It’s cold and it’s snowy, so this is what I’ve got: photos of the cold and the snow.
Considering we live in the village, we see evidence of a fair number of wild animals coming through our yard at night. They leave tracks in the snow. I find something magical about going out and seeing the tracks made by animals who quietly pass by my home en route to somewhere else. Foxes come through here every night, and sometimes during the day. Rabbits hop about. Last week the girls and I followed a bloody rabbit trail, complete with fox prints not far behind, until the rabbit prints ended (fox caught the rabbit) and the fox prints headed to a nearby garden shed (not ours). This morning I took my camera out when I went at dawn to let the chickens out of their coop. I saw the usual fox prints and also these:
Skunk? It is hard to tell. I’ve been doing this (tracking) for a few years and this is what I look for:
- Size of print (length & width)
- Shape (oblong? round?)
- Number of toes
- Claw marks?
- Distance between prints
- How is the gait – straight line, 2 prints side by side, a loping pattern?
You would think I would have a book or something to help me out. I don’t. This one was a puzzle because I couldn’t see clear claw marks, but they might be there on some of them. Number of toes was tough to count too. I counted 4 but the print was more oblong than round, so I didn’t think it could be a house cat or fox. Or bobcat, heaven forbid. Two prints together in what looks like an overstep walk (where the hind foot is placed in front of the front print), 2″ long, 1″ wide makes me think skunk. BUT skunks are supposed to be in a dormant state right now, with a slow heartbeat in a snug, warm den.
Here are two more photos of the mystery print. It stopped first at the bird feeders, walked under the deck (which is raised off the ground), headed through the yard, sticking close to trees as it walked. It was not in a hurry at all, as it did not go in a straight line but kind of ambled along, weaving here and there.
Take a look at this photo. Do you see claws? Kind of, right? On the first print I see 4 toes, and on the second there might be 5. Do you see the heel? Skunks have a heel print.
The mystery tracks were made by a meandering animal – look at how it kind of walked up to the tree like it was checking things out.
That’s the story with the mystery tracks. Next time I’ll show you some fox tracks.