Muskrats and their tracks

The ends of the bridge rest on mounds of quarried granite stones of various size, in between of which there are many cavities suitable for muskrat lodges. In other places, mainly in swamps, muskrats have no other choice than to build castles as beavers do. Muskrat castles are smaller, and are not made of tree branches but of moss and stems of various aquatic plants (hundreds of such muskrat castles can be seen at the Oak Hammock Marsh mentioned on the previous page). Once I had the feeling that one of the stones, somewhat darker than the rest, near the eastern end of the bridge was watching me. When I was coming closer, that "stone" proved to be a muskrat who swiftly disappeared in a hole between other stones.

When summer temperatures returned here for a few days at the end of October 1998, I was sitting for quite a long time at the edge of water just south of point 4 enjoying sun. Suddenly I heard splashing some distance away approaching me. It was a muskrat swimming along the river bank, and constantly stopping and peeking curiously into all the tiny cuttings in the river bank. Because I sat motionlessly like a statue, it did not notice me even when passing by my feet. The way how it swam looked funny to me - as if it was tiptoeing on water.

Swimming muskrat The muskrat in this picture registered my presence before I noticed it when I was approaching the edge of the mound under the western end of the bridge. It must have consider me a danger because it started to race towards its hole in the river bank. I still managed to make this picture, and only saw the end of the muskrat's tail disappearing between the stones in the bank when I finally ran to the water edge.
Dec. 7., 1998

(You can find a clearer picture of a swimming muskrat e.g. here.)

The next two pictures I also made on Dec. 7 when the second, also still unsuccessful, attempt at the beginning of winter took place here. The pictures show muskrat tracks in the thin layer of fresh snow on the frozen stagnant river coves near the eastern end of the bridge. The one below shows the area just south of the bridge, and the one on the right north of the bridge. They were taken moments before the whole river got into the shadow, when still rather early in the afternoon the sun started to disappear behind tall trees on the high western bank. (Before the winter really started on Dec. 17, this ice still melted except for a very narrow band along the banks. The ice cover from the right picture can also be recognized on the right side of the third picture two pages back ("Beaver trails and lodge").) Muskrat footprints
Muskrat footprints

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