April 7, 2002

MONO CLIFFS - 25th Sideroad entrance (North side)

Meeting report and photos by Alexis Burnett


 We had a small group of three people on this walk in the northern section of Mono Cliffs Park. We started out heading south down the Bruce trail across a large open meadow and decided to explore down along the escarpment/cliffs where we could get out of the wind (and we always find cool things in this area).

The temperature had dropped a little over-night and the morning sunshine had given way to some overcast skies and cold NW winds. As we traveled down the hillside we flushed out a grouse who had been feeding on the ground. 

We also came upon some wild turkey tracks (shown here)!


There were lots of tracks in the snow and we followed a few of them. Grouse, raccoon, porcupine, deer and squirrel were among the animals who were moving around in this area. We stopped to examine some "chews" on a large-toothed aspen tree and were not quite sure if they were made by rabbit/snowshoe hare or porcupine? The teeth marks seemed to not be too large, but we did not know the size variations of these three animals either. Some of the gnawings were near the ground while some others were higher up in the trees, we discounted rodents as a result of the teeth marks being too large.

We also found some apple twigs that had been browsed by a small rodent, perhaps a mouse?
As we moved on we noticed that there were a lot of grouse tracks moving along the tops of the cliffs in a curious, round-about way.

Here is a photo of the ruffed grouse track.


We sat for a while on top of some of these cliffs and watched the Turkey Vultures soar over-head riding the thermal updrafts caused by the cliffs. Later we came to an area where there were 6-8 Vultures up in the same tree. They seem to have certain trees that they like to hang out in. 

As we descended down into the valley bottom we stopped to admire the beauty of the rock walls and the plants that barely etch out a living in this tough environment.

We noticed a large stick nest, on a rock ledge that we guessed to be from a bird of prey and took note of its location hoping to come back in a few weeks and see if it is in use.


Along the base of the cliff we noticed a fairly well worn animal trail and a number of scats interspersed equidistant to each other all the way along the trail. Judging by size and location we guessed these to be coyote scats. He/she seemed to really want people to know that this was her territory! What do you think?
We came across some sumac trees that seemed to have their bark torn off the stems. The tender furry bark near the tips of the branches was chewed away by some animal. The bark seemed to be frayed at the ends and there were no signs of teeth marks. We did not know what to make of it. We wanted to say porcupine, but it didn't look like typical porcupine browse. With the frayed ends we thought that it could perhaps be a bird or maybe a squirrel, but then would the bark have a 'cut' or 'frayed' looking appearance? If you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.  (sorry, no picture)

Finally as we neared the road, along the edge of the tree-line, we came upon some beautiful fresh canine tracks traveling the edge of the field, stopping every so often to look out into the open area. Beautiful Tracks. We felt privileged that this animal left its tracks for us to discover. We have our guesses to the species of this animal, do you have yours?

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