Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Notes from a frozen river

The (partially) frozen Musconetcong, a nationally recognized 
"Wild and Scenic River."

There is a whole world going on in an around the icy river these days, completely undeterred by the ice and snow. The snow actually helped to reveal creatures that I hadn't been aware of, like the river otter and a cave-dwelling red fox...

Otter scat and tracks along the riverbank.
Otter scat detail: it's filled with fish scales.
The otters' "snow slide."
A tiny cave in a riverside cliff with fox tracks leading into it.

A guy named Steve who was out walking by the river (the first self-described "tracker" I've ever chanced upon in the woods) kindly pointed me to this black duck carcass. I regularly see flocks of 10-15 black ducks on the river (along with dozens of Canada geese and the occasional common merganser), but never their ubiquitous cousin the mallard...

The remains of an American black duck found on iced-over eddy. 
Possibly killed by the fox that left prints all around it.
Close up of the iridescent patch on the black duck's wing.
A muskrat swimming comfortably in the icy waters.

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