Tracking on the Sauble River

 In animal gaits, apprenticeships, classes, earth tracks, Landscape Tracking, nature education, Ontario, tracking, wildlife tracking, workshops
Sunday June 14th, 2015 – Story of the Day

 Written by Tamara Anderson


Bob Marley wrote, “Some people feel the rain and others just get wet.”  The rain reminds us of mindfulness – to live in the moment and welcome whatever it brings.  We were immersed in rain and mindfulness for most of Sunday’s outing to the Sauble River.  The Sauble River flows through Bruce and Grey County into Lake Huron.  The river was named “Rivière aux Saubles” or Sandy River by the French explorers in 1759.  I wonder if the local Saugeen First Nation has a different name for this river?
The maple forest revealed a few gems, like a brave garter snake.  The snake patiently let us hold him/her.  Beaver, coyote, raccoon and muskrat tracks were also spotted along the silty shoreline of the river.  Nearby, Alexis found an otter latrine site with a freshly killed garter snake.  Had the garter snake fallen out of the grasping talons of a bird of prey?  The otter scat contained scales from fish and the rusty-coloured remains of crayfish.  A Red-Eyed Vireo serenaded us once again while we ate lunch beside the river.  After lunch, we found Giant Hogweed, an invasive plant whose sap can cause intense blistering and even blindness.  Strangely enough, we noted deer browse on the tips of the Hogweed. Deer never cease to amaze me with their ability to eat noxious plants.  My impression of them as adrenaline-seeking risk takers continues to evolve. 

We were soon on a quest for Kingfisher holes after seeing a steep, sandy river bank on the south shoreline.  Success!  A square-looking hole was found near the top of the bluff.      The Belted Kingfisher excavates a nesting burrow that is two to three metres long in a vertical sand bank.  The blue and white lightning bird digs the tunnel with its beak and feet.  We wandered south towards a colourful, alvar-looking landscape.  Sandy trails revealed coyote scat and mystery tracks.   We debated the track-maker’s identity and finally resolved to call the animal a fox-walking raccoon.  A short drive to Sauble beach on Lake Huron completed the day.  In our closing circle, each person shared their focal species for the next 8 months.  Aster chose the beaver.  Sue is learning more about deer.  Miriam is also studying deer.  Luke is thinking about lagomorphs.  Alexis is going to learn more about the European hare.  I am choosing to focus on the black coyotes that live around my place.  Strangely, no one chose the fox-walking raccoon?

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