East End Eco-Ventures

Join us to explore the east end of Long Island through nature-based outdoor adventures and educational activities.


Finally, Some Winter Tracking

I’ve recently been on the lookout for a solid example of gray squirrel striping. Gray squirrels tend to utilize the most gnarly tree in their territory to use as a scenting/marking post, so you’d expect they would be hard to miss. Perhaps my search image is not quite developed enough yet… The only other tree I’ve found in the area with this sign is the distinguished (and diseased) American Chestnut on the Center Trail in Stony Hill which is a very distinctly shaped tree that is hard to go unnoticed, especially being adjacent to the trail. However, I only noticed the gray squirrel striping on its main trunk last winter after I was introduced to this gray squirrel-specific behavior. Below is another example of this behavior that I found in Stony Hill on an oak (also diseased) with a very distinct, large burl. Notice the reddish color on the underside of the burl as well as the darker tint beneath the burl on the lower section of the trunk.

photoUpon closer inspection, I found the reddish color was actually gray squirrel teeth marks exposing the inner bark. The darker coloration below that is believed to be the result of the squirrel rubbing the side of it’s mouth/cheek on the bark for scenting purposes. 
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Further along on my adventure, I spotted a gray squirrel scat at the base of another oak, along with some tracks and an exposed acorn cash giving it away.

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This may be the most fresh squirrel scat I have found yet.

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Along with lots of gray squirrel, perhaps the most abundant track and sign was that of white-tailed deer. Below is a fresh antler scrape on a sapling with the tracks of the buck continuing up the hill to the left. I apologize for the picture quality…

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Here, you can see the bark shavings freshly scattered on the snow beneath the sapling. photo-3

I’m going to do my best to keep these tracking posts coming, especially when we have snow.


Wildlife Track and Sign Workshop – May 14, 2016

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Trackers investigate the small trail of a diamondback terrapin hatchling. 

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Larger turtle track lacking a drag mark of the plastron – likely a snapping turtle.

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A diamond back terrapin hatchling made an appearance. 

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Shorebird tracks of a willet, showing partial webbing between toes 3 and 4.

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Measuring the willet track length – not including the 1st toe.


Reading Wildlife Track and Sign Workshop

Reading Wildlife Track and Sign Workshop

Saturday    May 14, 2016      9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Instructors: Mike Bottini, Juliana Duryea, Callie Velmachos.
Location: Sagaponack – Sag Harbor area.
Fee: $40 ($36 for LINO members).

ONLINE REGISTRATION IS AT www.longislandnature.org

red fox trot

The Red Fox’s typical hunting gait: direct register trot.

This field workshop is designed for naturalists, environmental and outdoor educators, amateur trackers and citizen scientists, professional biologists, and students (minimum age of 16) seeking to increase their wildlife tracking and observation skills, and sign knowledge.

We will visit three different sites in the Long Pond Greenbelt area, including a pond shoreline, beach, and a river otter latrine site.

Topics that will be covered include:

– how to examine tracks (habitat, trail patterns, print details)

– understanding gaits

– distinguishing various feeding and marking sign

– identifying scat and tracks of over dozen wildlife species.

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The Raccoon’s overstep walk track pattern.

For more information or questions contact Mike Bottini at mike@mikebottini.com or 631-267-5228.


Some Winter Tracking

 

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We trailed a pair of red foxes to this fresh deer carcass (which had a fractured femur – most likely hit by a car). Delicately placed on top of the hind quarters of the deer was this fresh scat, perhaps the red fox’s claim to its food source.

 

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While trailing these foxes, we found several scent marks (confirmed as they have an unmistakably skunky, wild canine smell) as well as several dens (one of which will be used to raise their young during the next few months). The photo above depicts a possible sit spot where this individual fox (the smaller of the two) may have stopped to preen itself and/or be still and observe it’s surroundings.

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The deer carcass shown above also had a raptor feeding on it. This red-tailed hawk print is one of many tracks directly surrounding the site.

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Front (top) and hind (bottom) prints of  one of our most ancient species: the Virginia opossum.

