A RENDEZ-VOUS WITH A PORCUPINE!
Our power has been restored and the internet connection is now operational. Who knows when we will lose these things again? Another storm is on our doorstep that is forecast to bring almost a foot of snow. We now have about 6 inches from two snows. I have enjoyed both of these with the opportunity to do some tracking. I finally got to see my first porcupine high in a tree. How did I find it? By observing its definitive plow marks through the snow connecting the tree to its hiding place under the shower building on Western Reach. It seems it prefers that lodging to being under the latrine where he used to hang out.

As mentioned, we have had two successive snows. The first produced just a couple of inches. Tracks were easy to distinguish in that depth of snow. The porcupine's tracks in that amount of snow showed a tail drag with its feet positioned on either side. Incidentally, I confirmed this by referring to my "tracking bible", TRACKING AND THE ART OF SEEING by Paul Rezendes. The author does a great job of showing and identifying tracks in different mediums. He also details the scat and food foraging patterns. Porcupines are active in all seasons. They climb high into trees to chew bark and other parts of plants. Unfortunately, their bark chewing often results in a tree's demise. One winter, a porcupine found its way into the Kelp Shed and made a mess of things, including leaving piles of scat.

Contrast the two track pictures. Both are of a porcupine, but the one on the right is in deeper snow. I did take a picture of the rodent up in a tree, but it was so high that it looked like a black blob!

I saw the usual deer tracks, two of which can be seen in the picture to the left. I was unable to locate any deer beds surprisingly. There were squirrel and mice tracks also. It's fun to detect vole activity where they tunnel under the snow and sometimes surface, leaving a hole. I did make my way down to the beaches as the tide was flowing out. Piles of frozen seaweed were left by the tide and here and there a stone or shell, mostly frozen to the substrate. I experienced some episodes of slipping and sliding where a thin layer of water had frozen near the water's edge. Luckily, I was equipped with cleats and a ski pole. I wish you had been with me to enjoy these observations first hand. 12/21/09 Shivering Ronnie.
P.S. Since I haven't had a chance to upload this page, I will give you a brief Pre-Christmas update. We have a slew of snow on our hands...knee deep and higher in drifts. I haven't done any exploring since my attention has been to shoveling out. I imagine if I went over to the campground the road would be plowed, but I'd have to climb over drifts to get to the beaches. Now, we may be getting rain, so any snowshoeing will have to wait. I keep wondering if the porcupines are tunneling through the snow, and the grouse have snow caves! However,
HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!