More ATV tracks
It was a lovely day to be out, until I came across yet more ATV tracks at FWG. Despite our Chair writing to AAFC about the machines going into the Backyard Garden and then through the New Woods, clearly nothing was done. We know who is doing this!! But they seem to think they are above the law (which is rather funny, in a sick sort of way, considering who is doing this). They went through the Ash Woods the other day, off trail, very clearly OFF TRAIL, and into the woods. Now I discover they have veered off the service road and onto what is usually a narrow track leading by the Birch Grove (L), and the new section of the Butterfly Meadow (L and R). Well, clearly these bozos have no respect at all for the Fletcher Garden or for what we are trying to do there.
Red squirrel enjoying tree sap
Still not many birds around. The usual few juncos, cardinals, house finches (have not seen the big flocks of 40+ birds for a couple of weeks), chickadees, three mourning doves, a couple of white-breasted nuthatches, and crows.
The most fun was watching a red squirrel contorting himself to get at the sap which was flowing from nips he'd made in the bark. This is a favourite activity at this time of year and always an excuse to take more photos of reds. Let's see.... I must have well over 1,000 shots of these guys now and there is little chance of my ending this obsession! So, here are a few photos from today.
Red squirrel licking sap
The contortions are quite comical.
Meadow vole tracks
I was also intrigued by a set of meadow vole tracks and runs as well as little hole dug in the snow with scat deposited. I followed the tracks and tried to figure out what was happening. At any rate, the tracks came out from under the snow on the edge of the old field, ran into the open, circled around a bit, then the hole was dug and the small pile of scat left. The tracks then headed north on the surface for about a metre before they turned into quite a significant "run" (like a tunnel without the roof). This pattern of traveling over the surface, then within a "run", carried on for about 100 metres, before the tracks veered back into vegetation and stopped at the entrance of a snow tunnel beside a tree. Dog and human prints disturbed the pattern in places, other wise I might have tried to get a video clip of the whole thing. Not entirely sure what was going on, but oh well, it gave me something to look at, and gave Tasha time to sit. Meadow voles are far less likely to travel across the snow surface in winter than mice are, but this doesn't mean they never do it. Just that they are more adept at tunneling beneath the snow.
Meadow vole scat
This is the scat mentioned in the above posting.
Crow with food
This crow was eating what looked like a rabbit's leg, but it was hard to tell for sure. Whatever it was, it was frozen and hard. The crow was pecking away and it was more like chipping at ice than anything. He swallowed the fur as well as the flesh, but every so often some tufts of fur would float down.
Although this was taken in the Arboretum, just below the FWG, I include it because she is such a pretty duck and the Arboretum is almost part of the FWG.... birds and animals go back and forth...
This crow and one other were sitting in the row of Scotch pines at the Fletcher garden, every so often looking hopefully at a 3rd crow who had either a vole or a mouse which he was eating. Whether he caught it or scavenged it, I don't know. You can see small white splotches on this guy. They are the droppings which most crows in winter are splattered with... one of the hazards of communal roosting! You can compare this crow with the raven in the next shot.
I don't know if this is the same raven that was gathering nest material in the Arboretum a few days ago, but this one was certainly hanging out between FWG and the Arboretum and seemed in no hurry to leave, despite being mobbed by his smaller "cousins" the crow.
Eastern Cottontail rabbit
It was late in the day and I was looking at the large piles of rabbit scat in the BYG, and wondering if the rabbit was still around, when I noticed this one sitting just down the slope in the ravine. We haven't reached the large numbers of rabbits in the garden that occurred a few years ago, but have more than in 2008 and the first half of 2009.
ATV tracks in Backyard Garden
It was a beautiful sunny day, mild, pleasant, a good day to be out. However, my pleasure was soon diminished when I found ATV tracks leading into and all the way through the New Woods, emerging, or perhaps starting at, the road into FWG from Prince of Wales Drive. What bozos, what idiots, would be stupid enough to head into the woods on a big machine, right next to a sign saying that they were entering the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. My answer is, people who think they can get away with doing whatever they want. And I'll say no more on that!
Later, I was doubly appalled to find these same yahoos had driven into and around the Backyard Garden, over two of our beds. Such respect they have for the garden, don't they?
ATV tracks in BYG
Another shot of the ATV tracks, this time looking eastward to the end of the Backyard Garden.