Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tracks in the snow

We walk the dog every morning. Some mornings we stick to our road and other times we venture onto our forest trails. The dry snow we've had lately combined with seriously cold temperatures means that the animal tracks are very clear - they're not melting and spreading during the day so you can more easily make out what they are. Unfortunately, they do not photograph well at all. So you're going to just  have to imagine them along with me.

We're excited to report that we have a pair of red fox. We haven't seen them - just their tracks. Smaller than coyote or dog and in a perfectly straight line. I haven't tried to find the den but have enjoyed walking along with them as they check out stumps for mice.

Speaking of mice, we can follow their trails too. Little hopping imprints with the occasional tail drag for cuteness. I followed one yesterday to where an owl ate well. I found a perfect outline of the owl's body in the snow - both wings fully outstretched, tail feathers fanned wide, body imprint where the force of his dive drove him into the snow. There was no mouse trail that led away from that imprint.

We also have many deer and their trails are getting deeper and clearer. They also like to follow our walking paths so we often don't even need to go far afield to see them. We were lucky enough to find where they had bedded down for the night - five deer beds melted into the snow. We rarely see the deer themselves but their sign is everywhere: nibbled tree bark and buds, pellets and urine stains, hoof prints that meander leisurely only to burst into wide running marks where they were apparently startled.

And of course we see our prints. Snowshoe tracks, boots, and dog prints everywhere. Long walks and short ones. It's great being out in the woods.


  1. Very cool! I love the last photo. We had a fox living on the other side of our stone wall, on the neighbor's property, but I haven't seen him/her since it tangled with the neighbors cat last summer. It used to use our property like a highway. We now have very large tracks that come on to our property and go around the coop, and a few other places before going back over the stone wall. I have no idea what it is and not sure I'd like to see it up close. :)

  2. I know what you mean - I had the dog out at 2AM the other morning to enjoy the full moon on the snow (and because she needed to go out). We were a couple hundred feet from the house when a coyote howled. Felt like it was right next to us! Both of us hightailed it to the porch.