TRACKING, DIVING AND TIDEPOOLING!
Tracking has not been easy these days, but sometimes you get lucky. I found these turkey tracks over behind the school here in Phippsburg. They made such a star pattern that I was entranced. I followed them over a frozen wet area where they intersected with tracks of a raccoon. The temperatures had been up to forty degrees, so the ice crust gave way and started to make my tracking uncomfortable. I wished I had brought my snowshoes!

Earlier, I had the chance to catch a diver at work in the lobster pound. Donny and Roger had broken up the ice cover the day before, and when I got there the diver was already under water. He is fully equipped with flippers and diving gear, and swims along picking up lobsters that lie in gullies in a comatose state. The ice chunks should indicate how cold it has been. In the picture to the right, Donny is standing on the floating, plastic covered house waiting to supply the diver with wire containers. The diver fills these containers which are later retrieved to be emptied as the lobsters are checked for vitality before shipping to the market. This is the second such diving, and may be the last before the cove is drained and all the remaining lobsters are picked up, sometime in March.

In the picture to the left, you can see the buoy that marks a filled crate, while the diver in the center creates a swirl on the water. (He wasn't in the mood to be photographed.)

Donny told me that 6700 lbs. of lobsters were sent to market from the last dive. Needless to say, the diver doesn't have to hunt for the lobsters! Chris told me that the gulls are still trying their best to help themselves to these crustaceans. He saw one eating a lobster on an ice cake recently. Why don't those birds stick to crabs and surf clams?

Speaking of Surf Clams, I was down on Head Beach this week where we have been having extremely low tides. I saw gulls trying to dig clams out of the sand, with some success. Those birds have a way of sniffing out their holes. I climbed the low rocks of Joe's Head in search of the creatures we find so easily in other seasons. In winter, it is a whole different ballgame.......icy water, slippery seaweed, and heavy rocks. I did manage to find these creatures after finding a rock to turn over without being washed with the chilling waves. I turned over the female Green Crab to show her mound of eggs. Even in February, these animals ply their trades on the rocks of Joe's Head. I retreated to find dry gloves, since my fingers were now freezing!

Almost everywhere you look in tidal inlets, there are chunks of ice heaped upon one another. I find it most interesting and intimidating. Just imagine trying to navigate up these channels in your kayak! Those cakes are heavy, too. It is the same scene on the mudflats near the Kelp Shed. I'm afraid the clammers have had to hang up their boots and gloves for a warmer day. One wonders how the clams are surviving.

We have had a couple of days where the temperatures have ascended to the 40 degree mark, but the going is still risky on icy trails. I do think the beaver has had a break, and may have been able to escape his confinement. My days of walking on water may be over......

2/26/07 Thawing Ronnie