Early Bloomers

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Despite our fits-and-starts beginning to spring here in the valley, it looks like we’re in for another glorious season of wildflowers. I spent last week looking for emerging blossoms and this photo essay is reflective of what I encountered. It’s just another reminder of the beauty and complexity that lies beneath our feet in these parts.

All photos were taken in and around West Valley. Pairs of images were shot at the same location on the same day.

BB-sized kinnikinnick blossoms
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West Valley Pioneers: Frank and Ida Stiles

by Jeanine Buettner
nammy@montanasky.com

My great grandparents Frank and Ida Stiles moved to Kalispell in 1901, from Corona, South Dakota where Frank was a farmer, school teacher and a member of the House of Representatives. They packed everything they owned including farm machinery into a boxcar and made their way to the Flathead Valley, bringing with them their four children, my grandfather T. Milton being the youngest.  

Frank and Ida Stiles
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Falcon Quest

by Skip Via and Pat Jaquith
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org   pat@westvalleynaturalists.org

There are five species of falcons that live in North America, and West Valley plays host to all of them at some point in the year. If you’re observant (and quick, as falcons tend to spook easily), you may be fortunate enough to see them all.

Female merlin. Photo by Skip Via.
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West Valley Pioneer: Walter Jaquette

by Jeanine Buettner
nammy@montanasky.com

Walter Parke Jaquette was one of the Flathead’s early pioneers. He was born October 16, 1863 in Oxford, Pennsylvania to Peter and Eleanor Jaquette.

Walter was from a very prominent Pennsylvania family. His great great grandfather Maj. Peter Jaquette served under Washington during the Revolutionary war. His great grandfather Capt. Peter Jaquette organized and furnished a great extent of company horses for the military. His father Peter L. Jaquette was a veteran of the Civil War and was at the White House when President Lincoln was assassinated.

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Bee? or Bee-Like?

by Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org

As I write this on a rainy day in March, my mind is drawn to thoughts of spring, perhaps because just yesterday I was walking partly in mud, partly on ice, torn between the need for rubber boots or ice cleats. In a similar vein, in summer as I observe flowers and the insects that are drawn to them, I wonder whether I should beware of the stinger or relax and admire the industrious work of the flying creatures. In this article, I’ll share some helpful tips I have learned from researching that question.

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Seen Fluttering By Part 1

Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org
Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

As much as we enjoy the beauty and variety of northwestern Montana winters, we do sometimes find ourselves thinking about the colorful visual landscapes of summer. And few elements accentuate that beauty as elegantly as our local butterfly population does.

This page is Part 1 of a series of three pages:
Seen Fluttering By 1 (Fritillaries, Tortoiseshells, Checkerspots, Commas and Swallowtails)
Seen Fluttering By 2 (Skippers, Sulphurs, Julias, Admirals, Crescents and Blues)
Seen Fluttering By 3 (Miscellaneous)

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Hoarfrost or Rime Ice?

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

A few days ago, driving around West Valley, I remarked on the beauty of the hoarfrost that had coated some Ponderosa pines along the roadside. That got me wondering about the nature of hoarfrost and how it forms. It turns out that some of what I have been calling hoarfrost is, in fact, not hoarfrost, but rather rime ice. The difference is not important for the casual observer, but it can be important meteorologically.

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Woodpeckers in our Valley

by Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org

3.08.21 Pileated Woodpecker work above Cliff Lake

Nobody has to ask, “What does a woodpecker do?” Only the Pileated Woodpecker does such a fantastic job of chiseling out their food and creating nests for themselves. Several species live in our area year ’round; some are migratory, and we see them in warmer months. Read on for stories about woodpeckers that I’ve observed in our area.

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Rabbit Tales

by Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org

Mountain Cottontail Silvilagus nuttallii 11.07.17

Over several years, I’ve been enjoying the company of small Mountain cottontails that have chosen to live near our home. Although I rarely see them when the ground is bare, I often see their tracks where I snowshoe or ski in winter. It’s their close proximity in winter that has given me the best sightings. I will share some pictures and tales of rabbit encounters in the following pages.

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