Posts Tagged ‘porcupine’


High vet bills for quill extraction were a huge incentive for me to learn how to spot porcupines before my dog did.  On walks in the woods, my eyes became extra keen at finding baby porcupines on the ground.  Their tiny quills are especially difficult to remove from a dog’s mouth.

porcupinetreeAs I no longer have a dog, I’m not on the lookout for porcupines as much as I used to be while walking in the woods.  However, it’s pretty hard to miss this fresh evidence of their activity just behind my home:  fresh bark chips on the ground  below a girdled trunk.  Unfortunately, the Balsam Fir at left will die because its bark has been nibbled all around the circumference.

Porcupines breed in autumn and give birth to one baby in the spring.  Within a week this little pincushion is already chewing on the inner bark of trees.  Favorites are softwood trees and the twigs on birch.  Tamarack trees are considered especially tasty. 

Porcupines are also attracted to the salt left on wooden tools that are handled by humans with sweaty hands.  The salt on roads also attracts them to highways, making them a frequent item on the roadkill menu.  They are slow movers and consequently an easy target on the ground.

The last time I saw a porcupine was last fall along the Salt Marsh Trail.  It was mid morning and three of them were dozing, each on separate limbs up in an apple tree, right next to the trail.  Mostly nocturnal creatures, they had probably snacked on apples the night before.

Porcupine and Birchbark Quill Box

Porcupine and Birchbark Quill Box

Before Europeans settled here in the 1700s, the Cow Bay area was considered a prime summer hunting and fishing spot for the Mi’kmaq tribe.  Considering the number of porcupines in this neck of the woods, it’s no surprise that the Mi’kmaq are a people known for their artistry with quills.





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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Just a few minutes’ drive from Flandrum Hill, the Salt Marsh Trail off Bissett Road offers a splendid opportunity to walk through a salt marsh and observe its inhabitants up close.  In the past month, I’ve seen three porcupines sleeping in an apple tree right next to the trail, hundreds of migrating Canada Geese,  a dozen Great Blue Herons standing together in the water at low tide, the largest starfish I’ve seen yet in the wild, and four (yes four) Bald Eagles at once, hunting in close proximity of each other.

The trail begins in a woodland setting and after a ten minute walk, opens up to the marsh.  The panoramic views alone, especially at sunrise, are well worth the trip. 

At this time of year, the marsh grass turns a brilliant gold which contrasts sharply with the steel grey water on overcast days.   The ebb and flow of the tides can be observed with both your eyes and ears as you walk over the wooden bridges.  The sound of your feet on the wood planks adds much to the experience.

The trail is built along an abandoned railway track and crosses the marsh with a series of bridges that allow hikers and bikers to stand right in the middle of this delicate ecosystem without disturbing it.  

The Salt Marsh Trail connects to Lawrencetown Beach via the Atlantic View Trail, and to Shearwater via the Shearwater Flyer Trail.

For all posts about the Salt Marsh Trail see:


Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell

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