Monday, January 19, 2015

Lewis Creek: Ursus is Everywhere!

On Sunday we headed to Lewis Creek, a forest that Sue managed (not only is she a fantastic wildlife tracker, but she is also a forester and was a college-level literature and writing teacher for over thirty years...yup, my mentor is well-rounded, and by that I mean badass).

Sue explained that this particular area of the Lewis Creek watershed was planted heavily with apple trees by pioneers. The trees have long been neglected by humans, yet they still produce a hugely important food crop, especially for the black bears (Ursus americanus). We wandered slowly and happily through the forest of birch, cherry, ash, maple and serviceberry, punctuated by large swaths of apple trees. Glacial erratics (read: large rocks that are way fun to climb) rose randomly out of the ground, and the creek flowed audibly under unsteady ice.

Quite a different day quickly rose to around and then slightly above freezing!

Highlights of the day...remember, cover the captions if you want to guess.

Love this squirrel marking sign. You can see those upper incisor marks.
An apple partially eaten by a squirrel and cached visibly in this branch crotch for later.

Old scars on an apple tree--apparently it was a favorite. Notice all of the parallel diagonal scrapes all up the length.
Woodpecker? Red Squirrel marking? 

Nope...BB shot! We carved at this one til the metal was visible.
So much of this everywhere, especially on the apple trees, but also on species like this white ash. This is probably a front claw...hinds often register deeper and more vertically.

A deer's tracks surrounded this...the plant is a fern. Deer unearth ferns in the winter to eat the carb-rich rhizomes.

Most likely a northern short-tailed shrew, probably in a walk. (Anyone know how to tell vole snow trails from shrew--size overlaps...) The trail ends in a hole which leads to a subnivean (beneath the snow) tunnel. This is where most teeny mammals spend the winter, safe and insulated by the snow...until a weasel decides to investigate!


No comments: