Posted by: guideboatguy on Mar-08-13 10:25 AM (EST)
I was out snowshoeing in the afternoon/evening of our recent snowstorm in a huge marsh near here. At one end of the the big circular route that I traveled, now and then I'd think I heard a sandhill crane, so I'd stop and listen, and just hear Canada geese (which were at the junction of the creek and river by the hundreds, but not making much noise). I never got to hear it clearly, but I can't believe goose sounds would fool me, even when the wind is blowing past my hat and I'm not paying attention. The next day I found out that a friend of a friend heard a sandhill crane a couple days earlier, so a few have arrived. Though I've seen them this time of year, I've never seen them when there's this much snow on the ground.
The morning after the big snowstorm, tracks in the snow indicated that the local skunk is getting too hungry to stay in bed the rest of the winter. I'm not sure what he'll find to eat, but skunk tracks are unmistakable so I know he was out on patrol.
I saw other tracks that I couldn't decipher on account of what time of year it is. They were like tracks of a miniature squirrel, but we don't have red squirrels in town so I figured it was a weasel that was bounding too slowly to make his rear feet land in the same spots as the front feet. Of course, I've never seen weasel tracks in that pattern and we shouldn't even have weasels in town, but what other animal has that same body width and moves in a bounding gait? At any other time of year it would have been obvious. It was a chipmunk! I saw the little guy when I went out to shovel snow and realized he was the one making the tracks. I have never seen a chipmunk this time of year, not even at the end of a mild winter or when we have an exceptionally early spring, so I certainly didn't expect to see one during a normal year with a thick cover of snow on the ground! Like the skunk, he must've gotten hungry, but spillage below bird feeders is perfect for chipmunks so I'm sure he'll do fine. Come to think of it, I bet skunks can chow down on spilled bird seed too.