Otter, Pileated Woodpecker site, Mouse?, Coyote? Tracks

A few days earlier, a snowstorm dumped 11” of snow on this area. The main trails were well packed from a weekend of snowmobilers. Today, however, there were none around. I walked down to Bridge Rd, strapped on snowshoes, and walked around the eastern edge of a beaver impoundment created in the last five years. The water behind the impoundment is probably not much deeper than two feet. There was very little bird life noted here today, but I noted tracks of 3 different mammals: At two locations, I noticed there was a small set of paired tracks bounding about 6” and showing a tail dragging in the snow. It was going straight between trees. It exited from the leeward side of the tree where the snow didn’t accumulate as much. Looking at various on-line sources, I learned that this is a mouse track. Meadow Voles will tunnel under the snow and if they surface, their track pattern shows an alternating pattern, typically without a tail dragging.

Another larger set of tracks were straight and purposeful with little wandering, maybe a coyote. When I arrived at the beaver dam, there was a good flow of water leaving the dam in one spot. I noticed scat from what I believe was a River Otter that had both entered and exited the water at the outfall of the dam. It had slid around on the snow for a few feet from where the water was open. I estimate the slide width to be about 6-8” using my showshoe as a guide. There appeared to be brownish black scat containing silvery fish scales in the snow.

Along the trail heading back, I noted a Pileated Woodpecker hole in a small (8 inch dia) oak tree. There was a dead carpenter ant at the edge of the hole – one of its quarries. I’m guessing it came out after the woodpecker left.

[I have been exploring this region with the intent of documenting the wildlife that use this beaver created wetland. Beavers are a keystone species that create wetlands that are utilized by many other animals. I realize beavers can be considered a nuisance when dealing with wells, septic, road flooding, and tree plantings. My hope is that the DCR considers the good that the beavers do when making decisions in regards to forestry and also cultural sites such as the CCC reservoir and Dean Pond dam.]

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