This weekend I woke in the middle of the night to a loud party just up the river. It was clearly a pack of coyotes, howling and yipping excitedly, and continued for perhaps ten minutes. Clearly, something big had happened in the coyote world! So the next day, as I was driving down the road, I looked out across the ice and saw what I expected: a large group of crows picking at a deer carcass, whatever was left after the coyotes had had their fill. Today, there was little left (below, and two more photos here). No scavengers were out there today, so I presume all the edible parts are gone.
The site was perhaps 10 meters out from shore, right in front of one of my neighbor’s houses. She happened to be out shoveling snow as I walked by today. “Yesterday was a pretty dramatic scene,” she said, “as various scavengers competed for access to the remains. Murders and murders of crows* came by; even the local bald eagle tried to elbow his way in for a piece of the action.” She said she had snowshoed out onto the ice for a closer look; I chose to stay on shore and use my 500mm lens to snap my photos.
* yes, a “murder of crows” is the collective noun for a group of crows. [Wikipedia]
Although the mountains still hold fantastic winter conditions, as I found last Thursday on Worcester Mountain, the immediate Hanover-Lyme area has little snow left. Our yard was still covered in an inch or two of old hard snow, but the neighboring woods were becoming largely bare. All that changed today, as a powerful nor’easter swept up the coast. We accumulated 8.5 inches of fresh white stuff, far less than what some saw down east – the coastal regions received a foot or two – but eight or nine inches is quite nice indeed. It was a bit warm here – topping the freezing point for the afternoon – so the snow is a bit wet. At higher elevation I hope to find deeper, lighter powder. Read on and check out the gallery of photos.
I returned to the hillside behind our house for another stroll this afternoon. This time I encountered a group of four deer, leaping off through the forest before I had a chance to capture a photograph. I also passed through an area with extensive deer activity, including two deer beds – shallow impressions in the snow where a deer had clearly slept overnight, leaving an icy patch where the snow had melted under her.
I also returned to the tracks I’d examined yesterday, now armed with the guidebook. It’s now pretty clear these are fox tracks, presumably red fox. Much harder to see in these photos than in the field, I’m afraid.
I try to reserve a bit of daylight, each day, to get out for a walk. When I’m especially busy, or lazy, I walk up the road and back, keeping an eye peeled for that bald eagle I saw over the river last week. But when I have a bit more time and energy, I don my pack and strike out up the steep hill on the other side of the road. These hills were formed several centuries ago when the Connecticut River was formed by the receding waters of the Pleistocene-era Lake Hitchcock, after the glaciers receded from what is now northern New England. The hillside is steep, but it’s a good chance to get my legs moving, to fill my lungs with fresh air, to follow my whims, and to see what I might find. What did I find out there today? read on.
Ranthambore National Park [location], named for the 1,050-year-old Ranthambore fort within, is a sprawling 400-square-kilometer reserve for wildlife. It is most famous for its population of Royal Bengal Tigers, which currently number 36. We were lucky to see one up close, but there are many other beautiful animals and birds, including jungle cat, spotted deer, sambar deer, antelope, wild boar, langur (right), crocodile, turtle, egret, heron, stork, peafowl, treepie, kingfisher, parakeet, lapwing, and ducks. Not to mention many, many homo touristicus, crammed into 20-seat topless buses and wielding cameras. Read on – we saw a tiger! and See lots more photos.