The story was in the tracks. Thursday was cold, but sunny – I’d had a hunch that it might be a good day to get off the groomed trails and do some exploring. There were a couple of inches of fresh powder on top of a hard crust that covered probably two feet of snow, and skies as blue as they could be.
I drove up to Santa Clara and parked on route 458 by the gated road and the Pinnacle trail sign. It looked like two people had skied the old logging road the day before. Possibly earlier in the day, someone post-holing, walked in with a large dog. That person eventually put on snowshoes and continued to trudge in on top of the ski track. I just skied up onto the crust however, and glided along – probably the smoothest, easiest skiing I’d done all year. The person with the dog didn’t make it very far and turned around. Good – now I could start watching for wild animal tracks in the fresh snow. » Continue Reading.
There’s a steady stream of water pouring off the roof in front of the big window. There are no more icicles, and the shingles are showing for the first time in months. It finally feels like spring.
I sat outside most of the afternoon, relaxing in a lawn chair enjoying a good book. As I sat there soaking up the sun, the snow melted around me. The chicken coop roof is clear after being baked in the sun all day, and the snow fossils of old footprints are melting away.
The chickens have been enjoying the warmer weather and are basking in the sunlight. For a couple of months, I hadn’t gotten more than an egg per day from the three girls, and sometimes not even that. But in the last week, I’ve gotten more than a dozen. » Continue Reading.
Nature Conservancy field technicians this winter are doing wildlife detective work in New York’s Southern Lake Champlain Valley. This in-between zone characterized by farms and forests and crisscrossed with roads may provide a vital “land bridge” for bobcats and other critters to travel to and from large forest blocks in the Adirondacks and Vermont.
Outdoor guide and writer Elizabeth Lee, of Westport, and University of Vermont graduate student Gus Goodwin are working with the Conservancy’s Alissa Rafferty, who is based in Keene Valley. They are collecting records of animal activity that would be impossible to witness in real time. Good old-fashioned tracking skills—finding animal prints left in the snow, measuring their size, assessing the critter’s gait, and piecing together other clues—help them determine if a print belongs to a bobcat or a coyote, a fisher or a fox, a moose or a deer. They also use trail cameras to supplement these records, helping to confirm animal identification, and snapping photos 24/7 no matter the snow conditions. » Continue Reading.
Last week, the organization, PROTECT the Adirondacks, announced that they plan to begin a program, entitled Cougar Watch, for developing a database of Mountain Lion sightings in and around the Park. For years, many reputable individuals have claimed to have glimpsed this large member of the cat family, which has led some people to wonder whether a small population of these highly adaptable predators currently exists within the boundaries of the Blue Line. With all the sightings entered into a publicly accessible database, it might be easier to draw some conclusions regarding the status of this reclusive feline in northern New York. » Continue Reading.
Whose woods are these I think I know—-they’re ours, although the bank that holds our mortgage might qualify the claim. Out in them for a winter walk, I enjoy seeing signs of the comings and goings of wild neighbors. Their tracks and mine overlap, and the thought of it gives me pleasure.