Saturday, August 8, 2009

Interesting poop and other things.

Eric and I spent the week hiking around our beloved Harriman State Park. There are more than 200 miles of trails through the park, so we have a lot of options for exploring. While trekking through the various landscapes of the park this week, I was particularly interested in the leavings of the park residents. Here are two piles of poop that I found especially fascinating:

A huge pile of bear poop, chock full of blueberry seeds, was right on the path. I am always amazed to see bear poop on a forest path, and love to imagine that a bear was standing (and pooping) right where I am hiking. I've only seen a bear once, and it was from a car window--the bear was galloping across the highway near my family's house in New Hampshire. (He made it safely across--not a very trafficky highway.)

And here is an interesting combination of blueberry turds and a very large (about 1.25 inches) beetle shell. After referring to my animal poop feld guide (one of my favorite books), I am going to guess that this is either fox or racoon poop. I'm curious about the beetle, though, which I imagine is some kind of large ground beetle. Was it attracted to the poop and then eaten by a predator? Or was it caught and eaten by the same animal that pooped here? Did the animal eat and poop at the same time? Or was this shell expelled along with this poop? (That last seems unlikely since it is in such good condition, but it is strange that the shell is scattered along with the turds.)

If you are curious about my animal poop field guide, it's Mammal Tracks and Sign: A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch. I have found it to be indispensable!

Photos by Eric.

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