Thursday, April 22, 2010

Deer Camouflage

While scouting out tracks before tracking club this month, I caught a glimpse of something at the edge of the woods. I thought it was a deer, but wasn't certain until I went over and found really fresh deer tracks. I still had awhile before we were supposed to meet up again, so I trailed it. It was pretty easy to follow at first as the deer had been moving pretty quickly and even when it moved into more duffy terrain the tracks were easy to see. After a few minutes though, it had slowed down and the tracks were more difficult to follow. Still I managed to get close enough where it startled and made some noise and I was able to see it again.

Hopefully in the future I will get a bit stealthier and start seeing the deer before they see me. But this time I guess I didn't scare it too badly, because it looked at me for a little while before walking off and I was able to get this picture of it. I think it is interesting how much more difficult it is to pick it out in black and white than in color (though color isn't all that easy either).

Click to show color version.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

March Tracking Club Mystery

This March's tracking club may have had the best tracking club weather of the year. We got out to our meeting place with the sun beginning to rise over the horizon and the spring colors (particularly the budding cottonwood leaves) were gorgeous in the early light.

There was a lot of coyote, robin, deer, hare and mouse activity evident in the sand. There was also a partial answer to a mystery I have been holding on to for awhile:

Two years ago during the spring we found a lot of little digs at the sandbar, but we were unable to determine what had made them or why. One of the nice things about going to tracking club on a monthly basis is getting to know what is normal. We did not remember seeing digs like those in previous months and they didn't show up in later months either. Were they specific to that season or did we just not pay enough attention other months?

I recently found a journal entry I had written about the digs and I have been looking forward to getting out this spring and seeing what might unfold with this mystery. Was it a one time thing? Would they show up again at the same time of year? Would there be any clues as to who left them and why?

I was not disappointed. We got out to the sand and there they were! Though not as many of them as I think there had been the previous year. Perhaps the digging behavior hadn't been going on as long yet, which is interesting because this was the third Saturday of March and according to my journal it was mid-February when we found the digs before. Considering how warm the winter has been, what factors might have made the occurrences later this year?

This year there was a clue to their identity. The condition of the sand was such that we were able to easily see deer mouse tracks (often the sand is too damp for their tracks to show up much). Around several of the little digs a lot of deer mouse activity was in evidence and I saw no evidence of other animals of the appropriate size near those digs. So it seems likely that deer mice were doing the digging, but there are still a lot of questions remaining for my mystery.