|Fisher Cat Trail|
|42" Between Prints|
I followed her tracks for several miles, sometimes in open areas, sometimes in dense trees, but always going from tree to tree. She would frequently dig around in the snow looking for a squirrel or mouse, and occasionally she would tunnel under the snow or under a tree stump. Here she tunneled along under a fallen tree for a good 12 feet.
|Searching for Rodents under a Fallen Tree|
|Imprint from jumping our of a tree|
This is how I could estimate the size of this fisher cat (the largest member of weasel family that lives in New England).
In one instance I could see that she had leaped onto a tree as well, as blown snow had stuck to the side of the tree, and she left four clear paw prints in the snow where she landed before jumping higher up on the trunk.
Fisher cats have a swivel joint in their rear ankle (reference Rezendes, "Tracking and the Art of Seeing") which lets them climb down trees head-first as well as up them.
She led me on quite a tour of the south east side of Lake Wicwas: up hills, along ridges, to the shore line (where she hunted for mice under a tree blown over by the July 2012 storm), along streams and across marshes.
This sample however, had feathers in it:
In a large stand of hemlock trees, I believe I found either her home territory, or a favorite hunting ground, as there were tracks everywhere. And I could see why - there were signs of red squirrels everywhere as well, with debris from pine cones, and lots of holes where squirrels live and hide.
I'll close for now with the satisfaction of knowing that all the bird feeding (and squirrel feeding) that we do finds it way up the food chain, whether it's fox, hawks, or fisher cats!