Monday, May 4, 2015

Moose & Bear at Three Mile Pond, Sheffield

No, I saw neither a moose nor a bear on a walk on Three Mile Pond Wildlife Management Area in Sheffield last Sunday. But, I knew they were there!

The moose made itself know by leaving footprints in the soft mud along one part of the trail. The footprints were obviously very fresh, so I looked around but, it seems, the moose was long gone. Too bad! Three Mile Pond has a large swampy area at the northeastern part of the lake which looked like great moose habitat.

Moose track!
Now, how did I know that a bear was around? We saw many skunk cabbages pushing up through the wet soil in the woods. The purplish leaf hood (spathe) covers the tiny yellow flowers on a knobby growth (spadex). The flowers and the leaves give off a skunky, rotten meat smell that attracts insect pollinators.

Very few animals eat the leaves, but bears do. So I surmised that a bear had been around because of all the leaves that were bitten off. Some research also revealed that the Common Yellowthroat sometimes builds it's nest among the leaves. I didn't see that, though.

Here is the Skunk Cabbage spathe (mottled deep red)
with the spadex inside covered with small yellow flowers.

Here the emerging green leaves have been bitten off by a bear.
This rock was about 2.5  feet across with beautiful round lichen.
I could not believe how huge this burl is.
And it's in whimsical shapes too!

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