Moose-a-palooza – Sunday, September 1st, 2019 Algonquin
It was a cool morning at the Algonquin Park Research Station, after a clear and starry night. The sun was shining. There was a slight wind from the south. Around 6:00am, tracker Ann saw a moose. She described the moose as a “tall, dark shadow standing against the trees”. They both surprised each other. The moose looked at her, took a step towards her and then decided to head west, up the foresty hill. Alexis found a moose trail that morning (the same one?) and the tracking apprentices sleuthed out that trail along the gravel road. The tracks showed that the moose was mid-size, using a slight understep walk. After noticing that the moose seemed to prefer browsing on Red Maple branches, we wondered about seasonal food choices for moose and came up with this Moose Musing; “Is Summery Red Maple akin to yummy strawberries as Wintry Balsam Fir is to Kale Stems?” After trying a piece of a Red Maple leaf, I decided that yes, it tastes good. Balsam Fir is good too but it has a slight bitter flavouring as well – maybe important for easing woody winter moose digestion?
We followed the moose trail to the edge of Sasajewun Lake, pausing to observe a polyphemous moth caterpillar and a nice pile of marten scat. The marten had enjoyed a feast of sarsaparilla berries and blackberries as observed from the scat seed content. The moose trail went uphill where Ann had seen the moose earlier in the day. The group decided to practice trailing skills and move as silently as possible through the forest. We observed more moose browse on red maple, old winter moose beds and scat. We found ourselves in a myriad of moose trails. It was moose-a-palooza. Alexis picked up the moose’s scent and the sound of bird and chipmunk alarms could be heard in the distance but the moose was able to evade us. The group headed down into a lush forest valley and then out to the Bat Lake trail. It was an excellent weekend with great people. I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with the animals and their stories by immersing ourselves in their tracks and signs. Thank you Alexis!
– written by Tamara Anderson, ring 3