Blog

Tracking Trees! What?

A yellow birch.
A yellow birch.

I had the pleasure of going out on a hike with my good friend and fellow nature nerd, Michael Wojtech, author of BARK!  Since there wasn’t fresh snow for tracking animals, we decided to track trees!  Its not a simple as it sounds.  They may not move very quickly, well not at all, but there are so many kinds! He gave me a quick tutorial on how to identify four of the many trees we were seeing.  Take a look:

The crackling of a sugar maple, almost like crackling in old china.
The crackling of a sugar maple, almost like crackling in old china.
a yellow birch with its horizontal ridges called lenticels.
a yellow birch with its horizontal ridges called lenticels.
The smoooth bark of the American Beech.
The smoooth bark of the American Beech.
A white ash, notice the intersecting ridges creating diamonds!
A white ash, notice the intersecting ridges creating diamonds!

Tracking at Marble Brook

IMG_4427 bobcat
Bobcat prints before we entered Marble Brook! Notice the asymmetrical toes and the heel pad with two lobes on the top and three on the bottom. Nice!

IMG_4436 group on the trailI knew it was going to be a great day when we spotted bobcat tracks before we even got to the trail!  Plus a river otter slide as we crossed the bridge.  Then, 10 feet in, we saw great tracks of a porcupine going from a hemlock tree to its den in a culvert.  Over the course of the morning, we saw Deer, turkey, bobcat, and coyote tracks!  And the weather was just stunning!  Thanks everyone for a great hike!  It was sponsored by Kestrel Land Trust.  Below are some pictures, click on them to enlarge:

A bobcat track before we even got to Marble Brook!  Notice the asymmetrical toes with a forward lead toe (Catitude) and the heel pad with two lobes on the front and three lobes on the back.
A bobcat track before we even got to Marble Brook! Notice the asymmetrical toes with a forward lead toe (Catitude) and the heel pad with two lobes on the front and three lobes on the back.
IMG_4429 river otter slide
Here is a river otter slide below the bridge.
IMG_4430 porcupine den
A porcupine den
IMG_4431 turkey
Turkey track.
IMG_4432 group on the field
We found turkey and deer tracks all over the cornfield!
IMG_4435 deer
Here’s a deer track.
IMG_4437 coyote
A coyote track. You may be able to just make out the X in the middle. This is the negative space created by the symmetrical two front and two side toes. Plus the claws are apparent. Remember X marks the spot, Spot marks the X.
IMG_4438 marble brook
Marble Brook!
IMG_4441 raccoon
A racoon track near where I put my remote camera. They kinda look like human feet.
1306:021417:47F:PORKY CAM :5
I was hoping to get pictures of river otter. These are their slides heading down to the brook.
1316:021417:47F:PORKY CAM :5
Scientists have found that river otters are such effective hunters that they only have to hunt 5% of their time. Which leaves 95% of their time to play! In my next life, I want to come back as a river otter!
0217:021817:13F:PORKY CAM :6
Well, the only pictures I got from my remote camera was this curious raccoon.

Tracking at the Bullitt!

1932:020717:23F:PORKY CAM :3

Well, tracking season has officially begun with lots of snow on the ground!  I had the pleasure of hanging out at the Trustees’ Bullitt Reservation with some great people over the weekend.  The program was sponsored by The Hilltown Land Trust and featured a presentation by Laura Marx, forest ecologist for The Nature Conservancy of Massachusetts, focused on the very important Wildlife Corridor in the Berkshires.  The Nature Conservancy has been researching this are for some time now.  Here is a link to a very cool map.  We then went out tracking with Jess Applin, a master tracking who actually worked on the Berkshire Corridor project!  Below is the presentation and some pictures of the hike.  I also set up my remote camera and got some great shots of a hefty raccoon and a beautiful red fox!  Click on the images to enlarge:

Laura presenting about the Wildlife Corridor in the Berkshires.
Laura presenting about the Wildlife Corridor in the Berkshires.

A very cool species map of the corridor.
A very cool species map of the corridor.
Jess Applin out on the trail with our budding trackers.
Jess Applin out on the trail with our budding trackers.
Start tracking young!
Start tracking young!
A very healthy racoon.
A very healthy racoon.

2218:020817:27F:PORKY CAM :3

The red fox!
The red fox!

1934:020717:25F:PORKY CAM :3

The Bullitt in winter...
The Bullitt in winter…

 

David Foster on Conservation in New England

IMG_4303I had the pleasure to video-tape David Foster from Harvard Forest speaking on New England Conservation in the Era of Global Change.  Fantastic!  His presentation was sponsored by Kestrel Land Trust and the Environmental Studies Department at Amherst College.  Check out Wildlands and Woodlands website as well.  I’ve included a couple of very cool graphs below (click on them to enlarge), as well as the video.  Enjoy!

Very cool graph showing the forest cover of New England states from colonial time to now!
Very cool graph showing the forest cover of New England states from colonial times to the present!
IMG_4284
The Northeast is heating up faster than any other region of the country! Yikes!
IMG_4296
Incredible goals from Wildlands and Woodlands.
IMG_4297
Percent of land protected from development by state.

IMG_4298

 

 

Coming Soon: On the Plains of the Serengeti…of Florence!

