Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SUMMERTIME ADVENTURES


Every kid knows about poop, but how many know about scat? Well, when you are tracking animals with Virginia, the biologist, you get to the nitty-gritty, as grandson Austin soon found out. We walked the dusty, and in places,  muddy, road to the big river and visited every footprint  we spotted in the early morning. The photo above has a definite long claw, possibly a bobcat. They've been known to climb upon automobiles parked below the cabin here in Mendocino County.

This photo shows the soft pad of a coyote possibly. An older print;  recent rains diminished its sharpness. No scat nearby to make a decision, but Austin learned about turkey scat, raccoon and coyote scat. Breaking the dried scat apart, searching for bones or seeds to help identify what animal passed by is not something he wanted to try, but he watched with fascination. He saw the tracks  snails and a snake made in the dusty road. Quail, deer and a rabbit passed this way  before our morning walk. Signs of bear, and the bear itself, have been spotted on the property but the prints Virginia has seen of them have all washed away.

Late rains encouraged longer lasting spring flowers as the  firecracker...

...and this sunny yellow bloom.  (The name escaped me.)

Off the road, on a wide path, we happened upon  a rattlesnake. It was still cool; the snake was sluggish and slow. Virginia gave Austin three bamboo sticks to carry in front of him as we proceeded.

A deer jawbone with teeth intact,  fairly  fresh killed,   found near the water.

We explored a crude storage structure leftover from the former owners of the property. It proved handy for locking up tools during the building of the cabin and is slated to be burned down come winter.

On our return to the cabin, the rattle snake was still curled up on the path. While we watched  it  slithered away; its home  a cavity beneath  a downed tree.  Look closely. It appears thick in the middle as though it had recently eaten. Then on to the Circus Camp.  More tomorrow.

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