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Published January 28, 2010 More Info »
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Published January 28, 2010
So I am sure that some of you have seen my latest video "Last Hike for Mr.Spike".  If you have not, check it out!  Its a sad little video about my little porcupine buddy that was torn to pieces by what is known as a fisher.  A fisher is a stealthy weasel found all over north america.  They are known for killing small to mid size animals and are actually moving into cities and destroying family pets and nipping at children. Many forests and conservation areas are actually introducing fishers to control the porcupine population as they are one of the only animals in north america that are stealthy, brave and crazy enough to kill a porcupine.  They will nip at the face of a porcupine until it is weakened, they flip it on too its back and tear the belly out of it. This is what happened to my little friend Mr.Spike.  So, I have tracked this fisher's foot prints to a tree with a large squirrel nest up top (Im sure the squirrel became a quick dinner then was evicted) I am going to try to go back to this tree today, track some more footprints and see if I can get some live footage of him.  

This is what a Fisher looks like... Stay tuned, hopefully I will be lucky enough to show you some live footage... This is just a picture, not the actual one Im looking for.



Day 1 - Jan 29 / 2010

The Hunt begins.  Its cold today, very cold.  With the wind chill we are capping out at a freezing -30.  I bundled up well today.  Beater, T-Shirt, Hoodie, and my winter coat.  Long-J's, Pj bottoms and jeans. Toque and very warm mittens. Off to the trail.  The Trail that the elusive Fisher is living is called Sasparilla Trail.  
I drive there, park my car and strap on my snowshoes.  Grab my ski poles, my camera and my backpack with food and seed (in case I bump into any more hungry friends).
Marching through the snow and trees was creepy today.  Because of the extreme deep freeze, it was very quiet.  The birds were silent and hidden, there were no deer to be seen.  The only sound was my snowshoes squeeking on the snow.
After walking for 15 minutes, I finally discovered some fresh paw prints tracking through the snow.  They were fisher tracks.  I began to follow them slowly.  I followed them for about 10 more minutes when I stumbled across another set of fisher tracks.  These tracks were smaller.  SO now I know for sure that there are 2 in the area that I have been investigating.  Either Male and Female, or Female and baby.  All tracks so far have lead to a large tree close to the frozen pond.  Only the female fishers climb and live in trees. So I'm guessing that I am looking for a Mother and her baby.
After a few more minutes, I stumble across 2 more of the fishers kills...(lets name her, cause I think this journal is going to be going on for a while before I finally see one and video her) We shall call her Betty.

This is what I found today near the tree that they live in or near....

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These are whats left of 2 Large rabbits that fell victim to Betty.  

I was following my snowshoe tracks back when I noticed something... Fresh tracks that had looped around and were following me!  Betty was curious, and tracking me! Clever little devil,  this is going to be a very fun, and interesting tour... 

More to follow tomorrow... Jeff.....out.

Day 2 - Jan 30 / 2010

Another cold day in Ottawa.  Temperature with wind chill is aprox -25.  Its a very sunny and beautiful day to continue my search for Betty and her mate or child.  Again today, I am the only idiot crazy enough to be out on the trails braving the cold.  Fully bundled up I strap on my snowshoes and venture off the trail and into the brush.  Its really cold today, my hands are killing even with gloves on.  I march back to the area that I have seen Betty's tracks in the snow.  I want to show you what I'm seeing in the snow but tracks in white snow are hard to see so today I brought a spray bottle with water and green food color (not harmful to any animal that may be curious) and I sprayed in a few paw prints for you too see.

Picture_093.jpg  Picture_092.jpg 

The above are pictures of Betty's paw prints.  Sorry they could not be better, but it gives you an idea.  If you want to see larger pictures, they are in my profile pictures.

I'm starting to think that it is too cold for any action today.  I keep on snowshoeing through the brush.  Although its cold and quiet today, I am really enjoying being outside knowing that nobody has stepped where I am for months, maybe years.  

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The above is a picture of my snowshoe tracks.  There are also Fisher tracks to the right. 

Not having much luck today, I start to head back.  I notice some fresh tracks in the snow so  I decide to follow them for a few minutes and see where they lead.  I was very excited to find they they lead to a huge broken down rotten stump that was hollowed out.  There were rabbit tracks all around it and inside, there was nesting material.  The fisher tracks lead to this stump so now I have another place I can keep an eye on. 

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This is the stump that has become a winter home to some rabbits in the area.  Be careful little friends, hungry mouths are watching.

After this, I headed back to my car.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a little warmer.  Its so much more enjoyable when the birds (Nature's Stereo) are pumping while you hike.

