Tuesday, April 3, 2012 4:18:15 AM
Well, to be exact, there are considerably more than seven (or even seven hundred) stars in the Pleiades, but never do any of them gleam to the earthbound like this
That gleam is Venus, the most brilliant object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. It's currently at magnitude -4.29 (lower values indicate higher luminosity; Sirius, the brightest star, is -1.46, and the North Star is much dimmer at +1.47).
Back on the ground, bison have been reminding me who has right of way on the local roads
They are truly magnificent animals
At the other end of the size scale, I was surprised by a muskrat crossing a road on Friday morning. I don't think that I've ever seen one so properly out of water before. But it was heading to a pond - a pond still frozen, which is probably not what it had desired.
I've seen many muskrat pawprints down by the Frenchman River, which is where I'm focusing my fieldwork at the moment. It's been a useful two weeks of scouting for wildlife fording locations. My army of trail cameras is ready to be given its placement orders
Friday, March 30, 2012 1:53:29 AM
...or at least Canada's closest parallel
Muskrats are very like small beavers, and even live a similar lifestyle, building small lodges and pursuing an aquatic existence. They're best distinguished by their long narrow tails, which are very different from the paddle-like tail of the beaver. I have seen both species in the Frenchman River in the last few days, although the beaver simply performed its trademark tail-slap alarm and vanished underwater. The muskrat was more accommodating
The weather keeps changing. In this exposed environment, even +15c can feel startlingly warm, but hiding when the storms start to roar is an art known best to the land's native creatures.
This is called the "land of living skies" for a reason
Hiding from genuinely living things might not seem easy either, and indeed some wildlife defends itself through techniques that don't rely upon concealment; bison still herd for safety, although the huge packs of white wolves that historically followed them in southern Saskatchewan have been driven to extinction.
And prairie dogs keep watch, even when their foe has fallen asleep on the dinner table
Not all predators are so idle
But one fox taught me a new lesson this evening: when in doubt, skulk in a wheatfield