After the Dolphin attraction, my outings went back to the campground and other local spots of interest. It is quite cold, and snow descends as I write. I did make it into the woods to track deer. It is very helpful to have snow show all the activity. I found about 4 deer beds, and this one was particularly interesting because you could distinctly see the tracks leading away from the resting spot. In addition, it looked as if it excreted on the trail after arising, leaving little "punctuation marks"! See the little scat droppings? Sometimes you see a pile of scat on the deer bed after it has been used. Again, these beds are usually somewhat scattered. I've found that deer do not snuggle, but keep a certain distance from each other. These beds are often on high ground where the deer can keep an eye on things. Sometimes the snow will melt underneath the animal, but other times it is just an oval depression. Deer often will seek the overhead protection of an evergreen tree, but not here. I wonder if you recognize the site where this picture was taken. Clue: That's a snow covered Lily Pond in the background.
I also made my way into the southern areas of Totman Cove, benefiting from an extremely low tide accompanying the full moon. I discovered several Green Crabs that had sought protection from exposure by digging into the sand. I was delighted to find live Sanddollars in this area. I get such a kick out of seeing their efforts to seek the comfort of salt water when left high and dry. When they leave a track showing movement, you can appreciate how those tiny spines can bring cover and protection from the freezing temperatures. Sanddollars seem to thrive in Totman Cove, but ironically, the dead ones never make it to beach for collectors. This cove is so shallow that they die and remain out of reach, unless you are a determined wader and wait for a very low tide.
I went back to the campground after another six inches of soft snow to see what was active. The scene you see above was erased but deer tracks were all over the place. I'd love to know just how many are seeking comfort and food on the island. It was interesting to note that these animals seem to stop at the Winterberry shrubs to nibble. Tracks led to the bush and appeared to hesitate there before moving on. I couldn't help but think as I followed the deer tracks from site to site that they were out picking campsites! I also noticed that some tracks led onto the trails from Cross Island! I also found another food site for birds. They are seeking the fruit of Staghorn Sumac. The snow is spotted with red droppings that missed getting into beaks. There were the usual tracks of mice and squirrel, and tunnels of voles, but no porcupine that I observed.
Consider the plight of clammers these days. This is their digging area as you cross over behind Head Beach. Those chunks of ice make for a formidable barrier. I wonder how the clams are doing under that icy cover? I even wondered if I would make it across to the Kelp Shed to park my car. We've had extremely high tides, and the ice is everywhere. The Island Road is plowed to allow passage down to the fish wharf, since boats still go out weather permitting. It is shrimp season, you may know, which reminds me to check out that activity.
I have lots more tracking to report, but that will await the next write-up. Suffice it to say, we are in a frigid cold spell with a significant snow cover. Any time animals venture out for food we can follow their trails. I've had a few surprises, so stay tuned. If you guessed the location for the tracking picture above as looking south from Jibe Way, you are correct! 1/16/09 Winterized Ronnie.