Flying Saucer Trails in Algonquin Park?
On February 6th, 2016, the tracking apprentices tracked along the shores of Sasajewun Lake near the Algonquin Park Wildlife Research Centre. The weather was mild with little wind. To start the day, we tracked marten, showshoe hare, red squirrel and shrew tracks near the research centre out
house and main building. After gathering our snowshoes, we headed to the lake and found human and domestic dog tracks belonging to Station Manager Tim and his dog Cedar. While crossing the ice-covered bay of the lake, we found a marten trail. The marten trail inspired a review of gait analysis and 3×4 lope patterns. A few moments after seeing a shrew trail on the South side of the lake, we found a mys
terious “flying saucer” trail. Compressed tracks had formed a trail of ice chunks across the frozen lake. Were they from a marten, a fisher or maybe a fox? We climbed a hill at the narrows of the lake and saw clear snowshoe hare tracks and a marten trail. The sounds of black-capped chickadees, pine siskins, common ravens and white-breasted nuthatches could be heard in the nearby coniferous trees and overhead. We followed a mink trail to a hole in the ice and then wandered into the mixed forest east of the lake to have a campfire lunch. After lunch, our trail continued upland where we saw a grouse trail that continued
overland for a long distance. Why was the grouse spending so much time on the ground? We soon found our answer by noting grouse feeding sign on beaked hazel and finding grouse cecum scat. The grouse had been foraging for food. A moose trail led us to the discovery of a moose bed. We found moose feeding sign on hobblebush and striped maple. We entered a hemlock and yellow birch forest and found moose incisor scrapes on speckled alder. The scrapes were bright in contrast to the surrounding trees. A pileated woodpecker alarmed from across the forest as we continued south towards the main building of the Research Centre. As we descended in elevation, we found red squirrel, grouse and snowshoe hare tracks. Suddenly, we
heard the “Sneak” call of a Blue Jay. Within a few metres, we discovered a fresh marten trail near a Red Spruce tree and wondered if the marten had caused the Blue Jay’s alarm. It was time to head back so we abandoned the fresh marten trail in hopes of seeing one near the main building. We wondered why most of the marten activity was found at a lower elevation, close to the lake, rather than in the upland forested
area. Gratitude was felt for another beautiful tracking day in Algonquin Park.
Written by T. Anderson – 2nd Year Earth Tracks Tracking Apprentice