Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15, 2012

Well, this is a little more like it - 6 to 8 inches of snow on Thursday, and 2 degrees below zero last night.  It never got above 8 degrees all day!  I know not everyone likes this kind of weather, but after all, it is mid-January in New Hampshire!
I took a couple of walks to see what has been moving around since the snow, and came upon a set of tracks that weren't immediately identifiable.  But shortly I found a section where the tracks were well defined, providing clear evidence it was a deer. 
White Tail Deer Track

Then not much farther along came the tell-tale evidence of a white tail.

Continuing on I found where the animal had browsed on some fresh, tender shoots, and had also dug around under the snow to find some more succulent green plants that were hidden from sight - probably partridge berry, club moss, or spearmint. 

Deer Browse

The rain that fell after Thursday's snow has frozen into a hard crust on the surface of the snow, which scrapes and cuts the deer's legs with each step.  Small specks of blood were visible around the hoof prints wherever it paused for a bit to browse.

And farther on there were larger drops of blood where it was moving in an open area where the snow received more rain and the crust was especially thick.

It makes me wonder how much blood the animal will lose in a whole day of searching for food.  Clearly the easy living of the early winter is over.  At least they have conserved a lot of energy, and had good browsing up to this point, so they should be strong for whatever the rest of the season brings.  Here's a close up of the snow surface that shows the sharp edges that cut through the deer's skin.

I was surprised to see the size of this pile of pine cone debris that a red squirrel had generated in just the three days since the snow. 
Just Three Days Work

Under the tree you can see where it has stashed its supply of cones that it will feed on this winter.  This squirrel probably has dozens of these stashes around the portion of New Hampshire that it claims for its home.
Red Squirrel Food Stash

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