Critters in the Maple Woods

by Tig Tillinghast

We wind up working in the woods all year round to husband the maples – and as importantly, the other trees and understory species that make for a diverse habitat. This diversity makes our maples much less prone to insect and disease damage. Anyhow, while fiddling in the sugar bush, we come across all sorts of animals. Here is a quick gallery of the ones we saw when we happened to have a camera nearby…

This turkey flushed before me and my two brittanies , who remained at the bottom of the tree, pointing upward. Her face says it all. After some convincing, I was able to get the dogs to follow me and give her some peace.

This is the snapping turtle we named Old Jesse. The picture doesn’t give a good representation of this fellow’s size. You could put your fist comfortably inside Jesse’s mouth, although I wouldn’t recommend it. He was, interestingly, halfway up Cook Hill in a small upland clearing, nowhere near any body of water. We named him after the sugaring oldtimer who used to own that land back when this turtle was an egg, last century.

This fox kit, and three of his siblings could be seen cavorting around the sugar house for a few weeks last spring. They weren’t shy at all. The mother fox was an extremely efficient grouse killer, bringing home bird meals several days in a row. We had a profusion of fox litters that year up and down our road. Unfortunately, and not very surprisingly, we also saw some sick/mangy foxes by late summer.

On our Strafford bush, we found this moose skeleton. Might be an ancestor of the ones whose tracks and scat we continue to see in the area.

Back behind one of the maple bushes is a rather high upland beaver pond with several tiers of dams holding back water to quite a height. I haven’t seen the critters yet, but I know where there lodge is. I hope to someday have the pleasure.