Water Closet for March 6, 2015
[pullquote]”With little or no snow, the small rodents were vulnerable in their nighttime activities, and the white Snowshoe hares had little camouflage, so I suspect the Owls enjoyed an abundance.”[/pullquote]Note: Here is another timely edition of Quoddy Nature Notes (QNN) from naturalist Fred Gralenski way Down East in Pembroke, Maine. In this account of animals’ deep snow woes he includes Bobcats and Snowshoe Hares we don’t see here.
Winners and Losers this Winter (Nature, not Basketball)
By Fred Gralenski (2-23-15 QNN)
The biggest winners among people are the snow shovel and roof rake salesmen, and all of those employed in the snow removal business; the losers are the rest of us who try and melt the snow with a stream of fiery curses. But what about the world of nature? How’s everything doing outdoors?
Most birds have an option of leaving the area for a more benign climate, but some birds with that capability stay put. Migration can be dangerous in regards to predation and travel hazards, and some birds, like a few Robins, Cedar Waxwings and Mourning doves, decide to stick out the winter in the Quoddy region. They can survive the temperatures if food is available, but often they have to compete with irruptive birds, like Bohemian Waxwings and several types of finches that weren’t here all summer. The choice of whether to migrate or not is a crapshoot. This apparently can be influenced by birdfeeders, especially in the case of Mourning doves. Mourning doves can get a little sustenance foraging along roads and other places where the snow is removed, but otherwise have to depend on people feeding them. Robins and Waxwings can live on fruit like crabapples, Mountain ash, rose hips and highbush cranberries. Turkeys have more of a problem with deep snow, as they normally forage for acorns and other seeds and fruit, but now have to get most of their sustenance from buds on bushes and trees. This is also the common food of our Ruffed Grouse. Turkeys commonly raid bird feeders, and will team up with free ranging chickens for vittles, but Ruffed grouse seldom do this. Red squirrels eat just about anything. Of course they will eat any bird food that you put out, but they will also eat bones, hotdogs, apple cores and peels, and I’ve even seen them eat the tips of the Balsam fir twigs.
By my estimation, in December and early January the Owls had pretty good picking, and I hope they took advantage of it. With little or no snow, the small rodents were vulnerable in their nighttime activities, and the white Snowshoe hares had little camouflage, so I suspect the Owls enjoyed an abundance. The tables abruptly turned with the heavy snows that began in mid-January. The voles are now in the subnivium, protected by several feet of snow, safely and happily munching on tulip, hyacinth and lily bulbs and the bark of many a costly shrub in your flower garden. The rabbits breathe a sigh of relief that they are now blended in with their background, and with a few feet of snow can snip off the higher, better quality twigs on young trees and bushes. The soft snow also is detrimental to their mortal enemies, the bobcat and coyote. It’s interesting that when the cold, dry snow first falls, the rabbits have problems with it. I was plowing my driveway shortly after a recent storm, and I pushed back the bank and disturbed a rabbit under a small spruce. He ran off, but not very fast. His legs were going fast, but the soft snow gave him no purchase, and his normal agile bounds were almost comical to witness. Rabbits typically let the snow settle a bit before venturing out, even with their EEE’s.
The bigger animals certainly have problems. I noticed a bobcat track the other day while I was cross-country skiing in my woods. He only sank in about 4 inches when he was walking, but if he tried to pounce on something I figure he would be unsuccessful. With the heavier coyotes, the problems would be worse. Deer don’t seem to like to wallow in the snow, and they often use more energy with wasteful bounds when moving about. Deer often tend to stick to roads, which is handy for tourists and auto body shops, but not for deer. Be careful.
WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD`
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:||Dec||Jan||Feb||March|
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches||4.12||3.40||3.25||4.65|
|2014 – 2015 Central Watershed Actual||8.45||3.67||7.3**||0.3 as of 3/3**|
Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For March 3, 2015 Normal . . . 110 CFS Current Rate . . . Unavailable
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Jan.
**Middleton Stream Team is source of actual precipitation data for Feb and March.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.