Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Monday, February 08, 2010: Here we go again.
There were years on end where a storm warning was a laugher – usually much ado about nothing. Not this winter. The weather remains aggressive.
As yet another low to our south positions itself to throw energy off Hatteras, we have to ready for the possibility of serious snows – again.
However, it sure seems this arriving coastal low is going to form further north than the last blizzardy system. That slight variation will bring us winds from directly out of the east. An easterly wind – instead of northeasterly -- may not insert cold enough air for a full-blown snowstorm. Again, this entire winter has seemed to think snow at the drop of the proverbial hat. That means the possibility of a foot or more of white stuff is there – and has to be taken seriously.
BLOG ABOUT: I got a quick tracking session in on
I came across plenty of eastern cottontail rabbit tracks. This nonindigenous (Old World) species can often be seen pussyfooting atop snow -- to get to any higher-up vegetation. I have also come across these hares well under the thick snow, essentially submarining around out of sight, eating grass within tint hollow-outs.
Little known fact: Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they’re busiest at dusk and dawn, pretty much resting through the day and during the night. Nice work if you can get it.
I also came across red fox tracks, one of the coolest creatures we’ve got in our wildlife catalog.
We’re so accustomed to this local canine-ish mammal, which is fairly plentiful even here on LBI, that we don’t give it just dues. I’ll explain that by referencing an email I got from a fellow asking if coyotes eat red foxes. Fat chance. A red fox can outrun a coyote without so much as breaking a sweat. In fact, I’ve seen coyote chasing a fox where the chuckling fox intentionally turns around and runs backwards, making all kinds of lewd remarks to its pursuers. OK, so maybe I only dreamt that up, but the speed of a red fox can actually be tabulated in world-class terms. This is not to say ‘yotes are dawdlers. They can move at about 40 mph, for stints. But, our innocuous red fox is tied for 6th on the list of the ten fastest mammals on the entire planet, capable of top speed just under 50 mph – and for goodly distances at that.
What’s more, the red fox’s fast-footedness makes it the farthest-ranging mammalian carnivore in the world. Hell, you might see one crossing Route 72 at noon and it’ll be in Tierra Del Fuego by that night. Obviously, that’s a smidge of an exaggeration but I’ve oft recognized that following the trail of a red fox can take some pretty wide-ranging twists and turns. By the by, the related brown fox is, somewhat inexplicably, significantly slower.
Sadly, red foxes can’t outrun bullets. The non-bothersome species is a common target of the type hunters only out for bloodletting. I’m in full agreement with hunts that help keep certain species in check or bring food to the table but shooting red foxes is just trophy seeking. Hey, if a hunter is so damn hard up for a target, why not go after some of those Taliban? I’m thinking the bravado shown when hunting little mammals will fade when a targeted species is likely to return fire via an AK-47 or rocket-propelled grenades.
While we on the rambling subject of world-class wildlife, we should take a fond but often fleeting glance at our peregrine falcons. When we see one of these birds perched hereabouts, as we often do in Holgate, it’s a bit hard to register that we’re looking at the fastest moving creature on the planet. And here I thought a mouse crossing my kitchen floor was the fastest creature known.
With new laser-based speed measuring devices coming into popularity, straight-line speeds of a peregrine have oft been recorded at 180 mph. Then, get this, when it swoops down its speed reaches 270 mph. I repeat: 270 miles per hour. And it’s not even wearing goggles. I’m serious. I imagine keeping your eyes focused at that speed.
I oft tell the tale of seeing a falcon swooping down and fully annihilating a hapless pigeon. A bunch of us were fishing winter flounder near Hochstrasser when I looked over toward the nearby bridge because of a commotion among that span’s resident pigeon flock. I can’t say I saw the flacon, per se, but more of a dark steak a bit similar in speed and look to a trail left behind a nighttime meteorite. The impact couldn’t be missed. Feathers flew like July 4th chrysanthemum firework going off. Soon, winds carried a snow squall of feather onto our fishing spot.