Okay, so if you remember from Wednesday, the reason we were snowshoeing out to Inkpot Lake was to check out some reports of Black-backed Woodpecker activity in the area. Black-backed Woodpeckers are a boreal species with a habit of flaking the outer layer of bark off of dead conifers in search of food, leaving large patches of the red cambium underneath exposed. No one I know has ever seen one here on campus. They’re uncommon, picky about their habitat, and mostly found further north than this – we’re near the southern extent of their range.
We bushwhacked along the boggy lakeshore (not something you could easily do in summer, but you can snowshoe over it okay) to get to a thicket of alders, spruce, and tamarack that looked promising, where we found… this.
Yes? No? Maybe so? I’m no expert, but if someone who was told me this was Black-backed Woodpecker activity, I would believe them. I think they tend to move around a lot during the winter, so it’s possible that whatever did this has moved on already, but the fact that there are bark flakes on top of the snow suggests to me that this happened a couple weeks ago at most.
We had one more interesting wildlife encounter before we left the lake, which I was going to include here, but this is plenty of photos for one post already so I think I’ll keep you in suspense until Monday. Next week is my spring break and I’m going to visit my parents, so my next few posts after that will be about Arizona – expect desert wildflowers and, if I’m lucky, maybe Elegant Trogons!