding Canadian geese feeding in the shallows. Near them was what I thought was a pair of Western grebes. But on closer examination, I found that one of the pair was indeed a Western but the other one was a Clark’s grebe. Clark’s have their eye positioned in the white of their face, while the Western’s eye is in the black area. While I was watching them, a flock of double-crested cormorants flew in to give the Caspian terns a fight over the small fish in the lake.

Two types of grebes in Island Park. | Courtesy Bill Schiess
A Western grebe and a Clark’s grebe fishing on Silver Lake at Harriman State Park. | Courtesy Bill Schiess

On the way off the mountain, I hit two other snow squalls and was happy to get to the flat land by only having to dodge one more deer. I got home in time to cover my garden to save the juvenile plants for the next two nights. It was indeed a frost after Father’s Day once again in the Upper Valley.

A wet larkspur flower add beauty to a dreary day in Island Park. | Courtesy Bill Schiess
A wet larkspur flower adds beauty to a dreary day in Island Park. | Courtesy Bill Schiess

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