Monday, February 4, 2008

Good Stuff

The day started off well with the sighting of a blue jay! Normally, this is not something of note, but they have been conspicuous by their absence this winter. Haven't seen one for 2-3 months. This morning, while we were strolling around the 'hood, Toby and I saw a jay as well as two or three mourning doves at a bird feeder. Spring must be on its way (reenforced by the fact that the groundhog couldn't even get out of his hole to look for his shadow the other day thanks to the ice).

I had a great group of 5th graders in today for tracking, and we hit pay dirt on the trail! We had all sorts of tracks: red fox, red squirrel, mouse (white-footed), ruffed grouse, long-tail weasel, marten, raccoon, possibly fisher, and a whole pack of coyotes!!! The coyotes were the high point, in my humble opinion. The tracks were difficult to ID at first: very large (possibly double registry of front and back feet in same spot), splayed toes, but filled with snow and not well-defined. So, we followed them. When we hit the lake, we found a patch of yellow snow (very musky - I made everyone take a sniff), and finally distinctive canine prints. They were very large - almost as big as the palm of my hand. As we continued around the trail, the coyote tracks kept crossing ours. Finally I came to the conclusion that either this animal was going around and around the peninsula on the ice, crossing over the land where we were walking, or we had a pack. Considering the tracks all looked the same age, and knowing that the eastern coyote demonstrates pack-like behaviors, I decided that we had multiple animals here. Very cool!!!

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