In typical New England tradition, the weather has changed yet again and warm winter coats are a necessity. At 7 a.m. the temperature was -11˚; 4 p.m. +21˚ and dropping as the sun sets.
Yesterday we had a surprise snowstorm that didn’t last long, but added another layer of fluff–and beauty.
And so, when I headed out this afternoon, I wasn’t sure what I’d find. Stepping over the stonewall and into our woodlot–fresh wing marks and delicate feathers.
While those feathers once protected a dark-eyed junco, a larger bird of prey needed fuel to survive.
I briefly shed my down-filled mitten to offer perspective.
White pines that tower above provide a possible perch.
Out on the power line, I met up with a friend and fellow explorer. While D.B. adjusted his new outer wear, I took time to admire the pussy willows and the warm, fuzzy coat they sport.
That silvery fur keeps the developing reproductive parts cozy.
Turkey tracks criss-crossed throughout the woods as D.B. and I bushwhacked about. This is not a positive ID, but we found this snipped feather near some tracks. Perhaps turkey? A fight among the clan members? Later, we unintentionally spooked two and they flew from what was probably intended to be their evening roost in the pines.
We also saw plenty of deer tracks and wondered about the fact that they travel the same routes day in, day out, year in, year out–just as we often do. Well, I say that, but yesterday afternoon and again today, I got fake lost in these woods that I travel through frequently. I did find a trail I’d made a few days ago and that helped us find our way out today–nothing like leaving snowshoe size bread crumbs behind. Though we saw a few deer beds, I found this one as I passed through the wood lot on my way home.
I like to make a circular route through our woods, so didn’t see these fox tracks on my way out.
The red fox is known for having hairy feet–its adaptation to stay warm. And can you see where one foot created an impression, and then to save energy the other foot stepped almost directly onto the same spot?
While the prints I found had been made within the last 24 hours, it was obvious as I came out of the woods that the fox had trotted this way before and yesterday’s snow filled in the track.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring. It’s Great Maine Outdoor Weekend and I’m leading two hikes–with my friend Joan for the Greater Lovell Land Trust and another for Loon Echo Land Trust. Wind chill expected to make things a bit of a challenge. I’ll bring the hot cocoa to the first hike and the Depot Street Tap House in Bridgton will provide hot cocoa after the second one. Dress in layers. Lots of layers. After all, it is still winter.