Summer arrived in the Bitterroot Valley with a large yellow thing in the sky. Astronomers identified it as a star at the center of our solar system. Yes, it's the Sun, and weather forecasters are predicting a good view of it all week, with some clear skies at night for those of you looking at the stars.

Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal said the sun and warm temperatures will definitely bring out the small fliers - the butterflies and dragonflies. A few you might spot this week include the Thicket Hairstreak, Western-tailed, Arrowhead and Silvery Blues, along with the Snowberry Checkerspot, Field Crescent, Afranius and Persius Duskywing. He said 35 species have been spotted this year. You can find them on moist soil or on the charcoal of fire pits.

3 species of Blue Butterflies. (Bob Danley photos)
3 species of Blue Butterflies. (Bob Danley photos)
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The birds are pretty noisy in the mornings and one that caught some folks' attention at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge this week was the Yellow-headed Blackbird (photo above). USFS Biologist Dave Lockman of the Stevensville Ranger District counted 52 of the blackbirds on the refuge Kenai Trail, near ponds 8 and 10. A big year for that bird was 1993, when UM student Rebecca Irwin counted 96 nests in the area.

Of course, with nests come the young birds and "flight school," which Bob says should be underway. The fledglings probably started hatching earlier this month. The adult blackbirds often flock to the fields for food. You can watch their "rolling flock" in the air, when the birds at the rear often move to the front.

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Seven wildflower species were added to Bob's list - Beargrass (photo below), Stiff Yellowish Indian Paintbrush, Green Gentian, Scarlet Gaura, Foamflower, Yellow Monkey Flower, Pink wintergreen and about 90 other species are now flowering.

beargrass
Beargrass. (Bob Danley Photo)
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Still be aware of fast-moving (and cold) water in the full streams and rivers around Montana. You can easily get in trouble on the waters, so be careful!

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