Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Blizzard That Fizzled

Well, we were supposed to be hip-deep in snow by now, according to those who predicted a blizzard of "historic" proportions.  Yes, those poor folks on the New England coast got hit really hard, but we here in Saratoga County got oh, maybe 4 or 5 inches of fluffy white stuff. Just enough to transform our landscape to a dazzling beauty.  I got out my snowshoes today and headed on over to the Hudson River to walk along its snow-covered banks and even venture out onto its frozen surface.

Ordinarily, I would not dare to walk out onto the frozen river, where  currents can undermine even the thickest ice, and the daily rise and fall of water levels often brings water onto the surface, which weakens the ice.  But today I saw the trail of a fisherman's sled traversing the snow-covered surface, so I figured that I might safely go wherever that fisherman had gone, since I didn't see his trail end suddenly among broken shards of ice.

It was sweet to stride along under that wide blue sky, breathing air as cold and tingly as iced ginger ale, and delighting in the dazzle of twinkling sparkles from the snow that lay lofty as feathers around my feet.

I was intrigued by these tracks on the bank, which came and went from an opening in the side of an old beaver lodge.

The tracks were much too small to be those of a beaver.  The size and the "inch-worming"  stride indicated they were most likely those of a mink, who might have been using the beaver lodge to gain access to the water under the ice, especially if the lodge had been abandoned by the beavers.

The same animal left a long trail of tracks heading upstream, so I followed them to where they led back into a creek-fed swamp . . .

. . . and saw where the mink had found another way to get into the water and hunt for its fishy food.

Back here in the swamp I found many tracks of some tiny creature (most likely a mouse) scurrying back and forth from the safety of its hidey-holes.

Here is where one tiny creature's trail came to an abrupt end, right where the trail of a fox came loping by.  Gulp!


catharus said...

Beautiful weather! Neat story!


threecollie said...

Great capture where those trails intersect. I am not fond of winter, but reading the night's activities via tracks in the snow is one of its few redeeming virtues.

Woody Meristem said...

A mouse can make just so many trips over the same trail before a predator gets a meal. Nice photos.