Monday, January 3, 2011

Winter on the Orange Trail

First of all, let me just say that trekking poles are great.  I'm still getting the hang of using them correctly, but, I hit a couple of places on the trail today, where I think I would have done some slipping and sliding, if I hadn't had the poles to steady me.  You can see why in this picture.  The hard trodden snow didn't all melt during the warm spell, and when it got cold again, it froze into ice patches.

I went out searching for liverworts.  I found lots of moss.  On the ground.

At the base of trees.

On dead branches.

On more tree bases.

Lichens galore.  Isn't the first one a beauty?

Just getting started.

Moss or lichen?

Barely there.

But, I couldn't find any liverworts.  I guess I wasn't looking hard enough, or maybe I was looking in the wrong places.

I started out in the woods.  It was beautiful, quiet and still.  I noticed the difference immediately.  There were no bird sounds.

But, when I got to the Great Meadow, things got exciting.  First of all, I found these tracks.  They're old, and distorted.  They're about the size of my fist.  What do you think they are?

And, right near the tracks, I found this scat.  It's old, too.  All that's left is vegetable matter.  And, it's big, maybe as round as a cheap cigar.

OK, OK, I know, it's probably dog prints, and, maybe, dog or fox scat.  But, it was fun, for a minute, to pretend that it was some fabulous wild creature.  Alas, common sense ruled and I put that out of my mind.

But, that was only the first of the surprises.  The meadow was FULL of robins.  Not just one or two, but a couple of dozen at least.  So much for them being a migratory bird any more.  I wonder what they were all finding to eat?

And, there were other birds in the Great Meadow, also.  I found this cheery little chickadee poking around on the ground.

And, feasting on sumac heads, this cute little downy woodpecker.

I also took another look at the bittersweet that I had seen earlier.  I learned from The Adirondack Naturalist /  that Asian bittersweet was rampant in the US.  I wanted to see if what I had seen was the native bittersweet, or the invader.  Sadly, I think it is the Asian variety.  The berries are more red than orange, and that is one of the defining differences.

Before I left the trails, I took a quick trip over to look at the swamp.  I know that this has been right in front of me, every time I have been there, but it's only now, when all the green has died away, that I noticed the muskrat house right in the middle of the now frozen water.

That is one thing that the starkness of winter helps you do, see things more clearly. 


Upupaepops said...

Wonderful adventure

I saw a muskrat out walking on a frozen pond yesterday but could not get a good pic of it.

I think your question moss vs lichen it is a powder type lichen

the foot prints


On canids you should see nail marks. Perhaps I could be convinced on the first one there are old nail marks, it is long and thin like a canid and I would happily accept coyote, particularly with teh scat present

but the other one

the rounder foot with ovaloid pad marks

be open to River Otter

barefootheart said...

What an interesting winter walk. I know robins sometimes stick around for the winter but I've rarely seen them. I think they eat berries in the winter. Nice find! Could the second print be opossum?

Gloria said...

I enjoy the walk in the woods with you today. It is a good thing you got those trekking poles.
Dose the moss or lichens hurt the trees?
So that is a muskrat house, I would think it was beaver or are they bigger? I like the woodpecker so pretty. Poor little birds.

Sharon said...

Nice quiet walk in the woods, yep, believe the poles are much safer than not, good idea. I always thought the robins migrated too, but they just stay in the woods in the winter. It's interesting, the stuff you see when all the greenery is dead or gone. I like the old trees, they have so much character!

texwisgirl said...

Pretty neat walk - scat and all! :) Looked like coyote to me with lots of hair left in it. But I could be wrong. Definitely not an expert altho we see a lot around here. :)

Muskrat house was really neat! Don't see those around here!

Terry said...

That was a fabulous walk! Thanks for taking me along - I'm not even cold! I love the little woodpecker, and your scat looks just like our coyote scat, which we have in abundance.

Ellen Rathbone said...

Definitely canid on the first track and scat. Probably coyote, based on the size you described. The second track, hm...more difficult. Was it in line with the other, as though part of the set, or was it off by itself?

Asian bittersweet...sorry.

And liverworts can be difficult to differentiate from mosses! There are some good books out there that can help, though. Your best bet, though, is to find a bryologist who will go out with you! You need someone like my friend Evelyn!

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Those are tracks of the Giant Woodland GePhoozlelump, Auntie Louise! Watch out because they like to munch on trekking poles. Very pretty trail in the winter!

The Odyssey Farm said...

Hi Louise, I found your blog over at COTH. I used to live in update NY (Ithaca) and am enjoying your treks very much. I love your little corner of the world, and kudos to you for your TB rehab efforts. The world needs more like you.

Best wishes,

Madi and Mom said...

Morning Louise
Your pictures are absolutely fabulous....and are proof positive that there is extraordinary beauty in winter. My goodness you found such beautiful colors. Thank you for sharing with us. I love chickadees!!!
Madi's Mom

Jabacue said...

Louise, thanks for this lovely walk! Amazing how the colours we don't normally see in the summer, are so obvious in the winter. This just happened to me as well the other day. I couldn't pass by a splash of I 'captured' it on camera as well.
Just love your nature tours. Good job.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely walk this was! You certainly live in a great area for experiencing nature.
Isn't that a beaver hut?

We have muskrat here too in the lakes.

Maybe it was a coyote if the tracks were that big.

Canyon Girl said...

I've never seen a muskrat or their house. This was such an interesting walk. I miss a forest of tall trees with bare branches like those in your pictures. Thank you for taking us along, which reminds me that I have barely moved today. What's a person to do? I need to get motivated!! Still, you do inspire me. -- Inger

R. Burnett Baker said...

A delightful winter walk! Being the warm, fair weather child that I am, I find it very difficult to get out this time of year a observe as you have. There must be much for me to learn if only I can stop shivering!!!


Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Nice photos, I love how the hardy moss looks so green even in the dead of winter. Last year I cut a few clumps and made a few terrariums out of it..........

KB said...

I found someone else who puts scat photos in their posts! We must be distantly related... :)

Are you sure that wasn't fur in the scat? That would be my guess - and that would mean that it's either wild canine scat or bobcat scat. The shape actually looks a bit more like bobcat scat than coyote to me. But, it is pretty old...