Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Greatings! I have moved my blog to

Check in there for all of my past blog posts found here as well as more recent and all my future posts! Thanks for your interest in my photography and projects! 

If you have questions feel free to Contact me via email or phone!

Best Regards,

David Moskowitz 

Olympic Marmot in evening light.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

North Cascades National Park Wildlife Tracking Certification

In mid-June North Cascades Institute hosted the first Wildlife Tracking Certification Event in North Cascades National Park. Besides a diversity of tracks and signs some challenging field conditions including some classic North Cascades rain and multi-element bushwacking/wading added to the experience for myself as the evaluator and for participants! Here are a few of the highlights from the Evaluation.

The right front foot of a mink (Neovison vison) in fine glacial silt found close to the mouth of Thunder Creek.

These tracks of a Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) were found just down the shore from the mink.

This unusual sign of a beaver (Castor canadensis) in the riparian forest along Thunder Creek stumped many.

Roger Bean, who earned a Level III Track and Sign Certification contemplates the beaver feeding sign during the evaluation.

The weathered track of a black bear (Ursus americanus).

Terry Kem, founder of Deerdance, earned a Level III Cerftication as well on the evaluation, seen here photographing a sign post tree well used by black bears along Thunder Creek.

Moose (Alces alces) are rarely sighted in western portion of the North Cascades, but these pellets indicate one had passed by the Easy Pass Trailhead along the North Cascades Scenic Highway.

Scat from a bushytailed woodrat (left, Neotoma cinerea) and a pika (Ochotona princeps) were both discovered in a large talus field.

Susan Brown, a graduate student in the North Cascades Institutes Masters of Education program, assisted with the evaluation. Pictured here by a powerline pole that had been bitten and rubbed on by black bears.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Evaluation. Of 10 participants, 3 Level III , 3 Level II , and one Level I certificates were awarded. For a list of certified trackers in North America click here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alpine Skills Training at Northwest Outward Bound School

Outward Bound Instructor Sam Ecenia dives into Alpine Skills Training on Mount Hood to start of the summer field season for Northwest Outward Bound School's summer season.

The first staff training of the year for Northwest Outward Bound School's Odin Falls Basecamp in Central Oregon was a great success. Myself and five participants headed out to eastside of Mount Hood. Blue skies and generally excellent weather made for five very productive days from a basecamp we established on a moraine to the south of the Elliot Glacier, culminating in a summit climb via the lovely Cooper Spur Route (see photos below). We also spent a day working on rescue skills and student management on the basalt cliffs by the school's Bascamp along the Deschutes River at the end of the training. 

Along with being an instructor and trainer for Northwest Outward Bound School, I recently joined the Board of Directors for the school. After months of being involved with all the many things that go on behind the scenes to help ensure that Outward Bound Instructors have the chance to deliver life changing experiences to our students in the field, spending a week in the field with this group of instructors  in the backcountry was a good reminder for me about why the work that Outward Bound does is so powerful for students and instructors alike.

Heading up towards our camp on Mount Hood.

We set up our camp at the end of this glacial moraine above the terminus of the Elliot Glacier.

Our camp on the moraine above the Elliot Glacier on Mount Hood

Six year Outward Bound veteran Jess Stuecklen practices her self arrest skills.

Outward Bound Instructor Sam Ecenia self arrests after a face first digger. Being able to stop yourself from sliding on steep snow is a fundamental alpine climbing skill.

Outward Bound Instructor John Rudolph practicing his crevasse rescue skills--building a snow anchor and transferring the weight of a fallen climber from his harness to the anchor.

Jess bounds in a snow anchor. Participants had 15 minutes to construct an anchor and transfer the "fallen climber" to it during this drill.

Outward Bound Instructor Molly Hayes relaxes in camp after a full day of skills practice.

Mount Hood as seen from our camp location.

We left our camp at 2 am for our peak bid, arriving at the base of the steep terrain close to the summit just as the sun was about to rise

Sunrise over the Columbia River as seen from about 9000' on the Cooper Spur route.

Hard snow up to about 55 degrees made for fun and exciting climbing conditions on the way up.

Laura Berglund and Sam Ecenia pause for a moment as we get into the steepest portion of the climb

View from a belay close to the summit.

Sam Ecenia constructing a snow anchor for the final pitch of the climb. One of the basic educational concepts of Outward Bound is to "Impell People into Value's Forming Experiences". In classic Outward Bound fashion participants in the training practice all of the components of the peak ascent on the days leading up to the climb and then were impelled to put the skills into use to ensure the safety and success of our team endeavor on the climb.

After leading the final pitch of the climb, Jess Stuecklen belays Laura Berglund as she crests the summit of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in the Oregon Cascades.

