One dozen students were gathered again this weekend for the second of a three day course on “tracking”. The event took place this time at the community hall in Sutton Junction. The lecture was in the morning and after lunch we went in search of tracks on the M.E.C.A. sites behind Louise Gratton’s home.

It is Louise and a colleague Isabelle Gregoire who arrange and give these 3-day courses. Both are biologists and between the two offer a great deal of knowledge of the natural world around us.

The subject of this past Saturday was “CATS and DOGS”, an exaustive talk on cougars, lynx, bobcat, wolf, fox and coyote occupied the 3 hours in the morning.

When it came time for afternoon in the field everyone had a realistic expectation of what we would see.

In the afternoon the conditions were ideal. The sun was all alone in the blue sky, the temperature just below freezing and the animal tracks were all about us. We found amongst other prints those of coyotes, one of fox and one of domestic “pooch”. There were no cat’s prints. There were signs of grouse, whitetail deer, mink, possibly fisher, black bear claw marks on both beech and black cherry trunks, and red squirrel. The excited chatter of the group went on for 2 1/2 hours before this member had to bid “au revoir” and leave.

This weekend was conducted in french and the same course would be held in english were twelve or so to get together and ask either Isabelle or Louise. The course itself, while very informative, was accompanied by an array of props (a coyote skull, fox pelt, etc.) and lots of publications in one or other languages. In particular are the very good local books by the Quebec government.

All in all a most interesting and satisfying day.

Ian