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Wet snow

Wet snow fell last night. It’s not the fun powdery snow that is fun to walk in, but it makes the trees prettier.

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Gray squirrel tracks:

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The thing about snow

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The problem with snow is that makes a dog’s scent marks less distinct, and they must be reapplied.

 

As I have noted several times on the blog, I have seen no convincing evidence that Dalmatians are from Croatia. Almost all the evidence I’ve seen points to them being unusual offshoots of the pointer/setter/HPR family.  At first, I thought Dalmatians were the creation of British nobles from the eighteenth century.

However, I’ve come across some interesting paintings by Frans Snyders,  Flemish painter from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. These paintings show a dog that looks a lot like a Dalmatian.

snyders dogs fighting dalmatian

snynders boar hunt dalmatian

Now, one must be careful before jumping to conclusions about these dogs. After all the dog below the “Dalmatian” in the second painting looks a lot like a golden retriever cross.

So maybe Dalmatians were derived from pointer-type dogs that got used to hunt big game in the Low Countries. This part of the world was dominated by Spanish Empire for a time, and it would have made sense that Spanish pointing-type dogs would have made an appearance there.

Seeing as virtually every strain of continental pointer is used to do boar hunting, it would make sense that this Flemish breed would have a similar use.

So maybe these dogs are the first Dalmatians.

Who really knows?

 

 

 

golden retriever and grouse

This is the photo from the cover of James Lamb Free’s Training Your Retriever. The book is a classic treatise on training retrievers for North American waterfowl trials with some discussion training them to hunt pheasants.

It does not show you how to use a golden retriever to hunt ruffed grouse. I considered it false advertising!

 

 

Visiting raccoon

raccoon visitor

A raccoon came by to inspect my new trail camera set-up.

I took the squirrel head and guts and buried them six inches deep. Then I piled some logs on top of the burial site. I topped it off with a bit of red fox urine to make it really interesting.

The location is just off a well-worn game trail. I’m not really trying to get raccoons on the camera, but once they start coming the more wary carnivorans should come soon.

That’s the hope anyway.

The last duck

Ivan was found dead, possibly of a heart attack.

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All of the mallard derivatives have succumbed to predators.

New ducks next spring, though.

 

Old opossum

old opossom

I get opossums on the trail camera fairly regularly, and because I find them somewhat less interesting than other animals, I usually don’t post their photos on here.

This one, however, is kind of interesting because it has the features of a very mature individual. Now, keep in mind that Virginia opossums don’t live very long, even though they are about the size of a domestic cat. In captivity, their record longevity is a measly four years.

But this individual is at least on its second year.  The frostbitten ears suggest that it has survived more than couple of very hard freezes.

As opossums mature, they get a lumpy head profile.  When they are younger, they have a more collie- or borzoi-like head, but as they get up in years, this starts to change.

This opossum is the most primitive mammal north of the Rio Grande, and when I say this, I don’t mean that it’s primitive because it’s a marsupial. It’s actually a primitive marsupial, meaning that it looks very much like the earliest mammals that gave rise to all marsupials. Indeed, it is so primitive that the similarities between New World opossums and the West Indian solenodons are pretty striking. The two species of solenodon retain many primitive features of the ancestral placental mammals, and it would make sense that the primitive opossums and primitive solenodons would look somewhat similar to each other.

Beyond their taxonomy, there aren’t really that many amazing things about opossums. They don’t have very complex behavior.  There are claims of them having amazing intelligence that one can find online, but these clams are not born out in reality.

The thing is, you don’t have to be too smart if you can eat just about anything and reproduce by having dozens of offspring every year.

And even though they are primitive, natural selection has still worked its ways on their kind, but it’s just not change them as much as it has us, coyotes, or red kangaroos.

 

 

 

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