It's winter in the arb (you may have noticed). While the cold may
seem to make going arb-walking less pleasant, the cold weather brings a
number of opportunities for naturalistic observations impossible at
other times of the year.
--the lack of vegetation which would ordinarily provide cover for
wildlife means that many animals are far more visible in the winter.
Birds and their nests, especially, become far more visible. Keep an eye
out for a juvenile bald eagle along the Cannon river—he's been sighted a
number of times in the past couple of weeks. Look for mammals, too: many
increase their mobility (and thus visibility) during the winter months
as they search for food.
--look for aquatic mammals along Cannon river and lower spring stream.
Muskrats are often highly visible during the winter as they move across
the ice; beaver are also fairly easy to find.
--tracks are everywhere in the snow. It's often possible to learn a lot
from these tracks—not only the species that made them, but sometimes its
gender, speed, intentions, etc. The libe has several excellent books on
tracking. Deer and squirrel tracks are ubiquitous; fox and coyote are
common; you'll probably have to work to find a weasel track. If you see
a track you can't identify, send us a picture or a description. We'll do
our best to help.