They're called "thermals" and you can see birds taking advantage of the upward swirling columns of heated air around mid-morning on sunny days. Hawks are using them to help in migration and Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal says that turkey vultures can be seen using the "up" elevator as migration season starts (photo above).

Much closer to the ground, the Woodland Skipper butterfly can be seen and has orange on the tip of the abdomen and muted yellow squares on the hind wing. Very small little flyer (photo below). The Paddle-tailed Darner is a common dragonfly you can see this week (photo below). It's black with blue spotting and the stripes are straight-edged and angles, colored blue-green on top grading to yellow on the bottom of the stripe. Less than 3 inches long, it's always flying near or over water.

Mushrooms are hard to find because it's dry again. But you will definitely recognize the Red-belted Conk if you see it. It is a shelf fungi that grows on vertical tree trunks. It can be up to 16 inches wide and 10 inches deep. It actually sweats, exuding colored drops and has pores instead of gills. It weakens the tree, but doesn't kill it.

The Rubber Rabbitbrush is the wildflower of the week and you can see it flowering this month (photo below). It is 3 to 6 feet tall and has yellow flowers. Butterflies count on it for a late season source of nectar.

And a reminder to watch out for bears. Black bears are most common around here and you need to carry bear spray and be able to use it properly. Bob reports three sightings at some Missoula nature sites this past week. Make a little noise while you're hiking.
Enjoy Bob's reports Wednesday mornings at 7:45 a.m. on 1240 KLYQ AM and www.klyq.com.

Turkey Vulture. (Mike Daniels photo)
Turkey Vulture. (Mike Daniels photo)
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skipper butterfly
Woodland Skipper butterfly. (Bob Danley Photo)
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darner dragonfly
Paddle-tailed Darner dragonfly. (Bob Danley Photo)
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rabbitbrush
Rubber Rabbitbrush. (bob Danley photo)
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RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.