This was an outdoor weekend spent in the Sierras. We spent an afternoon taking a hike on snowshoes. It looks really cold and dreary in this photo but it was really not all that cold…above freezing by a few degrees. I could have done with a few less layers. 🙂 I took off my gloves for awhile and that helped. Most people we saw on the trail were on cross country skis but we enjoyed the crunch, crunch , crunch of snowshoes. I was on the lookout for mammal tracks.
We saw lots of canine tracks beside the trail but as we worked our way up from the lake into the conifers, we were rewarded with these tracks.
In this area there were many little “rabbit trails” giving us a clue as to what sort of mammal was in the area. I came home and discovered that they are more than likely Tahoe Snowshoe Hare tracks. (Lepus americanus tahoensis) See snowshoe hare.
We are new to identifying tracks so if anyone thinks they are from a different animal, please leave me a comment.
Not only did we see some mammal tracks but we were treated to a “new to us” bird. The red-breasted nuthatch. He was seen clinging to the side of this pine, sticking his head into little holes looking for some bark insects. He moved easily in all directions while clinging to the bark. Amazing.
I was busy taking photos when a bunch of ducks flew into view. We saw them later eating some seeds that a fellow hiker had left along the shore. They were later joined by a few Canadian geese.
So I think we had a successful outing….we did manage to find some mammal tracks in the snow and that was our aim.
From the Handbook of Nature Study, page 217,
” An interesting relative of the cottontail is the varying hare or snow-show rabbit that lives in the wooded regions of north-eastern North America. Of all animals he is one of the most defenseless; foxes, mink, and other flesh-eating inhabitants of the woods find him an easy prey. He has not even a burrow to flee to when pursued by his enemies…..He has one important advantage over his enemies: twice each year his heavy coat of fur is shed. In the summer the coat is a reddish brown that so blends with his surroundings that he is hardly noticeable; in the winter it is perfectly white so that against a background of snow he is nearly invisible.”
Anna Botsford Comstock has included pages 215-219 with information on the cotton-tailed rabbit. I found these pages very useful in coming up with a way to study our snowshoe hare. Even though the information doesn’t completely apply to our hare, we can adapt her activities to our study.
Winter nature study at its best.