by Carl Strang
I can’t pretend to know much about mink. Typically I’ll get 4-6 brief glimpses of our most common weasel in the course of a year, and I’ve accumulated a total of 6 or 7 hours of “dirt time” (mainly “snow time” in this case) tracking them. With that as background, I can’t truly say how odd this little story from last Friday is. It was a cold, overcast day, and I was returning to Mayslake Hall from a relatively uneventful lunchtime walk. As I approached the little stream that serves as the outlet for Mayslake Forest Preserve’s lakes, I caught the motion of a roughly squirrel-sized mammal. It had climbed onto the base of a severely tilted willow.
The animal was very dark.
As it climbed all the way to the topmost branches, 15 or so feet above the ground, I was thinking: could this be a mink? But it’s climbing a tree!
Fortunately for me, the critter held still and let me get enough photos that I ended up with a few that were reasonably in focus.
Eventually the mink climbed back down and sprinted through the woods to the safety of Mays’ Lake. Tree climbing is not typical behavior for this amphibious mammal, I am sure, but I certainly have a broader sense of the little carnivore’s capabilities after this episode.