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This trail was confirmation of a suspected inhabitant we documented several days before: the southern flying squirrel. Notice the landing spot (bottom) then bounds toward the base of the tree where it likely climbed back up into the canopy.

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This small rodent track in a bounding pattern, most likely a vole or mouse, was found meandering around the base of trees and in and out of small shrubs and holes in the snow.

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Here is where the same rodent trotted down a small snow drift adjacent to a tree.

 


READING WILDLIFE TRACK & SIGN WORKSHOP

Sunday July 19, 2015

8:30 am – 4:30 pm

(sponsored by Long Island Nature Organization)

Location: The Walking Dunes, Hither Hills State Park
Fee: $130 ($117 for LINO members).

ONLINE REGISTRATION IS AT www.longislandnature.org

These courses are taught by George Leoniak (www.leoniaktracking.com), one of the six CyberTracker evaluators in North America, and provide participants the opportunity to pursue Track and Sign Certification from CyberTracker Conservation, a globally recognized non-profit that established the international standard for assessing wildlife tracking and sign skills. Participants in the one-day course will have the opportunity to test for Level I certification.

In wildlife research and monitoring, natural sign surveys are an effective means of collecting data on the presence, range and distribution of animal species. However, there are concerns about the integrity of the data from these types of surveys. In response to these concerns, the CyberTracker Conservation Evaluation System was designed to establish reliable, standardized tracking skills.

These workshops are open to naturalists, environmental and outdoor educators, amateur trackers and citizen scientists, professional biologists, and students (minimum age of 16) seeking to increase their wildlife tracking and observation skills, and sign knowledge. Over 60 wildlife biologists, natural resource managers, educators and interested naturalists have taken this popular program on Long Island since March 2014.

LINO founder and wildlife biologist Mike Bottini took this workshop in New Hampshire in February 2014, and invited instructor George Leoniak to Long Island that spring to offer it here. “This is the best field naturalist workshop I’ve ever taken,” says Bottini. “George is an amazing instructor. I realized its potential to train naturalists on Long Island to help document the distribution of rare and elusive species here, such as the gray fox, river otter, and some day soon a breeding population of coyotes.”

“I enjoyed the course a very great deal. It opened my eyes to the richness of information that tracks and signs can reveal–if you know how to read them. I look forward to learning more.” Betty Borowsky, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology, Nassau Community College

For more information or questions contact Mike Bottini at

mike@peconic.org or 631-267-5228.

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River Otters on Long Island

River otter at Mashomack, Shelter Island

A river otter photographed with a wildlife camera at Mashomack Preserve, Shelter Island, NY as part of the Long Island River Otter Project.

Saturday, March 14, 9-11 AM 

at the Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island

Otters can be found at Mashomack! Join Mike Bottini, wildlife biologist, for a talk and short field trip to learn about the natural history of the river otter, its history on Long Island and in NY and the current research efforts on behalf of this fascinating mammal.

For more information on the Long Island River Otter Project, visit Mike Bottini’s website here. 

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Mike Bottini measures the entrance hole to a nesting den used by a river otter in Southold, NY.


River Otters on Long Island

Saturday, January 31, 2015 @ 7:00PM

South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO)

377 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike

River Otters are slowly making a comeback on Long Island. Join Mike Bottini for a talk about the natural history of this fascinating creature, its history on Long Island and in New York State, how to survey areas for this elusive animal, and current research efforts on behalf of the river otter.

River otter at Mashomack, Shelter Island

River otter at Mashomack, Shelter Island – Mike Bottini photo

Reservations are necessary through SOFO. Please call (631) 537-9735. Members of SOFO admitted free. Non-members charged $7 per adult, $5 per child under 12 years.


Coyotes are coming!

Coyotes are Coming!

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Help track their colonization on Long Island.

The coyote (Canis latrans) has greatly expanded its range in North America over the last century, and it is now found in every state except Hawaii as well as every Canadian province. A breeding population of coyotes has been established in the Bronx for some years, and individual coyotes have been residing in Queens since 2009, and on the south fork since 2013.

