The first few freezing periods this winter made ice on the pond that was thick and clear and little marred by cracks. As the weeks passed, and with thawing periods and more snow and rain, the pond ice got more rotten and hoary. Still plenty thick enough to walk on but now with a rough surface, and spots where the cracks had met and vents formed. The level of the pond varied quite a bit over the season, up and down, and I think the vents formed to equalize water pressure below the ice. The animals seemed to know immediately once ice had formed that they could walk across the surface of the pond, and left tracks from one end to the other.
Donna's winter wonderland. Not shown in this photo is her ice fishing tent.
A curious find was this chunk of animal flesh, which was in the middle of the main trail through the woods and with no other sign around but a line of coyote tracks crossing the trail. It was a large piece, about eight inches by six inches, with stiff fur, and still fresh and flexible when I found it on my early morning walk, despite below-freezing temperatures. Not rabbit. Looked a lot like coyote. So, a mystery.
The smaller warmblooded creatures get out in the snow, but they go underneath, between the blades of grass. The mounds they push up warm and soften in sunlight, and collapse to form a groovy record of their travels. At least, that's what I think is going on.