Tracking in the Snow

The following post was kindly written by Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day:

The recent fall of snow offered great opportunities to see tracks and signs left by wildlife. It was a real eye-opener, and made me realise how much I must miss normally.

Animal tracks in the snow

Animal tracks in the snow

An encounter with three Roe deer near the river gave me the chance to look at fresh sign and older sign, left (presumably) by the same animals, as well as the contrast of tracks left by the animals going about their business normally, versus running when they spotted me clambering out of my canoe.

The 'fall out' of a deer print

The ‘fall out’ of a deer print

In snow details are easier to see, but the most valuable point for me is that it should make it easier to envisage what sign might be present, though less obvious when there isn’t snow on the ground. It is another useful reference to help join the dots up.

A crow track

A crow track

Learning to really see what is around you and understand what it might mean really brings the outdoors to life. I always feels like I’m being let in on a secret when I spot some little mark left by an animal, and even though I’m really just beginning to learn about tracking, I can see how enriching it will be to the whole experience of being outdoors.

A badger track

A badger track

We sometimes say at the start of our courses that although the subject of Bushcraft is enormous, the thing that links all the subjects together is a love of the natural world and a desire to know as much as possible about it. Understanding the tracks and signs left by animals and learning how to observe them is surely the key to unlocking that central idea, and a great way to get the most out of every single moment you get to spend outdoors.

Sign of a pigeon taking flight

Sign of a pigeon taking flight

Sarah Day

3 thoughts on “Tracking in the Snow

  1. jonathan teale

    i am lucky because at the weekend i marshal at a local paintball site just outside Lincoln and when we had all the snow for a couple of days i went to the site and saw loads of diferent tracks, unfortunatly i could not recognise them and also didnt have a camera with me. I did know that there is fox, pheasant, rabbit, and pigeon there so i knew what some where , it just makes me think how lucky i am to be in there presence

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  2. Nick

    I think Sarah is probably right, Bert. A Crow or Magpie, something from the crow family. The back toe looks long and is almost in line with the front middle toe. Whereas, in the pheasant it is, quite, stubby and slightly off to one side. I’m no expert so I could be wrong!

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