On Saturday (24 JAN), I was joined by Chippewa Watershed Conservancy Executive Director Stan Lilley and eight other outdoor enthusiasts for a winter walk through the CWC Sylvan Solace Preserve. Sylvan Solace is located on Pickard Road west of Mt. Pleasant and consists of 78 mostly-wooded acres.
|Sylvan Solace Map- from the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy website|
This walk was originally scheduled as a snowshoe hike, but lacks of snow cover removed the need for snowshoes. Fortunately there remain enough snow cover to follow animal tracks. We were able to identify tracks of White-tailed Deer, Cottontail Rabbit, Raccoon, Mink, Mouse, Shrew (probable), and Red Fox (probable). We were found numerous subnivean tunnels formed by mice or voles - we dug up one tunnel to show its size. Other animal sign included scat from rabbits and deer and evidence of feeding by both species. We did see several deer and numerous birds during our walk. Live animals also included several invertebrate species: snow fleas (springtails), winter midges, and one small spider.
For once I did not take a single photograph. I want to say thank you to Stan Lilley and Neil Hopp for sharing some of their photographs and allowing me to use them here. Because I did not take these photos I am in a disproportionately high number of them.
|Talking about fur, tracks, and scat - photo by Neil Hopp|
|Examining a set of rodent tunnels - photo by Stan Lilley|
|Following deer tracks through the woods - photo by Stan Lilley|
|Looking at tracks - photo by Stan Lilley|
|Taking a closer look at deer scat - photo by Neil Hopp|
|The group standing along the Chippewa River - photo by Neil Hopp|
|A well defined mink trail and raccoon tracks on an ice shelf - photo by Stan Lilley|
|Me pointing out a set of shrew tracks - photo by Stan Lilley|
|Opening up a bird box to look for mice - photo by Neil Hopp|