I am excited about all of the fascinating little critters our trackers found signs of at White River this past weekend.
Our two teams that ventured to White River this weekend reported that they found small tracks and sign that we don't see very often: flying squirrel and mountain beaver. In addition, there were also weasel, hare, and Douglas squirrel track sightings for both of the groups.
How do you recognize flying squirrel tracks? It's kind of hard! Our trackers actually didn't realize what they were at the time, but took careful notes and measurements and turned to reference materials at home. Based on the track characteristics and the tell-tale sign that the front feet consistently registered ahead of the rears, they concluded it had been flying squirrel tracks. Very cool!
Our other weekend tracking team found signs of an unusual small creature, the mountain beaver. I've been lucky enough to see the signs of their burrows and twig munching only a few times in my life, and this team found a young Doug Fir sapling that was a mountain beaver buffet. How did they recognize it? The sapling caught their eye because it was missing so many branches, from ground level up to 6 feet plus. They carefully observed the cuts on the ends of the branches, noting the clean ends and that they had been cut at different times, more recently and further back. Then they ran through a series on who it could have done that, noticed that they were right next to a stream (mountain beaver habitat!) and figured it out.
Check out this picture of the chewed branches our team found:
P.S. Here is a little extra fun puzzle for you all. Who do you made these holes that Chris is standing next to?