Animal Tracks talk

We drove to Bridgton after supper (and after planning supper for early enough so we could get there) for a presentation on animal tracks at the Lakes Environmental Association. It greatly exceeded our expectations.

When our kids were little, we went to several Canadian national parks and made an effort to go on ranger walks and go to the evening programs. We learned a lot about nature that way. More recently, we’ve been feeling that that kind of program was often rehashing things we already knew, that by now the presentation was below our level. The one tonight was not the least bit below our level. It’s not that you had to know as much as we did to benefit from it, but that David Brown covered material from the basics to lots of detail, so people with lots of levels of knowledge could all learn something.

He started by saying that he’s done these programs for several years, and he likes to focus on different things different times so it doesn’t get repetitive. This time he was talking about beaver ponds and what you might see around them, from beavers themselves to coyotes that might be hanging around hoping to catch an unwary beaver to otters and minks that need the water habitat and on to an excellent video that included closeups of several hard-to-see birds that live in the wetlands.

The speaker not only explained how to recognize different tracks, but showed how he read the stories of what had happened — places where at least three coyotes had been walking single file, leaving what looked like one set of tracks, and then had gone separate ways, and a place where several coyotes had gathered to socialize and howl at the moon, places where otters scratch their bellies on the ground, and other things you wouldn’t have been able to tell anything was going on unless someone pointed out what to look for.

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