Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Walk in the Woods

Not quite a week ago, when our mild spell had just started and we had a beautiful sunny day I headed into the woods on snowshoes.  I was checking out a new nature reserve that the Bruce Trail Conservancy is purchasing, where there will be a small project to re-route a few hundred yards of trail this spring.

It is a beautiful deciduous woodlot, mostly Sugar Maple.  There was still about a foot of snow on the ground, but it was getting soggy from the mild temperatures.

As I wandered through the woods, I found more and more big old Sugar Maples.  It was actually a rather hard slog in places as even with snowshoes I was sinking into the slushy spring snow with every step.

There were 'tree wells' around all the trees, the bigger the tree, the bigger the 'well'.  You can see on the left the snow is still about a foot deep beyond the bare space around the tree trunk.  This is a common pattern in the woods in spring; the melt starts around the trees which seem to either be attracting or radiating the heat.

I walked all the way through the woods to the fields on the west, and found 3 of the survey stakes marking the boundary.  Near the field where the sun could penetrate the woods there was less snow left.
Back toward the east side of the woods the snow is still deeper, and the woods appears a bit younger, with none of those really big old Sugar Maples.

At one point I came across some muddy tracks in the snow, and followed them to this den, with trails leading in three directions.  Some animal had obviously been here regularly and recently, since the mild spell started.

I followed these tracks for some distance through the woods, and suspect they are porcupine tracks.  They tend to become active in the spring and waddle across the snow in search of tender bark to eat.

Lots of melting water too, along tiny channels that will be totally dry by summer or earlier.  But if you're planning a trail re-route, checking out the spots that are wet in the spring is an important step to avoid wet hiking later on.

It was my first good look at this future nature reserve, and I was really impressed.  Not a large property, but a nice patch of deciduous forest.  It will be a good place to look for spring wildflowers come May.

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  1. I look forward to seeing this place in various seasons! :-)

  2. Great Pictures.
    Looks like you will be photographing the spring bird migration soon and all the trees blooming. Our Leamington friends arrived home to their Tulips breaking through the ground.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  3. I love the photos of the trunks of these old trees. It is a beautiful area and it is great that it will be preserved. Great work!

  4. A nice little wood. Yes, I'm sure there will be some early spring flowers in this perfect spot!

  5. Beautiful forest and looks like a nice "spring" walk!

  6. A great walk in beautiful surroundings.

  7. Looks like a nice area of woods . Lovely photos . Glad to see the snow melting there now . We had a wicked thunderstorm again last night and heavy rains thank goodness our land has thawed or we would be floating . The Robins this morning are having a feast from all the worms that have surfaced . Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

  8. looks like a great spot - there are some really beautiful trees there!!!

  9. Spring shouldn't be too far away for you there, it's already started cooling down here.

  10. I love to imagine you trekking (even if it was a bit of a slog) through the woods, spotting tracks, and following them to discover a den. You know, of all the miles of x-country skiing I did in the Laurentian Mountains, I never once thought to do that. We would see tracks, venture a guess at identifying their owner , but then continue along the trail. I'm different now.. I'd follow those tracks.. just like you did.

  11. Tree wells, animal tracks, and a slog in the wet snow. all add up to a wonderful lot of interesting news for us down here. If we have heavy rain,often there is a small circle of dry ground or leaves right next to a tree, maybe the leaf canopy gives that area of shelter.

  12. loved the slog through the snow!

  13. It looks so beautiful in the woods on a sunny day.

  14. It looks like a lovely walk!