January 16, 2016 - Mammal Tracking with St. Peters at Ipswich River
On Saturday January 16th five teenagers from the St Peter's Community, accompanied by St. Peters staff leader Alex accompanied ICO volunteers Jeff, Giulia, and Anne at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary foran exciting afternoon.
After a quick lunch around 1pm Scott, Ipswich staffmember and tracking expert Scott gave us an interesting and revealing introduction on how to track local animals. He started by giving us a great overview on the classification of the local animals first. Animals can be identified as walkers, such as Foxes or Coyotes, or waddles such Raccoons or the American Beavers. Then there are the so-called hoppers, as the Red/Grey squirrels or the white-footed mouse. As last but not least the animals such as the River Otters are classified as bounders.
After a quick review on the animal footprints we were all ready to embrace the cold and head out in the wilderness how to track local animals. The weather could not have been more perfect. A gentle snow slightly coated the ground, just about enough to allow us to discover some of the most perfect animals' footprints on our adventure. The first animals we encountered on our trail were birds; the black-chapped chickadee to be specific. Thanks to our guide Scott, we did not only get to admire those pretty birds from a tree brunch but we were able to do it up close. Scott gave us some sunflower seeds to hold in our hands. With our hand extended while holding seeds we could enjoy our feathered visitors up close. Right after that we were able to recognize some squirrels' footprints left on the snow probably not too long ago. We were not actually able to see the American beaver but we got to witness one of its quite fascinating lodges on the pond. We were not able to see any beaver's foot marks left behind due to a very interesting reason. Not even the most experienced animal tracker can ever find their footsteps. The beaver's tail works as a “broom,” erasing all the beaver's footsteps, leaving no trace.
Carrying on with our tracking adventure we were able to find some coyote's "scat", or poop. To some of the participant's relief, Scott often sees coyotes' scats and even hear them howling, but only once was he able to see them in person in the sanctuary. This shows how discrete they are. At almost the end of our day, thanks to the keen eyes for details one of one of the teenagers, we were able to see a large piliated woodpecker!.
To wrap up the day, around 3:30pm we all visited the bird watching house where we could see some beautiful Red Cardinals. That afternoon was not only fun and exciting but a wonderful time to learn and enjoy the outdoor which is what makes the world such a beautiful place. Special thanks to the Ipswich staff, and especially our guide Scott!
A link to photos can be found here: