Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Photos from Delaney muddy crossing

Dan writes:

Janet and I went tracking at Delaney last week, and found some great
beaver scent mounds, as well as several huge white pines with copious
raccoon scat below. We left a camera for the raccoons. (I checked it
today - there's definitely a raccoon there and the camera survived the
rain, so I left it for another week.)

Afterwards, I dropped off a second camera in a different location - a
muddy crossing along the edge of the Delaney wetlands. Here are some of
the photos that second camera captured over the last week.

The last photo I took this morning while scouting out some new places
for camera traps. Something dug up this ground bee nest. Raccoon?
This was out on "raccoon peninsula", for any of you who remember a
tracking walk several years ago. Back then, we found raccoon scat at
every tree, several otter scats, and found beaver gnawage on hemlock and
pine. Not much fresh sign there today, though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chipmunk hole photos

Dan writes:

Here are some recent motion-activated photos of animals around a hole in
a stone wall back in the woods. Over the course of six days, the camera
captured several dozen photos of the chipmunk going in and out of the
hole (lower center) as well as visits by a mouse, grey and red squirrel,
and a very blurry red fox. The deer photo was taken on a nearby game
trail. That camera also picked up some squirrel activity (across the
log) as well as a blurry photo of a raccoon.

Getting a photo of a fox at the chipmunk hole was a surprise to me - I'm
always surprised at how many different animals show up at sites that are
clearly "owned" by one species (in this case, the chipmunk). The mouse
appeared to be using the same hole as the chipmunk (and also exited
under the rock in the far lower left).

Finding an active "chipmunk lair" isn't as exciting as finding a bobcat
den, but it might provide an easy way to photograph larger predators. I
can't predict what path the fox will take when he passes through that
stretch of woods, but as long as the chipmunk is actively using that
hole, there's a good chance the fox will swing by to investigate.

Happy tracking!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monroe State Forest 9/20/09

Michael, Sue, Susan, Dan, and Janet followed the suggested hike in
Kershner and Leverett's Ancient Forests of the Northeast. Photos above
show the highlights. Michael has the measuring tape around the champion
large-toothed aspen, with a diameter of around 29 inches. Note the
thick, furrowed brown bark on the trunk. We had to look high into the
canopy with binocs to see the branches with the thin, greenish-white
bark characteristic of younger growth, and the characteristic leaves.
There were quite a few other large aspens scattered throughout the
forest, but this was the largest we found.

The presence of these huge specimens of aspen, typically a short lived
pioneer species, must be very telling about the disturbance history of
this forest...but I am not exactly sure what that is. I wish we had
looked more carefully for evidence of past disturbance.

Dan is hugging a champion white ash, over 4 ft in diameter, which we
were excited to find. But the real bonus is pictured in the close-up.
The scratch marks appear to be those of black bear. There were a series
of those going up the tree.

Also pictured is a beech tree with a series of horizontalish lines of
dots going up the tree. These are not the picture perfect bear claw
marks we've seen in books, but we wonder if maybe they are those of a
smaller, lighter bear which did not leave deep or consistent
impressions....or maybe just part of the beech bark disease lesions...

Susan and Dan stand beside the largest, cleanest beech I've ever seen.
What a beautiful specimen. Must have borne loads of beechnuts in years
past. Why no clawmarks?

We were lucky to find these giants - we did have a guide, but of course
the trees are not labeled, and finding them took all 5 pairs of eyes.
Many other interesting trees, mosses, ferns and mushrooms entertained us
on this perfect weather day.