Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Why did the mink go under the bridge?" December Tracking Club

Kelly Staples inspecting an insect trail.
About 20 folks braved a cold and foggy day in the Snoqualmie Valley for Tracking Club today. After a careful inspection of Chinook Bend Park which yielded several elk trails but not much else, station guides settled on holding the day under one of the valley's bridges.

Species encountered under the bridge included:
  • Bobcat tracks
  • Deer mouse tracks
  • Opposum tracks
  • Salamder tracks
  • Several insects trails
  • Racoon tracks
  • Beaver feeding sign
  • Bat scat
  • Perching bird tracks
  • 2 American robin nests
Jenn Wolfe explains the key features of Mink tracks.

  • Mink tracks
  • Muskrat tracks
  • Eastern Cottontail
  • Barn owl pellets
  • Frog tracks
  • Weasel tracks
  • Rat tracks
  • the mandible of a vole
  • some mystery scats I believe were from rock doves (though Jonathan Goff remained skeptical).

Mink (Neovison vison) tracks from the edge of the Snoqualmie River.

Station Guide Chris Byrd, explains the ins and outs of insect feeding sign on a dogwood bush.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Elk trailing on the East Slope of the Cascades

Morning temperature of 13 degrees F did not deter our class from an  excellent weekend of elk trailing along Clockum Ridge.

On Saturday, after searching for a fresh trail along a roadless ridgeline with amazing views of Mount Stuart without success (though we did discover sign of a mountain lion that had been on a similar mission), we finally picked up the trail of a large herd of elk moving through a meadow system further east and trailed them all afternoon through a maze of feeding sign and bedding areas. A few of us were distracted by the fresh trail of a black bear we discovered in a light dusting of snow.

Brian McConnell waxes philosophically on the
 finer points of trailing elk on the east slopes of the Cascades

Cybertracker Senior Tracker Brian McConnell joined us as a guest instructor and graced us with his keen insights during the day as well as some awesome stories around the fire in the evening.

On Sunday we picked up the tracks of a heard of elk and followed them for several miles through shrub-steppe and open pine forests in the sunshine. On the long hike back to our vehicles at the end of the day, I think we were all impressed at both the terrain the herd had covered as well as the fact that we had followed them through all of it.

Brian cutting for elk tracks along a ridge in the eastern Cascades