Friday, January 15, 2016

Field Trip: Mud Pond in Williston

Grumpy old cattail herma
Mud Pond has been on my bucket list for a few years now, since I heard about the microburst damage there. Last week I finally made the trek out there with my sister, and wow was it totally worth it. We hopped off the trail after about a 100 yards following a set of gray squirrel tracks. It broke out of the hemlocks into the open of a red maple swamp. We quickly switched to a gray fox trail, which crossed fisher, mink, long tailed weasel, and red fox! The tracking was totally amazing with a ton of different habitats woven together.

The fox lead us down to a creek which ultimately drained into Mud Pond proper. There's a great mix of American elms and green ash in with the red maples. The ice on the creek was gorgeous and we spent a while photographing it before heading out on the dam to explore the old, abandoned beaver lodge. The mud caking the outside had largely washed away and we could poke our heads in to see the feeding platform. It's not often you get to look inside an old lodge, so that was wonderful. The rim of the pond is a dense tangle of cattails and sedges that as the land slopes up grades into an even denser tangle of alders and then maples.

Possibly a goldfinch nest in a speckled alder
The highlight was towards the end where I saw a long swoop carved gently into the snow. It started in a little patch between hemlocks about 4 feet before ending in a flurry of little squirrely tracks. These circled around themselves for awhile before disappearing up a tree. I've never seen definitive flying squirrel tracks, so it made the whole day worth it. Plus there were several bird splatterings on the snow filled with snow fleas (a type of springtail)! We wound up getting completely and utterly turned around for some reason, but eventually made our way back to the car.

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