In the most recent issue of Bangor Metro magazine there was a nice article by Brad Eden. It's all about various examples of how wildlife in Maine adapts for the rugged winter weather. It got me wondering, not for the first time, where all the wildlife in my back yard is these days. I know some are hibernating, some are spending the winter in their vacation homes down south. But I usually see more signs of life - small rodent trails, deer tracks. It could be that they rotate their wintering grounds. Last year there were areas underneath old apple trees gone wild that looked like Grand Central Station -- they were so trampled down by feasting fauna.
I'm afraid my three canine companions might be the culprits. Their barking and sniffing around might be too much of deterrent. I'm sure the critters are around, biding their time until nicer weather, or until the dogs are inside.
In the absence of prey, the dogs have resorted to foraging. It is pretty amazing to see them stop suddenly before a pristine patch of snow, take a few exploratory sniffs, and start digging with enthusiasm. Here's Clara going for crabapples:
I did hear an alarmed CHIRP! come from an apple patch yesterday, and I was afraid Clara had captured a chipmunk or vole. But no, she was only after old apples. I expect Mr. Vole was only angry at the competition. Here's Guster with an old, rotten, frozen apple prize:
It is humbling (the instinct to forage, not the obsession with sticks). I may be getting more familiar with sunrise and natural light, but I think it will be a long time before I can smell apples through the snow.