Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tracks and Traces

January 5, 2010
Mud Pond, Moreau Lake State Park

Jackie & I met up at Moreau Lake today, planning to go up the ridge & look for porcupines. Upon talking with Ben about eagles, we switched plans and headed out to Mud Pond, where a deer carcass had been put out and had sucessfully attracted a bald eagle.

Not much misses an eagle's keen eyes, as they fly along the river.
In fact this particular eagle's keen eyes let him know the second we came into view of the frozen pond -- even though we tried sneaking in through a thick coniferous section of the trail.
I caught a quick glimpse of an adult eagle and three ravens, lifting off from the carcass, ‘way out on the pond. They flew off to the far end of the pond, beyond our line of sight.
We tried waiting quietly under a hemlock, sitting on a conveniently situated log. This gave us a great view of the carcass, and we hoped that the birds would soon return to resume their feeding.
After what seemed a long while, we had to stand up and move again to get warm. Walking out into the clear, I looked southward and there, several hundred feet away, was the eagle, perched deep in the branches of a white pine.

We figured he wasn’t going to let us get any closer, so Jackie suggested a walk out to the carcass.
Despite my usual trepidations, her gentle urging had me following her out across the middle of Mud Pond on the snow-covered ice.

There were animal tracks of all sizes and strides everywhere, and Ben had mentioned that coyotes had also visited the carcass. (People walk their dogs in the park as well, so up along the trail, we hesitated to identify the tracks as one or the other.)

Jackie & I both eagerly signed up to attend a tracking workshop with Vince Walsh in Wilton this weekend. I can identify some prints, but have a lot to learn. Still, it was fun to try to read the stories in these traces of wild inhabitants.

Did a raven land here, and swagger off into the distance?

I think these are fox tracks running along this log.

Out on the pond, it looked as if coyotes had been contra-dancing after their dinner.

We saw the impressions of their bodies, as if they flopped down for a brief rest.

I think this is a wingprint of an eagle, judging by the size alone.

We wandered about on the pond ice, the only humans around.

Ravens clucked and hooted, as the eagle finally took off toward Back Bay.
No time today for me to follow him ...

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