Saturday, March 27, 2010

Moose at Flume Gorge

Lars went skiing last Saturday, and hiked Sunday up to the Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park. On the gravel trail up to the gorge, I found these ungulate tracks. My glove is 12 inches in length including the tag.

Seeing the ice cliffs in mid March, I vowed to come back in the very cold of early February.

Beaver Slap, Beaver Hole

Lars was out in the northern end of Delaney Complex/Stow on March 17th. Because the trail was under water due to recent flooding, I was cutting across the slope at water's edge. I surprised a beaver about 10 feet up on land. He jumped back in, then circled around several times to check me out. He gave me a loud tail slap three times, trying to chase me off. See the last few seconds of the 30 second video.

After he jumped in, I found (curiously) that he had been clearing a small area of forest duff. See the two photos. My glove is 9.5 inches in length. He scraped it down to dirt. I wondered if he was preparing the spot to build a scent pile, but three visits back to the site during this past week reveal no further disturbances. And why would he scrape it down to then build it up?

What was he up to? Lars

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Odds and Ends

Janet writes:

The following are from various of my meanderings of the last few weeks.

The first photo represents another little personal milestone: pileated
woodpecker scat. The first and only other time I saw this was several
years ago with Lydia. Since then, I've been searching religiously on
the ground below fresh pileated tree peckage, but never finding it.
When I noticed the super fresh peckage on a white pine the other day, I
rushed over to conduct my usual search, and, finally, there it was. I
broke some of it apart so you can see the fragments of ant exoskeleton.

While studying nurse logs with hemlock seedlings, I noticed (2nd photo)
four more mature hemlocks growing close together in a row. Starting
with the tree closest to the camera, and count four trees in a line away
from the camera. Could they have started life on a nurse log?

The 3rd is some type of puffball fungus dispelling spores, I guess,
on a beech snag. I know almost nothing about fungi but was fascinated
by the structure of these things.

Last is a picture of muskrat tracks in overstep walk, taken in Bolton,
several wks ago. Note the drag marks. As
soon as the weather warmed up, skunk and muskrat tracks began to appear
here and there...and some dead skunks on the road, too.

Bullwinkle's B & B

Janet writes:

I spent the better part of the day at Quabbin last Monday,
wandering about. There were some patches of snow in cool, sheltered
areas, but mostly bare ground. I was a little surprised to find what I
think is a moose bed (first photo) in one of those patches. Did the
moose bed down in snow even after bare ground was available?

If no one else, Lars might be interested to learn that the word moose is
thought to come from the Eastern Abenaki Indian word meaning "he trims
or cuts off". Indeed, there was an abundance of sign of moose trimming
and cutting in and around a red maple swamp. The second photos shows
the mother clump red maple, with both fresh and old incisor scraping.
The third photo shows a close-up of fresh scraping. You can see the sap
flowing out, as well as the characteristic fraying at the upper end of
each scraping (and lack of fraying at the lower ends).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mountain Lion tracks, or dog tracks? (From Duxbury, MA)

Is this track canine, or feline? What features make you confident in
your decision?

Here's a link to the newspaper article reporting the mountain lion/dog
sighting in Duxbury, MA.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Porcupines, part 1

On a sunny Sunday, Jori and Dan retrieved three cameras that Janet and
Dan had placed near some porcupine dens in the Quabbin area some five
weeks earlier. Two of the cameras were on a rocky cliff where numerous
porcupines hole up for the winter. The third camera was at a ground den
- a simple hole in the ground a few yards away from a small stream.

All three cameras were dry on recovery, but each had some amount of
trouble over the last month. One took several hundred photos of falling
snow, perhaps swaying back and forth in a high wind because it wasn't
mounted to a sturdy-enough shrub. The second was found face-down in a
pile of porcupine scat, with fresh scat and quill marks all over it. It
never got a chance to take a single photo. (Note to self, bring a
plastic bag to put soiled cameras in next time!)
The final camera held up well for the first 4 weeks, but in the last few
days a porcupine decided to cuddle with it and twisted it around to take
photos of a rock.

I've got about 500 photos to sort through, although the number of
keepers is going to be very low. In the rocks, most of the photos are
of tails or sides, with very few well-posed critters. Unlike most
animals, the slow-moving porcupines barely seem to get in the frame
before the camera fires. Out at the ground den, the white snow sucked
up most of the flash, leaving an under-exposed dark-brown porcupine in
the upper corner. I'll post some more photos once I've had a chance to
fix the exposures.

I'm also going to try to graph activity vs. time of day, and see if
there's been any shift in activity as winter turns to spring. Get your
predictions in now! (You can also try guessing what other animals
showed up in these dens.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Maine Photos - Grouse & Moose

Here are a couple of supplementary photos to those posted several days ago by Janet. They were also taken during our lynx workshop up in the wilds of Maine. The first shot shows where a grouse landed on a fallen tree, and then walked down to the ground below. The second shows a closer view. Grouse don't seem to be particularly graceful in the landing department. The final picture was taken in the town of Greenville, and, though I lack Janet's keen detection skills, my guess is that the subject moose is a sub-adult female. That guess is based not only on the presence of the bows on the antlers, but also on their profusion, indicating the classic juvenile inability to know when enough is enough.

Mink slide

Here are some pictures of a mink slide from last Sunday in that wet snow behind Sue's house in Harvard.  The slides were about 3" wide, and sometimes there were footprints where the mink had pushed itself along.  It even made of point of moving over to a small rise in order to slide down it.  It ran, slid, ran, slid -- looked like a lot of fun!