On yesterday's snowshoeing trip, I saw a set of animal tracks that neither of us have ever seen in over twenty years of skiing and snowshoeing in the Rockies.
Facebook page. All will be revealed in one week.
February 25, 2014
February 19, 2014
A forester friend of ours sent us a scientific paper on synchronous crops of cones or nuts across entire forests. Cone crops can be synchronous among many species of trees for as much as 2500 km! This can add up to millions of square kilometres in which trees are all doing the same thing!
The jury is still out on how the trees all do the same thing, but the leading theory is the “Moran Effect.” (Have you noticed that theories sound more impressive when you give them a name that ends in “Effect”?) Patrick Moran, an Australian bloke, showed that some external factor – for example, above average temperatures in May – could stimulate the some kind of identical effect in millions of organisms spread across huge distances.
|Male white-winged crossbill|
These little finches are super charming, and have the most amazing beaks: they look like curved pliers with the tongs out of alignment. So, no good for a carpentry project, but great for opening cones and eating the seeds. You've got to see it to believe it.
Crossbills can gobble up as many as 3000 per day, and when the food is abundant, it will stimulate breeding, even in the middle of winter! Last week, we started to hear the cheerful songs of courting male crossbills, just in time for Valentine's Day. This is a little sample of their love song.
February 10, 2014
|The crime scene, February 8, 2014.|
We went back to the site yesterday, and looked around more carefully. There were lots of hare tracks, and lots of lynx tracks, but we could finally connect the two when we found a set of tracks from a lynx in full gallop. We could see where it had switched from a slow stalking mode into a sprint. It was the proof of the chase.
The lynx must have been going full speed: one pair of tracks were easily eight feet apart, with a snow covered log between the two tracks. The log was at least two feet off the ground, and the lynx had easily cleared it. If this were an Olympic event, the lynx would own the podium! It was an exciting insight into what goes on in the forest when we're not around to see it.
|The tracks of a galloping lynx.|
|The part we never get to see: the lynx and the hare|
in the life or death chase.