Moose at Algonquin Provincial Park

In my last post I eluded to more stories from our trip up North.  On our first full day in Algonquin Park Deneen and I went with half the group with Alexis as our instructor and guide for the day.  He had seen a moose on his morning scout so we set off to follow its tracks.  Moose track next to a boot print

Above and below are moose tracks on the side of highway 60 which runs through the park.  The track below is about 4 inches long.  Not even that big by moose standards.

Moose track with scale

Moose trail

Moose trail through 3 foot deep snow. The bottom of the tracks is WAY down.

Alexis on the trail

Alexis leading the way into the woods as we follow the trail.

Moose trail

Snowy Woods

A very snowy forest awaited us. The snow had piled up on everything. Below is one of many stumps that received a mushroom cap of snow. It gave the bush (forest) a surreal and truly Northern feel.

snow stump

Moose browse

This area transitioned from Spruce and Fir to mixed hardwoods. There where very few if any saplings here above 5 or 6 feet tall, only fairly mature trees or small, battered ones like in the pictures above and below. They where so heavily browsed by the moose that each year the new shoots could only spread out to be eaten again with out ever getting much taller.    Moose browse

Moose browse

Close up of a moose eaten branch held by my mittened hand. Notice the broken off appearance, deer family, including moose, have no upper incisors and therefor what they bite is more broken or torn than cut. Moose, in winter, can eat up to 45 pounds of twigs, buds and bark a day. An adult bull usually weighs about 1100 pounds (numbers from Mammals of Algonquin Provincial Park published by The Friend of Algonquin Park and converted to pounds by me).

Moose push over.

Moose have an interesting way of getting at branches that are taller than they can comfortably reach.  They just push the tree over, often straddling it. This tree was fractured under the assault. Below is a closeup of some hair left after the operation.

Moose hair on push over

moose scat

We also passed other sign of the moose as we followed their trail.  Fresh moose scat, (its big) we encountered several times.

Moose poop

Moose hair

More moose hair, this one probably from its back.

Deneen next to moose bed

And beds.  Moose and other animals in the deer (cervid) family lay down often as they forage and browse in order to fully digest their food.  They eat a lot at once, swallowing into the first chamber of their four chambered stomach, then go lie down to bring some up a little at a time to re-chew and swallow into the next section of their stomach, in this way they can spend more time on the alert for predators.

Moose bed in snow

The ruler is 2 feet across, the bed is something like 5 feet across the long way.

Moose spotted throught the trees

After several hours of quietly moving through the woods trailing the moose we caught up to them. They were very aware of our presence and pretty tolerant of us. Turned out to be three moving together, we knew there were at least two by the tracks. The video below explains more about the many minutes we spent with them.

 

Latest from Camera Trap

Deer on camera trap

I programed the wrong year into my camera trap, these picture where from earlier this month.  I left the trap out at the same spot on the old access road across the street from the yurt.  Only these deer where captured with the exception of the hind leg of some furry creature so obscure it was not worth posting.  Many animal left tracks with yards of the back of the camera and I scared a whole flock of Wild Turkeys when I rushed out to check it tonight.

deer in winter deer in snow

New Spot for the Camera Trap

Eastern Coyote in camera trap

We finally set up the camera trap here in Northfield.  Deneen and I put it out near one of her sit spots.  It is pointed at a well used trail but I poo pooed the spot because the trigger is slow and animals (and people) moving down a trail often do not get captured in the image.  Well as you can see I was wrong.  Great shots of a coyote, deer and in the last picture, the tail end of a bobcat.

Good to get reacquainted with the neighbors.

eastern coyote in game camera coyote in camera trap deer on game camera Bobcat on camera trap

Tracking Peoples State Forest

Went out tracking today.  The snow was good, a layer of powder several inches deep on a layer of crust, then more loose snow.  Forgot my snowshoes so it was a bit of work to get around.  In the end I walked several miles. Here’s what I saw.  

Deer Trail

Trailed this deer and the others with it.  Not far from the road where I picked up the trail I found them but not before they found me.

Deer Bed in Snow

I spooked them out of there day beds and watched the last one leave.  It moved away slowly, stopping and looking back before bounding away.  I did not have the camera out so no picture.  It wouldnt have looked like much anyway.  The deer were bedded in the laurel on a flat bit of ground on a hillside.  As I approached I knew it could be a bedding area and even thought to crawl but felt that if I crawled over every rise I would never see anything.  Hard to be patient.

 

 

Peoples Forest

 

Beaver Brook Pond, sunny and beautiful.

 

 

Unknown Small Mammal Tracks in Snow

Little mammal tracks.  Some others showed a fairly short tail.  They are small enough to consider shrew or the smallest mice.  They were on the swamp ice.  I went through several times and retreated.

 

Mink Tracks

 

Upstream on Beaver Brook a Mink slide.  It was the only sign of Mink all day.

 

Peoples State Forest

 

 

Otter Tracks

 

On the way out found these older Otter slides.  They went on for a couple hundred yards.

River Otter Tracks

End of Otter Trail

 

Above is where they eventually went into Beaver Brook.  Below is as far as I went in the other direction, about 200 yards.  I ran out of steam and headed home.  The next body of water in that direction is the Farmington River more than half a mile away.

Otter Tracks on Snow

Deer carcass visitors on camera

I placed a smallish road killed deer in front of our game camera in a high wildlife traffic area. In this and posts to come I will document what animals came to investigate and feed off of the carcass. As you will see by looking at the dates and times on the bottom of the pictures it was there for a while before anything but birds actually ate from it. The coyote seemed particularly shy, maybe do the the flash of the camera. Evidently they all got used to it after a while.

Placing deer carcass

Thats us carrying it out in front of cameras former position.  It will be moved 20 yards or so into the woods from this position.

Crows

No disturbance the first night.  Crows come the next day, eventually many of them every day.

Vulture
First vulture

Vultures come on day 2 and are present until 11 am.  Nothing has visited on night 2.

Vultures arrive
Raccoon visits carcass

The first night time visitor is on night 3 when a Raccoon shows up but does not feed from carcass.  Some crows come around the following day, day 3.

Shy Coyote

On night 4 a shy Eastern Coyote comes by and from 11:06 to 11:10 moves in and out but does not feed from the carcass.  We found this strange.  I have read that coyotes become suspicious of bait placed by humans if they have experienced trapping but have know reason to believe there has ever been trapping in the area.  The coyotes here, probably this very one, has eaten the suit I have put out in the past using my bare hands and must be familiar with my scent and humans in general.  All this is taking place in a patchy rural and suburban landscape.

Coyote
Red Tailed Hawk scavenges

Day 4 a Red Tailed Hawk comes on the scene.  I did not know them for scavengers but it comes at least twice on this day feeding.

Red Tailed Hawk
White Tailed Deer investigates carcass of another Deer

Night 4, 2 Deer come.  This made me feel bad.

Female Bobcat shows up at Deer carcass

Now things start getting interesting.  Closer to dawn on night 4 our resident female Bobcat gives it a sniff but does not feed yet.  In the next post you will see more of this animal and other large predators get down to business.

Another good tracking day.

Beaver Bog Swamp at Great Hollow Wilderness School in New Fairfield. Another day of perfect tracking conditions out on the swamp. Raccoon Tracks. Front track on the left, note the crescent palm pad shape.

Raccoon in their typical pacing gait. Close up of Bobcat tracks, front is to the left, hind to the right. Over step walk of a bobcat indicative of a faster walk, covering some distance quickly and efficiently.
Another overstep walk, this time a little slower.
Deer out on the ice.