We had our first snow of the season on Sunday. It didn't amount to snow plowing, but all the roads were sanded. It signaled a definite change in the weather as the temperature dropped down into the teens. I managed to bundle up and made by way over to the campground to check things out by early afternoon. The wind was blowing a gale and I had to hunt for snow patches to do any tracking. I did find these and I wonder if you recognize one of our avian residents. I should have placed something in the picture to give an idea of their size. These are tracks of a Ruffed Grouse. I had flushed one from the bushes recently so wasn't surprised to find these tracks. They are about 2 inches in length.

I also saw deer, squirrel, mouse, and canine (maybe a coyote) tracks. It was very cold, so not too many people or dogs were out leaving tracks. As I approached the campground, I stopped to take a picture of a Red Squirrel dining on Winterberries, perched high off the ground. Ironically, it was still there eating when I headed home! In the past, I have found piles of Rose Hips that were also included in their diet. Notice how its fuzzy tail is keeping his back warm. While I was taking this picture, a bird flew in and helped himself to the red berries. It was a Robin! It looked quite large compared to the squirrel, who kept right on eating.

After doing the tracking, I went down to the beaches which were bitter cold with the wind. There was a line of ice at the splash line on the rocks. Every time I took off my gloves to take a picture, my fingers complained. I picked up a stick to investigate a few items on the beach at low tide. There were these mounds of sand which I figured indicated the presence of some creature. Here is what they looked like. Think for a minute about what might have created this mound. While you are thinking, I will tell what else I observed. At this time of year, the gulls look for Surf Clams at low tide. There was evidence of these birds opening the clams and eating the insides. Tracks showed their movements, and inevitably they excrete on their dining room table (which happens to be the beach). Most of these clams they find are quite small. The larger ones are carried aloft and dropped to break the shells.

OK......did you guess a Red Rock Crab made that little mound of sand as it awaits the incoming tide and avoids being frozen by the cold air? If so, you are correct. I found three of these mounds and they all indicated the presence of a red crab. I either covered them up or threw them into the ocean. Remember, the ocean temperature is warmer than the air and exposed sand!
12/8/08 Ronnie, thawing out.