Friday, January 6, 2012

A Few Tracks in the Snow

I love to go out after a snow and view the tracks left behind by animals going about their normal business at Blue Jay Barrens.  I’ve been wondering what animal has been digging up the mulch in my garden beds.  It looks like it has been Crows.  There has been a group of eight Crows that are always in sight of the yard.  I often see them, but they’re quick to leave if they detect any movement from the house, so I rarely get to see what they are up to.

The Indian Grass seed is supporting a variety of sparrow sized birds.  The amount of seed produced this year should be able to sustain the flocks well into spring.

The snow wasn’t deep enough to cover the Voles as they crossed the mowed paths.  Voles traveling in the open will create an unbroken path through shallow snow.

Mice normally travel through the snow in a series of short jumps.  Individual foot prints are easy to see along with a mark made by the tail.

It looks like there’s a Domestic Cat in the area.  The line of tracks is very distinctive.  You can imagine the cat as it walked along in that line.  The individual tracks are small and will show four toes and no claw marks.

Cottontails have been scarce this winter.  I only saw one set of tracks during my walk.  Excessively wet weather often has negative effects on Cottontail nesting success.  Frequent rains can fill the shallow nest hole with water and cause the young to die from drowning, exposure or illness.

Gray Squirrels have been active every day so far this winter, but their numbers are also down from past years.  The most common Gray Squirrel nest type at Blue Jay Barrens is a mass of cedar bark strips placed high in the branches of an Eastern Red Cedar.  These nests would be susceptible to moisture infiltration from frequent rains.  It’s not unreasonable to believe that a few nestlings were lost because of the unusually wet conditions we experienced during the last year.

Of course, you don’t have to go far to find Whitetail Deer tracks.  The morning after the snow showed every trail to the yard filled with deer tracks.  There were deer tracks to be found everywhere I walked.  If deer had been this numerous when I bought the property, I might have named it Deer Track Valley.

No comments:

Post a Comment