To all those interested in the natural world. Please add your sightings.

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2.27.12 Although there's little-to-no snow on southern exposures and in the valley, the north side of Black Mountain still has several inches of white, frozen precipitation the texture of firm styrofoam. Sturdy ice cleats were much-appreciated as I bushwhacked my way to the top over terrain that I rarely attempt. Just as I was thinking that I should be looking for mountain goat tracks, bobcat tracks appeared instead. Bobcat tracks are difficult to see on hard snow; their furry feet prevent clear toe imprints, and the margin of the track is blurred by their fur insulation.
At a much lower elevation, a flock of turkeys was out fluffing up leaf litter under hemlock and beech trees and chatting as they dined; I wondered if the bobcat had investigated them, too. There was too little snow to think I'd see any of its tracks there.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2.16.12 The temperature was in the upper 30's and old snow had softened to corn snow. I meandered through a mixed wood en route to an open field until I came to a stream. A coyote recently had chosen the same spot as I for crossing. Backtracking the animal, its gait was even, and its tracks indented the surface just enough to follow as it came from the upper reaches of the mountain. However, as it came to the open water, footprints imprinted much deeper as it powered off the edge to clear the 3-foot wide expanse by nearly two feet of margin.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2.12.12 The River otter commutes between bodies of water via overland routes as well as through streams. The otter I've been tracking for several years bounds along, sliding on its stomach, both uphill and down. For the last 3 years, it has constructed a new den annually in the bank at the edge of a pond. Muddy tracks lead from the open edge of the pond to the 8-inch opening to its den. It leaves the den to use its latrine nearby. The slide pictured was made earlier this winter, but without new snow, it has remained a frozen record of its travels.

Friday, February 10, 2012

This melanistic gray squirrel visited my bird feeders today. It was the first of this color phase I've seen here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

THis morning I observed a four chipmunk mating chase along a roadside stonewall. Seeing an occasional chipmunk during a mild winter isn't very unusual, but mating doesn't usually take place until at least early March.

2.04.12 Sapcicles hanging from broken or damaged sugar maple branches signal spring to me. I used to love to melt one on my tongue with the thought of maple flavor, but at best I might get sticky mittens! Sap rises when daytime temperatures are around 40 degrees and fall below freezing (but not too low) at night. I've been seeing these seasonal harbingers for more than a week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

In an effort to avoid being stepped on, this grouse locust made a wild leap and landed in the snow. Before moving on, I herded him back to bare ground.
As a bonus, I found this cricket sunning on a dead leaf. After this picture was taken it scurried down into the thatch of dead grass.