Signs of Spring

I worked Saturday at Audubon.  Sure sign of Spring #1:  Cabin Fever!  Little Explorers had 70+ people and the parking lot was full!

I helped Sarah with the Little Explorer program, taking half the group to search for signs of wildlife… tracks, scat, chews, nests, holes, feathers, fur… that sort of thing.  As we headed out the Universal trail I spotted something fairly large, furry and black bounding on the ice…  Black.  Bounding… Had to be a mink.  As we rounded the pond, many of the folks in my group saw it again – this time with a mouse in its mouth!  I don’t usually carry a camera when I lead walks, because it can distract me from teaching, so, no pictures…  sadly…

Later, I decided to take my own private walk with my camera.  I went back to the pond where we had seen the mink.  By now, the ice that he had bounded over was melted… but I could still hear some commotion under the brush on the island where Mink had found his Mouse.  From under the branches came Muskrat.

Muskrat

 There were two in the pond.  This one came swimming right toward me, then disappeared into a pipe that connects the ponds.  I never did see that one come up again…

Around the bend, though, I had another encounter:

Muskrat

I watched for quite a while as this little critter came up on the bank to trim muddy mustard greens which he then took down to the water to dunk a few times before chowing them down.  Back and forth he went until he had eaten most of the greens in that grouping.

Then into the water…
Muskrat

I followed the path; he followed the edge of the pond beneath shrubs that stood in water because of recent flooding.  Then he spotted more greens.

Muskrat

These greens appeared clean and he didn’t seem to feel a need for taking them back for a dunking…

I could have stayed out all day… but duties called…  Spring is on the way!

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11 thoughts on “Signs of Spring

  1. It was nice to meet you and see that same little muskrat on Saturday. The center is truly an amazing place. I’m sure we’ll be back to visit again.

  2. Cute little buggers.I’m not even sure exactly what a muskrat is related to. I’ve seen them occasionally. I’m going to do a muskrat google. Hopefully Captain and Tenille don’t come up.

  3. I’m so glad you explained this was a muskrat Jennifer. I can imagine my husband and I on that walk, not knowing, asking “Is it an otter, or huge chipmunky creature, did we actually see a larger than life rat!”. It is wonderful to see creatures from other countries, and have them explained. I wonder sometimes, what others make of our Australian platypus!.

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