With several feet of soft, fluffy snow on the ground in central Massachusetts, we were concerned that conditions would be too difficult for a 5 hour walk at the Quabbin Reservoir. So, several days in advance, we broke a trail, should bushwhacking prove too challenging. But by the 21st, the snow had settled enough to make travel a bit easier, and we could not resist following a trail of coyote tracks into the woods.
Note: We have added another Quabbin Tracking Program for March 7, 2015. Learn more and register here.
We all thought it was worth the trudging when we reached what appeared to be a coyote mating area, where two trails met in a dance. Male and female marked side by side, with female’s urine showing sign of estrous. Some deer beds, a weasel trail and tunnel, and a grouse snow roost were among the highlights.
After 3 hours in the woods, we followed the road to the Reservoir shore, where the wind was fierce. The blowing snow was nearly obliterating our tracks as quickly as we made them. We headed for the woods to escape the gale, where we were treated to another grouse snow roost. After crossing a beaver dam and trudging a short distance through the woods, we followed the road back to the car.
Species list for February 21, 2015 Quabbin Wildlife Tracking Program
- Coyote tracks, urine marking, estrous, and mating
- Deer tracks, scat, urine, beds, and incisor scraping on hemlock
- Mouse tracks
- Vole tracks (including trot) and tunneling
- Gray and red squirrel tracks, and one retrieved acorn cache
- Weasel trail and tunnel (probably short-tailed weasel)
- Ruffed grouse tracks and two snow roosts: one fly in and fly out; the other walk in and walk out
- Fresh pileated woodpecker activity
- Porcupine nipped twigs (hemlock)
- Beaver lodge and dam