Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ho, Ho, Ho - It Snowed Again


A light rain was falling at daybreak. It soon became quite a bit heavier and that continued for a couple of hours. Later, a look out the window revealed a few flakes of white mingled in with the raindrops.

About 15 minutes after the flakes first appeared the heavy rainfall had completely changed to snow; the snow fell so heavily that it was impossible to see more than 100 yards. A heavy wet snow it was, a snow that stuck to every tree and twig and pine needle.

After an hour or so the heavy snowfall rapidly tapered off until it finally stopped. In the yard, a male house finch brought a touch of color to what was otherwise a monochromatic landscape –



Then it was time to head for the Big Woods to experience this winter wonderland. Surprisingly, the trees on the ridgetop weren’t covered with snow. Apparently the ridgetop had been just cold enough that the snow wasn’t wet and sticky but had fallen without clinging to the trees –



Throughout the forest were scenes of beauty with snow clinging to virtually everything –


 





 
 


Including the dried leaves remaining on a white oak –



A pretty good day for an essentially snowless winter – but I sure do miss the days when we had well over a foot of snow on the ground for several months and there was good cross-country skiing the whole time.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Bigfoot ????


If you spend any time looking at videos on YouTube or watching certain cable TV channels, you can’t help but stumbling on an abundance of videos or shows on the subject of “Bigfoot”.

“Bigfoot”, “Sasquatch”, “Yeti”, and several other names have been applied to what are reported to be large, hairy, upright-walking apes or ape-like creatures that roam wooded wildlands throughout North America. In their travels the Bigfoots (or is it Bigfeet?) supposedly leave footprints in mud or snow and are said to have been glimpsed by many people.

Why on earth am I writing about this???? It’s because of a set of footprints in the snow that I found along Rock Run in northcentral Pennsylvania –



How readily these tracks could be ascribed to a Bigfoot, adding to the abundance of Bigfoot lore. Yup, it would be really easy! But, the tracks have to be considered in context: the photo was taken on January 2; the track was obviously a day or two old; Rock Run is a favorite place for young folks to party; many of those young folks are under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering chemicals; the tracks were at a favorite swimming hole in Rock Run, atop the large rock outcrop from which swimmers jump into the stream.

So, no the tracks aren’t those of a Bigfoot, just those of someone who apparently, for whatever reason, jumped into the frigid waters of Rock Run. 

Some of those other footprints and sightings have clearly been hoaxes – some very crude, some well done.  Others are obvious cases of mistaken identity – under many conditions the footprints of bears’ hind feet look remarkably like a human footprint. Similarly, a black bear standing upright closely resembles the description of a Bigfoot.

It’s a remarkable coincidence (or is it?) that virtually all Bigfoot reports come from within the geographic range of the black bear in North America.

Think about it, if a creature such as Bigfoot actually existed, there would have to be a sufficient number (500? 1,000?) to maintain a breeding population. With that number, a dead individual or bones would have been found, one would have been hit and killed by a vehicle, someone would have shot one in “self-defense”.  None of these has happened! In fact, there is no Bigfoot, not along Rock Run, not in Pennsylvania, not in North America.

The only place any Bigfoot exists is in the minds of people who never really consider how irrational the idea of a large, hairy ape wandering North American woodlands really is.

P.S. If you're a Bigfoot "true believer" don't bother commenting on this post.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Beautiful Flyer


Beautiful they are, fly they do not – actually they glide. These small creatures are nocturnal, inhabiting cavities in trees and nest boxes as well as barns and cabins in wooded areas. They're fairly abundant in wooded areas and often visit bird feeders at night.



For many years I’ve habitually tapped on trees containing cavities to check on possible occupants. It was about 50 years ago when that tapping caused an occupant to peer out of the opening –



Then to stick its head out –



And finally to emerge –



That was one of the first of these beautiful flyers (err, gliders) I’d ever seen – a southern flying squirrel. Southern flying squirrels inhabit deciduous woodland from southern Canada to the Gulf Coast and west to the limit of dense woodland at the edge of the Great Plains.
 
Southern flying squirrels feed on fruit, nuts and fungi as well as insects, birds’ eggs and nestlings and carrion. They spend daylight hours in cavities, during non-breeding season in groups of up to 25-30 animals; cavities are also used for rearing the young


Flying squirrels glide by using membranes (called the patagium) which reach from the front leg to the rear leg on each side of the body. At the end of a glide they swoop upward to land on a tree trunk and quickly scurry to the opposite side to avoid predation.

A closely related species, the northern flying squirrel, prefers coniferous woodlands and is found in scattered locations in the northern states and southward in both the Rocky and Appalachian mountains as well as throughout Canada and Alaska.

For several years I’ve occasionally scattered seeds in front of one of my camera traps to capture photos or videos of the southern flying squirrels that share their home territory with us –

 





Although flying squirrels are quite common, few people ever see these strictly nocturnal animals – I hope you enjoyed seeing them here.