The Mighty Tracker

“Quick, look at the bird feeder,” my guy said this morning.

I expected some exotic bird and chuckled to myself, a memory of our youngest son telling me about the huge gray bird with a black head and long, long tail that it was in the driveway last week. I showed him a picture of a catbird. Bingo.

So when I did look out the kitchen window, I was taken aback–a large black bear stood at the feeder. I know I should have taken it in a month ago, but took my chances. And then I ran for my camera, not remembering that I’d left it on the counter right next to where I’d been standing. Finally, camera in hand, I dashed out the back door.  And . . .

b-bear !

he’d moved on. At the stonewall, he gave me one backward glance before climbing over it. Consequently, the bear is in this photo on the other side of the wall, but I was so excited I forgot to focus it and my guy and I will be the only ones that truly know it.


But, I love to track mammals and so this afternoon I donned my tracking uniform and headed off on the trail to see what I might see.

b-bird feeder

I began at the spot of our first sighting–the bird feeder by the garden.

b-bear impression

All that my closer examination revealed was a few stomped leaves. No hair. Nothing else.


From there, I kept examining the grass on my way to the stone wall. And then the wall itself and the trees around it. Nada.

b-tree stump

Stepping over the wall, I tried to determine the bear’s next direction. Still nothing to see. And so I started checking the numerous tree stumps, figuring it was hungry and might have looked for ants or other insects. All the disturbance I saw was made prior to this morning.

b-hemlock cones

My next decision was to follow the cowpath east and then west, but still nothing to report. I did notice the baby hemlock cones showing off their aquamarine color.

p-gray squirrel

As I walked, I heard some commotion. Did you know that gray squirrels can make more noise than a black bear?

b-deer prints

When I got to the the ruts in the snowmobile trail, I thought I might finally find what I was looking for. Instead, I spotted plenty of deer prints and  . . .

b-squirrel prints

even those made by the squirrels.

b-wood frogs 1

Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to stop by the vernal pool, thinking perhaps the bear had done the same.

b-wood frog 2:gills

Nothing looked disturbed and the tadpoles showed off their latest growth. This might be the year wood frogs finally hop out of the pool.

b-blue-eyed grass

Not far from the pool, I discovered the first blue-eyed grass of the season.

b-turkey track

And as I returned, I went a bit beyond the cowpath and found turkey prints.

b-turkey and fox prints

There were some coyote prints as well, but one of my favorite print sightings was that of the turkey headed north and fox headed south. The fox print shows where the front foot came down and the hind foot fell almost directly into the same spot thus looking like two sets of front toes and nails pointed inward–direct registration.

Phew, I am the mighty tracker after all.

But that bear–it eluded me. It’s one for our mind’s eye as a memory shared and there it shall remain.


2 thoughts on “The Mighty Tracker

  1. Oh, Leigh! I feel your pain. Last summer, driving down our dirt road, I glanced to the side and saw what must have been a bear cub, coming down the banking….heading for the road. Of course, my iPad was in the back seat, and I couldn’t reach that far back to get it. So I watched it turn around, and head back up and behind the embankment. Like you, I was so disappointed, but I can still see it in my mind’s eye! ( Ben and I both think we can see your bear just over the wall……)

    Faith sent from my Ipad


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