Thursday, February 22, 2018

Along a Frozen Stream

A few weeks ago the streams in the Big Woods were frozen, some of them bank to bank with barely any open water for long distances.

Others were at least partially open, especially where they flow through hemlock forests and the overhead evergreen cover moderates the cold winter temperatures. Walking along the frozen streams was a real pleasure, a pleasure brought by the beautiful designs of the openings in the ice, icicles and the tracks of wildlife that had crossed or followed the frozen stream.

First a sampling of cold holes in the ice cover –

There were also icicles, some at the edges of those cold holes, some where water seeps from the steep stream banks –

Along the stream there were areas of bare ice, areas with just the barest dusting of snow and some places with about two inches of snow. Wherever there was snow there was an opportunity for tracks of passing wildlife to be displayed –

Gray Squirrel
Dark-eyed Junco
Wild Turkey

Walking along a frozen stream is always an adventure; now the ice has melted under record-setting heat and spring is on the way. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Trail Camera on the Trail

Most people call them trail cameras, I prefer to call them camera traps – in any case they’re either commercial or homemade digital cameras that utilize one of several different kinds of motion detectors to turn the camera on and trigger photos or videos. Last fall I set one of my homemade camera traps along a wildlife trail on a rather steep hillside to see what used the trail – so this really was a trail camera.

The first image the camera captured was of a black bear –

Then came several white-tailed deer searching for acorns beneath the larger oak trees on the hillside –

A porcupine also searched for those nutritious acorns –

In late October a white-tail buck thrashed a small white pine as the rut was about to reach its peak. The camera captured a number of photographs of the buck in action –

That wasn’t the only buck on the hillside, but this one was just a young fellow –

Almost a month later another impressive buck passed the camera. At first I thought it was the same deer as the one in the collage, but a closer look revealed that this one's antlers were different –

In mid-December more snow fell and deer continued to use the trail –

A couple of weeks later, after a bit more snow had accumulated, a bobcat walked the trail –

And deer continued to use the trail through the end of January when I changed the camera's memory card –

The trail camera along the trail will remain in place  to capture more photos of wildlife on the hillside.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Pair of Peregrines

On an absolutely beautiful winter morning I walked along the river; in an area of fast ice-free water a large group of male common mergansers repeatedly dove in search of fish. A quarter mile further along and there was a peregrine falcon in the tree where I’ve seen them for years and posted about them – here and here.

The bird turned to look downstream and there was another peregrine flying across the river in our direction. It made a wide circle and then came in for a landing in the same tree in which its mate was perched.
The yellow ovals make it easier to locate the birds –

With them both in the same tree it became obvious that the first bird was the female –

And the newcomer was the smaller male (in all species of hawks the females are larger than males) –

I slowly walked further along until I was directly opposite their tree which afforded closer photographs –

Suddenly the male took off more quickly than I could reactwin some, lose some –

He landed on a branch nearer the female –

There they stayed until both birds suddenly took
flight, to fly across the river –

They’ll be back in the tree, the same tree they’ve used for at least six years, and I’ll be back to see them.