Cat and Mouse

Sunday March 23rd

Waterside Park, Rockwood

An enthusiastic group of trackers met outside the Rockwood Conservation area on March 23rd. We carpooled to the Municipal Park in downtown Rockwood.

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Tracking Club, March 2014

The first tracks belonged to a cat hunting alongside the Eramosa River. The cat tracks seemed to follow and interact with another trail which we recognized as a deer mouse.  This trail proved to be very interesting.  It showed us that deer mice can be “feisty fighters”.  The tracks of the deer mouse jumped from side to side, often turning to face the cat.  The quick whip of the mouse’s tail as it turned was captured neatly in the snow.  Near the end of the trail, the mouse tracks showed two rear paws registering in the snow as the mouse perhaps boxed at its foe in front of an evergreen.  The tracks disappeared at this point and we all hoped that this brave underdog had made it safely up the tree.  We wondered if maybe the deer mouse was watching us track its harrowing adventure while it breathed a sigh of relief from a sheltered bough.

The spring conditions must have encouraged the local mammals to get out and about. We followed their tracks on the ice-covered shoreline of the river and in the adjacent forest.  In total, we saw the tracks of 12 different mammals and saw 4 bird species:

  1. Cat
  2. Deer Mouse
  3. Cotton Tail Rabbit
  4. Raccoon
  5. Domestic dog
  6. Skunk
  7. Mink
  8. Red squirrel – caching a dryad’s saddle mushroom
  9. Grey squirrel
  10. Chipmunk
  11. Porcupine
  12. Deer (Carcass)
  13. Robin
  14. Turkey Vulture
  15. Raven
  16. Crow
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Valerie demonstrating how a rabbit moves.

Chris spotted a raven which provided a good reminder to look up and listen for bird language while pursuing mammal tracks. We back-tracked a crow’s trail to where its tracks emerged from beneath a cedar tree.  One member, Marcus followed the tracks further and discovered a deer carcass that we might have missed. 

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Observing crow tracks and a deer carcass.

Thank you to everyone for coming and sharing your knowledge and your stories.  It was a very fun morning spent tracking beside the beautiful Eramosa river.