Spring on the prairie can be quite enigmatic. Heck, life on the prairie, at any time, can be quite enigmatic!
As I walked around
this morning, I found several freshly excavated holes. They were about 3" wide and easily as deep, maybe a bit deeper. This one was quite near the back yard....
Detective work of this sort underpins quite a few of my prairie "sightings". For example, I know we have a fairly active coyote presence, but I rarely see them. Unfortunately, when I do see them, I'm so thunderstruck that I don't even think to throw my camera up and take a quick shot - if, indeed, I have my camera with me. So far none of the coyotes I've seen have sat around patiently and waited for me to take their picture.
We do hear the coyotes, at night, fairly regularly.
Two winters ago, we noticed several large holes that had been dug in the Back 5 and I eventually figured out that they were made by coyotes, digging up vole colonies and eating yellow-jacket combs (and probably some voles as well). By the way, the blue cell phone in the hole is there for scale.
Another common animal trace that I see is a trail. Some trails are larger and show up in the grass, like this one I photographed leading towards my neighbor's plum thickets. I believe this trail was made by rabbits....
In the long run, sometimes the most interesting observations and findings come simply from being alert to changes, then asking myself what could have caused an effect like that. It's far from an exact science - but it certainly keeps the old brain cells busy!