Background Switcher (Hidden)

Summer's Best Book II: More Animal Tracks

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Looking up, looking down...chipmunk tracks. I like how they echo the stop and start motion of the munk. All spraddled one moment, bunched the next. Facing north one moment, south the next. My finger's there for scale. It's interesting how I have no trouble identifying tracks in situ, when I can see their actual size, but it's darned hard to do when you have no size reference, as in a photo. So don't feel bad if you find yourself scratching your head at these, having no clue what you're seeing. It's much easier in the field. 

I'm accompanied all along the lower part of Dean's Fork by a couple of juvenile Louisiana waterthrushes, foraging for themselves in the stream, flipping leaves and pebbles to find the aquatic insects and larvae they eat. I'm charmed by their fearlessness, but can't get a photo with my iPhone. Ah well. They were there, and with me, and I loved that. 

More of that super-dreamy sky and water. When it's been raining a lot, I sometimes need to take my shoes off for the crossings. That's rare in July. I feel blessed by all this rain. I haven't had to water anything and it's been wonderfully cool. We haven't seen much sun, but that's OK. Sun makes it too hot to run.

Chet sees a squirtle!!

and takes off!! Oh! This dog gets such good exercise, nice long workouts with terrific little blasts of cardio in his wildlife-chasing sprints. How I love to see him streak after squirrels and deer. He can still see well enough to do it. And he's got the legs and the stamina to give them a good run. At ten. What a guy! Way to go, Bacon!

This woman gets good exercise, but she should sprint more. Still, I am proud of her. She is still able to keep up with me, at her age. Way to go, Mether! Are you coming along now? Or are you going to crouch and mutter over another set of tracks for awhile?

This part of the road is full of cool memorabilia from the past. I found one of my only arrowheads here on August 18, 2014 while walking with Tim and Shila, shamans both. Perfect. I've found pressed glass plate bits, big marbles, and a Run DMC cassette tape. Relics from many different ages. 

Today, I find a piece of brick that might, if it were whole, say FENTON on it. I wouldn't be surprised if the nearby Fenton Glass works, just across the river in Vienna, WV, made a brick or two in its time.  

More fox squirrel tracks. I had thought they were mink, but the fingers are too long and the bunch pattern is wrong for mink, whose tracks come more in a staggered straight line than a hind-in-front-of forefoot pattern like this.

A black raspberry brunch! Thank you, Dean's Fork!

Maybe the coolest thing I found today, and I had to leave it on the road, as there was no way to get it home without breaking it. I studied this freshly pipped eggshell for a long time, puzzling over it. It was so, so tiny. I finally decided it had to be a blue-gray gnatcatcher egg. I have never seen one, but I did it on size and habitat and process of elimination, knowing what it probably wasn't...and then I got some kind of cosmic zolt of "OH! I know what that is!"

Call it the little voice, speaking. And me, after three hours of Zenning out over tracks and water and sky and the sound of my own breath coming in and out, finally able to listen hard enough to hear it.

So I got home and pulled out my old Colin Harrison Guide to Nests Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds. And it's a blue-gray gnatcatcher egg. Big ol' goofy grin.

And if that weren't gift enough, the scarlet pimpernel was in bloom on the hot hill coming up to my road. I flippin' love this diminutive wildflower, here photographed against an epic summer sky, and an old barn drowning in wisteria. This stuff is TINY. The flowers are about 1/4" across. You have to get down low to appreciate it. Pimpernel's a European import, like chicory and Queen Anne's lace. And like them, forgiven, at least by me, for being so beautiful. Heck, you can tell by its name it's from Europe. No American is going to name a wildflower "Scarlet Pimpernel."

There was a Great Spangled Fritillary Rumble going on in the driveway on my rare yellow butterflyweed. Butterflyweed is usually orange. Not this one. I love this plant, a natural mutant, carefully tended (read: Not mown) by Bill on his summer driveway passes with the tractor. 

One female fritillary was entertaining the advances of two males. Luucky.

Like that in-flight stuff the iPhone captures with butterflies!

Still smiling from that little insectile ruckus, I looked down and saw baby bobcat poo in the driveway.  I wouldn't have known it was necessarily baby bobcat poo had I not cleaned some out of a pet carrier the week before. Full circle.

Yes, poo can be a sweet gift, if you're a curious Science Chimp.


Fenton would have needed those bricks to line the glass furnaces. Don't know if they made jthem, but cool nonetheless.

I love everything about this post. Those fritillaries on the yellow butterflyweed. Wow.

I just discovered some scat on the driveway, between the house and barn,that was unfamiliar to me. Now I'm wondering if it is bobcat poo. Thanks for giving me a clue.

Posted by Lee Hermandorfer July 12, 2015 at 9:28 AM

So cool to see the real-life inspiration for the title of one of my favorite movies, "The Scarlet Pimpernel"!

Postings like this one leave me with a smile, feeling almost as if I had been there with you. I need my own walk in the woods now! :-)

Love the yellow butterfly weed, we started some from seed last summer and was surprised to get a yellow one this summer. Marked it and will save seed and see if we get more yellow ones from it!! Butterfly weed is a favorite of ours. Darrel just brought home a luna moth cat. hoping Leslie will want it for the kids to watch. Love you blog. Have a great summer. Jeanne Ritchie

Posted by Anonymous July 15, 2015 at 6:54 AM
[Back to Top]