1641:012117:54F:PORKYCAM :6
An eight point buck was hit by a car on Ryan Road so I set up my remote camera.  I’ll be working on a Nature Nerds Short on Bobcats!  The video will focus on the natural history and give tips on tracking.  Remember, click on any of the images to enlarge, Enjoy!
0059:012017:27F:PORKYCAM :6
Doesn’t this one look like a female lion on the Serengeti Plains!?
Always on guard!
Always on guard!
A coyote stopped by for a meal.
A coyote stopped by for a meal.
But interestingly, the bobcat was more dominant than even this large coyote and drove it away!
But interestingly, the bobcat was more dominant than even this large coyote and drove it away!
I love the black and white backs of its ears! I wonder why these colors evolved when everything else is designed to camouflage?
I love the black and white backs of its ears! I wonder why these colors evolved when everything else is designed to camouflage?
Bobcats have extra rods on their retina's with an added layer of reflective cells to increase depth perception in the dark. That's why their eyes glow from this infra-red camera. Did you know that bobcats are color-blind? They can only sees shades of gray!
Bobcats have extra rods on their retina’s with an added layer of reflective cells to increase depth perception in the dark. That’s why their eyes glow from this infra-red camera. Did you know that bobcats are color-blind? They can only sees shades of gray! I love their black-tipped bobbed tail (hence their name).

 

Tracking with Frank G!

IMG_4001 group at red fox tracksWhat a spectacular day we had; tracking at Fitzgerald Lake with Frank Grindrod.  An expert tracker and nature nerd friend, he runs Earthworks Programs, a wilderness education and survival school here in Western Mass.  It was a bit chilly but with a fresh coating of snow, it was perfect for tracking!  We first came across a red fox trail.  The X signified a canine and the blurry nature and its size told us it was a red fox.  We found deer beds where they were searching for nuts and truffles!  And then Dave Prichert from Broad Brook Coalition led us to an area frequented by porcupines.  And yes, we found wonderful tracks of a porky, out for a winters walk.  Take a look (remember to click on the image to make it larger.

A trail of a red fox.  Notice how it conserves energy by going in a straight line.  Not back and forth to trees like a domestic dog.
A trail of a red fox. Notice how it conserves energy by going in a straight line. Not back and forth to trees like a domestic dog.
Its a bit blurry, meaning that there is a lot of hair between the pads but notice the X, signifying a canine.
Its a bit blurry, meaning that there is a lot of hair between the pads but notice the X, signifying a canine.
Group huddle, to keep warm and look at Paul Rzezendes' excellent book, Tracking and the Art of Seeing.
Group huddle, to keep warm and look at Paul Rzezendes’ excellent book, Tracking and the Art of Seeing.
Deer bed where they were searching for nuts and truffles!
Deer bed where they were searching for nuts and truffles!
Here is a track of a deer, notice the dew claw imprints.  They are splayed, indicating a back foot.
Here is a track of a deer, notice the dew claw imprints. They are splayed, indicating a back foot.
A porcupine trail going from a hemlock grove (a meal) to its rock den in the upland area.
A porcupine trail going from a hemlock grove (a meal) to its rock den in the upland area.
A bit hard to see but they have large pads.
A bit hard to see but they have large pads.
The sun was getting low in the sky so we had to head back after a great day of tracking.
The sun was getting low in the sky so we had to head back after a great day of tracking.
Thanks Frank!!!
Thanks Frank!!!

IMG_3983 group at beaver lodge

A Nature Nerds Short- an escape to the cape!

IMG_2767 snowy egret pair greatI ran off to the Cape for a quick visit with some of my Nature Nerd Friends.  Here are some of the images I will keep in my memory.  Late summer is a wonderful time to take a trek to the shore (click on the image to enlarge):

The accommodations of Euphoria!
The accommodations of Euphoria!
The cedar swamp forest in Provincetown.
The cedar swamp forest in Provincetown.
A cranberry bog with orchids!
A cranberry bog with orchids!
Hazel Hawthorne's shack appropriately named Euphoria!
Hazel Hawthorne’s shack appropriately named Euphoria!
The "sand pit" dunes entering the National Seashore in Provincetown.
The “sand pit” dunes entering the National Seashore in Provincetown.
An endangered piping plover looking for breakfast.
An endangered piping plover looking for breakfast.
ruddy turnstone
A ruddy turnstone is camoflaged on the stony beach. As their name implies, they find food by…. turning stones!

IMG_2750 snowy egret pair stretch wing IMG_2767 snowy egret pair great

I had the pleasure of watching a group of snowy egrets.
I had the pleasure of watching a group of snowy egrets.
A group of cormorants is known as a "gulp" of cormorants!
A group of cormorants is known as a “gulp” of cormorants!
Here are the comorants at sunset, sitting on a rock catching the last rays of the sun.
Here are the comorants at sunset, sitting on a rock catching the last rays of the sun.
Tree swallows gorge on the waxy bayberries before migrating south.
Tree swallows gorge on the waxy bayberries before migrating south.
They go to the beach and eat sand to help in digestion.
They go to the beach and eat sand to help in digestion.
Since they are so exposed, they are very nervous and take off at any sound, even the crashing of the waves.
Since they are so exposed, they are very nervous and take off at any sound, even the crashing of the waves.
IMG_2581 moonrise reflection
The moon at twilight.

IMG_2607 blue dunes IMG_2594 moon and dunes IMG_2590 sunset saturation