Bird Tracks in the Snow

First Tracks
There is a two-word saying that every skier knows – “First Tracks!”
When I used to ski downhill frequently, one of the best times to be out on the hill was right after a snow. It was fun to be the first one down a slope, and then to be able to look back at the tracks your skis had made in the fresh powder. Nowadays, living where we do, we can do the same thing with cross-country skiing and make our own first tracks around our property, but this year we haven’t had a lot of snow. Yesterday, we got a small amount of snow, but not enough to ski on.
However, I did notice first tracks when we took the dog for a walk down through our fields. As we walked we saw a bald eagle, and then at the feeders as we came back was a very large, brightly coloured male ring-necked pheasant. Both the eagle and the pheasant didn’t hang around to see what the two of us and our dog were up to, but the pheasant had left behind his own first tracks. We often see the evidence of the other animals we share the property with, the snowshoe hares, deer and sometimes coyotes leave their footprints, and every once in awhile a muskrat or beaver comes out of the marsh and walks far enough up on land that their footprints are augmented by the sweeping marks from their tails. Sometimes we see small rodent tracks, mice or moles most likely, and sometimes these end with a pair of wing impressions beside them. Owls and hawks have to eat, too.
The beauty of winter is incredible, and watching for tracks and signs of wildlife is a fun way to add to the pleasure – and to get one’s imagination going as to the little dramas one can often see etched in the icy white covering.