Who's Out and About on the Day After the January 2011 Blizzard

Scott's First Time on Snowshoes!
He took to it like a duck to water.
  Scott Dayton and I (Jamie) were out on the property checking waterfowl nest-boxes in the 18+ inches of snow.  Snowshoeing was the only way to travel in these conditions.  Although snowshoeing is fun, it can be really hard work when you are the first to break the trail through deep powdery snow.  It reminded me how difficult it would be for some of our larger mammals to travel through the same conditions.  Some animals have adaptations that are adapted for these conditions such as the large feet of cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares so that they can travel on top of the snow.  Moose is the only large mammal that inhabits northern CT that can walk through deep snow with their long legs.  Bobcats, coyotes, fisher, and white-tailed deer, on the other hand, are hindered by these conditions.  I expect to see more of their tracks and trails as soon as the snow compacts, but so far we found no evidence that they were moving around much today.  These mammals rely on other adaptations to survive when they can not move very far to find food.  They carry a layer of fat on their bodies that insulates and provides energy that maintains bodily functions.  These adaptations are good for short periods of time and each of them use many other behavioral and physiological adaptations to survive the winters especially during these dramatic environmental conditions.  Some move into the sunlight to warm their bodies, others reduce their metabolism so that they don't need to find as much food when it is difficult to find, and others sleep through the extreme winter climate.  The only mammal sign that we observed today were weasel tracks in various marshes.  The weasels bounded between shrub stands and dove under the snow to probably elude predation and to gain access to the subnivian (below snow) layer where all of the small mammals (mice, voles, shrews, moles, etc.) inhabit.

Weasel Tracks at Little Pond Boardwalk

Weasel Tracks at Little Pond Boardwalk Another Perspective

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