Indentifying Animal Tracks (Unsuccessfully)
As a person who loves the outdoors, I’ve always admired people who are astute observers of the natural world. I am not one of them, not even close. Try as a might, I am no Goodall or Thoreau. I am impressed with myself if I can figure out the difference between a pine tree or a maple. Tree and plant identification, bird watching and animal tracking all fall within that same category of requiring a necessary skill I lack. I think it’s called detailed memory recall.
Nonetheless, I decided to take some pictures of animal tracks on a recent cross-country ski jaunt, with the goal to match those pictures to the animal track guide on page 83 in Yankee Magazine’s January/February issue. I thought this would be a simple game for me, one that might also be perfect for a very young child.
Even before I made it too far into my journey, I realized I had a tip for people endeavoring to do this sort of thing based on my own first error. Tip Number One: Make sure your camera batteries work. Yes, this is the most basic rule for any true photographer, but I am a hack. I checked my batteries before I left. I even had extra batteries in the camera case. The little red light indicating low batteries was flashing when I double-checked their status. Did I change the batteries? No. Did I bring the camera case with the extra batteries? No. I just headed off into the woods with my camera and one set of dead batteries. La, la, la.
Thanks to my sub par cell phone camera, I was able to snap some shots of animal prints in the snow despite my dead camera situation. The results of which, I share with you now, so you can play a fun game with me called “Name Those Tracks.” (You can even cheat. I’ll tell you why later.)
NAME THOSE TRACKS
SO WHAT ARE YOUR GUESSES FOR SPECIES 1, 2, 3, 4?
I know what Species 3 and 4 are, but I am still a little unclear about Species 1 and 2. My guess is a cute little white-footed mouse for Species 1 and a snowshoe hare for Species 2, but I would not be surprised if one is a gray squirrel or a chipmunk. That’s why I gave you permission to cheat by looking at the animal tracks guide on page 83. I cannot even figure out my own game with cheating. You know what? There are no wrong answers for this quiz. You get 100% for just playing along with this game. A for effort.
Species 3 is a cross-country ski pole track, and Species 4 is a whole bunch of tracks (snowmobile tracks, cross-country ski tracks, lots of dog tracks) with a cameo appearance of a very cute dog who made 5 times the amount of tracks I made during my journey because he was running around in circles while I was skiing in a straight path.
I am sure you enjoyed this game. Check back soon for number two in this series: Identifying Animal Scat.
Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.