Friday, January 14, 2011

A Bounding Otter

In preparation for a snowshoe hike that I am leading tomorrow, Kodi and I went out for a reconnaissance of the site this morning. The Wednesday snowstorm that dropped 14+ inches of fresh powder arrived none too soon for our walkabout. Deep snow is preferable to bare ground for a winter snowshoe in search of wildlife signs and other interesting sights.

Under blue sky and in the cold (about 20F) Kodi and I set off on the trail, both thrilled to be outside on this crisp morning. Some of our route was cleared by a snowmobile grooming machine. That made the going easy. Several times, though, we headed into the woods making our own path in the deep powder. I warmed up quickly once I had to break trail. Kodi got a great workout too (tell me again why people drive to a gym for exercise?).

Kodi sniffed mostly for the smells of other dogs and marked each spot where another dog had visited earlier. Meanwhile, I kept my eyes peeled for wildlife tracks. The dainty tracks of woodland mice wandered here and there at the woodland edge. A short trail with two round holes at each end marked the spot where a vole popped out of the snow then back under. Mostly though the woods were quiet and the snow still untouched. As we approached one of my destinations for the hike tomorrow -- Demons Pond -- I noticed some tracks along the edge of this wetland.

Kodi does look and act a bit like a bounding otter. He's got a few whiskers and he loves to play in the snow. One slight problem having an otter-like dog along is that he bounds around in the deep snow, messing up the very wildlife tracks I want to examine. I  managed to keep Kodi at bay long enough to snap a few photos of the track and keep him off the trail. I am hoping this beautiful track of a bounding otter is still clear when I come back with a group to tomorrow (without Kodi -- sorry buddy).

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