Monday, February 18, 2008

At Last...

I have been unable to post anything since the fourth - some sort of cyber-glitch! But, it looks like today I am back!

Lots of great things have been happening out there in the Adirondack Woods. First, this morning we had a rainbow. A rainbow in February! Two nights ago we hit -15 and today it we hit 50! The rain started falling overnight, and I have a small pond in my driveway. Temps have now dropped back below freezing, so I'm sure the driveway is now an ice rink!

Saturday Toby and I went for a ski. Or, I should say we attempted to ski. The snow was chest deep on him, and I was essentially snowshoeing, albeit on very long, skinny "snowshoes." After getting about halfway down the golf course, we called it quits and walked along the road back home. Still, we had a nifty sighting along the way: chickadees have been using one of "my" bluebird nest boxes on the golf course for a roost - or so I gathered seeing the little black and white birds flitting to and from the box (this was the morning after the -15 night).

We are in the peak of mating season for our wild canids, and last week while out with a school group we followed a set of coyote tracks that I believe belonged to a female in heat. How? In one of the tracks was one drop of blood. If the animal had been injured, we would've likely seen more blood, and likewise if the blood was from a kill. She had liberally urinated on a birch about a 100 feet down the trail, so I'm thinking she was letting others know of her "availability."

This weekend was the Great Backyard Bird Count. A bust for me: one red-breasted nuthatch and two chickadees. But at work on Saturday they had a northern shrike (!), pine grosbeaks, redpolls, chickadees, a blue jay and a hairy woodpecker. By Sunday the VIC's feeders were back to just chickadees.

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!!!