Enough for today..... Jeff.......out.
 
Day 3 - Jan 31 / 2010 The Day Off

 Today I decided to take a day off and go and visit my friends, the Chickadees.  I miss the little critters.  So off I went.  It is very warm today, -10.  I strapped on my snowshoes and headed off into the woods.  This time I went to a trail called Rideau Trail.  Its a nice trail, very wooded and full of birds and deer.  I headed off deep into the brush.  Very isolated and creepy.  I came across an uprooted tree.  It looked like it had a door in it.  Very cool to look at...Im such a dork.

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The above is the cool uprooted tree with the amazing door at the front.

Then I heard in the distance the songs of the chickadees.  Using a bird call that my father taught me the birds soon were all around me.  I got a hand full of sunflower seeds ready and continued to use the bird call... it sounds like "Sheep Sheep Sheep" Try it, it really works for many types of small birds, especially chickadees and nuthatches.

Picture_103.jpg 

Its truly amazing how much these little guys trust humans.  This little guy sat on my hand for about a minute.  I named him Flicker. 

Then I ventured further into the brush.  There were no longer deer tracks or deer poop, kinda weird.  Then I heard one of the scariest sounds you could ever hear when your deep in the woods in an area called "Stony Swamp".  CRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!!
I honestly did not know what to do, but I realized that I was no longer on solid ground, I was on a not so frozen pond.  Shit...My snowshoes fell through and I jumped in time to a mound of snow that was solid.  Good thinking Young Jedi.  Instead of Fleeing the area, I took a picture for you! HAHAHAHAHAH!!! 

Picture_104.jpg 

This is a picture of the broken ice where I fell through and my snowshoe.  That was a close one! 

Then I started to head back, as I was a little worried about the ground I was walking on.  Mother Nature did not want me in the area, I know this because of the Stump I came across.  It was clear that Mother Nature was sending me a message......
 
Picture_101.jpg 

Look at this picture sideways (tilt your head) It was totally giving me the finger! It made me smile, I gave it the finger back. 

Then I saw something kinda cool, I saw a tiny little mouse scurrying through the snow.  And ran right into a little snow dug fort.  It was really cool.  

Picture_106.jpg 

See the little hole? Thats where the little fella ran into. He has probably filled the hole with pine needles and twigs.  It was really amazing to see the little guy running through the snow.

Thats my tour today, Back to the hunt tomorrow... Thanks for reading.

Jeff...........out.

Day 4 - Feb 4 / 2010
 
What an amazing hike today.  The air was brisk, but not too cold.  I strapped on my snowshoes and hiked into the forest.  Back to the hunt.  I marched back to where I have seen Betty's tracks.  There were some new ones today.  I followed them onto the frozen pond.  Very nervous because of what happened last time I was out... lets hope the ice is secure this time.  After walking a few minutes through the cat tails, I see a large brown lump in the snow...Betty has killed again.  It was a Great Canadian Beaver.  The head and tail had been chewed off and the under belly gutted.  

Picture_107.jpg 

This is a picture of the destroyed beaver..

After seeing this beaver, or what was left of it, I decided to take the advice of FOD's "Kooldad" and place a can of cat food in the snow.  I will go back tomorrow to see if Betty has enjoyed the cat food I placed in near the stump.  The green is water and food color, not harmful to animals.

Picture_108.jpg 

The above is tuna/salmon cat food for Betty to snack on.  Follow the arrow! I'm sucha tool bag...

The I started walking back and all of a sudden, I found a small opening.. I ducked under some branches and ventured in to find something pretty disgusting.. The skull of a rabbit that had been cleaned to the bone.  The skin and brains had been totally devoured.  

Picture_109.jpg 

This is the skull of the rabbit that was dinner for somebody. SHHHHH Be vewy vewy quiet! 

Finally, something happy to report! After weeks of not having a porcupine friend, I finally found another one! They usually stay in the same area, so I will see visit him tomorrow to see if he is closer to the ground.  Id love to introduce myself :-)

Picture_110.jpg 

Its very hard to see, but towards the top/middle of the picture you will see a black lump...thats my new porcupine friend! 

As I was on my way back to my car, I discovered a really cool looking tree that had fallen and was covered with snow.... Nothing important, just a cool picture..

Picture_111.jpg 

Just a interesting picture of a tree... 

I was also lucky enough today to have another type of bird land on my hand, this is a picture of myself feeding a Nuthatch.  They look similar to the chickadee but have a blue color to them and a very different sound.  The chickadee sounds like "Chick a dee dee dee" and the Nuthatch sounds like " Ehh Ehh Ehh"

Picture_112.jpg 

That was todays tour, Jeff............out.

