February 1, 2004

Bruce Trail: 4th Line Hockley Valley

Meeting Report & Photos by Nathan Burnett

The hike today started out with a beautiful blue sky and a slight chill in the air which the sun managed to control. We received a blanket of fresh powder snow last night and so most of the nocturnal tracks we were hoping to encounter were hidden beneath the fresh blanket. That still didn't stop the chipmunks and gray squirrels however. There was many signs of them around as they scurry around looking for food that they cached in the months previous. There were also cottontail tracks leading to and from popular feeding and drinking spots as well as comfortable and secure dens and rest areas.
Further down the trail I noticed a lot of deer trails. With there trademark deep and narrow pathways. The dew claws were also very noticeable which was really cool. Often times Deer spread their toes for balance and to attempt to stay on top of the snow (snowshoes) such as the case here. However, The surface area of each little foot does little to prevent them from sinking right to the frozen earth below.
Next, I noticed a really neat hornets nest towering very high above the ground in what looked to be a Sugar Maple tree. I saw all kinda of signs of porcupine underneath an Eastern Hemlock (A favourite winter tree for porcupines). Sure enough high at the top of the tree was a porcupine eating the small Hemlock twigs. I was surprised at the limited amount of bird activity today. Throughout the hike I only spotted and heard Black-Capped chickadees and a few crows. For such a beautiful day I thought surely it would bring much more disturbances.
After heading up and around past the creek and back up to the road I concluded my hike and the loop back at the head of the Peter Beecham Trail. Today was a lot of fun and it was a great day for a hike. I welcome any newcomers and I hope to see you out on our next hike!

Deep In The Depths Of Winter,
Nathan Burnett


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