The large majestic birds circled high above our heads climbing as they went, their rotations taking them closer together, then apart. When the passing got so close they were almost touching one flipped over and reached with its outstretched talon to the other, almost clasping ... but missed. This dance played out over and over above our tracking group’s heads as we stood mouths open. These beautiful young Bald Eagles appeared to be practicing the moves that will one day lead to mating. The display was a wonderful high watermark of a rich and full outing.
With what will likely be one of the last substantial snowfalls of this winter, our small group gathered at the Kimbercote location here in the Beaver Valley. Being aware that the thick powder of snow had just finished falling about two hours prior, we knew that any clear tracks we found had been made fairly recently that morning. This made keeping our heads up an important practice knowing that what made those tracks might be just around the corner.
As exciting as the tracks were it was the other types of sign that caught our attention for much of our wander. In particular, the trees inspired many great questions like “how many different types of woodpeckers have been feeding on this tree?” and “What’s been browsing on these low branches?”. Extra thanks to Kyle for all the great hints and tips on Tree ID and leaving us with some great questions.
Looking up, we came across a raccoon cleaning its tail in the tree above seemingly unconcerned with our presents. Does it even see us? In touching the bed of a hare that had been lying in it just minutes before and untangling a maze of tracks to find it was all done by just one coyote are experiences that connect you with these creatures in a way that is unforgettable. Only by looking closely at the vole’s tiny tracks could we have noticed the small spots of blood that drew us completely into its world and made us fully wonder where it is now. By being out there in the woods we become a part of that world, not just observers of it. Most of the time it’s not that the aloof raccoon hasn’t noticed you yet, it’s just more likely that it has been watching you for a very long time.