Day 5 - Feb 9 / 2010 
 
Getting frustrated. There are tracks everywhere but no sign of Betty or any other fisher for that matter.  There has to be dozens of them in the woods that I frequent.  Small tracks, big tracks...they are everywhere.  I went quickly to the area that I have been monitoring and as expected, another kill.  I found the wing of a large black bird, (crow, raven, wood pecker) not sure really.  My father would know, he is a wild life expert.  I will send him the picture and update this blog when he answers me.  

MY FATHER GOT BACK TO ME.  IF IT WAS A Pileated WOODPECKER, IT WOULD HAVE HAD WHITE ON THE WING.  THIS IS MOST LIKELY THE WING OF A COMMON CROW.

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This is the wing I found surrounded by fisher tracks.

A few days ago, I placed a lump of cat food in a cleared area marked "YUM" with an arrow, I went back today and a fisher had eaten it.  There were tracks all around and it was gone.  I had no question that they would eat it, but I wanted to make sure that they were still in the area and I was not wasting my time. 

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Same area as before, the "Yum" is very faded and the cat food is now gone.  

Time to search another area of the forest.  I ventured into a very wooded area.  Away from the frozen swamp.  As soon as I pounded through some brush,  the creepiest tree in the world was staring at me.  No really, it was staring at me.  Go and see the big version in my profile, seriously.  
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This is the creepy tree that was looking at me, woodpeckers have a very creepy sense of humor.

My father has sent me a really sweet tracking book that teaches you how to find animals by their footprints, behavior or POOP.  This actually helped me today finding deer and a new porcupine.  
The deer poop, if dark brown and wet, means they have been around lately.  Makes sense.
The porcupine poop i found very interesting (what is wrong with me).  Because porcupines are often high in the trees, their poop truly are "droppings" and fall high from the trees and make an indent in the snow! So as I was walking, I noticed tons of pits in the snow.  At a closer glance, it was sunken poop in the snow. :-)  I looked up and their was a spiky new friend in the trees.  

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 Deer Poop, Dark and Shiny! The deer were about 5 minutes up the path.


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This is the porcupine Poop! Look out Below!!!!! 

After this, I fed a few birds and hiked back to my car.  Not a very eventful day, but always amazing to be away from a stupid computer and out in the wild where everything is as it should be.

All for now, Jeff .........out.

Day 6 - Feb 14 / 2010
 
What a nice day for a walk.  I pack my gear and a couple of carrots and hit the trails.  I wanted to go back and see if my newest porcupine friend has survived the past few days.  I strapped on my snowshoes and ventured into the brush.  The only way that I would find this den is to follow my snowshoe tracks from the previous visit as it is very deep in.  After about 1/2 an hour, I come across the den..... He is still alive!  I was sure that I was going to be walking into a blood bath.  

Picture_134.jpg  Picture_135.jpg 

The above is 2 current pictures of my newest forest friend.  He is still alive....for now.

After seeing my little buddy,  I made a new path.  Got wapped in the face a few times with some branches, split my lip open. I looked totally hardcore and bloody! Sweet.  After 15 minutes or so I noticed some fur in the snow... not moving of course.  Another fisher kill... Rabbit.

Picture_138.jpg

This is the destroyed rabbit I stumbled across, he was REALLY torn apart.

I followed the tracks leaving the scene of the crime.  They lead me to a hollowed out tree with nesting material inside.  I know where this fisher lives now.  Ill check in next time I go to visit my spiky friend.

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This is the tree that I'm almost positive a fisher lives in.  

I started to head back now.  All of a sudden I heard a loud noise. Scared me a bit as I am a tiny wimp :)
It was nothing more then a big white tail deer.  They truly are beautiful animals.

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Hard to see, but in the middle of the pictures, there is a large white tail deer.  This one wanted to have nothing to do with me.  

The last thing that I found was really interesting to me (but really, in the forest, what isn't) I actually found the full rack of a buck!  I put it in my backpack and brought it home.  I don't know why really, just thought it was really cool.   Maybe I will use it as an arse scratcher!  


Picture_140.jpg 

The antlers I found!  I actually just read up on antlers and why or how they fall off.  Deer actually drop their antlers once a year.  Larger deer in February/March and smaller deer later in the spring.  Every year they grow back one "Point" bigger.  Antlers are made of bone matter.  

I am going to go out later tonight or tomorrow night (in the dark) to see if I can see or at least hear the fisher.  I'm kinda nervous, being in the dark with this thing may be a stupid idea.  

All for now, Jeff.......out.

 








 

 

 

 
 
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