Saturday’s tracking team went out in on-and-off snowy weather, and as they began their snowshoeing, saw lots of squirrel and snowshoe hare tracks right away. When they headed off the trail, though, they quickly found a trail much larger than that. The snowed-in tracks made it hard to distinguish the details, but they suspected a coyote, a fox, or a bobcat, and started following the trail.
The Frog Lake area, where the crew was exploring, has some great areas for getting off trail, and the group followed the animal’s trail through the forest. Even without being able to see any details, they could narrow it down to a diagonal walker – animals that walk or run with their legs, like a coyote, or a bobcat, rather than by bounding like a squirrel or a weasel – just by the track pattern and size.
As they followed the trail under a tree, they were able to find clearer prints with claw marks in them, which helped them provisionally identify the tracks as coyote. Claw marks are unlikely to show in bobcat tracks, and less likely to show prominently in prints from foxes’ furry feet than in coyote tracks.
Sometimes, getting under the trees can be the best way to find clear tracks. Check out these crystal clear squirrel tracks!
Our other intrepid groups of tracking volunteers went out on Sunday after a night of new snow. They explored the Clark Creek area, and found the creek itself to be higher than it usually is this time of year – perhaps last week’s rain and warmer temperatures are still working their way through the hydrologic system.
They made navigational adjustments to account for the creek, and didn’t cross it as planned, but still found themselves in good tracking territory. The most abundant species by far were Douglas Squirrel and Snowshoe Hare – the team tallied over 60 Douglas Squirrel trails! (Stand by while we check the Cascadia Wild record books to see how that stacks up…)
They also got a chance to do some bird tracking, despite not seeing any bird tracks in the snow. How? By looking at woodpecker holes in the trees! Four common woodpecker species we find eating the tree-dwelling insects of on Mt. Hood are
Which woodpecker species made the holes in this snag that our group was checking out? Post in the comments!
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