The first mystery I encountered when I slipped out the door and away from some writing and editing assignments today (yes JVP, I’m working on a rough draft), was this ground disturbance around the base of a dead snag. The pileated woodpeckers have worked on this tree for many years, and I’m not sure why it’s still standing. Actually, there are several of these dead pines in one area and they all look like they’re ready to fall over. But what interested me today was that the pine needles and leaves had been raked back all the way around the tree trunk. Only at this one spot. Who done it? And why? There were some pine cone scales and a cob, evidence of a red squirrel feasting here at some point. But was this ground work done by a squirrel? I’ve never seen that before. I looked for scat. Nada. Scratch marks? Not visible. Would a turkey do this? Or another bird?
Don’t you just love a mystery?
The leaves were a bit disturbed all along the cowpath, but that could have been because of today’s wind, or turkeys, or deer.
I headed over to the vernal pool. Since the wind was blowing yet again, I didn’t see any action, but the wood frog egg masses look healthy.
And plentiful. As is their custom, the masses are attached to branches and clustered together. Maybe there’s warmth in communal living. It’s certainly a bit chilly today, and yesterday we had hail, snow and rain.
I felt like a million little eyes were looking up at me.
This mass didn’t get the memo about community living.
Usually I see a few salamander masses in this pool as well, but maybe it’s early yet. The ice only melted a week ago.
I walked around the perimeter, noting that as usual, there are no masses on the southern side of the pool. They tend to be clustered on the northeastern side, where perhaps they capture the most warmth of the sun.
What I did find, though, was a hole about a foot from the pool. The only reference item I had was a pair of kid scissors in my pocket. They are five inches long. That’s about how far back the debris was thrown. A messy dooryard.
The pink handle is three inches, about the size of the opening. I stuck a stick in and it seemed to end at about a foot, maybe a bit more. Another who done it? Decent size hole; beside pool, but dry; messy door yard; recently dug; no one home. I looked through Mark Elbroch’s book Mammal Tracks and Sign because he has a section devoted to burrows and dens, but so far I don’t have the answer. Will the maker of the hole affect the egg masses? Another good question that remains to be answered.
And then it was time to visit another harbinger of spring, the Red Maple flowers. They are bursting with joy . . . and love.
Stamens and pistils in all their glory.
It was nippy, but I took a moment to sketch.
As I wander along the path, I’m thankful for the mysteries and beauty that draw me out and continue to provide moments of wonder.
And I’m thankful for my sister and brother-in-law who encourage me along the way. Happy Anniversary to you!
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