Another Glorious Winter Walk-Searching for Mammals

We had another chance to take a walk up in the high country yesterday. The boys were snowboarding but we preferred to take a slower approach to our day. We took two hours to tramp around in the woods and see what we could find.

Here was something we found interesting. It looks as if an animal scratched the bark off this Jeffrey pine to get at something underneath…insects? If you look closely you can see the chunk of bark sticking out from under the snow.

Here is a close-up.


Lots of prints in the snow…..dogs and otherwise. We aren’t sure about these. They seem too close together to be a dog and there are no marks for the claws like dogs have.


We think these are squirrel tracks.


Some squirrels had a feast on this stump that we came across as we crunched through the snow. I have come to appreciate that there are animals that depend on this food source in the middle of winter. As we stopped at one point along our walk, a huge cone came crashing down just a few feet from us. As you look around the forest floor, you see cones just about everywhere in various stages of being eaten.

Somehow we lost the trail as we wandered around looking at various interesting things. Yes, that is my hubby looking for a way back to the trail. He assured me he knew which way to go. :)

If you have to be lost, can you imagine a more peaceful place? It was quiet and sunny and warm and we knew generally that we needed to head towards that mountain to get back to the main trail.

We eventually found our way back and it was a really good thing because I was getting tired and hungry. We saw so many other things but I will share those in another post.

Comments

  1. It must have been a wonderful walk. Here we’ve been having heavy rains during the last days, so no chances of going out, unfortunately…
    The first footprints are probably from a cat. They are rounder than a dog’s, which typically are more “rectangular”. The fact that no claw marks are visible is also typical of cats, for they have retractile claws.

  2. We were thinking cat as well but they were really big and we are not sure if there are any other animals that have cat-like prints….fox? There would be *no* chance of this being a domestic cat…we were way out in the wilderness. They don’t look large enough for a mountain lion. Tracks are a mystery to me for the most part.

    Thanks for the info.
    Barb

  3. No, this doesn’t look at all like a fox. Could it be a Bobcat? They have larger paws than domestic cats. Look here:
    http://www.bear-tracker.com/bobcat.html
    You also have to take into account that tracks left in soft snow appear larger than usual (as when left in very soft mud).

  4. Those look mighty similar to our tracks and I looked up in my field guide for that particular area and they have only two kinds of cats: mountain lions and bobcats!

    I am going with bobcat.

    Thanks for your help.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  5. Beautiful hike! I love finding animal evidence, he was probably trying to find insects like you said…maybe eating bark as well?
    Chris

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