19 November 2011

Snow Day

First snow this week. It was noticeable on the morning of the snow (Friday) that there was more snow visible in the bog area than in the part of the trail that is succeeding to forest. Partly, of course, this is due to the lack of canopy provided by the evergreens further in, allowing more snow to fall here, and partly because the bog holds the snow for longer than the forest floor.

Along the creek, I noticed that  someone had stacked twigs and branches in a 'teepee', this may have been done intentionally, or it may be coincidence that the stacking took this form, but this shape allows extra shelter for birds during colder weather, and as I have mentioned before, when snow falls, it provides insulation for the creatures underneath the low brush.

The squirrels were very active, and very vocal. Their chirruping was perhaps also due to the snow. Squirrels are highly communicative, their sounds signal pleasure, danger, mating-readiness and social status. At present they are busily 'squirrelling' away food sources where they will likely not ever be able to find them again. If you see an oakling growing somewhere unexpected, chances are some squirrel planted it by accident. In the bog-forest, where there are not many acorns, they eat cones, particularly those of the Shore or Lodgepole Pine. You can find the nibbled remains, as though they'd been eating some miniature corn-on-the-cob, or cone-on-the-cob as we like to say.

Squirrels don't hibernate here in the temperate rain forest, it isn't cold enough. They remain active throughout the winter, even though they make their preparations.
We humans are a bit like that too. With our central heating systems and the year-round availability of everything we need, we really don't need to eat more in the winter, and yet, we do. The shortening days still strike us somewhere in the dark recesses of our collective memory, and we can't resist those hot chocolate drinks and extra carbs.

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