Wildlife Tracking Walk

Tracking river otter at Quabbin Reservoir

We are proud to feature Winterberry Wildlife Tracking Programs!

Welcome to Winterberry Wildlife Tracking Programs! Winterberry’s self-sponsored Quabbin programs are suitable for adults of all levels of experience. Programs sponsored by other groups may be added at any time, so check back periodically, and suitability will be as indicated in the program description.

  • Scroll down to read the program descriptions and to register.
  • Click here to meet our leaders.
  • If you are an organization interested in having us lead a tracking walk or give a talk on wildlife tracking or camera trapping, email us at Janet (at) OurOneAcreFarm (dot) com. Walks and talks can be tailored to your needs.

Winter 2017-2018 Program Schedule

Tracking Walks

All programs will last about 5 hours. Because these excursions involve bushwhacking and searching for tracks and sign, we follow a planned route only approximately. Therefore, we cannot promise to have you back at the parking area at exactly 3:00 PM, though we will do our best. Please plan accordingly, leaving at least an additional half hour before you must leave.

This program is now full. Black Bears: Sunday, November 5, 2017, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Location: Quabbin Reservoir, Petersham, MA (details and directions provided after registration is complete). Suitability: Adults of all experience levels. Program Description: Join us for a day of tracking, in an area where we are likely to see plenty of bear sign. Bears are feeding heavily at this time of year, in preparation for their winter sleep. Mark trails, mark trees, climbing marks, scats, and tracks are all possibilities. We’ll discuss black bear ecology, including feeding, breeding, and communicating. Cost: $35 per person. Leaders: Janet and Susan. Level of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, mostly off trail, bushwhacking through dense forest. Don’t forget to reserve your spot by registering and paying here.

Deer and Moose:Saturday, December 2, 2017, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Location: Quabbin Reservoir, Petersham, MA (details and directions provided after registration is complete). Suitability: Adults of all experience levels. What we’ll do: We’ll learn about the biology of these two species of hoofed mammals, and compare and contrast them. Deer and moose sign are quite common in many parts of the Quabbin, so we’ll likely find many examples, which we’ll use as a spring board for discussion. At this time of year, moose are well past the rut, and the deer rut is drawing to a close, but there’s still a chance we’ll be able to identify an old deer scrape or moose wallow. Both species are turning to woody forage and mast, if available, which they must rely on till spring green up. We’ll discuss how these animals cope with the challenges of winter, and if there’s snow cover, we might see evidence of that. Cost: $35 per person. Limit: 8 participants, ages 18 and up. Leaders: Janet, Susan, and Bob. Level of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, mostly off trail, bushwhacking through dense forest. Don’t forget to reserve your spot by registering and paying here.

Wild Canids:Saturday, January 13, 2018, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Location: Quabbin Reservoir, Petersham, MA (details and directions provided after registration is complete). Suitability: Adults of all experience levels. What we’ll do: Massachusetts is home to three species of wild canid. The eastern coyote gets about a quarter of its DNA from the wolf, a small amount from the domestic dog, and the rest from the western coyote. Such an ancestry makes it an incredibly adaptable animal, intermediate in size and flexible in behavior and social structure. The cat-like gray fox is more secretive than the red fox, but the former has a stronger presence at the Quabbin. We’ll likely find tracks and sign of at least one of these canids, and will use them to guide our discussion. Cost: $35 per person. Limit: 8 participants, ages 18 and up. Leaders: Janet, Susan, and Bob. Level of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, mostly off trail, bushwhacking through dense forest. Don’t forget to reserve your spot by registering and paying here.

Bobcats:Sunday, February 11, 2018. 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Location: Quabbin Reservoir, Petersham, MA. (details and directions provided after registration is complete) Suitability: Adults of all levels of experience. What we’ll do: At home in both wilderness and leafy suburbs, the bobcat is the most successful wild cat in North America. Its beauty, grace, and elusive nature capture the hearts and minds of many trackers, ourselves among them. The species seems to do particularly well at the Quabbin and in suitable conditions, there’s a strong likelihood of finding tracks. Where snow is patchy, we may be able to fill in the blanks by sniffing for the distinctive odor of its urine, which it sprays liberally along travel routes. Scats and scrapes are also possible finds, and at this time of year, the breeding season, there’s a chance of seeing tracks of a mating pair. Cost: $35 per person. Limit: 8 participants, ages 18 and up. Leaders: Janet, Susan, and Bob. Level of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, mostly off trail, bushwhacking through dense forest. Don’t forget to reserve your spot by registering here.

Rodents:Saturday, March 10, 2018. 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Location: Quabbin Reservoir, Petersham, MA. (details and directions provided after registration is complete) Suitability: Adults of all levels of experience. What we’ll do: This large and diverse family of mammals is well represented at the Quabbin, and we are sure to find evidence of several species, both large and small. Beavers, porcupines, voles, tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and mice all abound in the area, and we’ll explore both the common themes and their unique adaptations. Cost: $35 per person. Limit: 8 participants, ages 18 and up. Leaders: Janet, Susan, and Bob. Level of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, mostly off trail, bushwhacking through dense forest. Don’t forget to reserve your spot by registering here.

Mustelids:Saturday, April 7, 2018. 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Location: Quabbin Reservoir, Petersham, MA. (details and directions provided after registration is complete) Suitability: Adults of all levels of experience. What we’ll do: In Massachusetts, the mustelids, or weasel family, include the river otter, fisher, mink, long-tailed weasel, and short-tailed weasel. Early spring is an exciting time to study them, for it is the breeding season. Otters are scenting enthusiastically at seasonal latrines, fishers and mink are mating, and the smaller weasels are giving birth to litters conceived the previous summer. We are likely to find active otter latrines and, depending on substrate and conditions, tracks and sign of any of the mustelids. We’ll discuss both the similarities and differences among these species, to deepen our understanding and appreciation of this remarkable group of animals. Cost: $35 per person. Limit: 8 participants, ages 18 and up. Leaders: Janet, Susan, and Bob. Level of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, mostly off trail, bushwhacking through dense forest. Don’t forget to reserve your spot by registering here.