Strangers in the night

prints in the snow

While Raymond and I were spending a comfortable and toasty evening inside the Manse, some creature came wandering through the snow right up our walkway and practically to the front door. Who was it? What kind of creature?

Many readers – at least those in the northeastern regions of North America – will know what I’m talking about when I say that it suddenly looks very wintry in Queensborough. A winter that started out very slowly indeed, with mildish temperatures for the most part and very little snow, has in the past week or so turned into Winter with a capital W.

Today was a snow day for a lot of people in our area, with all school buses cancelled and – from what I could tell from a drive around the village mid-afternoon – most people content to leave their driveways unplowed and un-snowblown and just stay indoors with a good book and a cup of tea. With the sun shining brightly on all the snow that had fallen overnight and this morning, it was kind of a perfect winter day. (Though with a very cold north wind blowing through it, and onto my cheeks and ears as I shovelled some of that snow.)

Anyway, tonight I have a couple of photos from a few days ago, when this snowy weather was just kind of getting going. Last Thursday evening Raymond and I had done a good shovelling of the walkway up to the Manse’s front door and retreated indoors for our usual evening of cooking and enjoying dinner, blog-post writing, etc. Our impression was that the snow that had been falling fairly steadily that late afternoon had stopped.

But as we turned out the lights and prepared to retire to bed, I glanced out the front door and noticed two things: one, that another inch and a half or so of snow had fallen since we’d shovelled; and, two, more interestingly, that some creature had paid the Manse a visit, coming practically up to the front door. There were its determined-looking prints in the light blanket of snow, marching straight up the walkway and practically to our front door – you can see them in the photo at the top of this post.

Who was it? A dog? A cat? A raccoon? (Are raccoons even about in weather like this?) A fox? It felt funny knowing that some creature, probably cold and hungry, had been right outside our door and we hadn’t even been aware of it.

Then Raymond pointed out more tracks, a whole whirl of them, on the ground right underneath the bird feeders that hang from the eaves of the Manse’s front porch:

tracks in the snow

These tracks show a whole lot of activity by our nocturnal visitor right underneath where our two bird feeders hang from the Manse’s front porch. I think our visitor was hungry.

Whoever our visitor had been, it had discovered and apparently eagerly devoured whatever seeds might have been scattered on the ground by feeding birds – and maybe even the bread crusts that I’d thrown out there several days earlier and that must have been buried deep in the snow.

So whoever had come to visit – our stranger in the night – had clearly been hungry. I hope it found enough to sustain it through that cold winter night. And I hope that someday we might find out who our visitor is.

2 thoughts on “Strangers in the night

  1. You need the book “Animal Tracks of Ontario” Lone Pine Publishing (bought mine at Tweed News). Then add a motion activated camera when you want to get really serious about identifying those night time visitors!

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