Sleuthing In The Snow

As I mentioned in my last post, we did spend some time trying to do some detective work and figure out what the various tracks were that we saw in the snow. We saw a chipmunk and watched as he vanished down his hole.

DSC_8035 chipmunk

I went to investigate his hole, hoping to find footprints to help me identify footprints elsewhere.

DSC_8038 chipmunk hole

There were no obvious chipmunk prints around the hole! There were lots of other prints, but just an area next to his hole where he sat. He obviously popped up, enjoyed the heat from the sun for a little while and went back down the way he came. There were lots of other prints around the hole. Some prints looked like deer and some I was not sure about.

DSC_7960 door tracks

We saw a number of smaller animal prints and even though I have looked at charts and pictures I am still not totally sure I can identify them. We saw some interesting ones heading to the cottage door. We had a problem with mice coming in under the door and screwed some wood across a mouse hole at the end of the season. Whilst my first thoughts were it was the mice trying to get in, there are no drag marks for a tail, so I don’t think this was a mouse. The shape does look a little like rabbit prints, but I think they were a little small for a rabbit. Whatever it was, it didn’t manage to get in the cottage and we were pleased to find a critter free cottage!

DSC_7928 rabbit tracks

We found some other prints that also look like they could be rabbit tracks. These ones were a little larger than the ones near the door.  The larger prints near the door were interesting. I think they might be fox prints.

DSC_8000 in front of cottage

They went round the whole cottage and disappeared under the cottage. Maybe it has made a den there for the winter?

DSC_7925 tracks

We found a long trail of these prints going along the driveway and the straight line would seem to indicate a fox.

DSC_8043 scat

We also found some scat, which looks like it could be fox. It was in an area that the deer like to hang out, as you can see from the smaller scat in the picture. We followed the deer trail through the forest to see what route they took and were amazed at how steep it got in places.

DSC_8042 steep slope

There was one area that I couldn’t manage to climb, even with my snowshoes on. It was just too steep for me to get up. It was at the top here that we found the large scat. I wasn’t sure if there were some other prints in that area. There are a few that look like a larger animal print. We know there are fishers in the area and that was another possibility for the scat, but from what I have researched it seems to me more like fox.

We had hoped to find some shed deer antlers as we explored. My husband does woodturning and would like to turn a pen from deer antlers. The white tailed deer shed their antlers between January and April, but we didn’t manage to spot any. They might not have shed yet, they might have been under the snow, other critters might have found them first and chewed them or we might have just missed noticing them.

DSC_8004 tracks near lake

Down by the water’s edge we found a pile of prints. They were all over the place. Some were deer, but not all.

DSC_8006 tracks on lake

You can see that the deer tracks on the lake follow paths, whereas the ones by the side of the lake are more muddled, which makes me think that most of those ones are not deer.

DSC_8011 watering hole

It was interesting to see the number of prints around a tiny bit of open water. It would seem that this might be a place that many animals have found they can take a drink?

DSC_7929 dragging track  DSC_8013 print

Another interesting track we saw was the track on the left of the first picture that has drag marks. I am guessing it has a tail it is dragging. I wondered if it was the porcupine, but they have a waddle and their tracks tend to show the waddle. I haven’t been able to come up with any ideas what the track in the second picture might be from.

DSC_8020 print.jpg

And I don’t know what this one is either. I can see claw marks in this one and it is fairly large. The snow had a crust on it from freezing rain a week or so ago and I think that made it a little more difficult to identify some of the prints. Also the sun was strong and melting the surface a little, which also made the prints less clear.

DSC_8001 cat shaddow

We are not the best detectives, but we had fun exploring and trying to figure things out.   Is it possible that we were just too busy looking at the footprints to notice the cougar that was watching us!


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