January 12, 2011

Wildlife Tracking -- a wonderful winter adventure

Bored with winter in New England?  Looking for something exiting and unique?

I love to take early morning walks in freshly fallen snow and discover all the neighbors I did not know about.  Not being very educated in the art and science of wildlife tracking, I need the snow to help make me aware of the wonderful variety of life that surrounds us.

Tracks in the freshly fallen snow
Tracks in the freshly fallen snow

We are privileged to live in a town with thousands of acres of conservation land and my husband and I are privileged to be neighbors of Harvard Forest with miles of hiking trails right out our back door.

Because we live so close to nature, we see or hear wildlife on a daily basis.  Inn guests often ask us what animals that might see during a stay at Clamber Hill.  The list is long: fox, coyote, racoon, porcupine, bear, deer, moose, fisher cat, beaver (down the hill in the swamp) and of course a wide assortment of birds including owls, hawks and wild turkey.

The Elusive Fisher Cat
The Elusive Fisher Cat

And if you would like to discover more about this lost art of tracking, Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center is located right here in the North Quabbin region.  They have a wonderful calendar of programs for people of all ages and all levels of experience.  On January 15th there is a half-day introduction to tracking.  This requires no previous experience and is great for families.  It will be led by Nick & Valerie Wisniewski.

Clamber Hill is a great place to stay if you're attending any of the longer programs at the tracking center.  We'll get you up and out on time, yet you get to sleep in comfort and have wonderful meals before and after spending you day in the woods.

A flock of Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gal...

Image via Wikipedia

Some of the more advanced classes are led by nationally recognized tracking expert and wildlife photographer Paul Rezendes who wrote "Tracking and the Art of Seeing" in 1992.

"Ultimately, tracking an animal makes us sensitive to it
-- a bond is formed, an intimacy develops.
We begin to realize that what is happening to the animals
and to the planet is actually happening to us. We are all one.
Tracking and reading sign help us to learn not only about the animals
that walk in the forest -- what they are doing
and where they are going -- but also about ourselves.
For me, this interconnection is survival knowledge
and the true value of tracking an animal."
- Paul Rezendes, Tracking and the Art of Seeing

So if you are looking for something different to do this winter, plan a trip to Central Massachusetts and investigate the back roads and forests of the North Quabbin area.  You might be amazed at what you happen to see.

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