Long Island is now one of the few large land masses in the continental U.S. without a breeding population of coyotes. Assuming that situation will change soon, this presents a unique opportunity to gather pre-coyote colonization data for Long Island and to document the ecological impacts of the coyote’s arrival here.

Recognizing this, a number of interested wildlife biologists have formed a Long Island Coyote Study Group to gather information, and we are offering this workshop to help train people to identify coyotes, their tracks and their sign.

Recognizing Coyote Track & Sign Workshops

Dates: Session I: Saturday, January 10 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Session II: Sunday, January 11 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Location: Mianus River Gorge Preserve, Bedford, NY www.mianus.org

Instructor: George Leoniak www.leoniaktracking.com

Fee: $120/day ($108 for LINO members)

Enrollment is limited; register at LongIslandNature.org now.

This one-day workshop is being offered in conjunction with the Long Island Coyote Study Group and will focus on deciphering the field signs of Coyote compared to other similar species. We will examine the tracks, scats, behaviors, gaits, and other signs of canids in this region (Red Fox, Grey Fox and Domestic Dog) and learn how to differentiate them from that of Coyote. The signs of other non-canid species (Felids, Mustelids, etc.) will be discussed since many can often be confused with canids. The day will be primarily spent in the field looking at and for signs of the target species. A short slide show will show some of the signs we may not get to see in the field, and a number of other teaching tools, such as plaster casts of tracks, will be used to describe diagnostic features used to identify these species by their tracks. We’ll also cover some of the basics of animal tracking which will provide a foundation for beginners to get started, but it will also provide plenty of information for those that may be more

experienced. Overall, participants will gain solid field skills in identifying and interpreting tracks and signs of Coyote and a number of other species in the region.

About the Instructor

George Leoniak is one of only six certified track and sign evaluators in North America affiliated with CyberTracker Conservation, a globally recognized non-profit that established the international standard for assessing wildlife tracking and sign skills. He has evaluated hundreds of wildlife resource managers, field biologists and educators in locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, and has taught Field Mammalogy at the Antioch/New England Graduate School in Keene, N.H.

In the spring of 2014, George was invited by LINO to offer the CyberTracker Reading Wildlife Track & Sign evaluation workshop on Long Island. This year, over fifty people have taken his popular field course, including staff from The Nature Conservancy, Quogue Wildlife Refuge, Group for the East End, Ross School, Nassau Community College, Hofstra University, East Hampton and Southampton Natural Resource Departments, and other Long Island-based conservation organizations. The May course was highlighted in an article in Newsday.


Reading Wildlife Track and Sign Nov. 7-8

Reading Wildlife Track and Sign

Who made this track?

Who’s made this track?

Friday November 7 8:30 am–4:30 pm

Saturday & Sunday  November 8-9 8:30 am–4:30 pm

Instructor: George Leoniak   www.leoniaktracking.com

Location: The Oyster Bay–Cold Spring Harbor area.

These courses are taught by George Leoniak, one of the six CyberTracker evaluators in North America, and provide participants the opportunity to pursue Track and Sign Certification from CyberTracker Conservation, a globally recognized non-profit that established the international standard for assessing wildlife tracking and sign skills. Participants in the one-day course will have the opportunity to test for Level I certification; those in the two-day can test for Level I through Level IV.

In wildlife research and monitoring, natural sign surveys are an effective means of collecting data on the presence, range, and distribution of animal species. However, there are concerns about the integrity of the data from these types of surveys. In response to these concerns, the CyberTracker Conservation Evaluation System was designed to establish reliable, standardized tracking skills.

These workshops are open to naturalists, environmental and outdoor educators, amateur trackers and citizen scientists, professional biologists, and students (minimum age of 16) seeking to increase their wildlife tracking and observation skills, and sign knowledge. Over 50 naturalists took this popular program on Long Island last spring.

Fee: $120 for Friday; $220 for Saturday & Sunday ($108 and $198 for LINO members).

For more information or questions contact Mike Bottini at mike@mikebottini.com or 631-267-5228.