Another warm day and the snow has turned to slush. Not my favorite condition in January, but it does bring its rewards.
X marks the spot–at least that’s the mnemonic device we use to identify members of the canidae family. Can you draw the X in between the toes and the foot pad? In this case, a coyote marched along on the prowl. Check out those nail marks.
Some little brown thing must have caught its attention because it did some poking around before continuing on.
Though I wasn’t wearing snowshoes today, both the coyote and deer followed in my tracks–the easier to move. Which came second after me? The deer. Notice how the print is a bit more muffled and features more debris atop it. The pine needles on the coyote track have been pushed into the print with the animal’s weight.
It wasn’t just my track that it followed. It obviously traveled to and fro in its own tracks.
Sometimes mammals use the tracks of others and sometimes they use their own–where the snow is already packed down. This is almost a perfect record of the forward and back path.
An even fresher record made today–red squirrel. This one has happy feet–it avoided the coyote so far.
Though my eyes were always on the lookout for mammal sign, other things caught my attention like the spiraling scales of an Eastern white pinecone.
As the female cone of the tree, each scale once embraced two winged seeds that nestled near the core. Perhaps the white, tacky pitch on the tips is intended to keep mammals at bay. If that’s the case, I don’t think it works well, because I often see tree stumps piled high with these scales.
Mealy pixie cup lichen also decorate tree stumps. With the snow diminishing rapidly, the minute world of the lichens is reappearing. As early colonizers, they seem to prefer challenging environments. If nothing else, these goblets appear ready to be shared at a feast.
Maybe the British soldiers will take advantage and each can show off what a fungi he is–especially in that mind-boggling relationship he has with an alga.
Enough already. I’m finished celebrating the slush and hope that this wintery sky means snow and colder temps are on the way.