1-10-14 Field Note

Block title

1-10-14 Field Note

January 10, 2014

Jeff Clarke's Field Note describes animal tracks in the snow, cockle burs, and Rocky Mountain maple seeds.

PDF icon Download (1.7 MB)

Field Note January 9th, 2014

Over the past three years, we’ve removed several miles of barbed wire fence and collected scattered scrap metal and garbage. In the last week, I trucked and trailered more than 17,000 pounds of the gathered metal to the recycle center.

Several little critters used the old mound of barbed wire for shelter. As I removed the eight foot tall pile I uncovered a maze of rabbit trails, all kinds of feathers, chunks of ungulate fur, and a dead rabbit. I assume the large slash piles we amass get the same amount of use.

Cockle burs grow in clusters in the sandbars along the Bitterroot River. Hooked barbules on the persistent fruits make this Eurasian weed a nuisance.

During the frigid days of January, nuthatches and black-capped chickadees seem to be the only critters stirring in the floodplain.

A fresh set of snowshoe hare tracks reveals large nail marks. Hares use their toenails for traction, digging, and territorial behavior.

Rocky Mountain maple seeds cling to their branches most of the winter. Red squirrels take advantage; they chew off branch tips and forage the seeds from the ground.

An otter and a great blue heron cross paths.

I came across this dead mink on the river’s edge. Its skull was shattered and its entire body lacked meat and bones, although its pelt was intact. Otters, coyotes, foxes, and great horned owls are their major predators. My guess is that a great horned owl got this little fellow.

A washed out cottonwood root ball lays on the edge of the Bitterroot River.

A frozen stink bug crouches on the ice.

Previous Field Note

12-23-13 Bird Field Note