View of the final portion of the Cooper Spur route which ascends the wind sculpted lower slopes before weaving through the bands of rocks to reach the summit.
John Rudolph demonstrates one of Outward Bounds educational tenets--craftsmanship--in the fine meal he prepared for us at the end of our summit day. Nothing says excellence in alpine cooking like long strands of gooey melted cheese!
The Northwest Outward Bound School Mission
To conduct safe, adventure-based experiences structured to inspire self discovery, self reliance, compassion for others, and care for our environment.

For more information about Northwest Outward Bound School, vist

The silhouettes of Mount Adams and Mount Rainer at sunrise as seen from the northeast side of Mount Hood. Northwest Outward Bound runs courses in some of the most stunning and wild places in the Pacific Northwest including mountaineering courses in the Oregon and Washington Cascades. To sign up for courses visit

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Creeping Voles Exposed

While scouting for teaching locations for the Wildlife Tracking Intensive at the end of April, Alexia Allen and I spotted a small rodent moving through the leaf litter in a riparian forest close to the Hoh River on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. I quickly reached down and captured the little grey creature who was kind enough to pose for a few photographs!

Creeping voles are a relatively small species of Microtus, typically found in forests here in the Northwest

Field marks which identify this as a creeping vole include its small size, short tail, and small ears which blend into it fur as well as its forest habitat.

Creeping vole (Microtus oregoni)
Alexia Allen carefully handles the vole by its ruff.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cybertracker Conservation Track and Sign Certification Event in the Swan Valley, Montana

Congratulations to all 11 folks who participated in the Track and Sign Certification Event in wild Swan Valley of northwestern Montana this past weekend, all of whom earned a certificate through Cybertracker Conservation!

The event was hosted by Northwest Connections in the very quiet town of Condon. It was great getting to know more about this creative and inspiring organizaiton whose mission to "Integrate Science, Education and Community in the Conservation of Rural Working Landscapes". I highly recommend any and all of the various educational opportunities they have to offer and hope to be back there soon! A special thanks also to Nick Sharp, Wildlife Conservation Society Biologist, and Doctoral student at the University of Montana, who organized the event (and put in a stellar performance on the Evaluation!)

Over the course of the two days of the Evaluation, participants were given 70 different questions about tracks and signs discovered in the field. Species varied from voles to grizzly bears and the handiwork of everything from a bushytailed woodrat to a backhoe. Along with covering as diverse a set of tracks and signs as is possible over two days, the evaluation includes questions ranging from very simple (such as a clear deer track) to very challenging (such as interpreting the behavior of an elk which had scraped bark off of the trunk of an aspen with its incisors). For more information on Cybertracker Conservation Wildlife Tracking Evaluation methods click here.

Senior Tracker and Evaluator Mark Elbroch points out some of the finer details of a track during a discussion of one of the questions on the Evaluation

Senior Tracker Brian McConnell, who assisted in delivering the evaluation,  points out one of the questions, marks on an aspen tree to Adam Lieberg, Conservation Program Program Coordinator at Northwest Connections. Adam correctly interpreted them to be made by a black bear which had climbed the tree.

Here are photos of some of the things that were on the Evaluation and the questions about them. All questions are based on actual tracks and signs discovered in the field by evaluators during the Evaluation. After all of the participants have the opportunity to answer each question, the track or sign is discussed as a group and the evaluators carefully explain the correct answer and discuss why it could or could not be various other species, often using illustrations and other resources to help illustrate key features.

What species and which foot? Front and hind tracks of a red fox.

What species, which foot, and what was the sex of this animal? The left hind foot of a female mountain lion.

What species (in regards to the lower tracks)? The front and hind foot of a wolf (above are the track of a whitetailed deer).

What happened to these shrubs? Tim Nelson inspects the work of a buck deer which left these marks on a serviceberry shrub with its antlers the previous fall, a marking behavior associated with courtship and breeding activities.

Who removed the bark from this burl on a lodgepole pine? From left to right, Track and Sign Specialist Matt Nelson, Mark Elbroch, Preston Taylor and Adam Lieberg discuss a contentious question, a burl on a lodgepole pine which had been debarked by a red squirrel.

Who left this track? The weathered footprint of a grizzly bear.

Mark and Jenn Wolfe discuss one of the harder questions on the evaluation, the identity of a jawbone found in the field--in this case a wolf! Mandibles were not in short supply, and the striped skunk and black bear jawbone were also questions on the Evaluation.

Who made this hole? A foraging badger.

Congratulations to everyone who participated and earned a certificate at the event!
Interested in participating in a Certification Event or hosting one? Find a list of future events I am running at Our North American website for all Tracking Certification events is currently underconstruction. Send me an email if you want to discuss details on hosting an event or links to Certification Events in other parts of the country!