A Snowy Friday

by Carl Strang

The forecast called for more snow than we got. Instead of a forecast 8 inches we got a wet 3 at Mayslake Forest Preserve, thanks to the overnight temperature’s dropping more slowly than expected.

I had an enjoyable lunchtime walk through the snowy landscape. The only price paid was a zonk on the head by a small icicle that fell from an overhanging branch.

The snow didn’t stop falling until mid-morning, so there was no overnight record of footprints. A coyote was active in the morning, however, in the north savanna near May’s Lake.

This front footprint is fresher than it might seem. The soil was saturated and soft, and the track was collapsing rapidly. The soft mud also makes this track almost dog-like, but that’s an artifact of the conditions. Note how the middle toes remain well in front of the side ones. I also have the advantage of seeing all the other tracks the animal had made.

If I read this track correctly, the coyote was putting on the brakes slightly while making it. Note how the soil is cliff-like and somewhat elevated at the front edges of the heel and toe marks. Everything looks symmetrical, however, so it appears to be a simple deceleration rather than a turn.

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