Seeing a flying squirrel is cause for excitement, because while they are not uncommon in this area they are seldom seen. Monica Bockman’s excitement was undeniable when she spotted one at 8:10 p.m. Thursday in Buffalo Valley.
Flying squirrels have a folded layer of loose skin along each side of the body, from front leg to hind end. When that skin is outstretched it supports their body as they glide from tree to tree. Their eyeshine is a reddish-orange. Witnessing a flying squirrel in motion is quite the experience. A memory that never fails to bring a smile to your face. Just ask Monica.
In 2014 the Meg and Bert Raynes Fund paid for a study to determine the distribution of flying squirrels in Teton County. The results of the study are available through the Raynes Fund website, RaynesWildlifeFund.org, for anyone interested in these little nocturnal visitors.
A friend, Franz Camenzind, is embracing 2018 with enthusiasm and resolve. Listen to his words:
“I’m sitting here on this last day of the year with surprising emotions, having spent the past 12 months feeling like this year would never end. Now, on this eve of the new year, I’m experiencing some inexplicable optimism for 2018. I cannot explain from where it comes, but I certainly will not suppress it. I will embrace it and go forward with hope.
“Perhaps it is nothing more then a result of months of insisting and hoping that things cannot get worse. Or perhaps it is an intuition of better days to come. Whatever it is, I know that I have to be involved. I know that we all have to be involved. If we’re not involved, things will not improve. The future is as much ours as “theirs,” but let’s work to make it ours!
“So, what say ye, shall we lament and continue the gnashing of teeth, or shall we acknowledge that if we all get involved, in whatever manner great or small, we can make a difference? Right now a difference is what we need. It is so desperately needed. Do not be forlorn. Let us not forget our past successes, let us dream of the better future, and let us engage and work to make that happen.
“Pick an issue, be it environmental, social, economic or political. Pick an issue that ignites your passion, pick an issue that will benefit the most people for the longest period of time, and then get to work. Or should I say, begin agitating?
“I just heard a quote from Dick Gregory, the 1970s activist, who said something to this effect: ‘A washing machine without an agitator would, in the end yield nothing more than dirty laundry.’ A simple truth, but nonetheless a truth.
“We need to become agitators, we need to act and not wither under the hypnotic spell of the repetitive and incremental lies now forming our dialogue. We must speak up for the values embedded within humankind. We can do better. We can do this. We cannot simply lament today’s circumstances. We must become agitators: vigorous, persistent but peaceful agitators. Even the smallest functioning washing machine removes the soil from our clothes.
“Welcome the new year with optimism, with passion and with committed involvement. Let us all have a healthy and happy 2018!”
Field notes: Hunter Marrow and Tracy Blue reported a handful of rosy-finches and common redpolls west of the airport Dec. 29.
While common redpolls are being frequently found in Jackson Hole this season, the Christmas Bird Count in Teton Valley, Idaho, noted no common redpolls on counting day and only one seen during count week.
The count in Teton Valley tallied 51 species, including an estimated 4,000 (mostly bohemian) waxwings. The Teton Valley count also noted Steller’s jays, a red-tailed hawk and some rough-legged hawks.
Cedar waxwings were also reported by Diane Verna and Jeff Jung at the yurt on Baldy Knoll, at 8,800-feet, Dec. 17. Jackson Hole has had few waxwings seen this winter so far.
Four rough-legged hawks were observed on the National Elk Refuge by Bernie McHugh on Jan. 2. Two days later Alice Richter spotted a white phase Swainson’s hawk at Rafter J. On the same day Monica Bockman was excited to see a flying squirrel in the Teton Wilderness in Buffalo Valley.
Bruce Hayse reports a lively group of evening grosbeaks and Clark’s nutcrackers occupying his feeders to the exclusion of most other birds.
Kai and Ron Gessler enjoyed watching a river otter successfully fishing off the shelf ice in the Snake River below the Swinging Bridge.
Susan Patla observed pine and evening grosbeaks in the Packsaddle Road area of Teton Valley on Sunday. Also on Sunday, Warner Houfek had 18 evening grosbeaks at his feeder in Skyline Ranch.
Query: does it feel like a dozen days since New Year’s 2018 or six months?
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