Nature Notes

Dusting off the Sunglasses

By Sydney Chandler

Three-Mile Drive hosted a steady flow of visitors this weekend. The welcome respite from our recent stretch of overcast days welcomed many to the grounds. Boots crunch the mushy snow and ice, murmurs of conversations carry through the forest, walkers pause for selfies in the forest, and sunglasses adorn nearly every face.

Some snowshoers and hikers venture off the paved road to spot sunny views of the Prairie, catch glimpses of mouse trails, and listen to owl calls in the distance. Even the sound of squirrel teeth squeaking against a delicious nut is audible. The hungry squirrel sits contentedly on its perch in the sun to enjoy this noisy snack.

Feeding activity is also evident under the Prairifire Crabapple trees in the Grace B. Dayton Wildflower Garden. Deer tracks pattern the ground beneath each tree, spots of trampled crabapples stain the white snow with bright red, and scat confirms that deer were the snacking culprits!

Even more tracks run through the snow under the bridge leading to the Frerichs Garden for Wildlife. Animal trails cross the icy river, zip up the steep slope, and tell stories of animals who make their home at the Arboretum. As more sunshine spurs fun winter adventures, it will be exciting to see and hear changing stories on the landscape.

Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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