4.27.2008

Moose and porcupine on video: Little River State Park

This past week I was wandering around my condo complex one night after dinner and, in a patch of muddy earth, I saw the large hoof prints of a moose. I did see a moose in the parking lot of the complex one night last year, but, it's not like I live in a log cabin at the end of a dirt road: It's a manicured, suburban condominium that is a very short walk from the busiest tourist attraction in the state of Vermont. Also the local media have covered the recent incursions of moose into the more urban areas of the state (downtown Burlington, the airport, etc.) quite gleefully; most days count as 'slow news days' in Vermont so I guess that these recurring events do constitute some sort of 'news'.

So, knowing the animals are out and about at this time of year, and also having a pretty good idea of where the moose like to hang out, I got up very early this morning (on the road a 5:30 am), and was hiking in through a cold drizzle in the morning twilight, trying to find some moose, and equipped with both my cameras.

When I arrived at the swampy moose meadow there were plenty of moose sign around... but no moose. As I worked my way up an old logging cut, however, I heard something, and then noticed at impressive set of claws shuffling up a birch tree: A large and very sloth-like porcupine, a rather comical creature. I actually tried to wait this animal out of its tree but the rodent was having none of that: It was quite comfortable up in the canopy and I soon got cold standing around watching the somnolent quilly mass from a distance.

After criss-crossing the moose meadow and not finding what I was looking for (ie, something more exciting than hoof prints, browsed saplings and moose droppings) I started heading back via a circuitous route. The area is a drainage with many streams to cross; I managed to fill one of my boots with water (ie, melted snow) at one steam crossing, which only heightened my sense that I should have stayed home in bed.

As I scrambled out of a gully, however, I came up on a young bull moose quietly browsing in the forest. I was quite surprised because I wouldn't have thought this patch of woods (open, mature hardwoods) to be particularly appealing for moose, but I did manage to get out my cameras and take some photos & video.

The more richly saturated colors that come out of my Canon Powershot s3is, the camera's portability and versatility makes it a handy tool to have.

The flatter tones that come out of the Pentax K100d, and the lens may also affect color. These were taken at about 9 am and it was still cloudy and quite dark in the woods, and at a distance of maybe 75 or 100 yards.

(I reprocessed this image to make it more saturated & colorful.) I have come up on moose three times while hiking alone and if one is quiet and moves slowly they don't seem to take too much notice of people. This animal watched me watch him for several minutes and wasn't agitated at all.


Moose and Porcupine from JG on Vimeo.

In another week or so the spring wildflowers will be out, the trilliums have made a good start on the season. Of course, there is mention of a chance of snow in the weather forecast for the coming week, so time will tell.

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