04-24-13 Field Note

Beau Larkin discusses seaonal changes of the Snowshoe Hare, the arrival of a new species and pine restoration

Posted on 4/24/2013 by Beau Larkin

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A snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) stands mismatched against a snow free background near camera 8 (map, inset). Snowshoe hares begin their fall and spring molts based on day length (photoperiod) cues, but the duration of the molt varies from season to season and among individual hares.
I found white fur near the hare’s den. Before I spotted the hare, I wondered if the fur evidenced predation.
A few days later, eight inches of new snow fell on MPG North (upper image). The hare’s persistent white coat regained its benefit as camouflage. Did the bobcat (below) notice the still-white hare?
This hare molted to brown faster than the hare from page 1. For a time, it matched its surroundings, but then the new snow fell......and a coyote spotted it (two minutes separate these images).
A new species at MPG north, This American coot dove in the shallow water of home pond to dredge up and eat the soft aquatic vegetation. It stopped feeding for a moment to focus a red eye on me as I captured a quick image. The coot’s head bobbed as it swam. Most ducks’ heads stay still when they swim, and although coots live in aquatic habitat and look like ducks, they belong in the rail family. They lack webbed feet and must kick harder to swim. Coots’ feet give them greater agility on land than most ducks
White Pine seedlings growing up, Before the vegetation greens up in early spring, white pine seedlings stand out on the birch floodplain (arrows).
Vibrant green mosses contrast with the otherwise brown vegetation of early spring.