Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Afternoon In the Field

I spent the afternoon looking over a camera trap site I came across the last time I was up in the woods that’s walking distance from the house making it is easier to monitor. It consists of a narrow waterway only about two feet deep that snakes its way through this particular patch of woods. I found several game trails that ran to and from the waterway proving that something was going there to drink. A small tree that resides on the water’s edge will provide a nice spot to mount the camera. Across on the opposite bank there was an incline slope that appeared worn from use by wildlife to get at the water. Sometime in the future I plan on setting up a camera and hope to have some good results to share.

Afterward I roamed the area and came upon some woodpecker sign consisting of a large gaping maw of a hole about three foot up a rotted snag. The fissure measured approximately nine inches long, three inches wide, and close to four inches deep.
Surely, the work of the pileated woodpecker, which is prevalent in this area. Its large bill is capable of boring out holes such as this for nesting purposes or as they search for beetle grubs nestled within decomposed timber. Food acquisition is my belief since these woodpeckers normally do not bore out compartments this close to the ground. To see some nice photos from another blog of a pileated woodpecker's nest in the making go here. Not far ahead I came across the apparent bedding area of an animal. It consisted of an obvious round, flat area in soft pine straw. I assumed by the size of it that it probably belonged to a deer.
My suspicions were confirmed when I discovered a small mound of deer scat on the outer border of the area. When deer bed down the first thing they do when they rise (like most of us do) is relieve themselves.
Since this is the time of the year that deer begin dropping their antlers my eyes were constantly scanning the ground for sheds. Regretfully I didn’t come across any, but what I did find was a partial leg bone of a deer. The tiny hole at the center was where a blood vessel or nerve had entered the bone.
Note the fine etchings on the broken end. These were produced by the gnawing teeth of squirrels and/or mice who gnaw on bones and shed antlers for their mineral content. There were also coarser teeth markings more than likely made by a predator such as a coyote, bobcat, or fox.

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