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Chickadee (and spouse) prints on stoop

Chickadee (and spouse) prints on stoop

The first snow of the year (by which I mean the first time the snow accumulates, which is usually after we’ve had about 4 or 5 snowfalls that melt as they touch the ground) is like the New Year to us amateur trackers. Where, during the summer, we got only fragments and hints of our animal neighbors – scat and smell and random impressions in muddy stream banks – now they are revealed to be all around us! We know this, of course, but it’s not until there’s snow on the ground that we get it, at a visceral level. (And by we I really mean I.)

Last week we got a little fall of snow, combined with low temperatures: 8 degrees Fahrenheit was the nighttime low, and it didn’t get above 25 during the day. Perfect for capturing and preserving animal tracks!

Impression of bird wing in snow, left during take-off

Impression of bird wing in snow, left during take-off (from 2010)

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Squirrel (and Kellyann) tracks on a fallen log bridge; we were traveling in the same direction.

I love this: when mice and voles tunnel through the subnivean zone (that is, the zone between the ground and the snow), sometimes there just isn't enough snow to be under. Hence the tracks in the center of this picture; this is where the mouse or vole had to emerge from the subnivean zone before burrowing back under the snow.

I love this: when mice and voles tunnel through the subnivean zone (that is, the zone between the ground and the snow), sometimes there just isn’t enough snow to be under. Hence the tracks in the center of this picture (horizontal); this is where the mouse or vole had to emerge from the subnivean zone before burrowing back under the snow.

Here I've cropped the photograph to show where the vole or mouse emerged from under the snow. You can just make out some indistinct footprints.

Here I’ve cropped the photograph to show where the vole or mouse emerged from under the snow. You can just make out some indistinct footprints.

The neighbors' house cat got out again. These tracks were left near our bird-feeder.

The neighbors’ house cat got out again. These tracks were left near our bird-feeder.

Raccoon prints looks a lot like little human hands

Raccoon prints looks a lot like little human hands

No tracks here. I just like how the snow makes little hats on these strobila.

No tracks here. I just like how the snow makes little hats on these strobila.

The temperature has warmed up quite a bit, and we’ve had lots of rain, but I look forward to sharing more tracking photos soon.

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