Outdoor Mom- February 2018

Outdoor Mom – February 2018

It’s been unusually warm here in Central Oregon; some days the thermometer rises up to temperatures that are to be expected in spring. Well, you know that just makes me want to be outside and continue exploring!

tree silhouette

During our outdoor time this month we went….looking at tree silhouettes.

We don’t have a huge variety of trees in our area, mostly pines and a few aspens. I absolutely love the aspens and the big gorgeous ponderosa pines. The Outdoor Hour Challenge for winter trees helped us get to know our new habitat better.

tree bark

Side note: It’s hard to take a good tree silhouette photo.

winter grasses

I’m dreaming about….the green grasses and plants of summer.

The Outdoor Hour Challenge for winter weeds focused our attention on the plants we see during our river walks. Mostly dried and packed down by the winter snow, the winter weeds we observed are pretty much done for the season. But, on closer inspection, we can see new green growth starting to sprout underneath….that is exciting.

Our outdoor time made us ask….who made the trails in the weeds?

I noticed last month there appear to be “trails” under the weeds where small animals are moving around beneath the matted grasses. Some of the trails lead to holes and have fresh dirt at the openings. Could these be the subnivean zone trails of our local rodents?

rodent scat

I even found a spot that has a pile of scat, small little droppings sort of like mouse scat but much lighter in color. Fascinating!

feb kayak

The most inspiring thing we experienced…seeing beaver bank dens.

The ongoing hunt to actually see our beavers down at the river continued this month as we took to our kayaks and floated over to the opposite side of the river to check out some activity we could see going on over there.

beaver slide

On this warm afternoon, we spotted lots of signs of beaver activity like gnawed willow branches, beaver “slides” where they enter and exit the water, and trees that the beavers cut down.

beaver cut tree

We spent an hour or so traipsing around the willows and trees and along the river bank trying to see where they are living. We found a spot on the bank that looked like it was a possibility so we got back into the kayaks and checked it out from the water side.

bank den beaver

Could this be it? When we got back home, we researched bank dens of beavers and discovered this is exactly the kind of place they create for shelter. We’ve been looking for the typical beaver lodge with its big mound of branches and a dam. But, we have learned that they will create hollows in the river bank to make a series of dens for living space.

Now we need to get out there at a time they’re active which is typically an hour before darkness or at sunrise. I have a friend who lives down river from us and he says he has seen the beavers out in the late afternoon and he’s heard their tails slapping on the water so that gives me a glimmer of hope that we may see our beavers if we’re persistent.

february elk

One more image….our elk!

Finally, the elk have returned to our neighborhood. We had visitors from California that were keen to see them and we spotted them not too far from the house. Then the next week, we had four elk right behind our fence in the early morning hours. It was barely light enough to spot them but they stuck around for a little while and I was able to get an image. They are such beautiful animals, much larger than expected, and so agile as they move along. I’m looking forward to observing them until the late spring when they return to the mountains.


Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge

Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. If you would like me to take a look at one of your images on Instagram, use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • One last image…


  1. That’s exciting about the beavers and the likelihood that you’ll be seeing them. They certainly are around and active. How cool to see the elk! You are in such a wonderful location for learning about and observing nature.

    Wrote about what we did during January here: https://harvestmoonbyhand.blogspot.com/2018/01/outdoor-moms-journal-january.html . Not nearly as much as you because of the bitterly-cold temperatures.

  2. Got out a bit more during February and did the February Outdoor Mom’s Journal. If you’d like to see some of the animal tracks, a den I spotted (to who knows what!), and some tree silhouettes, here’s the link: https://harvestmoonbyhand.blogspot.com/2018/02/outdoor-moms-journal-february.html .

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