Out trapping on Monday, Feb 20, 2012, ticks were out. The day low temp was 19F and high of 39F. Made me really wonder about tick and flea infestations in their nests…. itchy.
Southern Maine finally got notable snowfall on Jan 12–maybe 6 or so inches on campus. Unfortunately it was followed up by rain on the 13th, then really cold temps. This weather change created a pretty thick layer of ice on top of the snow. I watched a squirrel under my bird feeder do its best to deal with this ice-snow sandwich. It dug a whole down to the ground slightly wider than its body length, and particularly interesting, it ate much of the snow. Not sure if this was a hydration activity or hunger. I was surprised that it did not push the snow into a pile next to where it was digging.
One of our most recently collared squirrels, 315, was found dead, cached under a leaf pile. Veteran squirrologist Cory reported fresh fox prints nearby. Close inspection showed no wounds. She was a really really big squirrel: 1.7 lbs (769 g). This squirrel was tracked crossing a major road passing through campus (with 40 mph speed limit). I would have guessed cars on the road to be more dangerous than fox. Guess I was wrong.
Great article in the Portland Press Herald on Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 about our squirrel project.
PS. For those who commented on the blog about spam…. yup, we need a serious filter.
While out doing telemetry, one of the squirrelologists decided to dig around at the entrance hole to a tree cavity. This tree is in the central, perhaps busiest parts of campus. He found half of a blue mussel shell. Although this picture is not the best, close inspection shows no real evidence of having been cooked. Perhaps a squirrel foraging on the beach carried it over? A gull certainly could have carrier it over too. The closest sandy beach is 0.31 miles away. Hmmmm delicous.