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Old Jan 12, 2011, 8:01 AM   #1
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Default A few more tracks

Kevin (Frogfish) mentioned that he appreciated the identification with some of the "critter" tracks I posted yesterday. So I thought some might enjoy a few more. The key (for me) in tracking is to notice the track pattern. Even if tracks are not 100% clear, you can still make a pretty accurate guess of who it was by how they set their feet down. Of course, with clear tracks, it helps to notice all the details, like the size, the shape, the number of toes, the presence of claws, etc. And the most fun part of tracking (for me) is not just to identify who was there, but to follow the tracks and try to piece together a bit of the story - what was the animal doing...

We had a great tracking snow yesterday - fresh snow that ended early in the night, and no too much wind. So I had a chance to check out several good tracking spots in the home park. First, right by the park office, here are some Crow tracks. Most bird tracks are a bit tricky to identify, but Crow tracks are pretty distinctive - middle toe is crooked, and they tend to drag their "toenails" a bit. This one led to where a squirrel had just unearthed some cached nuts - perhaps the crow was hoping for some "leftovers?"
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 8:04 AM   #2
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Here are some rabbit tracks (our common Eastern Cottontail). Rabbit tracks look a lot like Squrrel tracks (I posted some of those yesterday). Most obvious difference is that the squirrel front feet are usually placed beside eachother, while the rabbit's are at an angle. Also rabbit feet are furrier, so you don's usually see distinct toe or claw marks. This rabbit was heading across the park's golf course, towards a dense thicket of Blackberry vines (many of which were freshly nibbled...)
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 8:06 AM   #3
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At least one Red Fox family must have young'uns on their minds. There were several sets of Red Fox tracks behind one of our park's camping areas, all of which passed close to a good den site. Fox tracks look a lot like dog tracks, but they place their feet much more neatly and precisely. Also, if it's a clear track, you can see a v-shaped ridge on the "heel pad."
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 8:09 AM   #4
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Those Fox tracks seem (to me) to reflect the lively, frisky behavior of these "critters." Opossum tracks also show their personality. These hand-like tracks with the wide-splayed "fingers" are usually very close together, in a rather methodical pattern. This particular 'Possum was NOT crossing the road, but crossing a small field, heading towards a small cave/den.
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 8:11 AM   #5
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Raccoons also have hand-like tracks, but the toes are not spread out so far, and they usually leave tracks in pairs...
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 8:13 AM   #6
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I followed one very interesting set of raccoon tracks. He/she was a big fat racoon, judging from the track size and depth. Tracks followed one of our park trails as far as a tiny stream, then proceeded on top of the frozen stream (rather thin ice). Saw several places where he/she broke or fell through the ice, and then stopped to shake off some icy cold water!
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 8:16 AM   #7
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Will be out on the snowy trails again today, checking on wildlife populations and getting our trails in good shape for the winter hikers. Hope you enjoyed these wanderings, and that you will share your comments/critique!

PS - just had to share one more photo of Vole's favorite mushrooms - very close to the Fox den site and beginning to wrinkle away...
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 10:28 AM   #8
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Thank you Mole - I really enjoyed looking at the differences and your explanations. It's great to learn something like that from a pro !
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 10:59 AM   #9
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Cool! I just see the tracks in my yard and know something came through.

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Old Jan 12, 2011, 3:24 PM   #10
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Thanks for posting these, that's really interesting. I see tracks in the snow all the time but never really knew how to identify any of them (beyond something dog-like or bird). The crow tracks are very pretty, besides. We have both rabbits and squirrels common to our area, I'll have to try to figure out which one made which track next time it snows.
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