I headed up to the vernal pool this afternoon with every intention of pausing along the way to sketch.
The only snow left is atop Mount Washington.
Egg masses continue to accumulate. Blue sky with a few cumulous clouds, warm sunshine (almost too warm, but I’m not complaining), a gentle breeze, white-throated sparrows singing to each other–signs of life were everywhere.
Including this secretive wood frog. From above, his coloration matched the leaves beside and below.
We eyed each other as he floated near a large mass of eggs that have turned green with envy, I mean algae, in the past few days. Their egg masses can include 500-1,500 eggs. Yooza!
Salamander eggs are either clear or opaque, like these two masses. They usually contain anywhere from 30 to 250 eggs.
My guy was sanding the dock at camp and I had finished several writing projects this morning, so I decided that rather than sit and sketch, I’d walk out to the log landing. Walking along the snowmobile trail was like walking in Clinton Harbor at low tide. The mud squelched underfoot, sucking in my boots. Rocks underneath felt like clams–maybe I was just hungry.
I headed down the logging road with mixed emotions. My heart cried, but my head knew better. Like other paths that I’ve frequented over the years, I loved this one and knew its quirky features well enough that I recognized the slightest change. Yup, that’s change you see in front of you. This logging operation has been going on for two years. Prior to that, the gray birches, paper birches and speckled alders, plus hemlock and white pine saplings bordered the old road. It was last logged about thirty years ago so those species grew in first. They’ve all been hacked down to make room for the equipment and trucks.
I went in search of beauty and life among the destruction. Sometimes, you just have to look for it.
One of the good things about such an operation is that it provides easy vegetation for wildlife, like the moose that are frequenting the trail.
The herbivores, like moose and deer, love the easy feeding. And the bobcats like that the herbivores are easy feeding.
A closer look at the bobcat tracks.
And even closer. I don’t often see bobcat claw marks, but muddy conditions warranted their use. In the back of the foot pad, you might see the imprint of hair.
I was bound to find this. Bobcat scat–filled with dark organ meat and lots of hair. Bobcats, being carnivores, grind their prey right up with their sharp-pointed molars.
Coyotes, on the other hand, are omnivores and their molars are flatter, thus big bone chips pass through. The funny thing (to me anyway) about this scat, is that it looks exactly like some I found near the beaver lodge pond that I shared in yesterday’s May Day Celebration. Both were filled with extra large bone chips and hair. I took some of the scat I found yesterday. Today, I left it all.
Yes, my fetish for scat continues, but I only take a sample that will be an effective teaching tool. Really. And, I need to keep in mind that scat is a sign for other mammals–health, wealth and status quo are all wrapped up in it. If I take it, they have to work harder (or scat more) to get the word out about who and where they are. So, the next time you wander with me and we see some scat and I get all buggy-eyed over it, give me a nudge. OK, enough about scat.
Weasel and squirrel.
And the ubiquitous turkey.
This is the second of two landing areas. When the job is completed, we’ll have new trails to explore via snowshoe–it’s rather wet and the trails are currently covered in a lot of slash.
The logging operation is a one-man job and he’s been selective. The end result, as ugly as it may look now, is that the ecosystem will be healthier because of this project. Grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and tree saplings will grow in–early succession. And the fauna will follow.
The vernal pools associated with the area are still here for the most part–and show signs of life. I found wood frog and salamander egg masses. Even startled a couple of frogs, including a bull frog.
And just when you think that wood frogs only return to their natal vernal pools . . . here is proof they’ll take advantage of any water.
An opportunist recently used a wet depression in the landing.
Signs of life. No matter how devastated an area may look, they’re there.
Thanks for joining me on today’s wonder-filled wander.