Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22, 2012

The word is out around Lake Wicwas that there's food on the ice.  The traffic in the cove last night was like nothing we've ever seen.

One or more coyotes came by the kill regularly from 10:00 pm last night until 3:00 am this morning.  And last night was the coldest night of the winter - seven degrees below zero.  These are some tough animals!  One picture clearly shows that there is at least one pair in the area, as it captured two sets of eyes. 

I continue to be surprised that the camera flash doesn't spook animals.  I even got a couple pictures of a coyote working on the carcass.

We took advantage of all the traffic to get a good look at their tracks.  The coyote doesn't have the same steady, bee-line track of the fox, meandering a bit more, and it leaves a lot of foot drag between prints. 

Compare the coyote track to to the precise track of a fox.

The coyote's paw is also noticeably larger than a fox.  I found a place where a fox and coyote had followed the same path, and where they separated I was able to compare the two tracks side-by-side.  The fox track is on the top.
Fox (top) and Coyote (bottom) Tracks

Fresh snow is great! 

Following the coyote's path, I also found where it had left its mark to announce to all intruders that this was its kill.
Coyote Scat

But, that sign wasn't noticed by the diners who approached on the wing, and the crows again spent a lot time on the carcass.  And they weren't the only birds:  this red tail hawk took part in the feast as well.  Look at the size of this raptor!
Red Tail Hawk

The sun warmed up the day quite nicely from its cold start, and we took a snow shoe trip around to see what other animal signs we could find.  In an area of thin ice between two islands we found holes where the otter had been out on the ice just a short while before us.  There were several holes, a short slide, and fresh scat.
Otter Slide and Latrine
Entrance Hole

We also explored the recently enlarged beaver lodge.  It is quite a good size, and signs of warm, air-breathing animals were evident around the air hole on the top of the lodge.
Beaver Lodge Air Hole

This was quite an educational week on lake wicwas!

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