night tracking

November 18, 2010 · 1 comment

in Birds, Landscapes, Mammals and Marsupials

Animal Tracks in Snow   |   Mesmerising Moments

10.09 It’s dark, there’s fresh snow on the ground, time for a walk in the stillness.

10.12 We’ve left the street but can still see the lights. Walking down a path with a corridor of mixed deciduous looking for tracks.

10.14 We climb thru a fence into a small grove. New houses encroach and I wonder how long the trees will remain.

10.18 Standing still, a few cars pass beyond the railway. The distant low hum of the motorway. A screech to the NE. Dog barks, ice cracks.

10.20 I’m on the stream. Footprints partially covered by today’s snow. Tiny holes evidence of small mammals. I smell foxes.

10.22 Following fox tracks next to iced up stream. He came after the snow. Very fresh prints. Great distinction. iPhone camera useless.

10.24 I was being watched by an owl during that last tweet. Barn, I think. It disappeared silently.

10.24 Must remember to look up too!

10.26 The fox is following a rabbit. Just picked up the other set of tracks. I can hear flags flapping and cars passing on the new estate.

10.28 I hear WooWoo Woo WooWoo Woo then a wolf whistle. Wildlife and humanity calling out to each other?

10.29 The rabbit is small and passed while snow was falling, so about 6 hours ago. The fox must have been in the last 4 hours.

10.31 Human footprints criss cross over the once agricultural now pre-developed land.

10.31 Fox footprints separate from rabbits. Not on the scent then. Something else?

10.33 It’s odd to walk on this side of the fence. For so many years restricted to the path. Ironic we get access just before development.

10.35 The fox seems to be trotting along almost lazily. Evening constitutional…like me.

10.36 Lines of little holes breaking thru as the melting snow reveals mouse and other mammal routes under it’s white blanket.

10.38 Edge of pond obscured. Reed mace say go around. I can smell that fox again.

10.40 Small hole in the fence, so many rabbit tracks about 5-6hrs old.

10.48 The snow is up to my ankles. I wonder how many creatures am I disturbing with each step? How many tunnels?

10.50 Ooo, bird print. Quite fresh too. Back toe slightly flared. It stops to hop over a footprint. A few more steps, beak poke in snow, take off.

10.50 No feather impressions though.

10.53 Lots of obscured tracks by a small stand of trees. 20yds from the road to the new estate. Nearly time for the wood.

10.55 Ah. That’s why there’s so many tracks. Fresh unfrozen water. Snow melting into the tussocky landscape but forming small puddles.

10.56 I hear the owl again.

10.56 Got to watch my step. Despite the great boots I don’t want wet ankles.

10.58 Another bird. I wish I knew bird tracks better. I can hear the whoo whooing of the owl. Then a car passes. 10yds to the road.

10.59 The bird appears to be walking from human footprint to footprint. Maybe to get at the grasses and ground beneath the snow layer.

11.01 I walk in the other footprints, certain to stay drier. Fox crosses. Earlier than previous fox. Partially obscured prints.

11.01 Possibly the same fox on the way out, or in.

11.03 Fox prints lead directly to the road and get lost in a mish mash of dog walkers.

11.07 Trying to walk silently on crunchy snice (snow&ice) is a bit difficult. We don’t learn to levitate till next week.

11.09 It’s beautiful but a bit cold now. Time to head home. Be warm, be safe, feed the birds, be outdoors.

11.20 *puts key in the door* hi honey, I’m hoooome.

11.23 Bottom of waterproofs slushy. Ankles and feet warm and dry. Great walk. Night all.

Today’s Mesmerising Moments happened around the middle of January 2010 when I took Twitter on a nighttime walk and was orignally published here.

Tracking skills enhance a connection to nature. Stalking Wolf, a native American Lipan Apache elder, believed tracking to be a spiritual philosophy in itself. It provides a profound and practical way to reconnect to the natural world. Reaching inside for our own inner fox, rabbit or owl can help us to connect to these animals, find out what they’re up to, where they’re going, why they do what they do.

Opening our tracking eyes opens our hearts and minds to allow us to remember the language of the world around us – a single hair caught on a fence, a depression on a grassy slope, the curve of a branch – these are all clues that can provide vast amounts of information about the urges, habits,and decisions of nature around us.

When we open our eyes to the knowledge around us we realise there is wonder in every Mesmerising Moment.

Even better – it’s free.

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