Sunday, January 27, 2013

Turkey Tracks in Snow

There is no mistaking the evidence that wild turkeys visited the berm area in the past couple of days. In the image below you can compare the turkey track with the smaller tracks of a crow. Their tracks in the snow are at least twice as wide as a crow's and it is easy to see the individual toe marks.

I have very rarely seen a turkey fly as they mostly get around by walking. I followed the tracks of the one that landed below as he walked with his friend along the berm from the 2009 planting to the 2010 planting. I wonder if they continued on and visited Ben Franklin Wood.

This is the first time I've seen wild turkey tracks in Manordale. Wild turkeys were only introduced to eastern Ontario about 20 years ago and Ottawa about 12 years ago. This area is north of their historic range but they have been very successful so far.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Rabbit tracks

The temperatures plunged this week from above freezing on the weekend down to around -30C. This with a dusting of new snow made it an excellent time to go looking for tracks on the berm. There were a whole load of fresh crow tracks in among the 95 trees. It must have been a whole flock of them giving the forest a good picking over. There were also a few rabbit tracks.

The picture above shows heavy browsing on an apple tree by a rabbit. This apple tree is rather bushy because it is just the regrowth from the root stock after a crabapple tree fell down a couple of years ago. I find it incredible the number of pellets he produced. The snow fell a couple of days ago so this pile is just from the past two days. I followed the tracks of another rabbit through the woods and he also was passing a huge number of pellets. Every few feet along his track there would be another pellet. And it was clear this was just one rabbit; the track was wandering around so much it couldn't be the pellets on a rabbit run poking out of the snow. It is purely my speculation, but I believe the rabbit I was following wasn't actually feeding but was just out in the cold -20C degree weather to pass scat and would have quickly returned to his burrow afterwards. I located his burrow to be an old groundhog hole (in center of picture below) under a glossy buckthorn bush by the eastern path over the berm. Cottontails don't make their own holes but they aren't above using one if there is one available.

Last year there were hardly any rabbits overwintering on the berm. This year there seems to be at least two: one on the east side living in the old groundhog hole and another living along the fence behind Kelvin that occasionally visits the crabapple trees.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Snowy New Years

I came back from Christmas in rainy Vancouver and was greeted by this wonderful blanket of snow. It was almost up to my knees when I trudged through it to inspect the goings-on on the berm. Not much is happening. There were very few tracks in the snow except my own.

Around New Years is the latest sunrise of the year, coming up in Ottawa at 7:43AM. From this point on the days are getting longer by more than a minute a day.

Can hardly wait for spring.