Saturday, January 03, 2015

Coming across a hole dug under a boulder in winter.

What do you suppose is sleeping down at the bottom of this hole? (Standing outside I thought 'That looks like it could be the winter home of a black bear '). 

'Fortunately, though,' I added, 'whatever it is, this time of year isn't likely to wake up and come out in a bad mood.'

When I came across this den I was in a part of our mountain where no one ever goes.  I had been out cutting wood, walking through an area of large boulders looking for a way to get to some large standing dead trees.

At first I stopped.

I've done a little bit of reading about animal dens.  Wondering where the occasional bears we see around here spend the winter.  The literature mostly says that black bears around here don't actually hibernate,  what they do instead is have long naps lastings days and weeks.

And they take these naps in different sort of places depending on their size and whether they're sharing their sleeping spot with cubs or not.

Hollow logs,  Shallow caves,  holes dug out under boulders.

One of the things that made me step back and look at this spot is the effort that had been made to make it seem like there wasn't anything here.

I mean that is until you looked carefully.

But top a causual observer.  Someone that was just walking by, they wouldn't have noticed this whole or the effort taken to scatter the dirt excvavated from under the rock.

Once you stepped back and took a look the area looked like one of those prisoner of war escape scenes.  Where the soldiers living in a barracks had been going out  each day with bags of dirt in their pockets and scattering the dirt around the exercise yard.

After a while the place where the prisoners take their daily walks is paved with half a foot of clay that has been dug out of the hidden escape tunnel.

For fifty feet around this opening, underneith the leaves that recently fell from the trees, several inches of clay,  probably coming from down under that rock, had been spread across the land.

An A for effort however once someone knew what they were looking at a C-.

And what also gave it away.  Made you realize that this was the opening to an underground room with one or monre critters sleeping inside  is the opening has been closed.

But not from the outside, as it would have been if I had dug out a tunnel and thenlooking at my work from the outside thrown a couple shovel fulls of clay into the opening until it was closed.

This opening had been closed from the inside.

Whoever had dug it and climbed inside and then had scraped a couple paw fulls of clay and had pushed it up into the opening from the inside.

In other words the critter that had sealed the opening had done so after they had entered.

They were in there right now.

I took out my cell phone,  took a couple pictures,  decided that whatever dead trees that might be around could wait until another time for cutting and left the area.

I figured that there are few enough bears or bob cats or whatever would bew taking a nap for the inter under a large boulder like that that they did not deed me disturbing them.


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