Monday, November 05, 2007

Track tales

I was out on the Dr. George trail this morning taking some photos of the weekend snow (that in itself seems an odd thing to do. We'll no doubt have enough snow in the coming months that I won't even want to look at it, let alone take its picture) and I found myself doing an informal survey of our local trail-users on the way.

You've probably guessed from the above photo (click the photo for a closer view) that I don't mean the human trail-users.

Many of the animals in the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary make heavy use of the trails when the human visitors aren't around. It's not too surprising. Animals are as likely as humans to want to use the easiest means to get from place to place, and when there's a choice between crashing through the forest or using a pre-made path the path will often win.

Normally we don't even notice our animal trail-users because they tend to be crepuscular (active at dawn or dusk) or nocturnal. After a snowfall, though, the night's activities can leave very clear marks for anyone willing to look down and investigate as they walk.

In case you were wondering about today's findings, I noticed quite a number of deer tracks, one moose trail, one coyote, several squirrels, some mice or voles, and the occasional magpie. Not a bad tally for fifteen minutes of walking.

If you're interested in more information about who's leaving what footprint in the snow, ask us about the tracking resources available in the Kerry Wood Reading Room or check out the bookstore's stock of tracking field guides.

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