Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moving Time

Rather than keep our blog separate from our photography website, we've joined both at a new web address: If you are looking for current posts, please join us there and sign up through our RSS feed (found at the top of the page next to the facebook and vimeo icons) or subscribe to our posts.

You will find the same mix of natural history excursions, local to-dos, and photography updates. We love sharing our images with you!

Please visit us soon.

~Jim and Danielle

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Colorado Single Track

We recently returned from Crested Butte, Colorado, where Backcountry and Outside Magazines hosted their 2013 snowboard test.  The snow conditions were among the best the area had seen this season.  We enjoyed a backcountry tour with Crested Butte Mountain Guides and several days soaking in the sun, testing solid and split snowboards and breathing in the thin, fresh mountain air.

Pete Kelly lays down a single track in the Crested Butte backcountry.

As our time started to wind down and rumors of dry desert biking were spreading we headed for Fruita, located approximately 3 hours from Crested Butte.  We were happy to find perfect biking conditions and very few people at the 18 Rd trail system.

Danielle dusting us on some Fruita singletrack.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Buildington, VT

I wandered around Burlington a few days ago and photographed old eye catching buildings in town.  Check out a few of my favorites...

The photo below was taken at night close by to our apartment.  It's a  30-second exposure of the Pomerleau Real Estate Building.  I'm looking forward to getting out after dark and creating unique images.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tracks in the Snow: Part II

A couple days after our ski tour along the Sterling mountain ridge, rain began to fall, and after that, the temperatures, leaving us with a thick crust of snow. Two days later, two inches of snow fell covering the crust with a light fluffy layer. I felt that the tracking would be good enough, so Jim, Stout, and I headed down the road toward the Brewster River Gorge to a piece of property owned and managed by the Vermont Land Trust. Vermont Land Trust is a non-profit organization that conserves land to protect Vermont's rural economy and way of life, now and for future generations. The Brewster Uplands Conservation Trust (BUCT) hosts scenic farmland, forestland, and an extensive system of walking trails open to the community. The land also provides habitat to many of the common wildlife species found in Northern Vermont's Green Mountains. We saw signs of deer, coyote, fox, and red squirrel, but it was the fisher cat that we chose to follow. The tracks brought us through the crunchy snow, under logs, over stumps, and across tracks of other species.

We spent most of our time tracking in a hemlock forest, this time of year it is easy to move through, but during the summer months this forest is wet and difficult to navigate.

At first when I came upon the tracks that crossed the main trail, I wasn't sure if it was a fisher cat or red fox. The tracks were hard to distinguish, but I soon found out they were tracks of the fisher. First, they are wider and have a fifth toe and the gait is a bound rather than a walking gait (fisher cats will also walk). Second, the tracks walked along logs and tip-up mounds of dead trees. They also walked under blow downs in tight spaces. This is not typical of the red fox.

I made sure to back track the animal (following the tracks backwards), as fisher cats are active both day and night. I didn't want to be chasing the animal, forcing it to use up its winter energy reserves. Above you can see where the fisher jumped onto the stump and back to the ground.

We found a knee to an unfortunate animal (deer, cow, moose?) that had been dragged into the forest. It looked as though the fisher stopped and gnawed on the left over flesh and then went on its way.

We were excited to find its scat on a log. Canines and other animals will defecate on top of higher surfaces to show other animals they've been there.

We studied the scat, but couldn't figure out what its origins were. Fishers are omnivores and will eat animals, insects, and plants; their specialty being porcupines. But there was no sign of animals in this scat. We later found out its origin as the fisher led us to its feeding ground.

Once we crossed the main trail, the tracks led closer to the river and we found a scent marker. There was scratching and remnants of a light yellow stain that sure smelled like urine!

 Yet another scat, deposited on an old hemlock stump.

Closer to the river, the tracks led us to this open area. Tracks were everywhere! Most of them were deer. Jim wondered aloud, "Why are there so many tracks here compared to anywhere else?" Answer - look up to the sky:

Apples! These open areas with old apple trees are great places for wildlife to feed. Deer, fox, coyote, squirrel, and fisher cat will all partake in the bounty. This year was a bumper crop for apples and many seed trees.

Sign that coyote had been here. Was it looking for deer or apples?

In the photo above you can see where the squirrel sat and chewed on the apple. Now we know what was in the fisher scat, and it wasn't the squirrel.

We decided to end our tracking at the apple field and travel back to the main trail. Not far into our walk back to the car we found more coyote scat and a new scat that may have been from the red fox. It's good to know that this conserved land can provide an opportunity not only for working farm and forestland, but also a thriving wildlife population.

Click here for more information and directions to: BUCT

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tracks in the Snow: Part I

This past week, Jim and I have been journeying our way through the snow, sometimes deep and fluffy, and other times shallow and crusty. I love this time of year, when I can see the activity of my hidden, busy nocturnal neighbors. The months without snow bare only inconspicuous signs to the most observant nose, ears, and eyes, but once the snow falls the invisible tracks of animals appear. The tracks give me a good excuse to wonder off the beaten path into a perceived wilderness of hemlocks, yellow birches, beetle tunnels, nesting hollows, chirping chickadees, and deer beds. Our first trip into the wilds took place on Chilcoot Pass near Madonna Mountain and our second trip onto the Vermont Land Trust's (VLT) Brewster Uplands Conservation Trust in Cambridge.

I am always amazed at the small rodents that move seamlessly through the deep snow. The mouse tracks to the right of my skin tracks show two large hind foot marks followed by a dragging tail with each hop. The most numerous tracks of the day were those of the Ruffed Grouse who spends most of its time wandering on the ground looking for food. This day the tracks were short lived with multiple signs of take-offs and landings.

This photograph shows tracks of a small rodent running back and forth from a snowshoe hare track to a small hole underneath a balsam fir sapling. Jim and I hypothesized that the small creature was feasting on or collecting the hare's scat.

Here is the hole the mouse is storing the rabbit scat in. The area underneath the snow where rodents and weasels travel is called the subnivean zone.

 Once we made it to the top of the hill, Jim and I were able to add to the plethora of fresh tracks!

Stay tuned for our tracking trip in Cambridge....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Red Sky in Morning...?

The first significant snow storm of the year is headed our way.  I captured this image early today, I hope the old saying holds true.  Check back soon!

Sunrise Madonna Mountain

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Morning Light at Smugglers Notch Resort

Winter finally arrived over the past few days.  We've been waiting for colder temps and now we've got them, I heard it may have been -20°F on the peak of Madonna Mountain this morning.  It's not easy to get out of a warm bed on a day like today; however, I knew that the combination of fresh snow, cold temps, clouds and sunshine would result in a beautiful morning.  I headed for the hill dressed in as many layers I could find.  The frozen hands I endured was worth it to capture these images.

Mount Mansfield and Stowe Resort from the M1 chairlift.

Camel's Hump and Sugarbush from the top of Drifter.

Hopefully my next post will involve some action shots of friends choking on mouthful's of fluffy snow! Check back soon!