The Right side of the Tracks

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Went for a short snowshoe this morning just to clear my head and to get away from all of the things I should be doing. The snow conditions were great in the timber as the crust has set up and a light dusting of snow the night before made for good tracking conditions. There is a part in the movie “The Gods must be crazy” where two of the natives feel sorry for the American woman who is illiterate (because she can’t read the signs from the wildlife that they are tracking). While I am not fluent in the language of the tracks, I know enough to get by.

Plenty of deer mice crossing the trail. They obviously had a home on one side and were hunting seeds on the other.
A coyote had almost crossed the trail when she turned and went the other way. I suspect it was a female from the way she urinated on the trail up ahead.
What was interesting in seeing this coniferous seed (I believe a yellow pine seed) was the distance it had flown from the tree. See next image.
It’s a long ways from the trees to where this seed had made it to.
Another seed making its journey was this Douglas Fir seed. It was only a short distance from the mother ship.
One way to help children remember that this is a Douglas Fir cone is to look for the “mice tails” sticking out from the cone. The mice have fur and are all called Douglas.
A Hairy woodpecker was out hunting insects. There is a similar looking woodpecker which is a bit smaller and that is the Downey woodpecker. My friend June Kitamura told me the way to remember the difference between the two is that if you took the bill of the Hairy woodpecker and were to shove it through the bird’s skull, the beak would protrude on the other side – doing the same on a Downey it wouldn’t go but half way through. It’s a bit gory but you will remember that from here on in.
Hairy in flight
The Black Capped Chickadees were about in good numbers as well.
This is a three-fer. Red=Ruffed grouse tracks, Blue=Coyote tracks, lime green=Red Squirrel tracks
A squirrel cache not a home – squirrels nest up in the trees.
A couple of shots to show how busy the squirrels were.
Squirrel traffic was so heavy that they have a bit of a runway beat into the snow.
And more squirrel tracks.
You can tell when the animal (in this case a coyote) is in a hurry because of the snow kicked out in front of the track. The faster the animal, the further the snow goes.
A better shot of the Ruffed Grouse track. The grouse is going from bottom to top, the front toe registers a little longer than the back toe.
A nice little Deer Mouse trail. Deer mice tracks are the same front and back and register side by each.
You can see where the Ruffed Grouse was hiking around the rose hips, probably eating both the fruit and the small buds that are just starting to form.
This is an interesting track. I believe it to be that of a jumping mouse. Notice the two larger back feet and the smaller front feet that register inside of the back feet.
From a distance, coyote tracks usually run in a nice straight line while cat tracks are usually more offset.
The mice were active on this sidehill. You can see the seed heads they were visiting and then the little holes that lead down to their burrow.

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