While strolling on a busy beach in Rhode Island where I was visiting for a few days, I noticed some tracks on the perimeter of a protected area at the mouth of a river that flows into the ocean. The area is fenced off to protect habitat for piping plover nests and least tern nests from the thousands of people that come to the beach to cool off in the summertime. The tracks caught my eye because of the gait and they looked very “weasel-ly” from a distance … in a lope similar to a typical otter gait but much smaller.
Two of the four mornings that I scouted the area I found its tracks! I haven’t seen mink tracks yet in the Bay Area, we don’t have them anymore – though they are making their way back in this direction from the north, where friends of mine have spotted them in Sonoma County. I was excited to see them, especially since they were so clear and there were so many of them in a place that I didn’t expect to find anything but shorebird, dog and people tracks.
Whenever I go to a new area, I check to see the species that are typically there and mink weren’t listed – though curiously fishers (a larger, more arboreal relative of the mink in the Mustelidae family) are being seen more often and causing some problems due to interactions with (aka making meals of ) domestic pets. Mink are common in much of New England, so it’s not all that unusual to find them where I did since their range is continuing to expand at this time. They spend a lot of time in the water and are very similar to (but much smaller than) another of the weasel family, the otter. It was an exciting find!
Wish I could have seen it …