Day of Awesome Discoveries

 In Apprenticeship, nature connection, tracking

The fog Sunday morning was heavy and damp, you could hardly see 3 metres ahead.

Circumstances led me to finding a recently-hit snowy owl on road while on my way to our location. It was an amazing blessing, needless to say, I was in shock and awe.

We had such an incredible opportunity to see such a beautiful creature up-close, in such detail. Lee gave us some ID and diagnostic details, this had been a young, very hungry bird.

   The colouring of the feathers was typical of a female, presumably a young adult as the adult colours hadn’t yet become fully defined. After blowing on the bird, you know, like most normal people would in the given situation, Lee showed us the little spot between the breast bones where birds store up their fat – this owl had absolutely none.

It was a pretty sweet gift to start our morning, and the day seem to be full of such awesome discoveries.

As we began our journey in, we called to noticed all the cherry trees along the fence-line. Alexis brought up how the birds, raccoons, and some small rodents like to eat on and around those fence lines so they have certain patterns of distribution of the fruit’s seeds they eat and excrete.

Soon we spooked a grouse who had been very close by, which gave us a better sense of our volume and disturbance levels, and we got to see some super fresh feeding sign.

Sign of the fruit tree bark beetle

In that area, there was some unidentified amber-orange frozen substance that we wondered if it was frozen pee, jelly fungus or cherry sap? Taste could only tell for sure – it was cherry sap.

Lee explained about the bark beetle sign on the cherries, how they lay eggs, the eggs hatch and grow as they feed, then eventually exit. Apparently there are 4 local bark beetles in our area, we looked up which bark beetle this would be – the fruit-tree bark beetle.

Throughout our wander we saw plenty of deer scrapes, rubs, nips and browse along our trails through the landscape.

We found some feeding sign on golden rod gall grubs. Is this sign of a downy or a chickadee, or something else?

We saw deer beds, with signs of hare feeding on the grasses, and pooping in the deers’ beds.

We decided to move slowly, quietly, with intention to potentially see more.

We soon found a fox dig and tracks in some sand, a lot more deer scrapes and rubs, a racoon dig that may have originally been a chipmunk excavation at some point?

We wandered downhill to the springs, and as we were going to begin heading further, we stopped as we hear deer snorting at us nearby. We walked as slow and quietly as we could, hoping to catch a glimpse of the deer.

We made our way down to the river for lunch, where we sat by the water and shared in discussion.

Almost as soon as we began moving again, we came across super-cute sighting of raccoons napping up in a tree! Some of Nature’s sweetest moments…

There were some pretty well-worn deer trails in muddy spots, where we also found some super- texture-defined porcupine tracks, and nearby, coyote tracks, and another fox dig. Following the deer trails, Alexis and Lee warmed their chilled hands over the warm deer scat…

THEN we found a classic bear bite!

THEN, as we were calling it a day, so satisfied by all we had seen, we found on our path, signs of that infamous elusive creature, the BOB CAT! Fairly fresh, figuring not more than a couple days old….

What a day, so jammed full with awesome sightings and discoveries, but also so gentle, quiet and free flowing… Tracking is always such an amazing adventure that brings forth so many opportunities for learning in an experiential way. What an amazing day.

Oh! We also saw tons of Cedar seeds caches,

a large beautiful Mullein growing out of a fallen trees roots,

a wicked huge little room under some old Cedar and Yellow Birch roots,

and one of the largest colonies of Turkey Tail I’ve ever seen.


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