Second Semester, First Visit

I could feel the excitement start to grow in my chest as I pull my snow pants on in my dorm. It’s been a little over a month since I’ve last been to my site, and there’s been a lot of life that has passed through since I’ve seen the trees there. Its a Sunday afternoon, and gloomy. The sky is grey when I begin my walk from Redstone to Centennial, with a slight breeze rolling through the trees. The snow was fairly fresh from the Saturday storm, about 6 or so inches deep. Its a very quiet day in the woods, almost silent except for the wind rustling the topmost branches of the trees.

Once I get to my site, I immediately turn to the snow. There are tracks in the snow, somewhat filled in from the recent snows. They criss-cross around the area, underneath logs and around the trees. Most of them seem to resemble diagonal walkers, as if the creatures leaving them behind only had two feet like a human. I decide to attempt to identify a fairly clear set of tracks beside a fallen log on the western side of the area that I was looking at. The tracks measure around an inch and a half in diameter, and are fairly round. The pad and toes aren’t very visible due to the newer snow that has filled the tracks in, but the basic shape is still there. Other tracks have more of a drag around them, as if the animal that was walking had its belly dragging through the snow rather than being tall enough to step over it all. I used my scat and tracks book to compare the tracks to both a bobcat and a red fox, and based on the straddle and stride of the tracks I believe that they were actually red fox tracks. However, it was impossible to be sure because of the snow that had been sifted into the tracks themselves. Aside from just tracks, there is also a few places where an animal urinated, but it is possible (and more likely) that a domestic dog had just peed on the side of the trail. There were some pretty obvious dog tracks as well, which zig-zagged across my site in haphazard patterns before returning to the main path and following alongside human tracks. Unless bigfoot has a pet wolf, I think its safe to say that many of the tracks in the area can be attributed to domestic dogs.

There aren’t obvious signs on the trees of animals, but the trees themselves have changed in the winter. Now totally without leaves, many show a variety of different buds at the end of their twigs, which will persist through the winter and into the spring. Based upon the buds that I saw, here are some of the trees that I believe are found at my site:

  • White Oak
  • Sugar Maple
  • Red Maple
  • American Beech
  • Green Ash
  • Boxelder

I look forward to further acquainting myself with this area throughout the winter months, and definitely want to spend more time tracking. There are many interesting stories to learn from the animals in the wilderness, if only we wish to see them.

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