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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: April 4

River Otter
River Otter

Wildersmith_20140404_finalcut.mp36.98 MB

No foolin’, it’s April!  As the keying of this week's scoop began filling the monitor screen, the weather guessers were predicting another swipe from “old man winter.” Will March depart and April arrive, one in the same, like a lion? By the time this scribing reaches readers and listeners, we’ll know if the projected winter-storm warning panned out, or whether it was just another “wolf cry.”
Since we last met on WTIP, the Wildersmith neighborhood picked up another four inches of snow and a couple more mornings of below zero. Thus we’ve extended our daily sub-zero awakenings to 92 for the season, and our snow tally has risen to 105.5 inches.

However, we were teased last Sunday with a magnificent day. Our snow pack shrunk a little and roof tops actually turned solids into liquids as the powerful sun warmed some parts of the Gunflint territory to 40 degrees.

Bare places have appeared on my driveway, something not seen since before Thanksgiving. While down along the Mile O Pine, our mini glaciers oozed more liquid than usual under the blazing “Sol,” soaking the packed snow into slush. This meltdown action kicked off the first of our soon to be run-off trickles which will eventually become wash-out gullies.  It may be spring, but up here we call it the coming of “mud season.” 
Our day was so nice that all little critters coming in for feeding seemed to be in a cheerful mood. The regular chickadees and nuthatches were flitting and chirping like I haven’t seen in a while. And, those pesky squirrels soaked up sunshine, munching on seeds with only an occasional pause to bully each other away from their position along the feed tray.
In the meantime, this vicinity has been taken over by a growing dark cloud. I’m speaking to a burgeoning siege of crows. Every day seems to accommodate a few more of the squawking jumbo avians. It’s quite an invasion of “The Birds,” along with their inharmonious conversation.
Life can be tough in the “wild neighborhood” regardless of the season. In addition to our on-going predator/prey theater, another instance of ferocity in the woods was noted right here on our deck recently. 

You may recall a while back I mentioned a pine marten came by with battle wounds on its shoulder. Another showed up not long ago with severe open wounds on its face. In this instance, the animal appeared to move about in good fashion but displayed some ugly loose torn flesh.

Seeing this, kind of made us observers wince at the pain it must have been enduring. It has me curious as to what this guy/gal encountered and what the adversary might have looked like following whatever the confrontation.

Was it a family feud or some other forest competitor? Guess I’ll never know, but I can conjure up all sorts of possibilities, maybe a fisher, a lynx, an owl or perhaps an eagle??

On a more jovial note, some friends over on Loon Lake tell of an amusing otter experience. The lady of the house skis seriously on trails her husband grooms daily. It seems an otter must have been watching this trail grooming process and developed a curiosity about a particular down-hill stretch.
Twice in the last week, the frolicking animal decided that this manicured incline would be a great sliding hill. During each of two next day tours of duty, the groomer found imprints where the fun-loving critter went belly down and careened the entire length of the slope. I’m betting this would have been a stitch to watch, and a good unscripted scene for “funniest home videos.” Obviously, this is a place where more than just we humans can have a fun time in the snow.

Keep on hangin’ on and savor our time of warming transition!

(Photo by ArcheiaMuriel on Flickr)