Wildlife Tracks: A gift of fresh snow
I am quite certain that the deer, turkey, fox, skunks, coyotes and a host of
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
|Track of the Eastern Coyote|
All photos by Jonathan Schechter at Addison Oaks County Park
February 19, 2012
These photos are a supplement the Addison Oaks County Park Buhl Lake Loop
hiking column now on line and appearing in the February 26th edition of The Oakland Press. www.theoaklandpress.com
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
|Eastern bluebird photos by Jonathan Schechter|
(photographed in my yard: Brandon Township, Michigan Feb 20, 2012)
Henry David Thoreau wrote, "I went to the woods because I wished to see if I could not
learn what life had to teach --- and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
That timeless quote of Thoreau has been with me ever since my hippie days back in the
hills of Plainfield Vermont when he was my author of choice and I was a
long-haired, bearded, tree-hugging nature loving student at Goddard College.
And it was there in the meadows of my dreams that I first discovered bluebirds.
Some things have changed:
Hair is much shorter--and much thinner
Beard is gone.
Some things have not changed:
Still a hippie at heart.
Bluebirds thrive in my Michigan meadow and alight on old fence posts.
Thoreau also penned, "The bluebird carries the sky on his back."
I know that to be true. For on gray Michigan days the bluebird's sky-blue back makes me
smile and drift back to happy days of discovery in Vermont where I became a fan of
Thoreau's words in meadows, meadows above the Winooski River and near covered
bridges where bluebirds led me deep into the world of nature.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
|The "landing imprint" of a white-footed mouse!|
photos by Jonathan Schechter
Oakland County, Michigan Feb 13, 2012
This night stalker is not a wolf, wolverine, cougar or a ferocious beast of early man's nightmares.
The nocturnal white-footed mouse of Michigan woodlands is seldom seen and
best known to great horned, barred and screech owls.
They like them: For dinner.
But after a fluffy layer of snow falls, tracks and trails of this tiny tree-climbing rodent are unmistakable. Above: The body imprint where a mouse leapt down from a low branch
and then tunneled into the snow. Below: The characteristic leaping, tunneling and
trail dragging race to the next tree before winged death descends.
Why trees? They provide safe shelter in old bird nests and tree cavities.
And of course old cones, seeds, nuts and acorns provide nutrition in the late days of winter.
The tunneling and leaping tracks of a white-footed mouse racing for shelter
Monday, February 13, 2012
|Photos by Jonathan Schechter|
Cattails are a signature species of marshlands in Michigan.
Every child and most adults with a love of nature know the cattail seed head turn brown in
autumn and persist into winter. On a hike a few days ago I noticed that some stalks at a nearby
marsh were torn apart from the middle. A bit of observation and detective work as light solved
the mystery. Mice tracks were near the base leading me to the conclusion that these
tiny rodents were scurrying up the stalks to gather bedding material. If I was a mouse I too would
love to sleep in a bed of warm dry fluff! And just as I made that conclusion a chickadee alighted on
a stalk and snatched a hunk of fluff as well. Perhaps the unseasonably warm weather of the past
few weeks made the chickadee think that cattail was her nest building supply store while the
mouse looked to the cattails as a bedding store. But for me,cattails remain one of my favorite
wild edibles and come next spring I will feast on this plant loved by man and beast.
Friday, February 10, 2012
|all photos by Jonathan Schechter|
Tobico Marsh in Michigan's Bay City State Recreation Area is one of the largest open-water
marshes of Saginaw Bay, a historic bay on the western shore of Lake Huron.
These photos supplement the Sunday, February 12 hiking column in The Oakland Press
(www.theoaklandpress.com that profiles the 2,200 acre marsh, the State Recreation Area and
their upcoming winter festival. Tobico Marsh highlights for nature-loving humans include
a boardwalk, two 40-foot foot observation towers, a floating marsh dock with mounted
spotting scopes, beautiful interpretive signs and The Saginaw Bay Visitor Center.
For wildlife it's home!
Go hike and make your own discoveries!
NOTE: After the last photo you find advance notice on a new Michigan wildlife book!
This summer local Michigan author/journalist Elizabeth Shaw will have her book,
The Lone Wolverine – Tracking Michigan’s Most Elusive Animal, on bookshelves.
