Cherry Gulch North Hills 3_24_24

March Outing, Sun. March 24th 2024

Particpants: Becky and Gary Jones, David and Julie Kahl

It’s a season where we defaulted to a “nature hike” in Missoula’s Water Works Hill area. The spring in a spring outing was provided by a snow squall that was coming across the valley as we started out, it made walking up the exposed lower edge of the ridge miserable until we turned off and went down into Cherry Gulch on the east. It continued to snow but we were out of the worst of the wind. Others had followed the same strategy and we passed joggers, speed walkers, hikers and people walking their dogs. Almost immediately, just over the gulch edge we started to see birds, a magpie and lots of robins, many of then in the higher windy branches of the trees on the east rim of the gulch. We discussed the various types of birds, besides mountain blue birds, that used the numerous bird boxes in the area. In the more open area, about a mile up, we both heard and saw the expected meadowlarks. We looked for early flowers, but no luck and had a discussion on how we didn’t see much arrow leaf balsam root detritus from the previous year, assuming there wasn’t much of it there. Horses grazed in a pasture above us, not much bothered by the snow squall. On the way back out we noticed a “huge”  bird’s nest in a tree, that seemed the size of small nest for a raptor, but too low to the ground for most raptor nests.  Gary recalled coming up there to ride their bikes, when he was a kid growing up in Missoula, and this area was still “wild.”

Leader: Julie Kahl jawkal@rockymountaineers.com

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