The stag tree

If you go out my front door and take a right and follow the path through the blueberry field . . .

the path. . . well, first you’ll come across this nest of mound building ants. This is only an aside to the main attraction which is still some ways out, but it’s interesting – ants built this! They circulate the stony subsoil up to the surface as they build tunnels and rooms below. The mounds can be huge – this active nest is four feet across and about two feet high.

ant houseThe crater just beyond the ant-haus in this photo is proof of another charming local custom. Back 100 years ago, when wealthy “rusticators” were building cottages-cum-mansions all over the Island, their ground crews harvested trees from fallow property wherever they pleased. Soil is hard won here and trees grow very slowly, so the perfectly circular holes where they dug out nicely symmetrical conifers still remain to trip up unwary hikers.

At the end of the little path is a section of “cut road”. Follow that for a while,

cut roadand then take a left on to another deer path. Follow that deeper into the pine woods.

deer pathThe deer path ends at a stag tree.

stag treeIt looks like a bear or cougar has been working on the bark, but actually a buck has been scraping the spring velvet off his antlers. I hear it itches.

stag tree antler damageBears do mark trees, even the very shy and retiring (and fat) black bears we have around here, but their claws scrape down the line of the trunk. If you look closely you can see where this damage goes up the trunk, against the grain, and makes splintered pieces stick out.

All kinds of things go on in the back yard this time of year.