Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Maine Wildlife in the Snow - Part 2

I'd better post this before all the snow is gone here in southern Maine (oh, I know there will be some more, but tomorrow is the first day of spring, and I'm perennially optimistic). Back in February I had a chance to go out tromping with a friend, and it being the day after a snowstorm, we found a smorgasbord of animal tracks.
Even in winter some streams keep flowing.
In the post before this one, we looked at coyote and skunk prints. You can read about it here: Maine Wildlife in the Snow - Part 1

This time we'll look at some other tracks and traces left in the snow from that same trip.

The first set wound up being a bit of a joke on us. At first we came across what at a distance looked like the flurry a grouse might leave in the snow.
But on closer inspection, it was pretty clear that it was the sign of a very busy rabbit or hare (not sure whether it was cottontail or snowshoe, but more likely cottontail). Note the telltale droppings, like little punctuation marks!
Next we saw plenty of little mice tracks, with tail marks evident, this one heading toward the safety of a tree:
Last but not least, we found evidence of porcupine nibbling on some of the soft young pines in the area:
Pretty soon all that will be left are pockets of snow in the shadowy areas, and some ice here and there. Come May the leaves will be budding, and eventually leafing out. Not long now! Happy spring, everyone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Maine Wildlife in the Snow

It might not be "strange," but it is rather magical to be able to see the tracks of animals in the Maine winter snow. Back in February I had a chance to go out tromping with a friend, and it being the day after a snowstorm made for a bumper crop of tracks.

A network of tiny critters making their way from seed to seed.

Here are just a few:
Above is a coyote track (there were a lot of these), in which you can see the telltale two-claw dots at the front of the foot (look at the red arrow directing you to the 6:00 point of the photo).

To the right, you can see the full trackway, where the coyote carefully pads along the raised, packed runner left by snowmobilers in the fresh snow, very daintily stepping within the same spots as it moves along. You can see our bootprints along the edge of the coyote's runway to get an idea of scale.

The last track set for this post (I'll come back with more later) was a real puzzler at first. You can see them below. The lateral footpads set behind long toeprints, with prominent claws showing on many of the tracks, indicated a number of species possibilities, but the size, only a few inches long, could only match one thing, if I am not mistaken -- a skunk! So I'm glad we only saw his tracks and not himself.
1. Trackway          2.  Lateral footpad visible          3.  Clawmarks visible