Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tracking the Wildlife

Now that days are getting a little bit longer, it is no longer too dark to walk the dog after work. Both Polly and I really need the exercise and I was pleased to get up the road this evening and to our favourite walk by the duck ponds. Snowdrops are poking through last year's fallen leaves and one can almost feel the sap rising. I know there is always the threat of late snow at this time of year and we will certainly have more frost, but it feels that the teeth have been knocked out of winter.
The light on the hills behind the house was particularly lovely.

There is a lot of sticky red mud this time of year and the old pink wellies get called into service.

I saw loads of signs of British mammals on this walk. First there is this well used path. I can't tell if this path belongs to badgers or a foxes. Both these animals like to follow the same path when going about their daily business. This particular path comes out of the trees, across the grass, under the fence, across the road and into the next field.

After the path, the first mammal tracks I saw were the deer tracks. There look to be about four does and one big buck. I have taken photos of both doe and buck tracks so you can see for yourself how easy it is to distinguish between the doe and buck tracks. doe tracks
doe tracksa buck hoof print

I took the photos of hoof and paw prints next to my hand so that you could get a sense of scale. You can see that the hoof print of a buck is much deeper in the soft mud and has the two distinct heel marks behind the hoof.
I found badger tracks tonight. I've not seen badger tracks up there before. This is a poor specimen of a badger track, but you can see the claw marks plainly.
This is a fox print in the mud. Very similar to a dog but smaller and more delicate and quite different to the badger.
Compare it with Polly's big muddy paw print
Then there are my welly tracks.

I saw our barn owl again just as I was almost home. Even though I had the camera, I still wasn't fast enough to get footage. It's such a beautiful bird,

It was a lovely walk and I look forward to many more of them this spring.

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