January 2, 2013

New Year's Brunch, Wildlife Style

On our snowshoeing tours on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we got to see two rare examples of how the wildlife were celebrating the season by feasting.

Joel and his group saw a short-tailed weasel dash across the trail with a mouse in its mouth.  It was all too quick for a photo, but on the internet photo sharing site Pixdaus, we found a great shot of another weasel carrying its meal.

In their winter coats, weasels are called ermines, and even though they only weigh 60 or 90 grams (2 to 3 ounces), they can take on prey as large as snowshoe hares.

Photo by Nadine Fletcher

Yesterday, Nadine and her group came across some beautiful traces in the snow where an owl had swooped down, and then plunged into the snow.  It was probably after a mouse as well, and had dug right through the snowpack in pursuit of its meal.  Snow photography is tricky, but the feather marks from both the tail and wings are clearly visible.

Happy New Year!