Cruising the Wild Informational Highways

Posted on by Kathie Fife

The woods are an informational highway. Tune in! There are fascinating stories to be shared.

Mid January, and this is my first adventure out into the woods. The conditions have been very cold and with just a few inches of snow, and the top layer of thick ice making it crunchy and very cumbersome for walking. For smaller wildlife like squirrels, snowshoe hare, and mice that is no problem and actually makes it much easier for them to get around.

For the larger animals, like deer, they struggle with slipping on the ice (I can relate!), especially with a thin layer of fresh powdery snow on top. The sharp edges from the ice cut into their legs causing a loss of valuable energy, which makes them likely targets for predators such as the bobcat and coyote. I didn’t find any deer tracks on my walk today. I imagine they are hunkered down in a deer yard and conserving energy for warmer days and waiting for easier conditions to move around.

But, today was a great day to be out again. With so many fresh tracks of fox, coyote, bobcat, red and grey squirrels, snowshoe hare, fischer cat, and mice crisscrossing paths through the woods, it is fascinating to observe the stories.

Snowshoe Hare Tracks

Snowshoe Hare Tracks

Busy intersection where the snowshoe hare has moved about.

Snowshoe Hare stops to nibble on the buds of a birch twig.

Snowshoe Hare stops to nibble on the buds of a birch twig.

Hard to see here, but the depressions in the snow are from the snowshoe hare.

Close up of snowshoe hare browse on birch twig.

Close up of snowshoe hare browse on birch twig.

A close up view of the same twig above showing where the snowshoe hare nibbled on the birch twig.

For a mouse, it is easy to get around on the hard crust.

For a mouse, it is easy to get around on the hard crust.

The pine needle provides perspective on track size.

Brisk walk of a coyote.

Brisk walk of a coyote.

A coyote moved briskly through the woods on a cold morning.

Bobcat tracks.

Bobcat tracks.

Bobcat tracks.

It was fun to be back in the woods and observing the areas I spent a considerable amount of time walking through last winter. The snowshoe hare have survived, and I found new areas with tracks I didn’t see last year. This is surprising given all the bobcat, fox, and coyote activity. Hares are amazing critters and have a strong survival instinct. Not that I really want to see a loss of any life, but this year I hope to track and find a fresh bobcat or coyote kill.

As always, please be mindful and respectful to property and wildlife.

All content including images are copyright Kathie Fife Photography.  Please contact us for permission for use before downloading and or copying.  Thank you.

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