When they stopped for lunch, they saw the best track of the day: This beautiful impression of a raven taking off from the snow, the tips of its wings brushing the powdery surface. By the time they finished their sandwiches, it had been completely obscured by fresh snowflakes.
Motion-activated, temptingly-baited wildlife cameras provide a much bigger window back in time, catching everything that walks in front of them. They provide an extremely limited window in space, though, since they catch only what walks in front of them.
When we know what windows in time and space we’re looking through, we can make sense of what we see. A trip in fresh snow that finds only a few hare tracks provides very different data point than a trip in four-day-old, trackable snow that finds the same thing. A camera up for two weeks that is visited three times by a coyote is different from a trip in active snowfall that finds three coyote trails.
Our teams had a well-documented great time in fluffy powder this weekend, in addition to documenting fresh tracks. The trackers at Twin Lakes found a few squirrel tracks, had a great time in the heavy snow, and saw some interesting wildlife sign most of the way up a cedar– some critter had peeled bark from high up on a cedar, perhaps to warm its winter nest. On Saturday, another tracking team tromped through snowdrifts on the flats along Clark Creek and scoured the area for wildlife sign, documenting fresh squirrel tracks and hearing rumors of local snow angels.