Saturday, January 23, 2016

On the trail of the porcupine

Typical porcupine habitat, den site N1
A wintry expedition today, looking for Dandelion the Dreadful and other residents of these wild woods. I visited the homes of six porcupines in a number of modestly dramatic locations. The porcupines seem to be occupying many more nooks and crannies in the den areas than in previous years. At this site, about five different spots showed signs of fresh porcupine occupancy, though I would be surprised if there are more than two in residence. While I clambered up to check another den site (no one home), a porcupine came out to sample one of the apples I left.

At the next site, a good sized boulder cave, the porcupine was home. I decided to stay for a while to take some notes and to see if the porcupine would come out of her cranny to eat an apple. After about fifteen minutes she did come out, chattering her teeth at me. Not Dandelion.
This porcupine is not Dandelion.

Otter slides on a January brook

I found otter tracks on the brook, such fun to see what the frolicsome beast had been doing—muddy places in the snow, many belly slides. . . The otter led me down to the little pond where Willow and her mate are residing.

The otter's tracks

Last night a small army of us brought a sled-load of poplar out to the stranded beavers. We were able to see that the beavers had retrieved the branches I had shoved under the ice earlier this week. We broke two new holes through the thickening ice and made the delivery. The nearly full moon, clear black ice, planets and stripes of clouds made the night especially fine.
When I arrived at their pond this evening, on the trail of the otter, there were still plenty of poplar branches in the water. The beavers should be well provisioned for a while.

The snow had been collecting tracks all week. Today I saw stories by snowshoe hare, mouse, flying squirrel, coyote, raccoon, grouse, red squirrel, shrew, and mink as well as otter and porcupine.

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