It is co-authored with Jeff Ford, the self- made naturalist and rural science
teacher that tracked the wolverine for 370 days before capturing her first photo
in 2005 on the far side of Saginaw Bay and ended when the wolverine was found
dead five years later. The wolverine (above) is now displayed in the Saginaw Bay
Visitor Center at the trailhead of the Anderson Trail. The Lone Wolverine offers
an unprecedented visual and factual chronicle of our wild wolverine in its natural
habitat and her documented struggle for food and survival.
It can be preordered now at Amazon.com
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
|A Michigan gray wolf - photo by Cheanne Chellis|
(NOT California Wolf OR7)
California has 37 million people, five million cows, 500,000 sheep, 30,000 black bears, 5,000 mountain lions — and one wild wolf. The wolf, officially known as OR7 is a new immigrant from Oregon that arrived in the Golden State the old fashion way.
It walked there.
California Dept of Fish and Game states: "The male wolf known as “OR7” was born in northeastern Oregon in spring 2009. It weighed approximately 90 pounds when collared with a radio transmitter by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) in February 2011. It is referred to by biologists as OR7 because it was the seventh wolf radio-collared in Oregon. Its collar transmits location information to satellites daily and is expected to continue to function until at least 2013"
He left his pack in northeast Oregon and began a 1,000 mile wandering trek across the high desert of eastern Oregon and the rugged Cascade Mountains before heading south and crossing into California on December 28th coming within a few miles of the spot the last wild wolf was trapped in California back in 1924. Much has changed. The moment this gray wolf crossed the state line he became fully protected by the federal endangered species act administered by the US. Fish and Wildlife Service. The wolf's apparent lovelorn trek is being monitored and mapped by Federal and State agencies as he explores his new land of opportunity.
And with a wolf in California there is controversy brewing that already mirrors the thoughts of humans who despise Michigan wolves. For those that claim wolves will kill "their deer" I say wolves have more right to the deer than a hunter does and just as much right to wait for a kill opportunity at a deer hunter's bait pile as the hunter.
Wolves are free-roaming predators that keep the wild in wildlife and establish an equilibrium.
That is the way of the wolf.
Monitor OR7 wanderings on Facebook at: California WolfADDENDUM: I am saddened and angered to add this comment on the evening of Feb 10.
On Twitter at: CaliforniaWolf
I have just learned from Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife that OR7's
pack brother wolf, OR9 has been shot and killed by a trophy "hunter" in Idaho.
Monday, February 6, 2012
|photos by Jonathan Schechter|
Tawas Point State Park, Michigan
Feb 5, 2012
Winter weather has been skewed in southern Michigan, but the lack of shifting snows on the
shores of Lake Huron give new opportunity to explore the cryptic lives of many species: the
red fox among them. Tracking and the art of seeing (perhaps I should say understanding
instead of seeing)is pure pleasure along the shoreline of Tawas Point State Park. These red
fox tracks led from a nearly obscured den in tall grasses and shrubs on the leeward side of a
dune down to the very edge of the shifting floes of ice. Perhaps the fox went for a drink.
Perhaps he went to sit, watch and listen to the ice. Only the fox knows. I suspect it was both.
But the tracks also went to a fresh pile of feathers.
The fox slept with a full belly; the story in the sand told me so.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
|Young groundhog (woodchuck) munching tender leaves in my mulberry tree last spring.|
Groundhogs are related to squirrels and can and do climb trees!
The climb to avoid predators and at times to feed.
photo by Jonathan Schechter June, 2011
The legend of groundhogs day claims that if the groundhog emerges from his hibernation den
and sees his shadow its a bad omen and six more weeks of winter remain.
(I have yet to understand why winter is considered bad).
Groundhogs are perhaps the worst nature forecasting creatures ever, but
the legend has persisted for centuries and is a combination of myth, wishful thinking
and illusions of reality. Mostly illusions of reality.
Fact of the matter is clear; the Spring Equinox occurs on March 20th, but
first we need a real winter to keep our seasons and sainity in order.
And I wonder how many groundhogs may not survive our lame winter this year, let alone
make a weather forecast, for their earthen burrows have not been hidden by or insulated with
protective blankets of snow. Snow over burrow entrances is nature's way.
Perhaps Punsutawey Phil will fall victim to Global Warming?
That may be his shadowy message of warning this year.