Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tracking Porky - February 8, 2015

The snow is getting pretty deep in the Lakes Region at this point, and the animals are having to work harder to travel and find food - even when they are just picking up the handouts from the bird feeder.

The mice like the protection of the snow, and they are light enough to hop along on top of the snow no matter how dry and fluffy it is.
Mice are mostly Air and Fur

I took a snow shoe trip up to Porcupine Ridge to see if any porcupines or any other animals were out braving the deep snow.
Looking West from Porcupine Ridge

I found a few tracks of animals including fox, mice, squirrel, and fisher (no deer);  it took a while but eventually I spotted some signs of porky down at the bottom of the ridge.

I hiked around the ledge for a closer look.  With short legs and a stout defense system, porcupines kind of plow through deep snow rather than stepping into it.

Nature's First Snow Plow
And once they plow a path, they follow it day after day, plodding along to the same tree - usually hemlock - to feed.  They will do this until all the parts of that tree they want to eat are consumed, and then they'll plow a new road to a fresh tree.

This path had been recently traveled - since the last snow - as its footprints were clearly marked in the plowed road.

Porcupines are rather messy eaters, leaving lots of debris on the ground to show where they've been feeding.

If you want to locate a porcupine habitat, look for a steep, rocky ledge with lots of hemlock trees.  This particular porcupine has its den in a cave high up this ledge - the road it has plowed leading back up to its home is visible in the center of this picture.
Porky's Path Home

Here's a picture of a porcupine that I caught on this ridge a couple of winters ago.

After all the snow and cold weather I was somewhat surprised to find open water in a few locations in the swamp at the bottom of the ledge.
No, It's not a sign of spring

It shows how much heat the earth retains well into winter.

I'm never surprised to find open water at the outlet of Lake Wicwas, and it always provides a beautiful  scene on a bright winter day.

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