Wildlife photos from the Delaney WMA, Stow MA

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Chipmunks everywhere!

It’s a busy month for chipmunks. On our walks at Delaney I’ve been struck by how many chipmunks scold us from the trees after scampering out of our path with a mouth-pouch full of seeds or pine cone scales. This particular fellow didn’t bother retreating very high up the pine –
he just tucked into a crotch in the tree about 12 feet up and was content to watch as we passed by.

Yesterday we happened upon a pair of chipmunks who raced back to the nearest pine, and ran circles up and down the trunk until the dogs were completely bewildered. One chipmunk then raced up the inside curve of one of the multiple trunks on this pine tree, only to lose traction and slide back down again. The second attempt took him to safety.

Meet the Delaney Otters!

This photograph of three river otters emerging from the water at Delaney won first place in the Stow Conservation Trust’s 2010 photo contest.

Many people are surprised to learn that there are otters at Delaney. I was, too, the first time I found otter scat there. In the last two years, however, I’ve come to appreciate that otters are frequent visitors and make use of the entire Delaney shoreline. The more I look, the more I find the tell-tale plops of fish scales left behind by otters on the banks of Delaney’s main reservoir and along the streams and wetlands that feed it. (If your dog ever starts rolling around in ecstasy, and comes back smelling like a dead fish, that’s another good sign you’ve found otter scat!)

The spot where this photo was taken is unremarkable, and I would have walked right past it 9 out of 10 times. But one day I was walking the shoreline, and noticed a small patch of ground that didn’t have autumn leaves on it. That tipped me off that animals might be coming in and out of the water here. Over the next few weeks I captured images of raccoons and beaver visiting the spot. And on the morning of November 19th, these three river otters emerged from the water and posed together for the camera.

Rainbow over Delaney

I walked outside to a rare treat this morning – a sun shower with a full rainbow arcing across the sky. By the time I grabbed my camera and walked over to Delaney, clouds had started to blow in from the west, but there was still half a rainbow to enjoy from the boat ramp in the parking lot.

Two minutes later, another band of rain, wind, and clouds rolled in, and the rainbow disappeared forever.

Floating Leaf

There was a chill in the air and frost on the grass during our early-morning walk today. Dozens of mallards were noisily discussing the day’s flight plan prior to takeoff, and a few wood ducks in glorious plumage floated down Elizabeth Brook.

Wet Grass

Water droplets still cling to the grass in this early-morning photo from the main field at Delaney.

Deer Close-Up

This white-tailed deer took its own portrait when it wandered in front of a motion-sensing camera that had been placed along the edge of the Delaney pond.

Raccoon Latrine Beneath Pine Tree

Raccoons at Delaney spend the days curled up asleep in the branches of the tall white pines that ring the main pond. Raccoon scat can often be found on the landward side of the tree, as is the case here.

Deer crossing dry stream

These two deer follow a well-worn path through the woods, which leads them across this dry stream bed. Deer trails at Delaney are used by raccoon, coyote, and fox, as well as deer.

Raccoon crossing makeshift bridge

During months when there is a lot of rain, this raccoon crosses the stream using these fallen branches as a makeshift bridge. There’s no water in the stream now, but the raccoon crosses here out of habit.

Fawn

This fawn was photographed crossing a muddy bottom between two wooded areas in the northern part of Delaney.