I find it is harder to impress 8th graders. They are too cool to actually participate...or maybe they are just too focused on fashion and technology...or maybe, just maybe, it was too cold for them today.
Still, I had a good time out in the 1*F weather, because I found red fox scat on a fox trail that was scatless yesterday (and we so seldomly find scats here):
Fox scats are pretty easy to identify. They typically end in a narrow taper and often have a bit of a curlicue at the end. This one didn't show those traits, of course, but I knew it was fox because it was smack in the middle of the fox trail. This particular fox visits our bird feeding station nightly - must be hunting the mice and voles that snack on the fallen seeds. A regular fox cafeteria, I imagine - easy hunting.
And then we found a mink slide:
At first we just saw the "mystery mustelid" tracks (2x2, like a series of colons : : : : :). By process of elimination, we narrowed it down to mink or marten. Next we found where the animal had come up from under a bridge, where a little snow cave marked the end of a pseudo tunnel. This made me lean even more strongly toward mink, since minks live near water and I've seen mink tracks in this particular area in the past. But then we encountered the slide - and what a beautiful slide it was! You could see where it bounded (: : : :) over the crest of the hill and then, whheeeeeee, down it slid to the trail packed by snowshoers!
Of course I made them all sniff the fox scent post. I suspect, however, that 90% of them just went through the motions and did not really take a sniff. Oh, well. You can lead a horse to water...