Windy Walk

Denali and I wandered out yesterday to poke around in the woods….on top of the crusty snow. Since last Thursday (at 33 below zero) we’ve had a big old dose of spring….up to 60 on Tuesday I think….so the landscape has changed.

First of all, we were being stalked by this Canadian Jay. I tried unsuccessfully to capture his grumpy face, you’ll just have to take my word for it. He was swooping us. Too close to our heads. One of these jays (maybe the same guy?) has done this to me before–when the bird seed on the deck ran out. I’m always skeptical of that conclusion–thinking that it might just be a coincidence…he isn’t really trying to tell me he’s hungry? But yes, the birdseed was empty again. So maybe he is just that smart. And communicative.

Then, we noticed the new woodpecker holes on a nearby white pine. I don’t know that much about woodpeckers…why hit on this apparently healthy tree? I know most bird books say that woodpeckers won’t kill a tree—they peck the rotten places. These spots sure didn’t look rotten to me. Was the woodpecker going for bugs inside? Was he doing the spring marking of the territory (with the sound not the holes)? Was it an attempt to make a nesting spot? Why so close to the ground? Shelby says the holes were made by a Pileated pecker for sure, down this low. I don’t know if just one, or many would have done this. But I don’t like it. Looks to me like the tree will be wide open to bug infestation now. What comes first…the bug or the woodpecker hole? Is it possible that the woodpecker is making a breeding place for bugs? Attracting them for future lunches?

I do have to shake my head at myself as I get mad at the woodpecker. Somehow, walking through the trees, makes me feel like I’m presiding over them. Is that just human instinct? I can boss the Pileated Woodpeckers around? What am I going to do? Sit by the tree with a sling shot?

So, on we went. Denali can float on the crusty snow, but the deer can’t. Poor guys with their pointy feet, they must be in up to their arm pits. We don’t have many deer on our road, but we followed these tracks.
I planted a bunch of trees with the Gunflint Green Up crews of the past few years— so now I’m the keeper-of-the-trees. (back to the presiding over the woods role). Most of them are still deep under the snow, but here is a little stunted white pine. A deer browsed this poor little one—several times over. Supposed to be tall, but just mowed down.

So, now I’m mad at the deer too. Not to fear, plenty of wolf activity in our corner.

And they have the advantage this time of year—floating on the crust like Denali. You can see this path across the ice by the Cross Bay river….not people prints, but wolf tracks. Big wolf tracks.

The fur in the scat might be bunnies…or mice…or rodents…but….looking awfully deer-like. If I am also presiding over the scat…then I’m OK with that!
When we spot the actual wolves (not so much anymore), they are looking really healthy. And big.

And that’s it for the windy walk. This big old dead tree was rocking like crazy in that wind. Beautiful too…in a stark sort of way. Sure is good walking weather!

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