I was early–a rare occasion as usually I’m the one who arrives at least ten minutes after the agreed upon time. It wasn’t always that way, but has become a bad habit. That said, it was a creature of habit that I went in search of because I had some time to spare.
And much to my delight a sign hanging from a tree announced what I’d hoped. Can you read it? The hemlock sprig dangling from the birch stating that So-and-So was in residence?
Suddenly I realized there were a million items shouting the obvious, scattered as they were upon the snow and rocks like neon signs on a city street: “So-and-So Slept Here;” “So-and-So’s Diner;” and “So-and-So’s Rest Rooms.”
Hemlock twigs with angled nips and singular scats spoke to So-and-So’s presence. Was So-and-So present? I could only hope so.
As I looked about, I noticed the signs dropped by one or two others, including one of whom I totally expected to surprise me as it has on several occasions in the recent past. While I didn’t startle the bird, I knew by its offering left on the rock that it continued to frequent the locale–do you see the “golden” cylinder among the brown scat? That would be a notice from the local grouse.
And then I stepped under the hemlock because there was more bird sign on the tree created by a Pileated Woodpecker and I hoped to find its scat. No such luck among the wood chips, but plenty more fresh pellets stating that the occupant was possibly in situ.
All the telltale signs were there. About one inch long. Comma shaped. Groove down the inside. Fresh. Did I say fresh?
From every angle the evidence was clear. I shouldn’t be standing below because just possibly that certain So-and-So might be resting above. And said being has been known to fall out of trees as I’ve told others while standing in this same spot on previous occasions. Did I say this is a creature of habit?
Whenever I visit I look up. But it’s not until winter that my sight is graced with that of such another. Can you see it? The anomaly in the canopy?
How about now? Do you see the dark blob sitting up there?
Porcupines are indeed creatures of habit and every winter I know certain places to locate a few locals, including this big guy. A guy? Yes, because it’s the males who tend to rest in trees during the day.
He was up there enjoying the cambium layer of the bark as witnessed by the goldeny color of the branch by his feet. All those downed twigs–apparently they were in his way so he nipped them off and dropped them to the ground in order to get to the nutrients he sought for his winter diet.
Check out his eye. We were both sharp observers as we eyed each other from a distance.